Articles from the February 25, 2021 edition


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  • School district down to four candidates for superintendent

    Caleb Vierkant|Feb 25, 2021

    The Wrangell School Board has narrowed down the list to four superintendent applicants to succeed Debbie Lancaster, who plans to leave the job June 30. Three of the four candidates work in Alaska, and one is from California. The board met in executive session Saturday to review applications, and announced in a Sunday press release the four finalists who will be interviewed: Joseph Aldridge, of California; Tim Bauer, of Juneau; Bill Burr, of Delta Junction; and Ralph Watkins, of Hoonah. A...

  • New group wants to improve school and students' lives

    Larry Persily|Feb 25, 2021

    A self-organized group of Wrangell high school and middle school students decided someone had to step up and try to make life better in the schools, and it might as well be them. "We want students to be motivated and feel supported," said senior Jade Balansag, one of about 10 high school students in BASE - Building a Supportive Environment. "We really want to reach out to the community for support for the schools." The year-old group's mission is to improve the schools aesthetically, socially...

  • Assembly prepares for return to limited in-person meetings

    Caleb Vierkant|Feb 25, 2021

    The Borough Assembly will hold in-person meetings in the near future, with limits on people in the room to account for the COVID-19 pandemic. During their meeting Tuesday night, the assembly adopted a resolution repealing and replacing a temporary amendment to municipal code that allows city business to be conducted through virtual meetings. The item was adopted unanimously. Under the new provisions, six members of the public or city staff at a time, in addition to assembly members, will be...

  • The Way We Were

    Feb 25, 2021

    Feb. 24, 1921 The annual ball of the Wrangell Fire Department, an event always looked forward to as one of the big affairs of the year, was held Saturday night. The hall was decorated with flags, helmets, ladders and axes, and a three-piece orchestra furnished the music. There was a large attendance and Arnt Sorset, who was floor manager, kept the dances going in quick succession, assuring everyone a good time. The fireman’s dance is usually given on the 22nd of February, but it was decided to have it on the nearest Saturday to that date this y... Full story

  • Legislature will consider boost to 1970 motor fuel tax rate

    Larry Persily|Feb 25, 2021

    Alaska's motor fuel tax rate is the lowest in the nation; less than one-third the average of the other 49 states. The 8-cent-a-gallon tax has not budged since 1970. Lawmakers again this year will consider increasing the tax rate and, in a separate provision of the bill, helping to maintain the dwindling state account for spill prevention and response. The state Senate approved a motor fuel tax increase last year, boosting the rate to 16 cents a gallon, still far below the national average, but...

  • City rejects mayoral recall application

    Caleb Vierkant|Feb 25, 2021

    The city has rejected an application to begin the recall process against Mayor Steve Prysunka. Borough Clerk Kim Lane, in a Feb. 17 letter, said the petitioners' list of grievances against the mayor does not rise to the legal threshold required for a recall. Recall organizers have 30 days from the date of the letter to appeal the decision to state Superior Court. The petition, signed by 10 members of the community, alleged that Prysunka broke state and municipal laws several months ago, when an...

  • Editorial: Don't we have bigger problems

    The Wrangell Sentinel|Feb 25, 2021

    A state Senate committee is scheduled this week to hear a 13-page bill to rewrite (tighten) parts of Alaska's election code dealing with voter registration, absentee voting, mail-in ballots, and requiring a toll-free hotline number stuck on every voting machine in the state so that people can call in their suspicions. A kindly interpretation of the legislative motive behind the bill would be that it is necessary to reassure Alaskans that every election for every office, from local to state, is...

  • From the Publisher: These students set a better example than I did

    Larry Persily Publisher|Feb 25, 2021

    The 18 or so Wrangell middle school and high school students who belong to BASE - Building a Supportive Environment - are the role models I never paid attention to when I was their age long ago (1960s). They got together on their own because they saw their classmates dealing with stress, pressures, mental health issues, and even drab hallways, which senior Jade Balansag described as "boring corridors of nothingness." Senior Jacob Dow did his research and learned that surroundings can make a big...

