Soldotna a living, thriving legacy

Posted: Wednesday, July 19, 2006

 

  The 2006 Soldotna Progress Days parade is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. Saturday. Line up begins at 9 a.m. at Soldotna High School. See parade map on page 9 for the new route. Clarion file photo

The 2006 Soldotna Progress Days parade is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. Saturday. Line up begins at 9 a.m. at Soldotna High School. See parade map on page 9 for the new route.

Clarion file photo

The Progress Days parade, at age 46, is billed as the longest-running annual event in Soldotna, a city of 4,000 founded in 1947.

“Progress,” however, is about more than advancing in age and pumping up population numbers. It is about “Building Legacies,” the theme for 2006.

According to Michelle Glaves, executive director of the Soldotna Chamber of Commerce, 2006 is a great year to focus on what the city’s rapid growth over the past 20 years means for future generations.

“There are a lot of really big things going on in Soldotna, and those things will be legacies,” Glaves said.

For example, 2006 saw the Arctic Winter Games arrive to find a Kenai Peninsula packed with projects built to accommodate the circumpolar international competition’s sporting events and cultural festivities.

Some of those projects, such as upgrades to Tsalteshi Trails, will provide for Soldotna residents well into future, as will the expected completion of an expansion to Central Peninsula General Hospital and the Kenai River bridge.

According to Glaves, those projects all played into the choice of a theme for the event, but the city’s growth over the years and how the community has responded to it made the theme apt, as well.

Glaves has lived in Soldotna for 23 years, so has witnessed a lot of growth firsthand.

“Now you come down the hill and drive by Fred Meyer,” she said. “Well, Fred Meyer wasn’t there.”

The business sector, she said, has stepped up across the board.

“We are a complete community now,” she said. “We don’t have to depend on Anchorage for goods and services, and that really is a legacy.”

Glaves said the expansion of medical facilities and city projects also represents a legacy, and the public sector’s work on infrastructure in the past and coming years will be key to the future.

Tom Boedeker, the parade’s grand marshal, has taken part in many such projects. The restoration of Soldotna Creek Park, where the Progress Days vendors will set up and the picnic will be held, is one example of such a project.

According to Boedeker, building the park’s platforms is important to the ecology of the area’s number one resource: the Kenai River.

“It’s not just a legacy for people to use them — those were built as restoration projects for the banks,” Boedeker said. “We think that’s a pretty important legacy to leave.”

An upgrade to the city’s wastewater treatment plant and a switch from chemical to ultraviolet disinfection served the river legacy purpose, as well. The plant discharges the treated water into the Kenai.

“The discharge is as close to being clear water as you can get — that’s a long-term benefit,” he said.

The paving of all the main city roads, the completion of bike trails and the work of community groups to use city land for the little league fields and rodeo grounds also showed the community’s willingness to build legacies.

“It’s all part of recognizing that people live here — this is their home,” he said. “Our job is to leave the home nice for the next generation.”



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