Arizona's centennial countdown commences

Posted on by az100

by Mary Jo Pitzl – Feb. 12, 2011 12:00 AM
The Arizona Republic

The countdown begins Monday for Arizona’s centennial year, with an exposition featuring numerous projects on the lawn of the state Capitol.

Monday marks 99 years since Arizona was admitted to the United States, making it the 48th state. Organizers are using Statehood Day 2011 to begin a yearlong focus on Arizona’s impending 100th birthday.

“We are 365 days out from the most extraordinary milestone our state has ever seen,” said Mandi Wimmer, deputy director of the Arizona Centennial Commission.

The expo begins at 10 a.m. and runs until 2 p.m. It will include displays of various centennial events, such as Prescott’s rodeo, and a sampling of more than 80 legacy projects, such as restoration of the cactus garden at Phoenix’s Tovrea Castle and ongoing work to preserve Arizona records and documents.

Live entertainment will play throughout the day.

Gov. Jan Brewer will preside at a 10:15 a.m. news conference to kick off the events.

Also on scene will be the copper chopper, a custom-made motorcycle packing plenty of copper parts.

“It’s the official centennial mascot,” Wimmer said. “It’s touring fairs and festivals around the state.”

The copper theme (copper is the state’s official mineral) permeates the centennial events.

School kids are working on a penny drive to raise money to refurbish the state Capitol’s copper dome, which hasn’t been polished in 15 years. Efforts started earlier this week to encourage every school child to raise 100 pennies for the fund. The goal is to raise $65,000, which would pay for the work, along with a 10-year guarantee.

Centennial events are scattered throughout the state, from restoring the old adobe post office in Vail, north of Tucson, to creation of a Copper State Monument in Clarkdale, in the Verde Valley. Clarkdale, like the state of Arizona, was founded in 1912.

Closer to the seat of government, Wimmer said plans are under way to transform Washington Street into Centennial Way, complete with shade structures, banners and wider sidewalks.

“We’d like it to be more of a promenade,” Wimmer said. Washington leads west from downtown Phoenix to the Capitol, spilling into Wesley Bolin Plaza. The street work is being financed with a $5 million transportation-enhancement grant from the federal government.

The state Senate will meet Monday in the original legislative chambers inside sandstone Capitol building. Their session begins at 11 a.m.

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