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Soldotna's Solomon shares wit, wisdom for all to see

Posted: Sunday, July 22, 2001

Words to live by -- and drive by.

That's what's on the reader board at Spenard Builders Supply in Soldotna. It's an effort that keeps SBS employees Rick Abbott and Sean Eastham on their toes and captures the attention of passersby.

"It just seemed like it would be a fun thing to do," said Abbott, who is the store's branch manager and has been with SBS for 28 years. "You can only sell two-by-fours on a reader board for so long until it doesn't become very interesting."

The response reflects a wide-ranging public interest.

"I've received letters from as far away as Pennsylvania," said Abbott, referring to contact from a doctor in Pennsylvania. "How he got my address or name, I have no idea. But he had been fishing in Alaska for two weeks and wanted to send me some encouraging sayings. ...There's a lot of people from outside our area that comment on our signs."

Abbott has used the reader board for 20-some years to share sayings meant to be encouraging, thought-provoking and humorous.

"A lady from the end of Funny River Road said she thought all the way home about a saying," Abbott said. "She said, 'That was my entire problem and you've solved it.' It had to do with a personal thing for her."

Eastham, who has been with SBS for three years, said after Abbott picks out several sayings, the two of them discuss which one to use depending on news, events in the community, weather or the time of year.

"We usually change the sign on Thursdays or Fridays, some time in the mid-afternoon," Eastham said. "I actually get a lot of people honking and waving at me when I'm up there."

Incorrect spellings also get a response, Eastham said.

"I've had phone calls before I even got back in the door," he said of callers who politely ask, "Is that spelled right?"

Kim Mariman's office at the Soldotna Chamber of Commerce provides a front row seat on the saying of the week.

"They put up certain letters and move them around and it's almost like playing 'Wheel of Fortune' when you're sitting at the stoplight," Mariman said. "My kids and I do that every now and then."

Jackie Blom, who works across the street at River and Sea Marine Supply, said she always looks forward to reading the newest saying.

"I like them all," Blom said. Reconsidering, she added, "There was one a couple of years ago I didn't care for much, but that's all."

Abbott takes constructive criticism in stride. He once received a call from a high school student who took exception to a statement about teen-agers being able to say "no."

"She called me up and was very, very good about the way she addressed her problem," Abbott said. "She said, 'We're being told that by parents, police, everybody.'"

After chatting with her for awhile, they parted friends, Abbott said.

"I was very proud of her for being able to do that," he said.

A man who didn't appreciate one of Abbott's sayings about faith also voiced a complaint.

"I told him everyone has faith. We have faith we're going to get paid on Friday. We have faith there's going to be a tomorrow," said Abbott, who believes that having more than one way to interpret the sayings "makes it healthy for everybody."

What isn't healthy is the temptation for drivers to read the sign instead of watching the road. According to Sgt. Tod McGillivray of the Soldotna Police Department, that was the excuse a driver gave for an accident several years ago.

"I think about that when I put the sign together," Abbott said. "And I think I better not make it too difficult to understand because it might cause another accident."

Response from company headquarters and other store locations has been supportive and favorable.

"We definitely support his effort," said Pat Anderson, advertising manager for SBS in Anchorage. "Rick puts a lot of time and thought into making us all slow down, stop for a moment and reflect on his message. It's commendable."

Although other SBS locations generally use their signs for community service announcements, employees statewide are familiar with Abbott's sayings.

"I read them every time I go by," said Andy Bickford, Eagle River assistant branch manager.

The same goes for Judy Luck, from the Homer store.

"Aren't those great?" she said. "I just love them. They're a wonderful idea."

Glen Madsen, Seward branch manager, said the Seward store lacks a reader board, but if it had one he would probably use it to advertise products. The reason?

"I'm not that creative when it comes to words," Madsen said. "Rick's very creative."

Several years ago, Abbott's sign caught the eye of Chip Brown, vice president and general manager for Brown's Electrical Supply in Anchorage.

Brown has since adopted the idea to his company's six stores around the state. A new sign to accommodate Brown's thought-for-the-week is scheduled for installation at the Soldotna store in the near future.

"I'm really thankful for Mr. Abbott. He got me started on this whole thing," said Brown, whose goal is not to repeat any of the sayings.

Jackie Ansotegui, of Kenai, helps Abbott not repeat himself.

"She very kindly typed up everything and then arranged it by date and alphabetically," Abbott said.

Mavis Blazy-Lancaster, who writes a weekly column of Soldotna news, has learned the importance of including Abbott's saying-of-the-week in her column.

"If I miss it, people call and ask what happened," Blazy-Lancaster said. "The readers really enjoy it."

What Abbott enjoys is the opportunity to encourage, inspire and keep people smiling.

"Wouldn't it be awful to have it say two-by-fours $2.99, next week $3.01?" he said. "It would be pretty boring."

