County not yet flying new state flag

By Justin Reedy

Georgia has a new state flag, but many government buildings and schools won't be flying the new banner until this summer.

During its session this year, the state legislature voted to change Georgia's flag from the blue banner adopted under former Gov. Roy Barnes to one echoing the flag flown in Georgia before 1956.

Now, Georgia Secretary of State Cathy Cox faces the task of replacing the more than 25,000 flags flying at public buildings across the state, a change that will cost about $325,000. But as yet, the state hasn't started replacing those flags yet, according to Kara Sinkule, Cox's spokeswoman.

That's because the state has to go through the normal procurement process for acquiring the flags n requests for proposals have to be sent out to flag makers, Sinkule said, and then a contractor must be selected based on their bid prices and manufacturing quality. The entire process should take several weeks, she said.

"It'll be a couple of months from now before you start to see new flags popping up in counties across the state," Sinkule said. "It should be July before they'll be sent out."

Counties and municipalities can pay for their own new state flags, she added, but are urged to keep the previous state flag on hand. That's because a statewide referendum is planned for March 2, 2004, in which voters will choose whether to keep the new flag or bring back the one implemented under Barnes.

Clayton County government offices are still flying the Barnes "compromise" flag n a blue field with the state seal and a string of miniature previous Georgia flags n and haven't bought any new flags, according to Suzanne Brown, the county's public information officer.

"We haven't purchased any new flags," Brown said. "Last time (in 2001), the state provided them for us."

Likewise, the cities in Clayton County have yet to start flying the new state banner, though some municipal governments could be getting theirs sooner than others.

"We still have the blue flag flying," said Jeff Eady, public works director for the city of Morrow. "But we have several of the new flags on order. As soon as we get them in we'll start flying them."

Morrow has ordered six new flags at a total cost of $327, Eady said, with two flags for each of the city's three municipal buildings. The city typically changes the flags out every three months, Eady said.

But Morrow officials, as well as their counterparts at Lake City, didn't know that the state planned to pay for replacing the flags. Eady and Jerry Garr, Lake City's city manager, both planned to call the secretary of state's office to get more information on the new banners.

Unless they get a new flag provided by the state, it might be a while before Lake City replaces the Barnes flag.

"The blue flag we're flying now is only about three or four months old," Garr said. "We'll probably wait a couple of months until the demand goes down to order one."