FNSB Mayor Bryce Ward accepts ‘Great American Defense Community’ award for Fairbanks

Published: Nov. 16, 2023 at 9:13 AM AKST
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - Fairbanks North Star Borough Mayor Bryce Ward traveled to Orlando, Florida last week for the Installation Innovation Forum, put on by the Association of Defense Communities (ADC).

According to Ward, for the event, “They bring in communities and military installations from across the country to talk about partnerships and what they’re doing well, and what they’re doing right, so it’s an amazing opportunity to learn from other communities, other installations, what they’re doing to support the military and military families.”

While there, Ward accepted an award on behalf of the community.

Every year, the ADC honors places around the U.S. that provide an exceptional quality of life for members of the military living there. This year, the borough was named one of five Great American Defense Communities of 2023.

“It’s a pretty amazing honor,” Ward said, adding, “It’s a bit of a branding thing that you get to incorporate into your community, and so for us what it does is it recognizes the partnership that we have with our installations and really what we do as a community to welcome military members and their families to the Fairbanks area.”

Interior Alaska is home to four military bases: Fort Wainwright, Eielson Air Force Base, Fort Greely, and Clear Space Force Station.

The borough has been part of the ADC for 10 years, according to Ward. “When we’ve been at previous conferences, we’ve said ‘Man, it would be great to be recognized as a Great American Defense Community,’ and this year was our year.”

The mayor mentioned there is room for improvement in how the community serves members of the military. “Education is a big piece of what military families look at. It’s actually one of the number one things that they look at when they get new orders is what does the education system look like? How is that community supporting their children and so that’s certainly something that we’ve recognized that we could do better.”

He particularly highlighted Alaska’s curriculum and how it relates to schools across the country. “A student may leave Alaska, and depending on where they’re going, they may be advanced in their schooling. They may actually have to take extra classes in order to graduate.”

The award was announced in May. Winners are chosen by way of a competitive process of nomination.