Ketchikan’s borough mayor is going to jail. Kind of.
Dave Kiffer, the longtime executive director of Historic Ketchikan, has resigned from that nonprofit agency to take a job as the new education coordinator at Ketchikan Correctional Center.
Kiffer said that through Historic Ketchikan, he helped to preserve some important historical buildings, such as the water warehouse and White Cliff school in the city, and the old Clover Pass school on the North End.
“We also want to use Ketchikan’s history in a way that benefits the economics of the present and the future,” he said. “And our biggest thing is not to just save old buildings; our biggest thing has always been to find a use for those buildings.”
Kiffer, also the borough mayor, clearly still cares about preserving the town’s history. He stressed the benefit of heritage tourism. Visitors enjoy seeing historic buildings, he said, and Ketchikan has many that are worth saving.
Kiffer said he’s enjoyed his job with Historic Ketchikan, which was a part-time position. He said that worked with his schedule 13 years ago.
“When I came back to Ketchikan after a year in Ireland in 1999, I wanted to have part-time jobs, because … we were thinking about starting a family at that point and I wanted to be very active and around for my son’s formative years,” he said. “Now that he’s in 6th grade, he doesn’t want me around as much anymore. That’s not entirely true, but he’s certainly a lot more self-sufficient than he used to be. It’s a good time for me to think about a single full-time job now.”
Kiffer will continue to help out on what he said is a part-part-part-time basis at Historic Ketchikan while the agency searches for a replacement. He starts his new job on Thursday.
“I’m looking forward to that because education has always been very important to me and I’ve been involved in it in some way or another over the past 20-odd years,” he said. “I’m looking forward to working with the people up at the jail and helping them with their needs.”
Kiffer said that many people who are incarcerated have a limited education.
“You’re looking at people who probably don’t have their GEDs. Many don’t have high school diplomas,” he said. “Part of my goal will be working with them to figure out what their needs are. Are there certain areas – do they need help with learning mathematical concepts? Do they need help with English? Do they need help writing a resume?”
Kiffer said he’ll remain involved to some degree with Historic Ketchikan, and will continue to research and write articles about Ketchikan’s past.
His articles are available online at www.sitnews.us.