LAS VEGAS—For his willingness to take a tough stand for integrity and fairness on the job, and for making a difference every day in his Ketchikan, Alaska, community, Jim Pomplun today received an American Federation of Teachers Everyday Hero award recognizing his years of dedication and volunteer service.
Pomplun, a cartographer for the Ketchikan Gateway Borough planning department, said, “I make an effort to understand an issue from all sides.” In the workplace, he added, it is important to “always try to be civil.”
After moving to Ketchikan from the Midwest in 2005, Pomplun quickly became active in his new community. He is a member of the board of directors for his local public radio station and serves on the Alaska State Parks Advisory Board.
On top of all that, Pomplun is a member of the Ketchikan Volunteer Rescue Squad, which aids in search and rescue operations for people who get lost—many of them hikers in the 17 million-acre Tongass National Forest that surrounds Ketchikan. The squad conducts six to 12 rescue operations every year.
This kind of volunteerism, Pomplun said, is part of the character of Ketchikan. The town of about 15,000 residents relies on volunteers for a variety of services. “I enjoy helping shape my community,” Pomplun said, “because, in the end, the community does more to shape me than I could ever imagine.”
This is the second year of the AFT Everyday Hero awards, which are given to AFT members who go above and beyond the call of duty and make a difference every day in their workplaces or communities. This year, there were more than 350 nominees, and five semifinalists were selected for each AFT division (Teachers, Paraprofessionals and School-Related Personnel, Public Employees, Higher Education, Healthcare and Retirees). More than 5,000 people voted online to select the winners.
This year, the Everyday Heroes are being honored at their divisional conferences. Pomplun, a member of the Alaska Public Employees Association’s Ketchikan Gateway Borough, Local 6137, received his award at the AFT Healthcare/Public Employees Joint Conference in Las Vegas. The other AFT Public Employees semifinalists were Rich Aarstad, an accession archivist/oral historian for the Montana Historical Society (Montana Federation of Historical Society Workers, MEA/MFT Local 4367); Bryan Gunning, a fiscal administrative officer for the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection (Administrative and Residual Employees Union, AFT Local 4200); Ed Kautz, a wildlife biometrician for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (New York State Public Employees Federation, Local 4053); and Dawn Thomas, an application architect for systems integration for the University of Connecticut Health Center (University Health Professionals, Local 3837).