While the United States waits to find out who the next president and vice president will be, the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly made short work of selecting new leadership Tuesday night.
The presidency passed from Bill Popp, of South Kenai, to Tim Navarre, of North Kenai. The vice presidency went from Navarre to Pete Sprague, of Soldotna.
In the first few minutes of the meeting, nominations were quickly made, the vote taken and the gavel passed on two 5-to-4 votes.
"I did want to have the opportunity to serve as president," said Navarre, who is beginning his seventh year on the assembly. "Some people had encouraged me to run, so I started asking for support, and it was a close vote, but I was elected.
"I remember people always say he ran a good meeting or she ran a good meeting," said Navarre, who has served under Betty Glick, Jack Brown, Drew Scalzi, Ron Drathman and Bill Popp. "I hope they say that about me when my term is done."
Open lines of communication with the eight other assembly members and the public are high on Navarre's priority list.
"The communication level is a big responsibility," he said. "We have to make sure the lines of communication are open, and I intend to do a good job there. I intend to have the meetings run smoothly, give the public a fair opportunity to speak to the assembly and testify on ordinances and resolutions, and the assembly to debate fairly on the issues."
Coming toward the end of the meeting, but moving almost as quickly as the election of new officers, was a request from Borough Mayor Dale Bagley to introduce an ordinance allowing gravel site operators to apply for registration as prior existing-use material sites until Jan. 1, 2002. The current deadline is Jan. 1, 2001.
During the assembly's lands committee meeting earlier in the day, Borough Planning Director Bob Bright said an extensive effort had been made to contact operators. He reported that "50 applications had been received within the last month or two."
Navarre strongly objected to the introduction of the ordinance.
"The issue I tried to raise was that this had been addressed by the assembly and the administration two and a half years ago. It was debated very heavily and compromises were reached on both sides," Navarre said. "To extend the deadline is bringing up old wounds."
Navarre said the lack of substantial reasons for the extension was probably the reason for the 5-to-4 vote against the proposal.
"You don't just bring it back for minor changes without substantial facts and reason for doing so," he said. "I believe that's why the assembly voted not to introduce it. It didn't have enough factual merit for introduction."
Milli Martin, newly seated assembly member from Homer, also spoke against the extension.
"I, too, have real problems with this," she said. "It took two years to hammer out the process we have. It feels like that's sufficient time."
Bagley said he presented the ordinance because of requests he'd received.
"I knew (the vote) would be close," he said. "But I've had people come to me and ask if it could be extended. That's why I sponsored it."
In other business:
n The assembly confirmed Bagley's four appointments to advisory planning commissions. James Jeff Hetrick, Mark Stauble and Robert Blankenship will give the Moose Pass commission a full slate of seven members. Both Hetrick and Stauble have served on the commission in the past.
Kachemak Bay Advisory Planning Commission candidate Peter C. Roberts also was confirmed. Roberts served on the commission in the past. Martin's recent resignation after winning the assembly seat left the south peninsula group with four openings and unable to establish a quorum.
"I believe the mayor and the mayor's office are trying to work through the APC appointments with the assembly members whose district are affected and trying to understand the complexity and emotional volatility of some of these appointments," Navarre said. "And he's trying to find a real balance so that we can really respect and listen to our advisory planning commissions."
Still to be filled are three vacancies on the Cooper Landing commission, three vacancies in Kachemak Bay and one vacancy resulting from the resignation of Anchor Point commissioner Duane Christensen earlier this month.
"We're still working on the ones for Cooper Landing, and we're advertising for Kachemak Bay and Anchor Point," Bagley said.
n Diana Zirul, president of the Central Peninsula General Hospital Inc. Board of Directors, presented a quarterly report to the assembly.
She announced that the hospital was named by Alaska Business Monthly magazine as one of the top 49 successful Alaskan-owned businesses, a designation based on gross revenues from the previous year.
The peninsula nonprofit's 1999 gross revenues of $34.82 million were a $14.82 million increase over 1998, putting them in 33rd place on the list.
n Student-athletes also got top billing at Tuesday's borough assembly meeting. Receiving recognition for bringing home the Alaska School Activities Association Small Schools State Championship was Nikiski High School's football team.
On Nov. 12 through 14, the assembly will be in Juneau to attend the Alaska Municipal League Conference. The next meeting of the assembly is scheduled for 7 p.m., Nov. 21, at the Borough Administration Building in Soldotna.
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