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A Word of Warning From a Twelve Year Old!
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 years".
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!

Jerry Cegelske
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

 Revilla Road Mile 8

Revilla Road Mile 8.25


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and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Sitnews.



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