Anchorage East Rotary Plaza

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How the Anchorage East Rotary Plaza came to be.

Past President Keith Sopp may not realize this but he was the catalyst for this Big Picture and for the birth of the Anchorage East Rotary Plaza.

In the late 1980s and the early 1990s, the financial picture of our club was like a yo-yo.  One year we were in the red and the next president had to dig himself out of debt; another year, there was a profit and the next president had the luxury of allocating more and spending money than the yearly club income.

Then along came Keith Sopp, president for 1991-1992.  He had the courage to ask the club for a dues increase.  Keith not only balanced the budget but, by the end of his presidency, we were looking at about a $10,000 surplus.  If we followed past practices, that meant my year as president would benefit.

Personally, I had always wished that the club would, for once, have a large pot of money and be able to pour some concrete.  I wanted us to give something to the community that would have a lasting impact rather than be consumed in a day or a year. 

What about a club savings account where we could deposit year end surpluses until we had a big enough amount that we could spend it on something serious? 

Well, no one club board can bind the actions of a future board.  So, I took this idea to the 2 presidents who would succeed me:  Al Bramstedt (1993-1994) and Garret Wong (1994-1995).  I asked them if - should the succeeding years also realize a surplus - they would be willing to ask their boards to deposit the surplus into this "savings" account.  Both agreed and that is how the Anchorage East Rotary Past Presidents' Fund was born.

By the time the Municipality of Anchorage, Kathy Kingston and Mary Rohlfing came up with the idea to clean up 4th and "E" Street and create a plaza; our club had the kind of money that could give us a place at the table.

It was quite exciting to see that the day had finally arrived when we had a chance to pour some concrete; to label the project with the Rotary wheel; and to give a permanent gift to our community. 

There was a "little" competition.  The National Bank of Alaska has a branch directly across the street from the proposed project and the bank was also interested in being the major sponsor and with naming the plaza after the bank.   We were the first to make the offer to be the major sponsor and thus it was that the Anchorage East Rotary Plaza was born.

We owe the final touch to former Anchorage East Rotarian Joyce Murphy who came up with the idea to install a plaque with the language of the 4-Way Test on it. 

We were excited to help beautify the Anchorage community.  We also planted the seed for future "concrete" projects.  You will all remember our major sponsorship of a youth room at the AWAIC shelter during Rotary's centennial year (2004-2005). 

I regret that I cannot be with you today to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Anchorage East Rotary Plaza.  I am proud to be able to contribute this little piece of club history and to be a part of the Rotary Club of Anchorage East.

Carolyn Jones