Articles from the March 2, 2022 edition


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  • Owner accepts borough offer for sawmill property

    Sarah Aslam|Mar 2, 2022

    The owner of the former sawmill property at 6-Mile Zimovia Highway has accepted the borough’s offer of about $2.5 million to buy the 38.59 acres, which the borough sees as an economic development opportunity for the community. Borough Manager Jeff Good declined to name the exact amount but said Friday, “we did make an offer, they accepted.” Bennett McGrath, of Anchor Properties, in Petersburg, the representative for property owner Betty Buhler, said the borough initially offered $2.3 million and they “met in the middle” between $2.3 million a...

  • School board OKs optional masking to start Wednesday

    Marc Lutz|Mar 2, 2022

    The school board voted unanimously Monday to make face masks optional for students, staff and visitors in school buildings beginning Wednesday. The board adopted changes to the district’s COVID-19 mitigation plan, including removing quarantine requirements for close contacts of infected individuals and for students and staff returning to town after traveling. After hearing from students and members of the public, the board voted unanimously to approve the changes. The face mask requirement has been in effect since the start of the school y...

  • Shop class teaches students how to build a better future

    Marc Lutz|Mar 2, 2022

    The high-pitched grinding of metal on metal, the whirr of saw blades ripping through cedar, the crackle of a welding arc on aluminum are all sounds of building in progress and a brighter future for Wrangell's students. Fabrication classes, whether woodworking, metalworking or welding, give kids an alternative avenue when it comes to life beyond high school, bucking the traditional pathway of enrolling in college. According to Alaska Department of Labor, construction managers earn an average of...

  • State will switch Sitka to paid airport parking; Wrangell could come later

    Larry Persily|Mar 2, 2022

    Sitka will be the next Southeast airport to make the switch from free to paid parking. Petersburg made the move in December, when a private operator leased state airport property that had been used for free parking and converted it to a paid long-term lot. The Alaska Department of Transportation said parking management at the Sitka airport “has become an increasing challenge” for its crew. The department plans this month to advertise “to find a professional parking management company” to manage the lot in front of the terminal. The effort...

  • The Way We Were

    Wrangell Sentinel|Mar 2, 2022

    March 2, 1922 The representative of the Alaska Native Brotherhood, W.L. Paul, favors a bill prohibiting fish traps in any bay or channel less than three miles wide, one mile from creeks and one mile from the entrance to bays. Mr. Paul said the enactment of such a law would remove all the traps around Etolin Island, most of the traps on Prince of Wales Island, and some of the traps around Ketchikan, but would not affect the traps in the larger channels. However, Mr. Paul adds that owing to the wording of the law (should such a law be enacted),...

  • Subsidies discussed as possible child care center solutions

    Marc Lutz|Mar 2, 2022

    Public officials, community leaders and businesspeople from Wrangell and Juneau met online Feb. 11 to discuss possible solutions to Wrangell’s lack of child care options. Representatives of the Wrangell Cooperative Association, Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska, the Wrangell borough, SEARHC, Sealaska Corp. and Little Eagles and Ravens Nest (LEARN) talked through the problems. WCA IGAP Coordinator Valerie Massie, one of the meeting attendees, said she and others “saw child care and housing as the two main hur...

  • WCA receives $620,000 in funding for cultural preservation

    Sarah Aslam|Mar 2, 2022

    The Wrangell Cooperative Association was told last month it will receive $620,000 in federal funding from the Southeast Alaska Sustainability Strategy, a $25 million U.S. Forest Service investment to diversify the economy of Southeast communities. The tribe plans to spend $500,000 on a project to carve new totem poles, $60,000 on a cultural symposium and $60,000 toward cultural preservation, such as promoting traditional, healthy foods and adding the Tlingit names to signs around town. WCA plans to hire a master carver and obtain the logs to...

  • WCA to hold election for tribal council March 8

    Sentinel staff|Mar 2, 2022

    The Wrangell Cooperative Association has announced the candidates for its March 8 tribal council election. There are 11 candidates for four seats on the eight-member council: Heidi Armstrong, Lavina Brock, Robyn Byrd, Samuel Campus, Frank Churchill Jr., Caroline Demmert, Timothy Gillen Sr., Olivia Main, Edward Rilatos Jr., Amber Lynn Wade and Asia White are on the ballot, according to a list provided by tribal administrator Esther Reese last Friday. Rilatos, Churchill and Brock currently serve on the council. Voters are instructed to vote for n...

