After almost 32 years of dedicated service to the State of Alaska — and instructing over a thousand students —Mark Ganser is retiring on June 21. He has served as the AVTEC IT Department Head for 10 years. Ganser began working at AVTEC in August 1981 teaching the Electrical Systems course [...]
Turn your FM radio dial to 91.7 these days and you’ll hear some interesting old ragtime, Dixieland, big band, swing,...
Join the Club Today! There is still time and space to grab a place in our local coding club. If you are a student between...
Cellular services, ACS & GCI, and long distance services seem to be having an outage problem. AT&T is working.
Local calls 224 to 224 are working, but no long distance at this time.
Folks are working to get full services restored at this time. The cause has not been identified yet.
Post if you have information regarding this.
After an intense eight days of physical and emotional challenges, four Civil Air Patrol cadets from the Seward Composite Squadron graduated from the 2012 Arctic Challenge. The encampment, held at Fort Richardson, was very similar to a military boot camp. Cadets were awakened at 5:00am to the sounds of whistles and screaming flight commanders, and they endured challenging physical training exercises every morning. They participated in military drilling, ate at the base dining hall, and ensured that their beds and lockers were in pristine condition for any unexpected inspections. Cadets even pushed through an extremely demanding obstacle course that the military uses in training; once with their flight’s own flag, and twice with a 200 pound log.
Cadet Airman First Class Ryan Maxwell said, “You learn extremely rapidly to work as a team, in every task, from making beds, to organizing lockers, to shining boots, and definitely for carrying those logs! The first day, I wanted to be more independent, but I learned that it is WAY easier and more time efficient to work as a single unit, instead of as a group of individuals.”
However, the encampment wasn’t all hard work and stress. The cadets did enjoy several outstanding demonstrations and other special activities. Some of these included meeting an Explosive Ordinance Disposal team and admiring the devices or robots they use to disarm roadside bombs. They had the opportunity to observe a Canine Search Team in action, and enjoyed attending the Alaska Airshow. They made new friends and met other cadets from around Alaska and the lower 48.
Even though the encampment was difficult, graduating was a proud moment for the youth and their parents. Rachel Banse was especially proud of her son, Isaac Osborn, who distinguished himself throughout the week and was awarded Honor Cadet for Echo Flight.
Cadet Airmen First Class Alden Hamilton, Ryan Maxwell, Isaac Osborn and Nicolas Woodard worked hard this year to earn the privilege of attending this unique experience. They had to pass physical fitness tests, military drill tests, as well as self-study to pass online Leadership and Aerospace Education exams. “The CAP cadet program is meant to be challenging,” says Stephanie Presley, Deputy Commander of Cadets. “We provide opportunities for youth to develop self-discipline, leadership skills and the character needed to help them be successful in whatever they choose to do. Whether they are interested in the military, becoming a pilot, or entering into a career in emergency services or aviation, youth will take away what they are willing to put into the program. I’m very proud of what the Seward cadets have been able to accomplish this year and I’m excited to see what these young people will accomplish in the future.”
Graduation from the encampment is a requirement for cadets wanting to participate in other Civil Air Patrol sponsored activities. With generous support from community members and organizations, the Seward Squadron was able to provide scholarships for the encampment and for two cadets to attend the 2012 Glider Academy. Cadets Osborn and Maxwell attended the ten day academy earlier this summer at Clear Air Force Station. At this academy, primary cadets, with their instructor, pilot thirty or more glider flights; enough to earn a glider’s rating. Other activities which require completion of the encampment include a powered flight academy, allowing youth to fly at least one-third of the hours needed to earn their pilot’s license, the physically demanding Pararescue Orientation and Hawk Mountain Search and Rescue Courses, and the International Air Cadet Exchange, in which cadets travel to different places around the world to broaden their understanding of aviation and foreign cultures.
Seward CAP will hold an open house for prospective cadets, age 12-18, and parents on September 10th at 6pm, followed by a BBQ at 6:30, free for all community members. The recently completed operations center, the silver hanger on Airport Road, will be open for tours. For more information, visit gocivilairpatrol.com or call Commander Brandon Anderson at 491-0385, or Deputy Commander of Cadets, Stephanie Presley at 980-8386.
By Heidi Zemach for SCN
AVTEC officially dedicated its new wind turbine Wednesday, June 13th, with a host of visiting state representatives and guests representing organizations and the wind engineers that helped make it happen. Ironically, the wind that has blown so steadily, and kept its blades producing energy for the weeks that it has been in operation, slowed to a standstill at the time of the dedication. They began slowly turning again, however, during the course of the celebration.
“This is truly a milestone event for AVTEC, the City of Seward and the State of Alaska,” said AVTEC Director Fred Esposito. In the Alaska Institute of Technology’s (long) history in Seward, there have been many such milestones, but this one surely ushers in a new era for the institute, he said.
When the wind blows at 20-25 mph in Seward, or least in the higher altitudes, the North Wind wind turbine (from Vermont) can generate enough energy to run the Applied Technology’s three-building campus along Seward Highway, where it sits.
