Letters to the Editor – July 17

Nanwalek culture threatened
According to the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities, the airport in Nanwalek does not meet Federal Aviation Administration regulations because it is too short. DOWL engineers sent from Anchorage have come in and out, studying the geography around the village and have listed seven alternatives to the airport’s current location.
Of the seven possibilities, the engineers recommended two alternatives because of their low cost, reasonable time to completion and environmentally friendly approaches.
These alternatives consist of constructing a new airport five miles east of Nanwalek and two miles east of Port Graham to serve both communities.
The DOT-PF and the FAA have compiled a plan to resolve the deficiencies of the current airports. For this project, they will need to acquire 187 acres of land that will be directed to runway construction, road access and other maintenances.
The dimensions for the runway would be 3,300 feet by 60 feet, with a 3,780 by 120-foot safety area. The plan also promises to clear trees of an area of 3,780 feet by 400 feet to make flying in between the two villages obstacle free. There will also be a 60,000 square foot apron and 30,000 square foot leased lot as a support area.
What DOWL engineers do not understand about the alternatives they have decided best fit our needs, is how that will affect our community in the long run. Since Nanwalek is one religion, struggling to keep its language and culture alive, residents will be more vulnerable and more susceptible to tourism and Outsiders “waltzing” in.
Community members have begun to notice that random people walk around our lake trails with fishing poles seeking a spot to fish. How does this relate to the original concern of losing our “uniqueness?” Soon this will be more acceptable as more and more people are exposed to the “perks” of Nanwalek.
Not only will Nanwalek and Port Graham be required to share the airstrip, but —because of community size, they will also be forced to share school and health services.
Combining both village facilities will increase our unemployment rate. It’s hard enough today trying to get a job. Residents from Nanwalek are moving out because of the lack of jobs and available housing. Of course, with more people moving out, our language and culture become less of a priority; losing more and more people every year.
Port Graham has two different religions, whereas we strive to keep one.
Nanwalek is unique to Alaska because it is rich in the Sugpiaq culture, and also Russian Orthodox Christianity. The people who reside in Nanwalek live off the land and subsist year-round. During the summertime, residents gather medicinal plants and fish from most everything that dwells in the sea. And in the winter, the men travel into the hills for firewood. Where will all that be if the airport and road are built? There will be no wood for the Natives to keep warm and no animals to keep them fed.
Ivana Nash
Nanwalek

Get ‘ObamaCare’ questions answered
As 2013 continues to move forward, we are rapidly moving closer to the implementation of the Affordable Healthcare Act; commonly referred to ObamaCare. The Administrative Regulation Review Committee of the Legislature, chaired by Rep. Lora Reinbold, will hold a hearing on this issue at 10 a.m. on July 23.
The meeting will be held in the Kenai Legislative Information Office. We are interested in learning facts about the impact this legislation will have on local communities and hope to have some of the many questions answered at the end of the hearing.
I look forward to seeing you there.
Jim Pound

Helping keep youth theater alive
Pier One Youth/Teen Theatre thanks the Homer Foundation’s Youth Advisory Committee for their most generous grant to provide tuition assistance for the Summer 2013 Youth Theatre programs. Funding support was provided by the Youth Advisory Committee’s generous donors and the Ashley J. Logan and Sheldon Youth-to-Youth Funds.
Casey Parrett
Pier One Youth/Teen Theatre director

Kitties get kushy beds at shelter
The board members and volunteers of Homer Animal Friends would like to thank the Constance M. Benston Fund for their generous support. The money from the field of interest fund allowed Homer Animal Friends to purchase 42 cat beds to be used at the Homer Animal Shelter. These soft, cozy, round beds are made locally by a cat lover, and allow each cat at the shelter to have a special place to sleep while they wait to be adopted.
June was “Adopt a Shelter Cat” month, and if you were lucky enough to adopt a cat in June, you received one of the new beds as a promotion.
If you are interested in learning more about Homer Animal Friends, go to www.homeranimals.com  or email homeranimals@gmail.com. Thank you to the Homer Foundation for facilitating this grant and for their continued community support.
Pat Boone
Homer Animal Friends

Bristol Bay Buyback program
I read with interest about another buyback program for Bristol Bay Permits and thought about the amount of Bristol Bay Permits that are owned by people outside the area of Bristol Bay. I think new ideas should be considered, keeping the permits and the income they provide in the area should be paramount in this process. I know most people who currently own permits in this region will not like this suggestion but it should be looked at because the current system which has been in place for the past thirty years has not worked to keep this economic engine in this area.
I have posed this question to the politicians from this area that dismissed this idea as unworkable but I think that if you look at it from the perspective of the local people it is a possibility. If the people who own the permits be residents of the area would keep all the income from the permits in the Bristol Bay area. In doing this the area would be a more viable and vibrant place to live. The cost of living would go down because all people would share in the cost of living.
Of the Millions of dollars which is made every summer by the fisher people approximately seventy five percent leaves the region. Imagine if we can keep that money in the region to be spent here to add to the quality of life of the people here.
I realize that the value of the permits would go down because many people who own permits do not want to live here and many permits would flood the market driving down the value. This would affect the current resident permit holders but in the long run it would be beneficial to the communities in the Bay.
As it is we are losing our population to the urban areas, some of the schools in this region have has to close due to the decreased population. If we had a resident requirement for the permits we would see an increase in the population.
We are all concerned about the levels of alcoholism, drug abuse, family violence and suicide in this area supporting local control of permits would lessen these problems giving more local people an opportunity to gain access to a fishery.
Limited entry has not worked and we need to come up with new ideas and plans.
Deb Coolidge
Aleknagik Alaska

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Posted by on Jul 17th, 2013 and filed under Letters to the Editor. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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