Chapel's facelift nearly complete

No government money used for project at Capitol

Associated PressNovember 29, 2012 

FRANKFORT — A privately funded renovation of the chapel in the state Capitol could be completed as soon as next week, a state official said Wednesday.

Kentucky Finance Cabinet spokeswoman Pamela Trautner said finishing touches are under way.

That came as welcome news to one of the Legislature's spiritual leaders, Christian chaplain Lee Watts.

"I'm excited that the legislators will have somewhere to seek God's face and somewhere for the people to go and pray for God's blessing on our government," Watts said Wednesday.

The chapel has been closed for the past year while crews restored pews, installed floor tiles and constructed a wall to enclose shelves filled with noisy communications equipment that had been hidden only by a curtain.

The Frankfort Kiwanis Club created the chapel with private funding in the 1960s in what had been a storage room on the second floor of the Capitol, across the hall from what's now the office of Chief Justice John Minton.

No government funding was used on the $10,000 renovation.

"I think that was a wise choice," Watts said.

State Rep. Martha Jane King, the Lewisburg Democrat who spearheaded the renovation, said she wanted to avoid public funding because she feared that might have triggered criticism on grounds of separation of church and state.

The once drab, windowless chapel, which now has LED lighting, had been largely unaltered since it first opened in 1964.

King said a marble engraving of the preamble to the Kentucky Constitution is being added in the renovation. The preamble says the people of Kentucky are "grateful to Almighty God for the civil, political and religious liberties we enjoy."

The chapel, King said, can be used by people of all faiths.

"I just can't tell you how happy I am that we're finally going get it finished," she said.

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