Egegik has a new city administrator

Jul 6, 2017

Bill Yost is moving his family of four to Egegik and replacing Don Strand as city administrator. Strand is retiring after more than ten years in office.

Bill Yost and his family at church in Egegik.
Credit KDLG

Long time Egegik City Administrator Don Strand is retiring next month. His replacement is Bill Yost, a former missionary and city manager from East Texas. Yost is moving his family of four to Egegik--a town with less than 30 year round residents. 

KDLG's Nick Ciolino has details:

During his tenure, Strand has built up Egegik’s infrastructure, with the hope of creating jobs and housing for new families. He has added a city run power plant, a replacement incinerator and four houses to the town.

Strand has also reserved funds from the city’s 3% tax on the fishing industry to pay for next year’s budget.

“Our fishing money normally comes in at the back of the year,” said Strand. “If we were relying on that money for the year, and all of a sudden fishing had a bad year, it would not be a pleasant scenario.”

Strand is working with Yost as both assistant and instructor to facilitate the transition next month.

Yost and his family recently moved to Egegik from the Upper Peninsula in Michigan--part of a search to find an environment agreeable with the oldest daughter of the family’s health. Eighteen year old Sarah Yost suffers from a rare condition called Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity, which gives her symptoms similar to Fibromyalgia brought on by wireless radiation. She feels ill in areas concentrated with wireless internet, cell phones and cell phone towers.The Yost family traveled the country for the better part of the last two years, searching for a place far enough removed from modern technologies, where Sara could feel healthy.

“You could say we were refugees in our own country for a while,” said Sara Yost. “It seems like, oh yeah, it’s really easy to find some place out in the middle of nowhere, but really with the way that our society is progressing so quickly with all this modern technology, it’s getting very difficult to find any sort of safe zone.’

Egegik seems to be agreeing with Sara. The often spotty wireless internet and cell phone reception in the area has not had the same adverse effect on her health she experienced in other parts of the country.

And the people of Egegik are welcoming the Yosts. While Don Strand is a community leader who will be missed by many, several residents have expressed a positive first impression of Bill and his family.

“When we learned he (Strand) was retiring, we were kind of sad in a way,” said Paul Buskoffsky, a local fisherman and writer who has spent most of his life in Egegik, and now works the winter months at the Alaska General Seafood plant in Naknek. “We found and spoke to Bill, that’s taking his place. It sounds like he’s going to work out pretty well, because, to me, he’s a people person, and that’s what we need here.”

Strand is confident in Bill Yost as a replacement, but says there isn’t one answer to bringing back a year-round population base to Egegik.

“There’s pretty limited business opportunities with small population areas,” said Strand. “The fewer people you have the less businesses you can have.”

Yost acknowledges the challenges ahead of him, but is glad to have settled his family in a small, quiet town which agrees with Sara’s health.

“Those are some unique conditions that we have right now, and changing that is going to take some creative ideas,” said Yost. “Being so new to the community, I’m still trying to gauge things.”

Yost takes over the job as Egegik city manager next month when Strand retires. Strand says he plans to move King Salmon at the end of his tenure.

Contact KDLG's Nick Ciolino at nicholas@kdlg.org or 907-842-5281