U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski and Petersburg residents had a conversation Tuesday night in the Sons of Norway Hall about community, regional and state issues.
The first subject Murkowski brought up was the less than ideal condition of the Petersburg jail.
“You were in the running with Bethel for the worst city jail,” Murkowski said. “And now Bethel’s (jail) is looking pretty good. You win the prize in my view, of all the communities that I’ve gone to, for the worst conditions.”
Murkowski followed up by asking about the canneries. Sally Dwyer, Chamber of Commerce Manager, brought up the issue of increased numbers of plant workers quitting since the season has picked up.
“We had a 15 to 20 percent no show rate,” Kris Norosz, Petersburg Fisheries Government Relations Person, said. When questioned later about that number, Norosz said it was an estimate for multiple facilities.
Murkowski came to Petersburg from Kake, where she was visiting the fish processing plant there.
“They’ve got 24 guys working there now,” Murkowski said. “About half of them they had to bring in from different places around the state. They’ve got so many fish that they can’t keep up.”
The Senator also discussed how she’d be meeting with the Chief of the Forest Service for two days to visit sites and conduct flyovers of the Tongass National Forest. She wants to discuss the impact of the Roadless rule—an amendment to a bill blocking federally funded road construction in the Tongass—and the difficulty associated with building energy resources in the region.
“Our reality here is a bit more extreme,” Murkowski said. “He’s never been to the Tongass.”
“And it’s his largest forest,” Dwyer said.
“And I’ve reminded him that it is his largest forest,” Murkowski said.
Murkowski also discussed fishery issues including the lack of Coast Guard patrols to manage illegal fishing in the high seas. She’s exploring the use of drones to make up for the lack of patrols.
After the conversation, Murkowski along with 20 others headed to Petersburg Harbormaster Glorianne Wollen’s home for a private dinner.