Wanda Lee Rohlfs, director of Main Street Lincoln, led off the
evening with a PowerPoint presentation that included the mission
statement of Lincoln's Main Street organization, which includes the
whole of Logan County Her presentation was entitled "Revitalization
& Heritage, A Firm Foundation."
Lincoln Mayor Keith Snyder spoke of the importance of the
downtown to the city and led the gathering in the Pledge of
Roger Matson, president of Main Street Lincoln, made several
business recognition awards, reading off a list of Lincoln
businesses that have been ongoing for 50 years or more.
The five businesses honored for having more than 100 years on the
square were State Bank of Lincoln, Logan County Title, Lincoln
Public Library District, Alexander Lumber Co., and Miller and
A list of the remainder of Logan County's oldest businesses will
be compiled for next year's event. For example, Farmers Bank of
Mount Pulaski was founded in 1872, making it the oldest ongoing
business in Logan County at 138 years.
Volunteer of the Year was Valorie Carder and Joan Graue was
recognized as Partner of the Year.
The featured speaker for the evening was Hal Smith, director of
the Looking for Lincoln Heritage Coalition of Illinois. Smith once
served as a senior staff adviser for Charles H. Percy, who was
senior senator from Illinois and chairman of the Foreign Relations
Committee. More recently Smith worked for 20 years as a marketing
executive in the private sector for global gaming and entertainment
companies, doing business around the world.
Smith spoke of the immense importance of Logan County's
contribution toward the education and character-building of young
Abraham Lincoln, whom the world and our nation know as American's
16th president but whom central Illinois and especially Sangamon and
Logan counties know as their favorite son, who learned his way as a
young lawyer and surveyor among them. This story has been, is now
and needs to continue to be told and more so, said Smith.
Smith also spoke about Lincoln's belief in justice for all, his
inherent distaste for slavery and his strong conviction that a man
should be taken for his values and ideas and not shut out or put
down for his race or religion. Referring to the election of Barack
Obama, our nation's first African-American president, Smith said that whatever
your politics may be, you have to appreciate this coming of age
in the United States of America and that Mr. Lincoln would have been
so proud to have witnessed it -- which has occurred in and from of
his beloved state of Illinois.
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Last year a congressional grant, backed by Sen. Richard Durbin, to
the Looking for Lincoln Heritage Coalition of Illinois has resulted
in over 200 signs installed in many communities in Illinois where
Mr. Lincoln worked as a young businessman, surveyor and lawyer and
where he made speeches.
In regard to Logan County, Smith mentioned Looking for Lincoln
heritage signage that was installed in Atlanta, Elkhart, Lincoln,
Middletown and Mount Pulaski. This required much work on the part of
volunteers who helped write the messages and provide photos for
these signs as well as conducting the fundraising to make them
possible. These signs were not free to the communities -- they
required matching funds to be raised locally. Many of the volunteers
were on hand to be recognized for their efforts.
Smith talked of how the spectacular Abraham Lincoln Presidential
Museum in Springfield helps to get all of the Abraham Lincoln sites
ever more recognized -- such as in Mount Pulaski, Elkhart,
Middletown, Atlanta and the city of Lincoln.
In addition to Smith's speech, there were drawings for door
prizes, which were dining-for-two fares donated by Guzzardo's
Italian Villa, Chi-town Dogs, First Wok, Hallie's on the Square and
Les Richert gave the invocation and benediction.
[Text from file received from Phil
(Main Street Lincoln)