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State planning under way for Lincoln bicentennial
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. -- The 200th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's birth is seven years away, but plans for a statewide celebration are already under way.
"This is an important event. It's once in a lifetime," said state Comptroller Daniel Hynes, who is heading the state's Lincoln Bicentennial Commission.
Hynes said he had hoped for some funds from the Legislature to help with the project, but getting money this year may be a problem with the state's budget shortfall.
He said he was prepared to commit some of the resources of the comptroller's office to the event.
While Lincoln's 200th birthday -- Feb. 12, 2009 -- is just one day, the festivities will spread well beyond that.
"It will definitely be more than a week. It will definitely be more than a couple months. It could be a yearlong celebration," Hynes said after he met last week with members of the commission, including Lincoln scholars and representatives of the Abraham Lincoln Association.
"I'm of the firm belief that this should be a statewide celebration in the true sense of the word," he said. "We want every community that has a connection to Lincoln to have their day in the spotlight."
Hynes said he expects to have celebrations marking the milestones of Lincoln's life in Illinois, including the Lincoln-Douglas Debates, the "House Divided" speech given in the Old Capitol, his early days in New Salem and his nomination as the Republican presidential candidate in Chicago.