VISTA Volunteer helps KEDS

Posted: Tuesday, January 11, 2005

The Kenai Economic Development Strategy (KEDS) Committee made up of some 20 local officials and community members presented their first draft plan Wednesday at the Kenai Chamber of Commerce meeting. Assisted by VISTA volunteers as facilitators, the Committee's purpose is, "To develop an economic development strategy for the community of Kenai and facilitate accomplishment of this strategy." According to Pastor Jon Walters, Kenai Methodist Church, "KEDS is to think about the future of Kenai and what needs to happen to keep our community strong economically and continuing to enlarge and provide opportunities for people to earn a good living and spend their money here," said Walters. As a pastor Walters explained that his work on the committee was plane self interest, "Every local congregation thrives when the community thrives and we have within our congregations enormous amounts of leadership that lives within the community."

Helping to facilitate that leadership is a Volunteer in Service to America from Missouri, Andy Varner. "I wanted to find something to do where I could help people and use my degree in Business and see what it is like to live in the great Northwest," said Varner. VISTA has committed to the KEDS project for a three year term, and Varner came to take on year two as the City of Kenai economic development coordinator, replacing Casey Reynolds. "I see a lot of good things in the KEDS plan, improving infrastructure, and improving the quality of life here, and forming a town center is a very good plan that I think will really help the community have a place to go and congregate," said Varner. Varner has a year's VISTA contract and may extend for another year if all goes well.

The first draft of the KEDS was a year in the making and is now being presented to various groups in the Kenai area, "We're asking people to look at it closely, make improvements and come up with a final draft in a few months and then try to get the plan implemented by people who will commit to a piece of the plan and agree to work it out together for the common good of the community," said Walters. Full color copies of the first KEDS draft are available at City of Kenai offices. Questions, comments, or concerns may be directed to Andy Varner at 283-7535, or by email at

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