Horn to step down from council

Posted: Monday, July 30, 2001

In a letter to his colleagues, Steve Horn said he would not seek re-election to the Soldotna City Council in October.

"Please announce that I will not be running for re-election so I can focus on my duties at the Challenger Learning Center of Alaska," Horn's letter reads.

Horn was absent from Wednes-day night's meeting due to family business.

His council chair is one of three up for grabs this year. The others are Jane Stein's for three years and Mike Tarr's for two. Tarr was appointed to replace David Carey after he won election as mayor earlier this year.

The open period to file an intent to run begins Wednesday and ends Aug. 15.

On a related note, Pete Sprague, during his report to the council, announced he will seek a second term on the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly, where he represents Soldotna.

In other council news:

n Mac Tapana of the Alaska Independent Blind pitched the idea of putting speaking crosswalk signals at the intersection of East Park Avenue and the Kenai Spur Highway.

The system would audibly tell a blind pedestrian when it is safe to cross the street. The units cost $500 each, and two are required for each crossing.

"You could be the first city in Alaska with talking signals," Tapana said. "No pun intended, but there are more blind here than meets the eye."

Stein said she's seen the talking signals before, and thought they were effective.

City Manager Tom Boedeker said the signals are similar to standard crosswalk lights.

"You would press a button and get an audible signal to match the lighted signal," he said.

He said he had a few concerns, particularly freezing and interference with the automatic lighting system for emergency vehicles.

He promised Tapana the city would look into the matter further.

n Boedeker said the representatives of Cornell Corrections of Alaska, who are pushing the proposed private prison project, were interested in addressing the council. A public work session was scheduled for 6 p.m. Aug. 8, before the next council meeting. The council previously has come out against a private prison and passed an resolution to that effect.

n The mayor announced his interest in eliminating the sales tax requirement for senior citizens who rent homes or apartments. He said it would be similar to the property tax exemption seniors have now.

"This would only affect the small number of seniors who rent rather than own," Carey said. "I hope we can work together with the borough and other cities on this."

n Carey also mentioned plans are moving ahead for the city, borough and city of Kenai to pursue hosting the 2004 Arctic Winter Games.

"Alaska will host the games," Carey said. "Either us, the Mat-Su or Juneau. But they will be in March, and the Legislature will be in session so I can't imagine them being able to accommodate 3,000 more people."

n The mayor also solicited members for his team in the annual Mayor's Cup golf tournament.

"I will cover all costs, since I will be by far the worst player," he said, adding he has never played before.

"I would offer to be on your team," Stein said. "As long as we play scramble. I can putt and chip pretty good."

"See, I don't even know what those words mean," the mayor responded.

Vice mayor Jim Stogsdill volunteered, saying he chips pretty well, but his putter is broken.

n Soldotna Chamber of Com-merce Director Justine Polzin reported that the number of people stopping in at the visitor center was down in June, probably due to road construction, but the numbers for July look promising. She also praised the mayor for being there so often, greeting tourists.

"The tourists are just amazed that the mayor of Soldotna is there," she said.

Carey said he's spoken to visitors from six of the seven continents and that some have asked to have their picture taken with him.

n Proving there are two seasons in Alaska -- July and winter -- Parks and Recreation Director Andrew Carmichael said ice is being installed in the Soldotna Sports Center and that skating will begin Aug. 6.

"That's even more depressing than the fireweed blooming," he said.

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