Commonwealth Journal

News Live

October 4, 2012

Gerald Meece: From Colo to Alaska


Somerset —

He has also survived service as president of the Burnside Little League.
Then, there was the town drunk in Burnside who, upon hearing he had been hired as chief, told him “I’m gonna whip you every day you’re down here.”
“I told him if he was going to do that, I’d have to go before the Council and ask for a raise because I couldn’t afford to take a daily whipping for what I was making,” says Meece, noting “Burnside was a lot like Mayberry.”
He recalls Wednesday nights being special in the only city on Lake Cumberland. That’s when bars in Tennessee would hold wet “t” shirt contests, and officers could always count on catching a few drunk drivers traveling through town.
Life wasn’t all work and no play in Burnside.
Lunch time would often find him at Burnside Elementary, having lunch with Principal Collis Simpson, one of his favorite teachers from Pulaski High days.
He also found time to earn his pilot’s license while taking classes in Monticello.
Being a pilot served him well in Alaska, where towns with any sizeable population are separated by hundreds of miles.
While serving at some remote outposts that had no jail, the officer would have to handcuff people he had arrested to a heavy object, like a table, and remain with them until a plane arrived from Fairbanks.
Drinking is a major problem in Alaska, according to Meece, and alcohol is something to which he is very opposed.
“Some people may say allowing legal sales of alcohol helps the economy, but it costs a community more than it makes,” he says.
Besides flying and fishing, the man who once wanted to be a park ranger, says one of his main forms of recreation in Alaska was driving out to remote Prince of Wales Island and listening to the howls of the wolves.

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