Opinion


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  • Our old town needs new money

    Wrangell Sentinel|Jun 12, 2024

    Wrangell has a lot of positives. It’s a caring community that can pull together a potluck and fill the tables to overflow. Residents support each other in times of loss without needing to be asked. People truly believe in helping their neighbors, regardless of their neighbors’ politics. Fundraisers are a way of life in Wrangell — and a necessity. School sports teams, youth groups, student activities, nonprofit organizations and others are always in need of money, frequently asking businesses to donate goods, services or cash to worthy causes. A...

  • Presidential election campaign painfully long

    Larry Persily Publisher|Jun 12, 2024

    There is nothing longer in America than a presidential election campaign. And that is not a good thing. A long vacation is enjoyable. Long summers are a treat. Reuniting with long-lost friends is special. But long campaigns are becoming indescribably painful. Just think of an Excedrin headache that lasts all year for more than 240 million eligible voters. It could be like the supply-chain shortages of the pandemic, with people clearing out store shelves and grabbing for the last bottle of headache medicine. Still not convinced how miserable...

  • Wrangell should move barge ramp to make room for tourism

    Frank H. Murkowski|Jun 12, 2024

    We have a great opportunity before us. Let’s change our visitors’ first impression of Wrangell. Currently, the view is of old containers piled high. Not only do they block the visitors’ view of the downtown area, but the vans are surrounded with muddy water, which is very unattractive. I don’t believe the current container location fits in with the welcome intended by the community, evident by the children selling garnets and other trinkets on the pier. The borough has been successful in acquiring the former 6-Mile mill site. This location has...

  • Community needs long-term plan for school funding

    Wrangell Sentinel|Jun 5, 2024

    The assembly’s decision to take away any benefit to the school district of the Legislature’s one-year increase in state education funding for next year makes sense from the perspective of the borough’s own finances. However, there are more perspectives to consider. Long term, the community needs a plan to adequately fund its schools. The school board had asked the borough to contribute $1.75 million — the maximum amount allowed under state law — to the school district’s $6 million spending plan for the 2024-2025 school year. That would have...

  • Sentinel will be free online for a month

    Larry Persily Publisher|Jun 5, 2024

    The expression, the best things in life are free, applies to fresh air, the view out the window and a positive attitude. For the next five weeks, it will also apply to the Wrangell Sentinel. Starting this week, the Sentinel has turned off the paywall to its website. Anyone with a keyboard, a mouse, a smartphone, a swiping finger or a voice-activated personal assistant will be able to go to wrangellsentinel.com and read all the news they want. Normally, the online edition of the Sentinel is available only to people who buy a subscription. As old...

  • Bible Baptist Church pastor family grateful for time in Wrangell

    Jun 5, 2024

    More than 27 years ago, we arrived in Wrangell with our family as the new pastor at Bible Baptist Church and, soon thereafter, taking on the role as produce manager at City Market for the next 22 years of our time here. Thank you, Benn Curtis and Chet Powell for that opportunity. Wrangell welcomed our family with open arms, as did our new church family. Our children, Nathan, Westley and Mindy, experienced and enjoyed making a lifetime of memories living in such a different place than their familiar Midwest beginnings. Yes, the geographic...

  • School counselor needs to be in the building

    Wrangell Sentinel|May 29, 2024

    It’s no surprise that the applicant pool was limited when the Wrangell School District advertised for a new counselor to serve elementary, middle and high school students. It’s a big job for one person to work with 260 students. That includes providing career guidance, making health and psychological referrals, helping to manage student testing and assessments, and building relationships with staff, parents and the community. That’s a lot to ask of one person, but that’s the reality of the district’s tight finances. A small pool of applicant...

  • Ironing out all the answers in life

    Larry Persily Publisher|May 29, 2024

    A longtime friend who is just a couple of years younger than me called recently to ask some advice. I’m always flattered when someone seeks my opinion. It makes me feel wise and useful, which is more uplifting than my usual specialties of old and opinionated. But rather than some in-depth inquiry into public policy, finances, taxes, politics or journalism, his question made me feel nostalgic, like remembering my younger life of scrubbing whitewall tires, the low-cost joy of replacing a simple key before expensive programmable fobs took over the...

