Council: Sikuliaq travel summed up, mayor builds bond with governor
Bear Creek Volunteer Fire Department’s Autumn Ludwig received further recognition, this time from the City of Seward, for rescuing Mount Marathon Race contestant Penny Assman from a potentially deadly fall. Ludwig is Alaska’s first female Firefighter of the Year, having just received that award for 2012. In subsequent comments, Councilor Bob Valdatta recommended that Carol Griswold receive some credit for actually taking the photo that documented Ludwig’s selfless act.
Seward Police Officer Kenneth E. Brockman was presented with the award for Alaska Police Standards Council Advanced Certificate by Seward Police Chief Thomas Clemons. Clemons noted during his comments that the police department is at a historic high in terms of officers with advanced accreditations.
Seward Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Cindy Clock anounced that coho eggs have gathered from the Bear Creek Weir under a memorandum of understanding with Cook Inlet Aquaculture, also know as the Trail Lake Hatchery. The juvenile silvers will be reared in net pens to assist with imprinting and healthy growth. In comments, Valdatta recommended locating the net pens in the Lagoon to ameliorate attrition and facilitate acclimation to sea water.
Clock also cautioned that uncertainties in the allotments for commercial halibut catch may negatively impact limits for sport fisheries. She stressed investing in salmon runs to diversify Seward’s sport fishing opportunities. A new page up at the chamber’s website, Winter Starts Here!, will emphasize building winter activities and business in Seward and area businesses should contact the chamber promotional opportunities.
According to Clock, Alaska Chamber 2013 state priorities shy away from specific projects in favor of reducing the high cost of energy through enhancing oil, gas and natural resource development with reforms in tax policy and improvements in permitting and access. Federal priorities include support Arctic energy exploration and development, opposition to the implementation of the emission control area by the EPA and oppose further land withdrawals in Alaska or other restrictive land management or preemptive regulatory overhead.
Patrick McGoy, keynote speaker at state chamber this year, cautioned about CAVE people – that’s an acronym for Citizens Against Virtually Everything. Daniel Halpern, a keynote speaker at Alaska Travel Industry Association (ATIA), mentioned Seward and his visit here no less than five times, creating envy among attendees from other communities. The ATIA is coordinated by the State of Alaska, Department of Commerce and Economic Development, Alaska Office of Tourism Development and their annual convention was held earlier this month.
The chamber’s economic development Interim Planning Summary (IPS) is online at the chamber website and related activity for the remainder of 2012 will involve forming action groups and moving toward specific team based activity with specific goals. Clock concluded that chamber and associates are looking for a January vote by council supporting the generated strategy and action plan.
City Manager Jim Hunt dove into his report getting quickly to the issue of AVTEC displacement of some Seward Parks and Recreations Department staff due to reorganization at the AVTEC Gymnasium. The coincidental vacation of the soon-to-be-former library and museum is presenting opportunities for relocation of city personnel and plans are to be developed forthwith according to Ron Long, Assistant City Manager.
Hunt and Long took a slight detour on their return to Alaska from training at the International City Manager’s Association convention in Phoenix, Arizona. They took part in the launch ceremony of the Sikuliaq in Michigan, demonstrating Seward’s commitment to, and advocacy for, the vessel’s homeporting in Seward in further promotion of published City of Seward goals. In further comments Hunt denied partaking in any frills at the ICMA convention, claiming to have kept strictly to training with a tally of at least 25 classes between Long and himself.
He also took issue with some interpretations of the cost of the city’s representation at the Sikuliaq launch noting that “Council members Shafer and Bardarson, Harbor Master Funk, Ms. Towsley, Assistant City Manager Long and myself attended the Sikuliaq launch ceremony for the sum of $8,468.” Immediately upon return from the ICMA and the launch, city administration met with Karen Rehfeld, Director of the State of Alaska’s Office of Management and Budget along with the majority of AIDEA’s principals.
At this meeting on the State of Alaska governor’s budget and ballot proposition, a bond package, two alternatives were discussed. In the event the bond package passes, the Seward Marine Industrial Center expansion component is funded in the base amount of $10 million. From these bond funds, AIDEA is designated for a $1.3 million contract to manage project oversight and upland development. Designing and engineering phases I through III as well as re-certification of the city quarry is penciled in at $1.8 million and funds in the amount of $6.1 million are budgeted to complete the SMIC breakwater.
Further funding of $17.6 million, for inclusion in the governor’s budget, has been requested to fully fund breakwater completion. Whether or not the bond package passes, completion of the breakwater is critical. The governor’s budget will be submitted during the upcoming legislative session.
Long mentioned his pleasant surprise at the level of participation and focus at the recent Young Entrepreneurs of Seward meeting, which he attended. He also mentioned the fact that Seward area schools have the highest test scores in the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District, which has the highest scores in the state. Long pointed to that status as one attractor to the area for new, younger business operators.
Hunt elaborated on the Camelot Subdivision electrical project, which substantively replaces the underground main power feed to the area. Recent outages have underlined the timeliness of the work as the former line was laid without conduit and consequently is subject to increasing failures. Long mentioned that the electrical work is separate from other utilities which completed their realignment and upgrades earlier this year in concert with the borough roadway upgrade.
In brief, Councilor Jean Bardarson was nominated, retained and sworn in as vice mayor. Introduction of the utility interconnect ordinance has been postponed to the Nov. 26 council meeting. The Nov. 13 council meeting is canceled. Council members personally advocated in favor of State of Alaska Ballot Proposition A and exhorted the community to support that bond package. Mayor David Seaward initiated a meeting on Oct. 24 with Governor Sean Parnell to further develop a relationship between the City of Seward and the governor’s office.