Every now and then, something about Bethel reaches the national media and our odd little town enjoys a momentary spotlight of attention. In July there was an article in the New York Times about Bethel’s dubious status as the taxi cab capital of the country. Last month, a staff writer from the Los Angeles Times showed up here in town and did a similar article. The NY Times article is here and the one in the LA Times can be read here.
Both articles quoted similar statistics about our ten miles of paved road and twenty miles of dirt road; and about the fact that we have nearly 100 licensed cab drivers in this town of under 6,000 people, which equals one cabbie for about every 60 residents. More than even New York City. Bethel has no public transit system; no city buses and certainly no trains. People without cars, which is a large segment of our population, either walk or take cabs wherever they go. In the intervening months between the two articles, Bethel’s cab drivers successfully lobbied the City Council to raise cab fares by one dollar; it now costs $5 to go most anywhere in town, and $7 to go to the airport—which is waaaaay out of town, nearly three miles. If you need to stop and run in somewhere on the way to your destination, that’s an extra buck.
Several months ago there was a riffle of excitement as the rumor spread around town that the television show Dirty Jobs was going to come here to film the sewer truck drivers who back their big trucks up to people’s homes and evacuate their sewer tanks. The show did come to Bethel, but they chose to go out with the Fish and Wildlife folks who were swabbing migratory birds to look for bird flu. I never heard whether that show aired or not.
Today, Dutch and I spent part of the day with a film crew from The History Channel. They are producing a new series called Tougher In Alaska, which is slated for broadcast sometime in April. One of the segments will be focused on waste disposal. The crew has been in the area all week, traveling to villages to capture footage of life with honey buckets. They were in Bethel today to film the water and sewer truck drivers making their rounds. We took them out to the sewer lagoon (second largest in North America!) and they filmed the driver off-loading his truck’s tank. This particular driver brings his dog along on the route with him to keep him company in the truck (photo above). One of the two cameramen jumped in the truck with him and drove part of his route, filming while the driver stopped at a few houses. The other cameraman went with a water truck driver.
They also wanted some footage and explanation of Bethel’s piped water system, and who better to do that than Dutch? As the Public Works Director, both the piped and hauled systems are under his management. And he is such a tall and handsome guy, he makes a good subject. I can’t wait to see him on TV.
They won’t know the exact date that this segment will air for several months, but the producer promised to let us know well ahead of time. I will post the info as soon as I have it.
Labels: Life in Bethel