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Mayor George Wuerch
Anchorage AK
July 1, 2002

It was two years ago today that I began serving as your mayor. When asked the other day what I've enjoyed most about this job, my answer: The many wonderful people of this community that I've had the opportunity to know better and to work with.

To give an example of what I mean, about 10 days ago the city was confronted with a serious situation. The state notified us along with other providers of food assistance to low-income families under the federal WIC (women, infants and children) program that it was running out of the federal funds it manages for the program. Hundreds of Anchorage families, including newborn infants, were about to lose their source of nutrition. I immediately asked our Health and Human Services Department to initiate a baby formula food drive - and within two hours of the public announcement cases of formula were being dropped off at the Food Bank of Alaska. That's the kind of caring and generous people who live in this town -- and the reason we are an All-America City today. For the record, the state administration changed its mind later that same day and told us "never mind," it would continue funding the program.

One week ago I addressed the luncheon meeting of the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce and previewed the annual State of the City report. You can find a summary of my remarks on the Municipality's website: . The full report is expected to be published in the Anchorage Daily News on July 10.

Last Wednesday, we closed the record-breaking municipal bond sale that was mentioned in the last Mayor's Report. The sale turned out to be even better than we forecast. At $342 million it was the largest for the Municipality and the first major bond sale to close here in Anchorage. $15 million of the bonds were purchased by Alaskans, two-thirds of whom were here in Anchorage. Thanks to our high bond rating, we were able to refinance almost $160 million of existing bond debt at lower interest rates, resulting in a savings of $7.5 million for Anchorage taxpayers.

I was in Fairbanks for a few hours last week to address a luncheon meeting of the local Rotary. My message was that Alaska communities must do a better job looking out for one another in order to achieve common goals. The joint effort that Fairbanks and Anchorage community leaders have made to convince military and political brass not to close our military bases should serve as an example for how communities work together to revitalize Alaska's resource development industry.

On Friday, I had my yard "inspected" by the volunteers with the Student Conservation Corps. They evaluated the defensible space around our home and said I passed. Since I don't live on any of the hillsides of our Municipality, which are the homes most vulnerable to a wildfire, this inspection was aimed at bringing media attention to the evaluation program. The service is free to local homeowners who receive a FireWise home evaluation and a review of the principles of FireWise landscaping. To schedule your free evaluation, call 267-5085 or 5086.

I hope you and the family had a chance to take in the air show and open house at Elmendorf Air Force Base this weekend. They put on quite a show. Remember this Thursday to bring everybody downtown for the 4th of July parade. You'll find more information about the parade in the news summary that follows.


George Wuerch

Below you will find information about:

  1. 4th of July Parade
  2. Wood Lots Open
  3. AWWU Master Plan
  4. People Mover Changes
  5. Anchorage is a 2002 All-America City

4th of July Parade
"Spirit of Community" is the theme, and several events are scheduled around the parade this year, including a pancake breakfast to benefit homeless programs through Beans Café and the Salvation Army. Local businesses, including Food Services of America and Matanuska Maid, are providing in-kind donations to help make the breakfast a success. The "United We Stand" Community Parade will start downtown at 11:30, and feature Alaska Astronaut Bill Oefelin and Alaska Olympian Rosey Fletcher. Approximately 60 different groups, including a shopping cart brigade will pass by spectators. Bring canned goods to help fill the carts. A family picnic starts at 11 a.m. on the Delaney Park Strip and the festivities conclude in the evening after a fireworks display at Mulcahy Park. Darl Schaaf of Art Services North 561-2115.

Wood Lots Open
If you're among the many residents who cleared a defensible space around your home, you probably could use some help to get rid of the brush and woody material from your yard. Two free municipality sponsored services are available. First, you can bring brush and woody material to either of two wood lots for free disposal. (The Anchorage Wood Lot is located at C Street and O'Malley Road and the Eagle River Wood Lot is located North of Eagle River on the Old Glenn Highway, past the Chugiak Volunteer Fire Department.) Second, you can request free pick-up of brush via the Roadside Service. For more information contact Sue Rodman 267-5020.

AWWU Master Plan
Anchorage Water and Wastewater Utility recently received $53,000 in grant money to help fund the utility's Water Master Plan. The plan will help AWWU program system-wide improvements over the next 20 years and evaluate the financial impacts of its proposed capital improvements program. Publication of the updated Water Master Plan is scheduled for this September. Roberta Piper, 564-2767.

People Mover Changes
Starting today, People Mover begins a program to transform the use of public transportation in Anchorage. The changes are in response to the recommendations of more than 3,000 people who gave their input during the development of the city's transportation plan. Route changes include the addition of a cross-town bus that will take passengers from the Muldoon Mall in East Anchorage directly to the Dimond Transit Center without stopping downtown where previously riders were required to change buses. Along this new cross-town route, a People Mover bus will stop at five eastbound and westbound bus stops every 90 minutes. Nancy Killoran 343-8491.

Anchorage is a 2002 All-America City!
Anchorage won! We are a 2002 All-America City and every member of our community shares in the victory. Now, everyone has the opportunity to share in the benefits. Please help spread the good news by displaying the All-America City 2002 logo on your letterhead, on business cards, and in your brochures. You can find the official Anchorage AAC logo and usage guidelines on the National Civic League website at

Finally, if your radio wasn't tuned to KUDO 1080 AM Thursday, you missed the special tribute for the All-America City team. The following is an excerpt: June 27, 2002.

Hello Anchorage. I'm Carol Butler of ReMax Properties here to present this week's "Kudos for Anchorage."

This week's Kudos winners are as enthusiastic about Anchorage as Blake and I, and they found a perfect venue to reach out and tell the world about the wonderfully diverse people of our community and some of their splendid accomplishments.

I am speaking of the team of volunteers who dedicated their time and talents to represent Anchorage at the All- America City competition in Kansas City, Missouri two weeks ago. They weren't the largest team nor were they the best-funded team. And, although they were the team that traveled the farthest to be part of the competition, they weren't even the team with the best gimmick. What they were was the team with the most heart.

Long-time Anchorage residents know that Anchorage has won All-America City awards before: first in 1956, then again in 1965 and 1985.

This year, more than one 130 cities competed in the first round, which was handled by written applications. Former Mayor Rick Mystrom and Mayor George Wuerch spearheaded that part. They focused on the Special Olympics Winter Games, Bridge Builders, and the Anchorage Youth Court. The judges were impressed enough to include Anchorage in the 30 finalists. This narrowed the competition but it also raised the bar substantially, since the 30 highly motivated finalists were all aiming at just 10 All America City awards.

The final step involved show business: a live presentation before a panel of judges and a crowd of more than 2,000. Some cities prepared elaborate stage productions involving musicians, dancers, and even cheerleaders. Roswell, New Mexico brought along a 20-foot tall inflatable alien. Clearly, each of the 29 other cities had given this a lot of thought and preparation.

By comparison, Anchorage's presentation was direct and simple. Fourteen very different Anchoragites each told their story. What emerged was a picture of what Anchorage has accomplished and what it hopes to do in the future. The judges were charmed and impressed. In fact, during the break after our team's presentation, one of the judges remarked that if Anchorage wasn't among the 10 winners he would demand an investigation.

The presentation was a triumph of honesty, content and direct simplicity. And it makes Blake and me more proud of Anchorage then ever. We always knew we lived among some of the best people in the world. And we're delighted that the judges chosen by the National Civic League agree.

(Enhanced for Netscape)

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