  • Opinion: Republicans must act as a party of principles

    Frank Murkowski|Feb 25, 2021

    The Republican Party must soon make some major policy decisions or it will become a split party with two factions - one a single-person party cult and the other a Republican Party based on principles such as small government, free markets, low taxes and individual freedom. I have been around the political system for a long while, and at the end of the day it's a numbers game. You either have the votes or you don't. If you have control, you can set the agenda and usually prevail. If you splinter...

  • Letters to the Editor

    Feb 25, 2021

    Schools ready to help students in need Due to COVID-19, the level of depression and anxiety our teens are experiencing has skyrocketed. Hospitals across the country - including Juneau - are seeing huge increases in youth attempting suicide and other types of self-destructive behavior. Social services are being overwhelmed. For instance, the state Office of Children's Services supervisor for all of Southeast Alaska recently told me that the number of child-welfare referrals they are receiving...

  • Fourth of July needs royalty candidates

    Larry Persily|Feb 25, 2021

    The Fourth of July is a little more than four months away but it's not too soon to begin planning for the event and start recruiting royalty candidates to help with fundraising. "We're planning a normal Fourth, and will adjust as needed," said Stephanie Cook, executive director of the Wrangell Chamber of Commerce, which has organized the community celebration for decades. "We're working out details now" for pandemic-related adjustments to the celebration, she said, such as hand-washing stations...

  • Petersburg goes to high-risk COVID status

    Brian Varela|Feb 25, 2021

    With a growing number of COVID-19 cases in the community - 36 between Thursday and Wednesday morning - Petersburg officials have elevated the community risk level to red. The number of active cases are the most in Petersburg since the pandemic started a year ago. "The cumulative total of cases is growing larger by the day," the Petersburg emergency operation center said in a statement at 4 p.m. Tuesday. "Many of these cases are still under investigation and contract tracing is difficult." The...

  • Open Swim

    Feb 25, 2021

    Reagan Smith enjoys her time in the pool at open swim Monday evening. Parks and Rec offers open swim Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. Due to COVID-19, the limit is 20 people in the pool at a time, said Lucy Moline-Robinson, with the Parks and Rec Department....

  • Water quality back to allowable range

    The Wrangell Sentinel|Feb 25, 2021

    The city reports that levels of haloacetic acids (HAA5) in the community water supply are back down to allowable levels. HAA5 is a byproduct created when chlorine mixes with organic material during the disinfection process. The city reported that the level of HAA5 in Wrangell's water was well above the federal standard in late September. Levels have been in steady decline since then, and the test for the month of January showed a level of 42.1 parts per billion, below the federal maximum of 60...

  • KSTK chili feed, art auction Saturday

    Caleb Vierkant|Feb 25, 2021

    Radio station KSTK, instead of its traditional cooking competition, will hold a chili feed at 11 a.m. Saturday at the downtown pavilion. Winners of KSTK's past cook-offs will serve bowls of their winning chili for the fundraising event. The chili cook-off is a longstanding tradition in Wrangell, said Lucy Moline-Robinson, with the radio station. It started back in 2000, she said, when the station invited several residents to prepare a pot of chili and compete to see who could make the best....

  • Wrangell basketball teams play at home this weekend

    The Wrangell Sentinel|Feb 25, 2021

    For the second week in a row, poor weather last weekend forced the Wrangell High School boys and girls basketball teams to cancel their travel plans for games in Metlakatla. The contests were to have been the teams' first away games of the season. Travel should not be an issue for the Wrangell teams when they play at home this week against Haines on Friday and Saturday, assuming the Haines' squads can make it to town. Tip-off for the boys game is scheduled for 5 p.m. Friday, with the girls game...

  • Sixth graders share technology knowledge

    Caleb Vierkant|Feb 25, 2021

    Stikine Middle School students explained to a statewide audience how they are using technology to cope with the pandemic-induced changes in their education. Members of the sixth grade class spoke at the Alaska Society of Technology in Education virtual conference Feb. 16, talking about ways technology has helped them learn throughout the year. The organization promotes access to technology information resources for Alaska students. Laura Davies, teacher for the sixth grade class, said she and...

