Homer Alaska - News

Story last updated at 6:15 PM on Wednesday, January 12, 2011

AP service area administrator resigns

By McKibben Jackinsky
Staff Writer


Photo by McKibben Jackinsky, Hom

Brendon Rider of Anchor Point shares a laugh with Bob Craig of the Anchor Point Volunteer Fire Department. Rider, 13, saved his and his 2-year-old brother's lives earlier this month when fire destroyed the famiy's home.

A day after the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly passed an ordinance placing the Anchor Point Fire and Emergency Medical Service Area administrator position under supervision of the borough mayor, rather than the service area board, Bob Craig, the administrator, announced plans to retire.

"I will be officially retiring from the administrator position for Anchor Point Fire Service area on January 15, 2011," Craig wrote in a one-line email sent Jan. 5 to several recipients, including KPB Mayor Dave Carey.

Craig and Carey met Monday to discuss budgets and had what the mayor described as a "very nice meeting. ... It was as cordial as it's ever been."

Craig's decision to retire coincides with the borough's budget preparations, making it timely to discuss possible restructuring of the Anchor Point service area.

"We're working with the service area board chairperson as well as others and I feel very positively ... we will have the cooperation of the board to be sure job descriptions do not give two people the same responsibility," said Carey. "As an example, the fire chief and the administrator should not have some of the same responsibilities. It doesn't make sense."

Craig came to the Kenai Peninsula from Colorado in 1971. He helped organize the Anchor Point volunteer firefighters in 1978, and is a certified EMT III and Firefighter II and a firefighter instructor. He has been employed full-time as the administrator, a union position, since 2004.

"Mr. Craig, with his decades of service, became an individual that could kind of do everything because he had, coming up through the ranks," said Carey. "When he moved over to being the borough's administrator, he brought with him a great wealth of knowledge and experience. Whoever wrote the job description for that included some functions that normally remain with the fire chief."

Robin Proctor, chair of the service area board, paid tribute to Craig's contributions.

"He's been an integral part of the fire department since its inception and I'm very sorry to see him go," said Proctor.

Asked if she knew Craig had been considering retirement, Proctor chose not to comment.

"Any decisions he made were on his own," she said, adding, "It is also my understanding that he plans to remain as a volunteer."

Carey said he was aware Craig was considering retirement.

"He came in last week to speak with Human Resources about the idea of retiring. He did not make any absolute statement ... but there certainly was knowledge that he was looking at this as an option," said Carey.

Carey and Mako Haggerty, who represents areas of the southern peninsula including Anchor Point on the borough assembly, co-sponsored the ordinance that was unanimously approved by the assembly at its Jan. 4 meeting. In addition to the supervisory clarification, Ordinance 2010-42 also changed description of the board's role to recommending rather than advising the borough mayor and assembly of administration and operation of the service area, and put into writing a requirement to submit minutes of board meetings to the mayor and assembly.

Of Craig's retirement, Haggerty said he did not think Craig made the decision suddenly.

"I'm speculating this was a decision with a lot of consideration behind it," said Haggerty.

In a Dec. 10 phone interview with the Homer News about the ordinance, Craig said it posed "a good possibility" that he would lose his job.

"It's been pretty plain in a lot of meetings we've had that they're unhappy with the way things go in Anchor Point," said Craig. "It's probably because I'm the one that's supposed to be able to fix everything. The buck stops here."

Carey has stated openly that was not the intent of the ordinance. At a Dec. 20 community meeting called by Cindy Munsell, president of Anchor Point's volunteer firefighters and emergency medical responders, to make the public aware of the ordinance, Munsell said she believed passage of the ordinance would result in Craig losing his job. When Carey said that was inaccurate, Munsell asked the mayor, "Are you going to get rid of (the administrator) if this ordinance happens?"

"That's a terrible thing to ask. No," said Carey.

Discussions of restructuring the service area, however, may result in elimination of the position.

"In looking at this, I am considering whether or not we need the administrator position," Carey told the Homer News Tuesday. "I am working with the service area board and we want to see if this is the best structure for providing service to the residents and making sure that the liability that all of us carry is minimized."

Calls to Craig by the Homer News were not returned by deadline.

McKibben Jackinsky can be reached at mckibben.jackinsky@homernews.com.