Last Saturday, some good policing by an alert Alaska State Trooper got a potentially dangerous device off our streets. After making a routine traffic stop, Wildlife Trooper David Chaffin saw what looked to be a meth lab in a car driven by a 26-year-old man. Troopers seized what they believe is a one-pot or shake-and-bake meth lab. Troopers called in a hazardous material team to safely dispose of it. Good work, troopers.
It's unsettling to know meth can be made from common household ingredients like Drano and fertilizer mixed in a plastic soda bottle. Even more unsettling is the knowledge that meth addicts and street chemists drive around in cars with these dirty devices that can blow up. The gas from the chemicals also can cause severe lung damage, even death.
Tight regulations on the sale of pseudoephedrine, the allergy medicine used to synthesize meth, have led to a decline in Alaska meth lab busts since 2006. In their 2011 Annual Drug Report, however, troopers note that the one-pot method has become more popular and elsewhere in the United States has led to an increase in meth lab seizures.
"It will increase the danger to all citizens of Alaska from explosions, fire and exposure to dangerous chemicals," the report notes.
As South Peninsula Haven House and Akeela have been pointing out in their campaign against Harmful Legal Products, it's not just homemade meth that's a problem. Children and adults abuse inhalants like glue, paint thinner and gas. They also abuse over-the-count medicines like cough syrup. "We lock up our guns and ammo," one ad says, "but equally dangerous products are available to our kids." Check your home for inhalants and other products that can be abused. For information, call Haven House at 235-7712.
And if you see a plastic bottle with gnarly looking junk in it, don't touch it and call the cops.
Time for a roundabout
One of the scariest intersections in town, Main Street and the Sterling Highway, has been put on the list for the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities to improve over the next few years. Still undecided is if that should be a roundabout or a traffic signal. Homer has debated the solution for years
State planners say a roundabout is the best and safest solution. We agree.
A roundabout will be designed to handle big trucks with trailers. Truckers like roundabouts because there's no stopping, no idling and no wasted fuel getting back up to speed. True, roundabouts require a little education. It's pretty simple, though: cars in the roundabout have the right of way. Anyone entering yields to them. Because crashes are angle collisions and not head-on or T-bone crashes, roundabouts are safer. The initial construction cost is a bit higher, but with maintenance and electricity for traffic signals, in the end they're cheaper. Fuel costs and air pollution are less, a goal that fits in with Homer's Climate Action Plan.
Planning should address the concerns of landowners in the area to make sure they get a fair price for right of way acquired and businesses don't lose parking spaces. But let's quit debating the solution.
It's time to build a roundabout.