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White Cliff Community Center
By Jean Bartos


August 14, 2006

Webster's New Universal Unabridged Dictionary defines symbiosis as "in biology, the living together of two dissimilar organisms in association or union, especially where this is advantageous to both" . The proposed use of the White Cliff School building for a community center housing Ketchikan Senior Center Services, Ketchikan Theater Ballet, First City Players and the Ketchikan Area Arts and Humanities Council is a truly symbiotic relationship that will touch every facet of our population.

I've been involved as a member of the Steering Committee on this and the two previous ideas for centers for the past eight years. I have been extremely pleased by the way the members of the organizations involved have worked together. There has been a positive mood of cooperation, a seeking to meet the needs of each organization and the community as much as possible. In this world where backbiting often seems the norm, this has been refreshing and encouraging.

The proposed facility would provide a home to the four organizations named above. It would have adequate parking, dance studios, classrooms, theater, gallery space, and offices and a senior center containing dining, recreation, and visiting areas, and give this great old building a new life. There will be opportunities for residents of all ages to interact. A group of dedicated volunteers have balanced a lot of enthusiasm and a desire to make Ketchikan a better place with diligence and attention to detail in developing this project. We are excited about what we ve developed.

Where do we go from here? This community gets to decide. If we do nothing with the building, we could well end up spending money on it anyway - demolition would cost about $3,900,000.

There are granting foundations out there. However, they rarely fund projects until the local community contributes a significant portion of the total cost. The City has already committed $500,000. Naturally, the Borough is involved in this project because it owns the building, and because the project serves the entire community.

Why are we proposing a small sales tax increase? Because it's a way to broadly distribute the cost so that this project can happen. Dedicated taxes have contributed to many great public projects, including the Rec Center and the Hospital, and this is a way for us to decide what kind of community we want to live in.

I urge you all to become informed about it - copies of the Conceptual Plan are available at the Ketchikan Area Arts and Humanities Council Office at 716 Totem Way, and on the web: And, personally, I hope you will all vote for both ballot propositions.


Jean Bartos
Ketchikan, AK - USA

About: Have lived in Ketchikan 31 years. Retired and plan to say here. Active on Arts Council Board of Directors and White Cliff Community Center Steering Committee.




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