  • Borough smart to think long-term

    Wrangell Sentinel|Mar 2, 2022

    Sometimes, governments just have to take a chance. They need to ensure the pieces are in place for economic development of their community, even if that means spending money on the potential — not a guarantee — of building jobs in the future. In Wrangell’s case, the almost 40-acre waterfront industrial property at the former 6-Mile sawmill site is one of those pieces. The borough assembly decision to buy the property is smart, long-term thinking. It’s about preserving the site intact for possible future use, rather than see it subdivi...

  • Wrangell needs child care services

    Wrangell Sentinel|Mar 2, 2022

    Parents, community leaders, borough and tribal officials are talking about what can be done to help solve Wrangell’s lack of child care options. Valerie Massie, of the Wrangell Cooperative Association, said she and others at a recent meeting all see the lack of child care and housing as the biggest hurdles to economic and community development in town. Lack of child care keeps people out of the workforce, and it seems there isn’t an employer in town without job openings. Part of the problem in establishing and running a child care center is...

  • High oil prices are Alaska's alcohol of choice

    Larry Persily Publisher|Mar 2, 2022

    It’s not often you hear political debates that invoke religion and booze but have nothing to do with temperance, the social ills of alcohol or strict adherence to church teachings. In Alaska, those points are being offered in the context of the state budget and oil prices — both of which are similar to alcohol and religion in the 49th state. They can be intoxicating, debatable and divisive. High oil prices of recent months — and even higher in recent days after Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine — have made Alaska rich again, for now....

  • Yukon TV is no upgrade

    John Morse|Mar 2, 2022

    Many will disagree, but in my opinion the vote is the key to American democracy. If after the votes have been counted, recounted, audited and litigated and someone other than the person with the most votes takes or remains in office, then American democracy is dead. On the other hand, one thing most will agree with is that Yukon TV is the opposite of the advertised upgrade. -- John Morse...

  • Public testimony on state budget set for Thursday

    Representative Dan Ortiz|Mar 2, 2022

    The Legislature’s main duty every year is passage of the state budget. Last week, the House made considerable progress by finishing up budget subcommittee work. Budget subcommittees meet frequently with each department to navigate potential budget changes and create a plan for the upcoming budget. I am chair for three budget subcommittees: The departments of Education, Environmental Conservation and Transportation. So far, our department budgets do not look much different than last year’s budgets. For the Department of Education, we added add...

  • Forest Service ramps up efforts to take down invasive weeds

    Marc Lutz|Mar 2, 2022

    An annual 200-acre treatment limit on the U.S. Forest Service's invasive plant management program in the 3.7-million-acre Wrangell-Petersburg district has the agency revamping and possibly expanding its efforts to eradicate foreign weeds that could damage the ecosystem and economy. Since 2015, the Forest Service has been pulling, digging and spot-spraying plants like knotweed and canarygrass that are not naturally occurring in Southeast. But project managers say it's not enough and they need to...

  • Partners move out of their kitchens to open bakery

    Sarah Aslam|Mar 2, 2022

    Sweet Tides Bakery co-owners Shawna Buness and Devyn Johnson, who have been working together almost a year, will open their new shop Thursday, offering cakes, sourdough loaves and pastries, along with deli sandwiches featuring cheeses and meats smoked on-site and served on freshly baked bread. The store also will carry its own sauces and aiolis. A ribbon-cutting at 11:45 a.m. will precede the opening at noon Thursday. They plan to open for breakfast at 7 a.m. the next day. The bakery is in the...

  • Assembly approves $211,220 to repair barge ramp flotation tank

    Sarah Aslam|Mar 2, 2022

    The cost to cap a hole and rebuild the flotation tanks at the barge ramp has escalated since the problem was discovered last fall. The borough assembly on Feb. 22 approved a $211,220 contract with the only bidder for the job — Dave Miller, of Dave’s Welding & Repair. “The repair work includes sandblasting and recoating the inside and outside of both tank sections and their uprights and welding 3/8-inch-thick double plates to the bottom of the larger tank,” staff reported to the assembly. The assembly at its Nov. 9 meeting authorized $115,00...

  • Assembly approves enterprise fund investments in stocks, bonds

    Sarah Aslam|Mar 2, 2022

    Looking to possibly boost returns with minimal risk, the assembly has voted unanimously to amend municipal code to allow investment of the borough’s enterprise funds in stocks and bonds. The collective balance of the five generally self-supported enterprises funds was more than $9 million last month — Municipal Light & Power, the water system, sewer system, sanitation services and port and harbors funds. Those five accounts are maintained separately from general fund government expenses. Finance Director Mason Villarma told the assembly on Feb...