But the true value of the 121-foot-tall wind turbine, according to officials at AVTEC, and Alaska Department of Labor, is the hands-on training it provides to the industrial electricity and power plant operation students. Since it was erected in the winter of 2010, 79 Alaskans have been trained at some level of energy technology, Esposito said. On Thursday, June 14th, the technology school graduated 27 more students who are now certified to run various forms of power including the turbine, diesel generators, and who will be qualified for related jobs in their cities or home villages. All they will need is a week or two of additional training by the manufacturer for the type of equipment they will be required to run, said Dan Logan, AVTEC’s applied technology department head. They will not, however need to go to Vermont for training on the NorthWind turbines, as they have taken it here in Seward. (corrected)
Typically, 90 percent of all AVTEC students graduate, and 95 percent get jobs in their field, said Esposito. As part of the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development, AVTEC provides Alaska employers with well-trained and skilled technicians, ship captains, professional cooks and bakers, welders, practical nurses, mechanics and electricians, among other professions.
“AVTEC’s wind turbine training reflects the state’s commitment to training Alaskans for jobs in energy
efficiency and renewable energy,” said Labor and Workforce Development Commissioner Dianne Blumer. “Our focus continues to be training for industry needs.”
There was nobody perhaps more quietly proud of the turbine’s accomplishment as Logan, who never really expected the turbine to perform so well. “It’s already exceeding what we expected, but with tweaking it’s getting better,” Logan said. As it turns out, Seward’s air is denser and colder than the Vermont-based turbine producers expected, which makes the turbine able to produce more energy at lower wind speeds. Logan is looking forward to seeing how it can perform in November, when 75 mph winds aren’t uncommon.
“We weren’t sure it would work,” Logan admitted. “We weren’t sure if (Seward Electric Department Head John Foutz) would let us connect it. If we couldn’t connect it, it would be of limited value, a lot like those 70′s projects,” he said.
The applied technology department has been recording all of the power that the turbine produces, every hour of every day, and giving that data to the Seward Electric Department. The power it provides above and beyond AVTEC’s immediate uses, will be “net metered,” meaning it may turn back the dial on what the utility charges the institute for power, thus lowering the amount of electric power AVTEC uses from the grid. The previous week, when a transmission line was down, knocking out Seward power to Port Avenue, AVTEC used the turbine for a day and a half, and met all of their needs, Logan said.
Cody Presley, a graduating student from Ninilchik, showed the visitors the monitors that shows everything that the turbine is doing in real time, including its speed, the direction it is turning, and amount of power being produced. The visuals were so compelling to the students, Logan had to place the monitor in the rear of the classroom, so it wouldn’t distract them. A day before graduation, Presley was still in awe of the turbine, and the idea of producing clean energy that would lower utility costs for the applied technology department. They don’t yet have any turbines yet in Ninilchick, unfortunately, he said. But Presley has already secured a job on the North Slope as an electrical worker.
Funding for the Northwind 100 turbine, which is optimized for low wind conditions and can produce power at speeds as low as 6 mph, was provided by the Denali Commission and the State of Alaska. The turbine is now part of an integrated wind-diesel system training program that is meeting the workforce development needs of a growing number of rural Alaska communities that are adding wind
turbines to supplement their use of diesel power. The training program is a partnership with the Alaska Energy Authority and the Alaska Village Electrical Cooperative.
Some interesting things about the turbine:
It takes very little wind to turn its blades: only 6-7 mph winds.
If the flag is rippling on top of Safe-Way, the turbine’s blades will be turning, and producing energy.
Even in lower-than minimal wind speeds, the turbine is capable of motoring itself up to running speed, sort of like running with a kite to get it up in the air and flying on its own.
When the wind is 10 miles per hour, it has been running at 59 rpm most of the time, about enough to power a light bulb.
But when it runs at 25 mph, it produces more than enough energy to power all three AVTEC buildings.
If the wind speeds are too high, the turbine can ramp itself down, and turn itself off altogether.
Where the turbine is located, wind speeds aren’t necessarily Seward’s best. Rather, it was convenient and workable site for AVTEC to place a wind turbine, so close to the applied technology buildings. This means that it’s quite possible that wind turbines placed elsewhere in Seward, such as atop windy mountain peaks, or along the beach front, could perform even better.
(Story corrected 6/18/2012 to point out that students with technology degrees from AVTEC will not need to attend the manufacturer’s training in Vermont if they are using NorthWind wind turbines in their future careers)
ACHP will be in Seward on June 9 & 10 at the Breeze Inn, teaching free to the public energy efficiency classes for residents and building professionals looking to improve the efficiency of their home. These classes are basic and very hands on–great for anyone participating in the energy rebate program as well.
By Heidi Zemach for Seward City News
AVTEC’s (Alaska’s Institute of Technology) Maritime Training Center has been in high demand lately, with maritime industry personnel, and job-seekers in the field making good use of its new three-bridge, Kongsberg™ Full-Mission Ship Simulator, and realistic full mission bridge rooms. The Seward facility is likely to become increasingly busy with the expected boom in maritime traffic to Alaska.
Last week for instance, mock LNG tanker trials took place with Florida-based consultant Captain Greg Brooks, of ConocoPhilips, members of SWAPA, the Southwest Alaska Pilots Association, Crowley Marine, Inland Tug and Barge and the U.S. Coast Guard. These experienced senior captains, tugboat men and pilots, were in Seward to work out the details of potential major operations planned for Nikiski LNG the following month. The tankers, larger than those ever seen before in Cook Inlet, will arrive and dock at the LNG (liquid natural gas)/ Agrium docks on their mission to ship fuel to Japan.
As two simulations took place “live” or in real time from the two bridge-navigation rooms down the hallway from AVTEC’s First Lake campus building, Captain Mike Angove, an AVTEC Maritime Instructor/Simulator Technician, controlled the simulations in the instructor control room. He was surrounded by screens that showed the simulated maneuvers that students were performing as they practiced docking their ship, and what they were seeing from their pilot-house windows. The simulations could be recorded and played back for their critique and review. Angove monitored them via closed-circuit TV, and communicated through a simulated bridge-to-bridge radio telephone.
