The Seward Phoenix Log - News of the Eastern Kenai Peninsula since 1966

Turn back the pages — Jan. 29, 1987


Compiled by Julie Rosier

Prison opening delayed? — Governor Steve Cowper’s State of the State address to the 15th Legislature championed Alaska jobs for Alaskans, Alaska contracts for Alaska contractors and suppliers. Thus questions were raised in Juneau when the governor’s FY87 budget was unveiled and found to contain only one month’s operating funds for Spring Creek Correctional Facility — but $5.287 million for housing Alaska prisoners Outside. The $5.287 million represents about a $1 million increase over the current fiscal year’s revised budget for contractual housing of maximum security prisoners. Under this budget scenario, Spring Creek staff would not be hired until about a month before July 1988, when FY88 ends. Prisoners would begin arriving in July. But Spring Creek is due to be completed in late fall 1987. Thus it would stand empty for six months. Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Jalmar Kerttula (D-Palmer) said he’s already written to the governor asking “why delay (opening Spring Creek) when we understood there would be no significant savings” in housing long-term felons Outside, and “six months could mean a long winter” to his Seward constituents. The senator speculated that “someone (involved in preparing the Corrections budget) didn’t know the real time frame for when the Seward prison would come on line, and now they’ve built a mystique around it. They’ll never admit it though...” he mused.

Citizens want Garzini out — Two petitions demanding the firing of the city manager are being circulated by a terminated city employee and a controversial political activist who are alleging that, “the City of Seward can’t afford Ron Garzini’s leadership.” Claiming that they have about 60 signatures on the petitions, C. Alvin Lakey, who was fired in a dispute over flood hours, and Louie March, Jr., the president of the Alaska Fireworks Association, said that they haven’t really started and are waiting until the city council has been given a chance to respond to the demand. And if the council doesn’t respond favorably, they will begin the petition drive in earnest. Mr. March has also threatened a recall drive against the council if they don’t fire Mr. Garzini. The two have formed “Citizens For Responsible Government” and will circulate two petitions, one for inside the city limits and the other for residents outside. According to a letter sent to the mayor and council, the group is, “composed of local businessmen, tradespeople, labor union leaders, local professionals and concerned citizens.” Mr. March and Mr. Lakey co-chair the committee. In the letter dated Jan. 28, the committee explains why they support Mr. Garzini’s termination. They allege that during the current administration, “our electric rates have at least doubled” and “our local city sales taxes have risen to an all time high.”

Seward invited to put on show at the Dimond Mall — Seward has been invited by the Dimond Mall association to be featured the weekend of April 4 and 5 if enough local businesses and organizations sign up to participate. Kerry Martin, administrative assistant for the City of Seward, received the invitation recently and has been doing preliminary planning for the event, which he says will “give the community a terrific opportunity to make Anchorage aware of what Seward is about.” Martin said the City of Seward will take its existing trade show display to the mall and he hopes the Chamber of Commerce can have three booths, one featuring the Mount Marathon Race and 4th of July events, another with Salmon Derby information, and the third a general informational booth about Seward. Local businesses can either go together in manning booths or can have individual booths. Tourist and recreation industry groups such as a charter boat operators, yacht clubs, and hotel, restaurant and bar owners and especially urged to participate. Mayor Harry Gieseler, who heads the Army Rec Camp during the summers, plans for the two rec camps to be represented. The mayor will be on hand at the mall to talk with passers-by about his favorite community.

Dock services Brimfrost attack — “The Alaska environment” was what really put the screws to a sneak attack on the Alaska Railroad Dock, attempted Saturday under cover of night by a team of Navy SEALS in wetsuits and scuba gear. Lt. Walsh and Capt. Overdahl of the U.S. Army described the climax of Brimfrost ‘87 joint military readiness exercises that took place in Seward last week. “They got caught because the water was so cold (34 degrees) that they had to swim on the surface. Their hands were too cold to manipulate the breathing equipment to swim underwater,” reported Capt. Overdahl, a controller (referee) for the exercises. The Army officers said that “the Navy never picked (the attackers) up on their high-speed equipment, the Coast Guard never saw ‘em,” and confessed that “the Army only spotted them because they were on the surface” right near the dock. If it had been warmer, the SEALS would have made their approach underwater, unnoticed.

City works toward reliable power source — For years, Seward’s biggest electric power problem was “not enough.” As City Manager Ron Garzini put it during a Monday city council work session, “we had a serious brownout problem.” The new 115kv transmission line from Dave’s Creek to Lawing, plus an upgrade of the Lawing-to-Seward line so it could carry its full 69kv, solved that problem. But with capacity brought up to snuff, another problem has become more noticeable: lack of reliability. Power outages are now the big thorn in the side of city utility customers. Councilmember Bob Booher summed up “the City ‘sold’ the public (on the idea that) the $6 million transmission line would solve our problems,” and now people are doubly frustrated when the power goes out. Since Jan. 1, there were five days when the power failed due to problems along the line at Mile 12. Some days it would go out once. Other days it would go out several times. Plus, there was one outage due to failure of Chugach Electric equipment in Anchorage. People started calling councilmembers and city staff; the work session was to update council on what was going on, and what remedies are being tried.


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