Yeager wants to help promote Wrangell's marine services

John Yeager, sport fishing guide and commercial halibut fisherman, plans to keep promoting sustainable growth in Wrangell during his upcoming three-year term on the port commission.

"Fortunately, I have been on the port commission to see a lot of our projects started, like The Marine Service Center and a lot of our harbors," he said. "I want to stay on and see Wrangell's continued growth."

Yeager has served on the commission for six terms already, totaling 12 years. He believes that the borough's marine industry workforce is among the best in Alaska and hopes to promote their boat services to customers throughout Southeast and the Pacific Northwest.

He is one of two candidates running for two seats in the Oct. 4 municipal election. Both he and Winston Davies are guaranteed to win.

While he believes economic expansion will be an important part of Wrangell's future, he hopes the borough will expand strategically, to avoid overwhelming residents and retailers. "Wrangell is a very welcoming community for the independent traveler and yachter," he explained, and he wants to play a role in the continued development of those industries.

Like many of Wrangell's commissions and boards, the biggest problem facing the port commission in the coming years will be its budget, Yeager said. Updating harbors and providing a wide variety of quality services are essential for the port commission to keep up with its competitors. But continuous maintenance comes at a price, and the commission is always cobbling funds together from a combination of grant money and moorage fees.

"The Reliance and Inner Harbor are the next ones on our list to start working on," said Yeager. "The longer we wait down the road, the harder and more expensive it will be to repair. You are never ever caught up."

The cost of building a new harbor is twice as much as it was 15 years ago, and the port commission deals with a constant cycle of repairs at a constantly increasing cost. However, Yeager is proud to be working with a qualified team of commissioners. "Our harbormaster is doing a great job at keeping his eye on potential funding opportunities," he said.

"I really look forward to getting to work for the community," he said, "and hope to keep things moving in a positive direction for Wrangell."

 

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