When asked, he would control factors in the simulation such as the ocean depth, wind speed, size of the sea swells, ocean traffic (other vessels passing by) and tugboat action. The idea was to help these professionals sharpen their skills operating the type of ship they would soon be using, under the same types of conditions that they could expect, and in the same environment. Every exercise is different, and is built around specific goals, Angove said. The beauty of it is that it hurts no one, and damages nothing.
The center’s bridge rooms also are sophisticated, and provide an environment so lifelike that some trainees actually get sea-sick, Angove said, unless they have prepared themselves with medications such as Dramamine. Bridge A, the largest of the center’s bridge rooms, includes a view behind the vessel, projecting what they would see from the ship’s stern. All bridges have a helm, two radar stations, an engine control station as well as a navigation station. The bridges can be run either as individual simulations, or can be integrated with the other bridges for interactive simulations.
The larger bridge room has a 240 degree wraparound field of view. The smaller bridge rooms have five charter-house windows, and a 120 degree wraparound view in front of the windows, creating a realistic 3-D effect. The maritime center offers a growing library of locations for them to navigate through, including the Ports of Juneau, Valdez, Kodiak, or in this case Cook Inlet, and a growing library of different ships. The only thing that the simulations don’t have are marine life, such as whales.
Last year AVTEC also built a state-of-the-art fire simulation center near Seward Marine Industrial Center. It enables AVTEC students, vessel crews and area firefighters to practice their vessel fire-fighting skills which they always had to go elsewhere for.Alaska has more coastline than all the other United States combined. Its maritime environment is one of the most challenging in the world, so safely transporting passengers and freight, or carrying out commercial fishing operations in Alaskan waters requires well-qualified captains and crew members, a challenge AVTEC maritime center is ready to address.
With a current staff of only eight, the maritime center has certified or re-certified 425 mariners this year since September. Some are industry professionals training for certain missions, or looking to get re-certified or certified for higher-level positions. Others are beginning students with no training whatsoever, getting the training they need for their first job, said Scott Hamilton, department head of the training center. With so many courses available at Seward’s AVTEC, they can get many of the courses required for their qualifications from a single location.
The maritime economy in Alaska is witnessing the beginning stages of a major shipping boom, and AVTEC hopes to be prepared to meet their training needs, Hamilton said. One reason is the graying of the maritime workforce: as older mariners retire, younger ones are needed to take their place, and must be highly trained, healthy, and physically fit.
Another reason is all of the exploratory work Shell Oil is doing, beginning with the permits they have to commence exploratory drilling this summer. More oil developers are standing by meanwhile, waiting to see what happens with Shell.
Evidence of this boom is already being seen in Seward, with new ships appearing, desiring docking space, and requiring maintenance and repair work at SMIC. Edison Chouest Offshore showed up at the Seward harbor last week with an icebreaker. They informed AVTEC maritime center that they would bring a new ship here this summer, and said they’re looking for five certified workers for that ship, Hamilton said.
If the Seattle-based Coastal Villages CDQ fleet, or handful of other CDQ-fleets decides to home-port their vessels here, their crews will require specialized training, which AVTEC could provide, Hamilton said.
Alaska’s Cook Inlet region also has recently been experiencing a natural gas renaissance, with numerous small, independent developers looking to cash in on the area’s vast potential. A 2011 US Coast Guard study said that there were an estimated 600 million barrels of oil, 19 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 46 million barrels of natural gas liquids still untapped in the Cook Inlet region.
Houston-based developer Escopeta Oil and Gas claimed to have found an estimated 3.5-trillion-cubic-foot deposit in the region last November. Other firms like NordAq and Buccanneer Alaska also have set up shop in Cook Inlet, as larger companies move out.
Finally, there’s the opening of the Arctic Ocean on the horizon, with the expectation of ice-free transits within the next 20 years that will enable vessels in Europe and Asia to cross the Bering and Chuckchi Seas. In preparation, Japan has built a 175,000 gross ton ice class cargo ship, and Norway, Canada, Finland, Russia and China are following suit, Hamilton said. Meanwhile Alaska has only one functioning icebreaker, the Coast Guard Cutter Healey, but plans are underway to build another, and private enterprise has joined the Alaska ice-breaker building rush.
By Heidi Zemach for Seward City News
It was a historic moment for Seward. By far the most impressive looking alternative energy source to come to Seward thus far has arrived! Northwind 100, a sleek new three-bladed 100 kilowatt wind turbine, standing about 121-feet tall, was erected adjacent to AVTECs diesel generator power plant over the weekend, within view of the Seward Highway. It is positioned directly in front of Auroras railroad coal pile, and the stacker-reclaimermaking for an interesting juxtaposition of traditional and alternative energy resources.
Were just very excited to have it up the air, and look forward to completing the project by having it provide power for our buildings, and heat for our buildings, said AVTEC President Fred Esposito. It had been a three-year process thus far, and now they have a couple of more months of work ahead to hook it up to AVTECs electrical systems.
