New Chester County welcome sign a hodgepodge of ideas from seven residents

CHESTER -- Seven Chester County residents will split $400 -- the prize for their contributions to the county's new welcome signs.

After a two-month design contest, Chester County Council unveiled the new sign and announced the winners during Monday night's council meeting.

The county's first welcome signs will feature a dark blue outline of the county and a light blue background. "Welcome to Chester County," it says, "Preserving the past... Preparing for the Future!"

"It's a good start without spending a whole lot of money," said Councilman Alex Oliphant, who came up with the idea for the contest. "It'll just be a nice way to say, 'Thanks for stopping in Chester. Thanks for driving through.'"

Leaders wanted to give local folks a chance to show their talent. Oliphant said he had dozens of conversations with people about the need for welcome signs and noticed attractive signs in other counties, such as Lancaster.

The council initially planned to develop a committee that would select one design for a $100 prize. But after some 90 suggestions poured in, the committee opted for a design that incorporated the best elements from several entries.

They sent the designs they liked to Jim Brown Signs in Rock Hill. The sign company came up with some font and color schemes.

The committee narrowed the color choices to blue and white, blue and yellow or dark blue and light blue. They liked the final option.

"I thought it looked rich and stately," said Councilwoman Mary Guy. "And I thought the colors were kind of patriotic. ... The color blue represents a lot of good characteristics."

Guy was part of the judging committee, along with Oliphant and county employees Diane Foster, Linda Roddey and Barbara Cameron.

They picked seven winners, and the council opted to increase the award money to $400. Six participants will receive $50 and one person will take home $100 because the committee chose two of his concepts.

The idea of using the shape of the county came from designs submitted by Shane Stuart, James Jennings and Jean Camp. Billy Diggs, Marquita Fair and Liz Odum submitted designs that incorporated the county seal. The slogan came from Jennings and Karen Lee.

All the winners live in Chester County.

Ten 4-by-8-foot signs sporting the new design will be placed at county entrances along major highways.

Leaders said Monday the signs would soon go out for bid and should be up before next year. Previous estimates for the signs have been around $5,000.