Letters to the Editor

Posted: Tuesday, September 25, 2001

If prison needed, state should build it

It seems that the people of the Kenai Peninsula have forgotten the controversy of the halfway houses of a few years ago. Those of you who are proposing a "yes" vote on Proposition 1 must not care who lives in your neighborhood or city.

A few years ago I put my business, Moose Haven Lodge in Nikiski up for sale. To my shock and dismay, I learned that Akeela House was the intended buyer and planned to turn Moose Haven into a halfway house. The reaction to this plan was so overwhelming that the sale was thwarted and Akeela House withdrew.

As soon as the sale was no longer pending along came Allvest and tried to buy North Star Lodge in Nikiski for the same purpose, a halfway house.

Folks, they almost succeeded. The people of this community fought with all they had and won out in the end. It is time to fight again, for Allvest is back and will keep coming back until we, the people, give them the message that we care what is located in our community and we still have a voice in what happens here.

If a prison is needed here, then let the state of Alaska build it, maintain it and profit from it and keep these profiteers from trying to force us into something we don't want.

Roxie McGahan-Little


Story excluded important information

After perusing the Friday edition of the Peninsula Clarion, I find it difficult to believe that Jay Barrett and I attended the same Kenai City Council meeting.

Mr. Barrett's article, which detailed the "lukewarm" response to the prison proposal, withheld some extremely important facets of Wednesday's council meeting. As a member of this community, I expect the local paper to emit non-partisan sentiments which reflect the actions and comments of the meeting and describe to readers the importance of the passionate discussion which took place.

Kenai has an important choice to make concerning its future leadership with the mayoral race between Mr. John Williams and Mr. Duane Bannock. Mr. Barrett's lack of information in his article does not represent such sentiments.

Barrett states that "Mr. Bannock did not have much to say." Hogwash, Mr. Barrett, and shame on you for not allowing the Clarion's readers the full picture of what transpired. Mr. Bannock was gaveled by Mayor Williams with a subsequent overturning of the gavel by our own city council. Mr. Bannock offered some newsworthy comments and carried himself in a manner that provoked a rousing applause from those in attendance.

With something residents of Kenai have not seen in some time (a strong race for mayor from both candidates), it would only seem appropriate that the Clarion would at least mention that one of the candidates showed enthusiasm and leadership in his stances. Present the truth and let Kenai's residents decide who is leading and who should or should not lead their community.

Daniel Ungrue


Prison about common sense, not cents

This letter is in response to Charles Hubbard's letter in the Clarion's Sept. 18 issue. Before I get started on responding to some of Mr. Hubbard's comments I would like to give a brief history on myself. I am not Alaska Native, nor am I American Indian. To be politically correct, I am non-Native. I am 47 years old, and I have lived in Alaska for 40 years. My parents came to Chenega in the mid-1940s. My father was a teacher for BIA and started his first position in the village of Chenega.

My parents fell in love with Alaska, and as a result, I have quite a history in this beautiful state. After a couple of years in Chenega, my folks moved to Palmer where they had a dairy farm for several years. Then they moved to Anchorage, where they homesteaded. In fact, Baxter Road should be named Sanders Road. My parents' homestead was at the top of the hill, and my father built the road into their homestead, but sold out before the road was named. So "Old Man Baxter" got the road named for him.

My parents stayed in Anchorage where they had an accounting business located on Fourth Avenue right where the big yellow "Sunshine Mall" is now located. My parents also commercial fished on the Kenai Peninsula as well as Bristol Bay. I can give you many names of dear friends from all over this vast state and the majority of them are Native. And to top that off, I have worked for the Kenai Natives Association Inc. for 15 years now. Yep, old George Miller hired me when he found out who my parents were. You see, my parents were dear old friends of George Miller! I assume Mr. Hubbard knows who George Miller was?

Let me start with saying that I am in favor of the prison being built on the Kenai Peninsula, and it's not because I work for KNA. I am in favor of it, because I am a citizen of the Kenai Peninsula and I support the economic growth the prison will mean for this area.

