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  • Royalty duo sets a record with $145,082 for 4th of July

    Becca Clark, Wrangell Sentinel|Jul 10, 2024

    Alisha Armstrong won this year's Fourth of July royalty contest with a fundraising tally of $84,582, while Kayla Young raised $60,500 - setting a new record with their effort. The combined total of $145,082 more than doubled the numbers of the past couple of years - $53,704 in 2023 and $56,260 in 2022 - when only a single royalty candidate signed on for the annual fundraising effort to help pay for Wrangell's Fourth of July celebration. The totals were announced prior to the start of the talent...

  • Bearfest comes out of hibernation starting July 24

    Mark C. Robinson, Wrangell Sentinel|Jul 10, 2024

    Bearfest is returning for its 15th year on July 24 – 28. The annual event is dedicated to bears and the surrounding environment, where attendees can enjoy symposiums, cultural and educational activities, art and photo workshops, fine dining, marathons, a bear safety session and more. In two of the workshops, kids and families are invited to create bear-themed ornaments to decorate the U.S. Capitol Christmas tree and smaller companion trees that will represent Alaska in Washington, D.C., this holiday season. The trees are coming from the T...

  • Mount Dewey trail extension nearly complete

    Becca Clark, Wrangell Sentinel|Jul 10, 2024

    The extension to the Mount Dewey trail is nearly complete and will connect the existing trail to a new trailhead on Bennett Street. Work began on the three-quarter-mile trail extension in December and is expected to be complete by the end of the month. It will provide a pathway from the backside of Mount Dewey, supplementing the longstanding route up the front from downtown. The borough worked with the Wrangell Cooperative Association to name the trail Sháchk Kináa Deiyí, which means “path over the muskeg.” The total project cost added up to...

  • Senate president criticizes governor's veto of seafood marketing funds

    Alaska Beacon|Jul 10, 2024

    Gov. Mike Dunleavy vetoed $10 million in funding for the state agency charged with marketing Alaska seafood, with the message that he would “re-evaluate future funding needs after development of a marketing plan.” That doesn’t make sense to the state Senate president. “Waiting doesn’t help at all,” said Sen. Gary Stevens, from the commercial fishing hub of Kodiak. “It’s a very shortsighted view of the industry. Now is the time to help it out, not to just delay things,” Stevens said last week. The governor vetoed the funding on June 30 as par...

  • It's not crazy if it floats

    Jul 10, 2024

  • Borough will build streets to open up eight industrial lots

    Becca Clark, Wrangell Sentinel|Jul 10, 2024

    The borough will construct Fifth and Sixth avenues in the Industrial Park Subdivision to provide access to eight platted lots to be made available for sale to the public. Borough Manager Mason Villarma said he is unsure of the timeline, but estimates the lots could be ready for sale by fall. The area is off St. Michael’s Street, about a block away from the Airport Loop Road and across from the turnoff to the Spur Road. The assembly approved the street construction contract to Ketchikan Ready-Mix and Quarry for $233,000 at its meeting July 1. T...

  • Cruise ship limits make it to Juneau ballot; denied in Sitka

    Claire Stremple, Alaska Beacon|Jul 10, 2024

    Unless Juneau’s city assembly makes the change first, a proposal to forbid cruise ships on Saturdays will be on the municipal ballot in October, but a Sitka push to put cruise ship passenger limits on that town’s ballot has been denied. They are the latest steps in a broader reckoning in some Southeast communities about the effects of increased traffic from cruise ship tourism. Cruise ship passengers are a mainstay in the regional economy. But people like Karla Hart in Juneau say increased passenger numbers come at a cost to quality of life. “I...

  • New hobby shop to expand beyond its fantasy game origins

    Mark C. Robinson, Wrangell Sentinel|Jul 10, 2024

    Laughing Star Hobbies, a new business on Front Street, opened July 2. Owner David Jellum eventually plans to expand the store beyond its fantasy game roots. As a longtime player of the tabletop combat game Warhammer and the role-playing game Magic: The Gathering, he has been planning this for a while. Inside the storefront that used to house the Wrangell Insurance Center, two long tables stand ready for adventures in role-play and combat. Glass countertops and display cases present figurines of...

