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2012: Year in review


Wrangellite Vena Stough with the human skull she discovered near Government Slough. The skull was taken to Petersburg for study by an anthropologist and possible radiocarbon testing to determine its age.

A new mayor, renovations to the Shakes Island Tribal House and Marine Service Center, and the ongoing Wrangell Medical Center debate – all of these stories were newsmakers in 2012. Let’s take a look back at some of the biggest stories in Wrangell over the past year.


A late night blaze destroyed a trailer and sent a woman to Wrangell Medical Center with severe burns on Dec. 22. The fire, which began at 10:30 p.m. in a small pull-behind trailer near the top of the park, severely injured 48-year-old Kathryn Bartels.

The Southeast Alaska Power Agency announced rebates for its Southeast power customers in the amount of $1.65 million last month after a Dec. 13 vote by the agency’s Board of Directors. The rebate is equivalent to a little more than a full cent reduction in the wholesale power rate, which is currently set at 6.8 cents per kilowatt-hour.

Wrangell alumnus Lizzy Romane stretched for the ball against the Lady Wolves on Wednesday night as former WHS players took on current players. The Alumni team won the match 38-32.

The Borough Assembly set a deadline for assembly members to turn in documentation of concerns or recommendations for issues surrounding the budgetary spending methods of departments within the city.

Rico Montenegro, an arborist, will be assisting in planting the fruit tree orchard won last fall through the Communities Take Root program. This trip will be a ‘sneak peek’ for Montenegro who has planted trees in many arid climates, but rarely in climates such as Wrangell.

Representatives from Sealaska were in Wrangell to hold a community-wide meeting on the topic of partnering with Haa Aani to discuss economic development and to hammer out the final form of an initiative to repatriate Native lands to shareholders in Southeast Alaska.

The Lady Wolves varsity team went down to the wire against the Metlakatla Lady Chiefs as they fell 35-34 in a game Wrangell owned for more than 25 minutes on the boards.

Sea otter population in Southeast Alaska is increasing, and consequently, the animals are depleting marine life, causing an adverse economic impact to local fisheries, according to a presentation given by fisheries experts at the Sons of Norway in Petersburg. The presentation was a part of the weeklong Alaska Board of Fisheries meetings being held in Petersburg.

The Wrangell boys’ varsity basketball team won and lost away games against the Craig High School Panthers. Coach Ray Stokes said a team effort helped the Wolves defeat the Panthers 60-56, but an injury and high number of fouls contributed to a later 47-78 loss.

The Lady Wolves varsity basketball team fell to the Lady Panthers of Craig High School in two games. The first game ended in score of 32-52. The following day, Wrangell was defeated


The Borough Assembly has agreed to pay for two attorneys to travel to Wrangell next month to lead classes on the Open Meetings Act. At its regular bi-monthly meeting, Assembly members voted in favor to pay Michael Gatti, an attorney in Anchorage, and Krista Stearns, an attorney for the City of Kenai, to teach the classes.

Zak’s Café started “pay what you can” weekly dinners, which allow customers to pay what they wish in exchange for a meal. One hundred percent of that money from customers is then donated to a charity of Zak’s owners Katherine and James George’s choice.

Over the next year, the over 70-year-old Chief Shakes Tribal House on Shakes Island will be restored, and Todd White is now on board as project manager.

Construction on the road improvement project on Front Street was set to start Jan. 30. However, those overseeing the project say weather will play a significant role in the start date and the progress of the work.

After working for over three decades in Wrangell, resident Jim Nelson has retired at the age of 56. Nelson spent the last five years working as general manager of the Tyee Hydroelectric Plant for Thomas Bay Power Authority, which serves both Wrangell and Petersburg.


Gone are the days of flipping through a catalog of cards to locate a book. Now, Wrangell residents can use the library’s computers to search through an automated catalog or can even do so online in the comfort of their own home. The digital catalog is part of an overall system upgrade at Irene Ingle Public Library.

A workshop was put on by Made In Alaska reps at the Nolan Center. However, due to what MIA reps said was a lack of advertising of the event, few attended.

While the Wrangell girls’ varsity basketball suffered two losses to Mt. Edgecumbe High School, Lady Wolves Coach Dave Silva said his players stayed positive, kept good attitudes and “kept their heads up.”

Wrangell’s Petroglyph Beach has been named one of the world’s ten most unusual beaches by smartertravel.com. The beach’s centuries old etched rock artwork, and the mystery of exactly when and why it was created, helped land Petroglyph on the website’s list.

At a work session the Wrangell Borough Assembly discussed possible funding requests it will make to the State to help pay for city wide projects. Requests for $1 million to pay for road construction and utility improvements at the future medical campus, and $3.8 million for the Wrangell Medical Center to help build a new hospital, top the list.

