The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly authorized the administration Tuesday to hire G and S Construction to build the new health center in Kenai.
Central Peninsula General Hospital will share space with the Alaska Division of Public Health in the 11,244-square-foot building, to be built on Barnacle Way near Country Foods.
The total cost, including items such as design, surveying, construction and utility work, will be about $2.6 million, said Rob Robson, the borough's major capital projects director. On Tuesday, the assembly accepted $1.6 million in state funding for the project. The borough-owned hospital is contributing roughly $1 million.
The borough estimated construction costs at about $2.2 million. The G and S bid was $2.194 million, the lowest of four bids submitted.
In its portion of the building, the hospital will offer diagnostic services such as mammography, radiology and blood draws for laboratory tests, said Marty Richman, the hospital's chief executive. Visiting specialists may offer consultations in the new building. Those services will save Kenai and Nikiski patients the drive to the hospital in Soldotna. Richman said he hopes the new health center can open within a year.
"It represents for the Kenai community a commitment made a while ago to bring more services closer to home," he said.
The hospital also opened a physical therapy office last November in Kenai.
The Division of Public Health will consolidate its services at the new building, said Anita Roth, regional nurse manager. The division now offers immunization and well-child clinics, home visits to help new parents and birth control and reproductive services. It works to stop the spread of diseases such as tuberculosis.
The Kenai office employs more than a dozen people to serve a population of roughly 30,000 central peninsula residents, she said.
"Our office for years has been in the basement of Kenai City Hall," she said. "We now have two other sites, because we outgrew that."
The division has administrative offices in the Tangent Building and operates its home-visit program from the old Kenai courthouse.
"And we need to grow," Roth said.
The assembly held Tuesday's meeting in Seldovia. Assembly members also visited the village of Port Graham at the mouth of Kachemak Bay, meeting with community leaders and touring the village and its facilities.
"It was a good trip down there," said assembly president Bill Popp of Kenai. "We had a lot of interaction with folks both in Port Graham and in Seldovia."
Popp said he was especially impressed with the new hatchery and fish processing plant built in Port Graham after fire destroyed the previous facilities. If enough salmon eggs go into the hatchery this year, next year's catch could put $2 million through the village economy, he said.
"That's a big deal. It's exciting to see them taking that fire and turning it around into something with potential for the community," he said.
In Seldovia, the assembly postponed action until Aug. 1 on an ordinance authorizing the administration to sell lots in the borough's Russian Gap Subdivision in Cooper Landing. As written, the ordinance also would appropriate $258,000 to pay for construction of the subdivision road and installation of power and telephone lines. Popp said the administration is still estimating road and utility costs and requested the postponement.
The assembly also:
n Accepted a $197,594 state grant to reimburse costs of winter storm damage.
n Accepted $1.3 million in state grants for the borough coastal management program.
n Set an Aug. 15 hearing on the proposal to create a Greater Kachemak Bay Fire and Emer-gency Service Area. If the assembly approves, the proposal will go before voters in the proposed service area in a Dec. 5 by-mail election.
n Set an Aug. 15 public hearing on a proposal for the borough to borrow up to $7.4 million to pay for school maintenance and improvement projects. Under a new state law, the borough would be eligible for reimbursement of 70 percent of the principal and interest. If the assembly approves, the proposal will go before voters during the Oct. 3 election.
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