  • Fourth of July produces long list of winners

    Sentinel staff|Jul 10, 2024

    Three lucky ticket holders came away as winners in the Fourth of July royalty fundraising raffle. Wrangell residents Shannon Smith won the $2,500 first place prize and Marilyn Mork won $1,500 for second place in the drawing. Third place of $1,000 went to former resident Mickel Haug, now living in Seattle. The Sentinel is compiling lists of the other winners of Fourth of July events, supplied by the competition organizers. This week's list includes the winners' names that were submitted to the...

  • Paddlers put to the water aboard anything and most everything

    Mark C. Robinson, Wrangell Sentinel|Jul 10, 2024

    Eight-year-old Greyson Allen may have finished last in the second heat of the Crazy Craft races on July 3, but his determination won loud applause from the crowd at the City Dock. Though he paddled hard on his pool float "Sting Ray," he had trouble steering away from one side of the dock, taking a long time just to reach the halfway point, where police officer Garrett Gablehouse and state wildlife trooper Alisha Seward readily assisted Greyson from the water as spectators cheered his determined...

  • Juneau Icefield melting at a rapidly accelerating rate, researchers find

    Seth Borenstein, Associated Press|Jul 10, 2024

    The melting of Southeast Alaska’s Juneau Icefield, source of more than 1,000 glaciers, is accelerating, shrinking 4.6 times faster than it was in the 1980s, according to a new study. Researchers tracked snow levels in the nearly 1,500-square-mile expanse going back to 1948, with added data back to the 18th century. It slowly shriveled from its peak size at the end of the Little Ice Age around 1850, but then that melt rate sped up about 10 years ago, according to a study in Nature Communications on July 2. “What’s happening is that as the clima...

  • New seafood buyer with big plans starts small in Metlakatla

    Anna Laffrey, Ketchikan Daily News|Jul 10, 2024

    An emerging seafood company is preparing to purchase its first loads of pink and chum salmon from a handful of seine boats in Metlakatla this summer while also building a high-tech floating freezer barge at a Washington shipyard that the company plans to operate in Southeast Alaska next year. Circle Seafoods, which was founded by Pat Glaab, Charlie Campbell and Eren Shultz, is renting out a portion of the Metlakatla Indian Community’s Annette Island Packing Co. plant this year while starting up a statewide operation that’s geared at buying and...

  • Ranked-choice voting could spread, but several states ban it

    Becky Bohrer and Rebecca Boone, Associated Press|Jul 10, 2024

    Alaska’s new election system — with open primaries and ranked voting — has been a model for those in other states who are frustrated by political polarization and a sense that voters lack real choice at the ballot box. Used for the first time in 2022, the changes helped propel the first Alaska Native to a seat in Congress. The voting system, however, could be short-lived. Opponents of ranked voting want to repeal it and are entangled in a legal fight over whether their initiative will be on Alaska’s November ballot. It’s just one example t...

  • Judge says Alaska tribes may put land into trust, a step toward 'Indian country'

    James Brooks, Alaska Beacon|Jul 10, 2024

    A federal judge has ruled that the Department of the Interior may take land into trust on behalf of Alaska Native tribes, a decision that could allow tribes to create “Indian country,” which had been mostly eliminated here by the 53-year-old Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act. In a 39-page summary judgment order on June 26, Anchorage Judge Sharon Gleason ruled mostly but not entirely against the state, which sued the Interior Department in 2023 to challenge an administrative decision that the department has the power to take land into tru...

  • Biden administration proposal would further limit old-growth logging

    Matthew Brown, Associated Press|Jul 10, 2024

    The Biden administration is advancing a plan to restrict logging within old-growth forests that are increasingly threatened by climate change, with exceptions that include cutting trees to make forests less susceptible to wildfires. The draft environmental impact statement, which was published June 21, rejects a blanket prohibition on old-growth logging that’s long been sought by some environmentalists. The official review concluded that such a sweeping ban would make it harder to thin forests to better protect communities against wildfires t...

  • 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...

  • 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...

  • 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....

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