Sealaska will donate twelve cedar logs to the Wrangell Cooperative Association to use towards the renovation of Chief Shakes Tribal House on Shakes Island. WCA requested the six red and six yellow cedar logs late last year through Sealaska’s log donation program.

The trial for a Wrangell man charged with seven felony accounts, including sexual and physical assault, has been scheduled for May 8, according to court documents. Steven Marshall, 52, is alleged to have strangled, hit and raped a female victim Dec. 7, 2011 at his residence in the Bloom Trailer Court, according to court documents. Marshall is also alleged to have threatened the victim with a machete, according to the documents.

The Lady Wolves won their two Homecoming games against Petersburg. The games were close, with Wrangell winning by one point Friday night. On Saturday, the Lady Wolves took the game by a six-point lead.

Skookum Vets opened its doors at its new office on Front Street. The office is in the midst of renovation, but Dr. Judge Conniff said when he or partner Dr. Steve Lowry are in town, Skookum Vets will see its animal patients. The large, yellow “Vet is in” banner will help clue residents in as to when the office is open.

McGraw Construction wants to begin working as early as 6 a.m. and as late as midnight on Front Street Monday through Saturday in order to complete the road and utility improvement project. Under the city’s noise ordinance, McGraw is currently allowed to work from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekends.

The Wrangell Borough Assembly accepted a list of prioritized citywide projects for which State funds will be requested. Borough Manager Tim Rooney presented the list to Assembly members Jan. 31 at a work session. Assembly members voted in favor of forwarding the list to the State.

Members of the Wrangell Medical Center staff and Board of Directors met with Dr. Greg Salard for a hearing to review his hospital privileges. The hearing was the result of a court order from December and comes after a nearly yearlong battle between Salard and the WMC.


The Wrangell High School Music Department put on a talent show Feb. 24 that included nearly 30 acts ranging from singing performances to stand-up comedy and Roger Miller playing his electric guitar.

The Wrangell Borough Assembly approved a proposed budget of nearly $29.4 million to build the new hospital. The Assembly also approved the future installation of a low-slope roof on the new hospital, though Assembly members agreed it was not the preferred roof option.

Shawna Buness has established her own cake recipes and has even created her own business: Stella’s Bakery. Buness’ one-year-old daughter Stella inspired the bakery’s name.

The Wrangell Medical Center and the Local Community Preparedness Committee is planning to stage its annual emergency disaster drill on the flats of the Stikine River this year. Janet Buness, who works on emergency preparedness at the hospital has been tasked with planning the drill. Buness said she is hoping to stage a boat wreck on the flats with 30 “victims.”

Residents with a landline received an automated phone call asking them about their interest in bio fuels — an alternative form of energy that could be used to heat homes. The Feb. 23 phone survey was conducted by the Southeast Alaska Conservation Council and asked both Wrangell and Petersburg residents two things: what their primary source of heating is, and if they would consider using a locally manufactured bio fuel product to heat their home.

Alcohol and marijuana use is more prevalent than the use of harmful legal products, such as over-the-counter medicines and inhalants used to get high, among the Wrangell students that participated in a survey late last year. The student survey is part of the Harmful Legal Product Prevention Project by the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation and Alaska nonprofit Akeela.

The City and Borough of Wrangell plan to address the old and often dilapidated homes and properties sitting on vacant lots throughout town. Wrangell resident Janell Privett addressed the Borough Assembly at its Feb. 28 meeting, asking if there was something the city could do to deal with these “dangerous” properties.

Trident Seafoods in Wrangell plans to begin processing fish oil this year, which will be used to create fish oil capsules for human consumption. The oil extraction operation will generate just over $7,000 for the city annually and is expected to create several new jobs in the community. The oil extraction equipment will be installed this spring at Trident’s belt freezer facility.

During Wrangell’s cold snap in mid-January, when temperatures dipped to zero degrees, residents were cranking up their heat. As a result of that jump in electrical power usage, the Tyee Hydroelectric Plant near Wrangell maxed out, forcing the town to turn on diesel generators to continue to provide energy.

Members of the Wrangell Medical Center Board of Directors have denied local physician Greg Salard permanent privileges to practice at the hospital. Board members, acting as the “fair hearing committee” made the decision at a private meeting March 2. WMC Board President Mark Robinson said Salard was notified of the committee’s decision in the form of a letter.

Rep. Don Young was in Wrangell as part of a Southeast Alaska tour for the state’s sole U.S. congressman. During his quick visit, Young met with community members and business representatives at the Nolan Center for lunch where he heard about a number of issues facing Wrangell as well as local economic development projects.

At a workshop March 13, the Wrangell Port Commission discussed plans for the mariners’ memorial planned for Heritage Harbor. The Port Commission has yet to finalize a specific design for the project, which will pay homage to those lost at sea.

The Parks and Recreation Department is looking to buy a new large inflatable for the pool, and is asking community members to help raise the estimated $7,000 it will cost to purchase the toy. The new inflatable is a Loch Ness Monster-looking rubber creature named Nessie, and will take up about half the space of Wrangell’s indoor pool, which is approximately 25 yards long.


