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Nevada may run idea for new flag up pole

Its banner ranks low among flags of U.S., Canada

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MINDEN, Nev. — A Nevada man has designed a new state flag, and the secretary of state thinks it should be run up the legislative pole for lawmakers to debate whether to adopt a new standard for the Silver State.

The design of Robert Karp, a 65-year-old retired defense contractor here, 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," Secretary of State Dean Heller said. "If Nevada can produce a better flag, let's take a look at it."

Nevada's flag was ranked 55th among the 72 banners from the 50 states, U.S. territories, Washington, D.C., and the Canadian provinces earlier this year in a survey by the North American Vexillological Association. Vexillology is the study of flags.

The straw popularity poll drew 100 responses from association members, and 300 from members of the public. Respondents favored strong, simple graphic designs and scorned so-called "seal-on-a-bedsheet" designs common among state flags.

New Mexico's flag ranked first among the 72. Among western states, Montana ranked lowest at No. 70. The association acknowledged that state partisanship biased some votes.

The group likened Nevada's current flag to "a blob on a bedsheet" and its survey prompted contests to change the flag by the Utne Reader and Nevada magazine, with Karp sweeping both.

Karp's flag is silver, blue and white, featuring a snowcapped mountain and star.

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."

Karp said "only in his wildest dreams" would he ever think his design entered in the magazine contest would become the official state flag. And he's not interested in the politics of such a change.

"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.

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."

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.