Homer Alaska - News

Story last updated at 8:48 PM on Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Assembly set to consider change for Anchor Point fire department in April

By McKibben Jackinsky
Staff Writer

The resignation of Bob Craig as administrator for the Anchor Point Fire and Emergency Medical Service may mean the volunteer department gets a full-fledged chief as its head and a more refined command structure, come this summer.

A chief will have more authority and responsibility than an administrator "with regards to fire and some oversight of EMS," said Sue Wilcox, chief of staff for Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Dave Carey. "More importantly, the chief has the authority to meet standards required to state and federal mandates."

The administrator was a union position. As currently proposed, the chief will be a full-time, Appendix A position, meaning it will be supervised by the borough mayor. The chief will be responsible for working closely with the volunteers to ensure operation needs are met.

Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly member Mako Haggerty, who represents the southern Kenai Peninsula with the exception of the city of Homer, will submit a resolution asking for assembly approval of that change when it holds its next regular meeting in Soldotna, April 5.

For now, Robin Proctor, service area board chair and a volunteer, is ensuring operations run smoothly by reviewing necessary paperwork and signing everything requiring a signature. Craig, who began serving as the administrator in 2004 and continues to volunteer, also is available to answer questions.

"He'll be highly involved and stay within the structure," said Wilcox. "I think the community will benefit from his leadership."

In December, Carey and Haggerty raised concerns about the condition of service area equipment, the lack of operating and maintenance standards, and the volunteers' delay in completing borough-paid physicals requested by Carey. Some, including Craig, suspected the tension would result in Craig losing 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," Craig told the Homer News at the time. "It's probably because I'm the one that's supposed to be able to fix everything. The buck stops here."

Support for Craig was apparent during meetings in which volunteers, the service area and borough administrators sought to work out their differences. Carey repeatedly and publicly denied he was after Craig's resignation. Then in January, Craig announced he was retiring.

"Everybody has done a great job in making sure the constituents come first and the community's needs are met," said Wilcox. "I am impressed with the community as whole. Everyone set aside personal differences and did what's right for the community."

Craig agreed.

"Things are actually working fairly well and things have calmed down," he said. "Before there was a lot of concern whether anyone would stick around or not."

If all the pieces fall into place, a chief will be hired by the time the borough's fiscal year begins July 1. Until then, "everybody is just putting in a little extra so it works," said Proctor.

Haggerty also recognized the effort taken to keep the service area operating smoothly.

"From where we were a few months ago, I would say everybody is pretty much on the same track," said Haggerty. "I think they're working very hard to make this transition and it's requiring a lot of effort on everyone's part and everyone's rising to the occasion."

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