Legislature(2001 - 2002)
03/15/2001 01:12 PM TRA
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
SSHB 151-WILLIAM WOOD FAIRBANKS INTERN'TL AIRPORT Number 0079 CHAIR KOHRING announced the first order of business would be the SPONSOR SUBSTITUTE FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 151, "An Act naming the William R. Wood Fairbanks International Airport; and providing for an effective date." Number 0161 REPRESENTATIVE JIM WHITAKER, Alaska State Legislature, sponsor of SSHB 151, declared that Dr. William R. Wood was a great man. He was a poet, an educator, a builder, and an "inspirer" for those of those who lived in "our" community. He said that Dr. Wood took "us" to a farther place than we would have been otherwise, which is the essence of his greatness. He went on to say that Dr. Wood made very few enemies along the way, and that he was always respectful. REPRESENTATIVE WHITAKER showed the House Transportation Standing Committee a letter that Dr. Wood wrote to him on September 30, 2000, Representative Whitaker's 50th birthday. He read: Sir James, Sorry to have missed the gathering of the faithful. There are times the ancient bones say no. But top of the best in your quest to serve. Jim, you have the courage of conviction, the clarity of thinking, and the strength of will to persist and prevail. It's not an easy task, or always pleasant. It will take a lot of hope, confidence, and a tinge of humility. As you listen and even perhaps learn, reach for the far horizon, so that humankind may continue as a very special breed, brains and compassion to strive toward making a better place to live and a way of life for all. It can be done. Wood REPRESENTATIVE WHITTAKER mentioned that this letter hangs on his wall. CHAIR KOHRING commented that this was a very "neat memento." REPRESENTATIVE WHITAKER stated that Dr. Wood inspired him by those "few, simple words, but so eloquently and simply spoken." He said that Dr. Wood inspired thousands of people to be a "little better." He read the following letter-to-the-editor from the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner: I was new to Alaska in 1980, living in Anderson, 75 miles south of Fairbanks, attending UAF [University of Alaska Fairbanks] rural college classes and traveling to Fairbanks frequently. One day I was waiting for my ride outside the J.C. Penney store, when a tall, distinguished, gray-haired gentleman came walking down the sidewalk. Almost abreast of me, he stooped to pick up a piece of litter and walked it over to a trashcan. Then he stood and smiled at me with genuine goodwill as if to say, "pass it on." I knew I had just met the famous Dr. William Wood, already known to me through his writing and his name on the busiest building on UAF's campus. I also knew in that instant, without a word between us, that here was a man who cared, a man of great moral character who had the stuff of greatness. Later, when I was an intern at the [Fairbanks Daily] News-Miner, I was privileged to meet Dr. Wood for real, when he came upstairs to greet everyone and turn in his column. But that first meeting is the one that struck me as one of those turning points in my life. What a great lesson he taught me in a wordless 30seconds. How many people can do that? REPRESENTATIVE WHITAKER remarked that this letter takes "us" to the essence of why the Fairbanks International Airport should be named the William R. Wood Fairbanks International Airport. It would enable people, for that brief moment they walk through the airport, to think about Dr. Wood, who asked "nothing more of life." REPRESENTATIVE WHITAKER commented that for the last 15 years of Dr. Wood's life, their offices were 20 feet apart. He said that he and Dr. Wood ate lunch together everyday for seven years. Dr. Wood "truly didn't wanted anything more than to leave his community just a little better; that's all he wanted." So, if by renaming this airport to William R. Wood Fairbanks International Airport, conveys that message to the next generation, "we've done a very good thing." Number 0571 REPRESENTATIVE SCALZI referred to a letter [not in packet] that, in good spirit, opposed this bill. The letter was depicting earlier comments by Representative Whitaker in regard to Dr. Wood's character, in that he wouldn't want anything for himself. This letter was not an opposition in a negative way. Number 0610 REPRESENTATIVE WHITAKER replied that he does not want this bill for Dr. Wood; he wants it for his community. He said that he wants this name change for future-generation members to be able look at the plaque in the airport and think of Dr. Wood. He is sure that the plaque would read, "He wanted nothing more than to leave his community just a little bit better." REPRESENTATIVE WHITAKER explained that the "very little" opposition that exists for this bill stems from the notion that Dr. Wood was not associated with aviation. However, many people who use the airport are not associated with aviation other than to use it [airport] as a community resource and transportation hub. Representative Whitaker said he wouldn't be against restricting this renaming to only someone who might be associated with aviation. However, overarching that is an opportunity to name the airport for a gentleman who has inspired several generations. Dr. Wood was a 94-year-old active man when he passed away, and even on his deathbed he tried to "get things done." Representative Whitaker stated that he himself was "considerate" of those who want this honor reserved for one associated with aviation. But SSHB 151 reaches a larger community that "needs to be served for generations to come by Dr. Wood." Number 0704 REPRESENTATIVE KOOKESH mentioned that the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport was probably named for someone who used the airport like "the rest of us." He wondered if the municipality of Fairbanks or boroughs supported SSHB 151, since he did not see any letters of support from them. Number 0728 REPRESENTATIVE WHITAKER replied that "we" did not ask for any letters of support. But if there was a debate at the local level, they could probably obtain them. Number 0755 REPRESENTATIVE WILSON made a motion to move SSHB 151 out of committee with individual recommendations and the zero fiscal note. CHAIR KOHRING mentioned that Dr. Wood's name appears on other facilities but this honor is appropriate as well. He said that the concept of naming the airport after Dr. Wood is a good idea since it is in a central location, which would enable people to learn who Dr. Wood was and the things that he did for not only the Fairbanks area, but also the State of Alaska. So, this is an appropriate honor, even though there was not a direct connection between his work in education and transportation. Number 0820 KURT PARKAN, Deputy Commissioner, Office of the Commissioner, Department of Transportation & Public Facilities (DOT&PF), stated that DOT&PF supports this legislation. He discussed the naming of airports. He said many airports in Alaska are named after prominent people in the community who were not necessarily aviators. When an airport serves as a gateway to a community, "it's good to have the airport named after someone who is highly respected and well-loved by the community." So, it is very appropriate that Dr. Wood be the name that people see when entering the Fairbanks International Airport. MR. PARKAN explained that Dr. Wood was a charter member of the airport advisory council at the Fairbanks International Airport. He was one of, the most -if not the most- active members of that committee. He said that Dr. Wood attended nearly every meeting unless he was ill. If he was unable to attend a meeting, he had a staff person take notes for him. As recently as the January 23 meeting, which Dr. Wood could not attend, he called and apologized to the director for not being present. Number 0917 CHAIR KOHRING brought attention to a concern last year that the naming of public roads and different projects might be a "little excessive." He mentioned that [the legislature] named the Bruce Heckler Parkway and the Eisenhower Corridor in Anchorage. He said that it seems that every year there are two to three things that are named. MR. PARKAN replied that this could create a problem over time, if "we are naming every five miles of road by a different person." However, when a name change relates to something like an airport, it is different. CHAIR KOHRING stated that he does not object to the names, as long as there is not a major fiscal impact on the state, besides maintaining signs. MR. PARKAN commented that there is a cost associated with new signs, and "we generally absorb those costs." CHAIR KOHRING asked Representative Whitaker if this name change would just require a plaque to note that it is the William R. Wood International Airport. Number 0982 REPRESENTATIVE WHITAKER said that this has not been determined yet, but that he guesses the cost would be borne by the community. Number 0996 CHAIR KOHRING stated that there being no objection [to the earlier motion], SSHB 151 was moved out of the House Transportation Standing Committee.