AVTEC, in cooperation with the Denali Commission, the Alaska Energy Authority, and the Alaska Department of Labor & Workforce Development is developing a wind energy operator and technician training program to begin here next spring, and the new wind turbine will primarily be used for that training. It also will provide additional electricity for AVTECs Applied Technologies three buildings, and their heated water systems. The degree of cost savings to AVTEC to heat these large open buildings will depend on how strongly the wind blows, Esposito said. AVTEC will provide a rather unique integrated wind/diesel systems program to meet the needs of a growing number of Alaska communities who currently rely on diesel power, but who also are establishing wind turbines in order to lower fuel costs. Those particular uses are fairly unique to Alaska, especially rural Alaska, Esposito said.
The unit will be hooked up to new state-of-the-art switch gear installed by the Alaska Energy Authority earlier in the year. The turbine is optimized for low wind speeds, and can begin producing power at wind speeds as low as 6 mph, according to specs provided from its manufacturer-Northern Power Systems, of Vermont. From wind readings taken at 150 feet from its base in early October, the turbine was estimated to create 55 or less decibels at a 20 mph wind speed, Esposito told the City Council. At the time the readings were taken, Seward Highway traffic noise was measured at 65 decibels, and the nearby coal facility operations were measured at 70 decibels, so the sound of the turbine is not expected to be too obtrusive for that area, Esposito said.
To accommodate the new turbine, and any others that may be on the horizon, the city council recently added the use of wind turbines to its permitted uses under Planning and Zoning codes, and subjected them to the same noise standards as existing equipment. In industrial areas, turbines may therefore be allowed to produce up to 80 dbs, depending upon the time of day. Decibel levels in Commercial districts are limited to 60 dbs, and to 50 dbs in Residential districts.
AVTEC officials hope to have the turbine blades turning, and producing power by mid-March or early April. They plan an official dedicating ceremony for the turbine next Spring, Esposito said. By then, they will have hired an instructor for the new course, and they expect a healthy recruitment of trainees to have signed up.
Were just totally supportive and thrilled that its in Seward, said Matt Gray, of the Resurrection Bay Conservation Alliance. Its such a monument for progress, and its pretty impressive-looking. And its a huge opportunity for western Native communities to build on their wind power. Gray hopes it will provide data on the possibilities for Seward supporting wind energy.
Weve always been told wind energy wont work for Seward. This is a chance for Seward to get some data on whether it will work, said City Councilwoman Marianna Keil at the October meeting. Sewards wind resources alone would probably not have been of sufficient quantity to have won AVTEC a state grant to fund the turbine, Esposito said. But the state grant was based on the needed training that this facility could provide for all of Alaska. AVTEC has partnered with the Alaska Energy Authority, and the Alaska Village Electrical Cooperative to provide the core of trainees for AVTECs new program.
Unlike many parts of Alaska, the City Seward has still not established net-metering, and does not allow wind turbines to connect to its electric grid. Local utility operators and city officials have expressed doubts about the ageing grids ability to safely handle wind power, which is unpredictable. But Seward Electric is slowly and steadily taking the steps it needs toward being allowed by the responsible state energy regulatory agencies and its power company, Chugach Electric, to allow that to occur at some point in the future.
By Heidi Zemach
On Monday 155 Alaska Institute of Technology students from across Alaska will come to school in Seward for the 2010 fall semester. They will spend the year learning trades that will prepare them for good jobs in todays economy; jobs that will qualify them as auto mechanics, electricians, pipe welders, chefs, and heavy equipment operators.
Overall, enrollment at AVTEC has increased by about 10-15-percent over last year, perhaps the result of heavy recruiting at high schools, job and career fairs and at job centers. Nineteen of the students joining AVTEC are Seward residents, and 10 of them graduated from Seward High School last springthats a record number according to high school counselor Martha Fleming.
We are really excited about the new school year, said AVTEC Director Fred Esposito. Weve got full classes, with students coming from all parts of the state. I checked in on all our shops, and we are ready to go, the instructors are all hands on deck, and ready for another year, so were looking forward to another very busy, very productive year here at AVTEC.
The administration is particularly excited about completion of its new state-of-the-art $8.6 million Culinary Academy building which 32 students will begin occupying on Monday. Formerly, AVTEC boasted world class training but students were crammed into a very small training kitchen in a substandard facility with sagging walls and foundation, Esposito said.
Were ecstatic about moving into the new building and offering our students a world class training facility. Esposito said. It had been a lengthy and arduous process to garner the funding, then design and construct the building, he explained. Were very pleased with the result.
The two-story structure now has two brand new teaching kitchens and three classrooms on the ground floor that can double as the Academy Caféserving special meals to the public to showcase the students culinary skills. It also has a large banquet room on the second floor that can seat 100 people for catered affairs, and a usable basement. AVTEC hopes to be able to expand its culinary student base as they settle into the new building and discover how to best utilize the space.
The academy also welcomes new culinary instructor Cheryl Lewis Monday. She joins two Seward residents and AVTEC staffers who are moving into teaching positions: Wendy Stallings, who will become the new Business and Office Technology instructor, and Ken Laird, who will be the new Information and Technology instructor.
Two new programs being offered this fall include a medium and heavy duty truck technician class, and Q-MED, a U.S.Coast Guard licensing program designed to train and qualify entry-level marine engineers.
This coming spring AVTEC hopes to enroll its first class of wind technicians. A 155 foot tall wind turbine that can produce 100- kilowatts should be installed and ready to greet students by the first of the year 2011. It will be used for training purposes while also providing electricity for the Applied Technologies building, Esposito said.
AVTEC also has finally installed its modern propane fire simulation equipment in its newly built fire training facility across Resurrection Bay. In the near future, mariners will be able to practice addressing and suppressing on-board fires in a safe and controlled environment right here in Seward rather than having to travel to the facility in Kenai, Esposito said. Others requiring that particular training may travel here for the training.