Eight recall petition applications to remove all but one member of the Wrangell Medical Center Board of Directors have been filed with the City and Borough of Wrangell. WMC Board members included in the petitions are WMC Board Chair Mark Robinson, Vice Chair Jim Nelson and Linda Bjorge, Sylvia Ettafaugh, Jake Harris, Lurine McGee, Dee Norman, and LeAnn Rinehart. The sole WMC Board member not included in the petitions is Dorothy Hunt-Sweat.

The city has seen an increase in the number of appliances left at the outdoor shooting range in Wrangell. Those who manage the range say if the problem continues, public access may be restricted. People are taking TVs and microwaves to the shooting range and using them as targets, then leaving the busted appliances there, said Kim Covalt of the Wrangell Parks and Recreation Department.

Wrangell High School seniors started their senior activities April 3 with the traditional kidnap breakfast. The unsuspecting students were roused out of their beds at 6 a.m. by volunteer parents then taken to Harbor Light Church for breakfast. The students still had senior sneak day and the senior football game to look forward to before graduation ceremonies on May 18.

The Borough Assembly failed to pass an ordinance that would have changed the eligibility requirements for members of the Wrangell Medical Center (WMC) Board of Directors. The ordinance would have allowed hospital employees, tenants of the hospital’s long-term care facility, and any contractor of the hospital to run for the WMC Board.

Crews are set to begin paving Front Street tomorrow, as outdoor temperatures have increased, making it more favorable for pouring concrete. Earlier this year, crews began excavating the roadway to install water and sewer lines. The construction is part of the downtown road and utility improvement project, which is set to improve nearly 2,500 feet of Front Street.

The Economic Development Committee discussed in length what comments they would like the city to submit to the U.S. Forest Service regarding a multi-year timber harvest project on Wrangell Island.

The Wrangell Medical Center Board of Directors has responded to the recall petitions recently filed with the City and Borough of Wrangell. The WMC Board petition response addresses the charges filed alongside the recall petitions, stating the Board had violated the Wrangell Municipal code in three instances.

The Wrangell Public School District is expected to receive $84,517 from the State of Alaska to use towards the upcoming school year’s budget.

Wrangell Medical Center received Freedom of Information Act requests. One came from Janell Privett, whose request included a list of 14 items of information including WMC’s total expenditures on various legal fees and travel expenses for hospital administration and board members.

The Borough Assembly voted 3-2 on a resolution that created a special election to be held June 12 regarding recall petitions filed against eight of the nine Wrangell Medical Center Board members.

The Wrangell Medical Center Board of Directors has decided to distribute a questionnaire regarding WMC Chief Executive Officer Noel Selle-Rea’s annual performance evaluation. At the April 18 WMC Board meeting, Board President Mark Robinson said in the past, evaluations of WMC CEOs have been either “painful” or “non-existent.”


Alaska Superior Court Judge Kevin G. Miller denied Dr. Greg Salards’s request to be allowed to work at Wrangell Medical Center pending the court’s decision on his appeal to having his privileges at the hospital denied. In March, the WMC Board denied Dr. Salard the right to see patients at the hospital.

Vendors will not be allowed to solicit visitors on the City Dock this cruise-ship season, which began this month, according to the Port and Harbor Department. Only vendors with existing contracts or agreements with the cruise ships that arrive in Wrangell will be allowed on the actual dock.

Wrangell was named the best small town in Alaska to visit by Sunset Magazine — a monthly publication geared toward travel and outdoor living in western states. Wrangell was featured in the “Beginners guide to Alaska” article inside the May edition of the periodical.

The Wrangell High School softball team hosted Craig and won its last game of the season by defeating the Lady Panthers with a final score of 20-7.

Passengers of the M/V Matanuska said they barely felt the impact when the ferry crashed into Ocean Beauty Seafoods in Petersburg. None of the 60 passengers aboard the ferry were injured during the incident.

Fourth grade students from Wrangell and Petersburg were treated to a trip on the Stikine River to six learning stations that were situated along the lower river; The Hooligan fishery station was manned by Brennon Eagle and Winston Davies, with Virginia Oliver sharing her wealth of Tlingit culture in the second station at Lower Limb Island.

The Wrangell Chamber of Commerce 60th Annual King Salmon Derby began on May 12 at 6:00 a.m. The Derby ran until 9:00 p.m. on June 10.

The Wrangell Borough Assembly met in open session to take up a discussion on the formation of a hiring committee to help in choosing a successor to the retiring Christie Jamieson.

More than 125 prizes awaited Wrangell kids in the Summer Reading Program, which ran from June 1-July 31. The Irene Ingle Public Library sponsored the program, along with Friends of the Library and the Wrangell Public Schools.

