Articles written by Becca Clark


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  • Paddle to Celebration provides a source of deeper connection

    Becca Clark, Wrangell Sentinel|Jun 12, 2024

    "Good morning Paddle to Celebration 2024! It's time to get up!" Jim Zeller's booming voice echoed through the forest. It was 4:30 a.m. and rain pattered the roof of my tent on Read Island. I could hear people in nearby tents begin to stir, along with the faint snoring of those that hadn't been roused by Zeller. We were a couple days into our seven-day canoe journey from Wrangell to Juneau, where we would arrive for Celebration, the biennial gathering of Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian people. The...

  • Wrangell dancers show their pride at Celebration

    Becca Clark, Wrangell Sentinel|Jun 12, 2024

    Centennial Hall in downtown Juneau filled with energy June 5 as Alaska Natives from all over the state paraded through, singing, dancing and wearing their regalia with pride. This was the grand entrance for Celebration, the Alaska Native cultural festival held in Juneau every other year, put together by Sealaska Heritage Foundation Dakhká Khwáan Dancers (People of the Inland) from Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, led the Grand Entrance on the first day, lining the stage as they kept singing and d...

  • Developer plans for year-end construction start at former hospital property

    Becca Clark and Larry Persily, Wrangell Sentinel|Jun 5, 2024

    Wayne Johnson, a Georgia-based real estate developer, came to town to finalize his $516,000 purchase of the former hospital property and six adjacent borough-owned lots. Johnson said in an interview Sunday, June 2, that he still needed to work out some details on the purchase of the six lots but anticipated no problems and expected to sign the papers this week, before he needs to return to Georgia. He plans to start demolition in October, with site preparation and start of construction by year-end, he said. Johnson has changed his plans...

  • Marine Service Center faces usual pre-season bottleneck

    Becca Clark, Wrangell Sentinel|Jun 5, 2024

    The Marine Service Center is extremely busy right now, but Harbormaster Steve Miller said the amount of business is normal for this time of year. “The end of March through June is our busiest time of the year,” he said. Commercial and sport fishermen are getting ready for their active season, and the summer tour business is getting started. Most of the business comes from commercial vessels, but Miller added that sailboats and yachts come out of the water for work too. Most of the labor this time of year is “what we call a shave and hairc...

  • Canoes start 150-mile journey to Native Celebration in Juneau

    Becca Clark, Wrangell Sentinel|May 29, 2024

    A canoe with 16 paddlers from Wrangell and at least four more canoes from other communities were scheduled to push off Wednesday morning toward Juneau, roughly a 150-mile journey to Celebration, the biennial Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian cultural festival. The paddlers are scheduled to arrive in downtown Juneau at 11:30 a.m. June 4. Celebration will run June 5-8. The Wrangell canoe planned to leave from the Reliance Float. The theme for this year's event is "Together We Live in Balance," and the...

  • Fourth royalty ticket sales start Friday, with two contestants

    Becca Clark, Wrangell Sentinel|May 29, 2024

    When Alisha Armstrong and Kayla Young heard there were no royalty candidates this year, they both decided they had to step up for the community. The chamber of commerce now has two candidates running for Fourth of July royalty this summer: Armstrong and Young. Armstrong graduated high school earlier this month, and Young will be a senior next year. Raffle ticket and food booth sales will kick off Friday, May 31, at 6 p.m. at the downtown pavilion. The duo volunteered after concerns over zero...

  • Forest Service will raise Anan fees starting next year

    Becca Clark, Wrangell Sentinel|May 29, 2024

    The U.S. Forest Service is preparing for another busy season at Anan Wildlife Observatory, one of the biggest visitor attractions around, just 30 miles south of town. This summer, the daily fee to visit the bear observatory during the permit-only season of prime bear watching July 5 through Aug. 25 will remain at $10. Starting in 2025, however, the fee will increase $10 per year, raising next summer's fee to $20 per day. The fee will increase every year until it reaches $50 in 2028. The...

  • Elevated toxin levels found in shellfish at City Park and Shoemaker

    Becca Clark, Wrangell Sentinel|May 29, 2024

    Wrangell Cooperative Association’s most recent test for paralytic shellfish toxins in blue mussels at two sites in town showed unhealthy levels. “Paralytic shellfish toxins (PST) levels are above the FDA regulatory limit. … PSTs cause paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP), and eating wild shellfish from these sites may increase the risk of PSP,” WCA published in a report May 17 after tests from shellfish at City Park and Shoemaker helipad came back with elevated levels of toxins. The toxins are caused by Alexandrium, a type of phytopl...

