Saddened by the loss

  • By Peninsula Clarion Editorial
  • Thursday, June 22, 2017 8:46pm
  • Opinion

We were saddened to report the death of former Kenai city manager Rick Koch earlier this week, and will miss the contributions he had continued to make to the community after he stepped down from the position last year.

Koch, who served as Kenai’s city manager from February 2006 through December 2016, died after his motorcycle veered off the road on the Dalton Highway on Sunday. He was 60.

As city manager, Koch oversaw a number of improvements to the city, such as the new water treatment facility. While not everyone in Kenai agreed with every action taken by the city administration under Koch’s direction, most will agree that he was able to help guide the city forward in his 10 years working at city hall.

As one lasting example of Koch’s management, we’d like to point to the annual dipnet fishery, which is set to open on the north and south beaches at the mouth of the Kenai River in just a couple of weeks. Dipnetting exploded in popularity during Koch’s tenure, and while the state sets the regulations for participation, it offers very little support in managing the thousands of Alaskans who descend on Kenai during the fishery.

Koch never seemed to be much of a fan of the fishery — or at least he wasn’t fond of the headaches that came with the droves of dipnetters on the beaches. And a sure-fire way for a reporter to get under his skin was to suggest that the city makes a profit off the fishery — Koch was always adamant that managing the masses was a break-even proposition for the city.

However, over the years, the city has been able establish a well-managed fishery, with the revenue collected from parking, camping and boat launch fees covering the expenses of staff, equipment and improvements needed to keep things as orderly as possible for three weeks in July, and then return the beach to its previous condition in the first few days of August.

That’s no small feat for a small city like Kenai.

Koch had run unsuccessfully for the state House of Representatives last summer, and threw his hat in the ring when a borough assembly seat became open this past winter. He was on the city Harbor Commission, where his experience would have been invaluable as the city continues to push for a bluff erosion fix. He took on organizing the annual Kenai Central-Soldotna alumni hockey game, and we imagine he would have continued to be active in the community.

That’s what hurts the most when we lose someone unexpectedly — while we can remember them for their accomplishments, we miss all those things they have yet to do.

More in Opinion

This July 16, 2019, file photo shows the Capitol Dome in Washington. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)
Opinion: The Respect for Marriage Act represents a balanced approach

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has supported a “fairness for all” approach

Deven Mitchell greets his fellow members of the Alaska Permanent Fund Corp.’s Board of Trustees at the start of his interview to be the APFC’s new executive director on Monday, Oct. 3, 2022. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Opinion: It’s an honor to now lead Alaska’s largest renewable resource

As a lifelong Alaskan, leading APFC is my childhood dream come true

Opinion: Freedom in the classroom sets precedence for the future

We advocate for the adoption of legislation to protect students’ First Amendment rights…

A roll of “I Voted” stickers await voters on Election Day in Alaska. Voters overwhelmingly rejected the prospect of a state constitutional convention. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: Election winners, losers and poor losers

Tshibaka and Palin misread Alaskans by thinking Trump’s endorsement all but guaranteed they’d win.

This 1981 photo provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows an electron micrograph of Respiratory Syncytial Virus, also known as RSV. Children’s hospitals in parts of the country are seeing a distressing surge in RSV, a common respiratory illness that can cause severe breathing problems for babies. Cases fell dramatically two years ago as the pandemic shut down schools, day cares and businesses. Then, with restrictions easing, the summer of 2021 brought an alarming increase in what is normally a fall and winter virus. (CDC via AP)
Alaska Voices: What Alaskans need to know about RSV

By learning more about respiratory illnesses and taking helpful actions, we can all take steps to improve the situation

Homer Foundation
Point of View: Multiplying the power of every local dollar given

Each community foundation is a public charity that focuses on supporting a geographic area by pooling donations to meet community needs

The Homer Public Library as seen on Aug. 18, 2021, in Homer, Alaska. (File photo by Sarah Knapp/Homer News)
Point of View: Banning books corrodes diversity and inclusion in our community

Recently, a community member requested that a long list of books be removed from the children’s collection

Peninsula Oilers fans display encouragin signs for Oilers’ pitcher Bryan Woo, Friday, June 28, 2019, at Coral Seymour Memorial Park in Kenai. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)
Gavel (Courtesy photo)
Opinion: Judging judges — balancing the judicial selection process

Alaska’s method of selecting judges can be and should be improved.

Sarah Palin speaks at a July 11 Save America Rally featuring former President Donald Trump at Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: The realities of Palin’s political demise

Palin wouldn’t be running for the seat if Rep. Don Young was still alive

Former Democratic state Rep. Beth Kerttula holds up a sign reading “Vote No Con Con,” during a recent rally at the Dimond Courthouse Plaza in Juneau. Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: What can a liberal and conservative agree on? Voting against a constitutional convention

“We disagree on many issues. But we… urge Alaskans to vote against Proposition 1.”