Monthly Archives: September 2008

Hail of a storm — Pea-sized ice chunks a surprise for drivers, golfers




By Jenny Neyman
Redoubt Reporter

When Michael Gangloff bought his Harley-Davidson Sportster motorcycle in April and took a riding class at the Kenai Peninsula Harley-Davidson store, it prepared him for just about anything the road might throw at him.

Pea-sized hail in September was a surprise, though.

Gangloff was riding home to Sterling from Homer around 4:45 p.m. Friday when a storm front passed over Sterling, spewing torrential rain, pea-sized chunks of ice and thunder and lightning over the Sterling Highway.

The storm didn’t reach downtown Soldotna, but the massive black cloud marring the otherwise sunny fall afternoon sky could be seen from miles away. Even so, Gangloff wasn’t expecting what he was driving into.

“It just started hailing. About a mile up it wasn’t doing this,” Gangloff said.

The weather had been nice all the way up from Homer on Friday. Even when he reached the edge of the storm near the Soldotna Animal Hospital, he didn’t think it would do more than make a soggy ending to an otherwise pleasant ride.

“I didn’t think it would be too bad at first. I thought it was just rain, but it started bouncing up on the road,” he said. “I had my visor open. It was stinging the face pretty good.”

Traffic was picking up at the early end of the workday commute as the rain deluge started reducing visibility. When the hail started rattling car roofs and ricocheting off windshields, vehicles pulled off onto the road shoulder, into parking lots and on side streets to get off the highway.

“When it started I slowed way down. I was probably doing only about 30,” Gangloff said.
The Harley-Davidson store where he bought the bike was in sight, so he pulled under the awning covering the front door and went in for a cup of coffee to wait out the storm before riding the remaining 12 or so miles to his home on Feuding Lane.

“It started getting pretty thick on the road,” he said. “I think it’s going to be pretty slick for a while. I might have to drive with the emergency lights on on the side of the road.”
Gangloff has only been riding since May, so this summer has entailed a lot of firsts for him on his bike. He didn’t think riding through a hailstorm would be one of them.

“I sure didn’t think this was going to happen today. I was actually planning to go to Anchorage tomorrow. It sure don’t seem like it now,” he said.

He said the instructors of the riders safety course he took when he bought the bike covered what to do in inclement weather, even if they didn’t mention hail, specifically.
“More or less,” he said. “Just get out of it.”

Rita Geller and her son, Dan Geller, followed that advice at Birch Ridge Golf Course. They were on the fourth hole when the hailstorm hit.

“We were gonna try and sit it out until we saw lightning,” said Rita Geller, who works in the pro shop at Birch Ridge.

They thought better of walking around an open expanse with metal sticks and took cover in their golf cart. Even under shelter the right side of Rita’s pants still got soaked.

“The cart was fishtailing when we were driving back. It was pretty icy in the fairways,” Rita said.

After 20 minutes the storm passed and the sun was once again peeking out from the clouds, illuminating the greens that now looked like they were covered with a blanket of Styrofoam.

“We tried to putt on the green, but it was too bumpy,” Dan Geller said.

Rita said she only gets her son out to play about three times a year, and put the blame for cutting this game short squarely on her son.

“I was complaining about the heat earlier,” Dan said.

“Yeah, you did it. It was your fault,” Rita said.

Actually, a mix of sunlight and cold was to blame. David Vonderheide, a meteorological technician with the National Weather Service’s forecast office in Anchorage, said a lack of wind, a layer of cool air up above and afternoon sunlight warming moist air down near the ground created air instability.

As the sun warmed moist air near the ground an updraft was created, sucking the moisture up to the layer of freezing cold air above. Big, puffy clouds form, and the moisture freezes into ice pellets. If the updraft is strong enough, the ice is held aloft and collects more moisture, turning into bigger and bigger chunks of ice. When the ice becomes too heavy for the updraft to keep aloft, or if the ice shifts too far from the updraft, it falls back to the ground as hail.

“Gravity takes over and they all just spill out,” Vonderheide said.
He said pea-sized hail would take updraft wind speeds of 30 to 40 miles per hour to form. Some hailstorms can have 80- to 100-mph wind speeds, which can result in chunks of hail as big as grapefruits.

Anchorage has also seen some hail showers in the last few weeks, Vonderheide said.

“It is a little unusual. Usually you get weather like that during May and June,” he said.

Vonderheide chalked it up to the changing of the seasons, since equinox was Monday.
That means winter is not far away. The Kenai Municipal Airport recorded a low of 37 degrees Sunday night, while the Soldotna Airport dipped down to 34 degrees.

“It was kind of a close call this morning for people who forgot to take their plants in,” Vonderheide said Monday. “Probably just a few places got maybe an hour or two of frost. The first real general, regular frost will be coming within the next two weeks, I think.”

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Sign of the times? Campaign propaganda disappears from central peninsula yards, roadsides

By Jenny Neyman
Redoubt Reporter

Political signs have it rough. In the course of one election season the red-white-and-blue signs that sprout up overnight along major roads, busy intersections and in supporters’ yards take a lot of abuse.

They’re shot, stabbed, shredded by razors, graffitied and burned. Run over by four-wheelers, dirt bikes, cars and trucks, wildlife and the occasional piece of farm equipment. This year on the central Kenai Peninsula, they’re being stolen altogether.

Several signs promoting Democratic candidates for state and national offices have gone missing this month. Mary Toutonghi, who lives on SoHi Lane in Soldotna, has had problems with her yard signs being knocked over periodically in the two months or so she’s had them out. Then on Sept. 9 she woke up to find a sign for Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama and one for Democratic U.S. House of Representatives candidate Ethan Berkowitz were gone altogether.

“To me it’s a cowardly act because there’s no discussion or anything, and I see it as an act of vandalism, really,” Toutonghi said.

A Soldotna resident since 1984, Toutonghi has displayed signs for candidates she’s supported for “years and years,” she said. They’ve been knocked down before but never outright stolen.

