Richmond County soon will greet visitors with signs that say, “Welcome to Richmond County — the Heart of the Carolinas.”
After the county runs the N.C. Department of Transportation gauntlet — obtaining permits, ordering the signs and then installing them — the “heart” message will replace references to Rockingham’s moribund NASCAR racetrack.
“I wanted to come up with a better slogan that would represent everybody” in Richmond County, Commissioner Don Bryant said Friday. That’s why he has tried for several years — successfully only this month — to talk his colleagues into voting for a new slogan.
At first, commissioners held out hope that the racetrack would be revived. It wasn’t.
“(Then) they kept saying they were going to … get more people involved” in coming up with a slogan, Bryant said. Nothing came of that.
Earlier this month, commissioners passed a resolution approving a slogan Bryant had been holding on to since putting out his own feelers when he was first elected.
The saying came from Victoria Smith of Rockingham — who happened to get the time wrong and missed her moment in the limelight when commissioners approved her slogan.
“It was instantaneous in my brain what the slogan should be,” said Smith, 52, who was flipping channels when she came upon the commissioners discussing the possibility of a new slogan. She called Bryant with her idea the next day. He was impressed.
Smith came up with her idea nearly 50 years ago, when she was a youngster looking at maps. She was trying to find her literal place in the world and saw that Richmond County was in the middle of everything she was familiar with.
“I said, ‘Hmm. That’s right in the heart of the Carolinas,’” she remembered.
When she was 12, Smith used the slogan for a social studies project for which she was assigned to design a logo.
When Bryant heard the slogan, he had two thoughts:
1. The slogan could represent everyone in the county in a positive way.
2. It could help the county drum up business.
Because Richmond County is about 100 miles — give or take — from major cities in both North and South Carolina, it would be a good sell as a distribution center, as some area businesses already have discovered.
“We’ve got all the major roads — the highways — plus the railroads (and the) airport,” he said. Plus, if someone could design a logo with a little heart in it, the slogan would look good on county letterhead.
“It’s positive,” Bryant said. It can “make people feel good about where they live.”
Smith already feels good about Richmond County.
“I love it here,” she said. “I think we’re very vital to the Carolinas. There’s a lot of good things here.”
The signs won’t go up immediately.
First, the county will have to ask DOT for permission to place each sign on the right-of-way.
Then, because the county has no sign shop of its own, it will have to submit a request for DOT to make them. The county will foot the bill for the signs.
When the signs have been delivered, county workers will install them — under the watchful eye of someone from a regional DOT office.
“There’s really no reason why they would not be approved,” a DOT spokesman said Friday.
Within the past year, the county has placed a new “gateway” sign on the line between Anson and Richmond counties. It also is in the process of seeking permission for a sign on the Scotland/Richmond County line, the spokesman said.
Whether the county would have to seek permission to replace signs already approved is unclear, he said.
In the meantime, Victoria Scott is happy about her little slice of fame — especially since she found county commissioners’ approval of her slogan in repeats on the community channel.
Reach Christine Carroll at 910-817-2673.