Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

February 12, 2009


Host: Ted Simons

Statehood Celebration


  • Arizona turns 97 on Feb. 14. We look at the Statehood Day activities taking place at the state capitol building and review the latest preparations for Arizona's centennial celebration in 2012.
Guests:
  • Ken Bennett - Arizona Secretary of State and member of the Arizona Historical Advisory Commission


View Transcript
Ted Simons
>> on Saturday, Arizona turns 97 years old. she became the nation's 48th state on valentine's day, 1912, which means her 100th birthday is just three years away. secretary of state Ken Bennett is here to tell us what's being done to prepare for the centennial celebration. but first, David Majure and photographer Richard Torruellas take us to the state capitol where earlier today Arizona’s 97th birthday was celebrated a little early.

David Majure
>> state senators met today in the original house chambers. now part of the Arizona capitol museum. This room predates statehood, it's where Arizona’s constitution was drafted. past senate presidents were honored for their service. Bob Buzdane, Leo Corbett, Stan Turley, Carl Conastic, John Green and Brenda Burns, the first woman to lead the senate.

Brenda Burns
>> yes, the more things change, the more things stay the same.

David Majure
>> former senate president, now secretary of state, Ken Bennett continued his tradition of serving up Arizona trivia and rewarding correct answers with candy. [inaudible]




David Majure
>> senate president Bob Burns named the recipients of this years Polly award. named in honor of the longtime state legislature Polly Rosenbaum, the award is given to public officials who cherish Arizona’s rich cultural resources and support the work of Arizona library archives and public records. this year's award went to two men -- state representative Jack Brown and Jack Feaster, a former general manager of salt river project. student winners of the statewide Polly Rosenbaum writing contest were introduced by speaker of the house Kirk Adams. their winning essays were selected from among 300 entries the theme of this years contest was -- the impact of America’s new president on Arizona.

Kristen Ozmon
>> basically I said that although Obama is going to be doing a great job, the impact is upon us, too, personally. how change can be found within us as well.

Brad Reber
>> my teacher called me and I thought what did I do anything wrong? I thought I was in trouble or something. But she said, oh, you won. I was in first place. it was a surprise.

David Majure
>> so with 97 statehood day celebrations down, Arizona’s 100th birthday is just around the corner.

Ted Simons
>> joining me is Arizona secretary of state Ken Bennett, a member of the Arizona historical advisory commission, one of the groups responsible for planning Arizona’s centennial celebration. good to have you on the show.

Ken Bennett
>> thanks for having me.

Ted Simons
>> let's talk about the effort to get a centennial. How did that start and how long has that been going on now?

Ken Bennett
>> several years ago, the legislature passed a bill that created the Arizona historical advisory commission and charged with coming up with a plan to get ready for the celebration in 2012. it's been meeting every other month or so for the last three or four years and essentially came up with a plan -- we sometimes call it a pyramid, where at the bottom would be numerous projects throughout the state. mostly local, that might be a few thousand dollars all the way up to a few million but really local projects all over the state but maybe one hundred. I think we're up to 50 that have been approved as part the that process. but the bottom part of the pyramid would have all of these projects going on all through the state, and then in the middle there would be half a dozen regional projects. Papago park restoration, a big railroad museum somewhere or who knows? and then the idea was that maybe there would be one signature project at the top. and within the last year or so, it's kind of started to coalesce that maybe that would be the restoration of the capitol.



Ted Simons
>> with this pyramid in line, what is the goal of the centennial? what do you want to see?

Ken Bennett
>> there's multiple goals. but to involve all Arizonans as possible in the celebration of the heritage and history of Arizona. we're the 48th state. the last one to celebrate its centennial was Oklahoma. they did something similar, as far as having a big signature project. when they were becoming a state and building their state capitol, they didn't have enough money to finish the big dome. so they chose as their big signature project, completing a $100 million dome. our dome is already finished but, you know, we're using the capitol that was back from territorial days and so it involves all kinds of projects that will involve as many Arizonans as possible. the plan to just bring everybody into the whole celebration and get ready for it.

Ted Simons
>> besides Oklahoma are you looking at other types of celebrations? Be they statehood days?