Our used Dell computers are looking for a new home. They are ready and willing to be of further service to you in your home.
These computers still have plenty of life left in them (in an albeit limited capacity). A fresh, updated version of Windows XP has been installed, which will fully support student Google (g.kpbsd.org) accounts, making these great for browsing the Internet, sending email, chatting or doing school work.
What you get Each computer comes with a keyboard, mouse and power cable.
More information is located at: http://www.kpbsd.k12.ak.us/departments.aspx?id=13548
A community grant from the Holland America Line Inc. Community Advisory Board, was awarded to Seward Tsunami Swim Club (STSC). The $1000 grant was received November of 2009, the start up of the swim season for STSC .
The Seward Tsunami Swim Club grant was for the purchase of an underwater camera and recording system. It took some time to order and receive the system and it is now in place and giving the coaching staff a new view to see STSC swimmers at work and play.
Coach Matt Hershock, using the system to view swimmers, says this system is great. It is really going to help me improve our swimmers strokes. Underwater recording cameras are being used at many swim campuses nationwide to enhance swimmers training.
The CAB is comprised of Seward civic and business leaders who advise Holland America Line Inc. on local corporate contributions and community involvement projects. CAB awards grants to local service and non-profit groups in Seward.
Seward Tsunami Swim Club board members would like to thank Holland America Line Inc., Community Advisory Board for this grant and for the support of Seward’s community.
Pat OLeary, Lynn Hettick, Royn Audette, Peggy Hamner, Mary Tougas, Terri McKnight
Among the dozens of energy issues being debated in the Alaska State, the creation of an Emerging Energy Technology Fund stands out in its potential to promote innovation and diversification of Alaskas resource development portfolio. As an early supporter of an EETF in Alaska, the Denali Commission carried out a pilot program in 2009, selecting the SeaLife Center as one of their nine grant recipients and bringing a new, cost-effective heat source into Alaskas energy catalogue.
Included in both the House and Senate omnibus energy bills, the Emerging Energy Technology Fund (EETF) would support undemonstrated cutting edge energy technologies. Selected projects would aim to ease Alaskas dependence on high priced fossil fuels while at the same time generate technological, industrial, and educational growth in the states energy sector.
Although the proposed EETF has seen widespread support from legislators in Juneau, some question the pressing need for the program and ask what kind of visible growth such incentives would bring to the state. An ingenious example demonstrating the funds potential is heating up at the Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward.
The aquariums application for a Heat Pump Demonstration Project fit the grant criteria perfectly. The proposed technology has never been
(By Heidi Zemach for Seward City News)
The City of Seward is ready to take by Eminent Domain property along the Seward Highway deemed necessary for the construction of a flood prevention levee. The project was one of several that resulted from a flood mitigation task force, developed at the request of FEMA following major flooding events in Seward over the past 20 years. The Forest Acres levee is meant to divert floodwater from flooding over the Seward Highway and the airport. At Mondays bi-monthly meeting the city council passed a resolution to take the property. The Track B Dieckgraeff-Gillespie Replat is a 2.35 acre of undeveloped land on the west side of Seward Highway, south of the Resurrection River. The owners also own the adjacent 4.6 acre un-subdivided parcel south of Tract B. The city wants to acquire a 14,000 square foot public use easement (PUE) on Tract B by legal means because six months of negotiations with the owners over a fair price for the land proved fruitless. After another appraisal, the city plans to take the property and pay what it feels is a fair price. The city also has offered to develop a new driveway to their remaining land.
For at least two of the council members, the legal taking of private property was approved with a heavy heart. But after a decade of the city negotiating with agencies such as State of Alaska DOT, FEMA, Kenai Peninsula Borough, State Floodplain manager, Alaska Railroad, over where to locate the levee, and having acquired the other properties, Vanta Shafer and Marianna Keil said they couldnt back down now. Council member Linda Amberg, who owns an insurance company, declared a conflict of interest and recused herself from the discussion and the vote, as she represents the landowners. Tom Smith was absent. The vote was 5-0.
The morality of taking private property wasnt the only ethical issue to surface during the debate. Another issue was how much to tell the public. City Manager Phillip Oates detailed the content of the citys negotiations with the landowners, including the four different prices offered for purchasing various different configurations of land. The highest price offer by the city came to $135,700. The last and final offer, however, was approximately $56,000, Oates said.
Although Cheryl Brooking, the city solicitor, warned him mid-speech that his level of detail should not be made public, Oates disagreed. He said the public needed to know the city had done everything it could, and more, to reach a settlement. The previous discussion of the issue had been held recently in executive session, closed to media and public as it concerned negotiations. But once Mayor Willard Dunham more or less ordered Oates not to continue talking numbershe was about to tell the amount of owners final offerOates conceded, and merely said that the difference was substantial.
The city must now wait 30 days to see if the owners accept the offer or decide to challenge the takings legality. Although one of the landowners was present at the meeting, he chose not to speak. But Tim McDonald of Nash Road, said that the citys offer of $56,000 was a pittance for people who had owned, and paid taxes on the property for 30 years.
