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Brewer helps dedicate centennial makeover of State Capitol grounds

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PHOENIX – In honor of Arizona’s approaching 100th birthday, Wesley Bolin Memorial Plaza is sporting more trees and a spruced-up lawn following a nine-month makeover of the State Capitol grounds.

Gov. Jan Brewer was on hand Thursday to put the finishing touches on the Arizona Capitol Mall Beautification Project by unveiling a transplanted saguaro.

“This project is one that will last far into our second century,” Brewer said.

Completed with donated materials, volunteers and state inmate labor, the nine-month project re-seeded the lawn and also put a new black coating on the plaza’s visitor lot.

Senate President Steve Pierce, R-Prescott, said it’s good to see West Washington Street getting “a new face.”

“Three years ago when I was first elected, I thought it looked like driving through a ghetto to a dead place out here,” Pierce said. “There was no grass; it looked bad.”

Pierce, the Arizona Centennial 2012 Foundation and Arizona Centennial Commission worked Clint Hickman of Hickman’s Family Farms, Arizona’s largest egg producer, to get businesses to donate trees, plants, granite, fertilizer and sod.

The newly planted saguaro was transferred from the west side of the Capitol’s Executive Tower.

“This whole project has been about reuse,” Hickman said.

Other projects leading up to the Feb. 14 centennial include $7.1 million of improvements along West Washington Street from Seventh to 19th avenues. Funded in large part by a federal grant with assistance from the city of Phoenix, it includes wider sidewalks, shade canopies, displays featuring all 15 counties and a “Tribal Walk” honoring Arizona’s 22 Native American tribes.

Karen Churchard, director of the Arizona Centennial Commission, said unveiling the saguaro caps a signature centennial project.

“They’ve really focused on the whole area from literally the tip of Wesley Bolin Memorial Plaza to the east, all the way around the Capitol towards the back of the Executive Tower,” she said.