It's official, the ink is dry on the contract and the count down to the 2006 Arctic Winter Games has begun.
Last week, U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski and Lt. Governor Loren Leman joined a host of dignitaries before a capacity gathering at the KCHS Renee C. Henderson auditorium for the signing of the official agreement for the Kenai Peninsula to host the 2006 Arctic Winter Games.
"The IC told us it was our community enthusiasm and site visit coordination, as well as our written proposal that swung the selection in our favor over Juneau and Fairbanks," said Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Dale Bagley.
That was confirmed when AWG International Committee President Gerry Thick stepped to the podium and said he had heard a lot about the "We want the games" cheer that greeted his colleagues that made the site visit at each stop they made. Thick then requested that those assembled try out the new cheer, "We GOT the games!" The enthusiastic crowd, which included the entire KCHS student body, was quick to accommodate the IC President, who had a harder time stopping the cheer then he had getting it started. Thick also reminded the jubilant crowd that it would take a huge volunteer effort to put on the games and encouraged everyone to roll up there sleeves and get involved.
National, State & Local officials gathered with AWG International Committee members, local Bid Committee volunteers and the Chuda Kuya Drummers in front of the entire student body at KCHS last week for the official signing ceremony for the 2006 Arctic Winter Games.
"I've had a quick briefing already on what it is that will be needed as we prepare for the Games and I am to be presented with a briefing very early in May that will detail what we, your federal delegation, can do to help these Games be the success that we all know it will be," said U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski in an interview following the signing.
Ninilchik born Loren Leman will play a key role in the 2006 Arctic Winter Games. Alaska's Lt. Governor serves in a similar capacity as the Minister of Sports in Canada, "I'll be leading our delegation and be the head person representing our State in at the games. I plan to participate in the Games next year in Alberta and likewise be ready as we come to the Peninsula as Alaska hosts the Games in 2006," said Leman. The Lt. Governor added that there will be challenges along the way to hosting the Games, such as transportation from Anchorage, and housing, "But the Peninsula is up to it, and we'll be here to help you. This is a fine, tightly knit, warm, community with a host of talented folks and I'm sure the Kenai Peninsula is going to set a new standard for how the Games are conducted."
The enthusiasm and spirit of this international athletic competition is supplemented by the anticipated economic benefits during a traditionally slow economic period on the Peninsula. Past Games have generated between $6 to $9 million to local economies and officials estimate that the 2006 Games will more than exceed those figures. "I have concluded that the biggest legacy of the Arctic Winter Games will be this community working together on this incredible project," said Mayor Bagley.
Speaking for the volunteer bid committee at the reception that followed at the Kenai Senior Center, Jack Brown said, "It was a tremendous honor to have Senator Lisa Murkowski, Lt. Governor Loren Leman, Mayor Dale Bagley, Mayor John Williams, Mayor David Carey, Mayor Jack Cushing, Assembly president Pete Sprague, and KPBSD Superintendent Donna Peterson to join with Arctic Winter Games International Committee Members; President Gerry Thick, John Rodda, and Secretary Wendell Shiffler in the signing ceremony. I want to thank everyone for their efforts in making this event one of the most memorable experiences in the history of the Kenai Peninsula Borough."
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