Soldotna Police Chief Shirley Gifford spent her final day on the job last Friday and took an extended lunch break to attend her official retirement party at the Soldotna Sports Center, "I thought it would be just a few people getting together to have a sandwich and talk, but it was much bigger than anything I expected. A lot of people came down from Anchorage and so many members of the community turned out that it was really overwhelming and heartwarming. I'm very fortunate and blessed," said Gifford in an interview following the party attended by several hundred friends and well wishers.
Gifford and her husband Bill will be staying in the community and maybe even building a bigger office to display all the plaques that were presented to her from agencies such as the FBI, Police Chiefs Assoc., the City of Soldotna, and her officers and staff just to mention a few. "We really do love it here," said Gifford who told the crowd that God had put a special calling on her life "He told me to: 'Go forth my child and fish, you have done your duty," said the beaming Chief as the last hours of her final day ticked away.
Gifford's career was hallmarked by her cheerful smile, community involvement and outreach to young people, while maintaining a no-nonsense approach to law enforcement. "I love people, they are my friends, God has blessed me and I'm grateful," said the retiring Police Chief. A host of dignitaries spoke about Gifford's career and the bottom line of all the jibs and remarks was that "Shirley will be missed. She's been an outstanding chief. She served the community in an outstanding fashion professionally and with the highest of ethical standards," said Soldotna City Manager Tom Boedeker.
The director of the Unalaska Department of Public Safety, John Lucking Jr., has been selected to replace Gifford by City Manager Tom Boedeker and is expected to assume the position September 15th. Lucking will be moving to the area with his wife Suzanne and three daughters.
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