A Word of Warning From a Twelve
by Jerry Cegelske
March 30, 2005
In Wednesday's (March 23) Ketchikan Daily News, twelve year old
Christina Joseph of New Fairfield, Connecticut wrote a letter
describing how she was privileged to come to Alaska on a cruise,
and that Ketchikan was her favorite place! If you haven't
read the letter titled "Fan Mail" please do.
She described how months after her trip she still finds herself
thinking about Alaska every day! She also mentions her
appreciation for us being willing to put up with the "obnoxious
people everywhere you look crowding your streets, eating your
food, and polluting your beautiful environment." I
must admit that I agree with her comment on obnoxious
people, such as when waiting to travel on Front Street, with
a tourist in the middle of the road taking pictures of their
four friends standing under the Ketchikan arch on Mission.
You can't move anywhere until they are done with their photo
session! I frequently wonder if people do such things in
their town or city during "rush hour".
It is in her next paragraph that Christina has given us a warning
of what to expect should we decide to give in to the currently
small percentage that is intent on harming this community and
its residents through their ignorance, carelessness, and
malicious behavior. The paragraph reads: "I also appreciate
you guys for keeping Alaska so clean and fresh. I come
from a quaint town that was once beautiful, filled with nature
and a beautiful landscape. But in my short years
(emphasis mine), I have watched this town turn into a dirty
polluted mess. I appreciate your keeping Alaska so clean
and undisturbed even though you have many tourists coming in
and yet-as my parents put it- you guys still need to live in
the town. I am amazed at how such a little population can
keep such a beautiful environment intact and exactly how it was
made to look."
Christina has told us what happened to her town of 5200 people
in her "short years". I find it interesting that
she was so observant and appreciative of the differences
she saw in her home town and Ketchikan, but I have
to explain a few things about Ketchikan. I have yet to
see a tourist on the horse trolley's or tour busses throw litter
out, but yet I see fresh litter deposited along the road daily,
and it is not tourist season. The tourists didn't burn
the couch by Lake Harriet Hunt, or take the mattress and box
springs out there last year. They didn't haul the junk
cars, the old boat, the demolition trash, the brush, burned tires
and pallets that I have seen recently along the road system.
We are no different than the people in her home town that
turned it into a "dirty polluted mess".
I would not want to argue the point with her that Ketchikan is
cleaner or not as polluted. She just did not observe what
we "locals", not the tourists, do to our community
every day through carelessness, ignorance, and a "let's
destroy something attitude," that is manifested every day.
"I have seen the enemy and he is us" not the tourists!
It is only through the annual "cleanup week" that we
have a chance to make it look halfway presentable for the next
five months. Then it's the normal "let the trash
flow, blow and burn" for the rest of the year with a few
groups taking on the responsibility of trying to keep up with
the people that insist they aren't the problem, by
letting litter blow out of their vehicles, littering themselves,
and burning vehicles, tires, pallets, appliances, and anything
else they can burn after they shoot it!
Christina, what keeps Ketchikan clean is a bunch of
common people that dearly love this town despite all it's problems.
They love Ketchikan and Alaska as you do and enjoy the "natural
beauty and what it's like to live in such a beautiful land".
The rest don't understand that they can take it away from all
of us, just as you have seen in your town in your "short
It is to the people that donate their time and efforts in cleaning
up Ketchikan that you show your appreciation for keeping Alaska
(and Ketchikan) clean. They are the ones working so hard
to help with their efforts time and again despite the weather.
Christina, "Thank you for recognizing the work that they
have done!" They and I appreciate it!
Code enforcement - Ketchikan Gateway Borough
Ketchikan, AK - USA
Some of the trash to
be picked up along Revilla Road on April 16, 2005!
Revilla Road Mile 6
Revilla Road Mile 7
Revilla Road Mile 7
Revilla Road Mile 8.25
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