Kenneth Byron Jones wins City Council Seat B

Councilman Guard, CCMC Authority board members sworn in

Cordova City Councilor David Allison and Mayor Clay Koplin prepare to read the resolution on the March 7 city election results, during a special council meeting March 16, at the Cordova City Center. Photo by Cinthia Gibbens-Stimson/The Cordova Times

Tom Bailer and Timothy Joyce attended their final council meeting on March 16 via teleconference for the official swearing in of new city councilor Jeff Guard, and CCMC Authority board members John Harvill and Dorne Hawxhurst.

Cordova Mayor Clay Koplin, who officiated at the swearing in, thanked Bailer and Joyce for their service.

While March 15 was their last regular city council meeting, both men were present for the March 16 special meeting, to pass the resolution naming new city council members, CCMC Authority Board members, and the single school board member.

New city councilor Kenneth Jones, school board member Sheryl Glasen, and CCMC Authority Board Members Sally Bennett, April Horton, and Kristin Carpenter, who were unavailable to attend, will be sworn in when available, said Cordova City Clerk Susan Bourgeois.

The March 7 city election results were certified March 15 by the election board.

Councilor Kenneth Byron Jones was declared the winner for Cordova City Council Seat B, after a close race against RJ Kopchak.

“This morning the election board counted 52 absentee, questioned and special needs ballots,” Bourgeois said in an email to local media that included an attachment officially certifying the election.

“It is encouraging to see the number of interested and qualified applicants who ran for city council seats and the CCMC board, this election. The city council seats had two or three candidates for each seat, and from the candidates’ statements, there’s a positive outlook for Cordova and where it is headed – good reasons for involvement,” Koplin said.

“All five seats on the CCMC board were filled, which is a big deal for a town Cordova’s size. It’s sometimes hard to attract enough members for a brand-new board to get things started off on the right foot, and thanks to the willingness and interests of citizens, we can get off to that great start,” he said.

Koplin said he has had opportunities to work closely with City Manager Alan Lanning, and with CCMC’s administrator, Scot Mitchell.

“Both organizations have strong administrative leadership. Supportive board and council leadership, focused on improving the policies and governance of these organizations, will complement the executive leadership, and take both organizations to a great place – which is critical for the community, given the current economics,” he said.

Harbor

Earlier this month Councilor Robert Beedle presented the council with an update on the harbor commission meetings.

Repairs on some finger floats are underway in the Cordova Small Boat Harbor.

“Lumber came in for the finger float repairs. There’s some finger floats on the west side in pretty bad shape. As they’re disassembling it, there’s actual talk of being able to do some of (the repairs) in the water,” Beedle said.

The commission had discussed setting a date with Lanning for the harbor commission’s strategic planning meeting, he said.

Beedle reminded the council that shipping waste oil out of Cordova came at a $30,000 price tag last year, and that the harbor commission is exploring options to mitigate that cost.

Bailer said he’d spoken with a harbor department employee about the misuse of the dumpsters around Cordova’s harbor area.

The employee had removed large cardboard boxes, particleboard shelves, and a copper and brass radiator from a harbor dumpster. These items should not be put into city dumpsters, and cannot be properly disposed of at the city bailer facility, as they will damage the machinery used to compact and bale household trash.

“We need to start taking pictures of this and post them. We need to police this. Think about the man-hours at the harbor, taking these things to the burn pile or to the dump,” Bailer said.

Adams Avenue sidewalk project nixed

An ordinance that would have approved the purchase of necessary hospital equipment, and made a city walkway safer and American Disabilities Act compliant failed  6-1 on its second reading before council March 15, with Beedle, who opposed funding the sidewalk upgrades, casting the only no vote.

Beedle shared his concerns that the two dissimilar funding requests were lumped into ordinance 1151, which would have authorized the transfer of $252,466.96 from the general reserve fund to the general fund. Of that total, $117,000 was slated for a UPS (Universal Power Source) for the Cordova Community Medical Center, and $135,466.96 was to be sent to the State of Alaska for the city’s matching funds for the Adams Avenue sidewalk upgrades.

The city had previously received a state grant for this project in 2016, with the state providing almost a 5-to-1 match in grant funds, but the project had not been pursued due to shortfalls in the FY17 operating budget.

Council had discussed borrowing the matching funds for the project from the city’s general reserve fund this year, to complete the sidewalk upgrades.

Beedle spoke in favor of the money which would have been allocated to CCMC for the UPS system, but said he couldn’t vote yes to the Adams Avenue sidewalk upgrades, considering this year’s budget gap.

“I am in support of the UPS; the equipment is essential for the hospital’s needs. It will help the community, the hospital, the patients, there are a lot of reasons to vote for it. But, Adams Street is a want, not a need. We’re not going to lose the money. I cannot and will not support it (as it stands). It is fiscally irresponsible to keep spending money we don’t have,” Beedle said prior to the vote.

Joyce said council had previously discussed its intention of paying the money back to the reserve fund over time, as well as giving Lanning authorization to pull the plug on the Adams Avenue upgrades, if the project didn’t work out as expected.

The failed ordinance was referred to city staff, to be decided on how best the city should proceed further on the topic.

It is expected a new ordinance may be written to include only the allocation for CCMC’s UPS system, and then come back to council for a first reading and vote during the April 5 regular city council session.

A separate ordinance, authorizing the city council to transfer $860,000 from the general reserve fund to the general fund for debt services, and $16,000 from the general reserve fund to the governmental capital projects fund for the purchase of a new blood storage refrigerator for CCMC, passed unanimously on its second reading.

March 7 City Election certified results

The final tally of the March 7 city election results released and certified on March 15, is as follows:

Cordova City Council, Seat B: Kenneth Jones, 209 votes; RJ Kopchak, 179 votes; Michael Van Schumm, 32 votes. City Council Seat C: Jeff Guard, 265 votes; Enrico Venzon, 110 votes.

Cordova School Board incumbent Sheryl Glasen, 403 votes.

Cordova Community Medical Center Authority Board: Kristin Carpenter, 344, three-year term; Sally Bennett, 316 votes, two-year term; April Horton, 309 votes, two-year term; Dorne Hawxhurst, 302 votes, one-year term; John Harvill, 253 votes, one-year term.

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Cinthia Gibbens-Stimson is a staff writer and photographer for The Cordova Times. She has been writing in one form or another for 30-plus years and has had a longstanding relationship with The Cordova Times starting in 1989. She's been an Alaskan since 1976 and first moved to Cordova in 1978. She's lived in various West Texas towns; in Denver, Colorado; in McGrath, Cordova, Galena, Kodiak, Wasilla, Anchorage and Fairbanks, Alaska and in Bangalore, India. She has two children and three grandchildren. She can be reached at cgibbens-stimson@thecordovatimes.com or follow her on Instagram @alaskatoindia.