Matanuska-Susitna Borough

Green, Huggins raise roof funds

Mat-Su | Patty Sullivan | Thursday, March 09, 2006

PALMER—Reconstruction of a weak school roof in the snowy Upper Valley could begin this spring - a year earlier than expected - thanks to the leadership of the state Senators from the MAT-SU. Today, Sen. Lyda Green and Sen. Charlie Huggins managed to get $3.85 million included in a supplemental budget bill for a new roof at Su Valley High. While the supplemental bill still must be approved by the House and Senate, this first step in achieving funding is applauded by local leaders in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough. "I'm happy to see that this money is in the supplemental bill," said MAT-SU Borough Mayor Tim Anderson, acknowledging the diligent work of the Senators. Sen. Green is Co-Chair of the Senate Finance Committee and has made the roof a priority. Sen. Huggins represents the area and has given the roof special attention. "It's good for the residents of the Upper Valley. It fixes a life and safety problem and does so in a manner that doesn't put students out. And the School District won't have to shovel off the roof another year," Anderson said. Last spring, the school's roof was found to be too weak for heavy snow loads. Located near Sunshine, 58 miles north of Wasilla, the school is 33-years-old and has less than 200 students. The community supported a new roof rather than a new school, partly because it was the most likely alternative to get funding. Also important, if the supplemental request is granted, the construction phase is expected to begin in May, taking full advantage of the Alaska construction season and the absence of students. If the funding were to come in the capital budget it would put the project off until spring 2007.Other Lawmakers were more willing to support this partial funding over full funding, because the Legislature traditionally funds 70 percent of school projects for large municipalities, requiring a 30 percent local match. To complete the roof project, another $1.6 million is needed. Borough Manager John Duffy said this initial funding buys time to consider all the various funding options. "We at the Borough are excited that this first step by the Legislature will allow the project to proceed earlier than expected," Duffy said. "We really appreciate the strong support that our state Legislative Delegation has provided on this critical project." The supplemental bill moved out of the Senate Finance Committee today and will likely be considered on the Senate floor next week. For more information, contact Mayor Tim Anderson at 745-3323 or cell phone: 232-7332.