September 2, 2014

Commissioners feel wayfinding logo not representative of county

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ARENAC COUNTY — While the Arenac County Board of Commissioners do not believe the county’s wayfinding sign logos reflect the county’s characteristics, they ultimately did not have a problem with it at their Aug. 7 meeting after it was explained that it is not an official logo.

The issue sparked a discussion where the commissioners talked about what they would like to see on an official logo that is indicative the land and its residents — something the county has not really had in its 130-year history.

The commissioners had a motion on the agenda to accept the wayfinding sign logo, which includes an egret, a kayaker and a rising sun. The logo was selected by the Arenac County Economic Development Corporation, and Commissioner Mike Snyder did not feel it adequately showed what the county has to offer.

“My first reaction was if you look carefully at the logo, if you added a pineapple, it could be for Hawaii,” Snyder said. “My thought is that we’re so much more than a rising sun, a bird and a kayaker.”

Commissioner Chairman Bob Luce cited the logo on the county flag, which features a farmer and horses plowing a field, as being more indicative of the major business in the county, and thought a logo reflecting agriculture, camping, and nature would make more sense. County Clerk Rick Rockwell was quick to point out the flag is not technically a county logo, either.

County Treasurer Dennis Stawowy, who is also a member of the EDC, said that this logo was only designed to be used for wayfinding, and came to them through a grant for that purpose.

“This is a wayfinding grant,” he said. “It is steered toward tourists, and is not meant for people who live in Arenac County. It’s a way to steer tourists off the road, off of I-75.”

Stawowy said when the grant originally came to them two years ago, the EDC held public hearings to get input on what the logo should include, but had little feedback. They finally had 10 options to choose from, and ultimately decided to include a local bird, the sun and a kayaker to represent the outdoor activities here.

He added that the logos on the wayfinding signs in Bay County and Midland County are not similar to the county, or even Bay City and Midland, logos. They are designed with bright colors to catch people’s eyes and make them decide to check out whatever site they are advertising, Stawowy said.

Snyder and Luce agreed that if the wayfinding logo is only for the signs and not for the county at large, they did not have much of a problem with it. Luce still planned on attending the next EDC meeting to bring up his concerns with the board there, feeling it was improper for the EDC to bring the logo to the county commissioners for their blessing after signs featuring it have already been installed.

Rockwell said the county has not had an official logo since the 1800s, when the county seal featured a beaver to reflect all the swampland here. He said the county flag was created in the 1930s by J.L. Hudson downstate in a bid to keep his employees occupied by making flags for every county in Michigan. The flag was presented to the county’s board of supervisors after it was completed.

The county commissioners approved a centennial logo in 1983 designed by a local student, he said, but other than that the county has never had one.

The county commissioners liked the idea of having local students come up with an official logo design, but did not take any official action at the meeting on setting up a logo competition or otherwise coming up with one.

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