Articles from the March 22, 2023 edition

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  • Wrangell will receive additional $1.2 million in federal aid

    Larry Persily, Wrangell Sentinel|Mar 22, 2023

    Adding to the millions of dollars in federal pandemic relief aid already provided to the borough, Wrangell has been notified that $1.23 million more is on its way in a final round of assistance. The community can use the money for pretty much anything that benefits its residents. It will be up to the borough assembly to appropriate the money. Borough Manager Jeff Good said he expects the assembly at its March 28 meeting will discuss the possibility of putting the money toward constructing a new pipeline to move water from the upper reservoir...

  • Boys varsity team wins fourth place at state tournament

    Marc Lutz, Wrangell Sentinel|Mar 22, 2023

    After three days of intense play, the Wrangell High School boys varsity basketball team won fourth place in the state Division 2A championship in Anchorage. It was the first time the team went to state since 2015. The Wolves defeated Petersburg at regionals a week earlier to secure a second-place finish, giving them a spot at state. Petersburg was selected in a wild card draw after the loss to Wrangell, also giving them a spot at state last week. In the end, Wrangell finished higher up than the...

  • Declining revenue leaves chamber of commerce scrambling to raise funds

    Marc Lutz, Wrangell Sentinel|Mar 22, 2023

    It’s been seven years since the Wrangell Chamber of Commerce operated in the black. Each year since, it’s run a budget deficit covered by savings. Declining membership renewals and falling revenues from other sources has left the organization struggling to operate, and its board is working to find funding solutions. In 2016, the chamber’s revenues totaled $266,169 and its expenses were $205,502, producing $60,667 in income to add to savings. Since then, operating expenses have been higher than income, with the nonprofit in the red thousands of...

  • Legislators consider multiple PFD proposals amid growing interest to solve the problem

    James Brooks, Alaska Beacon|Mar 22, 2023

    A crowded field of proposals to address the annual debate over the amount of the Permanent Fund dividend became even more so on Friday as the Senate Finance Committee proposed a new formula for setting the payment. In the first 60 days of the 2023 legislative session, lawmakers have introduced six different proposals to set a new dividend formula in either state law or the constitution. Four other bills or resolutions would substantially affect the amount of money available for dividends without specifically setting a new formula. Legislators... Full story

  • The Way We Were

    Amber Armstrong-Hillberry, Wrangell Sentinel|Mar 22, 2023

    March 22, 1923 The Wrangell Shellfish Cannery, F.E. Gingrass owner, started operations yesterday morning when a crew went to work picking shrimp. This new enterprise is one that is welcomed by the community, and there is every reason to believe that it will prove a financial success. March 19, 1948 At its meeting last night at City Hall, a letter from Highway Patrolman Adolph Lubcke was read in which Mr. Lubcke made recommendations for improving the town’s traffic situation. It was moved by Councilman Barlow and seconded by McCormack that the c...

  • Assembly considers rate increases across all enterprise funds

    Caroleine James, Wrangell Sentinel|Mar 22, 2023

    To keep pace with inflation and ensure its ability to cover future costs, the borough is considering rate increases across all enterprise funds — electric, water, port and harbors, wastewater and garbage. If the proposals are adopted, rates for the self-supporting funds would increase an average of 10%, effective with the start of the new fiscal year in July. The borough assembly will consider the rates at its March 28 meeting. The 15% wastewater rate increase would be the steepest rate hike; the 5.5% increase for trash pickup services would b...

  • WCA holds e-waste collection and recycling event

    Caroleine James, Wrangell Sentinel|Mar 22, 2023

    Since the Wrangell Cooperative Association started offering e-waste recycling around 2016, IGAP technician Kim Wickman has been surprised to see growing demand for the service. “We thought we would have less,” she said, after a few major purges cleared most of the backlog of old electronics off the island. “But minus the COVID year, we’ve had a bit of a steady increase as people are realizing the importance of it. We get a lot of phone calls over the year about when our next e-waste event is.” Residents with old electronics crowding their close...

  • Federal pandemic relief aid made big difference in Wrangell

    Wrangell Sentinel|Mar 22, 2023

    Wrangell’s economy has been in decline since long before the COVID-19 pandemic erupted three years ago. But the economy — meaning jobs, businesses and families — would be a lot worse off if not for federal assistance. Oppose federal spending if you want, but the $30 million or so in pandemic relief aid that the U.S. Treasury poured into Wrangell the past few years for the borough, schools, businesses, individuals and the tribal government made a huge difference in people’s lives. Criticize the IRS and income taxes if it makes you feel better,...

