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When Kim Hatfield was in high school, she won a contest for designing a flag that represented her native Madison County.

On Saturday morning - 35 years later - her flag will be raised outside the Madison County courthouse as part of the county’s 175th anniversary.

“I think it’s kind of neat,” Hatfield, 53, said of her design, which will become the county’s first permanent flag.

Huntsville Mayor Kevin Hatfield, who is Kim Hatfield’s brother, said his sister’s flag was “forgotten in time” before the county decided to revive it.

“Symbols are important to people,” the mayor said. “[This flag] represents what we are all about. It’s going to be our permanent flag.”

Huntsville plans to fly the new Madison County flag in city parks, at City Hall and at the fire station, he said.

“What we are emphasizing is the county’s really rich past,” he said. “We study history not only to learn from it but to develop a sense ofpride.”

Madison County Judge Frank Weaver said no one can see the flag until it is unveiled Saturday.

Kim Hatf ield lives in Huntsville where she works as a part-time nurse. Her family, like many others in Madison County, have lived in the rugged hills of the Ozarks for generations.

Joy Russell, Madison County Genealogical and Historical Society president, said many of the first settlers in the county still have descendants there.

Saturday’s flag-raising celebration will be a “birthday party” for the county and a time to remember the past, officials said Thursday. Madison County became a county on Sept. 30, 1836, the sameyear that Arkansas became a state.

County officials paid $200 to produce Kim Hatfield’s 3-by-5-foot flag, but others can be produced for the county at a reduced price, County Clerk Faron Ledbetter said.

In 1976, when Kim Hatfield decided to enter the flag contest, her mother sat her down at the family’s table and said, “What do you think about when you think of Madison County?”

Kim Hatfield wrote down ideas: a sunrise over a mountain, a farming plow, a beehive to symbolize the economic activity in the county and an hourglass to show time and history. The ideas went into her design.

On Friday, as part of the celebration, more than 300 historic photographs will be on display at the Madison County Courthouse. Across the street at the Masonic Hall at least 70 handmade models of historic buildings will be on display.

On Thursday afternoon, Ledbetter, Russell and Kevin Hatfield sat in the county judge’s office and made final arrangements for Saturday’s flag-raising event, which starts at 11 a.m.

Congratulatory letters and citations have arrived from Gov. Mike Beebe, U.S. congressmen and state senators and representatives, officials said.

Northwest Arkansas, Pages 11 on 09/30/2011

Print Headline: Madison County to raise new flag

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