  • Children's summer activities start up next week

    Becca Clark, Wrangell Sentinel|May 29, 2024

    The Nolan Center, Irene Ingle Public Library and Parks and Recreation have teamed up to keep kids entertained this summer. Starting June 3 and running through Aug. 16, there will be morning and afternoon activities Monday through Friday like open swim, open gym, art classes, movies, Forest Explorers and reading activities. Parks and Recreation will host open swim at the pool from 1:30 to 3 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Open gym will be held at the community center Monday mornings from 10:30 a.m. to noon. Regular drop-in rates will...

  • Borough contribution to schools depends on what the state pays

    Becca Clark, Wrangell Sentinel|May 22, 2024

    The borough assembly has approved a local contribution to the school district that could cancel out a pending increase in state funding. The assembly on May 14 approved a local contribution of $1.3 million to the school district for the 2024-2025 school year, down from this year’s level, based on the assumption that the state increases its funding to Wrangell schools by $440,000. The amount of state funding is pending the governor’s decision on the budget passed by legislators last week. The school board had asked for $1.75 million from the bor...

  • Union petitions to add police to borough contract

    Becca Clark, Wrangell Sentinel|May 22, 2024

    The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 1547 has filed a petition with the state for Wrangell Police Department employees to vote on joining the union bargaining unit that represents other borough employees. The borough assembly met in executive session on May 14 to discuss the petition. Borough Manager Mason Villarma said the borough will object to the request to add police employees to the union. Though the borough supports employees unionizing, Villarma said he doesn’t believe the police department and IBEW have e...

  • WCA hires Ed Caum as tourism coordinator

    Becca Clark, Wrangell Sentinel|May 22, 2024

    Cruise ships have started to make their appearances at the City Dock, and the Wrangell Cooperative Association has geared up for the season by hiring Ed Caum as tourism coordinator. Caum, known by some in town as "Fast Eddy" from his rock and roll radio shows on KSTK in the '70s, started the position at the beginning of May. The tourism branch of WCA is set up to grow exponentially, Caum said. Economic development and bringing new money into town are two of his goals. He emphasized that the...

  • King salmon derby confirmed for 2 weekends in June

    Becca Clark, Wrangell Sentinel|May 22, 2024

    The dates for this year’s king salmon derby have been set for two weekends: June 7-9 and June 14-16. The chamber of commerce is still deciding other details like the prizes for the largest fish and cost of tickets, said Tommy Wells, executive director of the chamber, which sponsors the annual event — now in its 69th year. King salmon runs have been weak in recent years — only 15 fish were turned in for weighing during last year’s derby. District 8 in front of Wrangell and the Stikine River is closed again this year to king salmon sportfi...

  • New museum display highlights clan items returned to Wrangell

    Becca Clark, Wrangell Sentinel|May 15, 2024

    The Nolan Center is unveiling a new display this weekend featuring repatriated clan items that were returned to Wrangell last fall. Objects in the display include xóots shákee.át, a bear headdress; tsax l'axhk'eit, a marmot mask; kéet shakee.át s'áaxhw, a killer whale hat (a replica); and gunakadeit s'eikdaakeit, a sea monster tobacco pipe. The items were returned to Wrangell from the Thomas Burke Memorial Museum at the University of Washington. Though most historical details of the objec...

  • Chamber lacks royalty candidates for 4th fundraising

    Becca Clark, Wrangell Sentinel|May 15, 2024

    Next year’s Fourth of July celebration, Wrangell’s most popular holiday, may be in jeopardy – the May 1 deadline to turn in paperwork yielded zero royalty candidates. It takes a village to put on the fireworks and countless other festivities for the Fourth every year. To offset costs, high school students or recent graduates run as royalty contestants – selling tens of thousands of $1 raffle tickets and running food booths downtown to raise money for the chamber of commerce, which organizes the celebration’s events. Royalty candidate...

  • Historian addresses elephant in the room

    Becca Clark, Wrangell Sentinel|May 15, 2024

    Ronan Rooney picked the Nose for his latest history lesson. The podcaster recently wrote a blog post about one of the island's most photographed landmarks: Elephant's Nose. It's at the northern tip of Woronkofski Island, 4.5 miles west of Wrangell across Zimovia Strait. Rooney's blog digs into the history behind the Nose and how it got its popular name. Fannie Kellog Young, wife of the Rev. S. Hall Young, gave the Nose its name. The couple moved to Wrangell in 1878 and lived just in front of...

  • New harbor security cameras focus on fighting crime

    Becca Clark, Wrangell Sentinel|May 15, 2024

    Wrangell now has a total of 56 security cameras up and running across all its harbors and the Marine Service Center. The cameras run 24 hours a day and pick up clear footage in all lighting situations, said Harbormaster Steve Miller, even capturing images well in complete darkness. The harbormaster and staff have access to the camera footage, which is stored for 30 days. Rather than monitoring the videos, harbor staff will go back to access the feeds if information is needed. But the cameras are equipped with motion sensors that highlight...

