Articles from the July 27, 2022 edition


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  • Borough considers whether to borrow money for building repairs

    Larry Persily, Wrangell Sentinel|Jul 27, 2022

    The borough assembly is considering whether to seek voter approval to sell $10.5 million in bonds for the first phase of rehab work at the rot-damaged 35-year-old Public Safety Building, and $4.5 million in bonds to help pay for roof, siding and boiler work at school buildings that range in age from 35 to 53 years old. Repayment of the bonds would come from municipal revenues, particularly property taxes. The assembly was scheduled to meet in a work session Tuesday evening to discuss the proposal, followed by the regular meeting where members w...

  • Financial help available for licensed child care providers

    Alaska Journal of Commerce and Wrangell Sentinel|Jul 27, 2022

    More than two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, parents across Alaska are still struggling with long wait lists, high costs and limited capacity at child care centers. Federal grant funds administered by the state and a child care nonprofit are helping providers cope with financial struggles and staff retention. However, the money is available only to licensed child care facilities — which Wrangell does not have. But help may be coming later this year. The state plans to distribute federal money as community grants to help new providers s...

  • Almost 1 in 5 state jobs are vacant as hiring struggle gets worse

    James Brooks, Alaska Beacon|Jul 27, 2022

    The top employees of the Alaska Permanent Fund Corp. are some of the highest-paid public workers in Alaska, but with wages rising across the country and employers competing for skilled labor, even the $80 billion Permanent Fund is struggling to keep employees from leaving. Nine of the corporation’s 66 employees have quit this year, including the manager of the corporation’s highest-earning investments and the entire three-person team in charge of finalizing trades. Seven other positions are new, and filling them is expected to be difficult. The...

  • Moose sculpture drifts to new home at Alaska Waters

    Marc Lutz, Wrangell Sentinel|Jul 27, 2022

    It would be hard to miss a nearly 7-foot moose in downtown Wrangell. Such is the case with a new addition in front of the Alaska Waters and 56 North storefront. A driftwood statue of a moose gifted to the business by its creator is helping to attract customers, generating selfie opportunities and producing lots of offers. Named "Spruce the Moose," the statue was created by Sigrid Vanek between Memorial Day and the end of June when she returned to Soldotna. "I've created probably about five...

  • The Way We Were

    Amber Armstrong, Wrangell Sentinel|Jul 27, 2022

    July 20, 1922 It is safe to say that no governmental activity has contributed so much to the growth and development of Southeast Alaska as road building, and none has contributed more to the pleasure of those living here. The government roads radiating from the centers of population have resulted in the building of many little farms and the location of many settlers. Scores of working men who might not have remained in the territory have built homes along the roads that reach out from the towns and have thus become fixtures in Alaska. It has...

  • BearFest promises full schedule of workshops, food, music and more

    Sentinel staff|Jul 27, 2022

    From Wednesday through Sunday, the schedule for BearFest is loaded with something for all ages, whether games and art workshops or food and educational symposiums. Since the event is focused on bears, there will be bear safety classes, a look at the new Anan Wildlife Observatory for bear viewing, a history of bears in national parks, and bear conservation among other bear-related topics. BearFest organizer Sylvia Ettefagh said in an interview earlier this month that the mission of the five-day...

  • Borough should help with child care efforts

    Wrangell Sentinel|Jul 27, 2022

    Few would dispute that Wrangell needs affordable, dependable child care services. The lack of child care keeps parents away from filling the long list of job vacancies around town and, when their kids are sick, can keep them away from the jobs they already hold. People need to work and want to raise children, and the community needs more children in school and more people to take jobs — child care seems a reasonable approach toward meeting all those needs. And while there are some at-home providers in town, and certainly friends and r...

  • Checks get bigger with unlimited campaign donations

    Larry Persily Publisher, Wrangell Sentinel|Jul 27, 2022

    Inflation smacks drivers in the wallet when they fill up the tank, punches shoppers in the stomach when they load up a grocery cart, and brings travelers down to Earth when they want to buy an airline ticket. The public complains loudly about rising prices that escalate without limits. Why then so quiet about unlimited contributions to political campaigns — it’s just as harmful to democracy as inflation. Maybe even more so. Inflation eventually will come down. Campaign donation limits will only come back when the Legislature and governor tak...

  • Biden needs to look to Alaska for oil and gas

    Frank Murkowski|Jul 27, 2022

    After saying Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was a pariah for the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, President Joe Biden traveled to Saudi Arabia to engage with the Arab world. I believe his priorities are out of touch with most Americans. Today, we continue to see escalating oil and gasoline prices and runaway inflation. Yet our president suggests his mission to Saudi Arabia was to contribute “intense diplomacy.” He further pledges to stay aggressive against Russia and out-compete China — yet not one word on the U.S. energy short...

