Articles from the March 8, 2023 edition


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  • Total assessed property values up 56% from last year as borough corrects inequities

    Caroleine James, Wrangell Sentinel|Mar 8, 2023

    A comprehensive review of assessments on every piece of property in the borough has resulted in total taxable values 56% higher than last year. That doesn’t necessarily mean this year’s tax bills will increase. The actual tax rate multiplied against the assessed value will depend on what the assembly decides is needed for the borough budget this spring. Assemblymember David Powell said Friday the assembly would do its best to maintain consistent tax bills for residents, covering the borough’s budgetary needs and no more. “We know that all the...

  • Cruise ship schedule shows substantial gain over 2019 numbers

    Caroleine James, Wrangell Sentinel|Mar 8, 2023

    The past three summers have been lean for Alaska cruise ship tourism, but Wrangell’s 2023 draft cruise schedule shows a substantial gain in traffic compared to the 2019 pre-pandemic season. There are 132 scheduled stops this summer, with a combined maximum passenger capacity of 28,830 — about a 40% increase from the 2022 capacity of 20,088 and a 35% jump from 2019. Before the pandemic shut down the industry, Wrangell’s cruise tourism numbers were on a steady climb, from 5,500 in 2011, 10,000 in 2015 and 15,000 in 2018, according to stati...

  • Cheer squad rallies fundraising to compete at regionals

    Marc Lutz, Wrangell Sentinel|Mar 8, 2023

    Who cheers on the cheer squad? A weekend that began with disappointment turned into determination and the will to beat defeat. As the Wrangell High School boys and girls varsity basketball teams were scheduled to go to Juneau to compete this week, so too was the cheer squad. But there weren't enough funds to cover the trip. That is, until the squad and community jumped into action. "We're going (to regionals)," said cheer coach Stephanie Cartwright last Saturday. "Between the parents and me ......

  • Ferry system management says state is working to fix slow, ineffective hiring

    Larry Persily, Wrangell Sentinel|Mar 8, 2023

    The Alaska Marine Highway System is working faster to hire more crew, trying to fix problems that slowed the process so much the past four years that the state failed to keep up with retirements and resignations. The hiring process was so cumbersome and excessively choosy that the state brought aboard just a few new workers out of 250 applicants forwarded by a search agency over the past year, according to a January report from the recruitment contractor. “Since 2019, AMHS has lost more staff annually than recruitment efforts can replace. F...

  • The Way We Were

    Amber Armstrong-Hillberry, Wrangell Sentinel|Mar 8, 2023

    March 1, 1923 The annual convention of the Grand Pioneers of Alaska will be held at Nenana the latter part of this month. At the meeting of the Wrangell Pioneers Igloo Monday night, a resolution was adopted calling upon the Grand Igloo to ask the territorial legislature to enact a law granting an old-age pension of $25 a month to Alaska pioneers, whether men or women, which could be accepted in lieu of going to the Pioneers Home. The Nome Igloo is asking that such a pension be granted, and that the Pioneers receive the same regardless of...

  • House committee starts work on PFD legislation

    Larry Persily, Wrangell Sentinel|Mar 8, 2023

    A state House committee last week held its first hearing on a bill intended to settle the Legislature’s biggest annual political battle: The amount of the Permanent Fund dividend. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Dan Ortiz, who represents Ketchikan, Wrangell and Metlakatla, would amend state law so that 75% of the annual draw on Permanent Fund earnings goes toward paying for schools and other public services, with 25% designated for the PFD. “Tonight, we’re going to open a can of worms,” Chairman Ben Carpenter, of Nikiski, said at the March 1 meeti...

  • School district encourages public to push for more state funding

    Marc Lutz, Wrangell Sentinel|Mar 8, 2023

    A school budget presentation meant to engage the public in the decision-making process on Feb. 27 drew a scant few to ask questions and offer suggestions. Outgoing district business manager Tammy Stromberg, whose last day was Feb. 28, went over the draft budget for the 2023-2024 school year, detailing projected revenues, expenditures and where the Wrangell School District could fall short. According to the current draft, the district is projected to be short by $53,179 in its spending plan of about $5 million, and will draw on its general fund...

  • WCA records highest voter turnout for tribal council election

    Marc Lutz, Wrangell Sentinel|Mar 8, 2023

    A record number of Wrangell Cooperative Association members came out to vote for four members of the tribal council, the governing body of the Native organization. Esther Aaltséen Reese, the tribal administrator for WCA, said 168 members, or 41.6% of 403 eligible voters, voted in this year’s election on Feb. 28, the most they’ve had turn out. The WCA has 887 members, but only those 18 years and older are eligible to vote. Seven tribal members ran for the four vacant seats on the eight-person council. The winners, Sandy Churchill, Luella Knap...

