Howard County wants to start the year with a new flag design to replace the one raised on the Maryland county’s flagpoles 50 years ago.
The county has designated a new commission with the task of soliciting new designs to replace the current flag.
“The Flag Commission is a great opportunity to reflect what Howard County is today,” council Chair Deb Jung said in a news release. “I’m looking forward to seeing the County’s artistic talents during this process.”
The current flag was designed by Jean O. Hannon in 1968, beating out 40 other entries. Hannon’s design has red and white in a nod to Maryland’s state flag, and it features a sheaf of wheat and a green outline of the county in a gold triangle. The wheat represents the county’s agricultural roots, while the triangle symbolized “the unique position of Howard in the future development of the Eastern Seaboard.”
While a great representation of the time when the flag was created, Howard County has undergone a number of changes in the last five decades that the commission hopes will be reflected in the new flag.
“The Howard County flag should represent the vibrancy and incredible diversity of our community,” County Executive Calvin Ball said. “Our process will invite the public to re-imagine this central symbol and produce recommendations for a design that inspires current and future County residents.”
Since 1968, the county’s population has grown from roughly 60,000 to 335,000, shedding parts of its once largely rural landscape. Currently, Howard County is one of the “most racially diverse, highly-educated and highest-earning counties” in the United States, according to U.S. News & World Report.
“The County has changed dramatically since 1968. I am excited to tap into the creative talents of our community to design a new flag,” said Coleen West, executive director of the Howard County Arts Council and chair of the Howard County Flag Commission.
Members of the public will be able to submit their designs through a website portal. From there, the 19-person commission will establish criteria and evaluate the submissions, before choosing 10 designs for the public to vote on in autumn 2024. The commission will then personally choose three of the top five public favorites and present them to the county executive, who will ultimately choose one and seek final approval from the County Council in winter 2025.
The three finalists will receive a monetary honorarium from Howard County.
“Howard County has become significantly more diverse over the last 50 years, and it is important that all residents see themselves represented by our county flag,” Maryland state Sen. Clarence Lam said. “That is why I appreciate County Executive Ball’s plan to convene a diverse and public process to develop a new flag for at least the next 50 years.”