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City Beat: City adopts new flag

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Springfield’s historic city flag will be lowered and its new design raised on March 1, following City Council action on Jan. 10.

Of course, as supporters and opponents of the old design pointed out during debate over the change, the old flag is not commonly seen around Springfield, so the lowering is mostly symbolic.

One supporter of the old flag, Heather Dietz, told council she didn’t realize Springfield had a flag until two years ago, and her words were echoed by Sharon Benton, who backed the new design.

“Until this proposed new flag, I honestly didn’t know we had a city flag,” Benton said.

Council chambers at Historic City Hall were divided down the middle between supporters and opponents of the new design, and over a dozen speakers offered their views to council before the vote.

The new flag was first proposed for official city use by the Springfield Identity Project in 2017.

Supporters of the old flag said they didn’t want to give up the red, white and blue that coordinates so well with the state and national flags. Some even suggested designs on the new flag were occult or Masonic in origin.

Supporters of the new flag expressed appreciation for its design and symbolism.

Councilpersons Mike Schilling and Angela Romine voted against the new design, and before the vote, Schilling made a motion to refer the issue to the Community Involvement Committee for more review. That motion, seconded by Romine, failed, leaving council to decide the future standard for the city. Romine also urged council to put the issue on a public ballot for a formal vote.

Cora Scott, the city’s director of public information and civic engagement, shared results of a survey on the flag design, and it showed that more respondents favored the old design over the new one, with 48.9% in favor of the design and 51.1% preferring the old one. Scott said it was the largest response she had seen to a poll in her 10 years with the city, but a large number of duplicate responses from IP addresses on both sides of the issue suggested the use of bots.

Romine lamented the fact that the old design was not embraced by the city.

“I feel like the city has let the current flag down because it’s not flown anywhere,” she said. “This flag has been flown everywhere, and that’s why people recognize it.”

Council members who supported the new design were enthusiastic in their remarks prior to the vote.

“Frankly, I’ve never experienced such enthusiasm and civic pride as I’ve seen centered around this proposed new flag,” Richard Ollis said.

Heather Hardinger said the flag would be a recognizable symbol of the city.

“By adopting this as our city flag, people will recognize it and people will be able to put Springfield, Missouri, on the map in a way we haven’t done before,” she said.

Mayor Ken McClure commended everyone who expressed their views and described the process as a good one.

McClure suggested the historic city flag would continue to have a place of honor in the city, just as the Historic City Hall does. He said it would be appropriately retired on March 1, before the new emblem is raised.

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