You may go farther west and farther north before falling off the edge of the earth, but for remoteness, the Tlingit Indian village of Hoonah in Alaska is, well, let's say, remote.
But Hoonah is, after all, part of the United States and so it should surprise no one that the mayor, Miles N. Murphy Jr., has at his elbow an important little book.
The book he says, comes from "the Feds." That, in the language of mayors everywhere, means Uncle Sam in Washington, whence come all sorts of goodies.
Mayor Murphy's book is a directory of federal aid. Sort of a Sears Roebuck catalogue of largess. If you have a problem, there just may by a grant to solve it.
Hoonah's problem is its ramshackle city hall, two rooms in a 50-year-old frame building. The roof leaks, the court freezes in winter and there's no place to house the bureaucrats, Murphy said.
So he thumbed through his trusty catalogue and came up with something to deal with the problem - a Department of Commerce grant program to create jobs in high-unemployment areas by building public facilities.
Hoonah's application went in. The mayor went to Anchorage to talk to regional officials of the Economic Development Adminstration (EDA). Then Hoonah waited.
The eagle flew this month, as it were, when no less a personage than Juanita M. Kreps, the secretary of commerce, announced a $426,000 grant to build a new city hall in Hoonah.
"Construction of the facility is expected to create jobs for seven umemployed workers," the commerce announcement said.
If EDA were spending $60,857 to put one umemployed fisherman to work, as the annou ncement seemed to imply, even Murphy might be denouncing the Feds and their excesses.
But that's not it at all, he said by telephone the other day. Local people will be used to help on the construction job, but a contractor from Juneau, 40 miles to the east, will go in with his own crews as well.
Hoonah is a village of 1,093-about 80 percent Tlingit Indians-on an island just off the coast. In summer, everyone works because Hoonah is a fishing center. In winter, umemployment goes as high as 60 percent.
The town has three small stores, a 26-room school, a post office, a bank and a museum. It has a fish cannery and cold-storage unit and that two-room municipal building.
What else Hoonah has, of course, is Mayor Murphy and his little book from the Feds. It has been a veritable gold mine, for Hoonah just as for scores of other communities.
"We have a $2.8 million boat harbor coming in - the Army Corps of Engineers and the state," he said. "We have a dock and a warehouse built for us by EDA about six years ago. EDA also did a little work for us on our water system."
And through the Indian Reclamation Act, another measure that splits up the money, Hoonah is planning to build a firehouse.
"We got the word about a week ago," said Patsy Marvin, city services coordinator. "We are really excited. With the new building, we will be able to extend our services to the city."
Who says this isn't America? CAPTION: Illustration, no caption, By William Coulter for The Washington Post