From now on, whenever Soldotna Police officers flash their badges, they'll be showing off a piece of original artwork by Soldotna teen Mark Harro.
Harro, who recently graduated from Soldotna High School, created the design for the department's new badges earlier this year. On Wednesday, the new badge was unveiled at the regular meeting of the Soldotna City Council during a special ceremony thanking Harro for his contribution to law and order.
On hand for the ceremony was recently retired Soldotna Police Chief Shirley Gifford. The former chief came out of retirement to present Harro with a special plaque recognizing his badge design. The plaque features a replica badge, as well as an inscription recognizing Harro for his work.
The badge itself, a shiny gold medallion, incorporates several elements into the design, including an eagle, Mount Redoubt, the Kenai River, a salmon and a moose.
Gifford said Harro's design came just in the nick of time for the police force.
"We had gotten to a point where our badges had gotten really worn," she said. "It was really time for new badges."
Soldotna police officers are carrying a new badge.
Photo by M. SCOTT MOON
She said she was extremely pleased with how Harro's design turned out.
"He did an excellent job on the badge," she said.
Gifford also thanked the city's acting chief, Sgt. Marvin Towell, for letting her present the plaque to Harro.
"(Sgt. Towell) actually did a lot of work on this," she said.
In fact, it was Towell who first brought the idea of having a student design the new badge to Harro's attention. Gifford said Towell visited Harro's SoHi art class, where he asked students for ideas on a new design.
Following the presentation, Harro said Towell's plea for a new badge struck a nerve, and he decided he'd give badge design a shot.
"They just asked for someone to design it and I stepped up," he said.
Harro's father, John, said his son spent around six weeks working on the design.
"He spent a lot of time on it," John Harro said. "He was drawing each separate element of it."
Mark Harro said he spent hours drawing and redrawing different aspects of the badge. The design came together in several pieces, he said, as he worked to incorporate all the department's desired elements into one design.
"They kind of told me what they wanted," he said. "And I threw 'em together."
Harro said he designed the badge out of a simple desire to create an interesting piece and was not really expecting any sort of recognition from the city or the police force.
"This is sweet," he said of the honor. "I really wasn't expecting it."
Expected or not, Harro now has a shiny new plaque to decorate his dorm room at Montana State University, where he'll enroll as a freshman and study architecture this fall.
However, his mother, Denise, said she was half-expecting a little more from the police department.
"We thought he might get a get-out-of-jail free card," she joked.
In other action Wednesday, the council:
n Voted unanimously to support a Kenai Peninsula Borough hospital bond proposition. Mayor Dave Carey pointed out that the city's largest employer is the health care industry and said he supports the bond, which would help fund the hospital's expansion.
n Authorized City Manager Tom Boedeker to award a substitute contract for paving at the Soldotna Sports Center parking lot. The contract will end up costing the city between $5,000 and $10,000 more than anticipated, but will allow the city to pave an additional 22,000 square feet at less overall expense. Boedeker told the council that paving prices are as low as they're likely to get, and the city would be remiss in not doing the work now.
"The pricing on this is too good to pass up," Boedeker said.
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