2022 Western Interstate Region Conference

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

  • May. 17
    6:00 am to 9:00 pm

    Seward’s Promise – One of the Kenai’s Gateway Communities

    Participants will depart Anchorage via train at 6:00 a.m. for a three-hour trip to Seward, along Cook Inlet and Turnagain Arm before climbing into the Alaska Range. The train stops in the Kenai Peninsula Borough, a second-class borough with multiple home-rule and first-class cities. Seward was significantly impacted by the Good Friday earthquake in 1964 and is the terminus of the Alaska Railroad, carry tourists and coal to the sea.  

    Participants will visit some of the city’s infrastructure, including the port and harbor. In town, participants may visit the Alaska Sealife Center before heading back to Anchorage via coach. Most Alaskans know Seward for its Mount Marathon every Fourth of July, if you want to test out your Adams County sneakers. 

    We recommend you book an optional four-hour whale tour while you're in Seward - click here and use the code NACO22 to secure a 20 percent discount. When registering, write "NACo group" in the comments box to ensure you are seated next to other conference attendees.

    THIS TOUR IS SOLD OUT. FOR THOSE PREREGISTERED, YOU RECEIVED A FORM TO COMPLETE WITH DETAILS FOR THE TRAIN RIDE.

  • May. 17
    7:30 am to 9:00 pm

    Golden Heart City – Fairbanks as a Defense Community and Travel Destination

    Participants will fly from Anchorage to Fairbanks, which is known as the golden heart of Alaska for many reasons, and spring should have heralded in the green of birch and aspen. The Fairbanks North Star Borough, a second-class borough almost the size of New Jersey, is responsible for education funding, transportation, and economic development, among other things. Participants will have a chance to explore some of the key features of this northern, interior region, including: 

    • CCREL’s Permafrost Tunnel – an amazing, underground experience 
    • Visit to Fort Greely – one of Alaska’s larger military bases, which interacts with Eielson Ai Force Base and Clear further south, responsible for some of North America’s missile defense 
    • The University of Alaska Fairbanks – one of the leading Arctic research institutions, including to see their drone research or renewable, cold climate energy 
    • Poker Flats Research Center and Fort Knox mine 
    • Trans-Alaska Pipeline (TAPS) 
    • Morris Thompson Cultural Center 

    THIS TOUR IS SOLD OUT. FOR THOSE PREREGISTERED, YOU RECEIVED A FORM TO COMPLETE WITH DETAILS FOR THE ALASKA AIRLINES FLIGHT..

  • May. 17
    7:30 am to 9:00 pm

    North to the Future – The Northwest Arctic’s Development and Indigenous Collaboration

    Participants will fly from Anchorage to Kotzebue, located north of the Arctic Circle, on a spit of land just off the Arctic Ocean. It’s the regional hub for the Northwest Arctic, an expansive area of national parks, State and Alaska Native corporate land. The region’s economy is supported by the Red Dog mine, a collaborative effort between the NANA Regional Corporation, State of Alaska’s AIDEA, and the Northwest Arctic Borough. The Borough is a home rule borough, and the majority of its revenue comes through its PILT arrangement with the Red Dog Mine. Learn more about this unique environment, the complex relationship between Indigenous peoples and resource development, and the partnerships that are critical to the region’s success through visits to:  

    • Alaska Technical Center – regional boarding school for skills development and training 
    • Cape Blossom – site of a future port 
    • Front Street – shore erosion control 
    • Wind farm – managing wind energy in an Arctic environment 
    • Sulianich – local and Indigenous arts and crafts store, owned by the Borough 
    • Northwest Arctic Heritage Center – National Park exhibit 

    If there is still sufficient ice coverage, participants can expect to see ice fishing during a walking tour and a visit to the main store to compare prices with those at home. We can almost promise that a gallon of milk is much higher than you might be used to! 

    THIS TOUR IS SOLD OUT. FOR THOSE PREREGISTERED, YOU RECEIVED A FORM TO COMPLETE WITH DETAILS FOR THE ALASKA AIRLINES FLIGHT..

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

  • May. 18
    7:30 am to 8:30 am

    Public Lands Trust Fund Trustees Meeting

  • May. 18
    8:00 am to 10:00 am

    RAC Business Meeting

    Summit Hall 2, Lower Level

    Join NACo's Rural Action Caucus Business Meeting to discuss issues important to the 70 percent of the nation's counties considered rural. The Business Meeting will feature guest speakers covering topics ranging from rural development to technical assistance opportunities to veterans services. 

