During its first regular meeting since former Soldotna Mayor Peter Micciche departed for service in the Legislature, the Soldotna City Council unanimously passed three ordinances, two of which included accepting grant money.
The city accepted a $5,000 grant to implement into the Soldotna Police Department’s budget for helping investigations involving crimes against children.
The Anchorage Police Department awarded the federally passed funds to Soldotna. The grant will allow SPD to re-license software that drives the Police Department’s Forensic Recovery Evidence Device, or F.R.E.D. The computer was previously purchased with similar grants. SPD also may use the funds for other equipment to help its internet crimes against children program.
Members of the Parks and Recreation Department will travel to Omaha, Neb. in February thanks to a $3,000 grant awarded by the Alaska Department of Natural Resources Division of Urban Forestry. The grant will pay for a week-long program that includes training in strategic advancement of urban forestry as well as improving efficiency while working with boards, commissions and nonprofits.
Parks and Recreation Director Andrew Carmichael recommended the council accept the grant.
The Society of Municipal Arborists teaches the program; the organization promotes and attempts to improve urban areas through arboriculture, the cultivation of individual trees, shrubs and vines — basically, vegetation common among urban areas.
John Czarnezki, who has a master’s degree in urban planning, spoke positively about the grant.
“I’m glad to see the city is expanding in this area,” Czarnezki said. “It will be beneficial down the road.”
The third ordinance passed by the council involved $2,636 in funds related to federally forfeited property. The funds must be used for law enforcement purposes.
Also affecting Soldotna’s law enforcement was an ordinance changing the minimum qualifications of the Police Department’s sergeant position. The previous qualifications required sergeants to have an associate’s degree, and they granted employment opportunities to officers with three years experience at another agency to qualify for the position.
The ordinance removed the degree requirement and changed the three-year requirement to be within SPD. Police Chief Peter Mlynarik recommended the changes.
“I think everybody deserves an opportunity,” Mlynarik said after the council meeting. “Having a degree in and of itself does not mean a person is qualified for the position. It may mean they spent extra time to get (a degree), but a lot of times experience can make up for schooling. I wanted to widen the applicant pool ... I did not want to exclude otherwise qualified people.”
The three-year requirement within the police department increases morale and local knowledge, he said.
The council will conduct a special meeting Feb. 7, before the next regularly scheduled council meeting at 6:30 p.m., to discuss capital improvement and other projects.
The city clerk announced the filing period for the mayoral election would begin Feb. 4. Potential candidates can pick up a packet of materials needed for applying at the city’s offices or online before filing begins.
Jerzy Shedlock can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.