She related the act to an incident in 2003, when people participating in a peace demonstration at Soldotna Creek Park along the Sterling Highway were doused with water by a man in a truck.

“To me it’s not a democratic form, it is a cowardly form,” she said.

Toutonghi said she reported the theft to Soldotna police, but without any witnesses she doesn’t expect anyone to be held accountable.

“It’s my yard, I put up my signs and they tear them down instead of going the route of putting up their own signs. Or maybe they do have their own signs, but to me it’s a violation of what I choose to display in my yard,” she said.

Toutonghi’s political beliefs are strong enough for her to promote them visually, but she draws the line at interfering in what others believe.

“I do feel they have a right to their own opinions,” she said. “There are times when there are discussions and there is agreement, and if there is serious disagreement I let it go. I feel I don’t have any more right to push on people than they have to push on me.”

Julie Hasquet, with the Mark Begich for U.S. Senate campaign in Anchorage, said on Friday that she had heard of a rash of sign stealing on the central peninsula. Begich, a Democrat, is running against incumbent Republican Ted Stevens.

“It appears at this point this is pretty exclusive to your area. There have been reports of Begich signs taken down there, and larger numbers than normal,” Hasquet said.

She said people have reported seeing someone in a white Suburban taking signs.

“We think it’s very unfortunate people try to curb others’ right to free speech, and it’s illegal to take down those signs,” she said.

Nathan Osburn, the Alaska deputy communications director for the Obama for America campaign, said he’d also heard of signs in the Soldotna area going missing, but didn’t know if it was more than was usual in an election season.

“I think people tend to get very passionate about their candidates and sometimes express themselves in inappropriate ways,” Osburn said.

With the Berkowitz campaign, press secretary David Shurtleff hadn’t heard of sign thefts this year, but wouldn’t consider it unusual if there were.

“It’s always disappointing but never surprising to hear about it,” Shurtleff said. “Hopefully they’re taking them and putting them on eBay, but they’re probably going in a bonfire. It happens every year and it’s always disappointing. That being said, if somebody gets their sign stolen or already has and they want another one, we’ll keep giving them until we don’t have any more.”

Representatives for Begich and Berkowitz said their candidates have been treated respectfully when visiting the central peninsula.

With the Ted Stevens re-election campaign, Jane and Will Madison, of Soldotna, are co-chairs of a local steering committee responsible for putting up Stevens signs on the peninsula. As of Friday, 50 4-by-8-foot signs and another 50 yard signs supporting Stevens had been put up on the peninsula, and Jane Madison said they hope to put up another 50 signs in the coming week. She said she hasn’t heard of a single sign being stolen.

Tim Evans, a Democrat running for the state House District 34 seat, covering the northwestern Kenai Peninsula outside the Kenai, Soldotna and Kalifornsky-Beach Road areas, hasn’t been as lucky.

Six of his signs were stolen from the Sterling Highway in Sterling about a week ago.
“Across from the post office they left two other political signs, so I felt it was pretty well-targeted,” Evans said.

He said a vehicle with two men was seen taking the signs. He reported it to Alaska State Troopers, and they were nice about it, but he doesn’t expect anything to be done, he said.

“You just never know. You don’t want to point a finger at your opponent because that’s probably way beneath him. It was probably just over-exuberant kids or whatever, or even some over-exuberant adults. I don’t even want to point the finger at kids.”

Mike Chenault, a Republican, is the District 34 incumbent. He said his signs haven’t seen any more abuse than normal, although the one act of vandalism he does know of was unusual for the amount of effort put into it.

“A couple of road signs somebody took off my frames,” he said. “They actually unscrewed them. That took some time. They took the sandbags and the signs and left the frame.”

In Chenault’s experience, sign vandalism varies from year to year. Some years none of his signs are messed with, other years he’s had eight or 10 disappear. He’s had signs shot, run over and slashed with a razor knife.

“I don’t mess with other people’s signs.,” he said. “Sometimes kids will get playing around or even adults will think it’s cute to go do some things.”

The cost can add up in a hurry, he said.

David Hartman, an employee with G.F. Sherman Signs on K-Beach, said yard signs cost $350 for 25 or $540 for 100. For 4-by-4-foot signs, it’s $582 for 10 or $726 for 25. For 4-by-8-foot signs, it’s $822 for 10 or $1,134 for 25.

In the state Senate District Q race, Republican incumbent Tom Wagoner said he hasn’t had any unusual trouble with his signs. He hasn’t put many out this year, though.

“People get pretty passionate this time of the election, and sometimes people just don’t like all the signs,” he said. “I don’t like signs, but here on the peninsula they’re kind of a necessary evil when you’re running for office. It’s an inexpensive way to get your name out on the peninsula.”

Kelly Wolf, running as a nonpartisan for House District 33, covering the Kenai-Soldotna-K-Beach area, said he’s careful about where he puts his signs, because he knows what can happen if they end up in the wrong place.

“If they’re disappearing if they’re in the road right of way I don’t know if the (Department of Transportation) sign Nazis are down here or not,” he said. “They’re a real factor. Most everybody running for office is supposed to be aware of regulations from DOT sign police. If it’s in that right of way they will remove it, and they do have the ability to fine.”

Wolf said he hasn’t had any problems with his signs, other than one being knocked down. It was on a dirt path so it may have been the wind, or perhaps a dirt bike or four-wheeler, he said.

“Sometimes adults act more childish than children themselves. Sometimes you have to figure out who’s more mature,” he said.

Dick Waisanen is a first-time candidate, a Democrat running for the District 33 seat. He’s had one sign run over by a four-wheeler in a field along the Kenai Spur Highway by Sport Lake Road. His and one of Evans’ signs were flattened, but Evans’ stake didn’t break so Waisanen put it back up for him. That’s the kind of thing he expected to deal with, not outright theft.

