The Petersburg Borough Assembly approved the recommendation of Borough Manager Steve Giesbrecht and unanimously voted to hire Kelly Swihart for the Petersburg Police Chief position during a special meeting Monday evening.
Swihart is currently the police chief in Hoonah and tendered his resignation officially when he returned to Hoonah Tuesday.
“I promised them that I would give 60 days notice, if I was to ever leave,” Swihart said. “I want to make sure all things are squared away and stabilized as much as possible and I would like to help with the transition as well.”
Swihart, his wife Mindy and their three children who are still at home, will be moving to Petersburg around the first of July.
“We are very comfortable here,” Swihart said. “The community is very warm and welcoming and the borough put together a very solid hiring process. We have been impressed with the pride that the community expresses and we are looking forward to becoming a part of this community.”
The Swihart children will be attending the Petersburg schools and are looking forward to moving here.
“They are very involved and active kids,” Swihart stated. “Our oldest son, at home, is a competitive shotgun shooter and has shot in some major regional and a national competition. Our middle daughter is involved in volleyball, basketball and band and our youngest, at nine, just wants to be involved in everything.”
Swihart's wife, Mindy is a one on one educational aide in the elementary school and is treasurer for the Parent Teacher Association.
“We toured the school,” Mindy said. “You have a wonderful facility and a school you can be proud of.”
Swihart says there are things about Hoonah he and his family will miss, but is looking forward to getting here.
“The people of Hoonah are wonderful and the Icy Strait is just amazing. There are many things I will miss about Hoonah,” Swihart said. “But we are looking forward to getting to know this area. We want to be indoctrinated into this community and get to know folks and let them get to know us and start building relationships.”
Manager Giesbrecht explained that it was a difficult to come to a decision between the three candidates.
“They were all three wonderful candidates and would have fit into the community nicely,” Giesbrecht said. “But it came down to the experience we were losing. The amount of experience that will go with Jim and Heidi will be hard to replace, but Kelly has experience with the Alaskan agencies that we deal with and he is more acclimated to the weather and conditions as well.”
Giesbrecht also explained that it is a testament to Brimeyer and Fursman for choosing three candidates that were so well suited for the community.
Wisconsin candidate, Robert Kappelman said the Petersburg has gained a great chief.
“Kelly is a phenomenal police administrator,” Kappelman said. “He will do a wonderful job for you and I leave here not having competed with him but having made a new friend and colleague.”