On the surface, the field of public works — encompassing such components as streets, manholes, sewers and garbage — doesn’t lend itself to art, but that notion has been disproven in Mount Airy.
Such items were incorporated into a new logo now adorning the city’s public works vehicles — about 50 in all — and uniforms worn by personnel in that division.
The colorful logo includes elements of all public works operations, while also incorporating the familiar Mayberry image of Andy and Opie heading to the fishing hole. But instead of poles, Andy is carrying a surveying instrument and his son a pipe wrench and both are wearing hard hats and safety vests.
This was the creation not of a Madison Avenue marketing firm, but an employee within the municipality’s own ranks, according to Public Works Director Jeff Boyles.
“It was designed by City Engineer Mitch Williams, who has an artistic eye as well as being an excellent engineer,” Boyles added regarding the new logo. “Mitch has done other designs for the city, including the concept for the Carlos Jones Blue Ridge Park and graphics used in city publications.”
While Mount Airy has an official logo for the town as a whole, Williams had noticed the lack of such a symbol to identify the division he works in and thought one was long needed.
“As far as the public works department, I don’t think we’ve had an official logo for probably 30 or 40 years,” said the engineer who has been employed by the city for 18 years. “The last one I saw here was probably from the ’70s.”
“Mitch thought we needed an update to our public works logo, which was very old and hardly used anymore,” Boyles recalled. “Most of the old logos were worn out and peeling.”
Williams, who said the idea for the logo dates to last summer, explained that it was inspired as he rode along Rockford Street and looked at the statue of Andy and Opie on the lawn of the Andy Griffith Playhouse.
The creative wheels then began turning in the engineer’s mind.
“I thought, ‘what if Andy and Opie were carrying two shovels?’”
As the concept took shape, Williams tweaked the design here and there in an effort to have it represent all facets of the public works department. It has seven divisions — garage, streets, sanitation, engineering, utilities maintenance, water treatment and wastewater treatment.
In addition to the doctored image of Andy and Opie, the logo contains a street, a pipe with water running out, an overhead storage tank, a manhole, a blue recycling container and more. It has a backdrop of mountains and the clock tower of Mount Airy Museum of Regional History.
“We think it looks sharp and is a unique emblem of our department,” the public works director said. “We are very proud of our logo.”
After it went through several edits, the finished image was made into decals, with Williams mentioning that the cost of the project was around $500 or less.
“We replaced them while they were in the shop for routine maintenance,” Boyles said of the decals bearing the new logo.
“It has been applied to approximately 50 licensed public works vehicles so far, which is nearly all we have,” he related.
“They include cars, pickups, dump trucks, sanitation trucks, the street sweeper, street flusher, and the sewer jet truck.”
Williams believes the logo provides a sense of identity and visibility for sometimes-unheralded public works employees who carry out functions essential to daily life.
“I think it definitely helps them stand out in Mount Airy,” he said.
“It’s been well received so far.”
Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.