On May 10, Stikine Middle School eighth graders traveled by jet boat to Vank Island and spent the night. They received training in seashore survival classes while coping with the cold and wet conditions. They learned how to build a beach shelter in case they are ever caught out in the environment.

Wrangell came one step closer to a budget as the Borough Assembly passed their 2012 draft version with little fanfare during their regular session meeting at City Hall. Comment came, however, during the public hearing held before the regular meeting as businessman Ernie Christian spoke up for a reduction in the current 7 percent sales tax levied on goods and services sold in the borough.

Christie Jamieson announced she was retiring from her position as Borough Clerk on June 29, completing a tenure that lasted 32 years and saw her rise from an entry-level receptionist position to her current slot at the top of the borough’s organizational chart.

Wrangell’s first Farmer’s Market kicked off in the middle of the month. The event, held the third Saturday of each month, was located at the covered area near Evergreen Elementary School.


A Juneau man is faced a number of felony and misdemeanor counts in Wrangell’s First District Court after allegedly stealing a vehicle and driving it into a ditch while allegedly drunk. 36-year old Nathan J. Giske was arrested May 14 after a Wrangell police officer observed him walking away from the vicinity of a white van that had been left in the ditch near the north entrance to the airport.

The 5th annual Wrangell Medical Center Foundation golf tournament, which supports local cancer patients and commemorates former WMC administrator, the late Brian Gilbert, came to fruition despite early torrential rains and cold temperatures at Muskeg Meadows golf course.

According to Wrangell Medical Center CEO Noel Rea, a successful June 19 recall election could change the majority composition of the WMC Board of Directors and derail a loan from the USDA, which was set to guarantee a $24.7 million payment for the hospital replacement project.

With eight members of the Wrangell Medical Center Board of Directors facing recall in a June election, tensions were high among members of the board, supporters of the recall effort, and citizens of the borough at the directors’ most recent meeting at WMC where board member Jim Nelson inquired of CEO Noel Rea whether allegations of WMC losing as many as 10 beds if the hospital is forced to update to current ADA standards was a “scare tactic.”

The work on Wrangell’s downtown roads was moving along at a healthy pace and Front Street could be poured and opened up as far as Campbell Drive by the Fourth of July weekend.

Wrangell’s Marine Service Center and City Dock got a spruce-up this month as more than $4 million in capital improvements got underway. According to Harbormaster Greg Meissner, the steel pilings at the dock were more than 30 years old and needed to undergo maintenance to keep it in tip-top shape.

Beth Comstock and Megan Clark announced fundraising plans and a trip to Seattle in mid-September to take part in the 2012 Susan G. Komen Walk For The Cure, a scenic 60-mile course that lasts for three days and helps raise money to fight breast cancer.

Gov. Sean Parnell made a visit to Wrangell on June 5. Gov. Parnell met with borough officials and members of private industry at the Nolan Center to discuss capital appropriations, timber and hatchery issues.

The City and Borough of Wrangell hired Kim Flores as its new clerk, filling a spot held since 1997 by the retiring Christie Jamieson. Flores is a Wrangell resident and former part-time employee of the borough’s finance department and past deputy clerk with the Ketchikan Gateway Borough.

Dave Svendsen will take home a $6000 prize and bragging rights for the next year after landing a 46.5-pounder at Found Island on June 3 for the 2012 Wrangell King Salmon Derby.

Borough Assembly members David Jack and Bill Privett asked to have the agendized approval of the Wrangell Medical Center 2013 budget tabled until a future meeting. Jack asked to have WMC Chief Financial Officer Olinda White come before the assembly to give a greater explanation of the document before the group would approve it. The item was tabled unanimously.

Josh Ream, a graduate student from the University of Alaska at Fairbanks, undertook a study of Wrangell’s amphibians at Muskeg Meadows golf course and asked for the public’s help in his research.

The Tribal House restoration on Chief Shakes Island was awarded another grant with a $222,000 award from the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust inching the project towards full funding. After submitting and revising the grant multiple times beginning in 2009, Wrangell Cooperative Association received notice on May 24 that the grant had been approved.

In what was their final meeting as an elected quorum, the Wrangell Medical Center Board of Directors terminated the contract of WMC CEO Noel Rea on June 20. The dismissal came in a 6-1 vote, with board member Dorothy Hunt-Sweat voting against the termination, and members Jake Harris and Delores Norman not present.

Another milestone in the life of the Chief Shakes Tribal House house came when workers raised the first newly adzed corner post for the building on June 15. The cedar plank, which is part of a batch of wood acquired by the Wrangell Cooperative Association from sacred lands on Prince of Wales Island, came from property managed by Sealaska Corporation.

A new mammography machine, a Senographe 2000D built by General Electric, was delivered last month to Wrangell Medical Center and is currently undergoing testing by physicists and preparation by staff for its debut in July.

