Welcome to Chester -- here's $100

CHESTER -- A crisp, green portrait of Benjamin Franklin goes to the innovative Chester County mind that designs the best county welcome sign.

The contest, created during Monday night's Chester County Council meeting, challenges county residents and employees to create the image that will grace the 4-by-8-foot welcome signs.

The aluminum signs will be placed at county entrances along major highways. The person with the best design gets $100.

The competition for greeting glory emerged after some leaders gave less-than-enthusiastic reviews of a design that was presented at Monday's meeting.

County Supervisor Carlisle Roddey said someone had suggested the signs bear the slogan, "Welcome to Chester County: Home of the Rocky Shoals Spider Lilies."

Roddey thought the message highlighted a unique local trait, and on Monday night he presented a picture of the blue sign with the lily message to the council. He said the cost of building 10 signs would be about $5,000.

But some council members weren't thrilled.

"It's not overly attractive," said Councilwoman Mary Guy, who quickly added, "It's not ugly."

Councilman Alex Oliphant suggested leaders open the design possibilities to the public to see if any artistic minds could hatch a creative way of saying hello.

Councilman Joe Branham agreed.

"That would get some community input," Branham said, adding that a contest would also allow residents to have some ownership of the signs.

Various suggestions

When Chester leaders discussed the welcome signs in April, The Herald asked about a dozen people in Chester what they thought a slogan should be. Some thought "Welcome to Chester" was enough. Others liked the county's current slogan, "A Historic Past ... An Unlimited Future."

Oliphant has said that he's had dozens of conversations with people about the signs and noticed attractive signs in other counties, such as Lancaster.

Now, Chester residents have a chance to make their own.

People who want to participate in the contest should send their designs to the Chester County supervisor's office by Sept. 1. County leaders will pick a committee to judge the entries.