1970: a new capital for Alaska | Life in the valley


One of the news periodically printed in the newspapers in 1977 when I arrived in Alaska was a new state capital, a relocation of the state seat of government from Juneau. When this idea started to be discussed and became new, it was beyond me. But in 1974, Ballot Initiative One, aimed at moving the capital “from Juneau to” western Alaska “, was approved by voters in Alaska.

A selection committee for sites in the capital has been set up. He selected three potential locations for Alaska’s new capital: “Larson Lake, Mount Yenlo and Willow. The law provides that qualified voters in the state have the right to vote for one of the other sites in the capital selected by the committee and that the site receiving the most votes will be the site of the new capital. from Alaska. “The vote took place on Election Day, November 2, 1976. Willow was chosen by voters with over 56,000 votes. https://ballotpedia.org

It seemed like a good idea to bring the capital of the state closer to the agglomerations. The debate reminded me of an experience I had had earlier in the 1970s. As co-chair of the Indianapolis Fly Casters (IFC) Conservation Committee, IFC President Karl Glander and I. even decided to attend a meeting of the Indiana Legislature on legislation important to fisheries conservation. We saw a crowd when we got out of our car and headed for the meeting. When we started the large concrete staircase leading to the doors on the 2nd floor, we realized that the people on the 3rd floor of the steps were not moving in the building. It was an overflowing crowd. Representative government was at work; government by the people in person expressing interest in current legislation.

One hundred square miles (10 miles by 10 miles) behind Lloyd Haessler’s house in Willow has been designated for study for the future capital. Haessler was not excited about the move from the capital to Willow. It would certainly interfere with his trap line and his desire to be alone. www.washingtonpost.com

In covering the move of the Susitna Sentinel and the Matanuska Electric Association (MEA) in my work related to public affairs, I recall two specific points.

First, I remember reading in one of the reports of consultants doing soil and soil testing that some boreholes had bottom temperatures of around 125 degrees. My question, is thermal heat possible for the new capital?

Second, in April, in the late 1970s or early 1980s, a meeting of the Capital Site Planning Commission was held at Willow, the new capital site. MEA supplied electrical power for the meeting with a generator. A tent was set up with lights and coffee and a sound system with speakers at the corners of the tents for those who made brief remarks. Yellow baseball caps with “Willow once and for all” written out.

The capital is still in Juneau. Mat-Su borough alumni will tell you that Alaska has voted three times to move the capital. Some may give lectures on the proximity of the capital in population centers or at least on the road network. Some would say that moving is too expensive. It is unlikely that anyone will suggest that Alaska could move the capital as Texas got its capital, swapping a bit of the vast resources and land for construction, reducing the expense of moving it. .

Budd Goodyear is a local freelance writer who has published articles and photos in publications statewide. Goodyear moved to Alaska in 1977 with his wife and children, and worked in the Valley, Anchorage and Palmer. Goodyear brings historical coins to the Frontiersman.

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