  • A dog's nose catches the salmon scent

    Tom Morphet, Chilkat Valley News Haines|Mar 2, 2022

    What dog doesn’t love finding scraps of dead salmon. Usually it’s a smelly cleanup for the dog’s owner, but this time it was a real treasure. In Haines, Lilly Ford’s Siberian Laika puppy Sacha sniffs everything, which is how Rebecca Brewer’s lost wallet was retrieved from a snow berm along Chilkat Inlet. Brewer had noticed her salmon-skin wallet missing in early February. She posted notices around town at places where she may have left it behind. She notified the police. After a few days, she canceled the credit cards inside. “I thought I’d nev...

  • Students get carted away with senior work project

    Marc Lutz|Mar 2, 2022

    One of the goals of high school senior projects is seeing a need in the community and filling it. That's just what Ryan Rooney and Emma Martinsen are doing. The two teamed up when their shop teacher Winston Davies told them that boat carts had fallen into disrepair. They saw it as an opportunity to put their welding skills to use by building new carts for people hauling supplies to and from their boats. "It seemed pretty straightforward, and it didn't seem like there were very many carts...

  • Teen sticks together boat drawings to create new business

    Sarah Aslam|Mar 2, 2022

    Nick Allen, a 16-year-old high school junior, likes to draw boats. "I live in a fishing community," Allen said. "Been around boats my entire life. Drawing them was even cooler." Allen said he started drawing around the age of 12. First it was speedboats. About a year and a half ago he "moved into the commercial fishing side of art." "I drew a seiner first and it was terrible," he said. "To see the progress over a year and a half, it's insane." He's now making stickers of his artwork, and...

  • Sitka lawmaker breaks his leg paragliding

    The Associated Press|Mar 2, 2022

    JUNEAU (AP) — A Sitka lawmaker broke two bones in his right leg after crashing his paraglider in Anchorage on Feb. 19. Rep. Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins returned to Juneau on Feb. 23. He had been recuperating in Anchorage following surgery and attending committee meetings remotely. He will be on crutches for about six weeks. Anchorage Rep. Laddie Shaw was out paragliding with Kreiss-Tomkins when the accident occurred at Flattop Mountain. “We just got together and went for a little hike on Flattop Mountain,” said Shaw, a former Navy SEAL who regul...

  • Teams take on Petersburg players with mix of wins and losses

    Marc Lutz|Mar 2, 2022

    The high school basketball teams traveled to Petersburg last Friday for two days of intense play against the Vikings and Lady Vikings that resulted in a mix of wins and losses for the junior varsity and varsity boys teams and hard wins for the girls varsity. Junior varsity The competition began Friday afternoon when the Wrangell JV boys team took on the home team in two 10-minute periods. Due to illness, there weren't enough players, so a modified game of four-man teams took place. Unlike the...

  • Mixed martial artist Nicco Montaño makes visit to Wrangell

    Sarah Aslam|Mar 2, 2022

    A mixed martial artist who was the inaugural flyweight champion on a 2017 television show - and made history as the first American Native woman Ultimate Fighting Championship title holder - punched in a short visit to Wrangell in February. The purple-belt jiu jitsu holder, who was in town to visit a friend, made a surprise drop-in on a Wrangell class Feb. 16 without telling the participants who she was, at first. "Normally, it's been Victoria Carney and I," Wrangell jiu jitsu instructor Matt...

  • State announces tighter king salmon sportfishing limits

    Sentinel staff|Mar 2, 2022

    This year’s king salmon catch limits in the Wrangell-Petersburg area are tighter for Alaska residents and nonresidents than the numbers that were in effect at the start of last year’s sportfishing effort. However, they are essentially the same limits as mid-season catch restrictions imposed last June to manage the runs. The sportfishing regulations announced last month close off most of the waters around Wrangell and Petersburg to retention of king salmon starting April 1 and continuing to either June 14 or July 14, depending on the area. It...

  • Services Saturday for former mayor Dave Jack

    Mar 2, 2022

    Dave Jack, 78, died Feb. 23 at home in Wrangell. Services will be held at noon Saturday, March 5, at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, followed by a graveside vigil at 1 p.m. at Sunset Gardens Cemetery. He was born Oct. 10, 1943, to Jesse David Jack and Mae Dell Wagoner in Manassa, Colorado. "In his younger years he followed the usual boyhood pursuits of hunting and fishing, and anything outdoor related." His family wrote. The Jack family moved around following work, eventually... Full story

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