- Associated Press - Monday, July 27, 2015

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Celebrating Indiana’s 200th bicentennial next year will cost the state at least $55 million - and that’s not including more than 430 locally funded events.

Most of the money will be dedicated to building a $25 million state archives facility and a $24 million inn for Potato Creek Park near South Bend. Other projects to mark the occasion are coming to the Indiana Statehouse with $2.5 million for the state library’s education center and a $2 million Bicentennial Plaza west of the building.

Planning for the state’s bicentennial began under former Gov. Mitch Daniels, who used his last State of the State speech to kick off a nature trust. Since taking office, Gov. Mike Pence has encouraged the Bicentennial Commission to think even bigger, said Chris Jensen, a former head of the commission, which came up with a list of capital projects for the state’s birthday.

“Gov. Pence kind of encouraged that next level, that excitement, to get Hoosiers (thinking) what is the legacy we can leave in 2016 that will be permanent markers going forward,” Jensen said.

State lawmakers approved a plan during this year’s legislative session to raise most of the money for the festivities by leasing out underutilized capacity at 311 cellphone towers, which mainly are used for emergency communications, The Indianapolis Star (https://indy.st/1JKlsNf ) reported.

But Indiana taxpayers will foot the estimated $1.6 million cost for a six-week torch relay across all 92 counties.

All of the projects are part of a broader bicentennial celebration leading up to the actual statehood bicentennial on Dec. 11, 2016, and are meant to leave a lasting legacy.

“We want to celebrate and make memories, of course,” said former Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman, who chairs the state Bicentennial Commission along with former U.S. Rep. Lee Hamilton, “but more importantly we want to help prepare Indiana for the next 100 years of progress and change.”

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Information from: The Indianapolis Star, https://www.indystar.com


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