Genesee County's vexillologist updates legislative committee on status of flag design contest
As a vexillologist since childhood, Genesee County Planning Director Felipe Oltramari knows more than a thing or two about how flags should look.
He shared some of his knowledge on the study of flags earlier this week during a discussion with the county’s Ways & Means Committee about the progress of a public contest to find a replacement for the current Genesee County flag – a blue banner that features the county seal in the middle with the words Genesee County above and Founded 1802 below in block letters.
“One of the no-no’s for flags is never to put words on them,” Oltramari said, admitting the county flag has ruffled his feathers to a certain degree. “Flags are symbols, and they’re not supposed to say things. Especially when they’re flying … you really can’t read them so it makes no sense.”
Oltramari said he became hooked on flags since his elementary school days after seeing pictures of them on the inside cover of a dictionary.
“I’ve been a flag bearer all my life,” he said. “I memorized them and to this day, I’m very good. I like going to GCC, where all the flags are hanging … and I can name them all. It’s fun.”
He explained to the committee that the international and national vexillology associations took their name from the word vexillum, which is Latin for the flag-like object used as a military standard by units in the ancient Roman Army.
When the county embarked on a comprehensive plan update and the Genesee 2050 project associated with it, Oltramari took that as an opportunity to get citizens involved by holding a design contest to update the flag – with categories for adults and children.
Online voting on the five finalists in each division ended on April 30 – resulting in first-place designs pending approval by the legislature before results are released to the public. Oltramari said using the county seal on the new flag is allowed.
Should the designs receiving the most votes move forward (and that is uncertain at this point), Oltramari suggested drafting a commendation and making a presentation to the children’s category winner.
He also thought it would be proper to make the children’s flag the official county flag for a day and fly it outside.
“After that, it would be put in the Genesee County History Department as a display,” he said. “It would be an extra cost to have that flag printed but I thought it would be a nice gesture.”
According to a press release from the county about the flag contest, those who voted online have a chance to win free shelter reservations at DeWitt Recreation Area and the Genesee County Park & Forest for the upcoming season.
Voters were automatically entered into the drawing by voting for one of the flag designs and by filling out any of the Genesee 2050 surveys. The more surveys someone completed, the more chances that person had to win.
To see pictures of the five finalists in both categories, click on the Previously link.