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Interim City Manager Gregg Brelsford reflects on his time in Dillingham

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Izzy Ross/KDLG
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Brelsford tackled a number of tasks during his time as Dillingham manager, among them, implementing the city’s COVID-19 regulations.

Dillingham Interim City Manager Gregg Brelsford will leave his position next week.

Brelsford served as the Bristol Bay Borough’s manager for two years. He worked closely with Dillingham’s former city manager, Tod Larson, ahead of last year’s fishing season. 

“It was very intense, it was very confusing, very fragmented, very fluid, very unpredictable," he said. "So Tod and I formed a bond being the two city managers in the bay going through that together, and trying to manage the COVID risk in the first year when everything was new.”

Brelsford stepped up in January, a month after Larson left. He tackled a number of tasks during his time as Dillingham manager, including implementation ofthe city’s COVID-19 regulations. He said his experience in the borough gave him an understanding of what was at stake when making those decisions for small communities that see a large influx of people during the summer.

“Both communities have a large surge. And so during the COVID era that’s especially scary," he said. "It’s especially challenging to try and be protective for the community as a whole in terms of COVID, and yet continue life as much as possible, particularly business activity.”

Faced with the COVID-19 vaccine rollout and the changing environment this spring, he solicited a wide range of public opinions as he crafted Dillingham’s new emergency declaration. He also published a contentious emergency order that removed the travel quarantine, but only for vaccinated people and those who had recovered from a previous COVID-19 infection.

“I tried to craft a balance between the historical model of COVID safety regulation, as well as trying to move it forward incrementally in the direction toward more of a return to pre-COVID normal life,” he said.

The city is still on the search for a permanent city manager. Brelsford decided to leave his position when it became clear the city wouldn’t find one before his six month contract ended. Looking ahead, he said he wants to spend more time with his family.

“One of the things that COVID did, for I think everybody in the country, is that it made us realize that we’re mortal, and that we should be thinking about what are we going to do with the time that we have in our life," he said. "I want to make sure I spend it with my kids. So that’s a hard stop.”

Among his summer plans, Brelsford will go scuba diving and skydiving with his son.

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Credit Courtesy of Gregg Brelsford
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Brelsford has completed around 625 jumps. He plans to skydive with his son this summer.

Brelsford’s last day is May 14. Chris Hladick, the former Alaska Region 10 administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency, will then take over as Dillingham’s interim city manager. 

Tune in after the newscast for a longer conversation with Brelsford about his time in Dillingham.

Contact the author at izzy@kdlg.org or 907-842-2200.

Izzy Ross is the news director at KDLG, the NPR member station in Dillingham. She reports, edits, and hosts stories from around the Bristol Bay region, and collaborates with other radio stations across the state.
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