Originally created 12/08/00

Augusta adopts new city flag



The city's got a brand new flag.

On Tuesday, Augusta Commissioners adopted an updated consolidated government banner to replace city flags that have flown over downtown for 15 years.

The bisected red and white flag with its blue circle of stars and city seal will be swapped out sometime early next year for a green banner adorned with the consolidated government's gold Old Government House seal.

Commissioners were unsure of the exact history behind the old city flag, but local historians say the standard has a story.

During the mid-1980s, a local engineering firm was hired to plan downtown's riverwalk. Blueprints showed three flagpoles in the center of the walkway: one for the American flag; one for the state flag; and one for the city flag.

"But Augusta didn't have a flag as far as we knew," said Tom Robertson, an engineer with Cranston, Robert & Whitehurst.

Enter the city's own Betsy Ross: Rozelle "Rockie" Dinwiddie. She and her husband, Gray - then a dean at Augusta College - were charged by Mayor Charles DeVaney with creating a flag.

Mrs. Dinwiddie recalls working into the midnight hours for five days, piecing together the pattern with scraps of fabric from the shelves of her sewing room.

And on May 6, 1986, the flag was adopted by the city.

"I was really tired after it was over because I didn't get too much sleep," said the now 77-year-old Mrs. Dinwiddie. "But I really enjoyed the process, and my husband did, too."

The flag design was updated from one they found on the cover of a 1939 Work Progress Administration publication. The city's blue circular seal was added at the mayor's request.

"It's going to be hard for me to get used to that green flag," Mrs. Dinwiddie said.

But since the county and city combined in 1996, officials have talked of a new flag design, while the supply of old city flags has steadily diminished.

"The flag stands for something," Mr. Young said Thursday, from his office, where a replica of the updated emblem also serves as a screen saver for his lap top computer. "It means something."

The gold emblem represents prosperity. The green background stands for the Garden City. The color scheme also matches that of the Masters Tournament, he said.

The city's Trees and Landscape Department oversees the ordering of flags for city poles, including those at Riverwalk Augusta, the intersection of Fourth and Broad streets and the Savannah River marina. The cost for flags ranges from $8,000-$10,000 annually, Director Barry Smith said.

"The mayor wants flags flying, and certainly it's a very patriotic thing," Mr. Smith said, noting that wind and weather cause the fabric to deteriorate. "When they get tattered, we get an e-mail from Mayor Young: Fresh flags. Here, there, everywhere."

Reach Heidi Coryell at (706) 823-3215.