SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Buttinskis, Bridges, Smoking, and Tourist Traps
By James (Bud) Burke


August 02, 2007
Thursday PM

I first came to Ketchikan eight years ago to visit family. It was love at first sight. I visited every year after that until a year ago when I retired and moved here. I am reminded of a bumper sticker that was popular in Texas a few years back: "I wasn't born here but I got here as quick as I could". I have lived in many different states. I still have a home and family in Kansas City, Missouri. I spend a couple of months there each year as it is my second favorite place.

As a total newbie to Alaska, I have hesitated to weigh in on the various topics of discussion here. Buttinskis are everywhere. They are good for us. Ketchikan residents can read their opinions and perhaps gain new insight to a given problem. I think what bothers folks is when people seem to be simply venting emotions without concern for offering factual information or plausible solutions to a problem.

Mr. Hoff does both. He speaks from a position of personal, first-hand knowledge of Ketchikan and the area. While we may disagree with him about many things, it is easy to listen and maybe understand his viewpoint. I have read everything written here for the past year or so and still have conflicting opinions about the bridge (in a perfect world, I think I would prefer a tunnel). I am grateful for any factual information but don't really need to read rants typed in all capital letters which seem to scream at the reader. Having lived in Missouri for many years I can assure everyone that there are many bridges and lots of pork spending there.

One thing I love about Alaska is the live-and-let-live attitude. The people, and even the government to some degree, tend to be less restrictive than those in the lower forty-eight. This is changing but is still far better than most of our southern states. I don't smoke but hate laws that tell me how to live. I like the atmosphere at some establishments so I endure the smoke. I'd like to have restaurants be either smoking allowed, or smoke free. That would be best for me. I just hate to see it legislated. It leads to more legislation like gun control laws written by the uninformed and uncaring.

As for Ketchikan being a tourist trap; we do indeed rely heavily on tourism more than ever before. I don't think many of us truly enjoy the game of dodge the tourist while driving through the downtown area. The truth is, they are just people trying to get a glimpse of what it is that keeps the rest of us here. They come and go and most that I have heard, speak fondly of Ketchikan. It is a mystery to me that jewelry stores are so popular with tourists. That said, they really are no worse than other, tourist related, stores which hawk cheap souvenirs. It would be nice if there were more locally owned businesses profiting from the tourist trade. I was surprised at the ghost town atmosphere in the downtown area during my first winter here.

I personally would prefer that our main industries be logging and fishing as in days gone by. I fear that tourism will lead to the same malady that has fallen on places like Jackson Hole, Wyoming. The wealthy tourists love the wilderness area so much that they return and build million dollar summer homes and bring many of the problems of the city to the wilderness, changing it forever. I suspect that some of this is fueling what seems to be a lot of very expensive homes being built here.

Ketchikan is a wonderful place filled with great people. I'm lucky to live here, vote here, and experience this area where God did his finest work.

Bud Burke
Ketchikan, AK

Received July 31, 2007 - Published August 02, 2007

About: "Lived here a little over a year"


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