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Smalley: Working together makes good things happen on Peninsula

Posted: September 26, 2012 - 8:47pm

There are a lot of reasons why folks end up living in the Kenai area. Ours was by choice. Susie and I moved here in 1974 after four years in Bush Alaska, having spent just part of a day in the area a couple of years earlier. It was a big beautiful place with lots of roads and stores and we loved it from the start.

A good deal of our growing connection was a result of the welcoming of those who had come before us. As we began cutting down trees for our log cabin, mentors appeared to help us do it better and find the resources that we would need for this project. Later when we moved to town to finish another log house we were equally blessed with help. My wife Susie was welcomed with open arms to Garden Club by some of its founding mothers: Jettie Peterson, Enid McLane and Francis Meeks.

Some of you may have been part of this community for generations, while others have just touched down recently. Today’s diversity of opinion is certainly not new or unusual. I continue to be proud of our community that one day stands on different sides of the street waving opposing signs and the next day will be working together on projects to fund the Food Bank or to raise money for someone with cancer.

And yet there are things that divide us. Misinformation is leading us down rabbit trails that use up energy and good will and cause unnecessary conflict. In my opinion, that is what is happening now with the issue of anadromous streams. While Ordinance 2011-12 was passed in 2011, it is currently under review with the potential of 2014 as the year of enactment. Prior to this time it could be amended or redrafted. A task force of our neighbors is examining these issues in order to get more input and bring recommendations. To date, there has been no implementation on the East side of Cook Inlet. Contrary to what you might hear, there is NO enforcement of this Ordinance. There are no new hires related to it. We are currently operating under Code 21.18, Habitat Protection District, passed in 1996 and amended in 2000.

Is this an important issue? One only has to read the 2012 headlines regarding king salmon fisheries and 2012 disaster declarations regarding sports and commercial fishing. We have a critically important job as residents and elected officials to find local solutions in our own backyards to do what we can to ensure the health of the resource and critical habitat.

The Prescription Drug Discount Card Program is a great example of what we can do as a borough working with other municipalities across the state and nation. I support continuation of this program which was begun before my time on the Assembly. This program alone has saved my neighbors hundreds of thousands of dollars on prescriptions. It is a fine example of how government can make a positive difference. Our borough’s affiliation with the National Association of Counties made this possible. Currently we are working to establish a dental discount program. By working with others across the state, we continue to be able to provide additional money to the borough through revenue sharing, bringing more of our fair share of state dollars to our communities, lessening the local burden. While I do not claim these as my personal accomplishments, they have happened because of people like me who are willing to work together with other areas and other people and entities with whom we share common interests and goals.

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