Patriotic pride leads to 30-foot flag near Cowley

By David Peck

It comes into view as the highway makes a gentle turn to the right heading west from Cowley to Deaver, and it’s striking.

The large American flag painted on the side of an out building at the old Charlie Welch place on U.S. Highway 310 a couple of miles west of Cowley is meant to attract attention – and evoke pride.

The flag is the work of Kevin Reece, operations manager of the Specialized Blasting Services Company in Lovell. He was hired as operations manager in the fall of 2015 and has lived in the Lovell-Cowley area for about five years.

Reece started renting the place from Arlene Welch four years ago and then bought the historic residence and associated buildings two years ago. Reece noted that the core of the home was built in 1900.

“When I first bought the place I knew that barn would be a perfect canvas for a flag,” he said. “It faces the highway, and it looked like a good spot to have something like that.”

Reece has a deep sense of pride in America, he said, noting that both his maternal and paternal grandfathers served in the military, one in the Army and the other in the Navy. He grew up in Sheridan, and his career has taken him throughout the west. But when it comes to patriotic pride, there’s no place like Wyoming, he said, and especially Big Horn County.

“I’ve always been kind of brought up that way,” he said. “I’ve been in Arizona and Texas and all kinds of places. Then you come back here and you just see it (the patriotic pride), even with the younger group. It’s sad to see it going away.

“Lately, with everything going on, I just thought it would be pretty cool. I still get trucks honking when they go by.”

Reece hired a couple of teenage boys – Michael Harris and Tayton Hodges -- to paint the exterior shell of the building white, and then Reece painted the 30-foot flag himself just after the Fourth of July.

“I had to scale it to fit the wall. That took a little figuring,” he said. “The stars were the hardest, getting the spacing right.

“I traced some lines and got straight edges. I’d paint a light coat and look at it. I had to add to the blue square down and over, mainly to get the stars to match. I may have to touch it up later.”

Reece used “safety red” and “epic adventure blue” for the flag. He said it took about two weeks to complete the work off and on, about 30-40 hours total.

In the end, the flag has had just the effect Reece hoped it would.

“People go by and honk, and the big trucks honk. Some people stop by,” he said. “It’s for everybody. I knew in this area it would really go over well.”

Reece said he has come to truly appreciate life in the Cowley-Lovell area. He’s close to his beloved Big Horns, where he has hunted many times with his father, Ron, and he’s not far from Sheridan County, where he has lots of family, including his kids. But most of all, he loves the small town pace and lifestyle – and, of course, the patriotic pride that fills his heart and is still evident in his adopted community.

What better way to celebrate than with a 30-foot flag?