  • May. 18
    8:00 am to 4:00 pm

    Conference Registration Open

    Registration Lobby, Street Level

  • May. 18
    10:00 am to 12:00 pm

    Port of Alaska Tour

    5th Street Entrance, Egan Convention Center

    The Port of Alaska is a municipal-owned, intermodal transport hub that serves all 90% of Alaska. Over 4.7 million tons of fuel and freight were handled in 2020. While it is Alaska’s key cargo gateway, it also plays an essential role in national defense infrastructure. The Port of Alaska is a “U.S. Commercial Strategic Seaport”, supporting DoD missions in Alaska, the Pacific and the Arctic. (ADA-Accessible)

  • May. 18
    10:00 am to 12:00 pm

    WIR Board of Directors Meeting

    Summit Hall 1, Lower Level

  • May. 18
    12:00 pm to 1:30 pm

    Lunch on Your Own

  • May. 18
    12:15 pm to 1:30 pm

    WIR State Associations Executives Lunch

  • May. 18
    1:30 pm to 5:00 pm

    Agriculture and Rural Affairs Policy Steering Committee Mobile Tour

    Main Entrance, Egan Convention Center

    Attendees will head to Palmer, Alaska to experience Alaska’s agricultural landscape firsthand. The Matanuska Experiment Farm and Extension Center is a working research farm with 260 acres of cultivated land and 800 acres of forestland for research and demonstration purposes. The Alaska Plant Materials Center exists to promote and encourage development of an agriculture industry in Alaska. 

  • May. 18
    1:30 pm to 5:00 pm

    Energy, Environment and Land Use (EELU) Policy Steering Committee Mobile Tour

    Main Entrance, Egan Convention Center

    Alaska is known for many things, one of which being the excellent water quality. The water transmission and distribution system pipe network covering over 840 miles, and servicing over 300,000 people. This tour will take you on the journey that raw water goes through, eventually becoming potable water, to be distributed for domestic, commercial and firefighting uses for over 300,000 people. Please note that this tour involves walking through narrow passages and use of stairs. 

  • May. 18
    1:30 pm to 5:00 pm

    Public Lands Policy Steering Committee Mobile Tour

    Main Entrance, Egan Convention Center

    Attendees on this tour will visit the Campbell Tract Facility, a recreation area roughly 30 minutes outside of Anchorage managed by the U.S. Department of the Interior - Bureau of Land Management. 

  • May. 18
    6:30 pm to 8:30 pm

    NACo/WIR Board of Directors Reception

  • May. 18
    6:30 pm to 8:30 pm

    RAC Steering Committee Reception

Thursday, May 19, 2022

  • May. 19
    7:30 am to 4:30 pm

    Conference Registration Open

    Registration Lobby, Street Level

  • May. 19
    8:30 am to 10:00 am

    Opening General Session

    Cook/Arteaga, Street Level

  • May. 19
    10:15 am to 11:45 am

    Connecting Counties & Military Installations: Supporting National Defense & Strengthening Local Communities

    Summit Hall 1, Lower Level

    This workshop will convene county leaders from military installation-counties and officials from the U.S. Department of Defense(DoD). Join this event to engage in peer-learning and discussion around opportunities, resources, and ideas to foster and strengthen county-military partnerships, with a particular emphasis on conservation and land-use planning around military installations through the DoD Readiness & Environmental Protection Integration(REPI) and Sentinel Landscapes programs.   

  • May. 19
    10:15 am to 11:45 am

    Connecting Residents to Crisis Care: Implementing the 988 Suicide Lifeline in Rural Communities

    Summit Hall 3, Lower Level

    The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated mental health challenges in nearly every geographic region of the U.S., with rural regions experiencing notably higher rates of serious mental illness. Across the nation, counties are currently preparing to implement the 988-Suicide Lifeline this summer with support from federal resources for improved accessibility of crisis response services. This panel will examine the unique challenges and opportunities for rural communities in building a local crisis response infrastructure through the implementation of 988. 

