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Celebration to mark end of Kan. Statehouse remodel

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) -- Gov. Sam Brownback said Friday that his office is planning a big celebration for Kansas Day to mark the completion of the 13-year Statehouse renovation.

Brownback said Friday there could be a week of events leading up to the Jan. 29 dedication of the building, which has been overhauled from the dome to the basement. The date is the anniversary of the state's admission to the union.

The renovation began in 2001 and has updated water, electrical, heating, air-conditioning and fire-safety systems. Legislators have better, roomier offices and meeting rooms that are more accommodating to spectators. The state built an underground parking garage and expanded the basement, adding 128,000 square feet of space.

"We're going to have a big celebration," Brownback told reporters during a short visit to the news media's suite of basement offices, another part of the renovation. "The place looks glorious."

The governor said his office discovered that there was no formal dedication for the Statehouse when its construction was completed in 1903. But he noted that the work took 37 years and its cost at the time seemed huge at more than $3 million.

The current renovation is likely to cost about $330 million. It is scheduled to finish by the end of the year, except for some landscaping that will have to wait until early spring because of the weather.

Work still continues on a new basement visitor's center, which will feature a giant map of Kansas set in the stone floor, with each of the state's 105 counties identified.

Statehouse Architect Barry Greis said that huge, temporary beams through the dome that supported outside scaffolding were removed this week. The beams ran through window portals, and the windows will return next week, Greis said.

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