About a year ago a big American flag that flew over PremierWest Bank in Ashland was stolen. It was later replaced, but the other day I noticed it was gone again. Did someone steal that one, too?

About a year ago a big American flag that flew over PremierWest Bank in Ashland was stolen. It was later replaced, but the other day I noticed it was gone again. Did someone steal that one, too?

— Joan D., Medford

If a flag isn't flying, does that mean it was stolen?

Apparently that's the conclusion that a number of people made after the big flag was conspicuously absent this week. Several people have called PremierWest about the flag, a giant one on the spot where its predecessor was in fact stolen, but the good news is that only culprit in this caper was the powerful wind that blew through the valley last weekend.

The big blow detached the flag from the pole and it was found on the ground, said Jim Essany, PremierWest's marketing manager.

"Maybe we need to look at a better way of attaching it," Essany said.

Medford-based PremierWest flies the flag at each of its branches. The big flag at the Ashland branch ignited a bit of controversy when it was first unfurled in June 2006.

More than a dozen people complained to city officials about the size of the flag, but the city's land use ordinance allows flags of any nation, state or local government to be displayed, and the ordinance has no size restrictions.

Someone stole the 15-by-25-foot flag over PremierWest's Ashland branch in February 2007. The bank installed a security camera and tamper-proof halyards to prevent a second theft, but their precautions failed to anticipate the power of winter winds.

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