“As far as signs go, we have freedom of speech. As a candidate, you still need to respect the property of whoever’s got the sign up there,” he said. “I’m surprised we had so much of it. You have to maintain them, the wind knocks them down or different things happen. But breaking them or cutting them up or stealing them is a step too far for what we would say for the spirit of America.”

Editor’s note: Senate District Q Democrat candidate Dr. Nels Anderson and House District 33 Republican incumbent Kurt Olson did not return a call seeking comment.

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Sign of the times? Campaign propaganda disappears from central peninsula yards, roadsides

By Jenny Neyman
Redoubt Reporter

Political signs have it rough. In the course of one election season the red-white-and-blue signs that sprout up overnight along major roads, busy intersections and in supporters’ yards take a lot of abuse.

They’re shot, stabbed, shredded by razors, graffitied and burned. Run over by four-wheelers, dirt bikes, cars and trucks, wildlife and the occasional piece of farm equipment. This year on the central Kenai Peninsula, they’re being stolen altogether.

Several signs promoting Democratic candidates for state and national offices have gone missing this month. Mary Toutonghi, who lives on SoHi Lane in Soldotna, has had problems with her yard signs being knocked over periodically in the two months or so she’s had them out. Then on Sept. 9 she woke up to find a sign for Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama and one for Democratic U.S. House of Representatives candidate Ethan Berkowitz were gone altogether.

“To me it’s a cowardly act because there’s no discussion or anything, and I see it as an act of vandalism, really,” Toutonghi said.

A Soldotna resident since 1984, Toutonghi has displayed signs for candidates she’s supported for “years and years,” she said. They’ve been knocked down before but never outright stolen.

She related the act to an incident in 2003, when people participating in a peace demonstration at Soldotna Creek Park along the Sterling Highway were doused with water by a man in a truck.

“To me it’s not a democratic form, it is a cowardly form,” she said.

Toutonghi said she reported the theft to Soldotna police, but without any witnesses she doesn’t expect anyone to be held accountable.

“It’s my yard, I put up my signs and they tear them down instead of going the route of putting up their own signs. Or maybe they do have their own signs, but to me it’s a violation of what I choose to display in my yard,” she said.

Toutonghi’s political beliefs are strong enough for her to promote them visually, but she draws the line at interfering in what others believe.

“I do feel they have a right to their own opinions,” she said. “There are times when there are discussions and there is agreement, and if there is serious disagreement I let it go. I feel I don’t have any more right to push on people than they have to push on me.”

Julie Hasquet, with the Mark Begich for U.S. Senate campaign in Anchorage, said on Friday that she had heard of a rash of sign stealing on the central peninsula. Begich, a Democrat, is running against incumbent Republican Ted Stevens.

“It appears at this point this is pretty exclusive to your area. There have been reports of Begich signs taken down there, and larger numbers than normal,” Hasquet said.

She said people have reported seeing someone in a white Suburban taking signs.

“We think it’s very unfortunate people try to curb others’ right to free speech, and it’s illegal to take down those signs,” she said.

Nathan Osburn, the Alaska deputy communications director for the Obama for America campaign, said he’d also heard of signs in the Soldotna area going missing, but didn’t know if it was more than was usual in an election season.

“I think people tend to get very passionate about their candidates and sometimes express themselves in inappropriate ways,” Osburn said.

With the Berkowitz campaign, press secretary David Shurtleff hadn’t heard of sign thefts this year, but wouldn’t consider it unusual if there were.

“It’s always disappointing but never surprising to hear about it,” Shurtleff said. “Hopefully they’re taking them and putting them on eBay, but they’re probably going in a bonfire. It happens every year and it’s always disappointing. That being said, if somebody gets their sign stolen or already has and they want another one, we’ll keep giving them until we don’t have any more.”

Representatives for Begich and Berkowitz said their candidates have been treated respectfully when visiting the central peninsula.

With the Ted Stevens re-election campaign, Jane and Will Madison, of Soldotna, are co-chairs of a local steering committee responsible for putting up Stevens signs on the peninsula. As of Friday, 50 4-by-8-foot signs and another 50 yard signs supporting Stevens had been put up on the peninsula, and Jane Madison said they hope to put up another 50 signs in the coming week. She said she hasn’t heard of a single sign being stolen.

Tim Evans, a Democrat running for the state House District 34 seat, covering the northwestern Kenai Peninsula outside the Kenai, Soldotna and Kalifornsky-Beach Road areas, hasn’t been as lucky.

Six of his signs were stolen from the Sterling Highway in Sterling about a week ago.
“Across from the post office they left two other political signs, so I felt it was pretty well-targeted,” Evans said.

He said a vehicle with two men was seen taking the signs. He reported it to Alaska State Troopers, and they were nice about it, but he doesn’t expect anything to be done, he said.

“You just never know. You don’t want to point a finger at your opponent because that’s probably way beneath him. It was probably just over-exuberant kids or whatever, or even some over-exuberant adults. I don’t even want to point the finger at kids.”

Mike Chenault, a Republican, is the District 34 incumbent. He said his signs haven’t seen any more abuse than normal, although the one act of vandalism he does know of was unusual for the amount of effort put into it.

“A couple of road signs somebody took off my frames,” he said. “They actually unscrewed them. That took some time. They took the sandbags and the signs and left the frame.”

In Chenault’s experience, sign vandalism varies from year to year. Some years none of his signs are messed with, other years he’s had eight or 10 disappear. He’s had signs shot, run over and slashed with a razor knife.

“I don’t mess with other people’s signs.,” he said. “Sometimes kids will get playing around or even adults will think it’s cute to go do some things.”

The cost can add up in a hurry, he said.

David Hartman, an employee with G.F. Sherman Signs on K-Beach, said yard signs cost $350 for 25 or $540 for 100. For 4-by-4-foot signs, it’s $582 for 10 or $726 for 25. For 4-by-8-foot signs, it’s $822 for 10 or $1,134 for 25.

In the state Senate District Q race, Republican incumbent Tom Wagoner said he hasn’t had any unusual trouble with his signs. He hasn’t put many out this year, though.

