House approves heirloom wedding certificates

Posted: Thursday, April 20, 2000

JUNEAU (AP) -- Couples wed in Alaska will soon have an alternative to bland marriage certificates -- colorful heirloom versions sold to earn money for the Alaska Children's Trust.

The state House voted 39-0 Wednesday to approve Senate Bill 254, authorizing the sale of heirloom marriage certificates. The bill will now be sent to Gov. Tony Knowles.

The trust is a state endowment fund that uses interest earnings to provide grants to communities for the prevention of child abuse and neglect. Originally endowed with a $6 million appropriation, the trust has grown through fund-raising, private donations and reinvestment of income to reach $9.8 million.

The trust has awarded more than $860,000 in grants to 30 community-based programs.

Program director Shari Paul said heirloom marriage certificates will be similar to heirloom birth certificates that earn the trust $1,500 to $3,000 per month.

The birth certificates were illustrated by Alaska artist Rie Munoz and designed by graphic artist Sue Kraft. Since June 1998, 1,980 birth certificates have been sold, earning $49,500 for the trust.

Heirloom marriage certificates will be available to anyone who was ever wed Alaska, Paul said. About 5,300 couples are married in the state each year and the Division of Vital Statistics keep the records of more than 200,000 marriages.

Paul said the marriage certificate price probably will be $35, with $25 going to the trust. Other proceeds will be used in part to develop a computer program to allow the division to key in pre-1977 marriages. Only about half of Alaska's marriages are on the division's data base.

Paul said the trust board will ask Alaska artists to submit designs for the new marriage certificates and may offer the public two choices.

Paul said it may take a year before the certificates are available because the trust board must solicit and pick art, turn it over to a graphic artist for a final design and print the certificates.

State Registrar Al Zangri said he expects wedding certificates to be more popular as keepsakes than birth certificates. State officials estimate 70 percent of couples will buy them.

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