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Eye On Boise

Mon., July 25, 2005, 4:46 p.m.

Idaho on a quarter

If you could capture the essence of Idaho in a design not much bigger than a thumbnail, how would you do it? It’s no idle question – the time is drawing near for Idaho to start designing its official state quarter, which will be issued in 2007. Later this week, Gov. Dirk Kempthorne will hold a press conference with the Idaho Commission on the Arts to announce plans for how Idaho will pick a design.

Lots of states have gone before us, and each used a little bit different process. Somehow, in Wisconsin, it took two statewide votes to settle on their design: the head of a cow, a small ear of corn and a round of cheese. Really.

Kansas held a statewide vote among its high school students to pick among the finalists there, and settled on a catchy buffalo-and-sunflower motif. Oregon’s Crater Lake design was the choice of an 18-member commemorative coin commission, and the state’s governor concurred. More than 100,000 people participated in a statewide election in Maine that picked a design showing a landmark lighthouse shining out over a rocky coastline.

New York’s coin features, of course, the Statue of Liberty, Georgia has a peach, and 112 citizens of Connecticut aged 6 to 87 submitted designs for that state’s coin, with the winner depicting the state’s storied Charter Oak tree. But in California, it took Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger himself to make the call that the state coin would feature an angular John Muir practically nose to nose with a giant California condor, both towering over Yosemite’s Half Dome – instead of a depiction of the Golden Gate bridge.

So what says Idaho on a quarter? The jagged Sawtooth Mountains? A giant, butter-dripping spud? Clear rivers and deep lakes? A map of Highway 95? One warning: No state seals or corporate logos are allowed.

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Eye On Boise

News, happenings and more from the Idaho Legislature and the state capital.