Released August 22, 2016

Holcomb presents “Coffin Sisters” with Bicentennial Beacon Award


INDIANAPOLIS (August 19, 2016) – In honor of the State of Indiana’s bicentennial, Lt. Gov. Eric Holcomb and the Indiana Office of Tourism Development (IOTD) presented sisters Saundra Jackson and Janice McGuire of Fountain City with the Bicentennial Beacon Award for their unwavering service and volunteerism during a ceremony Friday afternoon at the Indiana State Fair.

For nearly 40 years, Jackson and McGuire have dedicated themselves to the Levi Coffin House. The site, which was named a National Historic Landmark in 1965, was the home of prominent anti-slavery activists Levi and Catharine Coffin. Before slavery was abolished, the home sheltered more than two thousand freedom seekers and became known as the Grand Central Station of the Underground Railroad.

Jackson and McGuire have tirelessly led a small group of volunteers, recruiting docents, and scheduling tours all for the sole purpose of teaching visitors about the lives and legacy of Levi and Catharine Coffin. All this work was done on a volunteer basis. Both ladies worked other jobs and raised families, while keeping the Levi Coffin House operating.

The sisters’ passion for the site and the courage and conviction it stands for comes through every time one of them talks about the site, Levi, or Catharine. This passion is evident through their service. Jackson serves as the President of the Levi Coffin House Association and McGuire serves as the Secretary.

It has been during their tenure on the board that the association has made way for a multi-million dollar interpretive center. The Levi Coffin house and new interpretive center have been a labor of love for Jackson and McGuire. And in December, the site will become an expanded heritage tourism destination, helping to tell the story of freedom seekers who sought refuge, just as the “Coffin Sisters” have been doing for decades.

”Levi and Catherine Coffin are Hoosiers who were great beacons of hope in their day,” said Mark Newman, executive director of IOTD.  “Their legacy lives on through the work of Sandra and Janice and we are proud to honor these ladies for their work in preserving the important Coffin legacy.”

The Bicentennial Beacon is awarded to a person or people who embodies the spirit of the bicentennial and serves as that special bridge that connects Indiana’s past to its future in the most meaningful of ways.

Holcomb also awarded the Will Koch Indiana Tourism Leadership Award to Bill and Kathleen Oliver, owners of Oliver Winery near Bloomington.

The award is presented annually and is the highest tourism honor given by the State of Indiana. The award is named for the late Will Koch, long-time owner and president of Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari. IOTD and the Koch family established the honor to pay tribute to Will Koch’s many meaningful contributions to tourism, business and society.

A video of this year’s Will Koch Indiana Tourism Leadership Award can be found on the VisitIndiana YouTube channel.

18 representatives of Indiana’s travel, tourism and hospitality industry earned the 2016 Lieutenant Governor’s Hoosier Hospitality Award for their uncompromising service in tourism-related jobs at hotels, restaurants, attractions and other destinations.

Nominations for Hoosier Hospitality Awards are submitted by community members and destination patrons. Nominations are reviewed and winners are selected by IOTD. Outstanding service is a major factor in determining whether a person returns to an individual business or destination.

The 2016 Lieutenant Governor’s Hoosier Hospitality Award recipients are:

Name Organization County
Susan Baxter Comfort Inn Bartholomew
Diana Bennett Fiber artist and quilt expert Elkhart
Carlie Cripe Shipshewana Trading Place LaGrange
Lisa Critney Holiday Inn Express & Suites Bartholomew
Emily Cron Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari Spencer
Janet Fields Holiday Inn Express & Suites Jackson
Dan & Cyndee Gilmore Cornerstone Retreat & Campground Henry
Roger Hardig Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site Marion
Jennifer Jenkins WonderLab Monroe
Kenyanna Johnson Horseshoe Hammond Casino Lake
Sandra Johnson Visit Indy Marion
Alice McDougalle Holiday Inn Express & Suites Johnson
Yesenia Martinez Hilton Garden Inn Marion
Karleen Richter Down the Road Tours Elkhart
Loren Schmierer Stonycreek Farm Hamilton
Janeen Sprague Sprague Hotel Developers Bartholomew
Rafi Wilkinson Indiana Dunes Visitor Center Porter
Curt Witcher The Genealogy Center, Allen Co Public Library Allen



Indiana Office of Tourism Development  l  One North Capitol Avenue, Suite 600  l  Indianapolis, IN 46204

OFFICE: (317) 232-8897 l  MOBILE: (317) 741-1320

[email protected]  l

Lt. Governor Eric J. Holcomb oversees the Indiana Office of Tourism Development. Mark Newman serves as the agency’s executive director. IOTD is dedicated to enhancing the economic vitality of Indiana through leadership and resource support to the Indiana travel industry. The tourism and hospitality industry is the sixth largest industry in the state (excluding government), is directly responsible for 144,200 jobs, generates over $2.25 billion in tax receipts and contributes $10.7 billion in revenue to Indiana businesses.