Several concerned citizens spoke to the Ketchikan City Council Thursday about how to improve pedestrian safety in the community.
They cited a recent death on Stedman Street close to Tatsuda’s IGA. On Monday night, 68-year-old Ronald Fulgencio was struck by a vehicle while in the crosswalk, and died from his injuries.
MJ Cadle told the council that she often sees vehicles driving after dark without their headlights on. She says pedestrians also need to take more responsibility by keeping an eye on traffic. She suggests an ad campaign to raise public awareness.
Katherine Tatsuda of Tatsuda’s IGA also spoke about her customer and friend who died. She says he was the third person hit in that crosswalk in three years, and something needs to be done.
Tatsuda says she knows it’s a state road, so the state bears responsibility, “but there has to be something that we can do here locally, immediately, to help keep our citizens and our friends and our customers and our acquaintances safe.”
Tatsuda likes Cadle’s suggestion of a campaign to raise awareness through the media and through school programs, to create a culture of safety.
The council didn’t take any action on that topic, but there was some discussion. Mayor Lew Williams III noted that the state Department of Transportation will be working on road improvements there in the next few years, which provides an opportunity for the community to suggest long-term changes.
He also suggested that DOT could reduce the speed limit leading to that area.
Also Thursday, the council heard a presentation from PeaceHealth Ketchikan Medical Center officials. Hospital CEO Ed Freysinger says they continue to work toward improving the billing process.
Several council members noted that problems continue with late bills, bills for unspecified services, and patients not receiving bills but then getting calls from a collection agency for not paying the bills that they didn’t get.
The council also voted to introduce an ordinance that would limit marijuana cultivation companies within city limits to two, and completely ban marijuana product manufacturing within city limits.
There was public comment in favor and against that ordinance. Mark Woodward, co-owner of a local retail marijuana store, told the council that the ban on manufacturing would discourage investment in the local industry.
He says there are people interested in starting a manufacturing company in the city.
“If you put in this ordinance – we’re talking not about a ban just here in the area downtown, you’re talking about all the way out by Wal-Mart,” he said. “And that Wal-Mart area up above Rex Allen Drive, it has some of the biggest areas zoned for this industry.”
The ordinance passed in first reading in a 6-1 vote with Julie Isom voting no. It will come back to the council for a final vote.
The council also approved both the general government and Ketchikan Public Utilities budgets. Both passed unanimously with no amendments. That means rate increases for electricity, water and wastewater remain intact.
Thursday’s meeting was the final council meeting of the year. The next regular meeting is Jan. 4th.