Library friends get good news

Kenai council moves expansion project forward

Posted: Sunday, March 09, 2008

The newly elected president of "Friends of the Library" in Kenai was greeted with two bits of good news at last week's Kenai City Council meeting.

The council approved a $15,000 appropriation request for hiring an architect to assist City Manager Rick Koch with a grant application to help fund expansion of the library, and council members nodded their approval of bringing an ordinance forward to retain a consultant to secure additional funding for the expansion.

Citizens last fall OK'd the issuance of $2 million in bonds to support the library expansion.

In order to meet a tight deadline for applying for a Rasmuson Foundation grant, the council introduced, had a second reading and adopted the appropriation ordinance all in one night.

Koch indicated earlier, he would hire the Klauder and Company architectural firm to assist with the Rasmuson grant application.

In introducing himself as the new president of "Friends of the Library," Sal Mattero outlined the group's procedure for selecting consultants and endorsed bringing in Ann Myren and Cecily Stern to assist with moving the library expansion project forward.

"I have had the opportunity to speak with Ann Myren and along with the other members of the 'Friends,' am comfortable that they are able to deliver the training and expertise we need for a successful campaign," Mattero said.

He said the group is willing to contribute $5,000 toward the consultant's $10,000 fee, if the city kicks in the rest.

Eileen Bryson, a member of the Library Commission, said she also hopes the city will consider the match.

A former longtime director of the Haines Borough Public Library, Myren has been instrumental through her consulting firm in securing funds for other public libraries in the state, according to a memo to the council from Koch.

Nearly four months in the making, the council approved changes to the municipal code establishing a licensing procedure for pawnbrokers and regulating how they conduct business in Kenai.

Introduced in November, the pawnbroker ordinance was sent back to administration for fine tuning after Soldotna pawnbroker Norm Blakeley testified that the proposed rules were too restrictive on one specific type of business.

The code changes take effect April 5. Currently Kenai has no pawn shops.

In other business, the council unanimously approved awarding a contract to Beacon Occupational Health and Safety Services, Inc. to manage the fire training facility at the Pacific Rim Institute of Safety Management.

Operated by Holly and Mark Hylen, Beacon has partnered with former manager AAI Services Inc. in the past to train clients at PRISM, and has leased the facility from the state fire marshal last year when that agency managed PRISM.

Firefighters are trained in aircraft and structural firefighting at the center, which also offers training to oil platform workers, airline employees and emergency medical responders.

Saying Beacon has been in business for nine years, Mark Hylen, on Wednesday, told the council his firm wants "to see the facility continue to be a success."

The Beacon contract is for five years.

The city council also agreed to have a bear-resistant garbage container ordinance brought forward for consideration.

Although he had some reservations about the city designating some areas as "bear problem areas," which he said might cause other neighborhoods to become complacent about bear safety, Alaska Fish and Game technician Larry Lewis said the proposed ordinance "is a step in the right direction."

To try to minimize problems with bears in the urban area, the proposed ordinance would require residents to deposit garbage in "a fully enclosed structure or water-tight garbage containers equipped with tight-fitting lids."

The ordinance is to be introduced at the next council meeting, March 19.

Phil Hermanek can be reached at

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