  • Wrangell businesses in the running for $25,000 start-up prize

    Marc Lutz, Wrangell Sentinel|Jul 27, 2022

    Two businesses based in Wrangell and one looking to be based here are among a dozen Southeast finalists for a pair of $25,000 cash prizes. Path to Prosperity, a competition for small businesses and start-ups in Southeast, announced 12 finalists, two of which have a chance to win $25,000 to help grow their business and “assist Southeast Alaska entrepreneurs in contributing to a sustainable and regenerative tourism industry in the region that is community-led and locally owned,” according to a statement issued by Spruce Root, the Jun...

  • Tlingit & Haida behavioral health services reaches out across Southeast

    Marc Lutz, Wrangell Sentinel|Jul 27, 2022

    In November of last year, Tlingit & Haida Community and Behavioral Services opened a healing center in Juneau to provide care to tribal citizens and other Alaska Natives. At the time, care was provided through Zoom Health or over the phone. The center was able to open its doors this year for in-person appointments but still relies on telehealth to reach a greater number of patients who might not have access to such services otherwise. Healing center staff provides a mix of wholistic healing and western treatment for crisis and access help,...

  • No surprise, rain brings up water levels at reservoir

    Larry Persily, Wrangell Sentinel|Jul 27, 2022

    After mostly dry weather in June and early July, the more typical rain of late has helped refill the community’s water reservoirs. The lower reservoir was looking pretty low around the Fourth of July and the borough was looking to start siphoning water from the upper reservoir to ensure enough supply to meet community needs, Public Works Director Tom Wetor said last week. “That’s when we got all the rain,” he said, adding that water levels are much improved. “It looks like we’re going to get through this year without any major factors.” Rain is...

  • Borough continues toward dam stabilization project

    Marc Lutz, Wrangell Sentinel|Jul 27, 2022

    A planned project to stabilize Wrangell’s upper water reservoir dam is contingent on finding out just how stable the dam is. Core drilling is necessary to determine the materials and density of the dam which is built of a log-crib core covered with earth. But before the drilling can be done, a stabilization assessment plan had to be submitted to the state for approval. The core drilling “is part of the upper dam stabilization analysis project we are pursuing with (engineering firm) Shannon & Wilson,” said Amber Al-Haddad, borough capital facil...

  • COVID cases among non-residents aboard ships highest all summer

    Larry Persily, Wrangell Sentinel|Jul 27, 2022

    The COVID-19 case count in Wrangell dropped last week to less than half the number of the previous week, but the infection numbers for cruise ship travelers to Alaska was double the rate of the previous four weeks. A highly infectious variant of the coronavirus is pushing up case counts in Alaska and nationwide, though illnesses are not as severe and hospitalization rates much lower than in previous waves, state and federal health officials report. The state’s coronavirus data dashboard reported 21 new cases in Wrangell for the seven days e...

  • Statewide teachers shortage gets worse every year

    Lisa Phu, Alaska Beacon|Jul 27, 2022

    Bobby Bolen is trying to fill around 50 teaching positions at the North Slope Borough School District. “This is our focus 24 hours a day right now — to get classrooms staffed for students,” Bolen said. Bolen is the brand-new human resources director at the district, which has about 2,000 students in 12 schools, some of which start as soon as Aug. 8. He’s exploring options like long-term substitutes and the prospect of international teachers to round out the district’s usual teaching staff of about 170. “Our worst-case scenario would be distance...

  • New law could lead to shellfish hatcheries in Alaska

    Ceri Godinez, Wrangell Sentinel|Jul 27, 2022

    Shellfish hatcheries could be in Alaska’s future, under legislation recently signed into law. The measure allows the Department of Fish and Game to manage shellfish enhancement and restoration projects. Restoration projects are designed to bring a struggling stock back to a self-sustaining level, while enhancement projects would boost the stock to allow for commercial harvest. The new laws give the department another tool to address declining shellfish stock, such as red and blue king crab, sea cucumber, abalone and razor clams, said K...

  • Petersburg basketball player gets his wish and shoots hoops with NBA star

    Chris Bieri, Anchorage Daily News|Jul 27, 2022

    Joseph Tagaban is excited to suit up for the Petersburg High School basketball team this winter as a sophomore. A year ago, that was anything but a certainty. In December 2020, Tagaban was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia, a potentially aggressive form of cancer. The 15-year-old spent the better part of a year in Seattle receiving treatments, and his cancer is in remission. Now, after a recent meeting with an NBA superstar, Tagaban is ready to take on opponents on the court. Tagaban met wit...