BYLINE1:By McKIBBEN JACKINSKY

BYLINE2:Peninsula Clarion

Words to live by -- and drive by.

That's what's on the reader board at Spenard Builders Supply in Soldotna. It's an effort that keeps SBS employees Rick Abbott and Sean Eastham on their toes and captures the attention of passersby.

"It just seemed like it would be a fun thing to do," said Abbott, who is the store's branch manager and has been with SBS for 28 years. "You can only sell two-by-fours on a reader board for so long until it doesn't become very interesting."

The response reflects a wide-ranging public interest.

"I've received letters from as far away as Pennsylvania," said Abbott, referring to contact from a doctor in Pennsylvania. "How he got my address or name, I have no idea. But he had been fishing in Alaska for two weeks and wanted to send me some encouraging sayings. ...There's a lot of people from outside our area that comment on our signs."

Abbott has used the reader board for 20-some years to share sayings meant to be encouraging, thought-provoking and humorous.

"A lady from the end of Funny River Road said she thought all the way home about a saying," Abbott said. "She said, 'That was my entire problem and you've solved it.' It had to do with a personal thing for her."

Eastham, who has been with SBS for three years, said after Abbott picks out several sayings, the two of them discuss which one to use depending on news, events in the community, weather or the time of year.

"We usually change the sign on Thursdays or Fridays, some time in the mid-afternoon," Eastham said. "I actually get a lot of people honking and waving at me when I'm up there."

Incorrect spellings also get a response, Eastham said.

"I've had phone calls before I even got back in the door," he said of callers who politely ask, "Is that spelled right?"

Kim Mariman's office at the Soldotna Chamber of Commerce provides a front row seat on the saying of the week.

"They put up certain letters and move them around and it's almost like playing 'Wheel of Fortune' when you're sitting at the stoplight," Mariman said. "My kids and I do that every now and then."

Jackie Blom, who works across the street at River and Sea Marine Supply, said she always looks forward to reading the newest saying.

"I like them all," Blom said. Reconsidering, she added, "There was one a couple of years ago I didn't care for much, but that's all."

Abbott takes constructive criticism in stride. He once received a call from a high school student who took exception to a statement about teen-agers being able to say "no."

"She called me up and was very, very good about the way she addressed her problem," Abbott said. "She said, 'We're being told that by parents, police, everybody.'"

After chatting with her for awhile, they parted friends, Abbott said.

"I was very proud of her for being able to do that," he said.

A man who didn't appreciate one of Abbott's sayings about faith also voiced a complaint.

"I told him everyone has faith. We have faith we're going to get paid on Friday. We have faith there's going to be a tomorrow," said Abbott, who believes that having more than one way to interpret the sayings "makes it healthy for everybody."

What isn't healthy is the temptation for drivers to read the sign instead of watching the road. According to Sgt. Tod McGillivray of the Soldotna Police Department, that was the excuse a driver gave for an accident several years ago.

"I think about that when I put the sign together," Abbott said. "And I think I better not make it too difficult to understand because it might cause another accident."

Response from company headquarters and other store locations has been supportive and favorable.

"We definitely support his effort," said Pat Anderson, advertising manager for SBS in Anchorage. "Rick puts a lot of time and thought into making us all slow down, stop for a moment and reflect on his message. It's commendable."

Although other SBS locations generally use their signs for community service announcements, employees statewide are familiar with Abbott's sayings.

"I read them every time I go by," said Andy Bickford, Eagle River assistant branch manager.

The same goes for Judy Luck, from the Homer store.

"Aren't those great?" she said. "I just love them. They're a wonderful idea."

Glen Madsen, Seward branch manager, said the Seward store lacks a reader board, but if it had one he would probably use it to advertise products. The reason?

"I'm not that creative when it comes to words," Madsen said. "Rick's very creative."

Several years ago, Abbott's sign caught the eye of Chip Brown, vice president and general manager for Brown's Electrical Supply in Anchorage.

Brown has since adopted the idea to his company's six stores around the state. A new sign to accommodate Brown's thought-for-the-week is scheduled for installation at the Soldotna store in the near future.

"I'm really thankful for Mr. Abbott. He got me started on this whole thing," said Brown, whose goal is not to repeat any of the sayings.

Jackie Ansotegui, of Kenai, helps Abbott not repeat himself.

"She very kindly typed up everything and then arranged it by date and alphabetically," Abbott said.

Mavis Blazy-Lancaster, who writes a weekly column of Soldotna news, has learned the importance of including Abbott's saying-of-the-week in her column.

"If I miss it, people call and ask what happened," Blazy-Lancaster said. "The readers really enjoy it."

What Abbott enjoys is the opportunity to encourage, inspire and keep people smiling.

"Wouldn't it be awful to have it say two-by-fours $2.99, next week $3.01?" he said. "It would be pretty boring."



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