  • The rest of the state needs to take an interest

    Wrangell Sentinel|May 22, 2024

    Legislators from the Railbelt, which covers the state’s population centers from the Kenai Peninsula to Fairbanks, expect Southeast lawmakers to understand, to care and to spend state dollars on their constituents’ energy needs. They want money to help rebuild electrical transmission lines to move more renewable power and help from the state treasury to promote more natural gas production out of Cook Inlet. The Railbelt wants help for its local needs. Same for rural legislators who seek attention and funding from the state for a long list of loc...

  • Everyone helps pay the real cost of low prices

    Larry Persily Publisher|May 22, 2024

    National news stories last week reported that a survey of almost 1,500 Amazon employees across 42 states found that one in three need government assistance, primarily food stamps or Medicaid. The news matches a Government Accountability Office analysis in 2020 that covered nine states and found that Amazon — and Walmart, too — were among the biggest employers of workers whose earnings were low enough that they qualified for food stamps. That Amazon and Walmart would be near the top is no surprise: Walmart is the largest private-sector emp...

  • It's for our own good

    Wrangell Sentinel|May 15, 2024

    It may be hard for some to accept but, long term, it will be good for the community if commercial tour operators follow state law and register for the required permit to take people to the Petroglyph Beach State Historic Site. That includes collecting $6 per person from customers and sending the money to the state Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation. The fee was on the books long before the beach was designated a state historic site in 2000, bringing it under the permit requirements. It’s just that no one realized it— not the borough or...

  • Imitation is not flattering, it's embarrassing

    Larry Persily Publisher|May 15, 2024

    The Republican-controlled Alaska House of Representatives last Saturday did their best impersonation ever of the U.S. House, spending all day on legislation that will never make it into law. It was the same kind of political circus that the nation has endured the past couple of years after a skinny margin of Republicans took control of the U.S. House, beholden to a small group who spend more time on social media than doing their schoolwork. Too bad teachers cannot take away their phones. Rather than focus on bipartisan legislation that could he...

  • Use your head and get a free bike helmet

    Wrangell Sentinel|May 8, 2024

    Wrangell kids will have a heads-up opportunity next month: Not only can they get free helmets to wear when riding bicycles and four-wheelers, but the offer also includes free paint, brushes and other supplies to decorate their new headgear. It’s a thoughtful giveaway to protect the center of kids’ thought process. Southeast Alaska Independent Living (SAIL), which provides help and support services for people with disabilities, particularly brain injuries, will provide the helmets. Wrangell’s Parks and Recreation Department will put on the e...

  • Alaska might as well embrace the past

    Larry Persily Publisher|May 8, 2024

    One proposal to solve the impending energy shortage for Alaska’s population centers is to go back in time. To the 1970s, when coal was king in the U.S. The governor, legislators, municipal officials and business leaders are worried that the Railbelt — the population corridor stretching south from Fairbanks, through the Matanuska Valley and Anchorage to the Kenai Peninsula — will run short of natural gas before the end of the decade. The region has lived off the nearby underground warehouse of natural gas from the Kenai Peninsula and Cook Inlet...

  • Hospice hopes it can recruit volunteers to resume support services

    May 8, 2024

    I read with great interest the guest opinion by Laurie Overbay-Barker in the April 24 Wrangell Sentinel. She brought up important issues related to the challenging and invaluable work of paid caregiving. My thoughts are running in a related direction. Our town’s aging population has a growing number of folks who could benefit from support to maintain an enjoyable and safe quality of life. We currently have a patchwork system of family, community and paid supports that doesn’t cover everyone. Current caregivers, paid and unpaid, often feel ove...

  • The truth hurts, but it's the right decision

    Wrangell Sentinel|May 1, 2024

    Alaska Marine Highway System management has decided to cut back on advertising that for years promoted the state ferries as a scenic, leisurely way for summer travelers to tour Southeast. Though painful to admit, it’s the right decision. Nothing upsets customers more than to bite on advertising, book a ticket, plan a trip and then find themselves at the dock all dressed up with no place to go. “Because of our reliability with the fleet, we have consciously pulled back our advertising in the Lower 48 because we just disappoint people right now...

  • No sense wasting time, except for politics

    Larry Persily Publisher|May 1, 2024

    The state House needed an auctioneer last week. Instead, it wasted three hours in a meaningless bidding war as the Republican-led majority told Alaskans they cared far more than anyone else about supporting education and ensuring state-funded alternatives for correspondence school students and their families. That meant they didn’t want to move too quickly to fix the constitutional problem of state money going to private and religious school programs. Let the millions continue to flow and wait for the Alaska Supreme Court to hear the appeal o...

