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

Rocking the Boat

 


The following is from the editorial page of the March 1, 1990 Seward Phoenix LOG.

GIVE ‘EM HELL HERMAN... Seward living legend Herman Leirer ambled up to the microphone at the Council session Monday and told the council he wants them to tell the Department of Transportation to lower the speed limit on Nash Road from 55 to 45 mph. There’s a lot of folks living out on Nash Road, and a lot more who make the unsignalled turn off the Seward Highway to get to work at the Chugach Sawmill or Spring Creek Prison.

The present speed limit is just too fast for the curvy, often icy, road. We had a near disaster this winter when a car collided head-on with a school bus. There weren’t any kids in it, but next time we might not be so lucky. We don’t live in Seward because we’re after life in the fast lane. Mr. Leirer is right, and so are the folks who want to lower the speed limit to 45 mph on the Seward Highway between the Pit Bar and the city limits. Who’s in such a big rush anyway?

The time difference between driving 45 and 55 is minor on a road as short as Nash Road. But the added safety factor of the lower speed is major, and we urge the council and city administration to support Mr. Leirer’s plea for sane speed limits.

THANKS, KEITH... Seward General Hospital Administrator Keith Campbell is retiring this fall after 19 years. Managing a rural hospital is no picnic. Attracting competent staff, keeping things afloat financially and staying abreast of the rapid changes in technology and procedure are difficult enough. Add to them making a successful transition to a city department and working for funding to build a new facility and you’ve got a job and a half.

Campbell is a Sewardite through and through. He tells us he will live here after he retires along with some traveling he intends to do Nobody lasts as long as he has in a high profile job without some controversy, but Seward has been fortunate to have had a man of Campbell’s caliber on the job.

Finding a replacement for Campbell is going to be a tough job, too. He is staying on long enough to complete the process, ensuring that there is time to find the right person for the job. Typically there is a lot of turnover among rural hospital administrators, we can only hope we’ll find someone else with the commitment to Seward that Campbell has displayed.

BATTLE FOR THE SOUND... There’s not much talk yet about the emerging struggle between those who want to preserve Prince William Sound in its natural state and those who want to use its resources to create jobs. But the same ongoing struggle we have seen in the Tongass National Forest could well end up happening here.

On one hand are timber companies like Chugach Forest Products, whose parent corporation has invested tens of millions of dollars in a sawmill in Seward and in developing its huge timber holdings in the Sound to create jobs and an economic future for the people of the region. On the other are environmental groups that are taking advantage of public outrage of the Exxon Valdez oil spill to try and lock up any future development. Some of them are suggesting the federal government buy Native corporations’ holdings in the Sound and throw the local people back on welfare.

We can understand and respect the opinions of people who don’t want to see the Sound turned into an environmental wasteland. But we cannot agree with an approach that harkens back to the early days of this nation, when Native people were treated like second-class citizens and deliberately denied the opportunity to gain security and self-respect through work.

The people of Alaska – Native and non-Native alike – don’t want handouts, we want the right to earn a living while protecting the environment. Without wood products, in what will the environmentalists live, and on what will they write their diatribes against the economic future of the region?

 

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