Governor Sean Parnell was welcomed to town by Petersburg Mayor Al Dwyer Thursday afternoon at a reception in the City Council chambers.
“We are happy to welcome you to Petersburg,” Dwyer said. “This is the man that has made it possible to have funding of over $11 million this year alone.”
The governor was presented gifts from the Sons of Norway, the Petersburg Parks and Recreation Department and others.
“I am a son of Norway,” Parnell said. “I am happy to make myself available to you.”
“I want to speak of our future as Alaskans,” he said.
Parnell took the time to show his pride in the Petersburg School System. “I want to congratulate the Petersburg Public Schools for earning the Bronze Medal for achievement.”
Many concerns were voiced such as the road to Kake and the impact it may have on the raw fish tax, declining oil production, keeping the raw fish tax in the community and the Alaska Marine Highway System.
The governor answered them all with confidence and concern for the citizens of Petersburg and Alaska.
“We want to keep a vibrant fishing community with Petersburg,” Parnell said. “Don’t view new infrastructure as a threat, view it as an opportunity. Be creative and innovative and Petersburg will come out on top.”
He also stated that he was happy that he came into office with a budget with room to show there will be more freedom. “I have a working House, a working Senate, with a working governor, that is the beginning for success.”
Ports and harbors are the main focus at the moment with the possibility of commuter ferries. “We don’t want to be left behind in the transportation department,” Parnell said.
A suggestion was made to send a representative to study the Norwegian ferries.
“The Department of Transportation has been to Norway,” Parnell stated. “The Alaska fast ferries are great but they don’t come to Petersburg, Wrangell or Sitka.”
This administration is committed to transportation to Petersburg, but also to the concern of skilled labor in the area.
“There will be a representative of the Department of Labor visiting this area soon to discuss the need for skilled labor and the disconnection from employers and state programs.” Parnell said.
The governor also toured the Ocean Beauty Seafoods plant to view the damage done during last month’s ferry accident. He has also made stops in Ketchikan, Wrangell and Sitka.