“People get pretty passionate this time of the election, and sometimes people just don’t like all the signs,” he said. “I don’t like signs, but here on the peninsula they’re kind of a necessary evil when you’re running for office. It’s an inexpensive way to get your name out on the peninsula.”

Kelly Wolf, running as a nonpartisan for House District 33, covering the Kenai-Soldotna-K-Beach area, said he’s careful about where he puts his signs, because he knows what can happen if they end up in the wrong place.

“If they’re disappearing if they’re in the road right of way I don’t know if the (Department of Transportation) sign Nazis are down here or not,” he said. “They’re a real factor. Most everybody running for office is supposed to be aware of regulations from DOT sign police. If it’s in that right of way they will remove it, and they do have the a
bility to fine.”

Wolf said he hasn’t had any problems with his signs, other than one being knocked down. It was on a dirt path so it may have been the wind, or perhaps a dirt bike or four-wheeler, he said.

“Sometimes adults act more childish than children themselves. Sometimes you have to figure out who’s more mature,” he said.

Dick Waisanen is a first-time candidate, a Democrat running for the District 33 seat. He’s had one sign run over by a four-wheeler in a field along the Kenai Spur Highway by Sport Lake Road. His and one of Evans’ signs were flattened, but Evans’ stake didn’t break so Waisanen put it back up for him. That’s the kind of thing he expected to deal with, not outright theft.

“As far as signs go, we have freedom of speech. As a candidate, you still need to respect the property of whoever’s got the sign up there,” he said. “I’m surprised we had so much of it. You have to maintain them, the wind knocks them down or different things happen. But breaking them or cutting them up or stealing them is a step too far for what we would say for the spirit of America.”

Editor’s note: Senate District Q Democrat candidate Dr. Nels Anderson and House District 33 Republican incumbent Kurt Olson did not return a call seeking comment.

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Nikiski candidate advocating Constitutional government

By Jenny Neyman
Redoubt Reporter

When election talk turns to Alaska’s U.S. Senate seat, typically only two names are discussed: Ted Stevens and Mark Begich.

Bob Bird, a 35-year teacher from Nikiski, is trying to expand that list to include one more: himself. Bird is seeking the Senate seat on the Alaskan Independence ticket.

Bird has made a name for himself as a conservative, pro-life activist. In 1989 he led the Alaska Rescue Project, which involved nonviolent civil disobedience to protest abortion clinics. He was president of Alaska Right to Life from 1995 to 1997, and garnered 34,000 votes in the 1990 Republican primary in a previous bid to unseat Stevens.

His reason for running again this year is a dramatic one: “We are perilously close to not being a free country anymore,” he said.

Bird doesn’t want to be a career politician, he said. And he doesn’t want to leave Alaska for life in Washington, D.C., either. But he’s willing to do whatever it takes to turn this country from the path he sees it on.

“If there was another candidate, I’d have given him my support. But time is very short. If my descendants are going to live in a free country, something’s got to be done,” he said.
“… I’m not looking for a second career. I’m looking to try and restore freedom. I’m prepared to sacrifice it all because there’s no substitute for freedom.”
Call him a conservative — he’s pro-gun, pro-life and advocates cutting government. Or call him a radical, he’ll answer to that, too.

“Someone has to make the breakthrough, and I’m willing to be the so-called shock troop to make it,” he said.

But beyond everything else, Bird is first and foremost a Constitutionalist. He can quote it chapter and verse. He can trace the history of how it came about and how it’s been used – and abused – since its inception. He spends an entire semester each year teaching it to government students in his classroom at Nikiski Middle-High School.

Every topic, every issue, every prescription for change in his campaign comes down to one thing — returning to a government that directly follows the U.S. Constitution.

“Politicians try to be all things to all people. I see that as fakes and phonies. That is not what I’m doing, and yet, if a return to the Constitution followed, it would in fact help all classes and all peoples and all political philosophies,” Bird said.

Bird’s vision for a return to the Constitution is literally that. Eliminate everything going on in government that is not directly laid out in the Constitution.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, Internal Revenue Service, No Child Left Behind legislation and a host of other federal programs and agencies, gone. The Supreme Court’s ability to strike down state laws would be curtailed, which would open the door for states being able to enact bans on abortions.

The U.S. would pull out of Iraq. Subsurface mineral rights would be returned to property holders, and title to all federal lands — including national parks like Yellowstone and the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge — would be relinquished, since the Constitution only specifically allows the federal government to own “The District of Columbia (not to exceed 10 miles square), forts, arsenals, magazines, dockyards and other needful buildings.”

Doing so would remedy a host of problems, Bird said. For one thing, it would stop the government from trampling on people’s civil liberties. As an example, Bird cited the passage of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act this summer, the government’s attempts to obtain customer records from credit card companies, and the Department of Homeland Security requiring that access be blocked to Nikishka Beach in Nikiski. Gas prices would go down, in part because ending unconstitutional overseas military ventures, like the war in Iraq, would stop creating scarcity, and because the Constitution dictates use of gold and silver standards. Going back to that method of currency would curb inflation, which would in turn curb rising gas prices, Bird said.

“The price of gas hasn’t gone up so much as the value of our currency has gone down. People say it’s the big bad oil companies, and I’m no fan of big oil. It’s not the big bad oil company. It’s the big bad federal government,” he said.
In perhaps his biggest philosophic split with Stevens, Bird also champions the end of federal handouts.

“This is what Stevens is famous for. He has kept our economy going through federal subsidies. You take a federal subsidy, you also get federal dependence and control,” Bird said. “It’s a short-term fix but a long-term loss. There are Constitutional things the federal government can do — military expenditures, post offices — that’s the kind of pork you’re entitled to.”

Bird said he realizes the prospect of drying up the well of federal funding in Alaska can be difficult to take, and he said it could be done gradually through sunset clauses. But it must be done, he said. “Ultimately, it’s killing all of us. We can’t continue to use the federal government as a source of income. We are loaded with resources here. I just want to see people make a livelihood, and you can’t do that without developing our resources.

