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  • Borough holds open house Friday to meet police chief finalist

    Larry Persily, Wrangell Sentinel|Jun 5, 2024

    The borough has scheduled an open house for 5 p.m. Friday, June 7, at City Hall for the community to meet Gene Meek, finalist for the job of Wrangell police chief. Meek resigned as Soldotna police chief on May 17, effective immediately. He had been on the job since July 2022. “It was an amicable departure,” Soldotna City Manager Janette Bower told Kenai-Soldotna KSRM radio on May 20. “He’s a great person, and we wish him the best as he moves forward with wherever he may go.” She called the resignation a mutual agreement. Meek moved to the Ke...

  • Borough pitches 6-Mile mill site to Huna Totem for cruise port

    Larry Persily, Wrangell Sentinel|Jun 5, 2024

    As part of the borough’s quest for a long-term, economic development opportunity at the 6-Mile mill property, officials met last month with officers of Huna Totem Corp., which operates a cruise port at Icy Strait Point near Hoonah and is developing three others around the state. Borough officials are also thinking that the waterfront property could be a good location for a timber value-added facility or maybe even a solar energy farm. “We are looking for solutions for the mill property,” Borough Manager Mason Villarma told the assembly May 2...

  • Assembly will take up mandatory boat insurance proposal

    Larry Persily, Wrangell Sentinel|Jun 5, 2024

    Assembly members have directed borough staff to come back with a revised ordinance setting requirements for boat owners to carry insurance on their vessels moored in Wrangell harbors. The assembly in March questioned several aspects of a proposed ordinance forwarded by the port commission which required coverage. The assembly wanted to see a minimum vessel size to require insurance, increased management rights to keep out unseaworthy boats and exemptions for transient vessels. The intent is to protect other boat owners and the borough from...

  • Teacher works on side gig of restoring vintage furniture

    Mark C. Robinson, Wrangell Sentinel|Jun 5, 2024

    With school out for the summer, special education teacher Mikki Angerman will now focus more on repairing and restoring vintage furniture for her growing side business on Case Avenue called Forget-Me-Not Furniture. "'Furniture flipping,' I guess you can call it," she said. She hopes her business will grow even more this summer, as residents continue to show interest. "It's nice to have that kind of support from the community." Angerman first started working on furniture out of boredom during...

  • New owner will allow salvage of usable items before hospital demolition

    Larry Persily, Wrangell Sentinel|Jun 5, 2024

    The borough plans to pull the standby electrical generator, fire extinguishers and other usable items from the former hospital building before the new owner of the property tears down the structure to make way for a residential development. Wayne Johnson, the Georgia-based real estate developer who planned to close on the purchase of the hospital property this week, is allowing the borough time to salvage what it wants from the building, Borough Manager Mason Villarma said May 29. “The borough can take whatever they want from there,” Joh...

  • Ortiz will not seek reelection; three candidates file for seat

    Ketchikan Daily News and Wrangell Sentinel|Jun 5, 2024

    Rep. Dan Ortiz, the Ketchikan independent who has represented southern Southeast communities since January 2015, including Wrangell, has decided to withdraw as a candidate for reelection, citing health and family considerations. Ortiz had filed in July as a candidate for reelection to House District 1, representing Ketchikan, Saxman, Metlakatla, Wrangell, Hyder, Coffman Cove and Whale Pass. However, a “more definitive” health concern caused him to reconsider, he told the Ketchikan Daily News on May 28. “It’s been within the last week that I...

  • Annual week-long Camp Lorraine starts June 16

    George Kosinski, Wrangell Sentinel|Jun 5, 2024

    Children from across Alaska will make the roughly eight-mile boat trip June 16 from Wrangell to Vank Island, where they will spend the week at Camp Lorraine. Camp Lorraine is one of three residential summer camps operated every year by the Alaska Conference of Seventh-day Adventists as part of its Alaska Camps series. The church plans to host other week-long camps in Dillingham and Big Lake later this summer, along with several day camps in more remote Alaska communities. The week-long camp programs are open to kids ages 8 through 16 years...

  • Maintenance director plans summer projects for the schools

    Mark C. Robinson, Wrangell Sentinel|Jun 5, 2024

    This summer, new schools maintenance director Kevin McCallister, with the help of assistant maintenance director Jason Beaty, is preparing to give the schools a major cleaning and make essential repairs that can’t be done when classes are in session. “Essentially, we’re just going to go through and deep clean everything, and then we’re going to get into some maintenance stuff,” McCallister said. “Being my first year here, I have a list of things to do.” The biggest project he’ll take on this summer will involve cleaning the floors and carpets i...

