For about two years there has been a flag flying in the Newton area adorned with crossed train tracks and wheat heads with the high school athletic colors of black and gold.
Promoted by a project called We Are Newton, the flag has served as an unofficial city flag.
“The point was to create unity for the community and something to rally around. I feel like it has been done that,” said Ashleigh Lakey, head of the We Are Newton project.
Used in social media campaigns and a We Are Newton website, Lakey said the flag has become recognizable, based on the feedback she has gotten online.
The flag was created by businessman Robert Palmer, owner of Back Alley Pizza and former owner of Norms, and minister Brandon Eck, of The Gathering Church, after a series of meetings of a committee charged with looking at branding for the city.
They brought the flag to We Are Newton.
“They saw my heart for this community,” Lakey said.
And, last year, Lakey took the flag to city hall with the aid of a current city commissioner to see if the commission would want to adopt it as an official flag.
There was reluctance to appoint the existing flag as the official city flag, as there was a desire to seek broad community involvement after similar projects in Wichita and Hutchinson.
“I understand that,” Lakey told the Kansan.
The Newton City Commission has now taken up the idea of an official flag for Newton with community engagement efforts, including meetings to discuss what an official flag should look like and a design contest.
Lakey said the We Are Newton flag will be entered, though it is not guaranteed to be selected.
“One hundred percent, yes,” she said. “We will definitely submit the design. ... My hope is that a lot of people will think that we already have a flag and see the work we have in this, and the investment in the community.”
The Newton Flag Committee has been created under the advisement and approval of Newton city commissioners, with the goal of formalizing a public campaign to create an official Newton flag that will be available to the community for public use.
“The goal of the meetings are to share what they are doing and to discuss what are the things that make Newton, Newton and what would be good icons on the flage and what colors would be good for a flag,” Lakey said.
The city committee will host three community meetings to receive input from the community regarding the town history, symbolism, and traits that they feel are imperative in representing Newton in flag form. The committee will be sharing initial outlines and guidance regarding creating flag designs to the community at large.
According to the city, the city flag campaign will have several stages, including community meetings to formalize community input, after which a set of guidelines and guidance will be released; submissions of flag designs will be received; public voting held to determine top tier of submitted designs; and a panel of community members will vote on the final city flag design.
The final design will be revealed to the public at an area event this fall, at which time the winning designer will be awarded a cash prize.
The community meetings are currently scheduled as follows:
• 2 p.m. Sunday, June 14, Meridian Center, 1420 E. Broadway Court. (Meeting will be broadcast on Facebook Live.)
• 7 p.m. Thursday, June 18, Facebook Live – online-only event. Follow the Newton Flag Project on Facebook to watch and interact with questions and ideas.
• 10 a.m. Tuesday, June 23, Wild Prairie Event Center, 1610 S.E. 3rd St.
Follow the Newton Flag Project at Facebook.com/NewtonKSFlag or contact Erin McDaniel with the city of Newton, 316-284-6055, with any questions.