Kenai council supports Ruffner for Board of Fish

Board of Fish nominee Robert Ruffner will go to his confirmation hearing before the House Resource Committee today at 1:00 p.m with the endorsement of the Kenai City Council.

The resolution of support that the council passed unanimously at its Wednesday meeting said that the city of Kenai had worked closely with Ruffner, a Soldotna resident, during his 18 years as director of the conservation group Kenai Watershed Forum and found him to be “unbiased, possessing keen analytical skills, and committed to sound, scientific decision-making.” The resolution specifically cited his work to measure and reduce hydrocarbon levels in the Kenai River.

Kenai Vice-Mayor Brian Gabriel and City Manager Rick Koch gave their endorsement of Ruffner to Governor Bill Walker while meeting with him last Friday. Gabriel said that support in Juneau for Ruffner’s confirmation was “not unanimous.”

“From what I understand, there’s some work being done by certain groups to work against his confirmation down in Juneau,” Gabriel said.

Gabriel asked for and received the council’s permission for himself and Koch to testify at Ruffner’s Senate Resources Committee confirmation, tentatively scheduled for next Wednesday.

Another fishery issue that Koch and Gabriel discussed with Walker was the 2017 Upper Cook Inlet Board of Fish meeting currently planned to be held in Anchorage. Koch and Gabriel said Walker supported their efforts to move the meeting to the Kenai Peninsula in order to make it easier for locals to testify to the Board. According to Gabriel, Walker said he would visit the meeting to give opening remarks if it was held on the Kenai Peninsula.

Gabriel said the final decision of the meeting’s location will be made at an October Board of Fish work-session, for which April 10 is the deadline to submit agenda items. The council directed Koch to request a consideration of the move as an item at that work session.

In addition to supporting Ruffner’s appointment, the council made its own appointment of Robert C. Springer to the Kenai Planning and Zoning Commission, and also acknowledged the appointment of James Glendening, a current member of Kenai’s Planning and Zoning and Harbor Commissions, to the City of Kenai’s seat on the Kenai Peninsula Borough Planning and Zoning commission. Glendening was appointed by borough Mayor Mike Navarre on March 26, and will have a confirmation hearing at the borough assembly meeting on April 7.

The council passed two other resolutions. One awarded a $20,000 contract to Alaska Road Builders for a project to pulverize Marathon Road’s asphalt and resurface the road with the fragments, creating a surface that city manager Rick Koch said would be more resistant to cracking caused by freezing and thawing of the road’s silt base-layer. A third ordinance awarded a $246,113 contract to Foster Construction to improve a portion of Magic Avenue and pave a parking lot in Daubenspeck Park.


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