APDC President’s Letter, January 2019


It is always difficult to say goodbye to someone who has passed away. To comfort ourselves we reflect on the fond memories we shared – that is the case with Dale Nelson who passed away on January 1, 2019. I had the privilege of meeting Dale about four years ago, when I first became involved with APDC. Dale willingly shared his past knowledge, provided guidance and recommendations, and lead the Legislative Liaison Committee efforts. He has been a leading figure at APDC for many years and was a mentor to me and many others. Dale taught me the importance lobbying our State Legislature has on issues that impact the design professions. What I most remember about Dale is the respect and honor bestowed upon him by our Legislative representatives, and State Leadership. He worked tirelessly to educate, inform, and assist the design professions’ agenda. I will miss him.

Michael Rabe, President APDC, CRW Engineering Group, LLC, Principal

I asked other APDC representatives to provide their thoughts on what Dale meant to them. These follow below:


I first met Dale at the 2009 ASCE Pacific Northwest Regional Student Conference hosted by Carrol College in Helena, Montana.

I arranged a side competition for students that were not participating in the Steel Bridge Competition. Dale was very interested in this activity which was based on our student outreach program in Billings, MT. We exchanged business cards as we continued our conversation after the event. Two years later, DOWL HKM offered me a position at their Anchorage office. Not knowing much about Alaska, my first call after talking with my family was to Dale. He took the time to visit with me and answer all my questions. During my service as an officer of Anchorage Branch and Alaska Section of ASCE, Dale was always a great mentor, resource, and friend. The energy and commitment Dale showed toward the Anchorage and Alaska community, to fellow professionals and peers in ASCE is a great example for all of us. We often spoke about our shared passion for Civil Engineering, ASCE, our commitment to our communities, and how important it is to have mentors. Dale provided all of that, but most importantly Dale was a dear friend that I will miss.

Tor Anderzen P.E., M.ASCE, ASCE Alaska Section – President


I first met Dale when we both worked for Skilling Ward Rogers & Barkshire (SWRB) between 1983 and 85. He impressed me early on as a conscientious engineer and an all-around nice guy. I went off to get a Masters, SWRB left town, and he and Bill Smith formed a firm that I ended up doing contract work for when I got back in 1987. After that I saw him at ASCE meetings and occasional chance encounters. Then he became Chair of the Legislative Liaison Committee and we worked hand-in-hand for a number of years trying to get objectives of importance to APDC accomplished. We had numerous discussions of how to get legislation advanced or stopped. He never seemed to tire of this work, no matter what happened, and APDC’s reputation as a straight shooter can be placed at his feet. He was a consummate gentleman and was driven to give back to his profession and community. His vigor is seldom seen and will be missed.

Colin Maynard, PE, SE F.NSPE, M. ASCE, Principal, BBFM Engineers, Inc.


I first met Dale in 2006 and have come to value his friendship over the years, indeed, I consider him a mentor and have appreciated his counsel and approach to forging consensus in policy making.

Over the past 12 years, I have worked closely with him on countless lobbying efforts on behalf of the AK Professional Design Council achieving considerable results in the process.

Aside from being a professional engineer, with emphasis on the ‘professional,’ Dale was a good listener. Many a time I was ready to roll on a particular tangent and he deftly pulled me back to remind me of a comment or perspective that was offered but not necessarily incorporated into our position. It was that attention to the finer details and Dale’s respect for all those who were offering input that translated into our advocacy achievements. In addition, Dale played an excellent back-game. While I focused on the legislative playing field, Dale would scour the back court to solidify our position, whether that be direct outreach to his countless professional colleagues, the professors and deans within the University of Alaska Engineering faculty, the various associate member chapters and leaders within the APDC family or his political contacts developed over the years of activism on various issues. Dale had a network that proved invaluable. He mentioned his love of sports, including handball (or racquet ball), and I can only imagine he was a force on the court to be reckoned with, you were not going to simply avoid him.

Two particular APDC lobbying accomplishments that come to mind are the issue of shared indemnification between professionals and owners on state contracts and the much needed funding for the UA Engineering facilities. Obviously, successful endeavors are due to the efforts of many but I can personally attest to the commitment and balance that Dale brought to both of these massive challenges. Throughout the multi-year effort on each of these undertakings, Dale navigated steadily and confidently, allowing a wide range of inputs and voices to establish compelling, consistent and rational support for policymakers to embrace APDC’s desired outcome.

With respect to his approach to gathering a wide range of inputs in achieving consensus, Dale insisted that we incorporate the voices of younger professionals, including most certainly, the students. The inclusion of the engineering students in the APDC advocacy and lobbying outreach was a high point of Dale’s tenure on the LLC Committee and I personally witnessed the joy their involvement brought him. Dale was never in doubt as to how the youth would conduct themselves in a relatively unscripted encounter with legislators and policymakers in the Capitol, indeed, year over year confirmed the attribute the students brought with their presence; not only to the APDC effort but more critically to the policymakers to hear for themselves from our state’s emerging professionals.