  • New online dictionary helps teach Native languages

    Becca Clark, Wrangell Sentinel|May 15, 2024

    There’s a new way to learn Native languages: Sealaska Heritage Institute has created an online searchable dictionary with accompanying audio. The online dictionary allows users to search words and phrases in English or Lingít (Tlingit language), Xaad Kíl (Haida language) and Shm'algyack (Tsimshian language). The audio recordings allow users to listen to heritage language speakers pronouncing words and phrases. SHI launched an app for the Tlingit language in 2016, and more recently launched apps for Tsimshian and Haida. But the apps only allowed...

  • Paddlers prepare for weeklong journey to Celebration

    Becca Clark, Wrangell Sentinel|May 8, 2024

    On May 29, a 39-foot canoe of Wrangell paddlers will start the week-long, 150-nautical-mile journey to Juneau for Celebration, the biennial Native culture festival. This year marks the first time Wrangell will have its own canoe making the journey since 2014, signifying a return of enthusiasm for canoe culture in town. Canoes from other communities will make the journey alongside Wrangell, including Juneau, Kasaan, Metlakatla and a veterans' canoe - all beginning here. Up to seven other canoes...

  • Workshop this weekend will teach sea otter pelt sewing

    Becca Clark, Wrangell Sentinel|May 8, 2024

    "Wear sea otter, save a crab!" says Jeremiah James. James will teach a sea otter skin sewing class in Wrangell Thursday through Sunday, May 9-12, at the Wrangell Cooperative Association cultural center. The workshop, put on by Sealaska Heritage Institute, will teach about 15 students to hand sew a pattern of their choosing, including garments like hats, scarves, headbands and pillows. James, who lives in Yakutat and Juneau, got into sea otter sewing in 2011 after taking a beginner sewing class...

  • Class will teach sustainable cedar bark harvesting

    Becca Clark, Wrangell Sentinel|May 8, 2024

    As the art of cedar weaving continues to grow in popularity, so does the need for a supply of cedar bark. Deborah Head of Craig will teach a class in Wrangell to harvest cedar bark sustainably, without harming the trees. The sessions will run Thursday through Saturday, May 9-11. The all-day class, put on by the Alaska Native Sisterhood, is free to the public and students can attend for one or all three days. Head is an experienced teacher and great storyteller, said Tis Peterman, and often leads groups on Prince of Wales Island to gather bark....

  • Zimovia Highway rockfall mitigation work to begin this month

    Becca Clark, Wrangell Sentinel|May 8, 2024

    The Alaska Department of Transportation has contracted Hiex Construction of Haines to conduct rockfall mitigation and slope stabilization work between 5.5 and 8.5 Mile Zimovia Highway. The work will likely begin just before Memorial Day, Hiex Construction said last week. One lane will be closed during the work and flaggers will direct traffic. Both lanes will be open during the holiday weekend, the company said. The rockfall mitigation work is not related to the deadly Nov. 20 landslide, but rather is part of an ongoing project to address that...

  • Borough assembly, school board discuss local funding

    Becca Clark, Wrangell Sentinel|May 1, 2024

    The borough assembly and school board met April 23 in a joint work session to discuss local funding for the school district for the 2024-2025 school year. The school district has requested $1.75 million from the borough, which is the maximum local contribution allowed under state law and an increase from the $1.6 million that the borough contributed each of the past two years. The minimum local contribution required by the borough is $862,086. The state sets a minimum and a maximum in an effort to reduce budget and school program inequalities...

  • Borough looking at sales tax changes to raise revenue - but not the rate

    Becca Clark, Wrangell Sentinel|May 1, 2024

    Assembly members expressed interest — but also caution — in what borough staff can come with to change the sales tax code to possibly raise more revenue without raising the actual tax rate. Raising more money from sales tax would allow the borough to continue funding the schools without raising property taxes, Borough Manager Mason Villarma said. There are options for increasing revenues other than raising the tax rate. Currently, Wrangell charges a 7% sales tax on goods and services up to $3,000 in value. There is no tax charged on pur...

  • Borough to conduct random sales tax audits of businesses

    Becca Clark, Wrangell Sentinel|May 1, 2024

    The borough will conduct sales tax audits periodically over the next year. Ten businesses will be selected at a time, covering various categories of business types, Borough Manager Mason Villarma said April 24. The audits are an effort to preserve equity for all businesses and consumers in the borough. “There appears to be circumstances where businesses are collecting sales taxes but not remitting to the city, and maybe having a history of not ever remitting to the city,” Villarma said. “Those will be the first folks that we make sure get c...

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