Almost 18 years after working to designate an official McLennan County flag, former Precinct 4 County Commissioner Ray Meadows realized this week he never got one.
“It just hit me I don’t have one,” Meadows said while recalling the events in 1999 that led to the county’s adoption of a flag. “I wish I had one.”
Recent requests from individuals wanting their own McLennan County flag led Purchasing Director Ken Bass to ask commissioners for permission to order more flags. The county ordered about 30 almost two decades ago, but interest has spiked for the locally designed memento.
County staff is looking for a new company that can reproduce the flag because the company that made the original 30 has since gone out of business.
The county flag is essentially the state flag with “McLennan County” in black lettering across the white field, “1850” across the red field and a modified star, with the McLennan County Courthouse dome for the top point and the middle of the star cut out.
Downtown, it flies in two places along Washington Avenue: in front of the county Records Building at Ninth Street and in front of the courthouse at Sixth Street.
According to the minutes of the Sept. 29, 1999, commissioners court meeting, Meadows gave a presentation about the early history of the county and recounted an earlier attempt to come up with a county flag. About a decade earlier, the county held a flag design contest that solicited ideas from art students at Texas State Technical College, but Meadows said those designs were too “modernistic” for his taste, according to Tribune-Herald coverage.
The commissioners court finally adopted the county flag on Oct. 5, 1999, according to meeting minutes.
“I am just tickled to death to have a county flag,” Meadows said at the time. “Whatever we put on it, I think it will be nice.”
Meadows said this week he remembers wanting to designate a flag for the county as a way to bring pride back to the area.
“There wasn’t a lot of pride in this county at the time,” he said. “I ran it up the flagpole at commissioners court to see what they thought. I just wanted something simple that people could recognize if they saw it.”
Meadows recalled presenting a county flag to the family of longtime sheriff Jack Harwell, who died in March 2000.
Harwell’s son, County Clerk Andy Harwell, remembers that moment as well. “I still have that,” Harwell said.
Jack Harwell had served as the county sheriff from January 1973 to his passing, and remains the longest serving county sheriff, Andy Harwell said.
“He and I held office together at the same time,” Andy Harwell said.
At the time of discussions surrounding adopting a flag, the county was renovating the Heart O' Texas Coliseum, now known as the Extraco Events Center, said former County Engineer Steve Hendrick, who retired in December. Rocky Kelley, a local artist, had painted murals on part of the coliseum during the renovations and was recruited to help create a flag, Hendrick said.
Kelley presented several options, but commissioners requested something simpler, Hendrick said. In response, Kelly came up with the modified lone star with a silhouetted courthouse dome, and with its Themis statue on top, and placed the design over the state flag and added the words.
Kelley said his work was all over the county at the time, but he had never designed a flag of that scale before. After meeting with commissioners, he remembers going home with suggestions and trying to piece them together.
Suggestions for symbols representing the county ranged from a locomotive or the Waco Suspension Bridge to an image of cotton, Hendrick said.
“It definitely was a collaborative effort from a bunch of people,” Hendrick said.