- (Photo: Oates in new building with new generators 1 and 2 at far right)
In other action, the council agreed to allocate $265,000 more for the Fort Raymond Generator Project, a project to bring together six diesel power generators in a single location, to be used by Seward Electric for back-up power during emergencies. The additional funding will be used to connect and commission Generator 2, which is already located in the new generator building alongside Generator 1. The city says the money is needed because funding for the original scope of work was insufficient as the result of changes made mid-project, including expansion and relocation of the building. Once that engine is commissioned, the utility will begin moving generators 4 and 5 into the large new building. They are currently housed nearby in Arctic Packs, outdoor buildings that provide cover and protection, but not heatwhich would make them more efficient, according to longtime plant operator Charles Forrest. Once all six generators are on line, the city will be able to provide emergency power beyond the existing areato Moose Pass, and perhaps beyond.
During a work session/tour of the new generator facility on Monday, Shafer and Keil questioned Oates about what city residents should expect in future costs for the project. Oates admitted that each new stage for the project would require additional funding. Next year, Oates also plans to ask the council to allow the city to hire additional employees for the electric departmentincluding a full time person who would be trained to operate the diesel generators, and could replace Forrest when he retires.
Another resolution that passed concerned the adoption of a surveillance camera policy. It generated some heated debate at the meeting. Because the meeting had not finished by 10:30 p.m. Monday, it continued for another hour Tuesday night. The Seward Police Department requested that the policy be adopted in order for it to accept a $350,000 grant from the Homeland Security Administration to upgrade and renovate Sewards existing surveillance system. That system currently consists of eight surveillance cameras placed at the boat harbor and the Seward Municipal Industrial Complex. They were installed in 2004 to help protect city infrastructure and property and to deter crime, according to city officials. Initially, crimes such as vandalism were reduced in those areas, even when the cameras werent working, Oates said. Their use has resulted in at least two arrests that hes aware of, and the successful conclusion of a boat fire investigation, said SPD Chief Tom Clemons. With the funding Clemons hopes to be able to upgrade the system, replace the damaged cameras, and have extras to place in other areassuch as to protect a new city water tower, if one is built.
One part of the draft surveillance policy debated concerned Section VI: Location Of Cameras: City Council approval is required of all surveillance camera locations in areas other than the critical infrastructure identified in the latest vulnerability for the City of Seward from Alaska Homeland Security. Any exception to this requirement for covert surveillance requires the approval of the city manager who will notify the mayor. Exceptions could also occur as directed by court order, the draft policy stated.
Apologizing to Dunham and Oates, Shafer said the section gave government officials yet unnamed opportunities for the abuse of power over unsuspecting citizens, never envisioned by our Founding Fathers. We have to be really careful about doing this. Ten to 20 years down the road, you dont know what could happen, Shafer said. We are the body that protects the people. She proposed that the council be consulted in executive session prior to any temporary camera placement. But Dunham didnt think a council could be called together on short notice to prevent criminal activity. Plus he said: The more people you notify, the worse it gets. I dont (even) like the idea that you have to notify the mayor. We dont want to get involved in this.
In the end, the council amended the policy to allow the council to be informed of a temporary camera use 24-hours AFTER an arrest is made, and with only the city manager notified by police prior to its placement.
Keil also wanted the policy to reflect that any employee who abuses a citizens privacy via surveillance be fired. This was not consistent with the employee personnel policy, and increased the possibility of lawsuits, Oates said. Linda Amberg asked where an employees right to employment was more important than the right to privacy. Finally, the council decided that any employee suspected of violating a citizens privacy be “immediately suspended”– at least pending the outcome of an investigation into the matter.
At Keils urging, council also amended the policy to state that all the surveillance cameras in public areas be accompanied by signs notifying the public of their presence. The council already would be required to approve of placing any cameras in public areassuch as the skate park.
Even with the amendments approved, Keil was the only one to vote against the resolution. She explained to SCN afterwards that she just doesnt agree with the use of surveillance cameras. Knowing that the resolution would be passed by the others, she tried to make sure that it had all the protections it could, Keil said.
Speaking after the meetings each night Tim McDonald said he appreciated that surveillance would make the police departments job easier but added, This is Seward! Whats all this Big Brother stuff? He also accused the council of holding too many meetings in executive session– even fiscally important ones such as negotiations over extending the lease of the SMIC Drydock.
The Alaska Center for Climate Assessment and Policy is pleased to announce a
new climate information tool available to Alaskans. Communities now have
access to climate change data focused on their own backyards, thanks to a
community charts tool created by the Scenarios Network for Alaska Planning
(SNAP) at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.
More than 350 places in Alaska are included in the charts, accessible at
www.snap.uaf.edu/community-charts. Data is presented at low, medium and high
future greenhouse gas levels. Concentration of the gases has a direct effect
on how the Earth warms. The charts offer monthly average temperature and
precipitation figures from the late-20th century through the present and
offer projections for every decade through 2100. The website allows users to
compare communities and consider how climate change may affect activities
such as gardening or hunting or public concerns like drought, forest fire or
SNAP staff used Google tools and technology to create the charts, which are
based on research by the SNAP team and John Walsh of UAF’s International
Arctic Research Center.
CONTACT and LINKS: Nancy Tarnai, UAF School of Natural Resources and
Agricultural Sciences public information officer, 907-474-5042 or
email@example.com. Nancy Fresco, SNAP coordinator, at 907-474-2405 or
SNAP Community Charts: http://www.snap.uaf.edu/community-charts?c=seward
UAF School of Natural Resources and Agricultural Sciences article:
Many of our lives were put on hold late friday afternoon as mother nature shared with us our first big storm of the winter season. An avalanche crossed the Seward Highway near Mile 21.5 and closing the highway for about 24hrs.
