Opinion / Editorial

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Expensive, yes, but it's necessary

It looks like it’s going to cost a little more than $23 million to improve and ensure Wrangell’s drinking water quality for years to come. The work will include construction of a new water treatment building, new filtration and disinfection sys...

 

Look local first before looking online

Wrangell’s sales tax revenues from online commerce continue to climb as more residents shop for more things online, and as more sellers follow the law and collect sales tax and send the money to the borough. As much as that’s good news for the mun...

 

Simple test strip can help save lives

There isn’t any proof that fentanyl has made its way to Wrangell, but Police Chief Tom Radke has no doubt that the drug is present in the community. “I’m sure it’s here,” he says. “It would be foolish to say it’s not.” It also would be foolish for...

 

School district reserves are a better answer this time

The expense of sending student athletes to state competition the past couple of years exceeded the amount in the Wrangell school district budget. Auditors this summer discovered that the state travel account was overdrawn by about $36,000. The...

 

Accessory rentals could help ease housing shortage

There is no single answer to Wrangell’s housing shortage. There is no magic 2-by-4 that borough officials can wave over the community to create new apartments and homes. Which means trying multiple small steps, such as accessory dwelling units. T...

 

Booster club a good idea for school sports expenses

The community already does a good job of pitching in, helping out and coming up with money for school sports activities. But rather than just doing it one sport, one event at a time, there is a proposal to reestablish a booster club for all school...

 

Medicaid coverage too important to lose needlessly

Several hundred Wrangell residents who receive Medicaid benefits should make sure the state has their current address and all the information needed to verify their eligibility. The state of Alaska — same as all the states — is reviewing its Med...

 

Wrangell does its best work with volunteers

Wrangell certainly has its challenges. Those include a shortage of housing and available workers, weather-damaged and age-worn public buildings that need millions of dollars in repairs, limited state ferry service that makes it hard to send out a...

 

If not you, who?

Attracting people to run for public office in Wrangell can be as difficult as finding a snow shovel to borrow in a winter storm — they are all busy. Nonetheless, they are essential. Quality candidates for borough assembly, school board and port c...

 

No room for error

The state needs a new mainline ferry more than ever. The Alaska Marine Highway System is running out of operable ships, further driving away travelers. The scarcity of service makes it hard on locals and even harder on summer visitors, who find the...

 

Take an interest in proposed Anan fee increase

Visitors to the Anan Wildlife Observatory currently pay a fee of $10 for a day’s visit to the popular bear viewing spot during the permit season of July and August. The U.S. Forest Service, which runs and maintains the observatory, has not raised t...

 

Too many similarities to Alaska for comfort

One of three major credit-rating agencies downgraded the U.S. government’s creditworthiness by a notch last week. Fitch said it made the move mostly because of the government’s rising debt and ongoing political difficulties of addressing spending and...

 

It will not be easy, but code enforcement needed

Borough Assembly Member Jim DeBord is right to warn against “going down the rabbit hole too far” when it comes to enforcing municipal code against junk vehicles and garbage on private property. But it’s a hole the borough needs to fill so that no on...

 

If it's broken, someone will know how to fix it

If there ever was a town well suited to a fix-it clinic, it’s Wrangell. The community’s residents pride themselves on adapting, making do with what is available, repairing and reusing and repurposing most anything and everything that can find a secon...

 

Giving away hospital property may be best for the borough

The borough assembly is making another attempt at selling the former hospital property. It contracted last month with a real estate agent who will search near, far and wide for a buyer willing to pay the asking price of $470,000 — or anything c...

 

Borough is smart to think regionwide about trash

Out of sight, out of mind probably is how most people think about trash. That has pretty much worked for Wrangell since the municipality closed its landfill at the north end of the island more than a decade ago and started shipping its garbage to an...

 

Independence Day a good time to think about taxes in Alaska

As Americans celebrate the anniversary of the Declaration of Independence this week, it’s good to remember that taxes helped drive the push to break away from the king’s control and the laws of Parliament. However, it wasn’t so much taxes themselves...

 

The governor talks fiscal plan but has not followed through

More than two months ago, Gov. Mike Dunleavy told legislators he would introduce a state sales tax as part of a long-term, budget-balancing fiscal plan. Something is needed to end the annual budget battles that have dominated Alaska politics for the...

 

Hopefully, there's a way to keep children's services job in town

It took the community several years of pushing, pleading and politics before it succeeded in convincing the state to restore the Office of Children’s Services caseworker position in town. The job had been eliminated more than a dozen years earlier b...

 

The numbers are heading in the wrong direction

It’s impossible to miss the shortage of workers across Alaska, and certainly in Wrangell. Whether it’s the help wanted signs and advertisements, the social media posts or the cutback in hours and service, the staff shortages are obvious. And it...

 

It's the little budget items that can make a difference

The biggest headline in the borough’s draft budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1 is the proposed 24% reduction in the property tax rate, though a substantial drop had been expected. This year’s comprehensive assessment review of every pie...

 

Borough makes right moves to deal with costly repairs

Every homeowner, car and boat owner knows that maintenance is expensive. It’s also necessary. Particularly so in Alaska, where the weather is unkind to most everything except solid rock, and even that can erode away given enough time. Maintenance i...

 

Legislature needs to finish its school work next year

The Legislature earned a passing grade for approving a substantial increase in state funding for public schools — the first since 2017. Think of it as a small gold star for effort, but they still will need to retake the class next year. Rather t...

 

High school graduates show us the way

The honesty of the younger generation reminds us of what is important in life. It should prompt everyone to pay attention to what teenagers say. It will be their community and their world, so their opinions matter. Wrangell High School seniors are...

 

Ukrainian software developer lands at Wrangell airport

Virtually that is, not literally. But maybe someday for real Oleh Shevchenko, the boss of Northern Sky Studio, a software development company based in Kharkiv, Ukraine, and his team recently created a computer-generated Wrangell airport add-on for...

 

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