  • Haines commercial longliners pull in 425-pound halibut

    Max Graham, Chilkat Valley News|Jul 27, 2022

    Three Haines commercial fishermen caught a 425-pound halibut measuring 91 inches in length. “It was just an epic fish,” said fisherman Cole Thomas, who hooked the fish with his father and captain Bill Thomas and friend Jeff Wackerman. “This one is a lot more special than most.” The three caught the halibut earlier this month in Icy Strait, near Point Adolphus, with a commercial longline using cod and humpy salmon heads as bait. “I could see the line was going straight down. That means something big’s coming. I was telling my friend (Jeff): It...

  • State sues federal government over polluted lands transferred to Native corporations

    James Brooks, Alaska Beacon|Jul 27, 2022

    The state has sued the U.S. Department of the Interior in an attempt to hold the federal government responsible for the identification of thousands of polluted sites on land given to Alaska Native corporations. A complete inventory is a first step in the state’s ongoing efforts to hold the federal government responsible for cleaning the sites. The state argues that pollution left by the U.S. military and other federal agencies has prevented the development of land transferred from the federal government under the Alaska Native Claims S...

  • Governor will sign tribal recognition bill into law

    Alaska Beacon|Jul 27, 2022

    Gov. Mike Dunleavy will sign a bill giving state recognition to Alaska’s 229 federally recognized Native tribes, the Alaska Federation of Natives said last week. In a ceremony scheduled for this Thursday, the governor will also sign bills creating child welfare and education agreements between the state and tribal governments, AFN said. State recognition is not expected to affect tribes’ legal relations with the state, but supporters have said it is an important symbolic statement by the state, which has historically fought efforts by tri...

  • Record harvest in Bristol Bay and the opposite along the Yukon

    Yereth Rosen, Alaska Beacon|Jul 27, 2022

    For Alaska salmon fishing, the summer of 2022 is the best of times and the worst of times. In the Bristol Bay region, the sockeye salmon run and harvest amounts set new records, as was predicted in the preseason forecast. As of July 18, the run had totaled over 73.7 million salmon, with a harvest of over 56.3 million. The previous record was set just last year, with a 67.7 million run of sockeyes and a third-biggest-ever harvest of nearly 42 million of the fish. But along the Yukon River, a prized salmon run is heading toward a worst-ever seaso...

  • Dunleavy ahead of Walker in fundraising in final weeks before primary

    James Brooks, Alaska Beacon|Jul 27, 2022

    Incumbent Gov. Mike Dunleavy has raised more money than any other candidate in this year’s Alaska governor’s race over the past five months and is heading toward the Aug. 16 primary election with more cash in his campaign war chest than his challengers. Dunleavy, a Republican, reported raising $925,380 between Feb. 2 and July 15, according to new filings with the Alaska Public Offices Commission, and reported having $768,263 in cash on hand as of July 15, after expenses and debts. Former Gov. Bill Walker, challenging Dunleavy as an independent,...

  • Police report

    Jul 27, 2022

    Monday, July 18 Attempted unlawful contact. Tuesday, July 19 Agency assist: Ambulance. Citizen assist: Medication disposal. Welfare check. Noise complaint. Wednesday, July 20 Agency assist: Fire Department. Found property. Jail incident. Subpoena service. Subpoena service. Thursday, July 21 Noise complaint. Assault. Agency assist: Public Works. Theft under investigation. Civil issue. Agency assist: Petersburg Police Department. Traffic stop: Citation issued for violating provisional license and verbal warning for no headlights and expired...

  • Pope apologizes for 'evil' committed against Canada's Indigenous peoples

    Nicole Winfield and Peter Smith, Associated Press|Jul 27, 2022

    MASKWACIS, Alberta (AP) — Pope Francis issued a historic apology Monday for the Catholic Church’s cooperation with Canada’s “catastrophic” policy of Indigenous residential schools, saying the forced assimilation of Native peoples into Christian society destroyed their cultures, severed families and marginalized generations in ways still being felt today. “I am sorry,” Francis said, to applause from school survivors and Indigenous community members gathered at a former residential school south of Edmonton, Alberta, the first event of Francis’ w...

  • Murkowski has huge fundraising lead over Tshibaka

    Mark Sabbatini, Juneau Empire|Jul 27, 2022

    Incumbent Lisa Murkowski has a dominant fundraising advantage over challenger Kelly Tshibaka in the U.S. Senate race. In the race for U.S. House, Nick Begich enjoys a big cash-on-hand advantage despite raising the least of the three main contenders in the race, according to the most recent Federal Election Commission reports. A total of about $4 million was raised on Murkowski’s behalf by her campaign ($1.6 million) and the political action committee Alaskans for LISA ($2.4 million) during the three-month quarter ending June 30. The 20-year R...

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