Letters to the Editor

Posted: Friday, September 06, 2002

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Awareness Day set for Monday

On Sept. 9, at 9:09 a.m., people around the world will pause for one minute to remember that during the nine months of pregnancy, women should not drink alcohol.

Millions of people can never live normally because their brains, and sometimes their bodies, have been damaged by alcohol before they were even born. There is no cure for fetal alcohol syndrome, but it is 100 percent preventable when a mother does not drink at any time during pregnancy.

The "reel" or "square" knot has become a symbol of building awareness of FAS because this knot can mend a cord by making it stronger. Although there is no cure, FAS is treatable.

Please come by Frontier Community Services at the Red Diamond Center by Monday to pick up a wearable knot to show your support of FAS education and awareness.

Many thanks to the wonderful volunteers who have helped prepare for recognizing International Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Awareness Day in our community: Beth Selby and family; the American Legion Ladies' Auxiliary; John, Sandy and Annie Street; Soldotna Boy Scout Troop 672; Susan Drathman and DD Pride Program in Homer; Pam Collman, FAS parent navigator in Seward; Beemun's and Kenai Fabric.

Margaret Parsons-Williams

Coordinator, FAS program

Frontier Community Services

Hook-and-release fishing denies access to anglers fishing for food

From the Aug. 30 Peninsula Clarion, there was certainly no mystery in Bill Wirin's "Look at Me, Love Me, Love Me" letter about a hook-and-release, play-with-food king salmon fishery. Mr. Wirin is a retired lawyer from California and a bed-and-breakfast operator that supplies his self-serving logic for a dependable fishery like a case for adverse possession for a new super-exclusive user group of the resource.

Ninety percent of the early Kenai kings are harvested by guides. One study of chinooks hooked and released in saltwater expressed a 30 percent mortality rate. Targeting large kings will, over time, yield significantly smaller fish. The Kenai River Sportfishing Association's Kenai River Classic has made so many millions of dollars as a nonprofit 501C on hook- and-release at the expense of resident fishermen there is an IRS audit taking place.

Most important is the simple fact that hook- and-release fishing excludes resident fishermen and denies the rights of access to the resource to food fishermen.

Mystery solved. Case closed!

John McCombs,


Many deserve credit for standing up for rights of former Austin workers

This letter of appreciation is intended to recognize the courage of those who stood up for those workers' rights recently acknowledged in a $233,000 settlement to former workers from Austin Maintenance and Construction.

Even as initial contact was made by workers, a group of construction unions readily stood by those employees in a representation attempt. A group of employees suffered loss of employment early on in the construction. That layoff, contended to be illegal, was supported by staunch testimony by some very bright and courageous women. This testimony provided evidence which brought this case to a prompt settlement.

One of these ladies drove from Colorado, gave her side of the story, and has returned to her home. Sharon Pace got in a rented car, drove by herself to the trial, gave her statement, was given our thanks, got back in that car and left. She had been a long-time employee of the company. The conduct of other company administrators had caused her to be so distraught on this job, she felt obligated to do what she could to speak up on behalf of workers employed at the gas-to-liquids project.

Another female witness gave additional support to workers; this fortified the case and led into the negotiations toward the settlement.

Recognition for all those involved is warranted. This back pay settlement is the result of dedication and a considerable expense to those unions helping to get a non-union workforce the help they needed, when they needed it.

Shame on Austin for the way they treated people and for lack of professional construction practices (Austin Maintenance and Construction got the boot April 1 -- the facility is not functional to date).

Praise should go to all those who stood up to this contractor in the face of such treatment and special recognition to JoAnne Howlett, field attorney for the National Labor Relations Board, Sharon Pace and Jennifer Denomie for the "guts" to step up and help get these issues resolved.

R.L. Buch

United Association Local 367 Organizer

Western Alaska Building

Trades Council Delegate

Kenai Peninsula Central

Labor Council Delegate

Parents need to know who their kids are with, what they are doing

What is wrong with some of today's young people? What sort of mind finds it funny or amusing to shoot at a little 4-year-old girl and her father in the middle of town with a BB gun of all things? Where on earth were the parents, and why were they allowed to be in the middle of town with a BB gun in the first place? Apparently these two are putting on quite a show at the high school with their friends, talking about it, boasting about how cool it was to have the story in the paper, etc.

