November 22, 2012 | Vol. 39, No. 47

Letters to the Editor

Thank you from VSC

To the Editor:

A big heartfelt thank you to the community of Petersburg for helping celebrate Viking Swim Club’s 40th Anniversary at the annual auction on Saturday. Viking Swim Club truly is blessed with an amazing community of supporters through donations, well wishes, and encouragement of swimmers in all of their endeavors. Over 40 years as a club, Viking Swim Club has seen hundreds of swimmers take their first dip in the pool and has encouraged their growth as athletes. Viking Swim Club swimmers have achieved personal best times, state qualifying times, state records, as well as scholarships to college and Olympic trials. The clubs success is due to the tremendous support from the community, parents, volunteers, and the excellent coaching staff over the last 40 years. Thank you Coach Andy and Coach Abbey for starting off our next 40 years with great swims at November Rain. Good luck to all Viking swimmers at Southeast Champs in Juneau December 7, 8, and 9.

Ginger Evens

Auction Chair

Thank you

To the Editor:

We want to thank Petersburg Mental Health Susan Ohmer and her staff for the delightful parties they’ve been putting on for our Senior citizens. Everyone has had a great time and given us a lot of good memories. We also thank the local Coast Guard for dancing with us and being such good sports.

Merry Armin, Room 272

Petersburg Hospital

A Borough means more rules

To the Editor:

Petersburg and surrounding area residents use Kupreanof, Mitkoff, and the mainland as their playground to get away from the day to day hustle and bustle. Currently, there are no rules and regulations other than those that apply to either state land or National Forest.

Ah, but don’t forget there are private lands and subdivisions scattered throughout these areas. Under the Petersburg proposed Charter and Petition all these lands will be subject to more regulations which will also apply to your use of these lands. You don’t believe this will happen? Read the Charter which gives the Assembly power to regulate. Look at page 3 of the Petition where it advocates more power and a stronger regional voice over these lands. Also, remember it’s easier for an Assembly to make more unnecessary blanket rules when folks complain rather than deal with the specific problem. I’ve already been asked by several individuals how to go about proposing regulations for these areas.

Seems the choices are clear. Vote yes on the borough if you want more rules applied to your playground. Vote no on the borough if you don’t want more regulation.

Bob Lynn

Local life worth preserving

To the Editor:

Fall is a wonderful time of year. The outward busyness of summer turns inward and our community relaxes into the comfortable familiarity of event-filled evenings, committee planning, and community discussions. This seasonal cycle has served Petersburg well and it is worth preserving. Also important in this cycle is the generosity of community members’ time, talents, and financial support for the variety of organizations and causes near and dear to our hearts. This aspect of local life also is worth preserving.

The desire to preserve our community is one reason that led to the establishment of the Petersburg Community Foundation (PCF). The PCF focuses on supporting community needs through an established permanent endowment; each year a percentage of the earnings from the endowment are used to grant funds to nonprofits serving our community. Adding funds to the endowment is especially advantageous now thanks to a challenge grant awarded to PCF by the Rasmuson Foundation. With this challenge, all donations made to PCF before the end of 2012 will be matched dollar-for-dollar by the Rasmuson Foundation. This provides a great opportunity for community members to double their gift and impact in Petersburg.

To learn more, please contact an Advisory Board Member or visit us online at www.petersburgcf.org. The Petersburg Community Foundation, an affiliate of The Alaska Community Foundation, is devoted to preserving and strengthening what makes Petersburg great, now and far into the future.

Thanks

Liz Cabrera,

Sharla Coon,

Cindi Lagoudakis,

Nicole McMurren,

Sue Paulseon,

Cynthia Wallesz,

Glo Wollen

Expanding our horizons

To the Editor:

I think most of us would agree we’ve had it pretty good these last 30 years with funds from oil revenues just flowing out the doors of the State Capital and into our pockets like an only child from a wealthy family with a crazy uncle. What fun it has been.