The Sale, a pop-rock quartet from Portland, Ore. was announced as the live music for the borough’s Fourth of July street dance and a pre-Fourth concert during the early part of the day on July 3.

The Wrangell Senior Center, which has been feeding lunch to seniors both in-house and by delivery for decades is now able to offer meals five days a week for those in need.


An exhaustive search and rescue operation by the City and Borough of Wrangell, the Alaska Army National Guard and U.S. Coast Guard was undertaken in an attempt to locate Colin Buness, 25, who went missing on the mainland of Southeast Alaska.

A 19-foot runabout christened Emerald belonging to former Governor Frank Murkowski, is now on display outside the Nolan Center. The boat, which was built by noted Southeast shipwright Sexton Johansen and based on an Ed Monk design, was known as “The Sliver” in Wrangell due to its narrow 5-foot width.

Arborist Rico Montenegro planted the first apple tree in the Wrangell orchard at Evergreen Elementary School, with a number of students and their parents helping out at the event.

The board of directors of Sealaska re-elected Senator Albert M. Kookesh of Angoon to serve as board chair, and Dr. Rosita Worl to serve as board vice chair, following the annual meeting.

For patrons of Muskeg Meadows golf course, at least three fairways are interfering in their game courtesy of the ubiquitous ravens seen throughout Wrangell Island.

The 2012 Fourth of July Queen participants; Laura Massin, Jaynee Fritzinger and Veronica Blunt, brought in a record total of $80,318 in ticket sales, which was an immense increase over 2011’s total sales of more than $45,000. Massin was named Queen after selling 28,558 tickets.

Mike Symons, a long-time Wrangell resident, former Borough Assemblyman, and co-host of the blues-oriented “Skydog” show on KSTK has been picked as the new GM and News Director for the station.

Kay Larson, who is a long-time Bahá’í, took a pilgrimage to Haifa, Israel for three weeks and said she had a great spiritual experience occur for her during the trip. She added that while looking into the past of the Bahá’í faith was an important part of her journey, observing the current happenings in Haifa was also important to her.

The City and Borough of Wrangell filed suit in First District Court on July 11 seeking to have an amendment to the employment contract of former Wrangell Medical Center CEO Noel Rea voided and to order that Rea return a six-figure severance check paid to him after his termination by the board on June 20.

An application by Ernie and Rhonda Christian to place a proposed taxation ordinance before the Borough Assembly could possibly change Wrangell’s sales tax to 5.5 percent from its current 7 percent rate.

SEAPA’s Board of Directors hired Trey Acteson as the new Chief Executive Officer at the agency, which provides hydroelectric power to the communities of Petersburg, Wrangell, and Ketchikan. Acteson joins the organization after 11 years with Chugach Electric Association and will start his new position on August 20. He will be based in Ketchikan.

Tuck and Patti Andress were announced as the musical entertainment during the 2012 Bearfest celebration with two scheduled performances July 27-28 at the Nolan Center.

A lawsuit filed in Wrangell’s First District Court by Dr. Greg Salard and his wife, Laura Salard, is seeking monetary damages and attorney fees in a defamation case against Lisa Gillen after alleging she made statements in an online chat session about the physician, his family, and his ability to practice medicine.

Sealaska Heritage Institute received a one-year National Park Service Battlefield Preservation grant to document the 1869 bombardment of Wrangell through oral history work with elders. The work will be done in partnership with the Wrangell Cooperative Association.

The Southeast Alaska Conservation Council, in collaboration with the Wrangell Cooperative Association, has been working in past weeks to bring a feasibility consultant to the borough in an effort to determine the economic and strategic possibilities of producing a biofuel, or “biobrick,” product locally.

Ken Hoyt of Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium’s native foods program in Wrangell helped organize the building of a community smokehouse for all residents of the island.

The new Alaska Island Community Services clinic, located on Wood Street, is nearly ready and will double the number of examination rooms and nursing stations available to clients. It cost nearly $4 million to build, which included development of the previously muskeg-filled property where it now sits.

Over the course of five days and nearly 50 different events Bearfest 2012 was celebrated in Wrangell July 25-29.


A bevy of capital improvement projects were underway in Wrangell, with the city dock undergoing rehabilitation, the Marine Service Center seeing a lot of pavement work, and underground electrical work on the Front Street redesign in full swing.

Wrangell scoutmaster Don Roher worked with Matt Covalt on his kayak merit badge requirements at the Wrangell Pool. Covalt will be the first Alaskan scout to earn the badge.

The inflatable “Nessie” returned to the community pool and was purchased with funds raised by young men and women in the borough, with 5th grader Sean Rooney raising $2,210 on his own for the project.

The Alaska Housing Finance Corporation board re-elected Frank Roppel to serve as the chair of the group at its annual meeting in Wrangell July 25. Former Governor Frank Murkowski appointed Roppel in 2003. He has chaired the organization ever since.