Mr. Hubbard's letter asks when has Mike Gilliland of Cornell Corrections "stood on an airstrip lately"? Well, quite lately, Mr. Hubbard, as I was with him as well as KNA Vice President Elsie Hendryx. During the month of August the three of us traveled to Seldovia, Port Graham and Nanwalek (known by the white man as English Bay)! And, yes, I have pictures of Mr. Gilliland standing on the airstrip at Nanwalek. Have you been to Nanwalek, Mr. Hubbard? It's a very exciting landing, I can tell you!

Mr. Hubbard's letter says Don Gilman and Cornell are "not above exploiting the woes and troubles of the Native people of Alaska to bring a profit into their pockets." As an employee of KNA, KNA approached Cornell, Cornell did not approach KNA. I would like to ask Mr. Hubbard why he is so upset about Don Gilman being in support of the prison? Does Mr. Hubbard not believe that Mr. Gilman is sincere in his reasons why he supports the prison? And talking about sincerity, I have a few questions for Mr. Hubbard that only he can answer. I will not rely solely upon "gossip" and "word of mouth" as the gospel truth as to what I have heard about Mr. Hubbard.

Question 1: Mr. Hubbard, is it true you are an Alaska Native?

Question 2: Mr. Hubbard, is it true you work for a state-owned/run prison? If so, then that means you are a member of their union, correct?

Question 3: Mr. Hubbard, are you prejudiced against Natives or white people? I think it's a fair question as your letter to the Peninsula Clarion could be construed one way or the other, you tell me! Or are you just an "average Joe" who really does want what's best for his community?

Question 4: Mr. Hubbard, where do you live? Is it on the Kenai Peninsula? Someone from the rumor mill told me you live in Anchorage, but I'm not believing the "rumor mill." I'm going right to the "horse's mouth," so to speak!

As for KNA benefiting from the prison being built on the Kenai Peninsula, the monetary value that KNA will receive from the prison is not that great! Truthfully! KNA is a "for-profit" corporation, and the prison project is just one of the many projects that KNA is currently working on.

It's what my daughter calls a "no brainer" to place the new prison where the Wildwood Correctional Facility is currently placed. It's a "no brainer" that the state of Alaska needs more prisons. A sorry fact, but a true one!

And what's wrong with KNA making a little bit of money from the lease of the property? Isn't "free enterprise" one of the things that all Americans value so highly? KNA is just a small "village or urban corporation" that's trying to stay afloat in the business world.

And, yes, KNA does care about bringing home the Native prisoners that are currently housed outside in the Lower 48. So, what's wrong with that?

And if other inmates who are non-Native should benefit from being able to be housed back home in Alaska, well then KNA has done a good thing for everyone. It's not a racial thing, it's not just a money thing -- it's just a darn good idea that makes a lot of sense!

I am voting "Yes" on Proposition 1 on Oct. 2, and I hope the residents of the Kenai Peninsula will see the value of having the prison placed here and vote "Yes" as well.

Patti Allen


Terrorist acts cannot go unpunished

I have read editorials, comments and stories in the past few days. Three firefighters in Florida refusing to ride on an apparatus because it was displaying an American flag that they saw as a symbol of oppression. Demonstrations asking for peace; to not start a war in response to the cowardly attack on U.S. soil. A man asking me to look at my sons and envisioning their blood running into the desert sand of Afghanistan. I have to say the following:

First, we are not retaliating, we are seeking justice. The same justice we would seek if a crime were committed on a local basis. The major difference is, this investigation will lead us across international borders. And if it takes a war to bring these culprits to trial, then so be it.

Second, I am not sure if a recent letter writer has children; however, I have four. I look at my eldest son, and I do not see his blood running into the sand of the desert. But, then again, did any parent see the blood of their sons running in the jungles of Vietnam, the shores of Japan, the beaches of Normandy? How about Korea or the Persian Gulf?

As a parent I am terrified of the thought of my sons going to war; however, a scarier thought is to live in fear of traveling or just going to work. And would my children be honored by my reaction to this crisis? Will they live their lives cowering in fear of faceless cowards afraid of the light of day? And, my fellow American, if our sons, and daughters did not fight for this country and what we believed for the past 225 years, just where would we be?

