The Seward Phoenix Log - News of the Eastern Kenai Peninsula since 1966

By Wolfgang Kurtz
LOG Editor 

Council welcomes Obihiro dignitaries


Wolfgang Kurtz | The Seward Phoenix LOG

Sewardites turn out to greet sister city delegates from Obihiro, Japan at this week’s Seward City Council meeting on Monday evening.

The Seward City Council welcomed officials from Seward’s Japanese sister city, Obihiro at their regular meeting on Monday. The delegation of four arrived to a group of Sewardites bearing a welcoming banner at the steps of the city hall.

As the meeting got underway, the visitors were introduced and exchanged salutations and gifts with council members. Obihiro Mayor Norihisa Yonezawa and Obihiro City Council President Katsunori Nohara gave brief speeches while Mayor’s Office Manager Toshihiko Sekiguchi looked on and staff member Takahiro Nishioka snapped pictures.

Also present to greet the visitors were Seward’s 2013 Obihiro exchange students Meret Beutler and Karoline Ernst, newly returned from their 10-day trip to the sister city. They flew to the city on northern Japan’s Hokkaido Island via Tokyo and were warmly received during their tour. Modern day Obihiro has a population of about 170,000 and was founded in 1883 by settlers and incorporated as a city in 1933. Prior to settlement, the area was frequented by the Ainu indigenous peoples during their travels between fishing and hunting grounds.

Seward Mayor David Seaward continued to read a proclamation regarding the origins of the settlement of Seward and the basis for the Founder’s Day celebration of the 110th anniversary of the establishment of the community. The Aug. 28, 1903 landing of the Santa Ana at the Lowell Homestead brought Alaska Central Railroad founders John and Frank Ballaine, who cleared a townsite and starting building the new town.

The Obihiro delegation, including their interpreter Josh Neta, were scheduled to remain in Seward to attend the Founder’s Day celebration.

Also recognized by a proclamation read by Mayor Seaward was 9-year-old local chef Rowan Bean, who was present with her mother Hilary Bean and her father Erik Slater, who is an award winning chef. Rowan was recently selected to represent Alaska at the White House in Washington, D.C. on the basis of her recipe for Alaska Ceviche. On her July trip she met First Lady Michelle Obama and President Barack Obama. When addressing the council and the audience. Rowan mentioned that she had also been involved in creating the current menu at the Resurrection Roadhouse.

Jeanie Greene, a journalist most widely known for her video program Heartbeat Alaska, was the final special guest at Monday’s council meeting. Mayor Seaward read a letter of appreciation, applauding Greene for her work as an Inupiat journalist, pioneering indigenous television programming. Greene has produced several Hearthbeat Alaska documentaries about Seward, including Qutekcak Native Tribe’s Sobriety Pow Wow, 4th of July parade and Alaska SeaLife Center. Jeanie (Blatchford) Greene has family connections in Seward.


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