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Kelly signs legislation authorizing Gold Star family memorial at Capitol

By: - April 4, 2022 3:17 pm
Perry Wiggins, executive director of the Governor's Military Council and a retired U.S. Army three-star general, urged the 2022 Legislature to approve a Statehouse grounds memorial to Gold Star families. (Kansas Reflector screen capture from Kansas Legislature YouTube channel)

Perry Wiggins, executive director of the Governor’s Military Council and a retired U.S. Army three-star general, urged the 2022 Legislature to approve a Statehouse grounds memorial to Gold Star families. (Kansas Reflector screen capture from Kansas Legislature YouTube channel)

TOPEKA — Retired Lt. Gen. Perry Wiggins settled in Kansas after retiring from the U.S. Army and soon learned the state was among the few without a Statehouse memorial honoring families with members who were killed or died while serving in the Armed Forces.

The Kansas Senate and House voted unanimously to rectify that oversight and Gov. Laura Kelly signed into law  Senate Bill 330, which authorizes collection of private donations for a monument to be placed on the south side of the Capitol.

Wiggins, executive director of the Governor’s Military Council, said the 44-inch tall memorial would bear the official Gold Star pin and an inscription designating it as a tribute to families that made the ultimate sacrifice.

“Our true and unsung heroes of this nation are these families,” said Wiggins, a three-star general who commanded the 1st Infantry Division at Fort Riley. “Sadly, as a commander I have had to knock on a door to deliver the tragic news of a fallen loved one and have executed one of our nation’s most sacred duties and honored a fallen comrade by presenting a loved one on bended knee our nation’s folded flag on behalf of a grateful nation.”

Kelly said momentum for the Gold Star monument picked up steam when she met in 2020 with Hershel “Woody” Williams, a retired U.S. Marine Corps warrant officer and the only living Medal of Honor recipient from World War II. Williams challenged the governor to work toward establishment of the Gold Star Families Monument on Statehouse grounds.

The legislation prohibited use of public funds for creation or construction of the monument to Gold Star families.

In addition, Kelly signed  Senate Bill 300 to amend the Kansas racketeering law to cover a person who engaged in identity theft or identity fraud.

She also put her signature to Senate Bill 367 to require officers to file copies of receipts with the court when property was seized under a search warrant. The bill also set out procedures for destruction of dangerous drugs and the possible return of weapons.

The state’s statute book was amended with Senate Bill 419 to enable certain employees of the Kansas Department of Corrections to attend the Kansas Law Enforcement Training Center.

Kelly signed Senate Bill 450 eliminating a requirement that 80% of proceeds from sale of state surplus real estate be conveyed to the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System.

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Tim Carpenter
Tim Carpenter

Tim Carpenter has reported on Kansas for 35 years. He covered the Capitol for 16 years at the Topeka Capital-Journal and previously worked for the Lawrence Journal-World and United Press International. He has been recognized for investigative reporting on Kansas government and politics. He won the Kansas Press Association's Victor Murdock Award six times. The William Allen White Foundation honored him four times with its Burton Marvin News Enterprise Award. The Kansas City Press Club twice presented him its Journalist of the Year Award and more recently its Lifetime Achievement Award. He earned an agriculture degree at Kansas State University and grew up on a small dairy and beef cattle farm in Missouri. He is an amateur woodworker and drives Studebaker cars.

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