The Southington Town Council has approved new guidelines on the use of the town seal. It will now take permission from Town Manager Mark Sciota to use it. Good.
That move was inspired by the fact that town Republicans have twice published an “Official Town of Southington” election guide — bearing the town seal, just in case voters didn’t buy into its officialness. Yes, it also said “Paid for by the Southington Republican Town Committee,” but the effort to misconstrue the nature of this document was inappropriate. There were even complaints to the State Elections Enforcement Commission in 2015. The commission found no violations, but said the paid-for attribution should be moved from the back page to the front page, and it was.
But the new guidelines had bipartisan support on the Town Council, and there should be no further problem — even though the council has little actual clout to control use of the town seal because the seal does not enjoy copyright protection and is now in public use.
“It's impossible to take that back,” Town Attorney Carolyn Futtner told the council’s Ordinance Committee, “and it's almost impossible to regulate at that point.”
That said, as long as the seal is in the spotlight right now, why not take a good look at it?
No offense intended to Louis Prevost, who designed it in 1942, but maybe after all these years it could use a rethink and a redesign.
The present seal says “Town of Southington” and “Connecticut.” So far, so good. It also says “1779,” which is when the town became incorporated under the name Southington, but there’s no mention of 1726, which is when it was established as a parish separate from the “mother church” in Farmington.
It has an image of the First Congregational Church — pretty much as it looks now, although the original meetinghouses in these parts were far less grand — and across from it is a dumpy little building that I’ll bet no one who hasn’t looked it up knows is supposed to represent the Rugg and Barnes Bolt Factory, and thus the town’s industrial heritage. Good to include that — even though the depiction on the seal would put that shop in the middle of the Town Green.
The green hills are supposed to evoke the hills that flank the town to the east and west, which is fine, but is there so little to be said of Southington that the state motto (“Qui Transtulit Sustinet,” for those who managed to struggle through Latin IV) had to be used as filler, along with two grapevines borrowed from the state seal?
How about a big apple to represent the big apple production in town and the big Apple Harvest Festival that’s the town’s signature annual event (without, however, implying that Southington is the real “Big Apple”)?
Maybe the nuts and bolts of a new seal could also somehow include a reference to the nuts-and-bolts industry for which the town is known.
Better yet, how about holding a competition in the Southington schools to design a new official seal? Maybe the Town Council could set some guidelines. Maybe Southington Community Cultural Arts could be involved.
And this time, copyright it.
Reach Glenn Richter at firstname.lastname@example.org.