“Alaska’s wonderful independent spirit has been stifled by federal handouts and by the frustration that nothing seems to change,” he said. “Both Begich and Stevens are offering more and more government. It’s like an alcoholic who thinks one more bottle of whiskey will cure his drunkenness.”

The Constitutional government Bird envisions would have states playing a larger role, taking over much of what the federal government does now. Disaster relief, health care, public works construction projects and the like could all be done on the state level. Power should be kept on a local level, closer to the people, he said.

“The more and more power government gets, the less and less it can actually hold the hearts and minds of the people,” he said.

Even at 221 years old, Bird said the Constitution is adequate to meet the challenges of today’s society.

“Human nature never changes. Since government is made up of human beings, it never changes,” he said.

The amendment process allows for change in the Constitution, should it be deemed necessary, Bird said. And the Bill of Rights already gives instructions for how the Constitution should be interpreted.

“The Ninth and 10th Amendments tell you how to interpret it — loosely for personal liberties and strictly for federal power, and right now we’re working the opposite, aren’t we? We use the government for just about anything we can dream up,” he said.

So far in his campaign, Bird has been frustrated in his attempts to get his message out to voters. He was ranked the nation’s top 2008 independent candidate by the Independent Political Report, but he says he’s been blacked out by mainstream media in Anchorage. He’s being outspent by leaps and bounds by both Stevens and Begich.

“My supporters are simple, humble working people who want freedom,” he said. “If I had $100,000 I would win this election, because the message is so different and unique that people instantly recognize it.”

Bird will continue his campaign, with plans to visit Southeast Alaska at the end of September and Fairbanks in the beginning of October. He’s currently scheduled to speak at the North Peninsula Chamber of Commerce luncheon on Oct. 9 and in a candidates forum held by the Kenai and Soldotna chambers on Oct. 21.

He said his message resonates with people, once they have an opportunity to hear it.

“No one’s ever told me I’m wrong, or that I’ve somehow misunderstood the Constitution,” he said. “… The philosophy applies at all times and in all ages of history. And that is this: Government, like fire, is a fearful servant and a deadly master. But we can’t live without fire. I’m not an anarchist. We can’t live without government. I want it as small as possible.”

Bob Bird on…

  • Pebble Mine: “I think it’s a great thing to have a livelihood for the working men and women of Alaska other than getting a federal handout,” Bird said. As for the specifics of whether the mine should be allowed: “It should be only a matter of the state of Alaska. … These are questions for the people of Alaska to decide.”
  • Global warming: “It’s a fraud of monumental proportions. It is Al Gore ‘Chicken-Little’ science. A government that wants power has to keep people in fear. The war on terror and the environmental war are both manipulated,” Bird said.
  • Bird said the issue of whether global warming is occurring and whether human activity is to blame is unresolved. He said thousands of scientists who say global warming isn’t occurring or isn’t human-caused don’t get media coverage like those who say it is happening. If legislation is passed because of global warming, like federal protections for polar bears, it could have a serious impact on Alaska and its ability to develop its resources, he said.
  • “All of this because supposedly polar bears are swimming around without an ice cake to climb on. And all of this passes as science and statesmanship? It is a mad hatter. You think, ‘My gosh, where has sanity gone?’”
  • Opening ANWR to drilling: “Every Alaskan knows it’s absurd not to open ANWR,” Bird said. He favors opening ANWR in accordance with the statehood act, where Alaska would get 90 percent of the royalties from development.
  • Iraq War: “Not constitutional, and I think on its merits it’s not justified. If we were serious about our nation’s security, why is our southern border unguarded? Anybody can cross that. It’s harder to get on an airplane than for potential terrorist to cross our border.”
  • Gov. Sarah Palin as John McCain’s vice presidential running mate: “Mixed emotions. I’d rather have her as governor than as VP. She was elected for four years and still had something to prove. It’s smart for her and the Republicans, but the verdict’s still out on her job as governor.”
  • Natural gas line from the North Slope: Bird said he wants to see an all-Alaska gas line with a bullet line to Fairbanks.
  • “An all-Alaska gas line keeps Alaska in total control of the marketing. Right now we’d get almost twice the spot market value if we sent it to the Pacific Rim liquefied,” he said.

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Nikiski candidate advocating Constitutional government

By Jenny Neyman
Redoubt Reporter

When election talk turns to Alaska’s U.S. Senate seat, typically only two names are discussed: Ted Stevens and Mark Begich.

Bob Bird, a 35-year teacher from Nikiski, is trying to expand that list to include one more: himself. Bird is seeking the Senate seat on the Alaskan Independence ticket.

Bird has made a name for himself as a conservative, pro-life activist. In 1989 he led the Alaska Rescue Project, which involved nonviolent civil disobedience to protest abortion clinics. He was president of Alaska Right to Life from 1995 to 1997, and garnered 34,000 votes in the 1990 Republican primary in a previous bid to unseat Stevens.

His reason for running again this year is a dramatic one: “We are perilously close to not being a free country anymore,” he said.

Bird doesn’t want to be a career politician, he said. And he doesn’t want to leave Alaska for life in Washington, D.C., either. But he’s willing to do whatever it takes to turn this country from the path he sees it on.

“If there was another candidate, I’d have given him my support. But time is very short. If my descendants are going to live in a free country, something’s got to be done,” he said.
“… I’m not looking for a second career. I’m looking to try and restore freedom. I’m prepared to sacrifice it all because there’s no substitute for freedom.”
Call him a conservative — he’s pro-gun, pro-life and advocates cutting government. Or call him a radical, he’ll answer to that, too.

“Someone has to make the breakthrough, and I’m willing to be the so-called shock troop to make it,” he said.

