Articles from the January 6, 2022 edition


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  • The Way We Were

    Jan 6, 2022

    Jan. 5, 1922 The Civic Improvement Club held its regular monthly meeting at City Hall on Saturday afternoon. The principal activity of the club at the present time is maintenance of the library and reading room which was opened two months ago. The club had bookshelves built. It also pays the salary of the librarian and adds two new books of fiction to the library each month. It is hoped that the library will become self-supporting in time, but at present the club has assumed the responsibility for its maintenance. Jan. 3, 1947 One of the...

  • Annual icy dip draws brave crowd to Shoemaker Harbor

    Marc Lutz|Jan 6, 2022

    For about 20 years on New Year's Day, some of the bravest in the community gather to prove their mettle by wading into the frigid water of Shoemaker Harbor for the aptly named Polar Plunge. This year was no different. On Jan. 1, about 54 people of all ages walked into waist-deep water and then submerged up to their necks. The goal was to reach one minute. Most made it, some gave up soon after getting in. "I did it last year. It wasn't that bad. I had a wetsuit on, but all my friends said I was...

  • Assembly will consider increase in electricity rates

    Sarah Aslam|Jan 6, 2022

    Ratepayers will have a chance to weigh in next Tuesday on the borough’s proposed increase in electricity rates for residential and commercial customers. If approved, the rate hike would increase the kilowatt-hour charge by 7.5% to 9% for most residential and business customers in Wrangell. The move comes after the Southeast Alaska Power Agency, which provides Tyee Lake hydroelectric power to Wrangell, Petersburg and Ketchikan, notified the borough in early December that it would increase its wholesale power rates by a quarter of a cent per kilo...

  • State advertises for fill-in private ferry service; gives bidders 7 days to respond

    Larry Persily|Jan 6, 2022

    With the Matanuska out of service longer than expected for more repair work, and the state uncertain whether it can bring an idled ferry out of a cost-saving lay-up, the Alaska Marine Highway System is seeking bids from private vessel operators to possibly provide additional winter runs to several Southeast communities, including Wrangell. The state issued the hurried bid notice on Dec. 31, with proposals due by 2 p.m. Friday. The state also is advertising for a contractor to help it recruit and hire for the ferry system, which is short on...

  • Tlingit & Haida will start wireless internet pilot project in Wrangell

    Larry Persily and Sarah Aslam|Jan 6, 2022

    Wrangell has been selected for the initial start-up of Tidal Network, a newly formed enterprise of the Central Council of the Tlingit & Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska that will bring wireless broadband internet service to underserved areas. The new service could start in Wrangell by late spring. The Central Council plans eventually to extend the new service throughout much of Southeast. The focus is to reach homes and businesses that lack access to reliable internet service, Chris Cropley, a network architect with the Central Council, said last...

  • State will stop paying for walk-up COVID testing at end of month

    Larry Persily|Jan 6, 2022

    The state has decided to stop offering walk-up COVID-19 testing at Alaska’s larger airports, and to stop paying for similar free testing operations in communities statewide, including Wrangell, effective Jan. 31. The SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium will shut down its walk-up, no-appointment-needed free testing operation in Wrangell on Jan. 31 but will continue offering testing by appointment. The change in testing comes as Wrangell is seeing the start of a post-holidays surge in infections, with 14 new cases among residents reported...

  • It's been a wintery start to the new year statewide

    The Wrangell Sentinel and The Associated Press|Jan 6, 2022

    High winds, deep snow, below-zero temperatures, frozen pipes, canceled flights and ice-covered everything - it was not a merry Christmas or a happy new year for many Alaskans. Ketchikan endured its coldest-ever Christmas, and the next day, too, shivering to a low of zero degrees on both days, breaking a 57-year-old record for Christmas Day. It was cold enough to freeze saltwater in shoreline areas of Bar Harbor, City Float, Mud Bight and Ward Cove. The 350 residents of Hydaburg, on the...

  • Chuck Helland family asks for help

    Jan 6, 2022

    For those of you who knew Chuck Helland, you knew that he loved everyone. There is nothing more that he loved than a good conversation with a friend and a shared smile. Pops knew he was loved and in turn we knew we were loved. Pops and mom had moved to Juneau because mom’s health was fragile and the closest medical facility that could help her was in Juneau. When we lost mom in 2006, our sister Alora took pops home with her and Irene in Wrangell. After two years, they felt that pops was strong enough to get an apartment at senior housing. S...

  • Southeast needs to protect its economy

    Wrangell Sentinel|Jan 6, 2022

    The first cruise ships are less than four months away from pulling into Southeast Alaska ports. After a year of no ships in 2020, followed by a year of weak returns in 2021, the region is looking forward to a healthy number of cruise passengers this summer — maybe even a record number. Businesses, their employees and sales tax collectors dream of a strong 2022 for a healthy rebuilding from the sickly COVID-19 economics of the past two cruise ship seasons. The emphasis this year should be on healthy. No cruise company is going to want to o...

