Articles from the July 1, 2021 edition


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  • Wrangell B&Bs full with summer visitors

    Caleb Vierkant|Jul 1, 2021

    After a rough pandemic-closed year for the tourism industry nationwide, especially in visitor-dependent Alaska, businesses are starting to show signs of recovery. And that means guests filling up overnight accommodations in Wrangell after a dismal 2020 visitor season. “In my estimation, this is my best year ever!” said Leslie Cummings. “My B&B muscles, my breakfast-cooking muscles are way out of shape. I feel like I had a year off, almost. It’s been kind of a challenge,” she said Monday. Leslie and her husband Alan run Grand View Bed & Breakfa...

  • It's summer, so why not watermelons

    Jul 1, 2021

    Watermelon races in the pool, not watermelon eating contests. Thomas Rohr Wickman (from left), Lucas Stearns, Ryder Ritchie, Lilly Stearns and AJ Roundtree were part of Wrangell Parks and Recreation's wrap-up last Friday of a first round of summer activities, including youth basketball, open gym and swimming. The Parks and Recreation staff is working on future youth activities this summer, including wrestling camps, swim camps, lap swims, parent-and-me swim lessons, forest-and-beach explorers,...

  • Businesses report heavy loss of revenue during pandemic

    Larry Persily|Jul 1, 2021

    Wrangell businesses did better than those in Skagway but worse than their counterparts in the larger and more diversified economies of Juneau and Sitka during the economic shutdowns amid the COVID-19 pandemic, according to an online survey of business owners and managers throughout the region. “On average, reporting businesses in the region lost 42% of their revenue due to COVID-19, while Wrangell businesses were down 48% overall,” the third highest for any community in the area, said the report issued by the Southeast Conference, com...

  • Jason Rivers ties his love for fly-fishing into business

    Caleb Vierkant|Jul 1, 2021

    "Fly-fishing in general, I think, it's really hard to explain but everybody that I talk to about fly-fishing, that has fly-fished, they get it," Jason Rivers said. "It's really hard to explain to people until they've caught their first fish on a fly rod." Rivers, 47, has enjoyed fly-fishing from a young age, only recently pursuing it as a business. His interest dawned in Washington, when he saw somebody catch a steelhead trout while fly-fishing on the Kalama River. He really learned the "how...

  • Legislature finishes budget but dividend fight will resume Aug. 2

    Larry Persily|Jul 1, 2021

    The Alaska House avoided a government shutdown when it voted Monday for the state budget to take effect with the start of the new fiscal year today, though the political battles over state spending and the Permanent Fund dividend are far from over. Gov. Mike Dunleavy was expected to announce any budget vetoes on Wednesday, with Wrangell waiting to learn if he will reduce or eliminate two spending items specific to the community: Restoring the state’s commercial fisheries staffer in town, which Dunleavy eliminated a year ago, and restoring an Of...

  • The Way We Were

    Jul 1, 2021

    June 30, 1921 A letter received from Col. Steese by Mayor Grant yesterday contains the necessary information about the road to the Standard Oil dock and reads as follows: Mr. J. G. Grant, Mayor, Wrangell, Alaska: As I wired you yesterday, we will proceed immediately with the construction of about 2,200 feet of road, connecting Wrangell with the Standard Oil Dock to the north. Mr. Joseph Ulmer, Territorial Divisional Commissioner, will come to Wrangell on the first boat after the Fourth of July to make the final location surveys and open bids....

  • All aboard for Spain

    Jul 1, 2021

    The heavy-lift vessel Red Zed I resurfaces with the former Alaska Marine Highway System fast ferries Chenega and Fairweather on its back last Friday in Tongass Narrows in front of Ketchikan. The Amak Towing vessels Ethan B. and Jennie B. moved the 235-foot-long ferries from their moorings in Ward Cove and into the narrows, where the Red Zed I has been anchored since April 2. The 712-foot-long lift vessel submerged, allowing the ferries to climb aboard for the long voyage to their new home in...

