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Eye On Boise

How Idaho will decide

Gov. Dirk Kempthorne has announced the process for picking the design for Idaho’s state quarter: Anyone in the state is invited to send in their suggestions by email to or by snail-mail to Idaho Quarter, Idaho Commission on the Arts, P.O. Box 83720, Boise, ID 83720-0008. Online forms and information are at

Suggestions, which must include a written description of up to 150 words and don’t have to include artwork, though they can for illustration purposes, must be postmarked by Sept. 9. (The U.S. Mint’s own artists will make up the actual artwork, once the design is selected.)

The Idaho Commission on the Arts will winnow the suggestions down to the top 100 by Sept. 15, then appoint a special commission to choose 10 finalists, which will go to the governor. He’ll pick three to five and send them to the Mint; they’ll send back the designs, and then Kempthorne will make the final pick.

“I will encourage simplicity,” he said, noting that some states’ quarters appear to have been designed by committee, with multiple symbols crowded in. “To the extent that one symbol can best depict Idaho, that’s great,” Kempthorne said.

Here’s what NOT to suggest: “Inappropriate design concepts include, but are not limited to, logos or depictions of specific commercial, private, educational, civic, religious, sports or other organizations whose membership or ownership is not universal,” according to the Mint. They also don’t want state flags or seals; they want landmarks, landscapes, symbols, icons, buildings and the like that will “promote the diffusion of knowledge among the youth of the United States about the state, its history and geography, and the rich diversity of our national heritage.”

No head-and-shoulders portraits of people or depictions of living people are accepted; Kempthorne offered this explanation: Since the state design will go on the back of the quarter, and George Washington still will be pictured on the front, if Idaho’s design were a person, the quarter couldn’t be used for a heads-or-tails coin toss. “You’d have to go heads or heads.”

“Our objective is that Idaho will be one of the most distinguished, beautiful, awesome quarters,” Kempthorne said. “In the end, we will have a beautiful reminder of what makes our state so great.”

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Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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