May 2018 Back Page – AVEC Annual Meeting

Posted: May 3, 2018

The AVEC annual meeting was Wednesday, April 4, 2018, in Anchorage. It was attended by all authorized delegates with the exception of one individual who missed a flight to Anchorage. Delegates engaged in several hours of work sessions as they established priorities for AVEC for the coming year. They also spent considerable time working with staff members on operational issues specific to their communities.

Andy Leman, AVEC’s legal counsel, announced election results from the mail-in ballots that were received by an independent accounting firm. The top three vote recipients were Helena Jones from Ambler, Peter Demoski from Nulato and Robert Okitkun from Kotlik. Helena Jones and Peter Demoski were incumbents. Both expressed their deepest gratitude to the members who re-elected them.

New board member Robert Okitkun was born in Hamilton and raised in St. Michael, Kwiguk, Emmonak and Kotlik, where he now resides. While primarily a commercial fisherman, Robert has worked for the tribe, village and regional corporations and as asbestos program coordinator for Lower Yukon School District. He has served on numerous boards, including LYSD, Kotlik Yupik Corp., Kotlik Traditional Council, AVCP Housing Authority, Lower Yukon Fish and Game Advisory Committee and the Yukon River Drainage Fisheries Association.

“As AVEC continues to use diesel, there is a need for bulk storage facilities and aid in fuel delivery to the village tank farms,” says Robert. “A cooperative effort with the tribes could enable AVEC to purchase fuel from BIA at a reduced cost. Conversion to LNG or natural gas will leave us a cleaner environment. North Slope communities have converted to natural gas for electric generation and home heating. Perhaps AVEC can introduce talks with the regional corporations and tribes to explore for natural gas. I am a firm believer in protecting our lands and environment as our ancestors did. I also think that our tribes should exercise their sovereign authority in protecting the lands, environment, fish and wildlife. AVEC serves the same communities of many of the rural villages as the tribes, and it makes sense to work cooperatively with them.”

We bid a fond farewell to Phyllis Clough, who served as a board member from Old Harbor for 15 years. Phyllis was a steady and constant voice of support for rural Alaska. She never failed to acknowledge the continuing need for affordable energy in our communities. She was a fierce advocate for economic development and sustainability, and pledged her continuing support for AVEC’s mission to develop a statewide electric grid with affordable energy for every Alaskan, no matter how remote.