One of the most influential women in the history of Salina was honored on Monday, and is now forever memorialized at a building that is part of her legacy. Karen Graves, the first female mayor of Salina, was the guest of honor on Monday as the “Karen M. Graves Plaza” was dedicated outside the north entrance of the Tony’s Pizza Events Center.
Graves served on the Salina City Commission from 1977-1983, including a term as Salina’s first woman mayor in 1979-1980. Graves was Salina’s second female city commissioner and first female mayor.
During her time in city government Graves was part of multiple major projects which helped shape Salina into the city it is today. She championed the expansion and relocation of the Smoky Hill Museum to its present location, and was part of the Salina Bicentennial Center project, now the Tony’s Pizza Events Center.
Graves told KSAL News there are a couple of things she is most proud of. Most notably, she mentioned the Bicentennial Celebration in Salina. Graves co-chaired the Salina American Revolution Bicentennial Commission.
A component of that Bicentennial Celebration was a street fair. That street fair still exists today. It evolved over the years, and is now known as the Smoky Hill River Festival.
As a large crowd of family, friends, and well-wishers looked on, a pedestal and plaque honoring Graves were formally dedicated.
Including Graves, there have been nine female mayors in the history of Salina. Seven of those former mayors were at the event honoring her.