But beyond everything else, Bird is first and foremost a Constitutionalist. He can quote it chapter and verse. He can trace the history of how it came about and how it’s been used – and abused – since its inception. He spends an entire semester each year teaching it to government students in his classroom at Nikiski Middle-High School.

Every topic, every issue, every prescription for change in his campaign comes down to one thing — returning to a government that directly follows the U.S. Constitution.

“Politicians try to be all things to all people. I see that as fakes and phonies. That is not what I’m doing, and yet, if a return to the Constitution followed, it would in fact help all classes and all peoples and all political philosophies,” Bird said.

Bird’s vision for a return to the Constitution is literally that. Eliminate everything going on in government that is not directly laid out in the Constitution.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, Internal Revenue Service, No Child Left Behind legislation and a host of other federal programs and agencies, gone. The Supreme Court’s ability to strike down state laws would be curtailed, which would open the door for states being able to enact bans on abortions.

The U.S. would pull out of Iraq. Subsurface mineral rights would be returned to property holders, and title to all federal lands — including national parks like Yellowstone and the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge — would be relinquished, since the Constitution only specifically allows the federal government to own “The District of Columbia (not to exceed 10 miles square), forts, arsenals, magazines, dockyards and other needful buildings.”

Doing so would remedy a host of problems, Bird said. For one thing, it would stop the government from trampling on people’s civil liberties. As an example, Bird cited the passage of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act this summer, the government’s attempts to obtain customer records from credit card companies, and the Department of Homeland Security requiring that access be blocked to Nikishka Beach in Nikiski. Gas prices would go down, in part because ending unconstitutional overseas military ventures, like the war in Iraq, would stop creating scarcity, and because the Constitution dictates use of gold and silver standards. Going back to that method of currency would curb inflation, which would in turn curb rising gas prices, Bird said.

“The price of gas hasn’t gone up so much as the value of our currency has gone down. People say it’s the big bad oil companies, and I’m no fan of big oil. It’s not the big bad oil company. It’s the big bad federal government,” he said.
In perhaps his biggest philosophic split with Stevens, Bird also champions the end of federal handouts.

“This is what Stevens is famous for. He has kept our economy going through federal subsidies. You take a federal subsidy, you also get federal dependence and control,” Bird said. “It’s a short-term fix but a long-term loss. There are Constitutional things the federal government can do — military expenditures, post offices — that’s the kind of pork you’re entitled to.”

Bird said he realizes the prospect of drying up the well of federal funding in Alaska can be difficult to take, and he said it could be done gradually through sunset clauses. But it must be done, he said. “Ultimately, it’s killing all of us. We can’t continue to use the federal government as a source of income. We are loaded with resources here. I just want to see people make a livelihood, and you can’t do that without developing our resources.

“Alaska’s wonderful independent spirit has been stifled by federal handouts and by the frustration that nothing seems to change,” he said. “Both Begich and Stevens are offering more and more government. It’s like an alcoholic who thinks one more bottle of whiskey will cure his drunkenness.”

The Constitutional government Bird envisions would have states playing a larger role, taking over much of what the federal government does now. Disaster relief, health care, public works construction projects and the like could all be done on the state level. Power should be kept on a local level, closer to the people, he said.

“The more and more power government gets, the less and less it can actually hold the hearts and minds of the people,” he said.

Even at 221 years old, Bird said the Constitution is adequate to meet the challenges of today’s society.

“Human nature never changes. Since government is made up of human beings, it never changes,” he said.

The amendment process allows for change in the Constitution, should it be deemed necessary, Bird said. And the Bill of Rights already gives instructions for how the Constitution should be interpreted.

“The Ninth and 10th Amendments tell you how to interpret it — loosely for personal liberties and strictly for federal power, and right now we’re working the opposite, aren’t we? We use the government for just about anything we can dream up,” he said.

So far in his campaign, Bird has been frustrated in his attempts to get his message out to voters. He was ranked the nation’s top 2008 independent candidate by the Independent Political Report, but he says he’s been blacked out by mainstream media in Anchorage. He’s being outspent by leaps and bounds by both Stevens and Begich.

“My supporters are simple, humble working people who want freedom,” he said. “If I had $100,000 I would win this election, because the message is so different and unique that people instantly recognize it.”

Bird will continue his campaign, with plans to visit Southeast Alaska at the end of September and Fairbanks in the beginning of October. He’s currently scheduled to speak at the North Peninsula Chamber of Commerce luncheon on Oct. 9 and in a candidates forum
held by the Kenai and Soldotna chambers on Oct. 21.

He said his message resonates with people, once they have an opportunity to hear it.

“No one’s ever told me I’m wrong, or that I’ve somehow misunderstood the Constitution,” he said. “… The philosophy applies at all times and in all ages of history. And that is this: Government, like fire, is a fearful servant and a deadly master. But we can’t live without fire. I’m not an anarchist. We can’t live without government. I want it as small as possible.”

Bob Bird on…

  • Pebble Mine: “I think it’s a great thing to have a livelihood for the working men and women of Alaska other than getting a federal handout,” Bird said. As for the specifics of whether the mine should be allowed: “It should be only a matter of the state of Alaska. … These are questions for the people of Alaska to decide.”
  • Global warming: “It’s a fraud of monumental proportions. It is Al Gore ‘Chicken-Little’ science. A government that wants power has to keep people in fear. The war on terror and the environmental war are both manipulated,” Bird said.
  • Bird said the issue of whether global warming is occurring and whether human activity is to blame is unresolved. He said thousands of scientists who say global warming isn’t occurring or isn’t human-caused don’t get media coverage like those who say it is happening. If legislation is passed because of global warming, like federal protections for polar bears, it could have a serious impact on Alaska and its ability to develop its resources, he said.
  • “All of this because supposedly polar bears are swimming around without an ice cake to climb on. And all of this passes as science and statesmanship? It is a mad hatter. You think, ‘My gosh, where has sanity gone?’”
  • Opening ANWR to drilling: “Every Alaskan knows it’s absurd not to open ANWR,” Bird said. He favors opening ANWR in accordance with the statehood act, where Alaska would get 90 percent of the royalties from development.
  • Iraq War: “Not constitutional, and I think on its merits it’s not justified. If we were serious about our nation’s security, why is our southern border unguarded? Anybody can cross that. It’s harder to get on an airplane than for potential terrorist to cross our border.”
  • Gov. Sarah Palin as John McCain’s vice presidential running mate: “Mixed emotions. I’d rather have her as governor than as VP. She was elected for four years and still had something to prove. It’s smart for her and the Republicans, but the verdict’s still out on her job as governor.”
  • Natural gas line from the North Slope: Bird said he wants to see an all-Alaska gas line with a bullet line to Fairbanks.
  • “An all-Alaska gas line keeps Alaska in total control of the marketing. Right now we’d get almost twice the spot market value if we sent it to the Pacific Rim liquefied,” he said.