  • Editorial: Flexibility is good for borough budget

    The Wrangell Sentinel|Jul 1, 2021

    The borough is required to set the property tax rate for the next budget year that starts today, which it did. The rate will not change. And the borough is required to adopt a budget to guide its spending over the year, which it did, pretty much the same total for public services as this past year. But within that total, some of the individual numbers will change over the next 12 months, which is OK. There were too many unknowns, too many variables when the assembly approved the budget last month to expect that changes will not occur. The...

  • From the publisher: News, opinion, advertising are all different

    Larry Persily Publisher|Jul 1, 2021

    This week seems like a good time to explain to readers the different roles of a newspaper. In particular, this newspaper. Actually, any week would be a good time, as I am often reminded that many readers are confused at the different parts of a newspaper. How are news, opinion and advertising different? What are the rules for each? And who decides which is what and when? First and foremost, the Wrangell Sentinel is a newspaper. Which means we try to provide readers with news of the community, its residents, its government, and the businesses...

  • Letters to the Editor

    Jul 1, 2021

    Legislature finishes budget, but more to do The Alaska House of Representative was able to come together Monday for a final-passage vote of the state budget, averting a looming government shutdown. The budget totals $4.5 billion in state unrestricted general funds, which is very similar to previous year budgets, continuing the six-year trend of flat spending. The budget forward funds the Alaska Marine Highway System for 18 months, providing more stability for future seasons’ schedules. The budget also includes an additional $2.5 million for p...

  • Borough wants to sell unused armory

    Caleb Vierkant|Jul 1, 2021

    The borough is selling the unused National Guard armory at 101 Second Ave. The armory was built in 1982 on land leased from the city, and the building was turned over to the borough when the Guard shut down its Wrangell operations in 2017. The 30-by-40-foot, wood-frame metal-sided building on a 0.21-acre lot has been appraised at $110,000. The borough has set a minimum price for the sale at $99,000. The borough had planned to sell the property by outcry auction, but the decision was postponed at...

  • The triathlon is real, even if it is 'unofficial'

    Larry Persily|Jul 1, 2021

    Try telling the competitors who swim 1.2 miles in open water, bike for 56 miles and run for 15 miles that they are “unofficial.” Nicholas Howell organized the inaugural Tongass ToughMan Triathlon in 2019 as an official event, but the COVID-19 pandemic and health protocols knocked down attendance from more than 30 participants that first year to just three last year: Nicholas, his brother, and one other person. “Last year, with COVID happening, it just kind of became unofficial,” Howell said Monday. Unofficial meaning no permits or insuran...

  • Silversea agrees to COVID protocols for cruise visits

    Sentinel staff report|Jul 1, 2021

    With the arrival of the biggest cruise ship to call on Wrangell this summer a month away, the borough and the cruise company have settled on operating plans to help lessen any risk of spreading COVID-19 among passengers, crew and residents. Silversea Cruises is planning to dock the Silver Muse in town Aug. 1, 22 and Sept. 12. The ship has capacity to carry 600 passengers and a crew of 400. Basically, the cruise line and borough have agreed to follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, Wrangell Economic Development Director...

  • Jul 1, 2021

    Friday, July 2 3-on-3 Basketball: Start at 10 a.m. At the covered play area behind Evergreen Elementary School. Chairperson: Christie Good Art Clark Scrap Fish Derby: 11 a.m. City Dock Summer Float Two age categories: 6-9 and 10-13 Rules: No parents allowed on floats unless they are one of the volunteers. All children must wear a life jacket at all times. Hand lines only; no rods or reels. One hook per line; one line per person. Contestants must bait their own hook. Any kind of bait can be...  PDF

  • Police report

    Jul 1, 2021

    Monday, June 21 Agency assist: Harbor Department. Traffic stop: Verbal warning for lumber hanging off the vehicle and into the other lane of traffic. Lost property. Agency assist: Alaska State Troopers. Traffic hazard: Verbal warning given to children throwing rocks at passing vehicles. Welfare check. Harassment: Verbal only. Traffic stop: Verbal warning for headlight out. Tuesday, June 22 Agency assist: Ambulance. Agency assist: U.S. Forest Service. Agency assist: American Legion. Parking complaint: Unfounded. Traffic stop: Verbal warning for...

  • Patience and practice

    Jul 1, 2021

    Nate Rooney (left) practices his casting with help from Jason Rivers at the annual Family Fishing Day last Saturday at Pats Lake. Rivers, who taught kids and adults the basics of fly-fishing, was among several volunteers who helped out at the event, sponsored by the U.S. Forest Service. The Wrangell Cooperative Association and Stikine Sportsmen Association also participated....

  • Effort underway to bring back Coast Guard Auxiliary

    Larry Persily|Jul 1, 2021

    It’s been about 25 years since Wrangell had a U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary detachment — and Liz Buness wants to bring it back. She thought about the need while she was working aboard the state ferries for 16 years, vowing “when I retire, maybe that’ll happen.” Buness, who retired from the Alaska Marine Highway System as a chief purser in 2019, talked with Coast Guard auxiliary officials, took the classes required for auxiliary membership, and now serves as part of the Ketchikan flotilla in Wrangell. She decided this summer is a good time to s...

  • Police remind public of pet regulations

    Sentinel Staff report|Jul 1, 2021

    Wrangell is a dog-friendly town. With easy access to the outdoors and places to explore, exercise and play, the island is a dog’s paradise. However, the Wrangell Police Department wants people to remember there are rules when it comes to their pets. With the warmer weather, Chief Tom Radke said they are seeing more people just letting their dogs wander free, and they have seen an uptick in phone calls complaining about loose dogs. “You just can’t let your dog outside without being with your dog, and the dog’s on a leash,” he said. Municipal...

  • Governor offers Malaspina to the Philippines for free

    Jul 1, 2021

    JUNEAU (AP) - The state of Alaska is trying to dispose of a 58-year-old, unused ferry, and even has offered to give it free to the government of the Philippines. Gov. Mike Dunleavy offered to give away the Malaspina in a letter last month to the Philippines consul general in San Francisco, public radio network CoastAlaska reported. “This vessel is surplus to our fleet, is in need of some repairs, but does have some service life left,” according to Dunleavy’s letter dated May 20 and obtained by the Alaska Public Media network in a routine publi...

  • U.S. will investigate past oversight of Native boarding schools

    Susan Montoya Bryan, The Associated Press|Jul 1, 2021

    The federal government will investigate its past oversight of Native American boarding schools and work to “uncover the truth about the loss of human life and the lasting consequences” of policies that over the decades forced hundreds of thousands of children from their families and communities, U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland announced June 22. The unprecedented work will include compiling and reviewing records to identify past boarding schools, locate known and possible burial sites at or near those schools, and uncover the names and tri...

  • Former 2-term Alaska senator Gravel dies at 91

    Jul 1, 2021

    SEASIDE, Calif. (AP) — Mike Gravel, who served as a U.S. senator from Alaska 1969-1981 and who read the anti-Vietnam War Pentagon Papers into the Congressional Record, has died. He was 91. Gravel died last Saturday, according to his daughter, Lynne Mosier. Gravel had been living in Seaside, California, and was in failing health, said Theodore W. Johnson, a former aide. Gravel’s two terms came during tumultuous years for Alaska when construction of the trans-Alaska oil pipeline was authorized and when Congress was deciding how to settle Ala...

  • Alaska Native corporations win access to CARES Act funds

    Jessica Gresko, Associated Press|Jul 1, 2021

    WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court ruled June 25 that Alaska Native corporations should benefit from hundreds of millions of dollars in disputed coronavirus relief funds, rather than be denied access and the money instead spread among Native American tribes around the U.S. The justices ruled 6-3 in the case, which involved the massive pandemic relief package passed last year and signed into law by then-President Donald Trump. The $2.2 trillion legislation earmarked $8 billion for “Tribal governments” to cover expenses related to the pandemic. The f...

  • Portland melts under record 116 degrees

    Jul 1, 2021

    SEATTLE (AP) - The hottest day of an unprecedented and dangerous heat wave scorched the Pacific Northwest on Monday, with temperatures obliterating records that had been set just the day before. Seattle hit 108 degrees Fahrenheit by evening. Portland reached 116 on Monday after hitting records of 108 on Saturday and 112 on Sunday. The temperatures were unheard of in a region better known for rain, and where June has historically been referred to as “Juneuary” for its cool drizzle. Seattle’s average high temperature in June is around 70, and few...

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