Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966

Public safety commission appoints two new members


February 8, 2018

The Public Safety Commission recommended SEARHC administrator Pat Hefley and Chuck Mitman to sit on the board.

The recommendations come after postponed meetings and Mayor Jan Hill’s desire follow the recommendations of the commission.

The public safety commission last year recommended creating a drug awareness task force. It also recommended rebranding itself by adding ex-officio members from SEARHC, Lynn Canal Counseling and the Haines School. The advisory board also wanted to change its name to The Public Health and Safety Commission in an effort to expand its scope.

The Haines Borough Assembly rejected those recommendations. Some assembly members felt that those experts could be utilized as issues arise, but that changing code for one issue was inappropriate.

In an effort to follow the public safety commission’s desire to bring those experts to the table, Mayor Jan Hill recommended appointing SEARHC director Pat Hefley and Lynn Canal Counseling director Kelly Williamson.

“The assembly has challenged every recommendation that you have made,” Hill told the commission. “I have been unable to rationalize the assembly’s positions and for this reason I take the route of supporting the public safety commission with my appointments.”

At a meeting last Wednesday, the public safety commission, which is down to three members after two others resigned, heard from five applicants.

Hefley has sat on numerous boards and commissions at the regional level. He said Haines needs to draw more residents.

“We need to be known as a healthy and a happy and a safe community to live in, and those issues should be reflected in policy decisions or thoughtful recommendations that might come about,” Hefley said.

Paul Rogers, who worked for 30 years as a police officer and 911 dispatch director in Michigan, said he was motivated to apply after the issue of borough-wide police expansion came up last year.

“I am familiar with police, fire and EMS operations and you get to see a lot of different things in the police environment and the 911 environment,” Rogers said. “I had to work with judges, prosecutors, county administrators. I think this borough has some issues that have historical baggage that could be looked at in maybe a different light than they are currently, and I think I could help make some recommendations that could tend to ease some of the frustrations people have.”

When asked for comment on applicant recommendations, Police chief Heath Scott said he feels the public safety commission has “been adrift.”

“I would very much discourage people that have an ax to grind,” Scott said. “(The commission) is meant to support the police department, fire and EMS. I do not want to continue to be part of a body that is just an education in parliamentary procedure. I want to get some things done.”

Commission member Bill McCord criticized the appointment process. He said the civic process wasn’t followed correctly after meetings were postponed, delaying appointments.

The public safety commissioners ranked their favored applicants and each ranking contained a score. The highest scorers were Hefley and Mitman with Rogers and Kelly Williamson tied for third place.

The borough assembly has the final say and will consider the public safety commission’s recommendations at their Feb. 13 meeting.


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