The announcement last month concerning Wheatland losing Platte County Chamber’s small business of the year owner Kim Zimmerman to retirement brought forth many emotions from across the county.
Zimmerman who never just “phoned it in” concerning her business, her product and her love for the people of the county made a difference in many lives, whether that was helping to raise money for local organizations or creating uniforms and waving her cost so each child could afford to play.
She had a tireless work schedule and you could expect to see her vehicle parked outside of her former business, Touch of Color seven days a week and sometimes 12-16 hours a day. She began her business 15 years ago and earned a reputation for a quality product at a fair price.
It was a blessing and a curse as her business grew from steady to overloaded and not one to keep people waiting, she would make sure that people got what they ordered on time if not sooner. After a while the strain began to wear on her and because she is so hands-on, she had at least one of her hands in each job that was in process and that went out of the store.
She made the painful decision to leave friends and family and retire to a place that has always been on her bucket list. She had spent the better part of her life doing for others and now it is a time when she felt the need for her physical and mental health to be a priority. She made up her mind, made her announcement, sold her store, is selling her house and is off to where she will be enjoying the fruits of her labor.
Last Monday the Legion Riders along with other retired military personnel who had been blessed many times by Zimmerman’s generosity wanted to give her a proper send-off. 4th District Representative Jeremy Haroldson was on hand to offer encouraging words and to send her forth with prayer. About 50 people had gathered to join her goodbye celebration.
There were early morning snacks and pulling up to her business for a last time, the streets were blocked off and chairs were facing the old flagpole that Zimmerman had hung a flag upon two years earlier. The same Legion Riders that presented her with that flag and raised it were now riding into town to retire the flag and give it to Zimmerman as a gift for all she had done as a patriot for the county. It was as if her tour of duty here in Wheatland had come to an end and she was receiving her flag as a Medal of Honor for her service for fighting in the battle for freedom alongside the many other patriots called to serve in Platte County.
With tears, the flag was presented to Zimmerman and the community wished her well as she said her final goodbyes.
The story of how the flag was hung there at 715 10th Street is an interesting story indeed.
Touch of Color, owned by Zimmerman was a rallying point on the day after Flag Day back in 2020 just a few weeks before the Fourth of July celebration.
An unused flagpole on her property was repurposed and flags donated by the VFW were hoisted in a flag-raising celebration. As others are seeking to tear down and burn the Ameican Flag, Platte County stood to its feet and saluted the flag as it flies high above Platte County. Zimmerman has been a rock and a fixture in this town for 15 years and now, finally, she has reached that point where she is selling her business and making a move to Florida to retire.
She is going to go from a cowgirl in the fields of Wyoming to a boater, hoping to navigate the high seas. She has blessed so many people in Platte County that it is time for her to enter into her time of blessings. Her business was voted the top business under 10 employees at the Platte County Chamber of Commerce annual awards ceremony this year, apropos that she is going out on top.
From mountain home to beach house, she is trading her cowgirl boots in for flip flops and her saddle for a chaise lounge, she is trading her snow shovel in for a sand shovel. She is hoping to get a bid on her business so she can tie up loose ends here and head south.
In honor of her work, philanthropy and dedication to our community we send her off with a reprint of what stood out in our minds within the last few years here in Platte County with our story, “It was more than just a flagpole.”
It was just an old 30-foot flagpole that was on the commercial property purchased by Kim Zimmerman who brought into town her embroidery and boutique, Touch of Color.
No flag. No halyard. Just a tall, rusty pole.
Hardly anyone knows the history. Why it was erected in front of the old liquor store or when it was installed is anybody’s guess.
And when it was erected, no doubt it stood strong as a symbol of America and pride of community. The new, iconic red, white and blue waving in the early shadows of dawn like it did Sept. 14, 1814, at Fort McHenry in Baltimore Harbor. Proud to stand over her fortress as a banner to rally around when life became so uncertain.
The battle raged. She persevered. The bombs bursting. She, still flying. All 15 stars and stripes intact.
But how did “the unknown flagpole” of Platte County come to lose her covering? Was it perhaps the wind that tore her to shreds? Had it become tattered and torn and faded? Had a previous owner moved and did they take the flag with them?
How many hundreds of people passed by since then and didn’t notice her standing there. Alone, unappreciated, without a purpose and without a covering.
And the years went by, through the intense and unforgiving winds of Wyoming, the brutal heat of summer, the damaging golf ball sized hail and driving rain that flagpole stood silently waiting for that moment when once again a group would need to rally around her withstanding strength.
As 2020 came in like a March lion with 40- and 50-degree temperatures, nobody could see that it was a calm before the three-headed storm that was to forever define America as infamous. The political circus was in town and showing out on every television screen led by a Frankenstein-esc media mob hell bent on cutting and severing the country to line their egos with ratings and their pockets with great wealth. They found out there was gold hiding in the lying mines.
Next, we experienced the pandemic that spread faster than the flames set forth by Mrs. O’Leary’s Chicago cow. The fallout has been reported redundantly as to the loss of life and the witnessing of the best economy in a half-century, demolished in just a few months.
Tempers flared, fighting, blaming and violence was out of control. And just when things seemed like they couldn’t get any worse, there came the heinous act of a potentially solid arrest that went south in Minneapolis and looters and protestors literally threw fuel to the fires they were setting and the blaze is now out of control. Crowds began to tear the very fabric of character and Godliness that this county was founded on.
In great battles of yore, the flag bearer always stood in a central location and lifted the flag as high as he could lift it. If he got shot, someone else hoisted the standard and the banner. In the confused noise and smoke and dust from the battle, it was important for troops to be able to look up and see their flag and thus finding a rallying place to unite under the colors.
It was a place to regroup, share ammunition, let the warriors know they weren’t alone and that many were still alive in the battle.
America is in trouble and if we ever needed to raise the standard high and fly the colors proudly, it’s now. Zimmerman witnessed the chaos in the country, saw the flagpole still standing out in front of her newly acquired shop and sounded a clarion call for the banner.
On June 15, 2020, the Legion Riders from all over Platte County came riding into town on their motorcycles, proud to be bearing the colors of the United… States of America. In a time when it seems as if people have lost their minds and at the very least their peace of mind, community came together and gave the American patriots a voice.
And the flagpole that stood silent and void of its color, felt for the first time in years the halyard hoisting both the huge American Flag and the POW Flag to a prominent place over Platte County. For such a time as this, she was ready and weren’t we all on that Monday afternoon in June.
We needed that empty pole so we could have a ceremony of freedom, a shout of triumph and a place to rally as the mortar rounds of hatred, prejudice and injustice are still coming in hot.
We all walked away from that little ceremony with a renewed sense of hope and as the rockets are glaring and the bombs are bursting in American air, a strong Wyoming wind reminded us that our flag, through this present darkness was still there.
“Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave. O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.” And in the hearts of those who choose to rise up and make a stand here in Platte County when that anthem is played and the banner is raised.
The flag may only be seen for blocks, but the voices were heard around the world, uniting with others who still believe it’s an honor to show our colors.
We say goobye, farewell and amen to Zimmerman and know that she has many lives to touch in Florida.