Articles from the June 29, 2022 edition

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  • Loss of construction, Crossings and Trident jobs adds up for Wrangell

    Larry Persily, Wrangell Sentinel|Jun 29, 2022

    Two key economic indicators are falling in Wrangell—the unemployment rate, and the number of people in the labor force. Combined, the two datapoints help explain the ongoing worker shortage in the community, stressing out business owners who have to manage as best as they can with too few employees. The unemployment rate for May was 5.1%, down from 5.5% in April, down from 7.2% a year ago, and the lowest in at least the past 12 years, according to state Labor Department statistics. It’s probably the lowest rate going back 20 years or so, but...

  • New Anan deck finished in time for season; restrooms could delay opening

    Marc Lutz, Wrangell Sentinel|Jun 29, 2022

    The final inspection took place on June 16. An entirely new observation deck and shelter are still fresh with the smell of sealant. Anan Wildlife Observatory is almost ready for visitors at the start of the permit season on July 5. Even though the observatory is ready, plans are not flush to open the popular bear-viewing site, U.S. Forest Service staffers say. One thing blocks the way before people can arrive. The public toilets. "We are having complications with getting our toilets pumped,"...

  • State ups catch limit for summer chinook troll fishery

    Garland Kennedy, Sitka Sentinel|Jun 29, 2022

    Southeast trollers will be able to target about 23,000 more chinook salmon than last year in the upcoming summer troll opener, the Department of Fish and Game announced last week. All told, 106,900 treaty kings are allotted to the initial summer troll opener, along with 3,300 hatchery chinooks for a total of 110,200 fish. “For the July target, it’s just about 23,000 more than what we were targeting last year, so that’s a fair amount of fish. … That alone, translating into a summer catch rate of 10,000 fish a day, roughly would be four or five...

  • Jet boat operators look to ride growing wave of tourism

    Marc Lutz, Wrangell Sentinel|Jun 29, 2022

    Michael Hicks has something to shout about. It's Wrangell. "I'm loud about Wrangell right now," said the senior director of marketing for American Queen Voyages. The company operates the 342-foot Ocean Victory cruise ship, which last month made its first of 14 scheduled visits to Wrangell this summer. One of the reasons the cruise line comes to town is jet boat tours. "Wrangell and the jet boats fit so well into what we're doing," Hicks said. "Ocean Victory is only 186 guests. A lot of our...

  • The Way We Were

    Amber Armstrong, Wrangell Sentinel|Jun 29, 2022

    June 29, 1922 The Fourth of July sports committee has arranged for a boxing match on the Fourth between Armie Allison, of Wrangell, and Joe Hill, of Petersburg. Both men are experienced boxers who have splendid records, and there is every reason to expect that they will give one of the best if not the best boxing exhibition ever seen in Wrangell. In connection with the main boxing match there will be a battle royal and two preliminaries. June 27, 1947 The Grommet Reefer arrived in Tacoma last Wednesday with a cargo of 1,600 cedar poles for the...

  • Borough finance director takes on two more jobs to give back to community

    Marc Lutz, Wrangell Sentinel|Jun 29, 2022

    Running has provided Mason Villarma with the discipline needed to set and achieve goals, not only with the sport but in other aspects of life. It's training he will lean on as he is taking on two new part-time jobs in addition to his full-time work as the borough's finance director. On June 20, the school board voted to accept two contracts for Villarma: One as the high school assistant cross country running coach and another as the activities director for the school district. Villarma sees...

  • Fourth of July schedule includes returning and new events

    Marc Lutz, Wrangell Sentinel|Jun 29, 2022

    The fun is returning with four days full of games, music, food, booms, pops, pows and wows. In addition to all the popular events held at last year's Fourth of July celebration, six more have been included in the schedule after being on hiatus for a couple years, and three new events have been added. For a full schedule of events for Friday through Monday, see Pages 8 and 9. Returning favorites include the fireworks show Sunday evening, Monday's parade, Saturday's fish derbies and several waterc...

  • Eric Halstead still on top of salmon derby leader board

    Wrangell Sentinel|Jun 29, 2022

    Starting the final week of the Wrangell King Salmon Derby, Eric Halstead was holding his lead with a 43.4-pound catch. Almost four dozen fish had been weighed in as of Sunday evening, with no one coming close to Halstead in the second week of competition. The derby opened June 15, and Halstead hooked his leader on June 17. The derby runs through 9 p.m. Sunday, with $7,900 in cash prizes. The largest king salmon entered in the derby will win $3,000; second place is worth $2,000; and third place wins $1,000. As of Sunday evening, Stanley Johnson...

