University Officials Start Lobbying for Capital Projects Early

Kentucky public colleges and universities are already compiling their capital project wish lists to get ready for next year’s legislative session.

A $33 million Engineering-Physics building tops the projects list at Murray State University, but President Randy Dunn says the school also badly needs a new $62 million library. And with online technology rapidly replacing books, Dunn knows the facility must be different from traditional libraries.

“It’s not what we think of a library when we went to school,” said Dunn. “It’s much more areas where, yes, books are stored. But you also have meeting rooms–electronic libraries that exist.”

At Kentucky State University, officials are lobbying for funds to build a $2 million pedestrian bridge, among other projects.

U.S. 60 slices right through the middle of the campus in Frankfort.  There’s a tunnel under the road, but Jack McNear, of KSU facility operations, says students don’t like to use it.

“It’s dark.  It’s lit, but it’s a 1969-style tunnel,” said McNear (photo, right).  “And so, they cross the street. Though the speed limit is 45 on U.S. 60, it does tend to be a hazard for our students.”

 The pedestrian bridge is KSU’s third priority, behind a new nursing building and a central boiler plant.  Lawmakers approved the nursing building in 2006, but then-Gov. Ernie Fletcher vetoed it.

The 2012 legislative session is still seven months away, but university officials are already letting lawmakers see their capital project needs.  In these tight budget times, public colleges may be lucky to get even one project funded through the general fund.  Bonded projects sometimes fare better, but even those need legislative approval.

By Tony McVeigh

Veteran broadcast journalist Tony McVeigh has been covering Kentucky politics since 1986, reporting for Clear Channel Communications before joining Kentucky Public Radio in 2004. His stories are aired by seven KPR affiliates, whose signals blanket the Commonwealth and parts of surrounding states. McVeigh began his broadcasting career at WRFC in Athens, Georgia, while earning a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from the University of Georgia. He has extensive anchor/reporter experience, including stints with South Carolina Network and Georgia Radio News Service in Atlanta. In 2007 and 2008, McVeigh was named Best Radio Reporter in the Kentucky Associated Press Awards. He also picked up consecutive AP Awards for Best Political Coverage. McVeigh won four Kentucky AP Awards in 2009, six in 2010 - including Best Political Coverage and Best Hard News Feature - and three in 2011. His coverage of the 2007 Kentucky governor's race topped the Political Reporting category of the Society of Professional Journalists Green Eyeshade Awards of 2008. In 2009, McVeigh placed second in Courts and Law Reporting in the Atlanta-based competition for journalists in 11 Southern states. McVeigh is also the proud recipient of an Individual Liberty Award from the Kentucky Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. The Brunswick, Georgia, native is a die-hard UGA football fan who enjoys photography, astronomy, live music, hiking Kentucky's Red River Gorge and exploring the state's beautiful back roads. McVeigh and his big, fat, black cat Simon, reside in Frankfort, KY.