Homer Alaska - Business

Story last updated at 7:42 PM on Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Borough administration building, river center dedicated to George Navarre, Don Gilman



By Brielle Schaeffer
Morris News Service - Alaska

Two former mayors of the Kenai Peninsula Borough were honored Tuesday when two government buildings were officially dedicated to them.

The borough administration building was fitted with a new sign that now declares it the "George A. Navarre Building," as was the Kenai River Center, now known as the "Donald E. Gilman River Center."

"It'll be pretty cool to drive by and see my father's name on a sign," said Mike Navarre, a former borough mayor himself. He was there to help remove the large, black cover on the new sign Tuesday afternoon in front of a small group of people in the borough building's parking lot in Soldotna, while students and staff from Kenai Peninsula College held a small protest against the borough's possible budget cuts across the way.

Mayor Dave Carey said renaming the buildings for Navarre and Gilman acknowledges their civil and economic contributions to the borough.

Navarre served as borough mayor from 1966 to 1972. The administration building was built during his tenure.

Mike Navarre said that the time his father served as mayor was a "challenging time" for the borough. And even though the administration building was met with objections at the time it was constructed "it turned out to be a good thing," he said.

"He was looking towards the future," Mike Navarre said.

Shortly after the borough building's dedication, Carey headed down Funny River Road to unveil the Gilman River Center's new sign.

Gilman was elected to his first of five terms as borough mayor in 1975. He also served as a state senator from 1980 to 1984.

"He was a true public servant. He did that a good portion of his professional life," said his son Blaine Gilman, who lives in Kenai.

Blaine Gilman said he thinks his father would be grateful to have the river center named after him, as it was one of his biggest focuses while in office.

"The whole concept of the river center was a one-stop shopping place where you could go to get something done on the river," he said.

In August of 2009, the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly approved two separate resolutions to rename the buildings after the local statesmen. Last September, the new signs were approved by another assembly resolution and they were finally installed this month.

Brielle Schaeffer is a reporter for the Peninsula Clarion.

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