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Christian named to fill Assembly seat ‘B’


The Wrangell Borough Assembly appointed Ernie Christian to fill the seat vacated by Mayor David Jack at their Feb. 26 regular meeting at City Hall.

Assembly member Bill Privett had initially motioned to appoint Wrangell resident Billie Younce to the seat, but the motion failed for lack of a second. Assembly member James Stough then motioned for Christian’s appointment, with a second coming from member Maxi Wiederspohn. The Assembly voted 3-2 to appoint Christian, with Privett and Jack voting “no.”

Christian, who was traveling on business during the meeting could not be reached for comment by the deadline for this story.

Jack ascended to the Mayor’s seat after former Mayor Don McConachie resigned last month.

Beside Christian and Younce, Wrangell residents Julie Kauffman Decker and Kipha Valvoda had also submitted letters of interest in serving on the Assembly.

The Assembly also discussed the scheduling of a workshop to begin the possible process of divestiture of the Tyee Lake Hydroelectric plant from the Southeast Alaska Power Agency.

A Memorandum of Understanding from 2008 outlines a requirement for each of the three communities involved in SEAPA; Wrangell, Petersburg and Ketchikan, and how they should proceed with sales of both the Tyee and Swan hydro projects back to the member communities.

The Assembly decided to look into forming a committee comprised of members of the public, Borough officials, SEAPA and Thomas Bay voting members and other experts to look into divestiture and other options available to Wrangell and Petersburg.

“We want to be very careful about how we go about doing this (but) I think this is a legitimate look at what is in our best interest,” Privett said.

The group then voted unanimously to send a letter to Petersburg’s Borough Assembly seeking their participation and discussion of the issue.

A proposed appeal letter to Governor Sean Parnell’s office appealing his recent decision to change course on the Alaska Class Ferry issue was also part of the Assembly’s discussion period. After brief discussion, the Assembly voted unanimously to direct the Mayor to write a letter to the Governor’s office regarding Wrangell’s take on the matter.

In his report to the Assembly, Borough Manager Tim Rooney updated the group on the status of the Evergreen Road project that had recently stymied due to a lack of state funding.

“Governor Sean Parnell released his amendments to his 2014 Capital Budget on Thursday, February 14, 2013. Included within the amendment was funding in the amount of $5,000,000 in order to provide for the completion of the Evergreen Road Improvements and Pedestrian Access project,” Rooney stated in his report. “As you and the community are aware, this project had its funding recently removed by the Department of Transportation as a result of an amendment made to the State Transportation Improvement Plan. I would like to thank the citizens of Wrangell and the Wrangell Chamber of Commerce for their efforts in sending so many letters to Governor Parnell, as well as Senator Stedman and Representative Wilson for their assistance as I have no doubt this made an impact resulting in the budget amendment.

The Wrangell Medical Center Replacement project is also moving forward, according to Rooney.

“Several meetings have been conducted within the last month regarding the Hospital Replacement Project,” Rooney wrote. “In addition to meeting with Innovative Capital – the firm under contract with Wrangell Medical Center to perform financial services relating to the securing of the loan, staff of both the City and Borough of Wrangell and WMC, as well as Mr. Blasco, participated in a meeting with the State of Alaska regarding the Certificate of Need (CON). Currently, the number one priority relating to this project remains the loan reapplication process that must be completed through the USDA.”

According to Rooney, Wrangell’s line crews have been – and will continue to be – busy as they work on a number of projects in the Borough.

“The Line Crew has been working with a crew of temporary laborers to knock out brush issues along the power line right-of-way beginning at approximately 6 mile and working back towards town,” Rooney wrote. “This year’s crew has been especially productive and has met all the goals established prior to the project plus some of the leftover clean up that needed to be completed from the Wood Street/AICS clinic project, as well as along Spur Road where the new line extension will be located. This was an effort that lasted a little more than 3 weeks and leaves the lines in good standing for the upcoming season.”

In other business, the Assembly approved the donation of a 1984 GMC Line Truck to Thomas Bay Power Authority, and also approved three resolutions conveying public land to private citizens in the Borough.

The Assembly also affirmed the final plat approval for the Eden’s Replat.

The next regularly scheduled meeting of the Assembly is set for March 12 at 7 p.m. at City Hall.


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