When the Independence Quorum Court wanted to get a county seal designed, Judge Robert Griffin reached out.
He contacted all schools in the county to get EAST (Education Accelerated by Service and Technology) programs involved in the design phase, along with local graphics people. He issued two press releases and provided social media notices as well, which were shared and commented upon. Several talented people were tagged on the social media notice, as well.
“Notice was abundant, but only two local people submitted any seals for consideration. The good news is that one of these was considered in the redesign of the seal, not exactly, but enough to give credit to the submitter if the quorum court adopts it as an official county seal,” Griffin said.
Truls Rypern of Norway, submitted the first seal, which was filled with imagery he found through research the judge describes as “on-target in intent.” Griffin added quorum court knew the first seal design would need revisions to meet local sensitivities. It was selected for the symbolism contained in the written description provided by the artist and had many qualities of the county.
“No one knew the (first) seal was sent from Norway and none of us could have suspected it would have been possible since it mentioned so many things about our county, including as a prime example, Mark Martin and racing. When it was revealed the seal was from a Norwegian, it only made it special that someone from another nation, on a different continent, would have taken the time to learn that much about us. The trout was not a fish we would have used, but he learned how great a trout fishery the White River was. Little could he have known we are a little bit away from the real trout fishing. The truth is he put in an effort that was remarkable,” Griffin said.
For the record, Griffin recruited a local graphics person, whose identity remains a secret, to do what the quorum court knew would need to be done to have an acceptable seal. The new seal combines both a Norwegian’s view of Independence County, coupled with a local design that was considered and brought to life by a local designer.
“I would have never thought that a seal competition would have traveled that path but truly, we have something unique,” Griffin said.
The Liberty Bell is featured since Independence County’s name came from the Declaration of Independence, with 1820, which was the year the county formed Griffin explained.
“Freedom shines all around the Liberty Bell. Our local higher institutions of learning are featured under the bell as true freedom involves an informed and knowledgeable public,” Griffin said.
Natural resources are featured by the river flowing across the landscape, along with a largemouth bass and deer. Both the White and Black rivers were prominent in the area’s development and trade. Racing is represented in the outer ring along with the area’s mining history and quarries.
“Many may not know of the manganese mining around Cushman during the second World War. It is used in making steel, and that was a scarce resource in time of war. Our quarries produce materials that go all over the nation. Quarried stone from here is present in the Arkansas State Capitol. Sand mining is currently being done in our county. All this activity is representing many jobs,” Griffin said.
A few stalks of corn and a cow represents the many types of agriculture, which have long been mainstays of the community, along with a chicken.
Poultry processing and production is the leading agricultural industry in Arkansas, providing over 163,000 jobs and over 6,500 farms across the state produce some type of poultry, according to The Poultry Federation, which represents Arkansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma.
“We are honored by his work. He found a place he would like to visit and live. It brings out that we are an inclusive and accepting community that follows the Declaration upon which we are named: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,’” Griffin said.
The sunset/sunrise on the horizon represents two things according to the judge.
“Our potential is unlimited and we have a bright future as we move into the next 200 years. No matter where you live or who you are, we value your contributions to our county,” he said.