Turn back the pages — July 20, 1989
Compiled by Julie Rosier
Shorter bar hours proposed — During the rough and tumble early days of Alaska, bars closed just about long enough to sweep the floors and count the cash. A few towns, like Seward, still cling to round-the-clock tavern hours that started when the public’s biggest worry was being run down by a drunk on a horse. Seward’s reputation as a party town may never change, but the party will end a little earlier, if a proposed ordinance passes. During Monday’s meeting of the Seward General Hospital Board, Councilmember Bill Noll announced he will introduce an ordinance at the next city council meeting to require city bars not to open until 10 a.m. and to close by 2 a.m. He was seeking, and got, the board’s support for introduction of the measure. The earlier closing time has been proposed in Seward before, but the situation may be different this time. The influx of oil spill cleanup workers, added to the normal increase from tourism and commercial fishing has resulted in a crime rate more than 30 percent ahead of last year’s. Much of the crime is alcohol related. Assaults on police officers, some of them resulting in serious injury, added demands on patrol schedules and burgeoning costs for detoxification, hospital beds and jail facilities are taxing the city’s capacity to cope.
Exit Glacier Road upgrade planned — It started simply enough, Seward needed an economic boost after the 1964 Alaska Earthquake and a road to Exit Glacier seemed like a good idea. Local businessmen worked on the plan and began receiving state dollars in 1967. With no permits, modest financing by construction standards and volunteer labor, the road was built by 1971. Now the road needs improvements and things are much more complex. Herman Leirer, a long time resident who ramrodded the project, said that rather than devote time to collecting permits to work near rivers, he just sought approval from the local Fish and Game officer. Most of the work took place in winter because the state doled out funds in the fall that had to be spent by spring. Despite these problems the approach was direct. The work got done. A current problem with the project, aside from having a myriad of agencies involved, is that most of the roadside residents don’t want it changed now. At present there are four designated routes the road may take when upgraded. Since the Kenai Fjords National Park was established in 1981 its popularity has grown, and Exit Glacier has been a big part of the surge. More people are traveling the 8-mile gravel road to the glacier, and an upgrading of the route is necessary.
Oil waste burning sparks debate — Oily waste from the Exxon Valdez spill cleanup is piling up by the hundreds of tons, and disposing of it is messy and expensive. Sub-contractors have decided the easiest way to get rid of the stuff is to burn it aboard barges in Prince William Sound. The chemicals released by burning are toxic, however, threatening people and wildlife and creating a whole new debate over the oil spill and its effects on the environment. The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation is scheduling a series of hearings to take public testimony before issuing permits to allow the burning. Seward’s meeting was held last night. The Alaska Center for the Environment is gearing up for the battle for the burn permits. According to spokesman David Robbins, four companies are either under contract or are bidding to assist in burning the oily wastes. They include two Louisiana firms, Advanced Environmental Technology and Herman J. Schellstede, Inc ., Seley Corp. of Ketchikan, and All-America Corp. Exxon spokesman Karsten Rodvik confirmed that AET and Seley are under contract to Exxon. Robbins said the Seley incinerator was designed for burning wood wastes and lacks a secondary combustion chamber to burn off toxic gases released in the primary chamber.
Oil commission hears local concerns — The newly formed Alaska Oil Spill Commission came to Seward July 14 to hear from some of the players and victims of the Exxon Valdez oil spill, in order to prevent future disaster. The state panel spent a day in town gaining insight on how to deter shipping accidents and respond effectively to future spills. Since the Exxon Valdez disaster, piles of money have been spent on the oil cleanup and the effectiveness of that effort has been questioned. There has also been concerns of how long the Southcentral Alaskan economy might suffer. Six of the seven AOSC members attended the Seward hearing and listening to the city manager, the Kenai Peninsula Borough mayor, the Coast Guard and various agencies present their assessment of the tragedy and the subsequent attempt at mopping up. The commission will hold several hearings around Prince William Sound and Anchorage and report its findings to the governor and legislature by January 8. Expressing the concerns of city government before the panel at the Institute of Marine Science auditorium, Seward city manager Darryl Schaefermeyer outlined the town’s ordeal. The manager pointed out that it may be years before the city determines the affect the spill has on tourism and fishing related income.
Party String is propelled by a hazardous gas (Soundings from LOG readers...) — Psssssssshhhhh! A brightly colored stream of plastic squirts out. Fun, right? A lot of kids and adults thought so too on the 4th of July here in Seward. Unfortunately, this seemingly harmless frivolity is propelled by a hazardous gas — chloroflourocarbon, the big baddie in the news that is assumed to be causing the destruction of the protective ozone gas in the upper atmosphere. How did I know this? I read it right on the label, including a warning about exactly what it could do. “Party String” is something I could probably live happily without, or at least propelled by something less noxious than chloroflourocarbon. I would like to see the use of this gas as a propellent in non-essential consumer goods banned. I speak for myself and also as a mother of two children.