By Heidi Zemach for SCN
The recently re-elected City Council members were sworn in during Monday night’s October 22 regular council meeting, and council members reappointed Jean Bardarson by unanimous consent to another term as Vice Mayor. In her last term Bardarson travelled extensively on behalf of the city along with City Manager Jim Hunt and Assistant City Manager Ron Long. Their last trip was to witness the launch of the research vessel Sikuliak in Wisconsin, which she had visited, and repeatedly helped lobby for. That trip, the launch, and the bright future that the vessel is expected to bring to Seward was brought up repeatedly throughout the evening meeting. People will come from out of town, and out of state just to see the amazing vessel, administrators and council members predicted.
Three city administrators, the administrative secretary, and two council members cost city taxpayers $8,468 for that important visit, Hunt said. He said they, and the residents who turned up on their own dime, and the stalwart support Seward has shown for the vessel, greatly impressed the UAF and National Science Foundation leadership. Hunt and Long also met with UAF and NSF officials to build on themes identified in the city’s comprehensive plan and community planning sessions on making Seward the Arctic research and education center of Alaska. City representatives also advocated for the reasons that Seward should be the permanent homeport for the vessel, as they feel it is important to protect the investment that the city and university have made in advocacy and infrastructure improvements to accommodate the vessel, Hunt said.
Another large Coastal Villages commercial fishing vessel, the Gildy Logger, checked into Seward October 17th, he added. It’s the fourth CVRF vessel to arrive in town. A fifth vessel from the Western Alaska CDQ fleet is expected to arrive later this fall. Meanwhile, city officials have discussed with AIDEA, Alaska Industrial Export and Development Authority, their joint plans for SMIC Harbor improvements to accommodate Coastal Villages, and other vessels taking advantage of the opening Arctic Ocean shipping lanes, that are expected to be seeking ice-free deep harbor ports.
Regardless of whether Bonding Proposition A, the state general obligation transportation project bonds, calling for $10 million for SMIC development passes or fails, Seward still needs to enclose the SMIC area with a new breakwater, Hunt said. AIDEA representatives expect $1.3 million to oversee the area’s development; $1.8 million for design and engineering; and $6.1 million for permitting and certification, establishment of a quarry, and for building the 210’ breakwater. The city has already asked the state for $17 million, he said.
The council discussed the idea of supporting Proposition A, which goes before voters at the Nov 6 general election. Mayor David Seaward had called for the council’s official support, but saying there isn’t enough time to register their intentions with APOC, and make their position official, council members felt they should encourage one another to make their views known as individuals instead. Council member Bob Valdatta gave the opinion that the Anchorage Harbor Expansion project should be deleted from the list, however, predicting it would be “one big pork barrel mess.”
The council postponed until next month the introduction of an ordinance to the city code to provide for the interconnection of small renewable energy sources to the city’s electrical distribution system. They had cancelled this week’s scheduled worksession on the issue because the electric department head was away on a family emergency.
Mayor Seaward said he would now not be attending the upcoming newly elected municipal officials training in Anchorage, as proposed by councilmembers Vanta Shafer and Marianna Keil. Not unless Shafer personally paid for his expenses, plus the cost of wages he would lose by going to that meeting, he said. The mayor had agreed to go if the council willed it at the council’s previous meeting, but said he made the decision not to go because there had been no unanimous consent expressed on the matter. Shafer urged the mayor to try to obtain the meeting’s materials anyway. Seaward will attend the Nov 13 Conference of Mayors, held during the Alaska Municipal League Conference November 12-16 in Anchorage, however. He also will go on the city’s goodwill trip to Obihiro, Japan.
To the surprise of council members, Seaward announced that he would also be meeting privately with Governor Sean Parnell in Anchorage on Wednesday Nov 24th to thank him personally for past appropriations to Seward, overview current projects, answer any questions, and build a relationship between City of Seward and the governor. He also will meet with the Lieutenant Governor Nov. 6th in Anchorage.
Council members questioned whether Coastal Villages would take top billing at the governor’s meeting, and suggested that Ron Long accompany the mayor, arguing that it would help as Long has intimate knowledge of the city’s Coastal Villages efforts. He “would be honored to go,” Long said. Valdatta suggested that former city mayor Willard Dunham go too. That suggestion gained no apparent traction, however.
The council awarded Seward Bear Creek Volunteer Fire Station Volunteer Autumn Ludwig a certificate of congratulations. Ludwig helped save the life of Mount Marathon racer Penny Assman who fell 15 feet from the cliffs July 4th, 2012. Ludwig, who broke the racer’s fall, and helped stabilize her and bring her to the ambulance modestly said it was a case of being in the right place at the right time. Ludwig said she is only one of many local volunteers who helped at the race, and help year-round in area fire departments and ambulance corps. For her actions Ludwig was awarded “State Firefighter of the Year for 2012” the first woman to receive that recognition.
Seward Police Chief Tom Clemons awarded the Alaska Police Standard’s Council Advanced Certificate to Officer Kenneth Brockman. To receive that particular top recognition for a police officer, an officer must have taken more training, had more education, and must have demonstrated the highest standards of any Alaska police officer, Smith said.