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Concerns raised over a proposed redesign of Washington County seal

Washington County's potential new seal would include 13 stars around the original, but similarities to far-right symbols are causing concern.

WASHINGTON COUNTY, ARKANSAS, Ark. — Washington County Judge Patrick Deakins wants a new seal for the county.

In an Ordinance, the County Judge is adding 13 stars around the original seal. He says it would symbolize collaboration for the county's incorporated municipalities.

"When I was campaigning, one of the things that I learned from everybody was the importance of us collaborating as a county," said Judge Deakins.

"So even though I serve in the capacity of Washington County Judge, we want to recognize our cities and realize that as a region, we have to work together to meet the challenges of our success, if you will, our growth. And so really the seal—to update it was really an effort to collaborate with the cities and highlight the importance of having them involved in all the decision makings," says Judge Deakins

Judge Deakins explained that the seal hadn't been revised since 1982. In text correspondence, the county judge said that if approved: "There will be no immediate impact to the budgets, and that is why there is not a budgetary request with this. The county will implement it as we remodel or add assets. As you can imagine, a lot of our correspondence is electronic, so letterhead and emails will have a very nominal impact. As we acquire new assets, they will be declared with the new seal through the regular processes we use for the current seal."

"We haven't touched the foundation, I would say that seal, we're just adding and supplementing a component with the ring of stars around that original seal so that we're both in my mind honoring our history, but also looking forward to the future and the collaboration that we can have with our municipalities," added Judge Deakins

Suki Highers is the Justice of the Peace for District 11 in Washington County. She expressed her concerns about the new county seal.

"People see what they want to see in symbols," said JP Highers. "Some people are going to see a symbology that has been used by the Patriot Front and by the three percenters. And that can get in the way of that spirit of togetherness that he's wanting to bring with those 13 stars together."

Judge Deakins says that "it by no means has no connection to any other groups other than to represent the 13 cities within our county... Unfortunately, and ironically, a lot of times in politics, we get caught in these partisan ruts,"

The Quorum court's meeting is scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 19. It'll be the first time this year that the court meets and has the revised seal ordinance included in the agenda. That meeting starts at 6 pm at the Washington County Courthouse.

With six new justices of the peace joining the court, JP Highers says it could be more of an organizational meeting. She would like for the ordinance to be tabled to handle other businesses within the county.

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