For the last two decades the Kenai Peninsula community has chosen a Saturday in August to say thank you to the industries that provide the tax base that build our schools, pay our teachers and safety personnel, pave our roads and build our ports and harbors. The original idea of Jack Brown and the late Aaron Goforth, the totally free event, not even vendors can sell anything, draws a crowd of thousands annually to honor leaders among the industries that fuel the Peninsula’s economic engine. “I make it a point to be on the Peninsula for Industry Appreciation Day, it’s a special community that comes out to say ‘We value those who are creating jobs in the oil & gas, fishing & tourism industry’ and I love representing such thankfulness in D.C.” said U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski who presented the awards to the outstanding individuals and businesses in the oil & gas industry.
Governor Sean Parnell returned to the Peninsula for Industry Appreciation Day especially to present the prestigious Don Gilman Service to Community Award. “This award was created in honor of the legendary service of former senator and borough mayor Don Gilman, but isn’t given every year, but only when an individual has exemplified the service to the community of the late Don Gilman,” said Michelle Glaves, committee member. “It was an honor to be able to be here to honor a member of the small business community who has exemplified the community spirit of Don Gilman and appropriate that it is man who has outfitted the working men and women in our industries, Mike Sweeney as well as his individual commitment to serve his community through the Chamber of Commerce, Rotary and so many other ways. Mike speaks to the spirit of Alaskans that make this such a great state,” said Governor Parnell.
Other recipients of award at this year’s Industry Appreciation Day included Jim Udelhoven for the Outstanding Individual in the oil & gas industry, Peak Oilfield Services, Outstanding Support Business and SAE Exploration as the Outstanding Business in the oil & gas industry. In commercial fishing industry Pacific Star Seafood’s was recognized as the Outstanding Commercial Fish Processor, Resources for All Alaskans (RFAA) for their Outstanding Support for Commercial Fishing and the Barnes family as Outstanding Individuals in Commercial Fishing. For the tourism industry the award for Outstanding Business went to the Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies, Stream Watch administered through the Kenai Watershed Forum won Outstanding Support Business and the Outstanding Individual in tourism was Bryan Zak. It was estimated that some 1,500 lbs of watermelons were sliced and given away in addition to two complete hogs that were barbequed by Carrol Martin, more than 500 lbs of fresh salmon and nearly 2,000 hamburgers and hotdogs were served up by volunteers. Attendees also got their first look at the new Kenai River Brown Bears Hockey team as they were on hand to volunteer and sing the National Anthem. Dozens of new bicycles were also given away to net pull winners and frozen t-shirt winners in addition to a myriad of other prizes that were given away by drawing to kids present.