Archive for Wednesday, June 21, 2006

County hopes to commission historical mural

June 21, 2006

Leavenworth County commissioners would like to create a little more history.

That's why they decided to seek bids from area artists interested in painting a historical mural to hang inside the courthouse.

The planned mural should reflect the state's heritage.

Keyta Kelly, Leavenworth County counselor at-large, is one of six county employees on a committee seeking proposals for the mural.

She said committee members have suggested different ideas for the mural's theme.

"Nobody has quite the same idea, so we're kind of leaving it up to the artists to show us," Kelly said. "One of the guys (on the committee) keeps saying, 'We'll know it when we see it.'"

Kelly said Thursday that the committee had interviewed five artists, and that they hoped to interview more. The deadline to submit a proposal is June 28. However, Kelly said, the committee may opt to extend the deadline.

Another committee member is Leslie Rocha, who works in the appraiser's officer.

"The commissioners suggested that maybe we could have a mural up there," Rocha said. "Keyta and I thought that it could be beneficial to the county if we could have a mural that symbolized a scene from the bleeding Kansas era."

Kansas Preservation Alliance member Sally Hatcher, Leavenworth, said she hoped the mural would depict what's termed the state's "enduring struggle for freedom."

"The enduring struggle for freedom is kind of the umbrella that encompassed Native American, African American and women's struggles ... in this territory," Hatcher said.

Hatcher said she's hopeful that this summer Congress will vote to designate a 27-county area, which includes Leavenworth County, as a National Heritage Area.

"This is a program of the National Park Service," Hatcher said. "Once you've been designated, you are eligible for up to $1 million a year from the National Park Service to help with promoting tourism, to help you with the nuts and bolts of how do you get people to come and see your story, listen to your story. It should produce tourism that will enhance travelers' experience in all of those counties."

If Congress gives the nod this summer, the new mural would be another attraction to draw tourists to the courthouse.

"It would be so great if we could get tourists to come through here," Rocha said of the recently renovated courthouse building.

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