Members of the negotiating teams for the City and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) are hard at work trying to reach agreement on a new contract. Pictured on the left are Mayor Eberhart, lead negotiator for the City, with Paul Ewers, City Attorney and assisting negotiator. The group on the right includes John Ferree, Assistant Business Manager and lead negotiator for IBEW, Denise Kendrick, Chief Steward and negotiator, and Steve Anderson, Shop Steward for IBEW.
Since becoming Mayor in October, in addition to budget preparation and the disaster declaration due to power outages, recent activities include meeting with Festival Fairbanks and the Public Works Department to discuss the Chena River Walk; meetings of the Interior Alaska Natural Gas Utilities and with the Fairbanks Economic Development Corporation; meeting with Consul Jeon from the Republic of Korea to discuss economic development and other issues; meetings with the Downtown Association and Police and Fire Departments to discuss the transportation and care of incapacitated persons; and meeting with the Senators and Representatives of our Interior Delegation regarding City of Fairbanks capital requests.
Internally, I meet with Department Heads to discuss issues and needs the City faces. We passed our budget for 2014. Improved public safety is my top priority. The budget added three part time Public Safety Assistants to perform administrative tasks, thereby freeing up officers to spend more time to assist and protect the public. A new part time call-taker position at the Police Department will help ensure that the customer service window is staffed at all times during normal business hours. I have discussed with Superintendent Lewis keeping School Resource Officers at Lathrop and West Valley. I have asked staff to research grants with that goal.
I voted to keep three firefighters originally hired under a grant. The Public Works Department will gain an equipment operator and an administrative clerk. We allocated additional money for emergency service patrol coverage, to assist with incapacitated persons. I am seeking support from the Borough Assembly to expand this service, thereby freeing up police officers and firefighters to focus on their core missions.
With the sad loss of my friend and colleague, Patrick Cole, I had to take on negotiating new collective bargaining agreements with both the Public Safety Employees Association and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.
Energy costs in our community are of great concern and are hurting us all. I attend meetings with other entities actively seeking solutions to this crisis and trying to move rapidly toward getting the gas trucking project in place.
I seek ways to increase efficiencies and stretch our dollars farther. To that end I participate in Intergovernmental Support Agreement meetings to determine how the different government agencies can work together more efficiently by sharing resources, purchasing jointly, etc. We kept the F16s and we are working to bring the F35s, Grey Eagle project and FAA test site to our community. Despite the challenges, we are faring well. If we work together we can make our community even better.
It was an honor to be selected to attend Newly Elected Mayors’ Training at Harvard University earlier this month. It was the first time in the 40 years of the program that a mayor from Alaska attended. Fairbanks was the smallest community represented among two dozen mayors. Some of the concepts and practices gleaned from that training that I plan to test include looking at activity based budgeting and using data and metrics to better measure department performance. I have started an employee and citizen suggestion program to tell us how we can do better.
The creation of a Diversity Council is a priority of mine. I hope to have that in place in the next two months. City Departments will report on their diversity outreach efforts in employment practices. City staff will be asked to attend cultural awareness and diversity training. I will work with staff to see how we can acknowledge Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, perhaps through a day of service in our community by City employees. I am also exploring work-study and intern opportunities for high school and college students in our departments.
There is good reason to be optimistic in 2014. Thank you, Fairbanksans, for this opportunity to serve you. I wish you health, prosperity, and peace. Happy holidays. John Eberhart, Mayor.
Latinos Unidos del Norte and the Fairbanks Latino Education Network held the “Scholars Recognition” celebration in Council Chambers at City Hall today. Scholarship recipient Tayde Mendez-Pena was recognized and is enrolled in the Nursing program at the Community & Technical College, UAF. Also recognized was Sindy Stephanie Mendez-Espino, Continuing Education Scholarship Elementary Education, College of Education at UAF. Mayor Eberhart was recognized for his commitment to diversity in the community.
Photo, left to right: Speaker, Ivette Fernandez, Director-Community Affairs, Corporate Diversity at News Corporation, NY, Chris Anderson-City Council Member, Mayor Eberhart-City of Fairbanks, and Gloria Ferndandez, local business owner and mother of Ivette Ferndandez. Also present but not pictured is Ivette’s father, Antonio Fernandez.
This winter the City Public Works Department is starting a focused routine maintenance effort in the historic downtown business district. During winter months crews will perform snow removal every Wednesday night between 9:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. Work will focus on Barnette to Noble Streets and 1st through 5th Avenues, including Wickersham and 2nd and 3rd Avenues to Cowles Street. Winter maintenance will consist primarily of snow removal from streets, sidewalks, curb faces and corner ramps to improve safety for pedestrians and motorists. During summer months our crews will continue a weekly maintenance effort that will consist of street and sidewalk sweeping and garbage collection.
