Tune in to Southeast

Posted: Monday, August 20, 2001

It has been interesting to see how the comments of a strongly pro-development former publisher from strongly conservative Ketchikan have shaped the debate over why Juneau is currently not highly thought of in Southeast Alaska.

As a merchant myself and a long-time resident of Sitka, I can assure you the reasons have nothing to do with a perception of Juneau as the home of effete granola-eaters who despise the commerce that pays for their daily lotus. In fact, I must remind you that Sitka had the first conservation society in Southeast and it remains very active. I don't know any town in the Panhandle that doesn't have either a society or individuals interested in conservation.

Since Juneau is not only the largest community but also the capital, it invokes more of a vision of the classic 900-pound gorilla than sandal wearing banana-eaters. Some things are inevitable because of this; merchants in other towns are angry because residents come over here for cut-rate shopping at the big-box stores. This is not a flaw in Juneau, but perhaps the community can think of something such as occasional "hospitality missions" to other towns where Juneau money could be spent.

The insistence on the road to Skagway on the part of some Juneau residents was another case of Gorilla Juneau. Both Skagway and Haines detested the idea but their protests were countered with bland assurances they could love the road when it was built. Fortunately, last year the majority of this town decided the cost and flaws outweighed the benefits, but has anything been done to mend the fences with our northern towns?

What are community concerns in our Southeast? Do we have any idea other than the Sunday Empire "Panhandle Post?" Perhaps the paper could resume its fine coverage of the whole area it did so well in the past.

Overall, as others have pointed out, the community needs to get its act together. Southeastern Alaska has always pulled together to support Juneau on the capital move issue and will again, but it wouldn't hurt for Juneau to show its appreciation.

Dee Logenbaugh


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