Roundup: Work begins to replace State House dome, LePage to Morocco in April

Workers prepare to begin  the eight-month job of replacing the more than 100-year-old copper dome at the State House. Sun Journal photo by Scott Thistle.

Workers prepare to begin the eight-month job of replacing the more than 100-year-old copper dome at the State House. Sun Journal photo by Scott Thistle.

Work began this week on an eight-month, $1.3 million job to restore the State House dome and the “Lady of Wisdom” statue that presides over it.

The copper dome was originally constructed during a major renovation of the State House that took place between 1909 and 1910. Over the years, the copper has changed color as the metal oxidized, giving the dome its distinctive green hue.

Mainers will have to say goodbye to that green dome for several decades, said David Boulter, executive director of the Legislative Council, who oversees day-to-day operations at the State House. The copper will appear shiny as a new penny for about six months before slowly starting to dull.

“The biggest change will be that viewers will not see the dome green colored again for 35-70 years when the copper has had time to develop a patina after many years of exposure to the atmosphere,” Boulter said on Friday.

ME SH Staging 1

For several months this summer, between the Legislature’s end and the November election, elaborate scaffolding will encase the entire dome, from which workers will lay the approximately 7,000 square feet of new copper. (See the photo at left for an artist’s rendering of the scaffolding setup.

The dome is topped with a golden statue of the “Lady of Wisdom,” which will be repainted and re-gilded, Boulter said. Workers will also re-paint the cupola between the dome and the statue.

The Legislative Council, made of the leaderships from both parties in the House and Senate, approved the dome renovation last year. After 100 years, the current copper is at the “end of its useful life,” Boulter said. Holes and cracks in the copper have allowed moisture to infiltrate into the structural concrete deck below.

Work is scheduled to be completed in November. The job is being paid for out of an existing Legislative Council account, and will not require any bonding or special appropriations.

LePage headed to Morocco in April

Republican Gov. Paul LePage will visit Tangier, Morocco, in April to attend the formal inauguration of the University of New England’s campus in that city.

LePage will be joined by the U.S. ambassador to Morocco, Dwight Bush Sr., and representatives from UNE and the city of Tangier. LePage’s four-day trip will also include meetings with local business leaders to “explore trade opportunities” between Maine and the North African country.

LePage hailed Morocco’s aggressive infrastructure development, calling it the “gateway to North Africa and the European Union,” and emphasized opportunities for Maine companies to expand foreign investment and reach new customers abroad.

“I applaud [UNE President Danielle Ripich] and her team for advancing higher education to the new Moroccan campus, which creates an educational partnership that will expand educational opportunities for UNE students and provide a Maine presence in the global trade economy,” LePage said in a press release.

UNE TangierThe first cohort of UNE students landed at the new campus in January, according to a school spokeswoman.

The campus includes an academic building and a student and staff housing complex. For no additional cost, UNE students will be able to attend the Morocco campus for either a semester or a full academic year, during which time they’ll pursue their usual curriculum of studies. Students have the option to stay in new on-campus housing or with host families.

GOP’s youth crew to run presidential straw poll

Members of #GEN207, the Maine Republican Party’s new youth activism arm, will coordinate a straw poll at next month’s state party convention in Bangor.

Straw polls are not uncommon, but the names appearing on the ballot give an indication of who the state party considers potential 2016 presidential candidates. The list includes:

  • Sens. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Ted Cruz of Texas, Rand Paul of Kentucky, Marco Rubio of Florida and former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania.
  • Govs. Chris Christie of New Jersey, Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, Rick Perry of Texas, Scott Walker of Wisconsin, and former Govs. Jeb Bush of Florida, Mike Huckabee, of Arkansas.
  • Former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin and Ben Carson, a neurosurgeon and conservative activist.
Mario Moretto

About Mario Moretto

Mario Moretto has been a Maine journalist, in print and online publications, since 2009. He joined the Bangor Daily News in 2012, first as a general assignment reporter in his native Hancock County and, now, in the State House.