Lecompton The chairman of a legislative committee overseeing the state's artistic and cultural resources said Monday that the panel's recent visit to a historic site in Lecompton was worth the trip.
Sen. Ed Reilly, R-Leavenworth, chairman of the Arts and Cultural Resources Committee, also said state officials could begin pushing plans for renovation of historic Constitution Hall through the state's bidding process as early as next month.
Committee members on Monday morning stopped at Constitution Hall in Lecompton on the first leg of a two-day tour that will take them to a dozen sites across the eastern half of the state. The tour began Monday and is to end today.
The committee, which was established this year by the Kansas Legislature, was formed to identify and evaluate the state's artistic, cultural and historical sites and to determine how they might be used or improved to help enhance the state's tourism.
The committee is made up of state senators and representatives.
REILLY SAID in a telephone interview Monday from Council Grove that the committee's brief stop in Lecompton, part of a 12-site tour, served its purpose in educating members of the state about the types of attractions available.
"I thought it was excellent," Reilly said of the committee's visit to the 100-year-old hall that once served as the state's first territorial capital and meeting place of the state's first congress. "We had a large crowd turn out, which showed their support and commitment to get the project going."
State officials for years have been telling local residents and members of the Lecompton Historical Society that needed rehabilitation work soon will get under way on the building. However, unforeseen impediments have delayed progress on the building since the state assumed responsibility for it in June 1986.
PLANS TO restore the building are in the works, but have not yet been made final, Reilly said, adding that state historical society officials were having a difficult time finding qualified contractors to perform the delicate work.
The state's bidding process also has slowed the project somewhat, although Reilly and state historical society officials now think the plans should be made final and put to bid within a month or two, he said.
Reilly told the crowd of about 50 people that gathered around the old structure that money had been allocated for what he called the "massive project" of restoring the building to as close to its original appearance as possible.
Dorothy Shaner, a Lecompton resident and member of the local historical society, said Monday after the committee left Lecompton that she was pleased with what the committee members told concerned citizens who assembled at the hall.
SPECIFICALLY, Shaner, who has been activively involved in the city of Lecompton for years, said she was glad to learn that money for the Constitution Hall project still was available and that work toward beginning the project should start soon.
Reilly said recently that the committee's purpose on the tour simply was visit the state's artistic, cultural and historical attractions so its members at least were aware of what the state has to offer.
"We're trying to get a handle, for the first time, really, on the significance of arts and culture in the state," he said.
When it's finished, the tour will have taken committee members to sites in Wyandotte, Linn, Miami, Morris, Riley and Douglas counties.