Ty Knudson, who registered a 43-foot sailboat in Wrangell in 1978 and was a local resident until he sailed away in 1980, returned with his boat to Wrangell after the 32-year absence.

Attorneys for the Borough and former members of the Wrangell Medical Center board exchanged a number of filings in a lawsuit that sought the return of former administrator Noel Rea’s six-figure severance package.

J&W’s Fast Food, which currently calls 120 Front Street home, celebrated 20 years this month. It began as a hand built drive through restaurant located at the dock-fill, across from Angerman’s Inc., near the current Northland Services facility.

More than 70 golfers and friends turned out to participate in the Wrangell Medical Center Foundation’s Rally for Cancer Care. Thirty-four golfers made the trip from Petersburg to join the festivities.

According to a financial report issued by Wrangell School District business manager Pam Roope, the estimated ending balance of the district’s general fund budget totals $245,013. In a report to the board, district superintendent Rich Rhodes addressed a number of issues, including lowered test scores in a core curriculum.

A Homer-based group is seeking help from Wrangellites in their effort to bring natural blueberry products to the local, regional and international markets. Trail Mountain Harvesters said they were interested in recruiting Wrangellites and others in Southeast to collect the berries, which are high in their anti-oxidant properties, for sale by the company.

Former Wrangell Medical Center administrator Noel Rea has filed an answer in the lawsuit filed against him and six members of the recalled WMC Board of Directors and made a counterclaim in the matter.

Vicki Martin and the staff at Wrangell’s city pool began a three-week deep clean and retiling effort. The facility was scheduled to reopen on Aug. 27 for regular use.

The Borough Assembly presented former assembly member Mike Symons with a certificate honoring his service to the city. Billie Younce was appointed as a replacement for Symons by a 3-2 vote, with members Don McConachie and Wilma Stokes voting against the appointment.

An hour-long, borough-wide power outage experienced Aug. 19 in both Wrangell and Petersburg was due to rifle shots into an insulator on one of the main power delivery towers on the backchannel.

The Wrangell Wolves Cross Country squad began its season Aug. 24 in Sitka with a top-15 finish for at least one member of the boys and girls teams, respectively. Jacob Marshall finished the 5K run in 13th place while Kayla Rooney nabbed 15th place.


The newly formed Wrangell Medical Center Board elected Woody Wilson as the president of the group over Bernie Massin in a 6-3 vote, with Terri Henson nominating Wilson and Dorothy Hunt-Sweat nominating Massin.

The construction team of the Front Street improvement project stated that if all goes according to plan, the work in downtown Wrangell should wrap up within the month of September.

Shooting a 92, with handicap of 20, club member Randy Littleton seized the Muskeg Meadows club championship for the 3rd annual event.

A Sept. 4 filing by borough attorney Bob Blasco sought an order demanding former Wrangell Medical Center CEO Noel Rea return an iPad and Blackberry cell phone in addition to a six-figure severance package to the Borough.

First District Court Judge Kevin Miller filed an order on Aug. 28 giving Dr. Greg Salard until Sept. 20 to file documents in court challenging the decision to prevent him from practicing at Wrangell Medical Center.

The State of Alaska presented Kjell Nore with the Alaska Territorial Guard Service Medal and a commemorative coin from Governor Sean Parnell’s office. The presentation was made in honor of Nore’s five-year service stint with the ATG between 1942-47.

Janet Strom and Rinda Howell retired from the Wrangell Public Health Department with 25 years and 12 years of service with the state, respectively.

Beth Comstock’s 2012 Susan G. Komen team, “The Pink Slips,” finished in 10th place among all participants in the Seattle event by raising $39,903.75 for breast cancer research.

A portion of Wrangell’s Tlingit history is reportedly spread across the Western U.S. as a part of two separate exhibits at museums in Washington and Colorado. The Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture at the University of Washington, and the Denver Art Museum are the current resting places for a number of historic pieces of Wrangell’s past and include parts of the original clan house built in the early 19th century.

A raging fire brought out more than 30 firefighters and destroyed a trailer home near the end of Zimovia Highway. The call for the fire came in at approximately 1 a.m. on Sept. 13 with two fire trucks, a water tanker and 31 volunteers dispatched to the scene just past 12 Mile.

Jeremy Maxand’s last meeting as an elected official in Wrangell was held on Sept. 25 as the Borough Assembly met in open session.

The Wrangell Wolves cross-country team excelled at the Region V tournament in Juneau on Sept. 22, sending Jacob Marshall, Bryce Gerald and Kayla Rooney to the state finals in Anchorage.

The meeting of the Southeast Alaska Power Agency Board of Directors on Sept. 19-20 in Petersburg discussed an agenda item that may signal the end of the Thomas Bay Power Authority if a report recommending streamlining of operations is accepted by the agency.

