Community gathers to honor "Honest Abe's" 200th Birthday

Posted: Wednesday, March 04, 2009

The Kenai Peninsula Republican Women's Club combined Alaska's Golden Anniversary of Statehood with Abraham Lincoln's 200th birthday as an occasion to celebrate and honor local elected officials, Territorial families, and Homesteaders last week. State Senator Tom Wagoner was selected to receive the groups 2009 Republican of the Year award which was presented by John Torgerson, "Those of you who have visited my office in Juneau know that I don't like to have much on the walls of my office, but this is a true honor, I'm actually speechless but I can promise you that the next time you visit me in Juneau, you'll see this plaque on my office wall. Thank you very much," said Wagoner.

Speaker of the House Rep. Mike Chenault was able to make it home for the event and briefly addressed the gathering on issues being dealt with in the current session. Borough Mayor David Carey gave an historic overview of the Borough, the events, people and votes that brought it into being, "The first ordinance passed 001, set a .12 cent a mile reimbursement for the Assembly members," said Carey. Kenai City Mayor Pat Porter told what it was like being a 14-year-old girl when Alaska was admitted to the Union, "I don't remember much, I was 14 and becoming a state wasn't what was mainly on my mind in those days, but I do remember the party and the bonfire, it was great," laughed Porter. Democrat James Fisher told of his experience as an elected member of the first Alaska legislative session, "We had a sense of history as we deliberated and we confronted a lot of issues, but the first session only lasted 81 days and we got a lot accomplished," said Fisher.

"If any one is wondering how Abraham Lincoln's 200th birthday fits together with 50 years of Alaska Statehood, it's a little know fact that President Lincoln was part of the initial negotiations between the United States and Russia. William Seward began negotiating with Russia to purchase Alaska for $5,000,000 in 1860 only to be stalled by the start of the Civil War. Then on March 30th, 1867 Secretary of State William Seward signed an agreement with Baron Edouard Stoeckl to purchase the Territory for $7,200,000, about .02 cents an acre," said Carol Brenckle, president of the Kenai Peninsula Republican Women.

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