[listen to full borough assembly forum here]
The Kodiak Island Borough Assembly Candidate Forum, sponsored by the Kodiak Chamber of Commerce and KMXT, is linked above.
[listen to the full city council forum here]
The full Kodiak City Council Candidate Forum, sponsored by the Kodiak Chamber of Commerce and KMXT, is linked above.
[listen to the entire school board forum here]
Last night the Kodiak Chamber of Commerce and KMXT sponsored a candidate debate forum for those seeking Kodiak Island Borough Assembly, Board of Education, and Kodiak City Council.
We’ll hear first from two of the three school board candidates, challenger Duncan Fields and incumbent Katie Oliver. Incumbent Jeff Stewart, who was appointed earlier this year to fill a vacancy, did not attend the forum.
Fields, a prominent figure in fisheries politics, introduced himself first, giving the reasons he was seeking a school district seat.
“Frankly, I’m running for the school board because I think the Kodiak School District needs a change in direction,” he said. “Perhaps that’s why most of us enter public service. We want tot work towards change. If the status quo was fine, why get involved?”
He added that he believes dissatisfaction with the school district is as high as he’s seen it in his 50-plus years in Kodiak. He cited the borough’s new website and its vision statements.
“And these are kind of the organizational documents for an organization or entity. And one of the vision statements is the community will take pride in the Kodiak Island Borough School District,” he said. “Currently I have a sense that the district is not doing so well actualizing its belief that the community is an integral part of the school. And I just don’t think the district is doing well of meeting its goal of community pride and community support.”
Oliver, who also graduated from Kodiak Schools, and has two children in the system now, explained why she is interested in remaining on the school board.
“I was originally drawn to service on the school board because I believe in the idea that all children have the right to a quality education. And I strongly believe that a strong public education system is the cornerstone of a democratic society,” she said. “I know that sounds lofty, and maybe a little aloof, but in the end of the day, that is the essence of it.”
She said challenge for the school board is to nurture students and make teachers feel valued and respected, given the budget situation.
“I believe our district is doing a good job the first aspect, which is student achievement, which is the primary focus of the school board. We have high-achieving students, we have diverse and strong programs, and every assessment metric I have seen has kodiak kids outperforming their peers statewide, which is a testament of the quality of our schools and staff,” she said. “I think it is also fair to say, that with regard to number two, we are struggling with the need to ensure that teachers are supported and feel valued and respected. I hear that.”
The candidates also took questions about the school district’s role in shaping programs and in retaining experienced, quality teachers. Oliver cited statistics showing Kodiak’s teacher turnover is just slightly more than the statewide average, while Fields said the “brain drain” is probably the primary reason he decided to run for the school board. We have those full responses and the entire school board forum linked above.
Since discontinuing its economic development contract with the Chamber of Commerce earlier this year, the Kodiak Island Borough Assembly is now discussing ways it can fill the role. During Thursday’s work session, Assemblywoman Carol Austerman proposed the possibility of an economic development sub committee, perhaps in conjunction with the city and other borough communities around the archipelago.
Austerman said she and Assemblymen Frank Peterson and Aaron Griffin have discussed the idea for some time and would all be interested in serving on the committee.
“And we don’t have any ideas yet I don’t think about what that’s going to look like, but we wanted to put it in front of the assembly as a whole to kind of get the buy in before we started working with the city council.”
Assemblyman Dave Kaplan said he supported the idea fully, and thought it was important to include the villages in economic plans, because they have been overlooked in the past. Continue reading
Kodiak’s annual Crab Festival starts tomorrow and it will be a different one than most folks are used to. Last year Golden Wheel, the long-time vendor for rides, said they would not be returning for this year’s festival. That left folks like Summer Wood, the community relations director for the Chamber of Commerce and Crab Fest Manager, scratching their heads on how to ensure the weekend will be fun and entertaining.
Worry subsided when the Anchorage-based Tons of Fun Entertainment committed to the festival, and Wood said the company will be filling the midway this year with interactive rides and activities.
“They have 13 different things which will include things like a climbing wall, bungee runs, a bucking salmon, a bucking bull – a lot of kind of competition things. And there are some bouncing houses for kids. And if you’ve ever seen the show Wipe Out, some of their interactive activities are kind of based off that show. So there is the Meltdown and I think it’s called the Wrecking Ball. So those are some new activities I think even adults will be excited about.” Continue reading
This Saturday is community clean up day here in Kodiak. Joyce Gregory is with the Kodiak Lions Club and said it’s an opportunity for people to spruce up different areas – sort of an island-wide spring cleaning, if you will.
She said free clean up bags will be provided at the high school parking lot Saturday morning.
“Everybody meets there at 9 a.m. and we have a large borough map and everybody kind of tells the area that they’d like to go clean up, usually around their own home. There are some organizations that have specific areas that they clean up every year, like up on Pillar Mountain or white sands beach or whatever. And then they go out and clean it up and leave their bags alongside the road.”
Summer Wood is the community relations director for the Chamber of Commerce and said different organizations will be picking up bags alongside the road, but there are some changes to how that will be done this year.
“They can leave them on the side of the road, but no roadside junk. They can leave their trash bags on the side of the road and we have guys we call swampers – Alaska Waste, Threshold, Kodiak Lawn Care and Jay Brant Construction – they go out and will pick up these bags and then take them to the dump.”
In the past large junk items were picked up, but this year Wood said those won’t be able to be picked up and will be left on the side of the road. Continue reading