Author: Bert Stedman
I hope everyone had an enjoyable 4th of July weekend celebrating our nation’s independence. I’ve had a busy summer since returning home after the Legislature adjourned in April. On May 5th – 7th, the Alaska Government Finance Officers Association held their annual spring conference in Sitka. I was invited to speak on the first day of the conference to give an update on the legislative session. I focused my comments on issues important to Finance Officers such as the $3 billion deposit into the Public Employee’s Retirement System and the Teacher’s Retirement System, the status of the Community Revenue Sharing Fund, the FY15 Capital and Operating Budgets, as well as other relevant topics. The three day conference was well organized with an impressive cadre of speakers. I was pleased to attend and even more pleased that Sitka was chosen as the host city.
Two days later, on May 7th, I spoke at the Sitka Chamber of Commerce luncheon. My comments were mostly directed toward the Proposition to repeal Senate Bill 21. It’s well known that I support Proposition 1 and I appreciate the Chamber giving me the opportunity to present my opinion. Raven Radio did a good job of summarizing my presentation for those interested in reading more. Raven Radio link
So far this summer, I’ve had the pleasure of attending two ribbon cutting ceremonies for new harbors in Southeast. On May 15th, I joined local officials and residents of Petersburg for the new North Harbor grand opening. The oldest harbor in Petersburg, North Harbor was first built in 1937. Petersburg residents have reason to be proud of their improved harbor which has been dredged and the pilings and floats have been replaced. I want to thank Harbormaster Glorianne Wollen for her tireless dedication to this project. It could just be coincidence, but I’m glad the new harbor’s grand opening happened during the Little Norway Festival. One of my favorite Southeast celebrations, I always have a good time at Little Norway.
Senator Bert Stedman and Sonia Henrick (Senator Murkowski’s office) speaking at the new Petersburg North Harbor grand opening
The second harbor grand opening I attended was on June 26th for the new and improved ANB harbor in Sitka. Originally built in 1956, the harbor was in dire need of improvement. The new harbor boasts larger slips, steel pilings, new floats and a new gangway. Construction began last November with half the cost paid for by a legislative grant from the state and the City and Borough of Sitka picking up the rest of the tab. Congratulations to City Engineer Dan Tadic and Harbormaster Stan Eliason for completing the project early and under budget.
City Engineer Dan Tadic, Mayor Mim McConnell, Senator Stedman and Harbormaster Stan Eliason cut the ribbon at the new ANB Harbor (photo courtesy of James Poulson, Sitka Sentinel)
On June 11th – 12th I was in Ketchikan to meet with local officials and tour three projects in town: the new Bar Harbor South improvements; the PeaceHealth Ketchikan Medical Center expansion; and the Coast Guard Cutter pier expansion. City Councilmember Bob Sivertsen was kind enough to join me on the tours and I appreciate his company. Bar Harbor is owned by the City of Ketchikan who, along with the Borough, funded half of the cost of the current improvements with the remaining $4.7 million coming from the State’s harbor matching grant program. The project includes construction of a transfer bridge and drive down float with a crane usable at all tides, installation of an access ramp that meets American’s with Disabilities Act requirements, relocation of the existing gear float and two float replacements. The new drive down dock is an impressive, first class facility that will greatly improve access for existing users and increase opportunities for new users. I enjoyed seeing the new expansion at the PeaceHealth Medical Center and I’m pleased that it will increase medical services available to the residents of Southern Southeast. Over the past two years, the legislature has appropriated approximately $20 million towards the project. Penny Pedersen, the Executive Director of the Ketchikan Medical Center Foundation, was an integral force in helping me secure the funding for this project and I appreciate her tireless advocacy. Ms. Pedersen will be leaving that position shortly to focus on her family. I respect her dedication and commitment to the medical center and wish her the best in her future endeavors.