Gregoire Chooses Leaping Salmon Coin
by Curt Woodward, Associated Press
OLYMPIA, Wash. -- Gov. Chris Gregoire stuck with the people's choice for the flip side of Washington state's commemorative quarter on Thursday, but the selection left the state's famed apple growers feeling a bit bruised.
Gregoire unveiled an oversized version of the design - a lively looking salmon leaping in front of a conifer-trimmed Mount Rainier - to a chorus of "Ohhhhhh" and applause from students at Olympia's Centennial Elementary School.
The first-term Democrat said she felt the image, also the favorite in an online opinion poll, was the best showcase for two of the state's most notable symbols. It also incorporates "The Evergreen State" as a slogan.
"I think it's important that we have something natural. We are really a state that thinks much of our natural heritage," Gregoire said.
The governor noted that Mount Rainier in particular is recognized worldwide.
Chinese President Hu Jintao named it the natural symbol he recognized most on a recent visit, Gregoire said, and a Starbucks she stopped at during a trip to Japan featured a drink named after the imposing, snowcapped volcanic peak.
Apple industry leaders, however, were not as excited. Their favorite design also featured a salmon, Mount Rainier and the motto, but added a cluster of apples hanging from a leafy branch.
That choice earned a close second in the opinion poll, and the country's leading apple growers held out a little hope that Gregoire would go against the tide with her selection.
"We're crying and drowning our sorrows right now, but I guess we'll probably survive," said Dave Carlson, president of the state Apple Commission.
Gregoire noted that the winning design has themes that bridge the state's east-west cultural divide, since Mount Rainier can be seen from some Eastern Washington high points and salmon historically spawn deep in the Columbia River system. The two symbols also have importance with many of the state's American Indians, she said.
Symbolic issues aside, the winning choice also avoided being too "busy," a fate that has befallen some other state quarters that tried to cram too many symbols onto a small surface, Gregoire said. "If you try to put a lot of things on it, it really doesn't come off very well," she said.
The new quarter still awaits a largely routine approval from the U.S. Mint before it is created. The coins are expected to be in circulation in 2007, the 42nd in a series commemorating the states.
The selection process was marred by mischief earlier this year when some online voters used robotic computer programs to cast repeated votes, swelling the tally past 1 million over a single weekend.
Officials threw out that version of the poll and started anew, eventually collecting more than 134,000 votes.
The leaping salmon design won the second round of voting with 45 percent of the tally, while about 40 percent favored the images of apples, Mount Rainier and a salmon within an outline of the state. The third choice was an Indian-style drawing of a killer whale.
WA Quarter Poll Resumes after Computer Mischief by Curt Woodward, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 4/11/6
Finalists Selected for State Quarter Design by Susan Gilmore, Seattle Times, 1/19/6
Wildlife, Apples, Mountains: Finalists for WA Quarter by Curt Woodward, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 1/19/6
It's the Final Stretch for Idaho's Quarter Design by Tim Woodward, Idaho Statesman, 9/27/5
Governor: Here's what shouldn't be on our quarter by Tim Woodward, Idaho Statesman, 8/4/5
State quarter: www.governor.wa.gov/quarter
U.S. Mint: www.usmint.gov
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