The historic downtown presents a challenge in that much of the available parking is curb side within the public right-of-way, which is not the case in other retail areas where parking is restricted to surface lots. By performing this work routinely on Wednesday nights we hope that over time downtown residents and business owners will anticipate that Wednesday evenings vehicles cannot be parked in the street, allowing our crews to effectively remove snow.
Last year the City unveiled a new articulated tractor specially made for sidewalk maintenance. The small orange tractor is only 42 inches at the widest dimension and can turn a very tight ninety-degree turn along sidewalks at street corners. The equipment can be equipped with either a blade or broom depending on the snow conditions, including an attachment to spread sand. The equipment was purchased with grant funding obtained through the Fairbanks Metropolitan Area Transportation System (FMATS).
Contact: Mike Schmetzer, Public Works Director, email@example.com, 907.590.3701
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A DECLARATION OF A DISASTER EMERGENCY
WITHIN THE CITY OF FAIRBANKS AND REQUESTING STATE AND FEDERAL ASSISTANCE.
WHEREAS, on or about November 12, 2013, a severe winter storm occurred in the Fairbanks area; and
WHEREAS, the Fairbanks area received substantial and heavy precipitation in the form of freezing rains, wet snow and up to 70 mph winds resulting in a large number of downed trees damaging power lines and creating extensive and long lasting power and phone outages; and
WHEREAS, the conditions which have brought about this disaster emergency resulted in power outages to an estimated 16,000 area residences initially; and
WHEREAS, subsequently, a cold weather front settled in the Tanana Valley and the area is expected to experience temperatures dropping to well below zero; and
WHEREAS, Golden Valley Electric Association (GVEA) the local electric cooperative continues to have line crews working 24 hours a day and has asked for and received mutual aid from other utilities statewide and yet anticipates power outages to continue in areas for several more days; and
WHEREAS, there is a severe lack of communication to those residents still without power to determine if individual assistance is necessary; and
WHEREAS, the weather conditions within the area have resulted in actual threats to life and further damage to property; and
WHEREAS, residents will not begin to recover from this emergency until actual damage to property caused by frozen domestic water systems and failed heating systems is determined after power is restored to residences with long-term outages; and
WHEREAS, the emergency has caused the need to open warming centers and ready overnight shelters for those individuals without power, heat and water; and
WHEREAS, the disaster/emergency set forth above continues to threaten the safety, security and livelihood of City of Fairbanks residents; and,
WHEREAS, the severity and magnitude of the emergency is beyond the timely and effective response capability of individual and local resources; and
WHEREAS, the Borough Mayor has declared a Disaster Emergency for the Fairbanks North Star Borough,
NOW, THEREFORE, be it resolved that the Mayor of the City of Fairbanks does declare a Disaster Emergency as per AS 26.23.140 to exist within the City of Fairbanks; and,
FURTHERMORE, it is requested that the Governor of the State of Alaska declare a Disaster Emergency to exist as described in AS 26.23 and provide State assistance to the City of Fairbanks in its response and recovery from this event.
PROCLAIMED AND DECLARED this 19 day of November, 2013Proclamation-Disaster.
Residents are still being affected by the winter storm that hit our community last week. Tomorrow, Mayor John Eberhart will issue a Proclamation declaring a Disaster Emergency within the City of Fairbanks and request state and federal assistance for residents who may need that support. “At this point we know that there are residents who are still without power, but the extent of the damage to residences and businesses is still undetermined. We want those citizens who may need assistance to have access to any available programs,” stated Mayor Eberhart.
The Proclamation cannot be continued for longer than seven days without City Council consent. The Proclamation is being issued tomorrow so that the City Council can act on it at the next meeting on Monday, November 25th, 2013.
Assistant Chief Ernie Misewicz reports that the City of Fairbanks Fire Department responded to over 60 emergency calls within the first 8 hours of the storm. “The challenges the citizens are having is large trees that have fallen on homes and outbuildings, blocking roadways and knocking out power lines.” Fire and ambulance crews continue to work to ensure the safety of people.
Police call volumes were quite high as well, and Police Chief Laren Zager implemented additional officer coverage by holding over shifts and having additional shifts report to work early. “The good news is that the situation seemed well controlled… there was just a higher volume of the things we deal with normally, fender benders and bad weather related calls,” he said.
Further information received on obtaining the requested assistance from state and federal agencies will be posted on our website, Facebook, and twitter accounts:
www.fairbanksalaska.us, https://www.facebook.com/fairbanksalaska.us, @cityoffairbanks
Contact: Amber Courtney, PIO, 907.459.6793 or firstname.lastname@example.org
We apologize for the delay over the past several days, as lights on Cushman are not in synchronization and we realize motorists are having to stop more times than usual. We are ordering parts for the system that keeps the timing in order, but the system is from the mid-70′s and parts are difficult to find. Please note that over the next two years these defunct systems are being replaced, so long term-help is on the horizon, and short-term help is on the way! Thank you for bearing with us, Amber. 459-6770