  • Very different anniversaries this week

    Larry Persily Publisher|Jan 6, 2022

    It’s helpful to remember the past, to learn from both the good and bad. Neither should be forgotten. Reliving the good can bring us joy and give us a chance to say thank you. Vowing never to repeat the really ugly moments can make us smarter and make our communities better. This week presents just such an opportunity. It was a year ago, Jan. 1, that I purchased the Wrangell Sentinel for the third time, proving that you can pay an accountant for wise tax and financial advice but you don’t have to pay attention. It’s been exhaustively fun, recon...

  • Anchorage school board reverses decision to drop face mask requirement

    The Wrangell Sentinel and The Associated Press|Jan 6, 2022

    Anchorage public schools opened the new year with face mask requirements still in place, after the school board reversed a decision by the superintendent that would have made masks optional. Schools Superintendent Deena Bishop decided in mid-December to drop the masking requirement for when students and staff returned to class on Monday, but the Anchorage School Board on Dec. 20 voted 5-1 to reverse the decision. Face masks will be required in the state’s largest school district until at least Jan. 15, when the board will review the policy. B...

  • Board of Fisheries postpones Southeast meeting due to COVID, travel weather

    Ketchikan Daily News|Jan 6, 2022

    Citing COVID-19 concerns and weather-related transportation worries, the state has postponed the 12-day Alaska Board of Fisheries meeting that was scheduled to have started Tuesday at the civic center in Ketchikan. The meeting to consider more than 150 proposed changes to state management regulations for finfish and shellfish in Southeast Alaska and Yakutat already had been postponed from January 2021 because of COVID-19 issues. Last Friday, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game announced that the 2022 meeting would proceed in Ketchikan with...

  • Matanuska delayed again; no ferry service to Wrangell for 23 days

    Larry Persily|Jan 6, 2022

    The 58-year-old state ferry Matanuska needs additional time in a Ketchikan shipyard for steel decking replacement and other repairs, forcing cancellation of more sailings to Southeast communities and leaving Wrangell without any service between Jan. 11 and Feb. 4. The Alaska Marine Highway System on Dec. 27 announced that the Matanuska’s return to service — previously set for early December, then reset to Jan. 17 — has been delayed for a third time. The latest return date is Jan. 31. The ship has been out of service since early October for a...

  • GCI internet service spotty since Nov. 30 windstorm

    Marc Lutz|Jan 6, 2022

    Internet service provided by GCI was knocked out when Wrangell was pummeled by a gusty storm on Nov. 30, and three weeks later residents were still reporting outages. Technicians were able to restore service to customers by Dec. 3, but there were complaints as recently as Dec. 22 that the service comes and goes. Residents took to the Wrangell Community Group on Facebook to ask if others were experiencing outages — and to complain. Some were seeing disruptions every day, sometimes up to five hours with no service. “It’s my understanding that...

  • A look back at 2021's top news stories in Wrangell

    Marc Lutz|Jan 6, 2022

    There were about 1,000 stories in the Wrangell Sentinel last year, covering state and local budgets, the ailing state ferry system, ongoing pandemic and more — including a new owner for the Sentinel. On Jan. 1, Larry Persily bought the newspaper — for the third time over the past 45 years — with a promise to return the operation to Wrangell, expand the paper and its staff, and focus on more local news. “We plan to add more news from around Southeast and the state, but not at the expense of crowding out news of Wrangell. It’s not one or the ot...

  • Borough will apply for rec center improvements grant

    Sarah Aslam|Jan 6, 2022

    The borough assembly has selected an almost quarter-million-dollar recreation center project for Wrangell’s application to a competitive, federally funded COVID-19 aid grant program, while it has also adopted its projects wish list for consideration by the Legislature this year. The assembly at its Dec. 21 meeting approved upgrades to the heating and ventilation systems and carpet replacement at the recreation center as its selected project for a federal COVID aid community development grant program. The estimated $225,000 rec center work w...

  • Wrangell Wolves lose to alumni in annual matchup

    Marc Lutz|Jan 6, 2022

    Basketball players get older, but it doesn't seem to hinder their performance. High school alumni competed against the current squad of Wrangell Wolves in an annual exhibition game Dec. 28, giving them a lesson in how to play the game. In the end, the high schoolers fell to the out-of-schoolers, 60-39. Robbie Marshall, the high school assistant coach, played for the alumni team and scored the first basket. That was followed up by the second basket by teammate Jean-Luc Lewis. Junior Jason Hay...

