Legislature(2001 - 2002)

03/15/2001 01:12 PM TRA

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= 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                                                               
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                                                               
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                                                               
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                                                               
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.                                                                                              

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