Celebrating Alaska's Golden Statehood Anniversary on the Peninsula

Posted: Wednesday, March 18, 2009

A little over a year ago an AK50 on the Kenai committee was appointed to organize and coordinate the Peninsula's celebration of Alaska's 50th year as the 49th star on Old Glory's field of blue. Recently Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Dave Carey announced an exciting line-up of activities to take place during 2009 on the Kenai Peninsula.

Since January 1, 2009 and continuing through the end of the year during the Monday noon news hour, KSRM Radio will air an interview with a local Alaskan who lived on the Peninsula in 1959. The interviews are hosted by Merrill Sikorski and produced by Kathy Roser of ERA Aviation. Upon completion of the series, a compilation of the interviews will be available on a CD at outlets to be determined. Along with the release of the CD, the AK50 on the Kenai web-site will have the audio files available so the public can listen on-line. Anyone knowing of someone wishing to record their memory for posterity can contact Kathy Roser at ERA in Kenai.

In addition to many activities, a quilt depicting Alaska's 50 years of statehood has been designed and created by Zada Friedersdorff with help from a very capable group of quilters. An announcement of where the quilt will be displayed will be made soon.

Also in the works is a compilation of stories called A Snapshot of Statehood which will provide memories and photos of various people who were present on the Peninsula while statehood was being pursued. The book is being authored by a group of writers from across the Peninsula and will be available for purchase at wholesale prices at local outlets and historical societies later this summer. Local historians Brent Johnson and Dave Letzring from the Kenai Peninsula Historical Association, in partnership with the native tribes on the Peninsula and the Kenai Peninsula Borough, are heading up the project and have gathered a colorful group of writers from each of the Peninsula communities to contribute their memories. A special section will feature the Dena'ina language

Authors include Dr. Alan Boraas on behalf of the tribes, Rose Scott and Dian Bird for Funny River, Clem Tillion for Halibut Cove, Paulette Carluccio for Seldovia, Rhoda Moonin for Nanwalek, Wilma Williams for Homer, Jane Middleton for Fritz Creek, Mary Perry for Anchor Point, Viola Hansen for Stariski, Shirley Schollenberg for Happy Valley, McKibben Jackinsky for Ninilchik, Brent Johnson for Clam Gulch, Cohoe and Kasilof, Clark Fair for Soldotna, Mary Ford for Kenai and Nikiski, Leon and Grace Merkes for Sterling, Mona Painter for Cooper Landing, Diane Olthuis for Hope, Ann Whitmore-Painter for Moose Pass and Crown Point, Colleen Kelly for Seward, Angela Sandstol for Tyonek, James Fisher for the first state legislature and a consortium of authors for Port Graham.

Another exciting project, coordinated by the Kenai Peninsula Tourism Marketing Council (KPTMC), is the Passport to the Kenai Peninsula Borough. The program provides "passports" for locals and visitors to encourage them to visit all the communities on the Peninsula. When people complete at least ten stamps in their passport, they will drop them at a designated stamping location or they can be mailed to KPTMC and they will be entered in a random drawing to receive gifts including two round-trip tickets on Alaska Airlines traveling to Alaska, round-trip transportation on the Alaska Railroad Coastal Classic Train from Anchorage to Seward, two nights lodging at the Hotel Seward, plus admission to the Alaska SeaLife Center and a Kenai Fjords Cruise for two, one night lodging and a one-day fishing charter for two at Sterling's Big Sky Charters and Fish Camp and one night lodging in Homer at the Goofy Moose Cabins as well as one day fishing with Arctic Envy Charters. Passports will be available this spring and can be obtained at the following locations: Anchor Point Chamber of Commerce, Cooper Landing Chamber of Commerce, Homer Chamber of Commerce, Hope Sunrise Historical and Mining Museum (Memorial Day-Labor Day) or the Hope Sunrise Library (fall/winter), the Kasilof Mercantile, the Kenai Visitor and Convention Center, Estes Brothers Grocery and General Store in Moose Pass, the Nikiski Public Swimming Pool, the Ninilchik State Fairgrounds, the Seldovia Visitor Center, the Seward Chamber of Commerce, the Soldotna Chamber of Commerce, and the Sterling Senior Center.

The State of Alaska, on behalf of the Juneau Statehood Committee, commissioned bronze medallions commemorating the 50th anniversary celebration which can be purchased by non-profit organizations for fundraising purposes. The medallions were designed and produced by the same company that designed medallions at statehood back in 1959. A limited supply can be purchased from the Kenai Peninsula Borough by contacting Michelle Blackwell at 714-2336. The medallions will sell for $50 each and are limited to five medallions per organization.

Included in the AK50 on the Kenai Steering Committee is a contest subcommittee created to help include the youth of the borough in celebrating statehood. The Kenai Convention and Visitors Bureau is developing a student photography exhibit entitled "Life on the Kenai: 2009." The contest will be coordinated by Natasha Ala. Information will be made available through the Kenai Visitors & Cultural Center and local media on how kids can become involved in the contest. This kids' photography exhibit will take place the month of October 2009, at the Kenai Visitors & Cultural Center.

Seward has been honored by the Alaska Legislature as the "Mural Capital of Alaska" and they are incorporating that designation in a Symposium scheduled May 1-2. As part of the Alaska Humanities Forum and Rasmuson Statehood Grant program, Seward will receive a new mural by local artist Justine Pechuzal and the Seward Mural Society that celebrates the community as the Home of Alaska's Flag. Plans are to have sections of the art available for unveiling at the Symposium. More information on the Kenai Peninsula Borough (KPB) celebrations can be found on the AK50 On the Kenai web-site on the KPB home page at www.borough.kenai.ak.us or at www.kpbcelebrates50.org

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