"Though We Have Accomplished Much, We Must Accomplish More"
October 27, 2006
The governor highlighted his administration's accomplishments over the past four years during the course of his 30-minute speech, before closing with public safety highlighting the recent strides made by Alaska State Troopers in combating illegal drug sales and seizures throughout Western Alaska.
Murkowski also called for focused efforts to provide quality in-state care for troubled Alaska youths, under a program the state calls "Bring the Kids Home." Citing the high number of youths in facilities out of state for intensive behavioral health, Murkowski said increased capacity in Alaska - including a 60-bed facility in Anchorage and another 44-bed facility in the works for Fairbanks - will allow the youths to get treatment closer to home.
Drawing a parallel between the rising cost of energy in rural Alaska and the rise in instances of drug busts and arrests, the governor stressed that there is no excuse for buying illegal substances while ignoring daily necessities.
"While energy costs are high across rural Alaska sometimes eight or nine dollars a gallon for gasoline or diesel cash is still flowing throughout our villages," Murkowski said. "Unfortunately, much is used for nefarious purposes and contributes to social ills in rural Alaska: bootlegging and drugs.
"We must put the focus back on fighting this behavior. In calendar year 2006 already, rural illicit drug and alcohol seizures in Alaska totaled more than $18.8 million and includes over $1.1 million in cash alone," Murkowski said. "What other message or recourse is there to send back home with you to your villages?
"We have made great strides with village public safety; focusing on building trooper housing and expanding their reach; fully-funding Power Cost Equalization and working with the Rural Energy Action Council; but all of that progress will be worth nothing without strong, vibrant and healthy villages and communities," Murkowski said. "We must do more to focus Alaska's attention on this issue and make sure that our ticket to eternity - our grandchildren - can have a better way of life and guidance."
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