  • Legislative voices of reason are talking louder

    Larry Persily Publisher|Mar 22, 2023

    After years of legislative debate over the size of the Permanent Fund dividend, reasonable voices are starting to grow louder, maybe even hopefully strong enough to outvote the irresponsible catcalls for an unaffordable dividend. It’s a welcome change. A bill in the House would restore dividend sanity by setting the free-money check at a percentage of the annual draw of Permanent Fund earnings, producing about a $1,300 PFD this year and growing from there. That would be about equal to the average dividend of the past decade, before the e...

  • New year begins for Baha'i faith both as a festive and spiritual time

    Mar 22, 2023

    Naw-Ruz? What is Naw-Ruz? Naw-Ruz (Persian language) is the Baha’i new year. It’s the first day of the Baha’i calendar year, and one of 11 holy days for adherents of the Baha’i faith. It occurs each year on the vernal equinox on or near March 21. Baha’u’llah (which means the Glory of God in the Persian language), the founder of the Baha’I faith, adopted this lunar calendar made up of 19 months of 19 days each and the use of Naw-Ruz as a holy day. This day follows the Baha’i month of fasting (a daily 12-hour fast for 19 days). Baha’u’llah’s son,...

  • Wrangell readers recommend a wide range of favorite books

    Caroleine James, Wrangell Sentinel|Mar 22, 2023

    National Reading Month is in its final week, and some of the community’s literature lovers are sharing their favorite books for anyone who wants to add to their list — this month, or any month. The month was first celebrated in March of 1994 to commemorate the contributions of author and illustrator Dr. Seuss, who helped foster enthusiasm for reading in American youth by producing children’s books that were engaging despite their simple language. Every year in March, readers celebrate by picking up their favorite novels, visiting their local...

  • Increase in state funding for schools clears first committee

    Iris Samuels, Anchorage Daily News|Mar 22, 2023

    The Senate Education Committee on March 13 advanced a bill to increase state funding for public schools, clearing the bill’s first legislative hurdle. The bill to increase the base student allocation, the per-student formula used to calculate school funding, heads next to the Senate Finance Committee. The Senate bipartisan majority has named increasing public school funding as one of their top goals for the legislative session, and the measure has support from a broad coalition of education advocacy groups who are warning that districts will b...

  • Randy Churchill Jr., 39, dies in logging accident

    Mar 22, 2023

    Randy William Churchill Jr., 39, of Wrangell, passed away on Feb. 22, 2023, after a logging accident. Randy was born on Dec. 27, 1983, to Carol and Randy Churchill Sr. at Wrangell General Hospital. After graduating from Wrangell High School in 2002 he went on to study welding at the Alaska Vocational Technical Center (AVTEC) in Seward, and graduated in May 2003 with welding technology and pipe welding technology certificates. After graduating, Randy started his first welding job in Bellingham... Full story

  • Wrangell AAU girls team nets first-place at home tournament

    Sentinel staff report|Mar 22, 2023

    While the high school state championship tournament in Anchorage was attracting a lot of hoopla, the Stikine Hoops Invitational was netting plenty of its own excitement back home, including a big win. Team Wrangell Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) Girls Basketball Club hosted teams from Petersburg, Ketchikan and Juneau and won first place in the A Team category over the weekend. Three teams competed in each the A and B divisions, which were set up as a round-robin, double-elimination bracket....

  • Kake boys cap undefeated season with 1A state championship

    Josh Reed, Anchorage Daily News|Mar 22, 2023

    The last time the Kake high school boys basketball team appeared in a state championship game was more than two decades ago. The team was competing in Division 2A and current head coach Anthony Ross, who went by Anthony Dolan at the time, was on the team that came up short in a 10-point loss to Angoon in the 2000 state title game. In its first trip back to big stage since the turn of the century, Kake ended a nearly four-decade title drought by blowing out the Aniak Halfbreeds 67-49 in Division 1A play on Saturday afternoon at the Alaska Airlin...

  • Mini Mart gets new ownership ahead of busy summer season

    Marc Lutz, Wrangell Sentinel|Mar 22, 2023

    Alesa McHolland is having a surreal life moment. While waiting to receive freight on March 15, the new co-owner of the former Alpine Mini Mart never quite expected to be where she is. "It's kind of surreal because I never thought anything like this would happen," she said. "I never thought I would have enough assets to do this kind of thing. When you work in Wrangell, there aren't a lot of options for jobs." On March 8, McHolland and her husband Wayne signed the papers and became the new owners...

  • Ferry system short more than 100 crew to put Kennicott to work

    Larry Persily, Wrangell Sentinel|Mar 22, 2023

    The Alaska Marine Highway System is short more than 100 new crew to safely and dependably put the Kennicott to sea. Without enough onboard workers, the state ferry system will start the summer schedule in six weeks with its second-largest operable ship tied up for lack of crew. Though management has said they could put the Kennicott into service if they can hire enough new employees, filling all the vacancies would represent more than a 20% gain in current ferry system crew numbers, setting a very high hurdle to untie the ship this summer. The...

