Homer Alaska - Business

Story last updated at 6:05 PM on Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Harbormasters coming to Homer

Statewide association gathers for annual conference Oct. 10-14

By McKibben Jackinsky
Staff Writer

Following on the heels of realtors from around the state choosing Homer as this year's meeting point, more than 80 members of the Alaska Association of Harbormasters and Port Administrators are coming to town.

The annual conference will be held at Land's End Resort Oct. 10-14.

"Twenty-seven harbors will be represented," said Bryan Hawkins who, along with his staff, has put together the conference agenda and events. The last time the association met here was five years ago.

"These things are just invaluable," said Hawkins. "It's one time a year you can get together with other people you're in the same business with and learn so much from other contacts. Maybe someone has a sea lion problem and you've dealt with that. Maybe someone is making changes to their code and wants to compare it to other codes. There are so many things that come from conferences like this that are very worthwhile."

Besides that, "it's nice to have it in Homer," said Hawkins.

Steve Corporon, president of the association and director of the Ketchikan port and harbor, agreed.

"It offers a really good information exchange,' said Corporon. "What I try to press upon people that attend for the first time is that at least half, if not more, of what they bring out of this won't come during agenda items. It'll be on breaks, evenings at dinner, mornings at breakfast as these guys sit down and talk to other harbormasters, other industry people and share information. That's the real value in it."

As an example, Corporon pointed to a design for harbor carts used by Wrangell, but now being used other places thanks to information shared at last year's conference.

"If you get nice ones, they get stolen. If you get cheap ones, they don't last," said Corporon of the challenge to find just-the-right cart. "We liked Wrangell's design, brought it back here, showed it to a local boat builder, he built it and we love it."

That isn't to ignore the value of the agenda Hawkins and his staff have created, however. There are sessions on marina management software, federal requirements and safety for operating cranes, updates on fish tax money and legislation, traffic management and clean harbors.

"Homer has completed a checklist for Alaska Clean Harbor certification," said Hawkins. "We're hoping Homer will be the first harbor in the state to get that. We're the test harbor."

Jeff Freymueller, a professor with the University of Alaska Fairbanks, will speak on isostatic and geostatic rebound.

"Isostatic rebound is the effect of glaciers receding and land rising," explained Hawkins. "Geostatic has to do with a response to the 1964 earthquake. The earth is still recovering from that. ... Everywhere else in the world, we're concerned with the rise in sea level. In Alaska, of course, we're special. This region is rising almost a half inch a year."

Homer will give a presentation on its effort to rid the harbor of derelict vessels, the last two currently being reduced to scrap metal on the beach near Pier One Theatre, and Angela Doroff, a research coordinator with Kachemak Bay Research Reserve, will talk about invasive species.

Harbor personnel also will have an opportunity to show off their harbor knowledge with a game of Harbor Jeopardy, Homer's deputy harbormaster Matt Clarke giving his best Alex Trebek impersonation.

Roundtable discussions, a presentation on the Homer harbor expansion and working with the Corps of Engineers help round out the conference, as well as facility security officer training offered by the Marine Exchange of Alaska.

The Alaska Association of Harbormasters and Port Administrators was established in 1972, according to information provided by Kim Elliott of Kenai, the association's executive secretary. It became an official nonprofit organization in 1999, comprised of managers from 33 municipal harbor systems. The association's membership also includes harbor-related support businesses and individuals.

The association's objectives include:

• Exchanging information on all aspects of harbor, port and vessel operations;

• Developing policies and plans encouraging uniformity of harbor and port operations and facilities management;

• Promoting and encouraging development of harbors and ports in a sound, economic, environmental manner;

• Informing members of new developments and improvements.

Corporon, who is retired from the U.S. Coast Guard and has been the Ketchikan harbormaster for four years, said, "I don't travel much any more, but I always make sure to make it to the harbormaster conference."

Hawkins is happy Corporon and other association members are coming to Homer.

"We're pleased to be able to host," said Hawkins. "The harbor that was scheduled for it this year was unable to do so, so I volunteered Homer to do it. And here they come."

For more about the Alaska Association of Harbormasters and Port Administrators and the conference, see www.alaskaharbors.org.

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