  • Janice Churchill loved hunting, fishing, and Mexico

    Feb 25, 2021

    Janice Churchill, 77, passed away Jan. 27, 2021, from complications of a stroke. She had lived in Wrangell since her family moved from Tacoma, Washington, when she was 3 years old. Churchill graduated from Wrangell High School and was active in the community. She worked and volunteered at Benjamin's grocery store, the canneries, Head Start and Johnson O'Malley education programs, the Alaska Native Sisterhood and at St. Philip's Episcopal Church. "She really liked fishing and hunting. She liked g... Full story

  • Eagle

    Feb 25, 2021

    A bald eagle overlooks Totem Park from its perch on Monday....

  • Police report

    Feb 25, 2021

    Monday, Feb. 15 Agency assist: Fire department. Tuesday, Feb. 16 Agency assist: Pre-trial enforcement division. Traffic stop: Citation issued for speed in a school zone and failure to provide proof of insurance. Paper summons service. Wednesday, Feb. 17 Motor vehicle accident and animal complaint. Citizen assist. Thursday, Feb. 18 Citizen assist. Agency assist: Hoonah Police Department. Agency assist: Hoonah Police Department. Paper service. Agency assist: Hoonah Police Department. Friday, Feb. 19 Traffic stop: Verbal warning for tail light. Do...

  • Alaska Fish Factor: Russian exports compete with Alaska salmon

    Laine Welch|Feb 25, 2021

    Alaskans are preparing for another salmon season of poor to average runs to most regions. The big exception once again is Bristol Bay, where another massive return of more than 51 million sockeyes is expected. Managers predict that surge will produce a harvest of more than 36 million reds for fishermen. Bristol Bay is home to the largest wild sockeye salmon run in the world and typically accounts for 42% of the world’s sockeye harvest. Those fish and all wild salmon compete in a tough worldwide commodities market, where Alaska salmon claims 1...

  • A piece of history

    Feb 25, 2021

    St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church in Wrangell is the oldest Catholic parish in the state. The first church was built in 1879, according to the church's website, but was dismantled in 1898. A new building was constructed in 1908. St. Rose underwent extensive remodeling in the late 1920s and early 1930s, and has remained largely unaltered since then, though there are always work projects for the more-than-century-old building....

  • DMV working through backlog, says police chief

    Caleb Vierkant|Feb 25, 2021

    There is a backlog at the driver's license and vehicle registration office in Wrangell, said Police Chief Tom Radke, but they are working their way down the list and hope to have things running smoothly in the near future. The office in the Public Safety Building on Zimovia Highway has been closed or otherwise inaccessible for several months, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and retirement of the only employee. The Division of Motor Vehicles office, a function of the state, is working its way through a backlog of appointments. Radke said there...

  • Judge halts sale of National Archives building in Seattle

    Feb 25, 2021

    SEATTLE (AP) - A federal judge has granted a preliminary injunction to stop the sale of the National Archives building in Seattle. More than two dozen Native American and Alaska Native tribes and cultural groups from the Northwest, along with the states of Washington and Oregon, sued the federal government to stop the sale and the relocation of millions of invaluable historical records to California and Missouri. The Seattle Times reported that U.S. District Court Judge John Coughenour asked Brian C. Kipnis, an assistant U.S. attorney in...

  • Report says pilot ran out of fuel just short of airport

    Feb 25, 2021

    PORT ANGELES, Wash. (AP) - The crash of a small plane in waters near Port Angeles, Washington, in late January that killed a Kodiak man occurred after the plane apparently ran out of fuel a few miles from an airport, The National Transportation Safety Board said. The agency said in a report of preliminary findings Feb. 18 that the Cessna 170A airplane with only the pilot aboard left Kodiak on Jan. 25, then refueled and departed from Ketchikan on Jan. 26. The man texted his mother that afternoon saying a severe headwind was causing concern...

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