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September 20, 2012     Times
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. g M m la, la ! t',o to to TOM MARTIN welcomed everyone to the 2012 Casimir Pulaski Distinguished Alumni and Citizens Awards Banquet. In his opening remarks, Tom explained the purpose of the Mt. Pulaski Courthouse Foundation. The foundation was estab- lished after the 175  Celebration to main- tain the Mt. Pulaski Courthouse. Through fundraising efforts, the foundation intends to take on a series of projects to maintain the courthouse for the future. Tom explained that the foundation has partnered with the state to preserve the courthouse. The part- nership involves the foundation working on courthouse projects under the guidance of the state. In addition to very welcomed financial support, the foundation needs volunteers to help with the actual work. The first major project was done mid-summer during what was christened "work week" Fifteen volun- teers completely scraped down the interior of the courthouse, used a lot of Murphy's Oil to clean furnishings and woodwork, and washed windows. Interesting point - this was the first time the windows had been thoroughly cleaned since the windows had been installed. In returning to the theme of the evening, Tom noted it was important to recognize alumni and Mt. Pulaski citizens. For alumni, it was important to recognize the impact alumni have had after leaving Mt Pulaski. Tom said Mt. Pulaski's accom- plished alumni represents what the commu- nity and its schools have accomplished. For citizens, it was important to show the appreciation of the commtmity for the work they have done for fellow citizens. Tom said that many people have worked for the ben- efit of Mt. Pulaski and this banquet is just a small way to show how much their work has meant to all of us. DOUG JOHNSON - Treasurer of the Mt. Pulaski Courthouse Foundation - gave the financial report. The foundation treasury commenced with a balance of $10,000 and, after recent work on the courthouse, has a balance of $8,200. Doug recognized two donations received that evening. Jacquie West donated $500 C ourthouse Foundation00 Awards Banquet and Shawn and Kimberly Tyson donated Mr. Fraker said the courthouse's impor- $500. The donations were recognized with applause. ) ,/ / /..' REVEREND BARBARA STROUD-BORTH was introduced to give the blessing and prayer. Reverend Stroud-Borth recited Psalm 100, celebrating a Joyful Noise of Thanksgiving and Praise. With thanks for the gifts from God, Reverend Stroud-Borth gave a prayer of thanks. e. /! / : GORDON BINDER of Bloomington, District Rotary Governor, congratulated Mt. Pulaski for the community's work to preserve the Mt. Pulaski Courthouse. He then introduced the evening's speak Guy C. Fraker, Mr. Fraker is a graduate of the University of Illinois School of Law and practices law in Bloom- ington. Mr. Binder noted that Mr. Fraker is a highly regarded Lincoln Historian and has recently published "Lincoln's Ladder to the Presidency - The Eighth,Judicial Circuit': tance goes beyond Mt. Pulaski; goes beyond Central Illinois; it was part of the Judicial Circuit that made Lincoln the president of the United States. Mr. Fraker told those in attendance that Lincoln is a hero to not just this country but also the world. "Consider this", Mr. Fraker said, "Abraham Lincoln stood fast to save the only democracy that existed in the world at that time. In saving democracy in the United States, he saved democracy for the world. And that would not have been possible if he had not been elected president." According to Mr. Fraker, Lincoln's life on the Eighth Judicial Circuit made him presi- dent and Mt. Pulaski is part of that story. He went on to say, when Mt. Pulaski was the County Seat from 1849 - 1854, inclusive - Lincoln attended court here in the spring and fall. Lincoln said that during the years 1849 - 1854 he had become "fed up with politics and practiced law more assiduously than before". It was during those years Mr. Fraker says that Lincoln formed important friendships with fellow attorneys Stephen Logan, Leon- ard Swett, Samuel Parks, Asahel Gridley, and Samuel Trent and Circuit Judge David Davis. These men would make up "Lin- coln's team". In the presidential election of 1860 Lincoln's team worked together to land Lincoln the Republican party's nomination. Mr. Fraker said the Mt. Pulaski Court- house is to be recognized as a major rung on ladder to presidency. In speaking of the courthouse Mr. Fraker said the building is the only place that some- one can enter and see a place Lincoln knew so well; a place where you can say "I'm standing where Lincoln stood. I'm where Lincoln once was". This, according to Mr. Fraker, is priceless. Encouraging Mt. Pulaski to continue its work to preserve the courthouse, Mr. Fraker said, "this courthouse belongs to America... and Mt. Pulaski is saving it." MR. FRAKER spoke about the communities he had visited in Central Illinois related to Lincoln's years as an attorney. He pointed out one person in the audience for special recognition, Mrs. Betty Hickey. Mr. Fraker said he considered Betty his local "agent". Mr. Fraker went on to say the Mt. Pulaski Courthouse is a story that the community needs to know and embrace. "This building is important. Within this building, on your square, Abraham Lincoln formed friend- ships that were vital to Lincoln's rise to the presidency", Mr. Fraker said. IILi TUtNER - BIAIER was honored as the 2012 Distinguished Alumni. She praised the community for the support it has shown for its young people. Marilyn pointed out that Mt. Pulaski has offered opportunities for children that have served them well as adults. She was honored and humbled by the award and that the community "was so deserving of recognition for her accomplish- ments". By Mike Lakin DARRELL KNAUER was honored as the 2012 Distinguished Citizen. He said it was a "pleasure and honor to live among and work with the people of Mt. Pulaski". He added that he sees so many people volunteering to serve this community; so many working to cooperate to benefit this community; and to be recognized with this award was some- thing he would "ch.erish rest of my life". Tom Martin dosed the banquet thanking the people of Mt. Pulaski for taking pride in Nit. Pulaski. He said few communities have so many volunteers, commzttees, and orga- nizations that work so very hard to benefit not only the community, but also their fellow residents. Tom also commented about education. He was elected to the school board in 1998. In 1999 he met with local legislators in Springfield. He said these legislators told him small school districts were in trouble; in two years small school would be gone. Tom said, "We're still here because we educate our children, we do the job; we maintain our community through community effort; and we support our educators." Tom reminded the audience, "Courthouse Volunteer Weeks need a few hours of your time." 1849 - Illinois attorney Leonard Swett recalled his initial meeting with the future President: "In the autumn of 1849, I was sit- ting with Judge David Davis in a small coun- try hotel in Mt. Pulaski, Illinois, when a tall man, with a circular blue cloak thrown over his shoulders, entered one door of the room, and went out another. I was struck by his appearance. It was the first time I had ever seen him, and I said to Judge Davis, when he had gone, 'Who is that?' 'Why, don't you know him? That is Lincoln.' In a few moments he returned, and, for the first time, I shook the hand and made the acquaintance of that man who since then has so wonder- fully impressed himself upon the hearts and affections of mankind." Times Photos