A new plaque commemorating completion of the $325 million renovation of the Kansas Capitol will feature names of all four governors involved in the lengthy project and pay tribute to the contractor, architects and others with key roles in the overhaul.
The original plaque installed during the 2014 dedication ceremony contained only the name of Gov. Sam Brownback, who was the last of four governors serving during the project and declared the building the "best state capitol in America."
Text of that plaque wasn't approved by the Capitol Preservation Committee before placed on the first floor of the Statehouse near the rotunda.
"I didn't feel as though the plaque was inclusive as it should have been," said Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, a Topeka Democrat who urged the panel to approve a substitute.
The privately financed replacement plaque that was endorsed by the committee of legislators, historians and other officials will pay tribute to involvement by Govs. Bill Graves, Kathleen Sebelius, Mark Parkinson and Brownback. That would cover the period from beginning of the restoration in 1999 to the conclusion in 2014.
It also identifies the work of contractor JE Dunn Construction under direction of Jim Rinner, Treanor Architects with Vance Kelley, Statehouse architects William Groth and Barry Greis, and the former director of legislative administrative services Jeff Russell.
The only dissent regarding Hensley's substitute plaque came from Rep. J.R. Claeys, a Salina Republican, who questioned why the roster of honorees wasn't longer. He said, for example, former Senate President Dick Bond, a Republican, was instrumental in creating a capitol restoration committee.
Hensley said he decided not to list House or Senate leaders of either political party because the plaque would be too large.
Frank Burnam, director of facilities and property management in the Kansas Department of Administration, said the plaque brought forward by Hensley should replace the existing one dedicated by Brownback five years ago.
The committee agreed with Burnam and decided the original would be offered to the Brownback family or donated to the state historical society.
Jennie Chinn, executive director of the State Historical Society and chairwoman of the Capitol Preservation Committee, said in December 2013 an aide to Brownback, Bob Murray, spoke to the committee about development of a plaque. She said Murray didn't outline precise text of what would be engraved on the marker and that the committee took no formal votes on contents of the plaque.
Meanwhile, the committee decided to table a request to create a $65,000 statue on the Capitol grounds in Topeka of Amelia Earhart, the Kansas aviation pioneer who disappeared in July 1937 and was the first female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean.
The committee concurred the idea could be considered in the future, depending on the opportunity to raise money for that type of installation.
"Amelia Earhart is certainly, historically, a worthy candidate," Chinn said.