FAREWELL AND GOOD-BYE

The graduating class of 2003 clap for those who supported them through their high school years. Graduation ceremonies took place May 16 and saw 14 students graduate. For more pictures see graduation page. DL

OSHA visit to clinic brings improvements
Bounds reports clinic to OSHA, is completing work

By DIMITRA LAVRAKAS
The rumor that the Office of Occupational Health and Safety came to town and closed the clinic on May 14, are false, said Skagway Medical Clinic Administrator Shawn Keef.
“They were here to do a follow-up visit from November,” said Keef. “No, the clinic has continued operations, we haven’t missed a beat.”
Keef said there were some electrical issues, and that as a city building, the repairs are the city’s to correct.
“We really have no one to blame but ourselves,” said Ward. “We sent a letter to OSHA saying that all the repairs had been made, but that was not true.”
Last fall, Ward said, journeyman electrician Bill Hunz did the repair work and it was signed off by city Department of Public Works Director Grant Lawson on the OK from Public Works employee Frank Wasmer. Wasmer, at the time, served as president of the Skagway Medical Corp. board of directors.
“I recall he had replaced one thing, but when OSHA got back it wasn’t there,” said Wasmer by phone Tuesday. “I need to confirm that with Bill.”
But the work was not completed, said Ward.
Bert Bounds of Bounds Electric said he did the initial inspection a year ago on the clinic at the request of the city, as he has an electrical administrative license to do so. He said he raised concerns that repairs were not being done several times at City Council meetings last summer.
The new Skagway Medical Corp. board hired him to do another inspection in the fall, and he discovered the repairs still had not been completed. He then reported the violations to the state electrical inspector and OSHA. The main problem, he said, was there was no grounding wire for the building.
Bounds said he has problems with the city contracting an electrician who does not have a proper license, and who was paid through the company owned by his son, Dave Hunz, who is on the Council, and who voted on approving payment. Bounds said he doesn’t think this was proper procedure.
“I’m just amazed that he can sit right up there and vote on illegal work,” said Bounds. “I turned it in because I could lose my license because I did the inspection. I can’t understand why they didn’t hire me or someone in town with the appropriate skills.”
City Manager Bob Ward said the city hired Bounds to make those corrections. Ward said Bounds took exception to the city using any electrician that did not have an administrative license. Ward said the state grants exemptions for that requirement for small communities, but doesn’t think Skagway qualifies.

ORE-GONE

A large backhoe removes metal from the remains of the Skagway Ore Terminal, which has been dismantled over the past month. Much of it has already been shipped south on a barge. Only the east wall remains as the cleanup wraps up. DL

Where’s the beef?
Agriculture Dept. bans importation of ruminant meat from Canada

By DIMITRA LAVRAKAS
Never mind holding the fries when you’re next at a burger joint in Whitehorse, hold the beef. Or eat it before you cross the border.
One case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy or “Mad Cow disease” in Alberta, Canada has caused the U.S. Department of Agriculture to ban meat from ruminants, commonly known as “cud chewers,” from being brought across the border. That means no caribou, moose, sheep, goat or deer. Still allowed are shellfish, fish, fowl, pork, and dairy products. Live horses are also OK.
At the U.S. Customs and Border Protection station on the Klondike Highway, Port Director Boyd Worley opened the freezer to reveal an assortment of hot dogs, sausages and a bag from MacDonald’s. They’ve been sending the products to the city incinerator, he said.
“Right now we’re trying to get people to take it back to Canada, but we’re trying to get it incinerated,” said Anchorage Interim Port Director Dan Holland. “Hopefully they’ll find this is an isolated incident and rescind the ban.”
As far as the ban affecting deliveries to restaurants in town, Worley said only the Skagway Fish Co. gets shipments of prawns and shrimp from Whitehorse, and the company faxes its invoice to Anchorage, and Anchorage OKs it and faxes the approval to the Skagway border station.
What to do with the amount of meat being confiscated has not been a problem, Worley said.
“The city incinerator is burning six days a week,” he said.
“Mad Cow” is a degenerative neurological disease among cattle that first surfaced in the Unite Kingdom in November 1986. Evidence established that the outbreak was related to the production and use over many years of contaminated meat-and-bone meal.
The human form of mad cow disease is Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, which causes paralysis and death. Scientists believe humans develop new variants of Creutzfeldt-Jakob when they eat meat from infected animals.
Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease is a rare, fatal brain disorder, which causes a rapid, progressive dementia and associated neuromuscular problems. The disease is often referred to as a subacute spongiform encephalopathy because it usually produces microscopic holes in neurons that look like a sponge.

STEAMING OUT

Steam Engine No. 73 peeks out of the White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad roundhouse as it’s pulled out after two years of repairs. The historic engine will be in service this summer thanks to the skill of its restorers Lloyd Sullivan, Larry Swofford, Carlton Cochran, Dave Sorrell, Mike Tadic, and from the Lower 48, Tom Doyle and Steve Butler, said WP&YR Operations Manager John Mielke. Its makes its first run to Bennett on June 14. DL

Students excel on state exam
Test as top school in the state

By JEFF BRADY

All but one high school student in grades 10-12 passed the Alaska State Qualifying Exam earlier this year, Superintendent Michael Dickens announced at the May 20 meeting of the Skagway City School Board.
This was the first year that the test counts toward a student’s graduation. It will officially be implemented for the Class of 2005. Those sophomores who passed the test will not have to take it again in order to graduate from high school. One sophomore still has to pass two of the three areas of the test to be eligible to graduate, Dickens noted.
Dickens said school counselor Gayle Beckett was quite excited when she received word of the results last week, and he said Skagway students, as sophomores, are learning what they need to know to pass the new state exam. The students still have to complete core graduation requirements in their junior and senior years to receive their diplomas, he reminded all.
The news comes a couple weeks after the school was notified that students here had the top test scores in Alaska on the Terra Nova CAT V exams, as well as the Alaska Standards and Benchmark exams for grades three, six and eight. “We got first place of all the school districts in the state,” he said.
Dickens said the news was the result of a survey commissioned by Citizens for the Educational Advancement of Alaska’s Children, which included the test results and other factors.

