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News that Ucore Rare Metals is proceeding to the next step in its process toward developing a mine at its Bokan Mountain/Dotson Ridge property on the southeast coast of Prince of Wales Island should be viewed positively — despite coming at a difficult time for the rare earth element mining sector.

Letty Eileen Cole, 93, died on Oct. 15, 2014, in Ketchikan.
Susan Marie Mallott Patrick, 58, died Oct. 11, 2014, in Ketchikan.
Daniel Edward Hines, 47, died Oct. 11, 2014, in Juneau after a nine-month battle with brain cancer.

Hooray for City councilwoman DeAnn Karlson and her co-councilors for sparing Booker from early retirement.

Booker is the Ketchikan Police Department’s dog, who is trained to sniff out illegal drugs in the community. He does exactly as he’s asked.

The Ketchikan City Council had eliminated Booker from the 2014 budget in earlier meetings, but restored his position Dec. 19 following a passionate plea on his behalf by Karlson.

Karlson spoke about Booker’s effectiveness in locating drugs. But when she told of the dog’s effect with children when he visits elementary school classrooms, she brought the point home: Deterring local youth from drugs begins in the elementary schools and reduces the amount of drug use in later years. It’s addressing the problem of illegal drugs early, which will help come students to avoid all manner of difficulties as a result of drug involvement in middle school, high School and adulthood. Booker gets the students’ attention and makes them want to listen to what the police officers who accompany him have to say about illegal drugs.

The steady number of drug arrests occurring in the community indicate that Booker and his co-officers are effective. The arrests also show that Ketchikan has a significant drug problem. To not do all that can be done to nip the problem early is to cede some of Ketchikan’s future to drugs.

That’s not what Ketchikan wants, and $25,000 per year is a small price to pay per year to get what it does. The cost of even one kid getting into drugs far exceeds that amount.

The Council deserves a treat for its vote to save Booker’s job.