  • State helps feed Alaskans, but it took too long

    Wrangell Sentinel|Mar 8, 2023

    State officials have known for months that delays in processing applications for food stamp benefits were denying financial assistance to thousands of eligible households — including children — who needed help to afford three meals a day. There were multiple explanations: Longstanding staffing shortages, a cyberattack on the computer system two years ago, more paperwork and income verification requirements after the state ended its pandemic emergency declaration months earlier. But children cannot swallow explanations, especially ones far pas...

  • Selling something is better than nothing

    Larry Persily Publisher|Mar 8, 2023

    The state wasn’t concerned as much about future profits as it was asserting and protecting Alaska’s rights to see oil flow from lands within its borders when it paid millions of dollars for federal leases in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. It was a matter of principle. When the Trump administration rushed to put up the leases for bid in the final days of his presidency in January 2021, the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority pulled out its checkbook and made sure to stake its claim to some of the acreage — just in case no on...

  • International human rights advocate to share message with community

    Caroleine James, Wrangell Sentinel|Mar 8, 2023

    Canadian educator, nonprofit director and human rights advocate Catherine Morris is visiting Wrangell this week to share a message about human rights challenges that are playing out on the international stage. After graduating from the University of Alberta law school in 1978, she began working in the University of Victoria's Institute for Dispute Resolution, where she served in leadership roles from 1992 to 1998. She founded the nonprofit organization Peacemakers Trust, which focuses on...

  • Email scam costs Juneau School District nearly $270,000

    Clarise Larson, Juneau Empire|Mar 8, 2023

    A scammer stole nearly $270,000 from the Juneau School District this fall — and it’s unlikely the district will recover the money. In a memo shared with the City and Borough of Juneau Finance Committee at its March 1 meeting, Finance Director Jeff Rogers provided details of the fraud and information shared with him in early December by the school district. A person posing as a vendor for the district asked staff for a change to the company’s direct-deposit information using a spoofed email address made to look as though it belonged to the v...

  • Alaska Airlines salmon 737 will make final run to Wrangell

    James Brooks, Alaska Beacon|Mar 8, 2023

    Alaska Airlines will paint over "Salmon Thirty Salmon," the custom Boeing 737 that looks like a 129-foot-long Alaska king salmon, the company confirmed Feb. 27. Tim Thompson, director of public relations and community marketing for the airline, confirmed that the plane will be painted over after a final ceremonial flight on April 17 - which is scheduled to stop in Wrangell. That will be Flight 65, the daily Southeast Alaska "milk run" that travels from Seattle to Anchorage with stops in...

  • Teen tackles tech trend to aid tourists - and residents - in Wrangell

    Marc Lutz, Wrangell Sentinel|Mar 8, 2023

    For many years now, Google Maps street view allowed travel planners to tour cities in a realistic, 360-degree-view platform. But not people planning to visit or those living in Wrangell. One teen decided to fix that. Senior Killian Booker photographed all of the borough's streets and popular tourist attractions to upload to Google Maps, allowing people to use the street view option. He chose the undertaking for his graduation project. Booker began taking photos and editing them on Sept. 12 last...

  • Moving magna prompts observers to install monitors on Mount Edgecumbe

    James Brooks, Alaska Beacon|Mar 8, 2023

    The Alaska Volcano Observatory is planning to install a series of seismic instruments on Mount Edgecumbe near Sitka after preliminary measurements showed magma moving deep below the Mount Fuji-shaped volcano. The movement doesn't mean an eruption will happen soon - or even at all - from Southeast Alaska's most prominent volcano, but it's significant enough that the observatory has raised the volcano's threat level. "Internally, how we think about Edgecumbe has changed. It definitely has moved...

  • Assembly opposes listing Alexander Archipelago wolf as endangered species

    Caroleine James, Wrangell Sentinel|Mar 8, 2023

    The borough assembly has issued a unanimous statement of opposition to a petition by conservation groups to list the Alexander Archipelago wolf as an endangered species. Earlier last month, the assembly considered signing a petition against listing the wolf but decided not to, opting instead to draft its own statement, which it approved Feb. 28. The opposition petition, which was drafted by the Klawock Fish and Game Advisory Council and has been circulating through Southeast communities, argues that an endangered listing likely would lead to...

  • State commits $1.7 million to help feed Alaskans hurt by delays in food stamps

    The Associated Press|Mar 8, 2023

    State funding is being directed to help stock Alaska food pantries — including those serving rural communities — as part of a broader effort to address a monthslong state backlog in processing food stamp benefit applications. Major delays in processing applications for the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program have stressed thousands of Alaskans who depend on the monthly benefits to feed their families, and strained food bank resources across the state. State officials have attributed the processing delays to staffing sho...