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New leaf — Tree cutter carves out different path in life





By Clark Fair
Redoubt Reporter

Michael Jones loves trees. He loves to look at them, walk among them and admire the beauty he says he believes is God’s handiwork.

“They’re the neatest plants on the planet, as far as I’m concerned,” he said, his green eyes sparkling beneath the brim of his green cap. “When I walk into a forest of trees, to me, I see rooms — and there’s a room over there — it’s just kind of a hollow under the trees, and the canopy’s over top.”

Those rooms are places he loves to inhabit, he said. He feels most at home among the rooms the trees provide.

“My love for the woods is eternal,” he said. “I’m a tree man all the way.”

Given these statements, it may seem odd to learn that Jones also loves to cut trees down. The son of a lumberjack, and a tree-feller himself by trade for nearly 40 of his 50 years, he believes that felling trees is in his blood.

“I think (the forest) was put here in wisdom,” he said. “I think it was put here to be harvested, just like our gardens, but I think it should be done responsibly. And I think we’re learning that.”

For much of the past 25 years, Jones has been operating his own tree-cutting business called Timber Tree Service. Success has never come easily to him, and he has overcome some tremendous obstacles along the way. His struggles have brought him to both his love for the woods and his potent faith.

Born and raised in Kalispell, Mont., Jones said that his father gave him his first chainsaw as a present for his 9th birthday. “I couldn’t even start it,” he said of the yellow McCulloch CP70.

His father put him right to work cutting lengths of log into firewood, then began taking him to work with him about the time Jones was 10 or 11 years old.

“Summer vacations were spent learning how to fall trees,” he said.

Jones’s father expected his son to help bring in money for a family, also consisting of a second wife and four stepchildren. Jones’s biological mother and his siblings had moved away after his parents divorced when Jones was about 8 years old.

“My father was a very mean man,” Jones said. “He loved to cause pain. He loved to make me bleed. My name was ‘Stupid.’”

When his father would hurt him, Jones said, he was fond of saying, “It’s good for ya, ya little sonofabitch. It’ll make you tough.”

Since he and his stepmother hated each other, Jones said, he spent about two years living in a shed before eventually leaving home, determined he would, in fact, become tough — tougher than his father could ever imagine.

Instead, however, Jones plunged into years of drug and alcohol abuse that nearly cost him his life.
By 1981, he was a mess. Despite a string of tree-felling jobs, he did not stay clean and sober. Although only 23 at the time, he could forge no meaningful relationships, and his health was deteriorating.

“Most people made a wide circle around me because I wore an Injun Joe hat, a 14-inch Bowie knife on my side. I mean, everything about me said, ‘Stay away!’”

One woman, however, refused to be put off.

“She was not intimidated by me one bit, not one bit,” he said, his voice choking, eyes brimming with tears. “She’d come at me with this beautiful smile and eyes that just pierced into my soul.”

Her lack of fear bothered Jones, in his muddled state. After he discovered that she was a member of a “little country church” in Kalispell, he decided to show her who was boss: “I loaded up a rifle — I had a .30-30 rifle — and I loaded up a couple boxes of shells, and I went down there and shot that church completely full of holes.”

He said he expected to go to jail. He’d been there before. Instead, the church got the money together to fly him to a special Los Angeles rehabilitation facility for hard cases.

Sick with gonorrhea, cirrhosis, bleeding ulcers and malnutrition — and addled with chemicals — Jones managed to clean out his system, become healthy and find God.

His faith gave his life needed focus, but his path was still strewn with the stones of adversity.

His first marriage lasted 11 months; the divorce “threw me into a tailspin,” he said. His second marriage he called “the most miserable eight years of my life.” He spent many of those years living in tents on logging sites, and he swore he would never marry again.

Instead, in 1991 he decided to purchase survival gear, get to Alaska somehow and live alone in the wilderness until he died. But even that didn’t go as planned. It took him more than a decade to actually live in Alaska, and in those intervening years he had a heart attack (attributed, he said, to earlier years of cocaine abuse) and got married again.

In Neha Bay, part of the Makah Indian Reservation on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington state, Jones became involved in the Youth With A Mission church, and at one point attended a pig roast where he met Susan, a member of the Makah tribe. They made an immediate connection. Despite Jones’s mighty resistance, they married in July 1992.

Jones found himself with an instant family — a new wife and her four children.

The new Jones family lived most of the next 10 years in Libby, Mont., where Jones worked as a tree-feller, and said he learned to open up and allow himself to be loved. He also continued to struggle with his health in an occupation consistently rated as one of the three most dangerous jobs in America.

Through it all — the heart problems, a bout of pneumonia, injuries on the job — he has kept his faith.

“God is the Great Physician,” he said. “And I believe that God is big enough to take care of me.”
Since moving to Sterling in 2002, Jones has been operating his business full time, nowadays with his youngest son, Josiah. Timber Tree Service specializes in removing trees that endanger homes or power lines, clearing work for contractors and oil companies, and chainsaw-style landscaping.

“We’ll take your jungle and turn it into a park,” Jones is fond of saying.

