The project, which starts with the construction of a 115-foot one-span bridge, has been more than a decade in the making.
The Ekwok village council broke ground Tuesday on a bridge that will allow access to a new landfill site. Construction on the 115-foot bridge over Klutuk Creek is set to begin in a week. KDLG’s Hannah Colton was there for the community celebration...
(praying) "…assist us we pray and direct us to divine wisdom and power, that we may accomplish this groundbreaking ceremony of Ekwok village landfill and access road, and whatever we may undertake to do faithfully and diligently according to thy will…"
Father Alexie Askoak and Father Ivan gave an invocation on the banks of Klutuk Creek, where three dozen people gathered to break ground on a project that has been over a decade in the making.
Lorraine King is environmental coordinator for the Ekwok Village Council:
"Those of you who know our history know that we need the bridge and access road to our new landfill to successfully address our solid waste management issues for the health of our community."
Back in 2003, the community agreed to relocate their landfill due to concerns about sanitation and water contamination at the old site.
King led the efforts. It took twelve years of persistence and community support to plan a new landfill in a village of 115 people.
"It stems from our solid waste management plan, to community meetings, community gatherings, everybody from the community participating and choosing a site."
Once a site was chosen, King and others worked for years to piece together enough funding to get the project off the ground. She says there were times when she felt like throwing in the towel.
"Applying for grants and funding, submitting applications, waiting for them to be reviewed and scored… and once I got the news that this grant or that grant was not awarded... There were a lot of bumps and frustrations down the road, but a lot of joyful times as we get to where we’re at today."
In the end, she says, they received over $5 million dollars in funding from state and federal organizations, including a large grant from BBEDC.
With all that paperwork behind them, the village council took to the creek bank Tuesday with hard hats and gold-painted shovels.
"Okay... one, two, three, dig! ….Yeahhh! Keep going!..."
King’s father, Luki Akelkok, is an elder and president of the Ekwok Village Council.
"I’d like to thank everybody for coming here for the groundbreaking here for the new landfill bridge. It was a good turnout… I enjoyed it, made my day."
King and other village planners hope the bridge will lead not just to a new landfill, but eventually to roads and power lines that will connect Ekwok and other villages.
"Not only will this project assist us to manage our solid waste, it will also broaden our horizon to expand our community – maybe to build a railroad across the creek! Our vision can be whatever we would like our community to be. The possibilities are endless."
The entire project, including the new landfill, is scheduled to be completed by fall 2016.
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