Wrangell High School teacher Michelle Galla made a presentation to the Wrangell school board regarding her online government and civics class and told them how she is holding a statewide class over the Internet to give students an insight into our national leadership by utilizing top-notch experts from around the country.


The family of Kaawishté, also known as Chief Shakes V, visited Wrangell and was treated to a trip to Shakes Island and the Tribal House.

KSTK FM donated hundreds of audio recordings dating from the 1960s to the 1990s to Sealaska Heritage Institute. The collection donated by the station documents the history and events of the community of Wrangell through interviews and talk shows over the years.

Three of Wrangell’s best student-athletes traveled to a wet, snowy Bartlett High School in Anchorage to participate in the Alaska 1A-3A cross-country tournament with Kayla Rooney placing 59th out of 112 girls, and Jacob Marshall taking 25th place and Bryce Gerald coming in 48th out of 122 boys.

A religious roundtable consisting of all Catholic priests and parish ministers from Southeast Alaska, and including the presence of Bishop Edward J. Burns of the Juneau Diocese, was held in Wrangell at St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church.

Don McConachie was sworn in as Mayor of the city, returning to a position he held when Wrangell was incorporated as a borough in 2008. Assembly member Bill Privett was appointed as Vice Mayor, with McConachie appointing a number of Wrangell residents to various board and commission positions currently vacant.

A skull, possibly belonging to a Native, was found in a slough just off Government Slough, near the mouth of the Stikine River.

An offer to settle a lawsuit filed by Dr. Greg Salard and his attorney, Michael Nash, is seeking to end the physician’s defamation case against Wrangell resident Lisa Gillen by asking her to pay $3,000.

Wrangell’s Garnet Grit Betties roller derby team swung into action with 20 participants and two referees. The team is the brainchild of Wrangellites Shawna Buness, Mikki Kauppila and Jennifer Wiederspohn.

A request sent to Governor Sean Parnell’s office by the Wrangell Cooperative Association to use a ferry vessel from the Alaska Marine Highway System during the Shakes Island rededication was declined.

The Irene Ingle Public Library now offers an e-book service. Library patrons are able to browse a website, check out an electronic book with a valid library card, and download its contents to a PC and many other types of mobile devices.

Barbara Bigelow was named as the interim administrator at Wrangell Medical Center after the departure of PeaceHealth’s original interim administrator Kendall Sawa, who announced on Oct. 10 his desire to make a move to Washington State.

Employees on shift and patrons who were shopping at Sentry Hardware on Oct. 18 can thank their lucky stars that they weren’t in the wrong place at the wrong time when a 30-06 round flew through the building’s upper level.

The Wrangell High School Lady Wolves volleyball teams played well in Petersburg as the junior varsity team beat Hoonah Varsity and Klawock JV, losing only to the Petersburg JV in two close games.

Wrangell Medical Center received the Quality Achievement Award from Mountain Pacific Quality Health, the quality improvement organization that monitors a number of hospitals in the Pacific Northwest. The award was given after WMC earned a composite score of 95 percent for the two most recent quarters of data in four areas of hospital performance.


According to the terms of a pending agreement, a settlement agreement between the City and Borough of Wrangell and Noel Rea will require the return of $250,000 to the city and dismissal of the Borough’s lawsuit and Rea’s counterclaim entirely with prejudice.

Matt Olsen, the Democratic candidate for the District 33 seat in the Alaska House of Representatives, was in Wrangell for a last minute campaign stop to meet with voters.

Wrangell Native elder Christine Jenkins, along with Wrangell High School students Darian Meissner and Kayla Rooney made a trip north to the 2012 First Alaskan’s Institute Elders and Youth Conference in Anchorage.

A swimming club at Wrangell High School was started by MiKayla Stokes as her senior project and garnered the support of about 20 members who learned the basics of swimming and diving.

Wilson Boon was arrested by Wrangell Police Department officers on Oct. 26 and charged with three felony counts; possession with intent to distribute hydrocodone, possession with intent to distribute an ounce or more of marijuana, and maintaining a dwelling within the city for the purpose of distributing the illegal narcotics.

A quartet of traditional lanterns taken from the interior of the Chief Shakes Tribal House were recently cleaned and repainted. The lanterns were last used for the 1940 Potlatch and will be put in place for the Shakes rededication in May 2013.

The new Wrangell Medical Center administrator, Marla Sanger, arrived in Wrangell and began her first day of work on Nov. 5. Sanger takes the place of interim administrator Barbara Bigelow, who will return to her position as Vice President of Quality at PeaceHealth Ketchikan Medical Center.

The next step in the renovation process at the Marine Service Center in Wrangell was about to get underway, with better roadways and a paved connection to Trident Seafoods planned by the city and Harbor Department.

The Wrangell Wolves wrestling team took 2nd place at the Thorne Bay High School Invitational Tournament after being edged out only slightly by the squad from Ketchikan.

