By Ed Brock
A Jonesboro businessman has taken down a sign exclaiming his support for the military after the city cited him for erecting the sign without a permit.
But Lee Moore said the sign, or one like it, will be back as soon as the city gives him a permit.
Moore pleaded "nolo contendere" to the citation in Jonesboro Municipal Court on Thursday and was fined $80. He was also ordered to take down the sign that had stood in front of the Main Street office of his business, Moore Insurance, since the outset of the war in Iraq last March.
The sign read "Support our troops or leave."
"I told the judge that it was a crying shame that I as a veteran of the Vietnam War era can't put up a sign in support of our troops and our president," Moore said.
Moore also questioned the city's patriotism for its treatment of him, but Jonesboro City Manager Jon Walker said the issue is not one of politics.
"We're enforcing the code regardless of what's on the sign," Walker said. "We have to enforce the law."
The city's code enforcement officer, Anthony Butler, first approached Moore in November and told him to take the sign down because it did not meet with code requirements. After the sign remained up Butler came back and fined Moore.
Walker said the citation was for having the sign without a permit.
Moore said his original court date in January was postponed and he was told to get a permit for the sign. He tried to get the permit twice, Moore said, the second time being Thursday morning, but the permit was denied.
"They never gave us a reason," Moore said.
Walker said Moore was told the sign did not meet code specifications. In a later interview Walker said the sign was too large.
Moore said that he served in the Army and, though he was stationed in Germany during the Vietnam War his brother served in combat and his brother-in-law died in the war. The "Support our troops" sign was not his first act of patriotism.
During the Gulf War in the early 1990s Moore convinced the insurance company for which he works to pay the premiums on automobile insurance policies held by troops who were deployed during that war.
He said he thinks that the city should have done more to work with him and tell him how to bring the sign into compliance, given the patriotic message it bore.
"I'm going to try once again to get a permit," Moore said.
And the city will work with him, Walker said, adding that the city has several veterans working for it and city officials are very patriotic.
"As long as the sign meets the codes we don't have a problem with it," Walker said.