  • State senator tries again for e-cigarette tax and raising age to 21

    Yereth Rosen, Alaska Beacon|Mar 8, 2023

    Nearly six months after Gov. Mike Dunleavy vetoed a bill aimed at reducing youth use of electronic cigarettes, its primary sponsor is trying again to pass similar legislation. Senate President Gary Stevens on March 1 introduced Senate Bill 89, which seeks to impose the first-ever statewide tax on e-cigarette products. The bill would also raise the legal age in state law for purchasing, selling or distributing the products to 21, aligning with federal law. Currently, the legal age in Alaska is 19. Stevens said the bill is needed to counter a tre...

  • State wants to take over wetlands permitting from federal government

    Mark Sabbatini, Juneau Empire|Mar 8, 2023

    State regulators say that taking over what are known as Clean Water Act Section 404 permits will allow more flexibility to benefit businesses and the environment in “Alaska’s unique conditions.” Most construction, resource and community development projects require such permits, and regulators hope the state could take over up to 75% of them beginning in 2024. But since almost every other state is opting against such control, the question is if Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s administration is pitching only the positive aspects while ignoring the drawback...

  • Tlingit totem pole dedicated in Murkowski's D.C. office

    Riley Rogerson, Anchorage Daily News|Mar 8, 2023

    WASHINGTON - Tlingit leaders dedicated a storied totem pole in Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski's office on Feb. 28. The 10-foot tall, 900-pound totem pole, which is on loan from the Sealaska Heritage Institute, has a long history on Capitol Hill. The totem pole once stood in the late Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens' office. When Stevens left Congress, the totem pole journeyed to Alaska Rep. Don Young's office. When Young died last year, the totem pole traversed Capitol grounds back to Stevens' old office, no...

  • Northern Southeast hatchery group donates to trollers fight against lawsuit

    Shannon Haugland, Sitka Sentinel|Mar 8, 2023

    The Sitka-based Northern Southeast Regional Aquaculture Association board voted March 1 to provide up to $75,000 toward legal expenses to help fight a lawsuit that threatens to shut down the Southeast commercial troll fisheries. The 22 members at the board meeting gave unanimous approval to the contribution to the Alaska Trollers Association, said association general manager Scott Wagner. The aquaculture association manages hatcheries and salmon run enhancement projects as far north in Southeast as Haines. The Wild Fish Conservancy, a...

  • Murkowski testifies in support of Equal Rights Amendment for women

    Riley Rogerson, Anchorage Daily News|Mar 8, 2023

    WASHINGTON — Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski testified in support of the Equal Rights Amendment at a Senate hearing this week, opposite a fellow Republican senator who opposes it. The Equal Rights Amendment, which was proposed in Congress in 1972, would codify equal rights for women in the U.S. Constitution and ban discrimination based on sex. Along with Sen. Ben Cardin, a Maryland Democrat, Murkowski sponsored legislation in the Senate in January that would remove the deadline to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment and recognizes that t...

  • Police report

    Mar 8, 2023

    Monday, Feb. 27 Citizen assist: Vehicle unlock. Traffic stop: Citations issued for failure to provide proof of insurance and operating in violation of provisional license. Traffic stop: Citation issued for expired registration. Welfare check. Tuesday, Feb. 28 Threats. Alcohol permit. Wednesday, March 1 Agency assist: Public Works Department. Civil: Custody dispute. Agency assist: Public Works Department. Agency assist: State Department of Transportation. Parking complaint: Vehicle moved by owner. Thursday, March 2 Parking complaint. Citizen...

  • Ferry system advisory board unhappy with flow of information from state

    Sam Stockbridge, Ketchikan Daily News|Mar 8, 2023

    At its two meetings last month, members of the Alaska Marine Highway Operations Board expressed frustration over the state Department of Transportation’s communication with the board on significant decisions, including the state ferry system’s summer schedule, job vacancies, and short- and long-term planning. In phone interviews last week with the Ketchikan Daily News, several board members elaborated on those concerns, saying the department occasionally struggles to meet one of its only obligations to the board listed in state statute: “Th...

  • Classified ads

    Mar 8, 2023

    BOAT FOR SALE 2013 inspected 14-passenger Bentz boat with twin LP-6 Yanmar diesel engines (2,400 hours) and 241 Hamilton pumps with turbo impeller. Like new condition. Captain/owner is retiring. $319,000. Recent survey puts the value at $325,000. Captainron389@yahoo.com or call 907-518-1180. BOAT FOR SALE 2006 Svendsen 21-foot landing craft with 2018 Honda 225-hp outboard and trailer. $27,500. Call or text 907-209-5825. FREE PAPERS Stop by the Sentinel to pick some up. FREE ADS Do you have something to sell? Having a garage sale? Looking to...

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