May 28, 2011:
I arrived in Aniak on Wednesday (the 26th). The plane ride from Anchorage to Aniak was beautiful. This part of Alaska is so much different than the southeast. Yes, there are trees, but they are different, more sparse vegetation. Still some spruce trees, but they are smaller, not the lush, green vegetation I am used to in the southeast AK region. Upon arrival I was greeted by my new boss, Mike. He seems to be extremely friendly and I am excited to work with him and learn all he has to teach me. He took me on the tour of town and it is small, but that is what I expected. There is an oval loop around the airstrip/airport and the housing; offices, schools, etc are all spaced around it. The river is easily accessible on one side of town, but it seems we are almost an island because the Aniak slough cuts around the area.
The town has two grocery stores, one operated by AC and one locally owned and much smaller. There are two schools, an elementary and a high school. Both of the schools look to be in good condition and I think the district office for the town and surrounding area is located here in town. As far as I can tell the people feel education is important and it’s refreshing to see. There are a few different “subdivisions” of housing in the area, one named housing and the other downtown. This is what the locals call it. There is housing along the main road. It seems the nicest of the housing belongs to the lodge owners. So far, the lodges look ok, but I haven’t really scoped them out. The dump here is a place to behold; it is a giant disaster with garbage everywhere. It looks like everyone just throws stuff in there and nothing happens with it. Mike told me they burn it once in awhile and it smells awful. I can’t believe someone hasn’t written a grant or something to have it organized and taken care of. Maybe I can be that person, but it will be a lot of work. I know there are grants to write allowing a town to have money to hire someone to clean up a dump, etc.
My office is located in one corner of town. There is the Kuskokwim Native Association (KNA) office building, bunkhouse, and computer lab of sorts. Located in the same area is a community center/building, and an elder/council building (I think that’s what it is called). I am currently residing in the bunkhouse until I am able to find a place to live. I don’t mind living in the bunkhouse, but I really would like to set up home in my own space, especially since I will be here for at least two years. I am already growing fond of this area and the people and even if things don’t go like I want or as I foresee them going, I think it will be ok.
I think the hardest part of my job will be distinguishing when to be personal with people and when it is time to get down to work. I have to maintain that I am their supervisor, but also someone they can be comfortable around. It is a very fine line and I don’t want them to think of me as bossy, but have respect for me. I know I can do a good job, but I also know I have a lot of expectations to live up to from these people, and myself.