Cooper Landing Senior Citizens Corp. Inc. is having a potluck lunch at the community hall today with a general meeting to follow. Saturday it is serving lasagna at the community hall at 6 p.m. The library volunteers will hold a book sale.
Casey Reynolds, Kenai Peninsula Economic Development District Project Coordinator, swiftly led a dozen people through the preliminary Cooper Landing Community Economic Development Strategy plan at the Jan. 31 meeting.
Most attending had been to the community club meeting several nights before when the plan was discussed and had suggestions for corrections, eliminations and prioritizing. Cheryle James also took comments after the draft plan was received.
Participants in this forum developed a vision statement: Maintain the safe and rustic lifestyle of Cooper Landing while promoting economic development and diversity, such as the creation of year-round tourism and recreation related activities, through full participation in the public process.
Quite a mouthful, but the information used to help develop the vision statement came from a 1997 Community Action Plan for Cooper Landing. Four points made then are still important to the community.
Briefly, these have to do with site security for the fire department and ambulance facilities, the seasonal nature of the community, lack of planning and zoning to maintain the natural quality of the community and lack of highway pull outs and restrooms.
Specifically, the plan's goals are divided between, and in this priority: Build and maintain safe and usable road and highway infrastructure; provide access to essential community facilities and services in an effort to attract appropriate economic development opportunities; and promote recreational and tourism related economic development opportunities.
The first objectives under each goal: Strongly encourage the state of Alaska to make a long-term decision on the Sterling Highway Cooper Landing by-pass project; facilitate the completion of local community facility expansion, construction, and renovation projects in which is included the senior campus project; and support local business, chamber of commerce, and other community organizations in economic development efforts.
This reminds me of what Tom Kizzia wrote years ago regarding Cooper Landing's land use recommendations to the Kenai Peninsula Borough when he saw the essence of the plan as "green but growth." This is a beautiful spot and most of us want to keep it that way as much as possible while planning for future growth and development.
Returning now to yesteryear, Al Clayton loaded his Diamond T flatbed truck on a barge in Anchorage in the late 1940s and drove the truck off in Hope since the road to Anchorage wasn't open yet. I often think about all the boat traffic in the early days on Turnagain Arm when I'm driving by and wonder what that was like. Does anyone ever go out on the Arm in a boat now?
Al used his truck to haul hay for Frank Towle. He hauled hemlock from Cooper Landing to the sawmill in Seward and brought the planed lumber back to use for flooring in the community hall. Some of that surplus hemlock lumber, saved by Pat and Helen Gwin, was used by Rob Bear during the renovation of the post office museum building.
When the road from Cooper Landing was pushed through toward Kenai, Al was the successful bidder on a contract to haul construction materials from Moose Pass to Kenai for the new territorial school. Al hired Bill Brattain and Bob Jacobs. They had to haul three boxcars of cement, and flat cars of steel and sheetrock for a total of 300 tons. Al was getting $100 a day, paying his driver $25 per trip and they could make one round trip in a day.
"On one trip with a load of 24-foot steel H beams and sheetrock, I upset," Al remembers. "I couldn't climb a certain hill not making a big enough run at it. Using the brake, I backed down the hill and was just sitting there at the bottom, when the heavy weight of the truck made the rotten culvert give way. My fully loaded truck just lay over on its side like a horse. Since there was a gully and creek right there, it went all the way over upside down with all four wheels sticking up! I caught a 7-ton hydraulic jack in mid-air so it wouldn't damage the truck further."
I promise to finish this story and Al's trucking career tale next week.
Mona Painter can be reached by phone at 595-1248 or by email at email@example.com
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