The Midnight Sun Council, BSA salutes,


Bernie Karl and Connie Parks-Karl


Distinguished Citizens 2019 

  The Council holds its 37th Annual Distinguished Citizen Banquet

on December 11, 2019

celebrating the accomplishments of

Bernie Karl and Connie Parks-Karl



Constance Parks was born in Andover, CT, the single girl after 4 older brothers. It can only be imagined that she had an adventurous spirit from the get-go. Connie would tell you she had a great childhood, but lived in the country which, at that time, limited the activities a child could do. She has since made up for that!

When Connie was in her twenties, she hopped in her car, said goodbye to her father and ventured across country. She would go as far as her wallet would take her. Each time she ran out of money, she found a “manpower agency” and took a temp job to make enough money to get to the next adventure. She ended up at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico and somehow became part of a camera crew with a backstage pass!

In 1971, her thirst for adventure took her to Alaska to work on the pipeline, where at a mere 5 feet tall, she was changing truck tires more than double her height and powering through a man’s world. She fell in love with Alaska and has humbly made it her home ever since, always doing her best to improve her community. Connie has worked alongside Bernie for more than 40 years, helping to manage K & K Recycling, Chena Hot Springs Resort and a few other business ventures. She is a past President of Fairbanks Women in mining, member of the Fairbanks Quota Club, past member of the Fairbanks North Star Borough Air Quality Commission, member of the Fairbanks Chamber of Commerce and the Visitors and Convention Bureau. As a former girl scout leader, Connie was the recipient of the 2013 Farthest North Girl Scout Woman of Distinction Award.


Bernie Karl would tell you he’s a “paper boy from Peoria, IL”. That’s where he was raised, #6 in a family of 16. That’s where his work ethic came from, as he delivered papers and mowed lawns to help his family. His entrepreneurial spirit led him to his first venture collecting houses to rent and by age 20 working multiple jobs at both Caterpillar Tractor and Pabst Brewery.

But Bernie had an adventurous spirit as well and he had an interest in the vast unknown we call Alaska. The opportunity to go and work there was an incredible opportunity, so he took it. He left home in 1974 and would only return to visit. Bernie went to work on the Alyeska Pipeline. He lied about his age so that he would be better respected by his colleagues and tirelessly read manuals so that he could fix machines without having the experience, only the knowledge from the books.

Bernie Karl LOVES Alaska. He notably says, “God lives here, he visits everywhere else”. Bernie has made it his mission to improve the lives of others, living the “sustainable is attainable” mantra and using his geothermal expertise to encourage others to live that lifestyle.

Always with Connie by his side, he mined for gold, started K & K Recycling, turned Chena Hot Springs into a worldclass resort, moved a camp from the North Slope to Healy and then to Kodiak, and has had a hand in countless other business ventures. Bernie was named the 2010 Business Leader of the Year by the UAF School of Management.

Bernie and Connie met on the pipeline. She was a cute little blonde, driving the bus hauling workers to and from camp. According to Connie, he was a “loudmouthed jerk” who happened to ride her bus. It took some convincing, but Connie ended up giving Bernie a chance. When she started checking off the list all the big dreams Bernie said he would accomplish; she knew he was for real. That was over 40 years ago. Since then, they have lived an incredible Alaskan life together, making the Golden Heart City their home. But it is their hearts of gold that have made them extremely dedicated to Alaska. They have always tried to make it a better place. Most recently, they made sure that Ice Alaska, an organization they helped start many years ago, is still running.

Above all the incredible accomplishments over the years, their biggest accomplishment is their dedication to each other and their family. Connie was diagnosed with ALS in January of this year. Bernie has taken care of her every day since. These two Alaskans don’t tell you how they feel, they show you with their actions. This couple meant it when they said, “For better or for worse,” and they show us all how to live life to the fullest. Bernie and Connie have one daughter, Amber, and her husband Doug. They have two grandchildren, Ava & Sara, who are all blessed to have these two people as role models.


