Politics & Government

Bevin removes name of Jane Beshear from Capitol Education Center

The Capitol Education Center near the Capitol.
The Capitol Education Center near the Capitol. jbrammer@herald-leader.com

The name of former first lady Jane K. Beshear has been removed from the Capitol Education Center on the grounds of the Kentucky Capitol.

Gone is the sign with her name in front of the building that serves as an education and welcoming facility for more than 60,000 guests to the Capitol campus every year. Gone are the plaques in the building that bore her name.

The Bevin administration plans to rename the center, which sits adjacent to the Capitol and Executive Mansion, to honor Kentucky’s military heritage with the goal of special recognition to Kentucky’s “Gold Star” families, Pamela Trautner, spokeswoman for the state Finance and Administration Cabinet, said Thursday.

The Gold Star Lapel Button, also referred to as the Gold Star pin, is distributed by the U.S. Department of Defense to members of the immediate family of service members who have lost their lives in conflict or in support of certain military operations.

Trautner did not elaborate on the center’s name change.

Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear named the center in his wife’s honor last November shortly before leaving office and soon after Republican Gov. Matt Bevin was elected to succeed him. Beshear said his wife was responsible for securing private donations to help outfit the center, including $250,000 from Duke Energy, and appliances for the center’s kitchen from General Electric.

Bevin and the Beshears have been at odds since early in the Bevin administration.

Bevin removed Jane Beshear in December as a member of the Kentucky Horse Park Commission, an appointment Steve Beshear had made. The two have accused each other of corruption in their administrations and the Beshears’ son, Attorney General Andy Beshear, has taken Bevin to court for making mid-year university budget cuts and revamping governing boards.

Steve Beshear said in an email Thursday night that “it’s certainly the governor’s prerogative to change the name on this building if he chooses.”

“I named it after Jane because she raised over $250,000 from the private sector to transform that old, abandoned building into a place where Kentucky schoolchildren visiting our Capitol could eat lunch and learn about different kinds of energy used in Kentucky,” he said. “She never sought any recognition for her efforts, but I was proud to surprise her by naming the building for her.”

Steve Beshear said he hopes Bevin leaves a plaque on the inside of the center “that tells how the first lady created it, because I’m sure our military families would want to know the story of how it came about.”

Steve Beshear’s decision to name the center after his wife left the first lady speechless at the November new conference, which had been called to announce several upgrades to the center that opened in February 2013. They included a new projector and drop-down screen, seven new all-in-one computers for educational kiosks, four new kinetic displays and updated kiosk software and media interactives.

“The Capitol Education Center would not exist today without the foresight and drive of Jane Beshear,” Steve Beshear at the time.

The building was built in 1988 to house heating and cooling equipment for the Capitol campus. As the campus grew, more space was needed for equipment and it was moved to a different location, leaving the building empty and unused.

Jack Brammer: (502) 227-1198, @BGPolitics