Sadly those days are gone and it is becoming painfully obvious that some, if not most of our “entitlements”, are drying up. So this might be a good time to take a step back and look at protecting our assets. We have an economy that is based upon the fishing industry with an annual landing in excess of $90 million dollars, which is infused into this community from outside our current city boundaries. A significant portion of this resource comes from the proposed northern section of our proposed borough boundary. So no worries, right? We are being told that Juneau previously had no interest in extending its boundaries southward, for there is little to no monetary gain in the pursuit. So what changed their minds? Could it possibly be they may have ulterior motives for their future revenue streams? Is it possible that they could be focusing on something other than the here and now?

Regardless of their intent, a fact that should not be ignored is that Juneau has on file a petition to annex

down to Cape Fanshaw from their southern boundary at Holkham Bay. The petition is being held up by the

LBC Office and awaiting the results from voters whether or not to form a borough around Petersburg. If we

choose not to borough and Juneau does annex Endicott Arm, Windham, Hobart, Port Houghton and all the

way down to Cape Fanshaw, they could conceivably tax the harvest of all species of salmon, crab, halibut and shrimp. These resources have been historically caught by local fishermen in these areas and it is not much of a stretch to think that as revenue in our Capital City became skinny that Juneau wouldn’t adopt Bristol Bay Borough ordinance # 3.16.020 (in part) 4% tax levied “harvested or sold within the boundary of the borough”. Granted for Juneau to do so or any borough for that matter, they are required by law to take it before the voters (in this case, for the sake of my argument) it will be the Juneau voters. You probably guessed, and you are right, we wouldn’t have a voice or a vote in the process. In the process, they couldn’t even have to consult with us before they tax these resources.

I could continue to speculate on a hundred different scenarios, but I would rather ask you to consider these two questions, is it possible that Juneau would annex down to Cape Fanshaw and impose another tax on our harvested resources, as they already have in Bristol Bay? And if you believe they shouldn’t or couldn’t, are we willing to take that chance? If you believe they shouldn’t or couldn’t, let’s just don’t even give them the opportunity. For if we don’t have a “place at the table”, we are more than likely going to be on the menu. I say vote for a place at the table.

In closing I would challenge you to pick up and read the Petersburg Borough Charter and Transition Plan

and answer your own questions about the real costs of becoming a borough or not and I don’t just mean monetarily.

Kurt Wohlheuter

Curb government growth

To the Editor:

There has been much rhetoric and opinion expressed during the debate over forming a Petersburg Borough. I want you to know the following four facts:1. The state is not mandating that Petersburg becomes a borough. That is misinformation perpetuated by those who favor a borough. 2. The Alaska Constitution guarantees your fishing and hunting rights. A borough has no control over your rights to engage in either. This is true for sport and commercial hunting and fishing activities. 3. Becoming a borough will not give our schools any boost and could in fact cost us big bucks. A few more children living at Point Agassiz and a school would have to be provided for them. In the 1930s there was a school at Point Agassiz with 16 students. That alone would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars each year. Add a special needs child and costs would be astronomical. 4. A Petersburg Borough would have no more influence or say so than the City of Petersburg now enjoys. Alaska Airlines, Alaska Marine Highway, and FERC all say that being a borough would not influence their decisions. You are being misled by politicians and bureaucrats and their paid spokesmen.

We are in the middle of a national debate about the size and power of government. That debate has filtered down to our level. The question of a borough is not about all the rhetoric and opinion. It is really quite simple. Becoming a borough will increase the size and power of our local government. Government does not produce wealth, government consumes wealth. Government always wants to grow in size and power. It is time for us to curb the growth of government. It is time for us to reduce the flow of our money into the pockets of politicians, bureaucrats, and their consultants. It is time to vote no on the Petersburg borough.

