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by Jerry Cegelske


February 18, 2005

Change is occurring around us constantly. If you don't believe it, look at your comb or hair brush after you have used it in the morning. If that doesn't convince you, look in the mirror at the young person you still feel you are. The laugh lines and crow's feet should tell you that change is happening daily, and so it is with communities.

Ketchikan is changing. In the 70's Ketchikan looked like it was still in the 40's and 50's and lacked many of the goods and services "down South" communities took for granted. True, some parts of town are still that way, but some of the new buildings are designed to convey that look.

Some people feel they can fight change. "That's the way we always have done it! I don't care how they do it Outside!" are two of the phrases that come to mind when you suggest to someone that they change their way of doing things. Did they ever consider that it may also be a better way? Would you like your doctor or dentist to be practicing the medicine of the 1970's or in whatever era your fondest memories dwell?

Change is not new to Ketchikan, think of the things that have occurred since the mill closed, or changes in the fishing industry since fish traps were outlawed at Statehood . Our economy has changed from resource extraction and processing to more of a tourist economy. Whether we like it or not, that is what we have to work with. What is important is that we learn to work with change to make it work for us and that we not work against it. If you work against it, guess who loses? Change will not wait for you nor will it go back to another time, no matter how we wish it were so.

The community needs and desires of Ketchikan have changed over the years. The ways of living that were "normal" in the past are no longer accepted. Some people have a hard time dealing with the requirements of the community, the open storage of materials in residential zoned areas, the yard with numerous junk cars, the residence operating a car repair shop, the people that dump along our roads and streams have not accepted the community standards. They refuse to work with the desires and changes the community wants to make for the present or for the future. This is a mistake on their part.

A part of the change process occurs in the Borough after complaints are received from neighboring property owners. The complaint is investigated and a letter is usually sent out (as in one case 32 years ago) advising of a zoning or other code violation. What this is saying is "Ketchikan is changing and wants you to change with us, we will work with you, take some time and talk with us about it". If that letter is ignored by the recipient, the violation is elevated in seriousness and a citation is issued for the violation. If the person shows up in court (good choice!) this is again a chance to work with Borough staff for a resolution of benefit to the community.

If the person doesn't show up, they MAY be notified of a future court date, or a default judgment may be found for the Borough with the associated penalties. What is an extremely poor choice of action is to fail to correct the violation after receiving the letter, receive the first citation, not correct the problem, then receive a second citation notice and ignore the Court by not showing up for the Court appearance. This can be thought of as resisting change.

What the individual has chosen to do is to give up any chance of correcting the problem on an agreed schedule, and given up whatever citation monies the Court allows in default judgment. It may also set in motion other legal action for which the property owner will have little to say as they have previously ignored the Court and the wishes of the residents and thus given up their chance to discuss the problem by showing "bad faith".

The trash dumpers, although getting away with many of their actions, are not changing as they need to for the good of the community. The good thing is they have developed habits which allow one who studies them to learn who they are, not their name in many cases, but an understanding of who the person or group is. If they continue their actions, it is a "bad choice" as the residents are getting tired of their harmful actions and have chosen to work with change to hold them responsible.

The future is looking brighter for residents who work with the changes that are happening around them in Ketchikan.

Thanks to the Boy Scouts for cleaning up Mile 5 North Tongass last month. It is greatly appreciated.

Jerry Cegelske
Ketchikan Gateway Borough Code Enforcement Officer
Ketchikan, AK - USA



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