Perryville forms committee to redesign city logo; current design includes Confederate flag

Published 10:00 am Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Perryville city council members Tim Simpson and Kelly Gray will be forming a committee with artist Stuart Arnold, who designed the city of Perryville’s current logo, to come up with designs for a new one, according to a city council decision made Thursday night.

The decision to redesign the logo comes due to two reasons: because the current design includes a Confederate flag, and because the current design reads “Battle of Perryville” instead of saying “City of Perryville” or otherwise representing the city itself.

At the May city council meeting, the decision made regarding the flags was to hang them on every other flag pole down Second Street. The city spent about $1,900 over time to purchase 50 of the flags with the option for citizens to purchase the flags for $40 each to break even on the cost. The city has sold about eight flags.

However, due to the controversy surrounding the flag, the city created a poll on Facebook to seek citizen feedback about whether to hang the flags the way the council decided.

City Clerk Mary Sleet said on Thursday that about 31 people had responded to the Facebook poll and only about two or three people said no, but “that’s not a fair representation of the population.”

Kelly Gray said she has talked to several Perryville citizens who are in favor of a new flag design.

“I’ve also spoken with several members of the city of Perryville who do find the Confederate flag, you know, to be hurtful or offensive, and whether I personally agree with that or not is not the point here,” Kelly Gray said. “The point is that we are representing those people, and you can’t discredit their feelings because they’re entitled to that.”

Simpson said the city aimed to represent history with the flag.

Councilman Adam Gray said the issue he has with the argument about history is that for example, in Europe, “I don’t think you’re going to see Nazi flags flying, and to me that represents hate to people, just like the Nazi flag represents hate.”

He said he believes it’s someone’s freedom to do so if they decide individually to hang a Confederate flag on their own home, but he didn’t think it was appropriate for a city to hang a flag featuring the Confederate flag in its design.

Councilman Tim Lanham, who works at the Perryville Battlefield, said the Confederate flag design on the city’s flag also isn’t historically accurate to the one flown in Perryville during the battle — the design features the battle flag of northern Virginia, he said.

Kelly Gray said since the city council represents all of Perryville, she believes it’s their responsibility to listen to those who find the Confederate flag on the design offensive.

“Now that my eyes have been opened to the way, you know, people who live in this community feel about it, I’m ashamed, really, that we have — I just can’t imagine driving down my Main Street and feeling like this is my community, but it’s hurtful to look at certain things that represent my community because of the color of my skin,” she said. “That would be a terrible feeling.”

She said it may be unclear to people driving through Perryville what the city’s intentions are with featuring the Confederate flag on its design. Though she agreed that it’s to commemorate the battle and the people who died, she said a misconception could be that the city is celebrating the Confederacy by putting the flag on display.

Mayor Brian Caldwell said he takes some personal responsibility when it comes to the decision to purchase the flags because he didn’t “put a lot of thought into it” because it’s been the flag’s design for years.

As far as his opinion on what the flag represents, he said, “I tend to agree that it is part of history, and I’m a huge history buff myself. I don’t like erasing history. I don’t agree with everything that’s happened in history, of course — a lot of atrocities happened that should not have happened, agreeably. But at the same time, I think I guess the angle that I came from it was without the Battle of Perryville, would we even have a Perryville?”

Simpson later added that some citizens said they would be angry if the design is changed, but people could be angry no matter the decision made. Kelly Gray said she’s not concerned with people being angry but about doing the right thing.

Ultimately, due to the nature of the current design, Simpson made a motion to form a committee to redesign the city logo, withdrawing his original motion to hang the current flags.

“If we do that, I would like to ask that we get Stuart Arnold to do it because he’s the one who did that (original) one,” he said.

Simpson suggested Kelly Gray also be part of the committee, and she agreed to do it. Also part of the decision was that Arnold would come up with multiple designs for the city to choose from. The city council voted 5-1 on the decision, with the “nay” vote from Councilman Steve Bailey.

In other business, during the meeting:

• Fire Chief Anthony Young said the next step in the process of accepting the bid on the new fire truck, which the city voted to do at a previous meeting, will be to choose a financing option to pay for it. He encouraged the council to make the decision in a timely manner.

• Young also gave an update on the issue with the city’s internet provider. The city currently does not have sufficient internet service to use its camera and microphone equipment it ordered and was reimbursed for to have higher-quality audio and visuals of recorded meetings, so Young got in contact with Spectrum and sent a contract, but it came back to the city labeled for Perryville, Missouri, instead of Perryville, Kentucky, so the change of internet provider is still delayed.

One citizen was at the Thursday meeting and said the meetings streamed on Facebook are difficult to hear — and several comments on the city’s Facebook page say the same — and Young responded that the city is doing what it can to gain the internet capability to use the new equipment.

• Another issue Young brought up is how to address abandoned properties within city limits. He said he brought it up in the fall of 2020 and does not think the city has followed through sufficiently, saying the city needs a way to properly address abandoned properties and set consequences for property owners if they are not addressed. Kelly Gray made a motion to enforce the abandoned urban property act already in existence, and the rate property owners will be charged with will be set when the new fiscal year starts. The motion passed with unanimous approval from the council.