Ken Bennett
>> some members of the commission that have kind of looked into on their own time and effort to what other states have done. and so former phoenix mayor John Drake has looked at what other states have done. but mostly, about 25 members on this historical advisory commission, from all walks of life, but lots of people from the cultural and historical community of Arizona and then recently, governor Napolitano appointed a centennial commission, and the two groups are working together, but the new one is focusing maybe on taking charge of that big signature project, whatever it ends up being.

Ted Simons
>> the economy right now colors everything. how is it affecting the centennial effort?

Ken Bennett
>> most of what the historical advisory commission has done is relying on local groups that are raising monies to spend on smaller projects and things like that. so there doesn't seem to be too much impact yet. these are just very dedicated people who spend their every waking moment trying to preserve the cultural history of Arizona. trying to do these medium size projects or a real big one is going to be pretty tough in today's economic climate. but if we hang in there, maybe things will be better by 2012.

Ted Simons
>> what kind of funding efforts are you looking at, strategies as far as getting the money in?

Ken Bennett
>> initially there was $2.5 million appropriated to the group to be used as matching funds for some of these smaller projects. $500,000 of that is still available. the other $2 million was taken back by the legislature as part of the budget challenges. but the $500,000, we're trying to use that the best we can to still keep some of these small diverse projects going. and plan the best we can, maybe, for some of the middle sized ones or a big one.



Ted Simons
>> that didn't escape it either, huh? as far as getting people involved, a public-private operation and these things, how is that going? thinking behind a private-public cooperation.

Ken Bennett
>> the new centennial commission that governor Napolitano formed had that in mind and she appointed people from the business community and private sector to sit on that commission and give it the extra muscle that maybe the other one lacked in some respects. I don't want to say it lacked the kind dedication that all of the people have been working on but certainly we have to rely on a real partnership between public and private money to get anything done in the middle and upper level.

Ted Simons
>> is it more difficult, do you think, in a state like Arizona, which is so new and so many people come from different areas -- talk to a sports fan to get people moving here to root for the home team. do you think it's difficult to get them concerned with the history of the home state?

Ken Bennett
>> I don't know. I’m a native, Ted, and I don't think in those terms but there's a lot of people who have made Arizona their home, but it's really not part of their long-time heritage, but I think that's counterbalanced by the fact that we're only one of three states that gets to celebrate a centennial. after us, it's only Hawaii and Alaska left. so hopefully, if people are lacking at all, I hope they're not, but lacking at all in this feeling that this is my home state, that might be counterbalanced by the fact that, hey, we only get to do this now and I’m here now and we better get it right.

Ted Simons
>> the ideal centennial, when you drive home and think to yourself, this is what I want to happen come 100th birthday, what are you thinking?

Ken Bennett
>> I’m thinking that every Arizonan is close enough to one of these smaller projects that are being done all throughout the state, more or less at the local level, and then almost everybody has an opportunity to participate in one of these medium sized projects and then as many people as possible start to coalesce around a significant idea that really stands out for all of us. something we did that was meaningful and that our children and grandchildren and maybe their children are going to remember, hey, those folks back in 2010 to '12, they did something pretty cool.

Ted Simons
>> I can't let you go without asking about the new position here, how are you settling in?

Ken Bennett
>> I haven't burned the executive tower down yet. so far so good. no, we have a great staff. governor Brewer, when she was secretary of state, built a great staff. they've received me warmly and I’m in a little bit of a honeymoon period but trying to learn my job. traveled to two or three counties and got to meet folks that make the stuff work.

Ted Simons
>> do you have a trivia question before we let you go?
Ken Bennett
>> we just had a change in governors.

Ted Simons
>> right.

Ken Bennett
>> who's the last governor who came to the office by election and served their full term?

Ted Simons
>> oh, the last governor who served their full term?

Ken Bennett
>> and came to the office by election. you have to go all the way back to Jack Williams in the '70s.

Ted Simons
>> really?

Ken Bennett
>> ever since then --

>> [inaudible]

Ted Simons
>> I know it's been --

Ted Simons
>> your job has been the steppingstone to the governor's office. thanks for joining us.

Ken Bennett
>> thank you, Ted.

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