  • High schoolers will tutor senior citizens

    Wrangell Sentinel|Apr 24, 2024

    Who needs artificial intelligence when you have high school students with real digital intelligence. In a generational reversal of older people tutoring younger people with their writing, math and other subjects in school, Wrangell High School Student Government volunteers will tutor the community’s senior citizens in the digital world — a world that did not exist when the senior citizens were in high school. The school volunteers will be at the Irene Ingle Public Library from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, May 4, providing free advice, ass...

  • No need to amend the Alaska Constitution

    Larry Persily Publisher|Apr 24, 2024

    Less than two years ago, Alaskans voted overwhelmingly against convening a constitutional convention to amend the state’s founding document. More than 70% of voters said no thanks, it’s a bad idea. It was the sixth time in a row, going back to 1972, that voters by wide margins rejected the whimsy of shaking up the constitution as you would a game of Etch A Sketch and redrawing the fundamental laws of Alaska. While they oppose reopening the constitution to a potential wholesale rewrite, Alaskans have approved multiple specific amendments ove...

  • Caregivers deserve support and adequate pay

    Laurie Overbay-Barker|Apr 24, 2024

    On beautiful Wrangell Island, where my family has deep roots spanning generations, hard work is not just a way of life, it’s ingrained in our very existence. As a caregiver in this tight-knit community, I’ve always embraced the notion that our work is critical to the well-being of our elders and those in need of extra support. It’s a labor of love, despite its backbreaking nature, because it brings a profound sense of satisfaction to know that I’m making a difference in the lives of my neighbors, friends and family. But lately, the work of...

  • Child care services, affordable housing essential for Alaskans

    Apr 24, 2024

    According to a report from Housing Alaskans, on average, southern Southeast residents spend between 50% and 60% of their monthly income on rent. Above-average rents are particularly harmful to lower-income families, leading to an alarming increase in the number of families with housing needs. Child care expenses make up a particularly large portion of numerous families’ budgets. Parents without access to affordable child care can be faced with the difficult decisions of cutting essential expenses elsewhere to pay for child care. In some c...

  • Just say yes and follow His path to a rewarding life

    Apr 24, 2024

    We celebrated Easter Sunday on March 31, and April 1 was the beginning of Easter Week that went to April 6. It’s all a very exciting time in the Christian year. The risen Christ paved the way for all who believe in Him to spend our eternal lives with Him in heaven. None of us have the knowledge as to how long we have here on Earth. We journey through our lives dealing with raising kids, attending weddings and nurturing grandchildren. Our earthly lives are built with lots of busy activities, happy times and sad times. One never knows what w...

  • Alaska House made the right decision

    Wrangell Sentinel|Apr 17, 2024

    The Permanent Fund dividend is important to a lot of Alaska households, but so is education, public safety, ports and harbors, roads and more. The state House did the right thing last week in rejecting a proposed constitutional amendment that would have elevated the PFD to a higher status than any other need in the state. Yes, Alaskans have to find a solution to the annual divisive, debilitating, political fight over the amount of the dividend. It has become worse than a distraction; it’s become an obstruction that prevents elected officials an...

  • Time to let younger people take the lead

    Larry Persily Publisher|Apr 17, 2024

    Neither President Joe Biden, 81, nor former President Donald Trump, 77, is necessarily too old to be president. Their biggest flaws are not their ages, it’s that they are blocking and discouraging younger people from getting a chance to lead the country. It’s because the two nominees are so certain that they are best suited for the job of leading the country and that they, more than anyone else, are best able to manage a nation of 335 million people. They seem to think that younger leaders are not as capable as they are. Their ego tells the...

  • Community support essential for raising safe, healthy children

    Apr 17, 2024

    April is National Prevention of Child Abuse Month. The Alaska Children’s Trust partners with organizations around the state to create awareness and help nurture healthy families. BRAVE is one such group working in Wrangell to build a positive outlook for the future for our children and youth. Our work is based on our core values of Building Respect and Valuing Everyone (BRAVE). Too often, our society thinks of raising strong children as a parent or caregiver’s responsibility alone. This simply isn’t true. Community support and famil...

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