  • Let's not let politics ruin the nation's holiday

    Wrangell Sentinel|Jun 29, 2022

    The colonies — later to become states — figured out that the new nation would be stronger as one, uniting behind a common cause and set of laws. Sure, there were intense debates around the meeting rooms, differing factions and multiple disagreements. Thankfully, there was no social media to amplify the arguments, and politics had yet to descend into expensive circus acts of deceitful promises, unrealistic pledges and ugly campaigns. The delegates who wrote the Declaration of Independence in 1776 and the delegates who wrote the U.S. Con...

  • Suspending gas tax doesn't deserve any mileage

    Larry Persily Publisher|Jun 29, 2022

    Election-year politics have a way of bringing bad ideas to the top — when they belong at the bottom of the settling pond. Yes, fuel prices are high, painfully so in many communities and particularly so for people and businesses that have no choice but to fill up the tank and drive to work or deliver for a living. But suspending the federal tax on gasoline and diesel would not accomplish much good. Same for getting rid of the state tax. The Alaska Legislature this past session, with the support of Gov. Mike Dunleavy, considered suspending the s...

  • Alaska needs to work at reversing the outmigration

    Nolan Klouda, University of Alaska Center for Economic Development|Jun 29, 2022

    By Nolan Klouda Executive director University of Alaska Center for Economic Development Anchorage Your favorite restaurant has an hour wait, even though you see empty tables. Operating hours for small businesses are reduced despite long lines. “Help wanted” signs seem to adorn every doorway. You don’t have to spend a lot of time looking at data to know that there’s a labor shortage. Workers of every stripe are just hard to find. Some employers, understandably grouchy about being short-staffed, blame widespread laziness. “Nobody wants to work f...

  • Police do not recommend charges in milk mix-up at Juneau school

    Mark Sabbatini, Juneau Empire|Jun 29, 2022

    There is “nothing obvious” to recommend criminal charges in the milk mix-up earlier this month in Juneau when 12 children and two adults drank floor sealant served to them at breakfast during a summer program at Sitʼ Eeti Shaanáx̱ – Glacier Valley Elementary School, a Juneau Police Department official said June 22. Findings from the investigation that are “not necessarily recommending charges” have been turned over to the state district attorney’s office in Juneau, Lt. Krag Campbell said. “There was nothing obvious to us as far as criminal char...

  • State ferry system still short of hiring enough crew

    Larry Persily, Wrangell Sentinel|Jun 29, 2022

    The Alaska Marine Highway System has enough crew to operate its summer schedule, though it still lacks a sufficient cushion to handle worker illnesses, injuries and personal leave without holding over staff for extra shifts. “We have been holding people longer than they would like,” Transportation Department spokesman Sam Dapcevich said last week. And the state ferry system is far short of the additional staff that would have been needed to bring the Columbia back to service after a three-year absence for maintenance and a money-saving tie...

  • Alaska Airlines reaches deal with ground personnel union

    The Associated Press|Jun 29, 2022

    SEATTLE (AP) — A union has reached a deal with Alaska Airlines for a two-year contract extension that provides substantial raises for 5,300 gate agents, stores personnel and office staff, as well as for ramp workers who load cargo. The Seattle Times reports the deal announced June 22 does not cover a separate group of about 2,000 ramp workers, also represented by the International Association of Machinists, who work for the McGee Air Services subsidiary and handle baggage on passenger flights. Richard Johnsen, the machinists union general v...

  • Country music star strikes a chord as Alaska Seaplanes pilot

    Max Graham, Chilkat Valley News, Haines|Jun 29, 2022

    Next time you're on a flight with Alaska Seaplanes, your pilot might be a country music star. Sam Riggs, a singer and songwriter with more than 30 million streams on Spotify and 30,000 subscribers, is also a pilot for the regional air carrier. When Riggs, 34, is not on tour, he often flies the company's Juneau-Haines-Skagway route. Riggs, his wife, Rachel, and their 21-month-old son, Rock, moved to Juneau from Texas in January. "Life was super hectic," Riggs said. He was on tour much of the...

  • Court decides it's 3 candidates, not 4, after Gross drops out

    Mark Thiessen, The Associated Press|Jun 29, 2022

    The Alaska Supreme Court on Saturday upheld a lower court ruling that will keep Republican Tara Sweeney off the ballot for the August special election in Alaska’s U.S. House race. In a brief written order, the high court on an appeal affirmed the decision of Superior Court Judge William Morse, who agreed on Friday with a decision by Division of Elections Director Gail Fenumiai to not advance Sweeney, the fifth-place finisher in the June 11 primary, to the special election ballot after the third-place finisher suddenly dropped out. The o...

  • Prescott's latest book mixes poetry, recipes and traditional knowledge

    Carleigh Minor, Wrangell Sentinel|Jun 29, 2022

    Wrangell author, poet and Southeast newspaper columnist Vivian Faith Prescott's latest book isn't like any other of her writings. She produced a collection of poetry and recipes after years of work, putting them together into one heart-filling piece. "My Father's Smokehouse: Stories & Recipes from Fishcamp," is about recipes and her father, Mickey, who turns 82 soon, Prescott said. It's known as a foodoir - a book of personal experiences focused on food. "The hardest thing was writing the...