  • May. 19
    10:15 am to 11:45 am

    Nationwide Market Insights

    Summit Hall 2, Lower Level

    Our perspective on the market and economic forces influencing investment planning and retirement. One of the challenges of planning for a more secure financial future comes in understanding the market and economic forces that affect investment performance and influence investment decisions. With Nationwide Market Insights, we present insights and informative commentary about the economy and the financial markets from Nationwide’s staff of economists. You can share Nationwide Market Insights with clients to help answer questions about investment performance and inspire greater confidence in the guidance you provide. 

  • May. 19
    12:00 pm to 1:15 pm

    Attendee Luncheon

    Cook/Arteaga, Street Level

  • May. 19
    1:30 pm to 3:00 pm

    Building Resilience in Small Communities: Addressing Common Financing and Technical Assistance Concerns

    Summit Hall 1, Lower Level

    Small communities have been unable to access federal pre-disaster mitigation programs, including the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities Program, often due to a lack of staff capacity, financial resources and technical assistance support. This session will provide members with concrete actions to address financing and assistance concerns, as well as highlight ways communities can work together to tackle common issues in this space.  

  • May. 19
    1:30 pm to 3:00 pm

    Primer for Rural County Leaders: Navigating the American Rescue Plan Act & Bipartisan Infrastructure Law

    Summit Hall 2, Lower Level

    Over the past year, historic federal investments have been made in local communities through both the American Rescue Plan Act and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL). County officials now have the complex job of determining which funding stream will best meet local needs. Join this workshop to learn more from NACo staff about how utilizing these two funding streams can maximize the impact of federal infrastructure investments in rural communities.

  • May. 19
    1:30 pm to 3:00 pm

    Supporting and Investing In America’s Tourism Economy

    Summit Hall 3, Lower Level

    Counties and states, along with our federal partners, play a key role in supporting local tourism and recreation economies. As significant supporters of the nation’s tourism industry, counties are finding innovative ways to continue investing in recreation. Join this session to learn more from local, state and federal tourism officials about how we can support America’s tourism industry through the intergovernmental partnership at the local level, including through new investments under the infrastructure law.  

  • May. 19
    1:30 pm to 4:00 pm

    NACo Board of Directors Meeting

    La Perouse, Street Level

  • May. 19
    3:30 pm to 5:00 pm

    Anchorage Election Center

    Registration Lobby, Street Level

    Elections with universal ballot distribution by mail are becoming increasingly popular in the western United States. Vote-at-home election systems offer voters the option to vote their ballot in the convenience of their own home or to choose other options to vote. The Municipality of Anchorage Election Center is an example of a well-planned ballot processing facility. This tour will give a comprehensive look at how the center securely distributes, processes, and tabulates ballots for the Municipality of Anchorage and other borough elections in Alaska.

  • May. 19
    3:30 pm to 5:00 pm

    Federal Agency Partner Session with the U.S. Department of the Interior and the U.S. Forest Service

    Summit Hall 1, Lower Level

  • May. 19
    6:30 pm to 8:30 pm

    Conference-wide Reception

    Grand Ballroom, Dena’ina Convention Center

Friday, May 20, 2022

  • May. 20
    8:00 am to 12:00 pm

    Conference Registration Open

    Registration Lobby, Street Level

  • May. 20
    8:30 am to 9:00 am

    WIR Annual Business Meeting

    Cook/Arteaga, Street Level

  • May. 20
    9:00 am to 10:30 am

    General Session

    Cook/Arteaga, Street Level

  • May. 20
    10:45 am to 12:15 pm

    Broadband Solutions and Practices in Hard-To-Build Regions: Resources for Rural Counties

    Summit Hall 2, Lower Level

    Join this workshop to learn more about new and existing funding opportunities for broadband deployment in hard-to-build and rural areas. The discussion will focus on methods for building community support for expanding access, with an emphasis on lessons learned and county case studies. This session will ultimately identify resources for rural and public lands counties seeking to deploy broadband. 

  • May. 20
    10:45 am to 12:15 pm

    Coal Communities: Investing in the Intergovernmental Partnership

    Summit Hall 1, Lower Level

    Counties across America are home to coal communities, including many that are transitioning to new economy bases. Learn more about the latest resources available to support these communities through the Interagency Working Group (IWG) for Coal and Power Plant Communities. Established by President Biden in a 2021 Executive Order, the IWG is responsible for coordinating federal funding opportunities for coal communities, as well as reducing barriers to access for these communities across the federal government. 

  • May. 20
    10:45 am to 12:15 pm

    NACo Board of Directors Orientation

    Summit Hall 3, Lower Level