By CATHERINE BYRNE
Capital News Service
LANSING — Gov. John Engler unveiled the top five design ideas for Michigan’s new quarter on Wednesday with a little help from a Cass County teacher.
Sam Adams Elementary School fourth-grade teacher Judith Singley was one of 25 people appointed to the Michigan Quarter Commission who reviewed designs for the quarter.
Engler praised the commission on its difficult job.
“This is an unparalleled opportunity to showcase Michigan to the nation,” he said.
Singley enjoyed the experience, and said she would definitely do it all over again if given the choice.
“I thought it was a lot of fun,” the Edwardsburg woman said. “I met a lot of interesting people, people I probably wouldn’t have met otherwise.”
The state received 4,300 submissions from citizens, 81 percent of which came from young people. One hundred seventeen schools participated and submissions came from the Upper Peninsula’s Keewenaw County all the way down to Monroe.
More than 1,500 people used the state outline and the Great Lakes theme in their designs. One or both appear on all five final themes.
“The Great Lakes are truly the definition of Michigan,” Engler said.
Anyone who included any of the concepts that ended up in the top five picks will receive a certificate of recognition.
“The response we had when we asked Michigan citizens to submit their ideas for the Michigan quarter were outstanding,” Engler said. “Thousands of people devoted their time, talent and energy to come up with a design that truly represents our great state.”
The governor unveiled the top five picks that will be sent to the U.S. Mint for the final decision.
He took a jab at a neighboring state, hoping not to have their same luck.
“We will not be like the state of Indiana where all five of their designs were turned thumbs down,” Engler said.
Singley said her top pick was not chosen. She liked one containing a lighthouse that had rays shining from it to different spots on the map of Michigan.
“The rays pointed towards Detroit and the copper mines and other Michigan landmarks,” she said. “I just think there’s so much in Michigan, you can’t just have a car.”
Engler’s personal favorite was the one that simply displayed the outline of the state and the Great Lakes.
“It’s elegant and simple,” he said.
Three of the five quarters portrayed the Mackinac Bridge and an antique car, or a combination of the two.
Engler was concerned about the final quarter that displayed six different Michigan icons: a lighthouse, a canoe, a car, a pine tree, the Mackinac Bridge and the North star.
“These quarters are not actual size,” Engler joked about the enlarged quarters. “I’m worried the icons will be a little small on that quarter.”
Singley backed that quarter because she thinks it represents Michigan.
“We tallied up the submissions and tried to grant the wishes of the people, so that’s all you can do,” she said. “Some people wanted a lighthouse, but not as many as other options.”
The coin choices will be posted on www.michigan.gov where citizens will have the opportunity to submit feedback.
The state quarters are released in the order they ratified the constitution or entered the union, and Michigan’s is expected to be the first one released in 2004. Engler expects the Mint to make a decision from the five by this November or December.
“I join thousands of Michigan residents who eagerly await hearing from them,” Engler said.
All 50 quarters will be released by 2008.
© 2002, Capital News Service, Michigan State University School of Journalism
By CATHERINE BYRNE