Sandra Modigh and Sean Wedemeyer may be new faces at Kenai’s City Hall, but they’re no strangers to Alaska winters.
Modigh and Wedemeyer started working for the city of Kenai in 2011, but neither was new to Alaska when they accepted their jobs.
Modigh, who is the city clerk, started in December. Her last job was in Bethel.
Wedemeyer, who heads the city’s public works department and is the capital projects manager, started in September. He moved to Alaska in 1997 and Kenai in 2002, but most recently worked in Russia.
While their duties differ, Modigh and Wedemeyer share one major trait: both said outdoor opportunities on the Kenai Peninsula are high on the list of things they’re excited about here.
Wedemeyer will have more time for them now that he lives and works in one community, rather than commuting to a foreign country.
And Modigh said her family is excited to try several new activities in Kenai. She moved to Kenai with her husband, Jonathan, and their son, Maxwell, who turns 2 this month.
“We want him to grow up hunting and fishing and you know, the outdoor life,” Modigh said.
Modigh said the whole family will participate in new activities in Kenai, like salmon fishing and cross-country skiing.
For herself, Modigh said she wants to check out the Women on Target program and learn to use firearms.
And she already knows that it’s time for Maxwell to start preparing to play hockey with the other kids. They’ll start him off with ice skates, Modigh said.
“He should be a pro on skates by 3,” she said.
Wedemeyer said he’s looking forward to fishing and snowmachining on the Kenai Peninsula.
“I did snowmachine quite a bit last winter, but I did that in Palmer and other valley locations,” he said.
Both are also interested in the day-to-day work they do for the city.
Wedemeyer, a civil engineer, said he’s excited about a number of city projects, including construction on the water treatment facility and the pedestrian bridge on Meek’s Trail.
“It’s really a part of Kenai history that we get to improve,” Wedemeyer said.
Wedemeyer said he’s worked on private industry for the past several years, but enjoys interacting with the public in his new job.
“In my prior job, I was responsible for making a profit, where in this job I am responsible for managing taxpayer money,” Wedemeyer said.
In the coming months, Wedemeyer will be working to help expand a safety program from the waste water treatment facility to several other city facilities. The wastewater facility recently was recognized for its participation in the state-wide program. There’s also an energy upgrade program in the works to evaluate whether or not certain upgrades would pay off for eight city buildings.
Modigh said she’s still learning the nuances of Kenai’s government, but that her experience as a city clerk in Bethel and as a local government specialist traveling throughout rural Alaska have her well-prepared for the position.
“The clerk’s role is pretty similar across the country, I’ve come to realize,” she said.
Unlike Wedemeyer, Modigh had never set foot in Kenai before applying for her job as clerk. But it seemed like a good place to raise her son, and a little less rural than Bethel without being a full-fledged city. She and her husband lived in Florida where they have family, but decided they really wanted to be in Alaska. So far, she’s happy with the choice to relocate to Kenai.
“I am just delighted every morning I wake up,” she said.
She loves everything from the moose that wander her neighborhood — “they’re just beautiful, massive creatures” — to the options she has for grocery shopping.
“This winter and this summer is going to be a lot of fun for the family,” she said.
Molly Dischner can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.