by Representative Paul H. Marcotte
After years of hard work by members of Friends of Big Bone, our Boone County historical treasure, Big Bone Lick State Park, is finally getting the recognition it deserves in Frankfort. While I will admit that some in the General Assembly and the Executive Branch still don’t have a clue about the worldwide interest in the archaeological findings at Big Bone, progress is being made.
In 1998, the Capital Projects and Bond Oversight Committee, on which I serve, approved the transfer of $100,000 from the Parks Department Maintenance Fund to provide the state match for a $400,000 federal grant. This allowed the department to plan the $500,000 diorama on the Discovery Trail that we dedicated in 1999.
In the 2000 session, I was able to get $500,000 into the budget for Big Bone for a start on the Museum project. When the budget bill reached the Senate, Senator Dick Roeding was able to double it to $1,000,000 to expand the park boundaries and begin work on the first phase of the museum for which we hope to break ground this summer or fall.
For the 2002 session, the museum at Big Bone was selected as one of the three major projects recommended to the General Assembly by the Northern Kentucky Consensus Committee. This was the first time Big Bone was in that select group. Prospects for the museum became even greater when the Parks Department included $6,600,000 in its Capital Projects plan, ranking this project number 20 on a list of 50 for the 2002-2004 biennium. In a normal year, this would have been approved in the budget bill. Unfortunately, this has not been a normal year. With a budget shortfall, many cuts were made in the new budget and House Bill 507, the budget bill, left the House with no appropriations for the projects. We can take comfort, however, in the fact that Big Bone is moving up on the list and is more likely to get funded in the next capital projects budget.
Big Bone will attract new attention now that House Bill 737, introduced by Mary Lou Marzian, has become law. This bill, establishing a Lewis and Clark bicentennial commission, passed the House 96-0, the Senate 38-0 and was signed by Governor Patton on April 2, 2002. Big Bone is one of the areas of interest that will be studied and could be expected to play a role in the bicentennial celebration. I am hopeful that a member of Friends of Big Bone will be appointed to that planning group.
Thanks to all of you who are long time friends of Big Bone, your favorite project is gaining many new friends and supporters. I am glad to be among them.