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By Dan Rudy 

Assembly addresses wandering dogs, timber tangles

 


Tuesday's Regular Borough Assembly meeting was preceded by a public hearing on Ordinance 887 being proposed, an amended section of the Wrangell Municipal Code largely dealing with the control of animals within City and Borough limits.

The revised ordinance has already been sent back to the Ordinance Review Board before for retooling, and this latest appearance would be its second reading.

A number of the island's residents showed up to express their concerns that the wording of several sections is still unsatisfactory.

Susan Wise Eagle brought up one point dealing with dogs “at large,” interpreting the wording to include animals on private property which are not enclosed.

“The problem I have with that are my dogs are trained to stay in my yard,” she said. Wise Eagle added that a lenient approach now taken to the rules as they were currently worded was no assurance for the future. “You people are going to change. This law may not.”

Resident Dave Sweat also voiced concern that the ordinance included livestock and poultry in its definitions.

Assembly member Julie Decker replied that another ordinance revision dealing more specifically with those sorts of animals will be brought up for review soon and that the section currently under review dealt with dogs and, to a lesser extent, cats.

“We're trying hard to have this balancing act,” explained Assembly member Mark Mitchell. The balance involves weighing people's individual property rights against those of their neighbors. While on the one hand a person ought to enjoy certain liberties, he said the ordinances were intended to protect the property of others from damage.

Making some adjustments to the language afterward to reflect the public input given, the Assembly voted to accept the ordinance. It also approved Ordinance 889, amending the minor offense fine schedule of the Code.

Assembly member Julie Decker presented an item for possible action, putting it forward that the Borough either join as an intervenor or else submit an amicus brief in support of the United States Forest Service in three separately filed suits intending to halt the Big Thorne timber sale.

The sale would encompass 95 million board feet of old- and young-growth timber on Prince of Wales Island, the majority of which would be processed by Viking Lumber Company in Craig.

Advising the Assembly in favor of taking some course of action, George Woodbury explained Viking is the last medium-sized saw mill left in the region, and its continued operation provides one of the last footholds for a locally-supported timber industry.

“It's vitally important that they get that timber,” member Becky Rooney said.

“The opportunity for intervention is short,” Woodbury told them. Oct. 22 is the earliest deadline to intervene in the three suits.

Decker reminded the Assembly that Wrangell itself may be looking at timber sales in the future and that legal decisions arrived at in the Big Thorne's case may have potential consequences elsewhere.

Borough Manager Jeff Jabusch was tasked with conferring with the city's attorney. If Wrangell decides to intervene it should cost about $5,000, which Jabusch told the Assembly would be covered by leftover economic recovery fund money set aside for such purposes.

In her presentation, Decker mentioned other businesses and communities in Southeast–including Alaska Electric Light and Power, Alaska Marine Lines, Tyler Rental and the City of Craig–are also seeking to support the sale in one way or another.

Chief executive officer of Wrangell Medical Center (WMC) Marla Sanger apprised the Assembly of progress on plans for a new hospital building.

“Our desire for that has not decreased,” she said. The idea would be to have a new center built near the new Alaska Island Community Services clinic, connecting the two facilities by means of an enclosed entryway.

Right now a WMC team is reviewing its designs and having conversations about United States Department of Agriculture loans that might be available to fund the project.

Recently re-elected Mayor David Jack also made his appointments for several positions on Borough commissions and boards.

Don McConachie Sr. and Dorothy Hunt Sweat were appointed to sit on Planning and Zoning; Leslie Cummings and Corree Delabrue on the Convention and Visitors Board; Decker and Kim Covalt on the Economic Development Committee; and Cindy Martin and Grover Mathis on the Parks and Recreation Board.

Mathis had initially intended to resign from the board but reconsidered, presenting instead a letter of intent.

The Assembly also elected member Daniel Blake as Vice-Mayor, and Jack appointed new member Stephen Prysunka to serve as liaison with the WMC board.

An opening on the Nolan Museum and Civic Center Board was not filled and is still available for those who are interested.

The Assembly approved a contract with architectural firm Jensen Yorba Lott for a facilities condition assessment of the public pool. The amount of the contract was $30,000, which was paid with funds received from a state grant.

Three proposed resolutions amending the job descriptions of the library assistant, light plant secretary and light maintenance positions were also accepted.

A certificate of service was also presented to Kimmi Smith for her service on the School Board from 2010 to 2014.

Due to its nearness to the Thanksgiving holiday, the Regular Assembly meeting scheduled for Nov. 25 will be cancelled.

 

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