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With a drop in oil prices limiting revenue for state capital and operating budgets, Alaskans will have to think frugally for the time being.

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A.J. Dennis, 77, of Silver Creek, Washington, died Dec. 18, 2014, after a long illness.
Phillip Dean Nehl, 59, died Dec. 10, 2014, in Ketchikan after a long battle with heart failure.
8/31/2013
Community-builders

We made it; it's Labor Day.

After a fabulous summer, the first significant sign of fall is upon us with the long weekend that observes the efforts of the working folk, who built this community, this state and, we cannot forget, this great nation.

The idea of celebrating the achievements of those who put their shoulder to the grindstone and carved out Ketchikan, and thousands of towns and cities like it, started in the late 1800s. By then, of course, generations of Americans already had fallen timber, built roads, extracted minerals and other natural resources, and industry had developed to provide jobs and a growing economy.

It was representatives of the labor unions who got the idea to recognize the efforts of the workers, the people who labored hard all day, and then went home, whether to families or a space of their own, only to turn around and do it all over again the next day.

Through their efforts a nation grew.

The first celebrations occurred in the early 1880s in New York and moved quickly across the nation. Within a decade, upwards of 25 states, the District of Columbia and the territories took time over the first weekend in September to cheer the workers.

Activities started with parades and picnics, and as people became more aware of how the workers' efforts contributed to communities and the economy, speeches — often by dignitaries — became a main event at celebrations.

In Ketchikan and Alaska, many look at Labor Day weekend as an opportunity for one last summertime excursion, either to the fishing grounds, the hiking trails, the campsites or the backyard for a barbecue.

Mothers and fathers might use the extra long weekend to get kids ready for the start of school immediately following Labor Day.

Some folks simply spend the day working, hopefully remembering it isn't just another day but a day on which others take at least a moment to reflect on their and others' contributions on the job.

Whatever you do this holiday weekend, make a point of that. A holiday shouldn't pass that we forget what it is all about, particularly a weekend that celebrates the contributions of the people who built and are building America.

Thanks to each and every one for a job well done.