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Ketchikan is grateful for the $40 million designated for it in the state capital budget.
The actual number is $40,296,590.
The Legislature adjourned Sunday after finalizing its numbers — numbers it added to those of Gov. Sean Parnell, who had presented his capital budget before the session convened.
A chunk, or about $12 million, allotted in the budget for Ketchikan is federal dollars simply passed through state bookkeeping. Most of that money will be spent on replacement of part of the Water Street Trestle, an historic landmark and the only access to and from many homes there. With $10 million for the trestle, that leaves $2.3 million for Jackson, Monroe, Fourth and Seventh streets, all of which need new sewer and water connections. Four hundred thousand dollars are destined for the Waterfront Promenade, which is enjoyed not only by the tourism industry, but locals who like to walk the waterfront for leisure.
The City of Ketchikan put most of its muscle into acquiring money to expand and remodel its hospital. The city owns the building, but wisely hires experts in health care to manage its operations. That management, PeaceHealth, lent longtime local doctors and others to the cause, which led to $15 million in the legislative version of the capital budget.
In addition to the hospital and the federally funded projects, state leaders allotted money to nine other Ketchikan concerns.
The list of nine ranges from the airport to corrections, entertainment, ferries, harbors, pioneers and youth — all of which are important for this small community.
Improvements will be made to the Alaska Marine Highway System ferry terminal. The airport's rescue and firefighting building will be remodeled. Maintenance will occur at Ketchikan Public Health Center, Ketchikan Youth Facility, Ketchikan Pioneers' Home and Ketchikan Correctional Center.
Both Bar Harbor South improvements and the Community Harbor and Transfer Program will be funded.
Finally, First City Players will receive $125,000 to move along their remodeling of the old downtown firehall into a performing arts center.
All of these projects will be done as long as Gov. Parnell signs off on them. It's likely he will. He devised a $1.8-billion capital budget; the Legislature went to $2.2 billion, which did include $600 million less in capital projects than the previous year, as Parnell had asked. The budget is smaller than in recent years, but these are new and challenging economic times. Fortunately, Alaska has the frugal governor it needs for such times. With that frugality comes the wisdom to recognize the importance of maintaining the infrastructure necessary to advance to better times.
Ketchikan has many things for which to be thankful; its allotment in the capital budget is just one.