When you think of small town America, you often think of Mayberry on the Andy Griffith Show.
The folksy sheriff, Aunt Bea, a goofy side kick deputy, kids running the streets playing ‘kick the can’, and possibly an apple pie sitting on the window sill waiting to cool on a warm summer’s eve.
Then you have Houston, Alaska.
A small town, village, hamlet, or whatever they are calling it theses days– that is about 10 miles north of the town that Sarah built (Wasilly) and about an hour and a half drive north of Anchorage in the Mat-Su Valley.
There is not much in this little town on the Parks Highway:
One bar: The Houston Lodge, that serves a mean Prime Rib
Millers Market— great ice cream but beware of the tour buses in the summer. Millers Market also serves as the post office
A couple campgrounds
The local middle and high school
and a combo Police/Fire/EMS building
Sounds quaint doesn’t it?
Well, that depends on how you look at it I guess. The tour guides fail to mention that in this hamlet almost 60% percent of the residents are without running water and/or electricty in their homes. Think outhouses, folks. It gets dang cold in the middle of the night during a cold Alaskan winter.
Then you have the controversy that is brewing that would put City Confidential and its narrator, Paul Winfield running for the hills…
In recent months this little village has been turned upside down by one controversy after another.
First the mayor, Virgie Thompson was elected to the city council with a whopping 756 votes and then elected to serve as mayor. Shortly thereafter an FBI investigation was brewing on the notion that she scammed the city out of a few bucks by fibbing on her time card for work.
Yes folks, in Houston, Alaska the mayor has to fill out a time card…
A re-call election is upcoming. The rest of the city council is in near ruins with others wanting to step down or resign as well.
Next, you have the police force.
If you have ever driven through this little town there are 45 MPH speed limit signs posted at each end of the “city center”. I can’t count how many times that I have seen motorists pulled over by the Houston police force.
But the police department is not above controversy in Houston.
On Tuesday April, 26, the Houston City Council voted 4-2 to fire the police captain. This leaves this little metropolis without a police force–at least until someone can be hired. Not to fear, the Alaska State Troopers have agreed to keep the peace.
The police captain believes that he was fired in retaliation based on the information and cooperation he gave to the Feds on the case of the mayor’s impropriety. He has filed suit of course…
NO COPS! One of the deputies moved on to take a job up north and the support staff was laid off weeks ago.
On top of that, if my memory serves me correctly, a former Houston police brass was let go for using his police cruiser in a way that was a bit improper. He was caught speeding with his lights on–way up near Fairbanks for no reason other than a “Sunday drive”.
Well, at least the charges against the deputy mayor were dropped. An assault charge was logged against the man for “causing fear of injury” during a heated arguement against the dep-mayor and the planning commissoner, Ralph Buzzard. Folks present witnessed that the Deputy Mayor walk toward Buzzard “in an angry manner” and if people wouldn’t have stepped in no telling what would have happened!
I’m not making this stuff up folks. In fact, you can read all about it at The Frontiersman. Just look under “local news.”
Well, at least the fire department is still in operation (at least for now). There are rumblings that the city is broke and they can’t pay their bills. But I think someone will step in and fix that. Maybe it will be Sarah. Heck, it might even be that certain lady senator that broke all the rules in the last election and somehow lost the primary and still got her name on the ballot and was ELECTED!
Have I ever said they do things different in Alaska?