Governor Sean Parnell reappointed Wrangell resident Terry Buness as vice chair to the Boating Safety Advisory Council. The seven-member advisory board promotes boating safety in Alaska.

Wrangell High School’s two Debate teams, comprising Tyler Eagle and Matthew Covalt, and Lorenzo Silva and Blaine Wilson, both won seven debates in the last two Sitka and Haines DDF tournaments. The team of Eagle and Covalt also previously won four debates in Juneau before the second team began competing.

In line with a similar vote by the Wrangell Borough Assembly, the Ketchikan City Council voted unanimously to defer consideration of Southeast Alaska Power Agency’s proposed change to its operations and maintenance structure.

Natural Resource Specialist Matthew Jurak, who spent three seasons in Wrangell between 2006-08, has been tapped to be the new Anan Site Manager for the Wrangell Ranger District.

A debate over whether to cut down one of the oldest trees on Chief Shakes Island was temporarily resolved after the Wrangell Cooperative Association Board of Directors voted recently to remove it. The cottonwood will stand at least until the rededication next year.

Rolland Wimberly, a 2009 graduate of Wrangell High School, took home a championship belt he won at a Mixed Martial Arts event sponsored by Extreme Challenge, Inc. on Nov 10 in Quincy, Ill.

Six local students, Rudy Briskar, Jennifer Clark, Cassandra Clark, Helen Molinek, Dale McMurren and Mieko Wenglikowski, completed a CNA course at Wrangell Medical Center.

Wrangell High School has a new student newspaper available to students, parents and Wrangell residents as an emailed file for those that wish to subscribe. The paper, titled “WHS News Monthly” is the senior project of Haley Reed.

The jury trial of Steve Marshall for an alleged 2011 assault was put on hold after an indictment against him was dismissed in First District Court.

The Wrangell Cooperative Association, with a grant from the Environmental Protection Agency, acquired funds to develop environmental programs for Wrangell and sought to know what community members thought is important to the pristine environment of the region.


For nearly the first twenty minutes, and a later part of the Nov. 28 meeting of the Wrangell Medical Center Board of Directors, concerned citizens spoke up during public comment about the credentialing of Alaska Island Community Services physician Greg Salard. Salard asked the board to seek the advice of another attorney in the matter.

An Anchorage man was sentenced to three years in state prison after being convicted of a September theft of alcohol from a bar in downtown Wrangell.

Discussion of a possible divestiture of Wrangell from the Southeast Alaska Power Agency by 2015 eclipsed a rescission and new vote on a motion by the Borough Assembly related to operations at the Tyee hydroelectric plant on Nov. 30.

Wrangell High School hosted the 2A Region V volleyball tournament Nov. 29-Dec. 1, with Wrangell nearly making it to the finals before losing in straight sets to Craig.

Wrangell Wolves wrestler Tanner Thomassen overcame adversity and a series of competitors at the 2A-Region V tournament in Haines to walk away with the No. 1 spot in advance of the state finals in Nikiski.

Mayor Don McConachie nominated two new SEAPA board members, Brian Ashton as the voting member, and Clay Hammer as a non-voting alternate, to their seats on the board of the Ketchikan-based utility operator.

The Southeast Alaska Power Agency Board of Directors voted on Dec. 11 to hold off on accepting an operations and management proposal from D. Hittle and Associates which recommended the streamlining of operations and management at the Tyee and Swan hydroelectric projects under a single operator.

The Wrangell Port Commission had doubts about the technical and mechanical aspects of a hoist bid from an Italian firm that recently won in the bidding process for a new 300-ton lift to be installed at the Marine Service Center in downtown.

A group of 15 participants gathered at Wrangell High School’s wood shop to cut and form traditional wooden paddles for use in the rededication of Chief Shakes Island in May of next year.

Wayne Harding can do nothing but look on as members of the Wrangell Fire Department work to put out a fire in the bumper section of his vehicle on July 22 at Muskeg Meadows golf course. According to the department, the fire was most likely electrical in nature.

The first project discussed by a Borough capital projects workshop group was the new carving shed tentatively set for construction adjacent to the SNO Building in downtown. The building was ranked No. 6 in priority among the twelve considered by the Borough.

A proposed renovation of Evergreen Road beginning at the Alaska Marine Highway System ferry terminal, and extending north and then east from the city center, was stricken from the Alaska Statewide Transportation Improvement Program.

Negotiations between teachers in the Wrangell Public School District topped the school board’s agenda as they gathered for their final meeting of 2012, and saw the board and teacher’s union exchange letters proposing the topics of bargaining to take place early next year.

Coast Guard Sector Juneau command center watchstanders and a Good Samaritan assisted a fishing vessel reportedly taking on water in Snow Pass, west of Zarembo Island on Dec. 12. The Good Samaritan crew, aboard the 65-foot M/V Arik, was able to tow the 36-foot wooden hull trawler F/V Carrie Arlene to a cove on the north side of Bushy Island.


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