Monroe County's official government seal isn't Keys-y enough, the mayor says.
"Nobody knows Monroe County is the Florida Keys unless you are from Monroe County, Fla.," Heather Carruthers said.
At the mayor’s behest last week, the County Commission put out a call for designs for a new seal. It's open to anyone and whoever designs the winner — the commission will likely decide at its March meeting — gets $500.
The last time the seal went through a change, it was a minor one to fix a huge mistake. That was in 1996 after officials realized in 1995 that it had the year the county was created as 1824, not 1823. But it retained a palm tree, conch shell, anchor and ocean (or bay). It says "Southernmost County in the United States."
"I'm not talking about trashing the seal. We could have a string of islands like the [Tourist Development Council] uses" on its logo, Carruthers said.
She said she came up with the idea about a year and a half ago and sent County Administrator Roman Gastesi a rough drawing to illustrate what she was thinking.
If the seal is changed, it will be costly because it's on all county vehicles, documents and signs. All of those would have to be changed, just like they were in 1996.
Cammy Clark, the county's public information officer, said a new design should "make the connection that Monroe County is the Florida Keys either by wording or containing a map of the island chain boldly. Show the words Monroe County, which should be legible regardless of scale." She said it should "be dignified."
The deadline for submissions is Feb. 26. Send them to Clarkfirstname.lastname@example.org or drop them off at her office at the Murray E. Nelson Government and Cultural Center at mile marker 102.5 bayside in Key Largo.
Monroe County was created on July 2, 1823, when the Territorial Legislature established it as Florida's sixth county. Back then, Monroe included what are now Miami-Dade, Broward, Collier, Lee, Henry and parts of Charlotte, Glades and Palm Beach counties, various sources say.
When the Legislature created Miami-Dade County — then just Dade County — in 1836, Indian Key in Islamorada was its county seat. Miami-Dade's county seat was moved to Miami in 1844.