Honors & Awards

• 1991 – North Slope Environmental Achievement Award
• 2004 - Jim & Mary Binkley Award – Fairbanks Convention & Visitors Bureau, for the
Aurora Ice Hotel
• Testified before U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, July 11, 2006
• 2006 R&D 100 Award, 2006 Project of the Year in the Renewable Energy Category from Power Engineering Magazine Power Generation Conference
• 2006 Green Power Leadership Award from the Environmental Protection Agency and
Department of Energy
• 2006 - Project of the year – Best Renewable/Alternative Project – Chena Power for
Chena Hot Springs geothermal power plant, by Power Engineering.
• 2006 – Honorary American Degree – “Bernie Karl was awarded the Honorary American Degree in recognition of outstanding contributions made to youth through agricultural education and FFA” – Given in Indianapolis, Indiana.
• 2006 - Green Power On-Site Generation Award by DOE and EPA , Chena Hot
Springs Resort Green Power Leadership Award
• 2007 - R & D 100 Award jointly presented to Chena Hot Springs Resort and United Technology Corporation by R & D Magazine, as one of the 100 most technologically significant new products of the year.
• 2009 – Headquarters Company 1st Stryker Brigade, 25th Infantry, Fort Wainwright, Alaska – “For continued support of the U S Army and scouting and the introduction
of the scouts to geothermal energy”
• Innovating Award presented to Bernie Karl by the Denali Commission – “Thank you for exemplary leadership and partnership. You are a great example of the power of working together.” By George Cannelos
• Chena Hot Springs Resort – “Making a positive difference in Alaska’s future, education, inspiring, and supporting youth, agriculture and natural resources. With appreciation, the Alaska FFA”
• 2010 – UAF School of Management 34th Business Leader of the Year
• 2010 – Fairbanks Greater Chamber of Commerce Bill Stroecker Business of the Year
Award – Chena Hot Springs Resort

2013 Women of Distinction- Connie Parks-Karl, by the Farthest North Girl Scout Council
2017 Governor’s North Star Awards for International Excellence
2019 Golden Heart Award- Connie Parks-Karl, by Explore Fairbanks, “for her exceptional hospitality, commitment and effort to Fairbanks’ visitors.”



Distinguished Citizens Banquet invitation 

Distinguished Citizens Banquet Response card - RSVP 




A big Thank you to our Sponsors!!


 Alaska Airlines 

 Bell Development

Bennett Engineering Bettisworth North
Chena Hot Springs Resort CSG, Inc.
Denali State Bank Doyon Utilities
Everts Air Cargo GCI
Foundation Health Partners Ghemm Company
Jeanine Lynden Jim Jansen
McKinley Bank State Farm Insurance-Dick Randolph
Usibelli Coal Mine Wilson & Wilson CPA
Dennis and Mary Wise  


Sponsorship Letter (coming soon)

Sponsorship response card (coming soon)



 Past Recipients:

Earl A. Cook, 1983

Mary Jane Fate, 1996

Jim Lund, 2009

V. Paul Gavora, 1984

V. Paul Gavora, 1997

Michael K. Powers, 2010

Leo Schlotfedlt, 1985

Michael T. Cook, 1998

Dermot Cole, 2011

Grace Berg Schaible, 1986

Paul & Jane Massey, 1999

Terrance Cole, 2011

Earl Hoover Beistline, 1987

Harry "Red" Porter, 2000

Nancy Hanson, 2012

Joseph Emil Usibelli, 1988

William G. Stroecker, 2001

Robert B. Groseclose, 2013

Jeffrey J. Cook, 1989

Betty L. Everts, 2002

Barbara L. Schuhmann, 2013

Jo Ryman Scott, 1990

Skip Cook, 2003

Mike & Peggy Pollen, 2014

Arthur Stephen Buswell, 1991

Mary E. Binkley, 2004

Bert & Becky Bell, 2015

William Ransom Wood, 1992

Glen Hackney, 2005

 C.B. Bettisworth, 2016

Richard A. Wien, 1993

Richard & Anna Frank, 2006

 Karen Perdue, 2016

Frank X. Chapados, 1994

Dennis & Mary Wise, 2007 

 Mike & Peggy Ferguson, 2017

Francis W. McGuigan, S.J., 1995

Chuck & Carolyne Wallace, 2008

 Jo and Steve Heckman, 2018



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