  • Elections Division rejects challenge to legislator's candidacy

    The Associated Press|Jun 29, 2022

    JUNEAU (AP) — The Alaska Division of Elections has determined that Wasilla Republican state Rep. David Eastman is eligible to run for reelection. Eastman’s candidacy faced challenges over his affiliation with the far-right Oath Keepers group. Division of Elections Director Gail Fenumiai in a written response to the complaints said a “preponderance of evidence supports his eligibility.” The division on June 22 in response to a records request from The Associated Press provided copies of complaints that were filed challenging the eligibi...

  • Cruise ship bumps into ice near Hubbard Glacier

    Wrangell Sentinel|Jun 29, 2022

    The 848-foot-long Norwegian Sun cruise ship bumped into a chunk of ice last Saturday while traveling to Hubbard Glacier, which drains into Yakutat Bay. Norwegian Cruise Line confirmed on Monday that the ship canceled its port call in Skagway on Sunday and headed to Juneau to assess the damage, according to Juneau radio station KINY. Coast Guard divers in Juneau were assessing the damage on Monday. According to the website Cruise Hive, the ship, with capacity for 2,400 passengers, was on a nine-evening itinerary from Seattle to Southeast. “On J...

  • Jury finds for Northwest tribe in salmon farm accident

    The Associated Press|Jun 29, 2022

    SEATTLE (AP) — A Washington state jury on June 22 awarded the Lummi Indian tribe $595,000 over the 2017 collapse of a net pen where Atlantic salmon were being raised — an event that elicited fears of damage to wild salmon runs and prompted the Legislature to ban the farming of the nonnative fish. About 250,000 Atlantic salmon escaped into the Salish Sea when the net pen owned by Cooke Aquaculture — an anchored, floating enclosure off Cypress Island, about 15 miles southeast of Bellingham — collapsed. The northwest Washington tribe quickly...

  • Mel Bjorge dies at 53

    Jun 29, 2022

    Melville "Mel" John Bjorge, 53, of Wrangell, passed away on Sept. 12, 2021, from natural causes, the family said. Mel was born June 25, 1968, at Bishop Rowe Hospital. He was the last baby born at Bishop Rowe before the new Wrangell hospital opened. He was a 20-year employee of the hospital. "He was loved by all at the hospital, especially the long-term care residents," his family wrote. "He will be missed by all." He is survived by his father, Melville B "Bucky" Bjorge, and his mother, Carol... Full story

  • Veteran Richard Wiederspohn dies at 72

    Jun 29, 2022

    Richard “Rick” Wiederspohn, 72, of Wrangell, passed away on May 27. Rick moved to Wrangell in 1966. He was a Vietnam veteran with the U.S. Army and a lifetime member of the Elks Lodge. Rick had a brief battle of pneumonia. He was surrounded by loved ones, his family said. No celebration is planned.... Full story

  • SEARHC continues to expand behavioral health services in Sitka

    Shannon Haugland, Sitka Sentinel|Jun 29, 2022

    SEARHC is continuing to expand its behavioral health services in Sitka and also to serve residents of other Southeast communities, an official of the health care provider has told the Sitka borough assembly. “I wanted to bring your attention to some of the changes, the evolution of the behavioral health service line at SEARHC,” said Dr. Elliot Bruhl, senior vice president and chief medical officer at the Sitka-based SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium. He called behavioral health “one of our number of areas of emphasis in terms of our c...

  • Truth and healing commission would look at Native American boarding schools

    Susan Montoya Bryan, The Associated Press|Jun 29, 2022

    ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The federal government has a responsibility to Native American tribes, Alaska Native villages and Native Hawaiian communities to fully support and revitalize education, language and cultural practices that prior boarding school policies sought to destroy, U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said June 22. Haaland testified before a U.S. Senate committee that is considering legislation to establish a national commission on truth and healing to address intergenerational trauma stemming from the legacy of Native American b...

  • Skagway assembly votes $200,000 in child care subsidies

    Melinda Munson, Skagway News|Jun 29, 2022

    The Skagway borough assembly has earmarked $200,000 in subsidies for two licensed child care start-ups. The funding comes amid a child care crisis in Skagway that Assemblymember Reba Hylton, sponsor of the funding, said has been a chronic issue. “When I first found out I was pregnant 10 years ago, before I told my own mother, I went to Grandma Linda and secured my spot to get child care, because I knew that I could not make it in this community without her help,” Hylton said. With the closing of Mighty Munchkins Daycare earlier this year, Ska...

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