The Kenai Peninsula Republican Women's Club was host to the first of several Inaugural events scheduled across Alaska honoring Governor Sean Parnell, First Lady Sandy Parnell, and Lt. Governor Mead Treadwell. The Inaugural Gala was held at the Peninsula Center Mall in Soldotna, January 14th at 8 p.m. "At the Governor's request, the Gala was a time for celebration and not a time to make political speeches," reported Leona Oberts.
Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Dave Carey opened the Gala with the VFW Color Guard Presentation, the Pledge of Allegiance and the National Anthem, accompanied by the horn players from Bob Ramponi's Jazz Band. Everyone joined the band to sing the Alaska Flag Song followed by Father Roger Bergkamp, OMI, who gave the invocation. Soldotna Mayor, Peter Micciche welcomed the Governor, First Lady and the Lt. Governor. Mayor James Hornaday (Homer), Mayor Pat Porter (Kenai) and Mayor Willard Dunham (Seward) were among the 200 guests in attendance as were the CEOs from the Kenaitze Indian Tribe, Jaylene Peterson-Nyren and Salamatof Native Association, Penny Carty.
At the request of the First Lady, Colleen Sherman provided American Sign Language (ASL) interpretation. Governor Parnell spoke briefly about having a future for our children and going forward with his vision for our state. In addition to the First Lady and Lt. Governor, Mead Treadwell, Department of Administration Commissioner, Becky Hultberg, was also in attendance as was Michelle Toohey, the Governor's campaign manager.
The theme for the Governor's Gala was Main Street Alaska. Each city and chamber on the Peninsula was asked to decorate one of the windows to depict contributions to our communities. The City of Soldotna, the Soldotna Chamber of Commerce, the City of Kenai, Central Peninsula Hospital, the Kenai Watershed Forum, Kenai River Sportfishing Assoc. and the Kenai Peninsula Borough created memorable windows at the Peninsula Center Mall. The Kenaitze Indian Tribe had a display that highlighted native culture and heritage of the local community. Musical entertainment was provided by Bob Ramponi's Jazz Band and Bull Don and the Moose Nuggets who kept participants dancing past the midnight hour. Heavenly Delights catered the event. The Duck Inn supplied the no host bar. Rebecca Beddow and Merrill Sikorski were responsible for photography.
The event was organized and coordinated by Linda Hutchings, president of the Kenai Peninsula Republican Women, assisted by Inaugural Committee members: Michelle Blackwell, Carol Brenckle, Sheryl Cook, Diane DuPerron, Karri Hutchings, Kathy Jackinsky, Jennifer Joanis, Jane and Will Madison, Leona Oberts, Barbara Ruckman, and Kay Tauriainen. "The KPRW and the Inaugural Committee want to thank the Peninsula Mall Merchants for their assistance in making this event possible! Please shop locally," said Leona Oberts, "We also couldn't have pulled off this community event to honor our new Alaskan administration without the help of our volunteers and sponsors," she added.
For additional information on the Gubernatorial Inaugural events taking place across the state go to: http://akinauguration.com/.
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