For Kansans, another turn of the calendar means another slate of exciting developments – a shiny new copper dome on the Capitol building and new freshman lawmakers inside, new restaurants and shops, a Fiesta Bowl appearance and a sold-out Taylor Swift show.
Here are some notable events to expect in 2013:
• This will be another big year for downtown development, with about $50 million in projects scheduled to be initiated or completed in 2013. Projects include the Kansas Leadership Center and Kansas Health Foundation Conference Center, the Lux at First and Market, the Douglas streetscape project and apartments on the west bank of WaterWalk. And after nearly five years, there may finally be a buyer for Union Station, the former train station at 701 E. Douglas where Cox Communications previously had its Kansas headquarters.
• The renovation of St. Mary’s Cathedral in downtown Wichita also will wrap up this year. The 100-year-old centerpiece of the Wichita Catholic Diocese has undergone a $16 million renovation and is scheduled to be dedicated Feb. 2.
• In Topeka, the $332 million Capitol renovation project, which has run far beyond its original budget and taken much longer than expected, should finally be complete this year. The project includes the replacement of the Statehouse’s copper dome and copper roof, repairs to the exterior stone, an underground parking garage, a new visitors center and landscaping.
• In sports, Heisman Trophy candidate Collin Klein will lead the Kansas State Wildcats to a Fiesta Bowl matchup with the University of Oregon on Thursday. Later this month – Jan. 19 – the Wichita State men’s basketball team will meet Creighton in what could be a showdown between two ranked teams.
• Hawker Beechcraft is expected to emerge from bankruptcy in late January, and questions remain as to what the ultimate impact on the Wichita economy might be. Boeing, meanwhile, will continue to draw down its Wichita operations in time for its final departure in early 2014.
• Country-pop superstar Taylor Swift’s “Red” tour, one of the most anticipated entertainment events of 2013, will stop in Wichita on Aug. 6. Other highlights on this year’s entertainment agenda include appearances by Kid Rock, Cirque du Soleil, Rascal Flatts, the Count Basie Orchestra and comedians Bill Cosby, Tracy Morgan and Jim Gaffigan. And dinosaurs will roam through Exploration Place this summer as part of the popular “Dinosaurs Unearthed” traveling exhibition.
• At local movie theaters, hot tickets for 2013 will include Disney’s “Oz: The Great and Powerful” and, as always, many sequels: “Iron Man 3,” “Despicable Me 2,” “Catching Fire,” “Wolverine,” “Monsters University” and “The Hobbit: There and Back Again.”
• It wouldn’t be a new year in Wichita without a few new restaurants. Anticipated eateries set to open in 2013 include Siena Tuscan Steakhouse inside the new Ambassador Hotel; Hill Bar and Grill at Douglas and Oliver, in the old Barrier’s building; Hana Next Door, an expansion of Hana Cafe in Old Town Square; and Firebirds Wood Fired Grill, at the former Brooks Bros. store at the Waterfront, 13th and Webb. Foodies who prefer to cook at home look forward to the new Whole Foods Market, an organic and natural food chain planned for the Waterfront development later this year.
• Many newly elected state lawmakers – 49 new House members and four senators – will be sworn into office next month, marking a stronger conservative majority in the Kansas Legislature. They are expected to tackle a laundry list of issues that could include changes to appellate court judge appointments, immigration reform and deep budget cuts. Lawmakers also could propose limiting union power, increasing the number of places licensed Kansans can carry guns and requiring drug testing for welfare benefits.
• Early next year, a panel of three Shawnee County district judges are expected to issue their ruling on a lawsuit that challenges how the state funds its schools. Attorneys representing Wichita and 53 other school districts argued last summer that cuts to school funding violate the state constitution by failing to give all students a suitable education. Lawyers for the state contend that the Legislature has done the best it could to fund schools as state revenue declined during the recession. The decision almost certainly will be appealed to the Kansas Supreme Court, but in the meantime could affect debates and decisions on education funding.
• The makeup of the Wichita City Council and Wichita Board of Education could change dramatically this spring, as a majority of spots on both will be up for election in April. Voters will cast ballots for four council spots – more than usual because of a vacancy created when council member Michael O’Donnell was elected to the Kansas Senate in November – and four of seven school board positions.
• The Andover school district will launch its search for a new superintendent this year, as Mark Evans leaves for the top job in Omaha. Wichita school leaders, meanwhile, will have to decide how to proceed with nearly 20 bond projects still on hold as part of the 2008 bond issue. One possibility: forgoing a proposed expansion of Southeast High School in favor of building a new, larger Southeast High at 127th East and Pawnee.
• Beginning Tuesday, people registering to vote for the first time in Kansas will have to show proof of U.S. citizenship. The new requirement is part of new voter-ID measures passed by Kansas lawmakers in 2011.
• Also taking effect Tuesday: KanCare, the state’s new system for providing Medicaid services to some 395,000 poor and disabled residents. Gov. Sam Brownback and his administration hope the changes will curb the growth of the state’s share of health care costs.
• Having a baby in 2013? If it happens after Feb. 10, your child will be born in the Year of the Snake and, according to the Chinese zodiac, will be cunning and intelligent. Snake people also are known for their business acumen and mediation skills.