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By Dan Rudy 

Assembly discusses pool, pouring concrete


Continuing pool woes concerned the Wrangell Borough Assembly when members Maxi Wiederspohn, Pam McCloskey, Mark Mitchell, Becky Rooney and Mayor David Jack met in their City Hall chambers Tuesday evening.

“It seems that everything here has gone wrong at the same time,” reported Borough Manager Jeff Jabusch.

Last month Wrangell public pool staff discovered a number of problems, including a significant leak, roof issues, some corrosion and electrical problems with a heat exchanger. Jabusch said a public pool in Juneau had experienced similar heat exchanger trouble, and that the company used to solve that problem will be contacted.

In addition, the water heater at Stikine Middle School servicing the pool's showers and restroom ruptured. While temporary solutions have been found for most of these issues, a more lasting approach will have to be considered.

“It is something important to the community,” Jabusch said, imparting the skill of swimming to the community's youth – a useful ability to have where boats are so commonplace.

Reminding the assembly the pool is nearly 30 years old, Jabusch reported that a grant has been received from the Alaska State Legislature to fund an assessment. He believes that should be concluded within the next 30 to 40 days.

“There's a fair amount that needs to be looked at,” he said, adding that any large-scale renovations or replacement of the public pool may require funding requested from the Legislature.

The Assembly also passed on first reading revised versions of the proposed animal control ordinance and amended minor offense fines schedule. Among changes to the former, the requirement of keeping dogs controlled within a half-mile of Wrangell's road system was reduced to a quarter-mile distance. Both proposed ordinance drafts will be open to a public hearing scheduled for Oct. 14, before the regular Assembly meeting at City Hall.

In the mayor's report, Jack commented that Southeast Conference the borough hosted last week went very well.

“I really want to compliment the city of Wrangell,” he said, from the many businesses that donated items for the conference's silent auction to the volunteers who helped make the three-day event possible. “It was a community effort and we really appreciate it.”

Paving projects around the island continue.

The city's attorney is negotiating with the state Department of Transportation for more favorable terms in the memorandum of understanding Wrangell needs to sign for the Evergreen Road improvement project.

“The state is doing the whole thing,” Jabusch explained, from the design and bidding to the actual construction. However, the borough would hold all liability for the road. While some of the terms Wrangell would prefer might get into the final agreement, he said not everything will. “Other than that, I think it's on track.”

Upgrades to Cassiar Street are getting closer to the point where concrete can be poured. Most of the water and sewer lines have been completed, and the storm drains are being constructed. After that the surfacing work can begin. The road is expected to be completed in another month or two.

The Assembly also approved a change order to Rock-n-Road Construction for phase three of the concrete paving at Wrangell Marine Service Center, in the amount of $68,580. The north access to the yard will be paved, which should help reduce the amount of dirt being tracked in by vehicles. Eventually ground to dust and becoming airborne, it has been posing a problem for crews engaged in painting projects.

“This has always been a problem,” said Jabusch.

The money comes from the amount leftover from two Denali Commission grants for capital improvements to the service yard, where projects came in under budget. After this section of paving, the remaining funds will go toward a few small projects: pouring concrete around the yard's restrooms, addressing several drainage issues that exist for businesses in the area around Silvernail Road, construction of a shelter for the center's oil separator system to prevent its freezing during the winter, and some signage.

The Assembly also approved the purchase of a Caterpillar 140M model excavator from NC Machinery in Juneau for $323,728.

“I only got one comment” regarding the grader's purchase, Jack said. “Once you get it, put it to work at Shoemaker, please.”

In her report, Borough Clerk Kim Lane reminded the Assembly that the regular elections date of Oct. 7 is quickly closing in, with a number of candidates for office running unopposed.

The open seats include a two-year term for mayor, two three-year terms and a one-year term on the Borough Assembly, one three-year term on the Port Commission, one three-year term on the School Board, and two four-year terms on the Hospital Board. Those interested in registering as a write-in candidate need to file a letter of intent by 5 p.m. on Oct. 3.

The Borough is also looking to fill upcoming vacancies for board commission appointments, as nine terms are set to expire next month.

There will be two vacancies on the Planning and Zoning Commission, two on Parks and Recreation, two on Wrangell Convention and Visitors Bureau, two on Economic Development Committee, and one on Nolan Museum/Civic Center Board. Each position is a three-year term.

Letters of intent can be submitted to the Borough Clerk's office.

“We've had a few but we need more,” Lane said. It is preferred submissions be received by Oct. 6, but letters can still be submitted up until the 13th. The Assembly will then make the appointments at its Oct. 14 meeting.


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