By Katherine Schake
The Kenai Mountains-Turnagain Arm (KMTA) Corridor Communities Association (CCA) Board of Directors held their annual fall meeting on October 18th, 2017 at the newly constructed Bison Hall at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center. In addition to fostering partnerships within the Kenai transportation corridor, the association receives and administers funds, approporiated by Congress and other sources, to support locally initiated community projects. Since 2010, KMTA has granted $826,000 to local communities’ grassroots projects leveraging $1,300,000 in community investment. Past projects funded include an award-winning high school curriculum, new museum exhibits, trail restoration, interpretive signage, and construction of Bison Hall.
During the fall meeting, the Board reviewed recent applications and has awarded three grants determined to enhance and preserve the area’s historic, cultural, scenic, and outdoor recreational resources. The awards are as follows:
- The Historic Begich Towers Inc. Preservation Project was awarded $21,343 to upgrade plumbing for the bathrooms in the 15-story building and to connect with the recently repaired large sewer mains. Built in 1956 by the US Army Corps of Engineers, Begich Towers is on the Alaska Historic Registry and is located in the town of Whittier. Residents have committed to repaying a 3 million dollar loan from the US Deptartment of Agriculture for the entire building to undergo an extensive remodel. In addition to housing private residents, there are public facilites in the building including restrooms, a laundromat, the post office, police station, and city offices. Historic interpretive displays, funded by KMTA in 2016, are also located in the building and explain to visitors the significance of Begich Towers to the community of Whittier.
- The Cook Inlet Aquaculture Association was awarded $1,432.50 to enhance the Trail Lake Hatchery Visitor Center educational program. The funds will be used to install a video system that will showcase films related to hatchery operations and the importance of sustainable salmon populations in the Cook Inlet Region. The films will enable visitors to take a self-guided tour of the hatchery, expanding the current educational program.
- The Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center (AWCC) was granted $21,837 for a fiber optic and technology upgrade which will build a platform to deliver high speed internet to AWCC. This will fund the audio/visual and classroom needs of the newly constructed Bison Hall. High speed internet will not only create a fundamental platform for future technology needs, but will modernize the existing wildlife outreach and interpretation programs.
Additional grants may be awarded as the Board continues to review proposals. More information about KMTA grants can be found here: http://www.kmtacorridor/grants/