Broken down van, banged-up dogs
Summer reporter’s nerve-wracking journey to Skagway

By ROBERT WARREN
The thought of traveling all the way to Skagway for a journalism internship wasn’t as frightening for me as it might have been for many of the other students who have interned at The Skagway News. After all, I’ve spent a decade of summers wading through the tourist-filled streets and trails of the Upper Lynn Canal. The one thing I wasn’t prepared for, however, was how difficult this year’s summer migration would be.
As a senior journalism student at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, my first choice for an internship position naturally was here. I’m familiar with some of the residents and some of the politics, and realized that I’d fit in like O.J. and his glove.
As April turned to May, most Skagwayans were preparing for the arrival of cruise ships and visitors from around the world. I was preparing for finals and packing my belongings for a summer of fun and education. My transportation, however, had other plans.
New tires and a tune-up were all I had planned for my aging van. Unfortunately, my trusty mechanic ripped my engine apart to reveal a cracked cylinder head. He works on the barter system, which lessened the blow. I traded my entire bank account for a shiny new cylinder head. Maybe this summer I’ll learn what that is.
Finally things were packed and school was over. The ducks and geese were arriving in the north country, signifying to me that it was time for my 700-mile journey south. The only problem was the van wasn’t quite ready yet. Another trip to the mechanic ensued, this time concerning a “thermostat.” I wasn’t even aware that it had a furnace in it!
I was, by this point, very eager to set off. I was about a week behind my departure date by now, and knew that my stern editors were saying “Great Caesar’s ghost! Where is he?”
The van was packed, my cabin cleaned for a summer renter. My two sled dogs were brushed and ready to roll, nothing to do but walk them one more time. Unfortunately for the puppy of the two, this was almost his last walk.
Moose sightings are common around my cabin, and the dogs have had many experiences with the largest member of the deer family. We happened to stumble across a cow moose with the youngest, little calf I had ever seen. The usually obedient canines investigated the little dog-sized moose, much to the chagrin of the momma.
She quickly charged Gabe, a four-year-old malamute, whose athleticism enabled him to evade the moose’s cleaver-sharp hooves. Buck, the puppy whose seven months have not yet given him the physical prowess of his elder, quickly received a series of crushing blows from the front hooves of the protective mother.
Gabe raged at the act of aggression, which further enraged the moose. She released her frustration by occasionally stomping on Buck’s seemingly lifeless body. Gabe persisted with uncharacteristic rage as the trio – dog, cow moose and calf – moved deeper into the mosquito-filled muskeg.
After nearly 10 minutes of this, something amazing happened. Little Buck came to, and fled off into the nearby woods. The soft mud of the muskeg absorbed much of the impact of the trampling.
Gabe continued venting his anger and eluding my attempts to catch him. I saw more charging coming my way than a Broadway gift shop on a five-ship day. Finally nature called the big dog, which slowed him down just enough for me to grab his collar before we both met the fate of Buck.
We hurried off to find the injured pup, expecting the worst. Surprisingly, he showed up at the cabin: bloody but intact. A quick exam revealed tenderness in the ribs, but nothing appeared broken. A vet trip should have been in order, but the extremely early morning hour prompted us to load up and hit the road.
Buck was stable, so I planned on stopping at a Whitehorse vet if his health began to deteriorate. He was hanging in there five hours later at the Canadian border. I asked for vet information, which sent everyone there scrambling to save the poor puppy. They called the Haines Junction medical clinic, and they agreed to see him even though he’s a dog, which turned out not to be necessary.
Finally Whitehorse showed up and an after-hours veterinary clinic was found. X-rays were taken and pain killers and antibiotics prescribed. We were finally on our way. I could almost smell the cottonwoods.
We flew past the desert and, in the waning light of early morning, made our way over the White Pass. I downshifted the van, which still doesn’t run right, and pulled into the turnout just above the Moore Creek bridge to let the dogs take a break and let the view take my breath.
I immediately heard an odd barking sound from the rear of the vehicle, and upon inspection, found that sick little Buck had found the energy to get a face full of porcupine quills. Big Gabe was right there, too, and despite the howling pain, continued to let that little porcupine know how he felt.
Fortunately I knew what to do. I had just asked the vet what to do two hours ago. Almost making it to Skagway, we turned around and headed for the same vet for yet another emergency visit. I once again breezed through a Canadian border frantic with dog care needs.
It took that night and into the next day to pluck the quills. Finally, I was heading to back by the desert and up over the pass. As I crossed the bridge and wound down into the first incorporated city in all of Alaska, you just might have heard the faint clicking of my boots as I said “There’s no place like Skagway.”

OTHER STORIES

• GRADUATION - Bittersweet memories for Class of 2003

• OBITUARY - Sandy Grunow

• HEARD ON THE WIND - First installment of the season.

• SOFTBALL & FISH THIS - Coed play begins, Cremata takes no lip

To read every story in The Skagway News, you have to subscribe to the real thing. Cost for an out-of-town subscription is just $35 a year second class mail or $45 a year first class mail. We take credit cards. Call us at 907-983-2354, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. weekdays Alaska time, or just mail a check to Skagway News, Box 498, Skagway, AK 99840.