Mark Stencel was previously GOVERNING's executive editor and deputy publisher.E-mail: email@example.com
The Wyoming state capitol has been through a lot since Casper Star-Tribune reporter Joan Barron first started covering the legislature 37 years ago, including an earthquake, a flood and a major renovation.
The journalist's nostalgic reminiscences of the her years spent in the Capitol were stirred up by the legislature's plans to begin another big renovation project. The plans would address long-neglected plumbing, mold and power problems and fix the leaky skylights over both legislative chambers.
The dome-to-basment overhaul has been championed by Jayne Mockler, a state senator who co-chairs the Select Committee on Legislative Facilities. Profiling Mockler last weekend, Barron noted that the Capitol is like a family home for the Cheyenne Democrat, whose grandfather, uncle and father preceded her in the legislature. (Mockler, 50, is leaving the Capitol after 16 years in the House and Senate to run for Cheyenne mayor.)
The restoration plans ultimately could run between $100 million and $150 million -- a sum and scale that is in line with similar Capitol renovations in Idaho and Utah. Democratic Gov. Dave Freudenthal signed legislation to get the project moving, but is less than an enthusiastic, saying "it is hard to justify huge expenditures on office space for politicians given the other pressing needs of the state."
Mockler told the Wyoming Tribune-Eagle that she found the governor's characterization of the renovation "a little bit petty" and said it makes sense to invest in the improvements now, while high energy prices are keeping the state's coffers full.
Perhaps some of the renovation money could go to the legislature's online team, whose ascetic Web site could use some sprucing up too (although the lawmakers deserve credit for streaming their sessions).
(Image credit: Wyoming Department of Administration's Capitol Information Desk )
Written and compiled by staff writers and editors, GOVERNING View is an on-the-ground, and sometimes behind-the-scenes, look at the topics we're covering in print and online. From notes on what's up in statehouses, county courthouses and city halls, to encounters with people, places and things, GOVERNING View is a window into the side of state and local government you don't always see.