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Archive for Friday, July 27, 2001

State considers quarter design

Kansas begins laying groundwork for its commemorative coin

July 27, 2001

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Some Kansans want to make sure they are not shortchanged on their quarter design.

With the state's version of the 25-cent piece due out in 2005, legislators, historians and numismatists coin collectors said Thursday that it's not too early to have them put their two bits in.

The Joint Committee on Arts and Cultural Resources had a hearing on legislation sponsored by House Minority Leader Jim Garner. It would give the state's high school students final say on the Kansas design.

"This is a proper starting point for work on this issue," said Garner, D-Coffeyville.

His proposal would create the Kansas Commemorative Coin Design Committee, which would solicit designs from state artists. The submissions would be trimmed to four designs, which would then be voted upon by high school students.

"It's a great way to get kids involved with government," Garner said. "By allowing Kansas students to make the final decision, we would be giving them the ability to have a tangible impact upon public policy."

The 50 State Quarter program is the U.S. Mint's 10-year project commemorating each state with a special edition quarter.

Five designs will be released each year from 1999 through 2008. Thirteen states' coins have been minted, with the Vermont and Kentucky quarters still due this year. States go in order of their admission to the Union; Kansas was the 34th state.

Criteria for the designs stipulate that the coins may not have the likeness of any person living or dead, which would preclude submissions of famous Kansans Amelia Earhart, William Allen White, John Brown or President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

But that leaves the door open bison, wheat, sunflowers or aviation.

Joseph Mark Ross, vice president of the Kansas Numismatic Association, told the committee Thursday that the design commission should have a member that is an expert in coins.

"We're ready to begin tomorrow," Ross said.

Eric Engstrom, a Wichita attorney and avid coin collector who has served on national organizations, said the final decision should not be left to high school students.

He said the vote should be made by experts in coin and art, with the choice being advanced to the governor for submission to the U.S. treasury secretary.

The committee took no action Thursday, but members are expected to revisit the issue at their meeting in September or November.

"I just assumed the design was done and somebody in Washington had done it," said Sen. Jean Schodorf, R-Wichita.

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