Story last updated at 11:16 a.m. Thursday, July 11, 2002

Hospital, service areas to get borough funds
by Hal Spence
Morris News Service-Alaska

Fire and emergency service areas on the southern Kenai Peninsula, along with South Peninsula Hospital, received a financial shot in the arm from the Kenai Peninsula Borough Tuesday night.

Efforts to battle forest fires before they erupt in the wide expanse of dead spruce forest got a boost when the assembly voted to accept a $1 million congressional appropriation aimed at mitigating fire hazards.

But reappropriating that money in Ordinance 2002-19-02 proved a bit more difficult.

After much debate and the defeat of an amendment, the assembly voted to approve $375,000 for Funny River Emergency Services Inc. for design and construction of a fire station on Funny River Road.

Members also approved splitting the remaining $675,000 among various fire services in unincorporated areas. The money can be used for so-called bricks-and-mortar construction needs or other firefighting equipment.

The new Kachemak Emergency Service Area got $300,000, and the Anchor Point Fire and Emergency Medical Service Area received $100,000. Those service areas have said they intend to move forward on fire station projects.

Nine other communities, including Port Graham, Nanwalek and Ninilchik, got $25,000 each.

Assembly President Tim Navarre, of Kenai, expressed concern that $300,000 was going to Kachemak Emergency Service Area, an area only recently created, when other service areas and communities had been requesting funding for a longer time.

The amounts going to some communities might have been more, however.

A substitute ordinance attempted to include and distribute $275,000 in interest earnings from the federal funds already received by the borough for spruce bark beetle fire hazard mitigation. There are no strings attached to the use of that money, but borough policy has been to use it for further

mitigation efforts. Had the substitute been passed, the total appropriated would have been $1,275,000, including $25,000 for Nikolaevsk.

But the substitute ordinance failed when all but Navarre and Seward assembly member Ron Long objected to what they saw as a last-minute change to the ordinance that the public was not aware of.

The funding isn't likely to translate into new buildings and other firefighting gear for months, Navarre said. Structures take time to design and build and some equipment isn't off the shelf. But the sooner funding is distributed to those who need it, the sooner that gear will be ready to attack fires should they erupt, he said.

In other business, the assembly approved Resolution 2002-071 awarding a contract for professional design services for South Peninsula Hospital's master plan/schematic design to Livingston Slone Inc. of Anchorage in the amount of $105,410 for the master plan, $12,982 for the alternate master plan, and $56,405 for schematic design, for a total of $174,797.

The assembly also passed Resolution 2002-101 approving an agreement between Kachemak Emergency Service Area and the city of Homer for fire and emergency medical services.

The six-month contract is for $95,800.

The assembly also voted to seat former assembly member Betty Glick to serve in assembly member Bill Popp's District 1 seat until the October municipal election. Popp officially resigned as of 12:01 a.m. Wednesday to take a position with the borough. Glick was approved on the third ballot, 6-2.

Two previous votes by the assembly -- not including Popp -- had ended in 4-4 ties between Glick and Mary Jackson, Sen. John Torgerson's chief of staff, who also had applied for the temporary seat.

Also, the assembly introduced Ordinance 2002-26, which would place a $12 million solid waste bond measure on the fall ballot. The ordinance gets a hearing on Aug. 6.

Hal Spence is a reporter for the Peninsula Clarion.