  • Public Safety Building could get new roof if federal money comes through

    Larry Persily, Wrangell Sentinel|Jun 5, 2024

    If Sen. Lisa Murkowski is successful in her request for a congressional appropriation for $2 million in federal grant money to help repair Wrangell’s Public Safety Building, the borough might be able to replace the roof and damaged siding next year. Though the rot-damaged building needs a lot more work than just the roof and siding, Borough Manager Mason Villarma said the new plan is to start with a scaled-down project and add more repairs, rebuilds and equipment replacements later. “We plan to trim down the scale of the project,” he said...

  • Marine Service Center faces usual pre-season bottleneck

    Becca Clark, Wrangell Sentinel|Jun 5, 2024

    The Marine Service Center is extremely busy right now, but Harbormaster Steve Miller said the amount of business is normal for this time of year. “The end of March through June is our busiest time of the year,” he said. Commercial and sport fishermen are getting ready for their active season, and the summer tour business is getting started. Most of the business comes from commercial vessels, but Miller added that sailboats and yachts come out of the water for work too. Most of the labor this time of year is “what we call a shave and hairc...

  • School board postpones decision on contract for remote counselor

    Mark C. Robinson, Wrangell Sentinel|May 29, 2024

    The school board has tabled until next month a proposal to contract for remote counseling services for Wrangell students next year, instead of hiring a full-time counselor to work in the schools. The board voted May 20 to table the motion after hearing concerns from faculty and a board member. Schools Superintendent Bill Burr said the decision to contract for a remote K-12 counselor wasn’t an intentional change of direction. “We posted the position and then we looked at the applicants,” he said. “The hiring committee looked at the best all aro...

  • Canoes start 150-mile journey to Native Celebration in Juneau

    Becca Clark, Wrangell Sentinel|May 29, 2024

    A canoe with 16 paddlers from Wrangell and at least four more canoes from other communities were scheduled to push off Wednesday morning toward Juneau, roughly a 150-mile journey to Celebration, the biennial Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian cultural festival. The paddlers are scheduled to arrive in downtown Juneau at 11:30 a.m. June 4. Celebration will run June 5-8. The Wrangell canoe planned to leave from the Reliance Float. The theme for this year's event is "Together We Live in Balance," and the...

  • Group continues fundraising to cover student travel costs to state competition

    Mark C. Robinson, Wrangell Sentinel|May 29, 2024

    The Wrangell Athletic Club expects to have raised about $22,000 in donations by the end of June to reimburse the school district, which advanced about $34,000 this past school year to cover the cost of student travel to state competition. Volunteers created the nonprofit organization last year to raise money for state travel after the school board said it could not afford to cover the expenses. Club president Chris Johnson said they will send the district whatever funds it has raised by next month. In her latest financial report to the school...

  • Fourth royalty ticket sales start Friday, with two contestants

    Becca Clark, Wrangell Sentinel|May 29, 2024

    When Alisha Armstrong and Kayla Young heard there were no royalty candidates this year, they both decided they had to step up for the community. The chamber of commerce now has two candidates running for Fourth of July royalty this summer: Armstrong and Young. Armstrong graduated high school earlier this month, and Young will be a senior next year. Raffle ticket and food booth sales will kick off Friday, May 31, at 6 p.m. at the downtown pavilion. The duo volunteered after concerns over zero...

  • Tortoise can munch a bunch for lunch while clearing weeds

    Mark C. Robinson, Wrangell Sentinel|May 29, 2024

    Wrangell's tortoise and turtle lover is looking for a few good yards for grazing this summer. A few weeks ago, Charity Hommel posted on Facebook that she was looking for residents willing to open their yards to grazing for some of her tortoises, especially her Sulcata tortoise Atlas. Hommel's inquiries were born out of a need to provide more food for the 3-year-old tortoise, who she rescued here in town when Atlas was less than 4 months old. Atlas already weighs 12 pounds and is a little larger...

  • Federal review will determine if king salmon should be listed as endangered

    Nathaniel Herz, Northern Journal|May 29, 2024

    The Biden administration says that listing numerous Alaska king salmon populations under the Endangered Species Act could be warranted, and it now plans to launch a broader scientific study to follow its preliminary review. Citing the species’ diminished size at adulthood and spawning numbers below sustainable targets set by state managers, the National Marine Fisheries Service announced its initial conclusion in a 14-page federal notice on May 23. It said a January 2024 listing request from a Washington state-based conservation group had m...

  • Forest Service will raise Anan fees starting next year

    Becca Clark, Wrangell Sentinel|May 29, 2024

    The U.S. Forest Service is preparing for another busy season at Anan Wildlife Observatory, one of the biggest visitor attractions around, just 30 miles south of town. This summer, the daily fee to visit the bear observatory during the permit-only season of prime bear watching July 5 through Aug. 25 will remain at $10. Starting in 2025, however, the fee will increase $10 per year, raising next summer's fee to $20 per day. The fee will increase every year until it reaches $50 in 2028. The...

