Smooth sailing for assembly’s Homer visit

The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly moved smoothly and quickly through the agenda of its regular meeting held in Homer on Tuesday. The biggest attention-getter of the evening was assembly member Bill Smith, who represents District 8-Homer on the assembly.

Having served on the assembly since 2007, this was Smith’s last at-home meeting before the municipal election on Oct. 7. He has termed out of office. 

“I would just like to respectfully acknowledge (Smith’s) representation of our community, thank him for his service and acknowledge those of you who have had the opportunity to serve with Smith and realize the qualities of leadership and the amount of energy he puts into his position,” said Homer resident John Fenske who said he and Smith served together on the local planning commission and on the South Peninsula Hospital Service area board of directors. “I encourage you all to reflect on his service and hopefully apply some of his method to your continued service with the assembly.”

Fenske’s comments were followed by loud applause from those in attendance.

Former assembly member Milli Martin also took advantage of the meeting to express her appreciation of Smith.

“Thank you for fighting through everything we needed for the hospital. I still remember when we were afraid we couldn’t find funding to enclose the MRI unit and Mr. Smith was so adamant and said he was not giving up until it was enclosed,” said Martin. “I can tell you from personal experience that it is and how wonderful it is. The community and I appreciate that and I’m here to say thank you. We know you’ll have a good replacement in Kelly (Cooper), but I want you to know how much we appreciate what you’ve done.”

Cooper, an unopposed candidate for District 8 (see related story, page10), thanked Smith for his service and for the time he has given her in the last few weeks as she prepares for the election. 

“Is there anyone who’d like to talk on a different topic?” said Smith, who served as assembly president in the absence of President Hal Smalley, District 2-Kenai, who had to leave the meeting early. “I’d really prefer to have eulogies when I can’t hear them.”

With no objections and with Mako Haggerty, District 9-South Peninsula, and Charlie Pierce, District 5-Sterling and Funny River excused, the assembly approved:

• Ordinance 2013-19-43, recording expenditures of $2.9 million paid by the state of Alaska Department of Administration toward the borough’s unfunded PERS liability;

• Ordinance 2014-19-14, appropriating a state of Alaska grant of $100,000 on behalf of Bear Creek Fire Service Area for fire station completion and startup;

• Ordinance 2014-19-15, appropriating a state of Alaska grant of $29,700 for Bear Creek Fire Service Area’s purchase of search and rescue equipment;

• Ordinance 2014-19-24, appropriating $150,000 from the city of Soldotna for the Soldotna High School track and field project;

• Ordinance 2014-19-26, appropriating $30,000 for replacement of a water tank and pump on Anchor Point Fire and Emergency Medical Service Area’s Tanker 1.

On the consent agenda, the assembly approved individuals for the precinct, canvass and review boards and absentee voting officials for the Oct. 7 election. It also confirmed appointments to the Hope, Moose Pass and Cooper Landing advisory planning commissions.

A proclamation from KPB Mayor Mike Navarre established September as “Hunger Action Month.” In introducing the resolution, Navarre noted more than 11,000 individuals on the peninsula who rely on food provided by the Kenai Peninsula Food Bank annually and the food bank’s distribution of more than 1 million pounds of food during 2014. Navarre presented the proclamation to Linda Swarmer, the food bank’s executive director.  

Bob Letson, chief executive officer of South Peninsula Hospital, provided a report on current activities and what’s ahead for the hospital, as well as a financial report that noted a 10 percent increase in operating expenses and a 20 percent increase in cash on hand. 

Smith, Johnson and assembly member Dale Bagley, District 4-Soldotna, provided overviews of three propositions that will be on the municipal election ballot (see related story, page 7). 

Expressing thanks to the city of Homer for hospitality shown during the assembly’s one-day visit to Homer, Wayne Ogle, District 3-Nikiski, suggested spending more time on the southern peninsula.

“I think its great for the assembly to get out of what some of my friends call 1600 Binkley Street,” said Ogle, using the street number of the White House in Washington, D.C.  

The last assembly member to speak before the meeting came to a close was Sue McClure, District 6-East Peninsula. She saved her comments about Smith until his last meeting with the assembly following the October election.

“Or after, preferably,” said a blushing Smith.

The next regular meeting of the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly will be at assembly chambers in Soldotna at 6 p.m. Oct. 14.