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MossColumn: Here we go again

Commissioner Grady Hawkins says Henderson County's official flag has vanished from our fair land.
"I've been looking to try to find the Henderson county flag," he said Monday night at the Board of Commissioners meeting. "I guess it's in the chairman's garage."


Actually, that's true. Chairman Charlie Messer copped to it.
Several years ago, when he was serving on the Recreation Board, he gave flags to county baseball coaches to take to a tournament out of state.
"I was able to take those flags, present them to the coaches, and they brought them back to me," he said.
Apparently that's where they've stayed.
Not much point getting them out now.
The scene this week reminded me of the Hendersonville City Council's ill-fated plunge into public art, which produced the $180,000 copper-topped pile of rocks known as the mountain fountain. Now the Board of Commissioners has tasked itself with redesigning the county flag.
Oh, boy. We're just imagineering all over the place these days.
We've got the aforementioned City Council and its proposed new "Mountain Cool" slogan. We've got the Tourism Development Authority looking to "rebrand" the county. Now the Board of Commissioners, which includes a renowned performing arts critic who offered to take over play selection for the Flat Rock Playhouse 14 months ago, are redesigning the county flag. This is going to be special.
Before commissioners took up with their palettes and brushes, Ralph Bastedo offered a 10-minute primer on flag design.
Based on "flag design principals enunciated in a textbook called 'Good Flags, Bad Flags'," Bastedo read several good points from the experts.
"The flag should be so simple that a child can draw it from memory," he said.
Now that seems like a pretty high bar right there. Lots of local flags are instantly forgettable.
Here's a couple more points from Ralph, annotated by me:
• "Avoid the temptation (to represent) everything." If we want an apple, settle on an apple. Don't add the courthouse dome, a fall color panorama and the early bird line of diners at Bay Breeze.
• "Use meaningful symbolism. Usually a single primary symbol is best." See above.
• "Use 2-3 basic colors; limit the colors to three, which contrast well." All the proposed flags that someone in the courthouse whipped up in Photoshop contained red, white or blue. Not very original but workable and honorable. No yellow or green.
• "No lettering on the seal. Words defeat the purpose, after all. Why not just write USA on a flag? Don't confuse the flag with a banner, which is what is carried by a marching band in a parade." Good points, all.
• "Avoid duplicating other flags but use similarities to show connections." County Manager Steve Wyatt, who has seen more county flags than any of his elected bosses, made the point that many local flags in North Carolina mimic the tri-color red, white and blue scheme of our North Carolina flag. He also made the good point that, enamored though we are with our courthouse dome, that fact does not distinguish us from 75 other counties that are enamored with their courthouse dome.
Then there's the high-wire risk of these five elected gentlemen deciding what image to choose.
Based on Commissioner Hawkins' motion, it was so ordered that the county public information office would post the flags on the county website and have the people vote. As a public service, we're doing the same at the Hendersonville Lightning. See the flags on Page 15, go to HendersonvilleLightning.com and vote.
Hawkins wanted the PIO to play with the images and come up with something.
"Just take a look and see if there might be a design that sets the example of what this county, one of the best counties if not the best county in the entire state, (represents), and I think it would be appropriate if we had a flag that indicates that."
Commissioner Tommy Thompson got the flag creation discussion going with a critique of the proposals so far.
"The only thing that really bothers me about any of these is the apple could be a strawberry or a tomato or whatever," he said. "It really doesn't depict the agriculture community as we know it to be."
The Squire of Dana represents the apple country, of course. But what if Charlie Messer, of Hoopers Creek, wants a manufacturing plant on the flag, and Larry Young, representative of Mills River, wants — oh, I don't know — a bottle of Sierra Nevada pale ale, and Michael Edney wants the old Vagabond image of the Playhouse. One image I bet we won't put on the flag is a schoolteacher cashing a paycheck.
If my prayers are answered, the flag will become a campaign issue.
We seem to be having a collective identity crisis around here, trying to figure out what best represents our greatness. So join in and vote, or better yet, create an image no one has thought of. Oh, one more thing. The City Council is ineligible to play.


Contact Hendersonville Lightning editor Bill Moss at billmoss@hendersonvillelightning.com or 828.698.0407.