  • Elevated toxin levels found in shellfish at City Park and Shoemaker

    Becca Clark, Wrangell Sentinel|May 29, 2024

    Wrangell Cooperative Association’s most recent test for paralytic shellfish toxins in blue mussels at two sites in town showed unhealthy levels. “Paralytic shellfish toxins (PST) levels are above the FDA regulatory limit. … PSTs cause paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP), and eating wild shellfish from these sites may increase the risk of PSP,” WCA published in a report May 17 after tests from shellfish at City Park and Shoemaker helipad came back with elevated levels of toxins. The toxins are caused by Alexandrium, a type of phytopl...

  • Children's summer activities start up next week

    Becca Clark, Wrangell Sentinel|May 29, 2024

    The Nolan Center, Irene Ingle Public Library and Parks and Recreation have teamed up to keep kids entertained this summer. Starting June 3 and running through Aug. 16, there will be morning and afternoon activities Monday through Friday like open swim, open gym, art classes, movies, Forest Explorers and reading activities. Parks and Recreation will host open swim at the pool from 1:30 to 3 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Open gym will be held at the community center Monday mornings from 10:30 a.m. to noon. Regular drop-in rates will...

  • Loan program could help residents who want to build on subdivision lots

    Larry Persily, Wrangell Sentinel|May 29, 2024

    It’ll be early fall before the borough offers for sale 20 lots at the new Alder Top Village (Keishangita.’aan) residential subdivision upland from Shoemaker Bay, but residents interested in buying and building a home on the property can start lining up financing. In addition to conventional lenders such as banks, credit unions and the Alaska Housing Finance Corp., Haa Yakaawu Financial Corp., which works with the Tlingit Haida Regional Housing Authority, offers a couple of different home loan programs, including one with below-market int...

  • Young Alaskans sue to block proposed natural gas pipeline project

    James Brooks, Alaska Beacon|May 29, 2024

    A group of young Alaskans, backed by a nonprofit legal firm, is suing the state of Alaska and the state-owned Alaska Gasline Development Corp. in an attempt to block construction of the corporation’s long-planned but economically questionable North Slope natural gas pipeline. In a complaint filed May 22 in Anchorage Superior Court, the eight plaintiffs argue that the corporation’s founding laws are unconstitutional because the gas pipeline would result in so much climate-altering greenhouse gas that it would endanger their constitutionally guar...

  • Longtime resident reunited with Army buddy after 71 years

    Mark C. Robinson, Wrangell Sentinel|May 22, 2024

    At age 94, longtime resident Elmer Mork was reunited with an old Army buddy after 71 years with no contact. "He got homesick for (me)," Mork said of his friend Harold Esmailka, age 93. "My little brother." Esmailka's son-in-law, Dale Erickson, had recently gotten a boat in Seattle and wanted to base it in Wrangell. When Erickson found out that one of the town's residents was Esmailka's often-talked-about Army friend, he contacted his father-in-law. Esmailka remembered Erickson's phone call, "He...

  • Alisha Armstrong signs up for Fourth of July fundraising sales

    Larry Persily, Wrangell Sentinel|May 22, 2024

    The same day that she graduated from high school, Alisha Armstrong and her family decided to step up and help the community. Armstrong is the lone candidate for this year’s Fourth of July royalty contest, and will sell raffle tickets to help raise money for the holiday celebration. The ticket sales kickoff is planned for May 31 and will continue through July 3, with the prize drawings on July 4. The chamber of commerce sponsors the Fourth festivities and depends on royalty candidates to sell tens of thousands of raffle tickets. The c...

  • Columbia out of service until end of the year

    Larry Persily, Wrangell Sentinel|May 22, 2024

    By Larry Persily Sentinel writer The Alaska state ferry Columbia — which has been out of service since late November for its annual overhaul and repairs but was supposed to go back to work this summer — will be laid up until the end of the year. Extensive corrosion in the 51-year-old ship’s fire suppression system is the reason for the extra time in the shipyard, Department of Transportation spokesman Sam Dapcevich said Friday, May 17. During the Columbia’s extended absence, the Alaska Marine Highway System has diverted the Kennicott out of...

  • Borough contribution to schools depends on what the state pays

    Becca Clark, Wrangell Sentinel|May 22, 2024

    The borough assembly has approved a local contribution to the school district that could cancel out a pending increase in state funding. The assembly on May 14 approved a local contribution of $1.3 million to the school district for the 2024-2025 school year, down from this year’s level, based on the assumption that the state increases its funding to Wrangell schools by $440,000. The amount of state funding is pending the governor’s decision on the budget passed by legislators last week. The school board had asked for $1.75 million from the bor...

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