  • Alaska mariculture project in the running for $50 million federal grant

    Sabine Poux, KDLL public radio Kenai and Soldotna|Jan 6, 2022

    Alaska’s economic development districts are in the running to win $50 million in federal money to grow the state’s seaweed and shellfish farming industry – known collectively as mariculture. The U.S. Economic Development Administration announced last month that the proposed Alaska mariculture project is among 60 finalists for a Build Back Better Regional Challenge grant. Advocates say the money could help with the state's goal of building a $100 million industry by 2040. More kelp and oyster farms have been popping up along Alaska’s shoreli...

  • Senate Finance co-chair says governor's budget not balanced

    Shannon Haugland, Sitka Sentinel|Jan 6, 2022

    State Sen. Bert Stedman, who represents Sitka and central and southern Southeast, including Wrangell, is in his 20th year in the Senate, serving much of that time as co-chair of the budget-writing Finance Committee. As lawmakers prepare to resume work Jan. 18 in Juneau, Stedman said Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s proposed budget appears to be balanced — and not balanced — at the same time. “It’s balanced, but not when you compare recurring revenues to recurring expenditures,” Stedman said. “We’ve got to unwind that. The structural deficit is goin...

  • Borough employees receive 2% pay raise

    The Wrangell Sentinel|Jan 6, 2022

    Almost 60 borough employees, union and non-union, will receive a 2% raise retroactive to July 1, 2021. A second 2% raise is scheduled for July 1 of this year. The new wage scale is the result of a collective bargaining agreement between the borough and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1547, which represents power plant operators, the line crew, port and harbor workers, water treatment plant workers and other public works employees. The three-year IBEW contract run to June 30, 2024. The borough traditionally extends to...

  • Discarded harbor floats present a cleanup headache

    Sarah Aslam|Jan 6, 2022

    Pieces of rigid foam — polystyrene — broken away from harbor floats installed in the 1970s and 1980s are bobbing along Wrangell’s waters and washing up on beaches along Zimovia Strait. Holdovers from the Shoemaker Bay harbor float replacement project in 2018, the pieces were part of 60- to 80-foot-long old floats that the borough sold in 2018 when it should have trashed them, Port Director Steve Miller said. While records were kept of the individuals who bought the old floats, it’s now impossible to identify who owns the debris floatin...

  • Trump endorses Dunleavy, who pledges not to support Murkowski

    The Wrangell Sentinel and The Associated Press|Jan 6, 2022

    Gov. Mike Dunleavy has accepted Donald Trump’s endorsement for his 2022 reelection campaign, telling the former president he will not support Lisa Murkowski in her reelection bid for the U.S. Senate — a condition of winning Trump’s endorsement. The former president has vowed revenge against Murkowski and other Republican lawmakers who supported impeachment for Trump’s role in instigating last January’s insurrection at the Capitol during certification of Joe Biden’s election as president. Trump has endorsed Murkowski’s primary challenger, K...

  • State changes road rules for ATVs; Wrangell 'essentially the same'

    Marc Lutz|Jan 6, 2022

    As of Jan. 1, Wrangell’s roadways won’t look much different after a new state regulation adopted by Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s administration took effect. Alaskans are now allowed to drive their ATVs on most roadways where the speed limit is 45 mph or less, unless the city or borough opts out. The new law will only affect one portion of Wrangell streets. “For us, there’s really not much of a change of anything,” said Lt. Bruce Smith, of the Wrangell Police Department. Except for the Airport Loop, he added. Municipal code already allows ATVs to be...

  • Lt. Gov. decides not to seek reelection; Dunleavy needs new running mate

    James Brooks, Anchorage Daily News|Jan 6, 2022

    Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer will not run for reelection in 2022, leaving Gov. Mike Dunleavy free to choose a new Republican running mate this year. In an interview Dec. 28, Meyer did not rule out an eventual return to politics, but said he wants to take a break. “It’d be nice to get to sleep in and spend more time with the family,” he said. Dunleavy, who is running for reelection to a second term, said he expects Meyer will use his last year in office to focus on an election-reform bill the governor announced in late December. Under the new elect...

  • Disney music video features Klukwan songwriter

    Kyle Clayton, Chilkat Valley News - Haines|Jan 6, 2022

    Klukwan resident and Diné (Navajo) artist Clara Natonabah wrote and sang a Navajo song that was featured in a Disney Junior Shake Your Tale with Chip 'N Dale music video. The song, titled "Hózhóogoo Dahwiit'áál" (We Will Sing in Beauty), was released on YouTube and appears in the cartoon where the popular Disney cartoon characters dance to Natonabah's song. Natonabah was chosen by Disney to celebrate Native American Heritage Month in November. "I was asked to participate for this mini...

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