Letters to the Editor

Posted: Monday, November 25, 2002

Superintendent, school board don't pay attention to public testimony

I attended the school board meeting Nov. 18, and I, for one, was totally disgusted with the attitude of Superintendent Donna Peterson. There were several people there addressing the board, as I was, in hopes that a fair and reasonable contract could be reached. I don't recall one time when Mrs. Peterson actually looked up from the table and looked at the person speaking.

I find this behavior rude and unprofessional. She sat there as if she couldn't care less what anyone had to say. She was even addressed directly by one of the speakers, and yet she still did not have the common courtesy to look at the person speaking to her. This is unacceptable. She needs to be replaced.

Most of the board members sat there looking disinterested in what was being said. I, for one, cannot wait until the next election of board members. I know I will be voting out the "stale" and uncaring members and will be voting for someone who has their priorities straight and who can make and follow a budget.

We need board members who actually care for our kids, and who want them to have the best education they can get. It is time for a change. The behavior and attitudes of the superintendent and board tell me we need to make this change happen. Let's do it for our kids.

Karen Galbraith, Soldotna

Kenai Peninsula Food Bank needs donations now more than ever

I have been doing some volunteering at the Kenai Peninsula Food Bank off and on for the last three years. I have found we really need this establishment in our area. The food bank helps many families each month and many people come to the soup kitchen for a hot meal.

This is the time of year the food bank can use some extra help with putting Thanks-giving meals together. Items such as canned pumpkin, vegetables, pie shells, Cool Whip, even a turkey would make it easier to put Thanksgiving dinner on the tables of people less fortunate.

Lee Sparlin, Kenai

Resolution in support of Cordova drilling bad for the environment

I am writing to express my deepest disappointment in the recent Kenai City Council resolution in support of oil drilling at Katalla, on the east edge of the Copper River Delta, by Cassandra Energy Corp. The resolution is based on misinformation, some of which is repeated in the article (Nov. 10), and I would like to attempt to set the record straight.

First, Bill Stevens, owner and president of Cassandra, has a disgraceful environmental record. He looked for oil at Katalla in 1985-86, didn't find any, then abandoned the well and declared bankruptcy -- thus, avoiding financial responsibility.

I visited the site recently and found extensive hazardous waste contamination and spills. The old drill pad is floating on oily goop, apparently run over from the failed containment wall of an open reserve pit. Barrels of fuel and oil are rusting out and spilling within yards of salmon streams. There are "Radio-active" warning signs on some of the decaying buildings and trucks. In the words of a BLM official, who coincidentally also was there that day documenting the toxic site, "This is just wrong."

Stevens complains that the permitting process is taking too long, but he has no one but himself to blame. Cassandra repeatedly attempts to slip through the cracks of environmental regulation, then blames hardworking civil servants for catching them at it.

Cassandra wanted to lease 15 acres of tidelands when the state only had 2 1/2 to give; drive 4- to 5-foot draft barges up a 3-foot deep river; classify its hazardous waste as nonhazardous; build roads across wetlands without touching them; and "clean up" its old reserve pit by pouring it into a wetland meadow.

State and federal agencies have been more than accommodating. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game and the U.S. Forest Service employees have collectively spent weeks at Katalla doing necessary field work -- all at taxpayer expense.

The Forest Service completed an environmental assessment earlier this spring in an effort to expedite the project but was forced to re-do it when fieldwork discovered that a barge landing would have to be much larger than the permit application implied and would destroy valuable salmon spawning habitat.

I doubt Mr. Stevens mentioned to the city council that he wants to stage his operation right next to two small, remote fishing lodges, over their owners' objection. Cassandra wants to haul derricks upriver and oil downriver, directly in front of fly-fishermen who have spent thousands of dollars for a remote Alaska fishing experience. I wonder what they'll tell their friends back home?

Cassandra and Chugach Corp.'s scheme at Katalla is a straight trade-off -- money for the corporation and Kenai workers at the expense of wildlife, fishing guide businesses and the Copper River fishery.

The Kenai City Council made a mistake, apparently based on ignorance of the actual situation. I respectfully request they withdraw the resolution and offer a sincere apology to Cordovans, Copper River fishermen and Katalla's tourist businesses.

Gabriel Scott, Cascadia Wildlands Project, Cordova, AK

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