NOME, AK (June 15, 2015) — A new triplex apartment building will help KICY radio station pay for increased ministry costs while also adding much needed housing to the area, said station manager Dennis Weidler.
The 50,000-watt clear channel station located near the Bering Sea broadcasts gospel music and other Christian programming to 40 Native Alaskan villages throughout the western portion of the state and into far east Russia.
Its greatest single cost is electricity, but rates in this community have continued to soar. “Unless we could increase monthly income, the long-term financial future of KICY looked a little grim,” Weidler said. “We need to be able to stabilize month-to-month cash flow to assimilate these ever-increasing costs.”
Housing shortages in the city also have reached “catastrophic proportions,” Weidler said. “There’s a new hospital still understaffed by about 125 positions. Teachers, state employees, police officers all have desperately been trying to find housing.”
Weidler came up with the idea several years ago to construct a multi-unit apartment building using grant funding, donations, and volunteer labor so that the station would own the building without having to pay a mortgage.
“Today, we are looking a finishing a building that would have cost more than $1 million to build at current Nome construction costs for $400,000 instead,” Weidler said.
In addition to the three spacious apartments, the 4,200-square-foot structure will include four heated, climate-controlled storage units.
Weidler praised the volunteers who have come from across the United States and sometimes endured tough conditions. “The building was weathered-in by October,” he said. “Work continued on the interior, but there was still no heat. Volunteers found it a little ‘nippy’ inside the triplex last November while they roughed-in the plumbing and did the electrical work.”
The station had to use local labor to install the boiler and heating system, which cost $125 an hour. “So you can understand why volunteer labor was the only way this project could be done.”
Weidler added that he was also grateful that the station was able to secure a grant from the Murdock Charitable Trust, which has covered nearly half of the construction cost.
The building is expected to be completed sometime in late fall.