The University of Alaska Fairbanks uncovered a slab of local history this week as crews dug a trench between the Gruening Building and the Rasmuson Library for a new utility line.

About three feet below the surface, the workers hit a concrete slab, painted red, and a small concrete wall, painted yellow.

Engineer Jenny Campbell said it took hours to trace the concrete details.

Bill Cox, superintendent of maintenance, asked his dad, Jim Cox, to take a look. Jim, 83, was a student at the university more than 60 years ago after coming to Fairbanks with his brother, Ted Cox.

Jim said he thought it might be the old fire station, but a perusal of campus maps and drawings from years ago led to another conclusion — Main Dorm.

After learning this, Jim said, “I should have known that. I lived in that building.”

It appears that most of the foundation of the dorm was left alone after the building was torn down more than a half-century ago. The Rasmuson Library,  built in 1968, extends over part of the spot. The rest of the foundation was simply covered with dirt and gravel.

The dorm was built in 1927 and became the men’s dorm, while the first dorm on campus became the women’s dorm.

The building was not full in the early years and miners who took the 10-week mining short course were encouraged to write UA President Charles Bunnell for reservations. The cost was $55 per month for room and board in 1927.

Campbell said there are no active utility lines in that spot between Gruening and the library. She said a four-foot swath was cut through the foundation Thursday to allow the excavation to proceed.

An 8-inch plastic chilled water line is to be installed at a depth of five feet and extend toward the Chapman Building. The chilled water line provides cooling in the summer, while it will carry a glycol mixture in the winter to help provide heat.

Ghemm Co. of Fairbanks is the general contractor for the Wood Center dining facility addition and Moonlighting Construction is the subcontractor on the dirt work.


GVEA BOARD: Chris Bunch received 39 percent of the vote in a Golden Valley Electric Association board election, one percentage point shy of the minimum needed for victory, so he will face a runoff election with second-place finisher Hank Bartos.

Bartos received 31 percent of the ballots cast or 231 votes, two votes more than third-place finisher Dick Holm, who had 30 percent. Overall the turnout was 13 percent of the eligible voters, with 773 ballots returned, according to a GVEA tally Thursday night.

In the other GVEA board race, John Sloan, of Delta, was re-elected with 75 percent of the vote, while challenger Steve Lemons had 25 percent. Sloan had 273 votes and Lemons had 92.

The ballots for the Bunch-Bartos runoff are to be mailed June 14 to GVEA members in District 5, which had been represented by Ron Bergh for 33 years. He did not run for re-election. Ballots are due by July 16. District 5 includes North Pole, Moose Creek, Eielson and south to the Salcha River.

In 2012, the average members of the GVEA board received a taxable income of $33,051, based on a rate of $450 for regular monthly meetings of up to four hours and $600 for meetings lasting longer than four hours, plus travel. The range for board member compensation was from $26,780 to $47,761.

Board members also can get health insurance, paying 25 percent of the premium. If they don’t receive health insurance, they get a payment “equal to the 75 percent of the health insurance premium incurred by the association for an employee,” GVEA said.

Dermot Cole can be reached at or 459-7530. Follow him on Twitter at @FDNMdermot.