This 970mb low tracked into pws and the kenai mountains producing 19 of sweet chugach powder and 2.2 h20 in the past five days. In the past 36 hrs the Summit Creek weather station at 1400 ft recorded 1.0 water and 10 of new snow. Southeasterlies brought in our first maritime storm of the season and a dense snow pack to begin the season on. Ridgetop winds were light to moderate coming from the east.
The newly loaded snowpack will required a few days to stabilize. The recent storm snow is attemping to bond with the facets snow crystals that form back during the high pressure system on the 15th-17th. A 6mm wind crust sits on top of facets was observed on the 25th at 3000 on a west facing 30 degree slope. While digging a hand pit the block failed while cutting the back with a Q2 shear characteristics, clean, mostly smooth but does not slide readily. The block is fairly dense with the majority being 1F topped with 4F and F of new snow.
There has been a new weather station added to the kenai mountains. It lies 3400 on Fresno Ridge just north of Summit Lake. The station was added by, The Friends of the Avalanche Center, a 501c3 Non-profit organization devoted to supporting the CNFAIC. The Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information Center (CNFAIC) is a program sponsored by the US Forest Service to provide timely snowpack and weather information to winter backcountry users at Turnagain Pass.
The Friends Group was organized to support and contribute to the educational and scientific activities provided for the public by the CNFAIC. These activities include, but are not limited to fundraising events, avalanche education for the public, operation of weather stations and organization of a team of snow observers to supplement observations made by the CNF forecasters. Please visit the group at http://www.cnfaic.org/friends/friends.php and get involved.
By Heidi Zemach for SCN
The Seward City Council recently told City Manager Phillip Oates to proceed with negotiations with Seward Ships Drydock, Inc to determine specific capital improvements that the shipyard wants to make, and whether they are appropriate for a lease extension beyond its current 2029 expiration. The shipyards managers are seeking assurance that the lease with the city at the Seward Marine Industrial Center will be extended for a longer period in order to justify the expense of planned capital improvements; and to obtain financing for future projects, said Jim Pruitt, SSD president.
Since that Nov 10 special council work session, Oates forwarded the shipyard a list of difficult areas that the city has encountered in the past and asked SSD to respond to whether it would consider those as part of the process of reopening the lease. The city also asked the shipyard board for a detailed list of capital improvements they plan to make, their value, and their expectations for a lease extension.
The city and shipyard disagree over what constitutes an automatic lease extension. The council told Pruitt they would like to re-open the lease in order to clarify the meaning of language regarding automatic lease extensions. The city believes that automatic lease extensions of one year plus five more are mandated in the lease agreement for each $100,000 in capital improvements that the shipyard makes. That, provided that the improvements are acceptable to the council. This provision was included in the agreement in order to enable the shipyard to obtain financing of future projects.
Seward Ships Drydock recently received a $1 million grant in Federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) Maritime Administration Small Shipyards for ship transport cradles, 5,000 ton Syncro-Lift controls and compressed air upgrades. Pruitt wishes to supply $700,000 as the local share of these improvements. By his calculations, Pruitt divided the sum total into $100,000 amounts, and said each separate portion allows for another 6-year leaseextension, thus stretching lease beyond 2029.
Not everyone in the community would like to see the shipyards lease extended. In fact some residents, including Carol Griswold and Tim McDonald, testified they would like to see the city get out of its lease agreement entirely. This is a horror story for our grandchildren and Im stunned that youd even be considering this! Griswold said. She held up blow-up photographs, obviously familiar to the council, taken at the site depicting environmental and health hazards that were brought to the city, DEP, EPA, and Coast Guards attention for years. What is this costing the city for the past 20 years? Its been hugely expensive, and thats not counting the health effects,” she said.
ADEC currently is working with Seward Ships Drydock for air quality compliance and possible ground contamination requirements, in response to complaints, Oates said. When you reopen a lease, you can address any areas of concern, including areas of environmental compliance, Oates said. But the city does not consider overseeing the shipyards environmental compliance as its role, he said. Their required compliance with environmental laws already is stipulated in the lease agreement.
The shipyard employs between 45-105 workers, depending upon the jobespecially during the busy season September to June, according to recent figures provided by the late General Manager DJ Whitman. Shipyard payroll exceeds $2 million annually, and the company spends some $1.5 million per year on goods and services, he said. The shipyard provides maintenance and repair services to three U.S. Coast Guard cutters a year, on average. Clients range from fishing boat owners and transportation industry vessels to the U.S.CG and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. (comments: firstname.lastname@example.org)
This piece, written by Greg Hill is Fairbanks North Star Borough Library Director, ran in the Sunday edition of the FDNM. (Fairbanks Daily New Minor)
By Greg Hill, FNSB Library Services Director, 459-1027
Last Sundays Anchorage Daily News ran a front page article, the online version is titled Are Local Libraries In Process of Checking out?, about the severe budget cuts threatening their public library systems existence. The article stated that The budget cuts come at a time when libraries around the country are rethinking their role in the 21st century and goes on to say that, besides being print repositories, libraries also are digital centers where information is exchanged and Internet is available to those who don’t have it at home.
This is true as far as it goes. Modern public libraries do provide a lot of digital information and connectivity, but thats just a reflection of one of the fundamental duties of libraries throughout history.