“I’ll cut your trees just like I would cut your hair. You want me to dye half of it, tie jingle bells in the other half, I’ll do it for you,” he said.

Despite his prodigious ability to fell trees, limb them and buck them into logs, Jones is beginning to contemplate a new path. Josiah, he said, is showing interest in taking over the business, and Jones himself is becoming interested in a welding career.

As long as he is surrounded by trees, his family and faith, Jones said he has everything he needs.

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New leaf — Tree cutter carves out different path in life





By Clark Fair
Redoubt Reporter

Michael Jones loves trees. He loves to look at them, walk among them and admire the beauty he says he believes is God’s handiwork.

“They’re the neatest plants on the planet, as far as I’m concerned,” he said, his green eyes sparkling beneath the brim of his green cap. “When I walk into a forest of trees, to me, I see rooms — and there’s a room over there — it’s just kind of a hollow under the trees, and the canopy’s over top.”

Those rooms are places he loves to inhabit, he said. He feels most at home among the rooms the trees provide.

“My love for the woods is eternal,” he said. “I’m a tree man all the way.”

Given these statements, it may seem odd to learn that Jones also loves to cut trees down. The son of a lumberjack, and a tree-feller himself by trade for nearly 40 of his 50 years, he believes that felling trees is in his blood.

“I think (the forest) was put here in wisdom,” he said. “I think it was put here to be harvested, just like our gardens, but I think it should be done responsibly. And I think we’re learning that.”

For much of the past 25 years, Jones has been operating his own tree-cutting business called Timber Tree Service. Success has never come easily to him, and he has overcome some tremendous obstacles along the way. His struggles have brought him to both his love for the woods and his potent faith.

Born and raised in Kalispell, Mont., Jones said that his father gave him his first chainsaw as a present for his 9th birthday. “I couldn’t even start it,” he said of the yellow McCulloch CP70.

His father put him right to work cutting lengths of log into firewood, then began taking him to work with him about the time Jones was 10 or 11 years old.

“Summer vacations were spent learning how to fall trees,” he said.

Jones’s father expected his son to help bring in money for a family, also consisting of a second wife and four stepchildren. Jones’s biological mother and his siblings had moved away after his parents divorced when Jones was about 8 years old.

“My father was a very mean man,” Jones said. “He loved to cause pain. He loved to make me bleed. My name was ‘Stupid.’”

When his father would hurt him, Jones said, he was fond of saying, “It’s good for ya, ya little sonofabitch. It’ll make you tough.”

Since he and his stepmother hated each other, Jones said, he spent about two years living in a shed before eventually leaving home, determined he would, in fact, become tough — tougher than his father could ever imagine.

Instead, however, Jones plunged into years of drug and alcohol abuse that nearly cost him his life.
By 1981, he was a mess. Despite a string of tree-felling jobs, he did not stay clean and sober. Although only 23 at the time, he could forge no meaningful relationships, and his health was deteriorating.

“Most people made a wide circle around me because I wore an Injun Joe hat, a 14-inch Bowie knife on my side. I mean, everything about me said, ‘Stay away!’”

One woman, however, refused to be put off.

“She was not intimidated by me one bit, not one bit,” he said, his voice choking, eyes brimming with tears. “She’d come at me with this beautiful smile and eyes that just pierced into my soul.”

Her lack of fear bothered Jones, in his muddled state. After he discovered that she was a member of a “little country church” in Kalispell, he decided to show her who was boss: “I loaded up a rifle — I had a .30-30 rifle — and I loaded up a couple boxes of shells, and I went down there and shot that church completely full of holes.”

He said he expected to go to jail. He’d been there before. Instead, the church got the money together to fly him to a special Los Angeles rehabilitation facility for hard cases.

Sick with gonorrhea, cirrhosis, bleeding ulcers and malnutrition — and addled with chemicals — Jones managed to clean out his system, become healthy and find God.

His faith gave his life needed focus, but his path was still strewn with the stones of adversity.

His first marriage lasted 11 months; the divorce “threw me into a tailspin,” he said. His second marriage he called “the most miserable eight years of my life.” He spent many of those years living in tents on logging sites, and he swore he would never marry again.

Instead, in 1991 he decided to purchase survival gear, get to Alaska somehow and live alone in the wilderness until he died. But even that didn’t go as planned. It took him more than a decade to actually live in Alaska, and in those intervening years he had a heart attack (attributed, he said, to earlier years of cocaine abuse) and got married again.

In Neha Bay, part of the Makah Indian Reservation on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington state, Jones became involved in the Youth With A Mission church, and at one point attended a pig roast where he met Susan, a member of the Makah tribe. They made an immediate connection. Despite Jones’s mighty resistance, they married in July 1992.

Jones found himself with an instant family — a new wife and her four children.

The new Jones family lived most of the next 10 years in Libby, Mont., where Jones worked as a tree-feller, and said he learned to open up and allow himself to be loved. He also continued to struggle with his health in an occupation consistently rated as one of the three most dangerous jobs in America.

Through it all — the heart problems, a bout of pneumonia, injuries on the job — he has kept his faith.

“God is the Great Physician,” he said. “And I believe that God is big enough to take care of me.”
Since moving to Sterling in 2002, Jones has been operating his business full time, nowadays with his youngest son, Josiah. Timber Tree Service specializes in removing trees that endanger homes or power lines, clearing work for contractors and oil companies, and chainsaw-style landscaping.

“We’ll take your jungle and turn it into a park,” Jones is fond of saying.

“I
ll cut your trees just like I would cut your hair. You want me to dye half of it, tie jingle bells in the other half, I’ll do it for you,” he said.

Despite his prodigious ability to fell trees, limb them and buck them into logs, Jones is beginning to contemplate a new path. Josiah, he said, is showing interest in taking over the business, and Jones himself is becoming interested in a welding career.

As long as he is surrounded by trees, his family and faith, Jones said he has everything he needs.

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Filed under logging, outdoors, profile