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Rick Steelhammer: To keep residency critics at bay, show the flag in the name of Justice

Ryan Zinke may be better known for commuting to his first day of work as Interior Secretary aboard a horse named Tonto, and spending his last day in office dodging legal writs aimed at compelling him to testify in one of two dozen ethics investigations pending against him.

But the former Navy SEAL and Montana Congressman is also known for engaging in an arcane Navy practice that called for a subordinate to hoist a special cabinet secretary’s flag atop the Interior Department roof whenever Zinke was in Washington, holed up in his animal-head festooned office.

Though Zinke’s version of showing the flag is unusual, not to mention vain, it could be something West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice would be interested in embracing to confuse those who criticize his practice of avoiding the Governor’s Mansion like he would a Forbes reporter sniffing out a scoop.

I mean, there’s no law saying you actually have to be in the Governor’s Mansion to have your personal “Jim’s in the House” banner flown above it. Just make sure the 12 flat-screen TVs Joe Manchin had installed there are turned on and a few Carlton Varney-designed curtains are parted enough to let some of the flickering light escape to public view to keep them guessing.

But what should be represented on a suitable-for-flying Jim Justice personal flag?

Presidential sons Don Jr. and Eric Trump decked out in pioneer buckskins and muskets? A switch-box with a Democrat donkey near the top of the switch lever and a Republican elephant on the bottom?”

A likeness of The Greenbrier’s Old White in a field of old money green?

A geometric pattern of coal lumps, corn ears, wingshot grouse and unpaid vendors?

It may take a design contest to winnow out the best Justice banner for Governor’s Mansion flagpole use. Send me your entry attached to the back of a $10 bill and I will select a winner.

I may not be an expert on heraldry. But I know what I like.

Reach Rick Steelhammer at, 304-348-5169 or follow @rsteelhammer on Twitter.

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Funerals for Monday, December 16, 2019

Burnette, Elaine - 1 p.m., Cooke Funeral Home Chapel, Cedar Grove.

Cobb, Steven - 2 p.m., Tyler Mountain Funeral Home, Cross Lanes.

Cumberledge, George - 11 a.m., Hardman-Paletti Funeral Home, Weston.

Day, Richard - 10:30 a.m., Donel C. Kinnard Memorial State Veterans Cemetery, Dunbar.

Merritt, Billie - 11 a.m., Fidler & Frame Funeral Home, Belle.

Mullins, Juanita - 6 p.m., Hughes Creek Community Church, Activity Building.

Mullins, Mollie - 1 p.m., Leonard Johnson Funeral Home, Marmet.

Osborne, Rocky - 11 a.m., Osborne Cemetery, Williams Mountain.

Pauley, Charles - 1 p.m., Koontz Funeral Home, Hamlin.

Riley, David - 11 a.m., Bartlett - Nichols Funeral Home, St. Albans.

Samples, James - Noon, Chapman Funeral Home, Hurricane.

Starcher, James - 1 p.m., John H. Taylor Funeral Home, Spencer.

Stollings, Lorean - 2 p.m., Evans Funeral Home & Cremation Services, Chapmanville.