  • State board recommends transgender girls be excluded from girls sports at schools

    Iris Samuels and Sean Maguire, Anchorage Daily News|Mar 22, 2023

    In an unannounced move, the State Board of Education unanimously passed a resolution March 14 that urges the Alaska Department of Education to limit the participation of transgender girls in girls school sports. The resolution, which is non-binding, encourages the department to adopt a policy that would ban transgender girls from competing alongside girls who are cisgender — meaning their gender identity matches their sex assigned at birth — in school sports. The resolution asks the department to create two sports divisions: one exc...

  • Subsistence workshop to teach advocacy skills to residents

    Caroleine James, Wrangell Sentinel|Mar 22, 2023

    The federal subsistence management program aims to protect rural Alaskans’ subsistence lifestyle while maintaining healthy fish and wildlife populations on federal lands. However, this multi-agency governmental apparatus can be daunting for rural residents to navigate. Representatives of the Wrangell Cooperative Association, U.S. Forest Service and Sitka Conservation Society are partnering to bring a workshop to the community, intended to empower residents to engage with the complexities of the Federal Subsistence Board process. Attendees w...

  • Senior gets dressed up and fired up for graduation project

    Marc Lutz, Wrangell Sentinel|Mar 22, 2023

    Vying for state titles in three different sports is behind him, but Ethan Blatchley still has to blaze a trail to finish his senior project before he graduates. And though training and competing in cross country, wrestling and basketball might have been challenging, he faces his biggest challenge yet: Dressing up like a dalmatian and teaching fire safety to kids. There is no medal for this kind of bravery. Blatchley will aid the Wrangell Fire Department in its annual safety training for elementa...

  • House committee holds first hearing on governor's parental-rights bill

    Mark Sabbatini, Juneau Empire|Mar 22, 2023

    The first legislative hearing on Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s proposal to restrict discussion of sex and gender in schools included testimony from only two invited public guests, both supportive of the measure. The bill, which Senate leaders say is unlikely to pass that chamber, got enthusiastic backing from those invited to testify during the House Education Committee meeting March 13. Aside from two top state Department of Education officials who provided details of the bill, testimony was limited to two retired teachers supportive of conservative c...

  • Police report

    Mar 22, 2023

    Monday, March 13 Motor vehicle accident. Citizen assist: Vehicle unlock. Traffic stop. Disturbance. Tuesday, March 14 Dance permit. Dog at large. Report of suspicion of driving under the influence. Welfare check. Dog complaint. Wednesday, March 15 Motor vehicle accident. Citizen assist. Agency assist: Ambulance. Thursday, March 16 Agency assist: Ambulance. Traffic stop: Verbal warning for driving habits. Friday, March 17 Citation issued for dog at large. Domestic violence order served. Saturday, March 18 Nothing to report. Sunday, March 19...

  • Not all North Slope Natives support $8 billion oil project

    Mark Thiessen and Matthew Brown, Associated Press|Mar 22, 2023

    ANCHORAGE (AP) — The Biden administration’s approval last week of the biggest oil drilling project in Alaska in decades promises to widen a rift among Alaska Natives, with some saying that oil money can’t counter the damages caused by climate change and others defending the project as economically vital. Two lawsuits filed almost immediately by environmentalists and one Alaska Native group are likely to exacerbate tensions that have built up over years of debate about ConocoPhillips’ Willow project. Many communities on Alaska’s North Slope cel...

  • Opponents seek court order to halt work on ConocoPhillips Alaska oil project

    Alex DeMarban, Anchorage Daily News|Mar 22, 2023

    Conservation groups have asked a federal judge for a preliminary decision to stop construction work this winter at the Willow oil field on Alaska’s North Slope, days after the Biden administration approved the $8 billion project. ConocoPhillips had begun building an ice road but agreed to delay activity associated with gravel mining and road building — putting dozens of jobs on hold — while the court considers the request, according to paperwork filed in the case. The Biden administration early last week approved the controversial proje...

  • CDC study finds Alaska Natives have highest colon cancer rate in the world

    Yereth Rosen, Alaska Beacon|Mar 22, 2023

    Alaska Natives continued to have the world’s highest rates of colorectal cancer as of 2018, and case rates failed to decline significantly for the two decades leading up to that year, according to a newly published study. The study, by experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, compared colorectal cancer rates among Alaska Natives with those of other populations in Alaska, the Lower 48 and other parts of the world. The 2018 colorectal cancer rate for Alaska Natives was 61.9 per 10... Full story

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