Blue Springs resident Judy Quackenbush had called the mayor's office last year, when extensive renovations to City Hall had begun, wondering what would happen to the 1976 time capsule.
The capsule, a funeral casket vault, had been buried in front of the building on July 4 – a local festivity to commemorate the national bicentennial. It was to remain closed for 100 years. But in 1976, city officials couldn't have foreseen City Hall, built in 1961 and remodeled in 1989, would require a large-scale overhaul and the capsule might need to be unearthed.
Mayor Carson Ross was able to inform Quackenbush that the time capsule would be in safe storage. City Administrator Eric Johnson suggested adding another smaller capsule and burying it with the 1976 capsule – both donated by local funeral homes – in a little ceremony.
“I said, 'That makes sense,'” Ross said. “'Hey, let's do it!'”
Late Thursday morning, that's what they did, complete with the ceremonial first spades of dirt.
The original time capsule, which was moved about 50 feet east from its original location, was not opened, and Ross, who recently turned 72, joked that he only planned to miss the 2076 opening “by about 15 years.”
“Whoever's in charge will make sure it's preserved, I'm sure,” he said.
Don Gfeller of the Blue Springs Historical Society recalled how the 1976 capsule was fundraiser for the group. They sold 8-by-12 envelopes at $2 apiece for families to put something of choice into the vault, and citizens also brought 24 small boxes of items – normal time capsule items like magazines, flags or posters, household items of the time. Among the items of note, he said, was a lady's wig, a 70-year-old Christmas ornament and an empty Falstaff beer can, which Ross said jokingly was probably courtesy of the late Norman Liddle.
At the time of the bicentennial capsule, Blue Springs had begun a population boom. Theresa Welsh, president of the Historical Society, said before the ceremony that in 1970 the city's population was about 7,000, but by 1980 it had reached 25,000 to 26,000. In 2017, the city's population was more than twice that at about 54,000.
Karen Findora, administrative assistant in community development, said the 2018 capsule included letters from kindergarten, fourth and fifth grade students at Thomas Ultican Elementary, with teacher biographies, some personal letter from citizens that were sealed and most items describing current life and development in Blue Springs.
Items from the Chiefs, photos of Blue Springs, magazines, some current electronic devices, recyclable materials and papers from The Examiner and Kansas City Business Journal were included.
“We had a wide variety of miscellaneous items that I’m sure will be very interesting to the folks in 2076,” Findora said.
When City Hall reopens, citizens will find the main entrance in a newly constructed area facing 10th Street. Offices inside will be reorganized for better flow and customer service functions.
The $6.1 million renovation project, which started almost a year ago, should be complete in March, city spokesperson Miranda Austerman said. Employees that had been in the building have working in temporary spaces in various buildings around the city.