New flag on the way

By Ed Brock

Looking for the first time at Georgia's new state flag as it flew over Morrow City Hall, 16-year-old Terence Benn Jr. had some questions.

"Did we vote on it yet?" Benn said. "They shouldn't put it up there yet until we vote on it."

The flag actually isn't up in many places yet. Morrow had to buy their six flags.

"If the state's going to send some out we'll take them, too," Morrow City Manger John Lampl said. "These won't last forever."

This flag, approved in this year's legislative session, may not even last past March 2, 2004. That's when a referendum is scheduled that would give the state's citizens the opportunity to vote on which flag they want, this one or the "compromise" flag pushed by former Gov. Roy Barnes in 2001.

"I like the old one better," said 20-year-old Heather McClane of McDonough. "This one doesn't have that much design to it."

McClane and Benn said they hadn't seen the flag before and weren't even aware a new flag had been put in place.

So far Georgia Secretary of State Cathy Cox's office has provided interior flags for offices in the state capitol building, the Georgia Superior Court and state Court of Appeals, said Kara Hodgson.

"The vendor has the order for the schools and we're expecting them to go out in about two weeks," Hodgson said.

The orders for flags for the county governments will go to the vendor next week, Hodgson said, and the orders for the cities should follow a week or two after. It takes an average of 25 days after receipt by the vendor before the orders are completed.

The county also bought some of the new flags on their own, but only interior flags for the courtrooms at the Harold R. Banke Justice Center, said Rae Johnson with Clayton County Central Services.

Officials with Riverdale, Forest Park, Jonesboro and Lake City said they've ordered their flags.

"If I had to pick and chose I would have wanted the pre-1956 flag, the one I grew up with," Lake City City Manager Jerry Garr said.

The red and white stripes of the newest flag refer back to the pre-1956 flag. The state coat of arms is in a blue field in the upper left corner of the flag surrounded by 13 stars representing Georgia's position as one of the original 13 colonies.

Lampl said Morrow paid about $43 each for six flags. There are three main companies providing the flag to private parties, Conder Flags at (770) 409-0217, Atlas Flags at (770) 938-0003 and Southern Tailors at (404) 367-8660.

"Sales have been soft," said Southern Tailors Sales Manager Ed Pulner. "Because it's changing so quickly I think people are waiting to see what happens."