Peace is the goal, dream and desire of any American, especially those in the military. But peace is only attained sometimes through war. Freedom is the result of our sons and daughters, mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers fighting and dying for our country.

It is a sad thought. It is horrifying to conceive the thought of our offspring perishing in the desert of Afghanistan or anywhere else for that matter, especially on our own shores, in their homes and offices.

I reflect on the years I served in the Marine Corps, the years my brothers and father served in the U.S. Army. The wars, conflicts, police actions and peace-keeping missions we have participated in. The soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen that have gone before us. I look at the city of New York and the Pentagon. And I look to the people who fought terrorism on board a jetliner and averted another attack on a target. They gave their lives protecting others. Firefighters, EMS personnel and police officers along with the thousands of others that died on Sept. 11. Let's not make all this mean nothing by letting these actions go unchallenged, unchecked and unpunished.

I pray for a swift resolution to this war. I pray our children will make us proud. And I pray your children and mine, our siblings and parents come through this with flying colors: red, white and blue.

Don Gibbs


A call to arms or a call to prayer?

Like most Americans, I have become quite introspective since the horrifying attacks of Sept. 11. I have read the papers and sat glued to the radio. We even bought an antenna so we could watch the news. I have up-to-the-minute information and, yet, I have more questions then answers.

My initial shock and fear quickly gave way to thoughts of "I'm surprised it hasn't happened sooner." You see, I attempt, as a Christian, to view all that happens through the filter of God's word. The Bible tells of great love through Jesus Christ, but it also tells of great evil through Satan.

As a country founded on Christian principles and religious freedoms, we have had the grace of God upon us. His protective hedge has encompassed our borders and prevented the enemy's advance. There are, however, conditions for His divine protection. Conditions that the Laodecian church of today has forgotten in her affair with prosperity. We are not unlike the Israelites of old who would wander away only to be brought back by the judgment of God's hand. Did God do this terrible act? No, but He did permit it. Why?

"He that diggeth a pit shall fall into it; and whose breaketh an hedge, a serpent shall bite him." (Ecclesiastes 10:8)

God's word teaches us that while we are saved by grace, we are required to "walk the walk" not just "talk the talk." Today's church (as well as the nation) has committed all manner of inequity. Lack of convictions would have to top the list, followed closely by abortion and divorce and remarriage.

The great commission, given by Jesus, both in word and deed, was to "Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel." In doing so, we are also to be moved with compassion for the physical needs of people. It seems that, as in a sales force, there are 10 percent of the people doing 90 percent of the work. Perhaps this should be a wake-up call? From all appearance it appears to be. Can it be sustained?

Where do we go from here? A call to arms, or a call to our knees? Is our cause righteous?

Do we have God's blessing to go forth? We don't stand a chance if we don't. Or are we so caught up in our individual and corporate pride as the "great nation of the world," that we plan to vindicate ourselves rather than seek justice?

Honestly, I don't have the answers, only more questions. Obviously these people cannot be allowed to continue doing these destructive acts. What is puzzling to me is it appears that a vast number of the terrorists are right here in our own country. I also wonder how they were able to pull off this horrendous act without anyone being aware of their plans? Inside help? Are we going to be able to find all of them in this country? What if militarily we decide (which it seems we are) to bomb the snot out of anywhere we think these groups operate? How long will it continue and how many more lives will be lost? Wouldn't we be better served to cut off their financial and supply lines? In bombing and seeking to kill Osama bin Laden, aren't we setting him up as a martyr to his cause? Won't it create an even greater zeal to "punish us wicked Capitalist Christians?" How do you punish this sort of thing?

The few things I do know are that we need to first repent of our mediocre Christianity and pray for God's protection. Without Him, we will fail. As Americans, we have been aroused to once again acknowledge our need for God and one another. It has, I hope, awakened all of us to the realization of what really matters in this life. Prosperity and stuff make a comfortable life, but do they make a quality one? The sobering reality is --No.

"Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and on the labor that I had labored to do: and behold, all was vanity and vexation of spirit, and there was no profit under the sun." (Ecclesiastes 2:11)

"If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land." (2 Chronicles 7:14)

Sandra Ehlers


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