The Way We Were

From the Sentinel 100, 75, 50 and 25 years ago

June 15, 1922

One of the oldest totems in Alaska has been erected on the dock near the bonded warehouse. This rare totem was originally erected by the Natives in the old town of Howkan which was deserted years ago. This totem was transferred by the Natives to John K. Smith, of Craig who in turn sold it to the late Chas. A. Sulzer. Recently, Walter Waters purchased the totem from Attorney A. H. Zigler, who is the administrator of the Sulzer estate. The totem has been erected on the dock jointly owned by Walter Waters and the McCormack Dock Co. As an asset for attracting tourists, it will be worth thousands of dollars to the town.

June 12, 1947

One of the worst blows Wrangell has experienced in many a day hit here last Monday evening when the Farwest-Wrangell cannery burned, an almost total loss. Old-timers said it was a disaster comparable to the fire of 1906, when half the town went up in smoke. Its economic loss to the town is tremendous, especially coming on top of the mill being shut down and the recent strike, for Wrangell is and always has been a town mainly dependent on “the silver hoarder” cannery for its prosperity. However, it is refreshing to see the spirit of the people and of Mr. A. R. Brueger, one of the cannery’s operators who arrived by plane from Seattle on Tuesday. With a never-say-die attitude, Mr. Brueger viewed the ashes and immediately began planning to open the old Burnett cannery to replace the Farwest. It will mean added expense in machinery and labor, but Wrangell would have a salmon pack. Mr. Brueger has faced difficulties before, but he has never let Wrangell down.

June 16, 1972

The new president of Alaska Airlines came to Wrangell on Tuesday, pledging that the organization is “determined to do everything we can to improve service.” L. Preston Blatter, named to the airline’s presidency in the recent reorganization of top company officials, said shifts in scheduling procedures and company policies already are underway and expected to make Alaska Airlines “the best carrier of its type in the country.” Blatter said plans are to institute computerized reservations scheduling within a year and improved customer service and freight handling systems immediately. He said the company’s financial picture is already improving since the shakeup last month which saw former chairman of the board and chief executive officer Charles Willis step down. He said the airline will look seriously at putting pure jets into Wrangell after the Wrangell airport is extended and paved, a project scheduled for next summer by the state.

June 12, 1997

Finance Director Jabusch said the city’s fiscal year 1998 budget is now in balance, with a small $122,919 surplus that will be added back into reserves or spent to cover unanticipated expenses in various departments. Actually, the city only managed to balance its books by taking $1,370,000 from federal Economic Recovery Funds to cover its shortfalls. Half-a-million dollars was taken to offset sales tax revenues lost after the city council cut the 7 percent tax on food and utilities last December. Other shortfalls will be funded with the $870,000 in interest that the $25 million Economic Recovery Fund has earned by sitting in the bank since last October. All the city’s capital projects also will be funded from the federal money that is intended to help the community recover from the loss of the timber industry. Jabusch said he soon will have an updated list on how much has been spent from the Economic Recovery Fund.


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