George Cole

Keene Channel

Made to feel like family

To the Editor:

On behalf of myself and my three Marine Corps buddies, Joe Ferrante, Chick Ciccarelli and John Crew, I’d like to express my gratitude to the town of Petersburg for the manner in which they treated us during our stay.

We traveled to Petersburg from various points in the lower 48 to honor the memory of our fallen buddy Harry Kito and to spend time with his family. Never in our wildest dreams could we have envisioned the outpouring of love from the community. We all agreed that in the 45 years since our return from Vietnam we never had a true homecoming; however, our stay in Petersburg more than made up for that. We truly feel that we shared the Spirit of “Harry Kito” with the residents of Petersburg and the Kito family. We were made to feel like family.

I would also like to single out some individuals who went above and beyond to make our stay particularly enjoyable: “Doc” Lopez (former U.S. Marine) who took time off from work to take us around town and his family who opened their home to us. Paul Anderson of the V.F.W who was always available to fill in for “Doc”. Greg Einerson (another former U.S. Marine) who helped feed us. The ELKS and the A.N.B who did so much to make us feel welcome. Mike Schwartz who was always around to lend a hand and steer us Marines in the right direction. The Petersburg schools, in particular, Jim Engell and all the students who participated in the Veteran’s Day show- that was awesome. And, of course, the Kito family: Sam and John Kito and Amelia Gage Kito, Barbara Kito Musewski.

John Pastuszka,

USMC (Ret’d)

Jacksonville, Fla.

Valid assumptions, not lies

To the Editor:

Recently there has been discussion regarding the amount of State Revenue Sharing received by the current City of Petersburg and the estimated increase that will occur if the Borough passes. While all funding is subject to changes in law it is prudent policy to make assumptions based upon past receipts and future expectations. It is the City’s expectation that our community’s share of State Revenue Sharing will increase with the formation of the Petersburg Borough.  This is reflected in the facts presented in our publications and the original Borough Petition that was vetted and reviewed by the Local Boundary Commission.  We expect to receive $300,000 more in State Revenue Sharing if the proposed Borough passes. This is consistent with the experiences of the Wrangell Borough which has received nearly $2,000,000 more than the City of Petersburg over the past five years due in part because they are a Borough. Again, while we cannot be absolutely certain we will receive this same level of funding, it is a reasonable assumption that our funding will increase if the Borough passes. 

The Mayor of the City of Kupreanof, and some members of the CCUB organization have periodically challenged the City’s assumptions related to this issue and insinuated that the City of Petersburg is lying. The City takes issue to this notion. It is apparent that these individuals either do not have significant budget forecasting experience, or are choosing to misrepresent the truth in order to better serve their position. Early in this process our City Council and the local citizens involved in promoting passage of the Borough chose to stay away from this type of behavior and focus on providing clear and concise facts to the public. While there is always opportunity for interpretation, the City has taken great care to research the pertinent issues thoroughly. Our fact sheets were checked by department heads, several attorneys and local citizens from here in Petersburg. This is in addition to the Local Boundary Commission process where citizens and groups, had an opportunity to challenge information and question the formation of the Borough. From the opinion of the LBC, it is obvious that our facts stood up well with this group of people tasked with making this determination. The Local Boundary Commission endorsed the creation of the Petersburg Borough and now we await your decision as the voters in our community. 

Within the next several weeks (est. November 26), the State Division of Elections will be mailing out the ballot for the Borough election.  We encourage you to vote yes for the Borough and the candidates who have asked to represent you in our local government. The City and Borough of Juneau has filed a law suit challenging the formation of the Petersburg Borough, asking that their annexation south to Cape Fanshaw be allowed. This is real and will likely happen if the vote for the Petersburg Borough fails. As we have stated before, “fences can make good neighbors” and it is our belief that it is better for our community if this “fence” between us and Juneau is at Tracey Arm, not halfway down to Petersburg. 

Stephen Giesbrecht

City Manager

City of Petersburg

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