- By Heidi Zemach for Seward City News
- Ressurecton Bay beyond ASLC
Most of us probably wouldnt imagine the seawater in Resurrection Bay to be warm. Not warm enough to heat local buildings during the cold winters. But we would be wrong. In fact, Resurrection Bay is a wonderful source of energy that stores large amounts of solar energy from the summer months that could help heat buildings in Seward while also reducing our dependence on more costly, polluting forms of energy.
The Alaska SeaLife Center, located right on the bay, is preparing to put into operation a pilot project that will provide supplemental heat for one of its existing large air heating units, and outdoor pavement, using an innovative heat transfer process that employs high efficiency heat pumps, said Darryl Schaefermeyer, the centers general manager.
The center recently received an Emerging Technology Grant from the Denali Commission to build and install a seawater heat pump system capable of meeting 25-30 percent of its buildings heating needs. The system could save the center $66,000 per year in heating oil costs (at $2.52/gallon), and reduce the buildings Co2 emissions by 587,000 lbs a year, Schaefermeyer said.
Its a very good source of green energy. Its as exciting to me as wind energy, Schaefermeyer said. Think of it as using solar energy, ocean-warmed by the sun (its) renewable every year.
Seward City Manager Phillip Oates very proudly announced the grant received for the sealife building, which the city owns and leases to ASLC. Other parties who could benefit from observing the seawater heat pump project, and how well it works, includes the Alutiiq Pride Shellfish Hatchery, who could use the method in raising larvae and algae cultures needed for shellfish production; the UAF School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences in Seward, who may consider converting its own heating system to employ seawater pump technology; and Kenai Fjords National Park, which is hoping to develop a visitor center and administration building downtown to meet the Department of Energys carbon neutral net-zero standard.
(Photo: Darryl Shafermeyer stands by PVC pipes below sea life center)
ASLC already brings sea water into its building through two 24-inch diameter seawater intake pipes that draw flow from a depth of 275 feet. The center uses the water for its aquaria. Its the life blood of the place, said Schaefermeyer, taking this SCN reporter on a tour of the various massive energy/water systems located in the basement level of the building. The sea water is stored in a tide level intake basin, and is pumped to its fish and marine mammal tanks through large white PVC pipes. The center also pumps fresh water for its fresh water tanks and research laboratories. Additional PVC pipe systems carry contaminated waste water away from the tanks, which is treated with ozone and expelled.
Data gathered at ASLC from 2003-2008 show raw seawater temperatures in Resurrection Bay reaches a maximum of 52 degrees Fahrenheit in October and November, and drops to a minimum of 38 degrees F in April. Temperatures average around 41F in July to 49F in early winter, to 38F in early spring.
The center will employ the new pump to lift latent heat from raw seawater and transfer this heat energy into air handler units and pavement heating exchangers at a temperature of 12- degrees F. The basic concept is that the raw sea water, at temperatures ranging from 38F to 55F, would first be pumped through a heat exchanger containing propylene glycol, a vegetable-based antifreeze in common use in northern latitude commercial and residential heating systems. Then the water would go to an electric powered compressor, where it would be heated further to 120F, and finally through looped pipes to heat the facility and its outdoor pavement. After being used as a heat source, the raw seawater would be distributed to ASLC aquaria and research tanks or simply be expelled back into the bay.
Using an energy recovery formula engineers typically apply to heating units to measure their efficiency, ASLC discovered that the new pump will have a coefficient greater than three, which means that every unit of electricity put into the process (i.e. running the pump), yields greater than three units of energy in return, making this method both cost effective and efficient, Schaefermeyer said.
Coastal communities with access to seawater from ice-free bays and with reasonably priced electricity have the potential to replicate this innovative heating system, Schaefermeyer said. The center would be ready to showcase the system to its own visitors and to interested facilities and communities. In coastal communities that have warm seawater temperatures extending into the winter months (like Seward), the potential exists for expanding this technology into a district heating system, such as those used in coastal communities in northern Europe. Large seawater heat pumps supply warm source water to buildings along a buried insulated loop pipe that is tapped to serve customers along the route. These customers can use their own off the shelf heat pumps to lift the warm source water temperature to 120 F for building heat and domestic hot water.
The City of Seward could build its own saltwater plant to heat city buildings, local businesses, or even run it through pipes buried below city sidewalks downtown, reducing winter snow removal, Schaefermeyer said.
It would be a technology that we would be interested in, said Jeff Mow, superintendent of the Kenai Fjords National Park. For five years, the park piloted a hydrogen fuel cell project at Exit Glacier that garnered much public attention due to its remote location. The fuel cell ran flawlessly for a couple of months, but the technology moved on, and the park ran out of funding to keep up with the changes, Mow said. Soon, they will be able to observe first-hand how the ASLCs heat pump system works.
Other Alaska communities where this system may be cost effective include Kodiak, St. Paul, Dillingham, and Sitka, Schaefermeyer said. Seawater heat pump system could motivate coastal communities to develop small electrical power generation systems such as wind or hydro to provide the electricity needed to power them, he said. They would shift dependence on heating oil to electricity as the prime mover of heat, making this system an alternative to conventional fossil fuel heating systems.
Seawater heating has been successfully employed in northern Europe for nearly 20 years: Ocean-warmed seawater provides heat for 41,000 people living on a military base in Bodo Norway; Vartan Ropsten has the largest seawater heat pumps on the planet in Stockholm, Sweden; STATOIL Research Center in Trondheim, Norway provides district heating with seawater; and the City of the Hague is building a new seawater plant to heat 750 reconstructed homes in the village of Duindorp, along the North Sea Coast.
- (Photo: The “lifeblood”of ASLC)