I miss Dale’s friendship and periodic conversations. We would talk often on the telephone or connect for coffee while in Anchorage. He had a wonderful sense of humor and a keen mind. His departure was far too early but his presence will remain with us. He is at peace and we are thankful for his being.

John Walsh, President, J.M. Walsh Company, Inc.


I met Dale through APDC more than 25 years ago, and our paths crossed many times over the years. Most of our associations were through professional organizations and boards but I also worked with Dale as a client contact in the early ‘90s when he hired the firm I worked for at the time. We collaborated on various articles, position papers, and resumes over the years and I supported his communications with the APDC Legislative Liaison Committee. We enjoyed opportunities to visit before/after meetings or chance encounters and it was clear that, in addition to a consummate professional, he was a dedicated husband and father. Most of all, I’ll miss the calm demeanor he brought to every meeting, and phone calls that began with a lilting “Hellllll-oooo, Vicky!”

Vicky Sterling, APDC Editor



APDC President’s Letter, December 2018


Following the November 30th Anchorage area 7.0 magnitude earthquake, my first thought was the safety of my family, fellow staff, friends, and my community. I assumed there would be casualties and the damage to homes and buildings would be severe. I was relieved that my family and staff were unharmed, yet shaken. Upon subsequent news reports, I was shocked that there were no causalities. Additionally, while there was infrastructure damages, there were no catastrophic failures. This is a testament to Alaska design professionals and the design standards we promote and follow. The days following the earthquake were marked by a response from the design community that unselfishly dedicated their personal time and resources to assess the damage and recommend solutions for repair. I am truly proud to be a part of the design community – we do make a difference.

Ahtna, Inc. Welcomes New Faces Within Subsidiaries


Ahtna, Inc. announces new hires within its subsidiaries. Ahtna Global, LLC, welcomes Rachel Thompson as proposal manager, supporting Ahtna’s proposal and business development activities. Ahtna Environmental, Inc., welcomes Michael Records, MS, EIT, as an environmental engineer and Denise Yancey as proposal coordinator. Records will support environmental and construction work, and manage field staff, subcontractors, logistics, budgets, deliverables, and close-out. Yancey will research and report on new business opportunities and organize corporate information for use in proposals.

Click here to read the full press release.

APDC President’s Letter, November 2018


The Alaska Municipal League (AML) is a statewide organization that represents the unified voices of Alaska’s local governments. The AML aims to influence state and federal decision-making, build consensus and partnerships to address Alaska’s Challenges, and provide training and joint services to strengthen Alaska’s local governments.

All federal and Alaska State agencies are required to use Qualification Based Selection (QBS), and not cost to secure professional design services. However, many of Alaska’s local governments that are represented by AML do not follow QBS; rather they include cost in the selection criteria. At the AML Annual Local Government Conference, held in Anchorage November 12-16, 2018, APDC was invited to hold a panel discussion on the benefits of using QBS. Andrea Story, CPSM, Vice President, R&M Consultants, Inc. moderated the discussion. The panel consisted of Stephen Nuss, PE, Engineering Director, Anchorage Water & Wastewater Utility; Al Beck, PE, Design Group Chief, Alaska Department of Transportation & Public Facilities; Chris Miller, PE, President, Design Alaska; and myself, Mike Rabe, PE, Principal, CRW Engineering Group, LLC.

I was pleasantly surprised to find the local government representatives were generally supportive of the QBS process. In general, they were not following the process because they did not know how to implement a QBS based selection process. Limited resources and schedule further restrained their ability to develop a QBS process. As a result, APDC recently added a “How to Procure Design Services” tab to our website to provide guidance. Additionally, several of us volunteered to assist communities with the QBS process, including tailoring the Request for Proposal document to the type of project, recommending scoring criteria, and assisting with reviewing and scoring proposals. If you are willing to assist in this process please contact the following APDC representatives:

Andrea Story Email:

Mike Rabe Email:

I would like to thank those who participated in the panel discussion, especially Andrea Story who coordinated the effort and Nils Andreassen, Executive Director, AML who supported APDC’s efforts at the conference.

Schools and Earthquake Safety: Identifying Alaska’s Most Vulnerable School Buildings


The Alaska Seismic Hazards Safety Commission conducted rapid visual screening of several school districts to help identify the most vulnerable schools and allow the state to prioritize limited capital resources. To find out more about the Alaska Schools Earthquake Safety, and see out how certain school buildings measured up, review the report here.

You can also learn more by visiting the commission website, here.