August 12, 2010


Science Users:  Jim Laundre, Elissa Schuett, Julia and Anthony Darrouzet-Nardi

Toolik Staff:  Mike Abels, Brett Biebuyck, Chad Diesinger, Jake Schas, Shelby Bakken and Faye Ethridge

Mike Abels facilitated the session which began at 7:35pm.

Mike asked for users input regarding any general use scientific equipment that needed to be replaced, procured or was constantly in demand resulting in the need to acquire more.  Mike cautioned that it needed to be general use, not project specific.

Mike acknowledged that the new R/O system we installed in the Wet Lab last year is working well, but a year round system is needed that will accommodate the filling of barrels.  He outlined a plan Toolik Management is pursuing to modify the new Well House and water skid to include an R/O system because that facility will be heated year round.  

Chad joined the session at 7:43pm with the Suggestion Box in hand.

Mike explained that Toolik has a bicycle replacement plan and will be procuring two or three per year.

Chad added that the additional of Joe Huebner, a bicycle mechanic, was a tremendous boost to the serviceability and longevity of the camp bicycles.

Mike directed that the mule be shipped to Fairbanks for a professional assessment.

If anyone thinks of any other general use items that camp needs, please email the suggestion to Mike.

Brett briefed that he is working on an overhaul of the Toolik website.  Improvements will include automating the truck reservation system.

Mike announced the exciting news that Dr. Anja Kade has been hired as Toolik’s new EDC Manager.  She will begin her duties on September 7th.

The new kitchen facility project is coming along quite well for a two year project that was compressed into one.  Fast response times have been critical because of the pace of the project.

Mike shared that Ed Debevec will be working half time for Toolik.  In the past our sites have been HTML based and now we are moving to a data base design.  The former was page based and now tables are accessed to make updates or changes.

At 7:56pm all comments from the floor had been expressed. 

At that time Chad opened the Suggestion Box and read out loud the six submissions from the box.

  1. Thoughts on towel service: 

    I think we can be responsible for our own towels, including washing them.  I don’t think Toolik needs a towel service, nor do I think that Staff should be responsible for laundering anything but their own clothes.  Thanks!

    Chad shared that he has fielded many questions regarding the new linen service.  Users have conveyed their feelings that Toolik “is becoming too fancy”.

    He defended the service, explaining that it is a protecting our investment in the new mattresses that were purchased this year. 

    Chad thought that providing pillows would also be a good addition, as they are quite bulky for users to bring in their luggage.

    He finished by stating that he was not in favor of the towel concept.

    Faye reviewed the history of the towel concept relating back to the last User Forum and the concerns about the use of space in the sauna and shower module.

    Chad noted that he has received opposition to labeling cubbies with name and date departing.  Some have perceived it as a ‘big brother’ action.  He explained that the purpose of the labels was to identify cubbies with personal items that were inadvertently left by departing users who overlooked retrieving their personal items.

    Mike advised that he had run the numbers and it was more efficient and cost effective to send the mattress covers to Fairbanks rather than have the FOAs launder them in camp.

    Jim commented that he was amazed that the new electronic washers got by Mike, noting that in the past Mike always strived to purchase items with simple features, specifically dials.

    Mike affirmed that the past logic was to select items that functioned as simply as possible.

    Faye contributed that the primary reason for choosing the new washers was that they were the most energy efficient units available.

  2. Suggestions:
    1. Post current water restrictions somewhere on website.  Laundry frequency is huge when you’re trying to pack! (I would have brought more underwear!)
    2. Baby carrots in the sandwich bar fridge would be awesome.
    3. More stinky coconut air fresheners in the towers J.
  3. Suggestion for the dininghall…

    It is so easy to make a mess when making lunch at the Deli counter or serving leftovers or snacking and I constantly see the kitchen staff cleaning up after our small messes.  It would be very easy for folks to cleanup after themselves if there was a small tub somewhere with a bleach water and cleaning cloth.  Would be very happy to save staff time and clean up after myself.  Thanks,  Amy S.

    Jake commented that he had seen this problem and proposed solution in the past.  He shared that it becomes a problem when well meaning folks use the cloth to clean up a spill on the floor and then return the cloth to the tub. This compromises the cloth.   He emphasized that the uncontrolled nature was a negative issue.

    Chad suggested that maybe we could try it if we put a sign on the tub not to use the cloth on the floor.

  4. Sweet Potato Fries!
  5. Sponge / cloth to wipe sandwich center counter would be great… especially on Sat evenings & Sunday mornings
  6. I do not like the idea of a towel service.  Most campers wash their towel with their clothes so there would be no water savings.  The space issue doesn’t warrant such a solution.  TFS should not function like a hotel – too much money ends up being spent making campers comfortable that could be funding research.

Comments from Mike:

From a historical perspective the realistic expectations for Toolik are changing, the hotel concept vs. a field station.  The dynamics are changing.  In the past senior project people would brief and clue in the new people.  Now project communication is down.  Some projects are hiring people and they just show up uninformed and unprepared.

Jim shared that MBL has a mail out for new folks on what to expect.

Mike gave an example of a whole new project with unrealistic expectations regarding the amount of staff support that is available.


Julia asked about warm storage for this upcoming winter.

Building T- 3 in Fairbanks has some space if there is an isolated item that must be in Fairbanks.

Julia asked if it was OK to stage warm storage items in tents right now.

Mike outlined that each item needs to be identifies with:

  1. a WARN STORAGE sticker
  2. date
  3. Project


Bill Krause, UAF EHS director will be coming up to camp in two weeks.  We will check with him to verify proper procedures/storage requirements for chemicals.

In the past he transported two or three totes to Fairbanks in the fall.

For this winter Toolik will identify one building with shelves already set up.

Toolik will ask Bill:

Did you really critically look at the chemicals you haul back to see if the items really need warm storage?

Mike emphasized our goal is not to have to ship items to Fairbanks.

Brett added that in the past the shoulder season trips south and north in the bed of the pickup was compromising the warm storage of the items.

Jim asked if flammable cabinets would be required.

Chad affirmed that Toolik needs the users to clarify that there are no hazardous material in the items they wish to store.

Brett outlined that in the past Bill just transported the totes to Fairbanks and placed them in a warm area and that they were properly inventoried.

Toolik will ask Bill if he has been segregating properly.

Mike acknowledged Toolik may need to purchase more chemical cabinets.

He stressed the importance of comprehensive labeling to eliminate the issues in the past of

Jim wondered if there were special storage parameters for ammonium nitrate fertilizer.

Mike was confident that it needs to be stored securely.  He suggested a fish tote with a hasp installed and locked.  This is not just for over winter storage but this material has a security requirement all the time.

After discussion it agreed Toolik will put a JOB BOX on this year’s list of one time needs.

Chad made a motion to adjourn.  The group concurred.

Mike thanked everyone for their input.

Meeting adjourned 8:41pm.