PUBLISHED: 2:29 PM on Wednesday, March 16, 2005
Pelican students lobby legislators for ferry shelter

Photo by Christina Holmgren
  Handing over their petition to Rep. Peggy Wilson (R-Wrangell) were, from left, chaperoned by teacher Carol Knight, Sarah Stewart, Larissa Ramsell, Dylan Andrews and Stefan Paddock.
A group of students from the Pelican school got a first-hand lesson in civics last week when they visited Juneau on a mission: To lobby their legislators for a shelter by the ferry stop in Pelican -Eand share their hopes for a weekly ferry connection to the capital city.

"People's stuff get wet while they're waiting for the ferry," said Stefan Paddock.

"When you get off the ramp, there are these big puddles and it's all muddy," said Larissa Ramsell.

The group visited with Rep. Peggy Wilson (D-Wrangell) and Sen. Bert Stedman (R-Sitka) last Tuesday to talk to them about the need for some sort of covered waiting area by the ferry dock.

The students said Rep. Wilson gave them the assignment to find out what a shelter would cost, and that sometimes, toward the end of session, funding can come available for projects like this.

Sen. Stedman's reaction was described by teacher Carol Knight as "positive." Knight said the senator is aware that Rep. Wilson will push this proposal at the end of the session as a discretionary funding item.

"The ferry is like a big bus," said Paddock, "and we don't have a bus stop."

So while in Juneau, the students looked at and photographed bus stop shelters as a possible model for a ferry shelter.

A call was made also made to Capitol Transit to find out what the approximate cost would be for a bus stop shelter. The bus shelters, which are built for Juneau's wind and snow conditions, reportedly run about $15,000.

The students said the a ferry shelter like the bus stop at the airport, quadrupled in size, would fill the needs of the Pelican community.

The secondary subject the students wanted to discuss with their legislators was ferry traffic, saying one ferry a month is not enough.

"The mobility in and out of the community is dependent upon flying," said Knight, who after Thanksgiving and Christmas was stuck in Juneau for four days because the weather in Pelican didn't allow the small planes to land. The community went two weeks without planes going in and out.

"Once a week would be ideal, but if we even had one [ferry] every other week, people could get in for medical appointments," said Knight.

While in Juneau, the students also made sure to sample some of the recreational opportunities they lack in Pelican, including swimming, snowboarding, ice skating and - maybe the most popular activity - laser tag.