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image by Jorge Candeias, 19 February 2005
Minden man designs new state flag
12/18/2001 11:41 pm
Nevada's secretary of state said Tuesday lawmakers should debate the adoption of a new state flag, designed by a retired defense contractor from Minden. The design of Robert Karp, 65, has won two flag designing contests -- including one sponsored by Nevada magazine -- but is a radical change from the state's current flag. "We could see what comes from the Legislature, give the public a chance to ring in and give an argument for or against," Republican Secretary of State Dean Heller said. "If Nevada can produce a better flag, lets take a look at it."
Nevada's flag was ranked 55th among the 72 banners from every state in the United States, its territories, Washington, D.C., and all the provinces of Canada earlier this year in a survey by North American Vexillological Association (NAVA). That group likened Nevada's current flag to "a blob on a bed sheet" and its survey prompted contests to change the flag by the Utne Reader and Nevada magazine, with Karp sweeping both. Flag expert James Ferrigan of Carson City, a NAVA officer, gave Karp's design high marks but questioned whether Nevadans want a new flag. "We have to ask, is there a compelling need to change our flag?" Ferrigan said. "Changing state flags isn't easy. Recent attempts in Montana and Rhode Island have either failed or have gotten sidetracked in the Legislature." "Could we come up with a better flag? Probably," Ferrigan said. "Do we have a need to? That is open to debate."
A story by editor Richard Moreno in Nevada magazine reported many respondents said, "Don't mess with Nevada's current state flag." Leo Horishny of Sun Valley wrote Nevada magazine saying, "I found nothing amusing about this bogus group (North American Vexillological Association) and their ranking, nor should a millisecond of anyone's consciousness be devoted to changing Nevada's flag design."
Karp said "only in his wildest dreams" would he ever think his design would become the official state flag. His intentions to enter the contest stemmed from a "intellectual exercise," not a need to change the state flag. "I took this project pretty seriously and I am proud of my design, but I am not in a position where I would want to badger people in the state assembly or state government to get it accepted," Karp said. "I'm not interested in that."
Although he likes Karp's design, Heller said he has received no petition or Legislative directive to put the question of a new flag on an election ballot. He also doubted the Legislature would approve the design without adding a few touches. "I do like the simplicity of the design. It says a lot," Heller said. "But what it lacks is the (state motto) Battle Born. I could see that being an issue with the Legislature. If you sent this flag over to the Legislature, you would see some amendments to it." Heller said he would anticipate "pockets of resistance" in any effort to change the flag. "You would have a lot of opposition to it in this area because it is the capital city and people here are more attuned to the flag. In other parts of the state, like Clark County, where people come and go a lot, they probably would not have such an opposition to it."
Nevada has had four different designs for a state flag, since Gov. John Sparks helped design the first one in 1905. The current flag was adopted in 1991 and, except for a few minor changes, is almost exactly the same flag adopted by the state in 1929. "It would actually be interesting to see what it (Karp's flag) would look like flying," said Denise Evans, art director at Nevada magazine.
Symbolism of John Karp's redesign of Nevada's state flag: