Articles from the July 3, 2024 edition


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  • Developer withdraws from offer to buy hospital property

    Becca Clark, Wrangell Sentinel|Jul 3, 2024

    Georgia-based real-estate developer Wayne Johnson has rescinded his offer to purchase the former Wrangell Medical Center property and six adjacent lots from the borough. Johnson had negotiated a new purchase agreement covering the parcels, but said he withdrew his proposal due to community concerns over the new deal. He blamed a Sentinel headline for stirring up concerns. Johnson notified borough officials on Friday, June 28, of his decision to walk away from the project. The Sentinel reported on Johnson’s requested changes to the l...

  • Wrangell receives $25 million federal grant for downtown harbor rebuild

    Becca Clark, Wrangell Sentinel|Jul 3, 2024

    The borough has been awarded a $25 million Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity grant to rebuild most of the downtown harbor floats, install new pilings and improve parking. The federal money, which requires no match from the borough, will fund most of the estimated $28 million project that will include an overhaul of the Inner Harbor, Reliance and Standard Oil floats, new fire suppression systems, pilings and relocated parking. The borough will likely get the remaining $3 million for the project through the...

  • Governor signs state budget; $6.5 million for Wrangell school repairs

    Larry Persily, Wrangell Sentinel|Jul 3, 2024

    Gov. Mike Dunleavy vetoed more than $230 million in spending from the state budget but left intact $6.5 million for repairs to Wrangell school buildings, along with $5 million for stabilization work at the community’s water reservoir earthen dams and $200,000 for the borough to start planning an emergency access route from the southern end of Zimovia Highway. In addition to covering state-provided public services, construction projects and community grants, the budget bills signed by Dunleavy on June 27 also will provide an estimated $1,650 t...

  • Assembly postpones decision on police staffing level

    Becca Clark, Wrangell Sentinel|Jul 3, 2024

    The assembly’s June 25 meeting produced the largest turnout of community members at a meeting all year for the public hearing on the budget for the fiscal year that started July 1. The budget item that drew the most public testimony was the proposed layoffs at the police department, which had been in the draft budget prepared by the borough manager. Though the budget, as approved by the assembly, lacks enough money to fund the entire police force for the full fiscal year, there will be no change in staffing levels for a few months and the assem...

  • Brushing up at basketball

    Jul 3, 2024

  • Community calendar

    Jul 3, 2024

    FOURTH of JULY PIE SALE hosted by Beta Sigma Phi is seeking donations of homemade pies for their Fourth of July pie booth. Funds raised will go to their charitable activities. For more information, contact Olinda White 907-874-3078, Alice Rooney 907-305-0007 or Joan Benjamin 907-874-3252. BACK-TO-SCHOOL backpacks now available for tribal youth; applications accepted through July 7. Tlingit and Haida provides backpacks in partnership with Southeast Alaska village tribes. Children must be Alaska Native and/or American Indian, between the age of p...

  • The Way We Were

    Amber Armstrong-Hillberry, Wrangell Sentinel|Jul 3, 2024

    July 2, 1924 Frederick H. Meisnest, waste product engineer with Stanley Hiller Inc., was in Wrangell this past week. Mr. Meisnest is vice president and treasurer of the Alaska Shellfish Co., recently established by James M. Bell, president and manager of the company, for the purpose of packing crabs. Both Mr. Meisnest and Mr. Bell are graduates of the College of Fisheries of the University of Washington and have had a wide experience in the fish business. Mr. Meisnest is in charge of the Seattle office of Stanley Hiller Inc., as Northwest...

  • Borough drops marine insurance requirement after months of work

    Becca Clark, Wrangell Sentinel|Jul 3, 2024

    After months of workshopping a proposal that boat owners carry marine insurance, the borough assembly decided June 25 to give up on the endeavor. The proposal would have required most boat owners in the harbor to carry a minimum of $100,000 coverage to indemnify other boat owners and the borough from fire damages or cleanup expenses. Boat owners could opt out of the insurance and pay a monthly surcharge per foot of their vessel. Borough Manager Mason Villarma recommended to assembly members June 25 that they postpone the ordinance...

  • Feeding is part of the fun of the Fourth

    Sentinel staff|Jul 3, 2024

    The Fourth of July is about a red, white and blue parade, street games, races of all kinds for all kinds of boats, logging skills competition — and food. With two days of events left in the holiday week, the area around the downtown pavilion, behind Wells Fargo bank and the Elks Lodge and in the direction of the Stikine Inn will be filled with booths, games and a wide variety of food. Organizers have scheduled a little more time between events this year to allow people a chance to try out the menus on Wednesday and Thursday, July 3-4. The f...

  • Enjoy some pie on the Fourth and help the teddy bears

    Mark C. Robinson, Wrangell Sentinel|Jul 3, 2024

    As Wrangell gears up for another Fourth of July celebration, the local chapter of the international sorority Beta Sigma Phi is preparing for its annual pie sale. The sale will start at 10 a.m. Thursday at the covered patio of Arctic Chiropractic until all pies are sold. The event is a fundraiser to provide teddy bears for children in trauma conditions like emergency hospitalization, disasters like house fires or boating accidents. The teddy bears help draw people to the event, said Alice...

  • State and federal grants do not solve everything

    Wrangell Sentinel|Jul 3, 2024

    Wrangell is on a financial winning streak these days. It has received multiple state and federal grants to pay for construction, repairs, rebuilds and improvements. But that does not help pay the operating costs of public services and local support for the schools. It’s a distinction people need to keep in mind. Money in one pocket does not automatically transfer to another pocket. The borough has received notice of a $25 million federal grant to rebuild most of the downtown harbors floats. It will receive $6.5 million from the state to go t...

  • Majority rules, but that doesn't mean dictates

    Larry Persily Publisher|Jul 3, 2024

    A long time ago, the Sentinel called out a mayor for taking an action without city council approval (this was before Wrangell became a borough). The mayor had sent a letter to a federal agency, stating the city’s official position on an issue — but it was merely his personal opinion. There was no council discussion, no public notice. It wasn’t that controversial a position, but the point was that the mayor, no matter how well meaning, should not speak for the city without first making sure the elected council is in agreement. The mayor came...

  • Parks and Recreation cuts out Tuesday and Thursday pool activities

    Mark C. Robinson, Wrangell Sentinel|Jul 3, 2024

    Parks and Recreation Director Lucy Robinson has announced the elimination of several regular activities at the swimming pool, starting this month, to manage spending under a cut in the borough contribution for the department. In an email to the community on June 27, Robinson said the cutbacks at the pool will reduce spending on part-time employees. The cancellations include the open swim on Monday afternoons and all swim activities on Tuesdays and Thursdays, including lap/family swims and club/camp swims. “Please note that we have eliminated t...

  • Royalty contestants near the end of a month of hard work

    Mark C. Robinson, Wrangell Sentinel|Jul 3, 2024

    It's been an adventure for Alisha Armstrong and Kayla Young, who both stepped up at the last minute to become candidates in this year's Fourth of July royalty contest, selling raffle tickets and food at booths in the downtown pavilion. They have been working for more than a month to raise money for the town's holiday celebration. Armstrong graduated high school last month and Young will be a senior this fall. They have worked on donation lists, sponsorship letters, menus, events and gathered vol...

  • Salmon derby ends; 27 kings entered this year

    Sentinel staff|Jul 3, 2024

    Charlie Webb, of Anchorage, took first place in Wrangell's 69th king salmon derby with his 43.5-pound catch on the opening day of the derby June 15. The annual contest closed on Sunday, June 30, and no one passed Webb. Wrangell's Connor Blake won the 12-and-under youth division with his 22.6-pound king, caught near Fools Inlet on June 28. It was the first king that Connor has ever caught and kept, said Tommy Wells, executive director of the chamber of commerce, which organizes the fishing derby....

  • Petersburg seiner sinks at Anita Bay; no serious injuries

    Orin Pierson, Petersburg Pilot|Jul 3, 2024

    The Petersburg-based seiner Pamela Rae took on water and rolled over in Anita Bay the morning of June 25, but the five people on board all made it safely off the vessel. “When we first got there, the vessel was already underwater and appeared to be sitting on bottom,” said Jordan Buness, chief of the Wrangell Volunteer Fire Department, which responded to the call. “It was probably in less than 15 feet of water.” Anita Bay, off the east side of Etolin Island, is about 16 miles south of downtown Wrangell. “We found that everybody was already off...

  • Health and food preservation cooked up for late July

    Mark C. Robinson, Wrangell Sentinel|Jul 3, 2024

    Sarah Lewis from the University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service will return to Wrangell July 27-29 to teach more health and food preservation classes for free. Lewis, based in Juneau, will travel on her family’s boat, the Pacific Sapphire, to visit nine communities in Southeast Alaska during the month to teach a variety of home skills and food preservation classes. “More reliable than the ferry and less expensive than flying,” she said. The Wrangell classes are a collaboration with the federal Tribes Extension Program, 4-H,...

  • Underground water and sewer pipes are aging out

    Becca Clark, Wrangell Sentinel|Jul 3, 2024

    Wrangell is facing a network of aging underground utilities. Some pipes are up to 70 years old, said Tom Wetor, public works director. Since the first of the year, at least five water and sewer line leaks have sprung up around town. Wetor explained that a lot of the underground utility work was done in the 1980s and is beginning to age out. He explained that the environment in Wrangell is particularly harsh and causes pipes to degrade faster than they should. A lot of the pipes in town are made of ductile iron, which he said were estimated to...

  • State Supreme Court allows public spending on private schools to continue

    Iris Samuels, Anchorage Daily News|Jul 3, 2024

    The Alaska Supreme Court on June 28 overturned a lower court decision that found two statutes governing Alaska’s publicly funded homeschooling programs violated the state constitution by sending public funds to private and religious schools. The ruling is a victory for Gov. Mike Dunleavy, who has sought to defend the statutes and keep them on the books. But it is largely procedural, and the attorney who originally challenged the constitutionality of the statutes vowed to continue fighting the practice of spending correspondence school a...

  • Commercial troll season opened Monday

    Anna Laffrey, Ketchikan Daily News|Jul 3, 2024

    Commercial trollers started their summer season Monday, July 1, targeting a catch of approximately 66,700 chinook salmon in an opener that will be closed by emergency order when catch estimates approach that harvest target. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game announced last week that trollers are expected to hit the limit this weekend, after just six or seven days of fishing. Last year, Southeast trollers brought in about 85,000 king salmon from July 1 to July 12, about 8,000 fish over the target for the first opener of the season. The...

  • Permanent Fund could run short of cash in bad investment year

    Sean Maguire, Anchorage Daily News|Jul 3, 2024

    The Alaska Permanent Fund started the fiscal year on July 1 facing a possible $600 million shortfall. Legislators have earmarked $3.8 billion from the fund for next year’s budget, which includes the Permanent Fund dividend. An additional $1 billion has been set aside for inflation proofing. Both draws would exceed currently available revenue in the fund’s spendable account. “That’s the first time that we’ve been in this scenario,” Deven Mitchell, CEO of the Alaska Permanent Fund Corp., told a joint legislative committee on June 24. Investment...

  • Police report

    Jul 3, 2024

    Monday, June 24 Agency assist: Ambulance. Tuesday, June 25 Welfare check. Wednesday, June 26 Citizen assist: Vehicle inspection. Fireworks complaint. Domestic disturbance. Thursday, June 27 Assist: Wrangell IGA. Found property. Agency assist: Alaska Department of Transportation.. Driving complaint. Inmate booking. Reckless driving. Traffic stop: Verbal warning for driving habits and faulty equipment. Suspicious circumstance. Friday, June 28 Animal complaint. Violation of protective order: Unfounded. Traffic stop. Citizen assist. Saturday, June...

  • Former resident Lyle Bennett dies at 76

    Jul 3, 2024

    Lyle F. Bennett lost his battle with lung disease on June 19, 2024. He was born April 3, 1948, to Farrell and Alda Bennett. Though he was born in Vancouver, Washington, "he was a lifelong Alaskan." Lyle enjoyed many ventures during his lifetime, including drilling rock on Three Lakes Loop Road south of Petersburg, as owner/operator of Petersburg Art Gallery, as well as 30-plus years of owning and operating vending machines. He lived in Wrangell for a few years, about 35 years ago, working at the...

  • Classified ads

    Jul 3, 2024

    HELP WANTED Wrangell Cooperative Association Transportation (WCAT) is seeking two road/trail maintenance laborers. Complete job descriptions and applications are available outside the Wrangell Cooperative Association office at 1002 Zimovia Highway. Positions are open until filled. Contact Lizzy Romane at 907-874-3077 with any questions. HELP WANTED Johnson’s Building Supply is accepting applications for the following position: Customer Service: Duties include counter sales, freight handling, customer deliveries, stocking and inventory. F...

  • Annette Island Packing plant reopens after 5-year closure

    Anna Laffrey, Ketchikan Daily News|Jul 3, 2024

    The Metlakatla Indian Community’s Annette Island Packing Co. has reopened after a five-year closure. About 100 people gathered on June 14 to start the summer fishing season with a blessing of the fleet and to celebrate the return to work of the seafood processor which has operated in the community for more than 100 years. AIP was founded as a cannery in the late 1800s and operated year-round until 2019, when the plant reduced its operations due to rising costs and other liabilities, according to a report from the Metlakatla Indian Community. M...

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