Originally created 01/16/04

Students get voice in picking new logo

It's prompted two months of debate, 36 suggestions from the public and more than a few headaches for Columbia County officials.

Now, the issue of choosing the county's new logo moves to a new group - high school students.

"Since they are the future of the county, let them vote on it," Columbia County Board of Commission Chairman Ron Cross said this week while pitching the idea.

The county began discussing the need for an updated logo two years ago during an annual planning meeting and hired The Alison Group, a local marketing firm, to help with the effort.

The $31,000 project resulted in a new brand, or slogan, for the county. It paid for a new logo for the Columbia County Sheriff's Office. But it did not result in a county logo that officials wanted to adopt.

In November, county commissioners decided to take the task to the public and solicited ideas. After whittling down the choices from the public submissions, the county has three top picks for favorite concepts, although opinions continue to differ about which is the best.

The choices are a modification of the county's existing logo, which depicts a sailboat in front of a yellow sun; , a wholesome picture with a family walking together; or a more businesslike rendering with a simple, stylized sailboat.

Now, officials want to see what the teens think.

The county's Board of Elections, which also plays host to student council and homecoming court elections in the county's four high schools, will roll out punch cards early next month for the students.

There's no word yet whether the high schoolers' pick will be a binding choice, or if county officials will use it as part of their ongoing discussions.

County Administrator Steve Szablewski said that despite any criticism officials have received about the project, changing the 12-year-old logo is a necessary part of the county's efforts to promote itself to outside companies.

"If we could bring in one industry the size of John Deere, it would pay for itself many times over in one year," he said. "You wouldn't go into a job interview wearing a suit from 1992."

Columbia County's high school students will vote next month on their choice for a new county logo. Columbia County commissioners have not said whether the vote will be binding.

Reach Vicky Eckenrode at (706) 868-1222, ext. 115, or vicky.eckenrode@augustachronicle.com.


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