These children need to be punished hard, all the way around, because the next step is a bigger caliber gun, and possibly the death of someone. The little girl got very lucky that nothing was seriously injured on her. Bravo for the father for taking the law in his own hands and basically tackling these two and getting the police summoned in a timely manner. This easily could have been a crime that went unseen had the father not been so attentive to his little girl.

Shame on you, boys. You are in high school now, and should know better than to act like a couple of gangster wanna-bes and shoot at people. You apparently have no remorse for what you have done, and you should have. If it were my child that you shot at, you and your parents would be hit so hard with a lawsuit and community service work it wouldn't even be funny.

If the laws don't allow children that commit crimes of this nature to be punished accordingly, then, at the very least, a lawyer should be hired to take care of it. (This in my mind a first-degree crime, because there was the thought, intent to harm and it was carried out). Unfortunately, monetary damages don't cover the emotional terror this poor child will live with the rest of her life.

This community definitely needs to be more aware of the people our children are friends with. You know, like the commercials say, "Parents, the anti-drug." This stands for violent acts as well. I am sure none of the parents of these children knew they were in the middle of town with a BB gun. However, maybe they did and didn't care? I don't know, but I can say that most kids at 14 and 15 have a lot better sense than these two had.

Kara Steele


Each school within district qualifies as being 'flagship'

Over the past three years I have had the privilege and honor of working with our schools during the building level administrative hiring process. This includes schools in Seward, Homer, the Russian Villages, our remote schools across the water, as well as central Kenai Peninsula schools. To say the least, I have been extremely impressed with the staff, parents and students at each of our 43 schools.

When working with each of the schools throughout the principal hiring process, it is common to hear that each of our schools really believes they are the flagship for the district. The compassion and excitement I hear in their voices, as they tell stories about their individual school, is truly a powerful message that all of the players within our schools are committed to provide excellence.

It is an enlightening experience to listen to the staff, parents and students talk about how proud they are of their school. The decision of the support staff, teaching staff, parents and the work ethics of the students comes out loud and clear during each of my visits.

I admire and commend the fact that each of our schools and communities truly believe they are the flagship for the district. I also am encouraged by the fact that each of our schools are willing to watch and learn from each other. It is safe to say that the "best never rest" on the Kenai.

We have had an excellent start to our 2002-2003 school year and I would like to thank each of our schools -- we truly have 43 flagships. I wish them the very best as they continue to lead the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District into the future by providing excellence for all of the students of the Kenai!

Todd Syverson, assistant superintendent

Administrative services

Kenai Peninsula Borough School District

Pipeline regulators should heed call for citizen oversight

The regulators of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System this summer ignored a host of calls for more time to review and comment on their 1,700-page argument for approving the system for another 30 years of operation.

Let's hope the federal Bureau of Land Management and state regulators don't turn the same deaf ear to an even louder outcry from all across Alaska for the establishment of an industry-funded citizen group to oversee pipeline operations, much as our council keeps watch over tanker and oil terminal operations in Prince William Sound.

The industry and its regulators have deprecated these calls, claiming the pipeline has such a stellar record that citizen involvement would be superfluous.

We doubt that, and consider last year's shooting of the pipeline near Fairbanks a case in point. If the pipeline is truly a model of prudent regulation and careful operation, we can't help wondering why Alyeska Pipeline Service Co. needed 36 hours to stop the flow of oil from one small bullet hole.

In particular, why was Alyeska not prepared to handle the pressure it knew was inside the line? Oil continued to spurt onto the tundra as Alyeska waited for the pressure to drop low enough that its crews could clamp off the leak.

We don't monitor pipeline operations -- just tanker and oil terminal operations in Prince William Sound -- so we haven't investigated this evident lapse by Alyeska and its regulators, or proposed measures to make sure it doesn't happen again. Perhaps this apparent gap in response planning was one of a kind. However, since neither Alyeska nor its regulators picked it up ahead of time, it's impossible not to fear there are more like it in the system.

John S. Devens, executive director

Prince William Sound

Regional Citizens' Advisory Council

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