September 20, 2012 | Vol. 39, No. 38

Letters to the Editor

Job well done

To the Editor:

Thanks to Jesse O Connor, our local gardener who does all the hanging baskets and who cares for the little parks we have downtown.  Also who has a more beautiful cemetery then Petersburg? I think we do.  I’ve been to most of them in Alaska and we out shine them all. 

Great job Jesse. Hope we don’t ever lose you. 

Patty Simpson

Do your own research

To the Editor:

I admire and respect those who have been advocating for the formation of a Petersburg Borough. I know that they are good people who have worked hard for their community and who truly believe they have the best interests of their fellow citizens in their hearts and minds. But, I have to say that I disagree with them over this issue.

There has been a lot of rhetoric on both sides of this question. The proponents have said one or two things that resonate well, even with me. But they have also thrown a truckload of baloney at the wall in the hopes that some of it will stick before the ship leaves the station.

I could go on and on about most of the reasons they give for forming a borough and almost all of them can be refuted by a little research and logic.

After a lot of sleepless nights thinking about this, I decided to throw out all of the rhetoric and see if there is an underlying principle that can clearly and concisely define and differentiate the two positions. It boils down to the size of government and its resulting influence over your life.

If you believe in bigger government, more taxation to pay for it, more municipal employees to run it, more rules and regulations to control everyone, and concentration of authority and power in comparatively fewer hands, then by all means vote for the borough.

If, on the other hand, you believe as I do, in smaller government with fewer municipal employees resulting in less tax dollars taken from you to pay for them, and fewer rules and regulations with more personal freedom and personal responsibility, and you want to retain the maximum possible control over your own lives and property, then you must vote against the borough.

It is really quite simple. Vote yes for bigger government or vote no for smaller government. I urge you to do your own research. Go to the Alaska Department of Labor Website and check out the significant increase in the number of Wrangell municipal employees since they became a borough. While you are there, look at the trend of increasing the size of borough governments even as the overall population in Southeast is declining and is projected to keep declining for the next 15 years. The result is more government to serve fewer people. If you do check out these things, you will most certainly vote no in the upcoming election.

George Cole

Keene Channel

Town of Petersburg is needed

To the Editor:

I have just about reached the limits of my trying to understand the reasoning of some of the residents, outside the Petersburg city limits, concerning why they owe nothing toward the existence of the town. If Petersburg didn’t exist there would be no swimming pool, hospital, Post Office, library, air charter services, museum, ball field, gymnasium, harbor facilities, schools, churches, employment and social opportunities, or a main street full of everything needed for every day living, sold in stores of which many are just hanging on. I doubt if the State of Alaska would construct and maintain a fine, paved highway from Papke’s Landing to the north end of Mitkof Island if there was no Petersburg.

I feel the residents of this area are all in this together and should do everything possible to ensure the existence and future of the greatest place in the world to be. I am sure the State would not have proposed the location of an airport on the muskeg 15 miles north of Papke’s Landing or Beechers Pass if the town didn’t exist. It would be a little difficult for the Medivac plane to land on the beach down there, especially at high tide. And how about the ferry on which so many anti civilization people depend? It would be a long skiff ride to some places that didn’t have a borough government to justify a ferry terminal.

So you see, it’s not only the tangible things that one receives in the way of services or goods but the fact that there would be none of this if there was no town. I don’t care how independent one wishes to be, life as everyone desires, could not happen outside the corporate area if there was no Petersburg. And to have a Petersburg, money in one way or another, is needed. Residents outside the tax paying area would be denied air and ferry travel, Oktoberfest, Fourth of July activities, high school athletic events, marathon running, KFSK, KRSA, the Petersburg Pilot, the Coast Guard, and the satisfaction of calling the best little town in the world, home.

Don Nelson

We are very fortunate

To the Editor:

Our economy here in Petersburg is very good, with homes full, jobs looking for employees and money flowing through town.  When we compare our strong economy with other communities in our state and especially our nation, we see that we are very fortunate.  The major difference between us and these other communities is that we have a hardworking, aggressive and diverse fishing fleet who go out and harvest a natural resource, convert it to dollars and then spend a great deal of it in our small town.  It is important to recognize the driver of our economy and what we all benefit from.  Whether a fish processor, barber, grocery store, fuel dock, bar, hotel or contractor, we all benefit from the money generated by our fleet.

As we enjoy this strong local economy we can never take it for granted, and we must do all we can as a community to contribute to its strength.  While there are many contributors to our economy the “meat and potatoes” is being the homeport to a large number of successful fishing businesses.  The number one way we can insure a healthy future is to increase the number of boats, licenses and quota that call Petersburg home. 

Our top 3 economic priorities must be to: 1.) Keep the boats that live and work out of Petersburg here. 2.) Make this the most attractive and efficient homeport for a fisherman and their family, so that we attract other existing fishermen to move here. 3.) Support our young fishermen and deckhands to further their investments in the industry and grow their businesses, here.

If I seem a little tunnel visioned it is because of the numbers.  Each member of our small boat fleet that trolls, gillnets, shrimps, crabs, long lines, etc., support families and local businesses through their fishing production. A single strong seiner/longliner that grosses $500,000 has his home here, supports 3-4 families who live in Petersburg, buys his fuel and groceries here and services his boat here can have as much positive impact on our economy as a main street store, hotel or other private sector business.

We need to do everything we can to make this the community where fishermen like this want to homeport.  They are a very valuable citizen and other towns would love to attract these mobile businesses; to live in their communities, do their service work in their yards, buy their goods in their stores, and sell to their processors. We have to compete, and that means having the best infrastructure and services to help these businesses prosper.

We have before us now an opportunity to greatly improve our infrastructure with the purchase of the Reid Property.  The purchase is a unique waterfront property that will double our crane dock access, give us over 5 times as much contiguous outside storage area and make working out of Petersburg much more convenient and efficient for our fleet.  There is no other property on the island that is as ready or capable of immediately helping our fishing businesses.  This purchase will provide needed infrastructure for the next 50 years of economic growth of our fishing fleet and the marine services that will grow to support it.

A strong fishing fleet means a strong Petersburg economy.  I hope you will agree with me and vote YES to purchase the Reid Property, a purchase that will benefit the entire community.


Dave Ohmer

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