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LIPA Causes Uproar By Charging To Honor Fallen Soldier On Shelter Island

SHELTER ISLAND, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- A Long Island community's tribute to our fallen heroes this Memorial Day will come with a surprising price tag.

The Long Island Power Authority says Shelter Island owes a fee for using its poles to hang American flags, reports CBS 2's Emily Smith.

WCBS 880's Sophia Hall On Long Island


Shelter Island is  ready for Memorial Day weekend. This year it's especially picturesque.

"I think every community should do it. We can be an example," said resident Lois Corbett.

The American Legion invested this year in new, heavy duty flags along the parade route as part of a special tribute to honor a local hero -- Army 1st Lt. Joe Theinhart, who died in Afghanistan last June.

"I thought it was a great, a great way to continue to honor and give publicity to our veterans," Corbett said.

But the flags have come with an unexpected price tag -- from LIPA. The power company is charging a fee to use their poles. It cites an obscure requirement in a state law in imposing what amounts to a $23 pro-rated fee to use the poles from now until July 4.

That move is not sitting well with parade organizers.

"The idea that we should have to pay a fee to put up American flags doesn't make sense," Mike Loriz, commander of American Legion Post 281.

In a statement LIPA said shares the same frustration as the public regarding the issue of the pole attachment fee and contends, "this matter must be addressed by the State legislature to amend the law that prohibits state authorities from giving use of or disposing of their property for free."

Shelter Island Councilman Peter Reich said it's ludicrous.

"If you went to the deli and chained your bike up to get a cup of coffee, do you pay the state $5 for chaining your bike to a pole?" Reich said.

Shelter Island's highway superintendent said he's also upset. Mark Ketcham told WCBS 880's Sophia Hall he could understand charging for business advertisements or yard sales, but not for American flags.

"I mean, that seems a little ridiculous," Ketcham said.

Verizon owns the majority of the poles -- 65 of them along the parade route. Verizon acknowledged the fee and already waived it.

LIPA said it doesn't have a right to waive the fee, so it will continue to collect money for the use of its poles -- even if it involves old glory.

LIPA's CEO agreed to pay the fee himself, but said it can't be waived.

Do you find this to be absurd? Or do you think the law is the law? Please offer your thoughts in the comments section below.

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