Loaded Weapon Seized

Officer R.J. Ely walks toward his patrol vehicle with a loaded gun he found in the alley next to A.B. Hall, as Officer Lee Virg-In talks to the suspect in the case. See Top Stories below. Casey Grove

Suspect facing four felonies since turning 18

By CASEY GROVE
Skagway police arrested Lance G. Smith, 18, for first degree felony theft for allegedly having a stolen gun around 11 p.m. June 16 near Third and Broadway. Smith allegedly possessed a loaded 9mm Glock pistol.
“He was brandishing it and someone called it in,” said Police Chief Ray Leggett. Smith was showing off the gun and trying to sell it near 3rd Avenue and State Street, Leggett said. The Police Department is located two blocks away on First Avenue.
“Let’s face it, any time someone’s trying to sell a gun like that, a Glock, for 50 bucks, it’s hot,” Leggett said with a laugh.
Officers R.J. Ely, Lee Virg-In and Jason Joel responded. After ditching the gun in an alley by A.B. Hall, Smith was apprehended and held for questioning. A little while later Officer Ely recovered the gun from the alley.
While sitting on the Broadway boardwalk, Smith’s friend, Heather Heath, 21, approached the officers. She was “totally intoxicated,” said Leggett, and was arrested for disorderly conduct after refusing to leave the area after being asked to do so six times.
Smith was additionally charged with misconduct involving a weapon, a class B misdemeanor, and violating conditions of his release for a pending case in Haines involving a burglary at the school there.
About two weeks after his 18th birthday, this past May 1, Smith was arrested for breaking into the Haines school with some friends and was charged with three felonies: 2nd degree burglary, 2nd degree theft and 3rd degree criminal mischief. Smith would not implicate the others, and took the blame for the break-in and burglary.
Assistant District Attorney Jack Schmidt said the damage included two large windows broken to gain access to the school, and that Smith and his friends stole about $635 cash, a Dell laptop, a scanner and a bullhorn. The total cost, including manhours replacing the windows, was listed as $4,666.47, Schmidt said.
The District Attorney’s office had proposed a plea deal of three misdemeanors for the Haines school burglary, but Schmidt said the offer would likely be withdrawn considering Smith’s recent, gun-related charges in Skagway.
Smith was shipped out to await trial at Lemon Creek Correctional Facility in Juneau, because he was unable to post the $10,000 bail set by Skagway Magistrate Susan Reed. After the arrest, bail was set at $2,500, but Officer Ely requested that it be raised because police had since discovered that the gun was stolen, resulting in the felony charge.
“You might as well just transport me (to Juneau), because I can’t come up with 10 grand,” Smith said sullenly at his arraignment June 17, in the same black shirt and pants he wore the night of the arrest.
Smith had worked at a hotel in Skagway, but was recently fired. He intended to stay for the summer after getting another job at a jewelry store.

Reworked seawalk design approved by city, tour companies

Mayor Bourcy: 'The ultimate compromise'

By CASEY GROVE
Changes to the city’s seawalk design were well-received by local tour companies after meetings with City Manager Bob Ward and architects of the project who were tasked with improving the flow of visitors to and from the Railroad Dock.
One of the most vocal critics of the original design, Steve Hites of Skagway Street Car Co., called the changes “a major improvement.”
The design now includes a wider and more open turnaround area to improve the flow of large vehicle traffic and three smaller visitors shelters intead of a single large structure.
The $2.3 million seawalk project was initiated to minimize congestion at the loading area north of the dock because pedestrians and tour customers coming from the cruise ships, and the buses, city transit and trains they ride must all travel through a narrow passage to exit the area.
Several concerned parties, including White Pass & Yukon Route President Gary Danielson, Councilmember Monica Carlson (who works for Skagway Street Car Co.) and Hites had previously expressed concern over finalizing the design. Hites and the railroad asked City Manager Bob Ward to have the architects look at the affected area during the busiest summer days, because they said the planners could not have observed any significant congestion when they last visited Skagway in the wintertime.
Luanne Urfer, Manager of Landscape Architecture for Tryck Nyman Hayes, Inc., and Senior Marine Engineer Shaun McFarlane visited Skagway June 16 to witness firsthand the morning and midday rushes at the busiest dock in Skagway, as cruise ship passengers walked to town, and boarded trains, buses and vans.
“It’s a shared conflict. It’s a tight space with a lot going on,” Urfer said. “Number one is safety.”
“I really truly believe what we’re doing here is going to be good not just for the cruise passengers, but for the city of Skagway,” Urfer said.
At about 8 a.m. June 16, Urfer and McFarlane watched streetcars drive into the area and back into parking spots. They saw tour buses bound for Carcross and Whitehorse turn around and load up, and tour company vans meet their groups. All of this happened amid thousands of tourists passing through a nearby security checkpoint and filtering through the vehicles or boarding White Pass parlor cars.
“I think of it as plumbing,” McFarlane said. “The difference is you don’t want peak flow, you’ve got all these caps on it.” The caps McFarlane referred to are the various local companies competing for revenue through selling tours and providing transportation.
The dock sees 50 percent of Skagway’s cruise ship passangers with its two cruise ship berths, and with a third berth in the works, Hites said, “It’s going to be wild.”
“The big deal is people-moving,” Hites said, later congratulating the city for a “fantastic” first phase of design development: “The economy of the town is blessed to have some good leadership.”
Hites went on to describe a picturesque vision of the seawalk (a “yellow brick road” as he calls it) becoming a gateway to the city, complete with flowers and a sign pointing toward Skagway.
Councilmember Carlson, along with Hites and other tour company representatives, had at first wanted to move a proposed visitor shelter to the north – toward the small boat harbor – as a way to further alleviate vehicle congestion, but this was met with skepticism from Councilmember Mike Korsmo.
Korsmo spoke up for the locals: “It’s also a part of boat harbor expansion, it’s not just about moving people.”
“A lot of this area up here is for people to enjoy the harbor area,” Korsmo said. “It’s for the people, it’s not just about the tourists. It’s for us.”
“Moving the shelter over just exacerbates the congestion,” said City Manager Ward. “Then when you get a poor local boat owner with a cooler and an outboard– that’s just too much.”
Carlson suggested a compromise at a meeting with the designers that involved splitting the visitor’s shelter into three separate structures. This was eventually agreed on by all parties present.
“Instead of having one huge shelter, you could probably divide it into three,” Carlson said. “If you can divide that out, that makes it easier for everybody.”
“The community’s got to share,” Carlson said, addressing Korsmo’s concern regarding impacts to the boat harbor.
Korsmo later questioned the additional costs of altering the design at this advanced stage of development.
“I’m not sure how much farther we can go, as a city,” he said.
When the question of increasing costs was posed to the designers, Urfer spoke up: “It’s so subjective, I don’t even know how big these buildings (the three shelters) will be ... I’d like to say it’s not going to change the cost that much.”
“This is going to be a destination point that you’re going to be proud of,” said McFarlane.
After the meeting, Urfer acknowledged the many differing points of view. “They’ve got to get it to function the way they want it,” she said.
Tryck Nyman Hayes, Inc. is now revising the plans and will resubmit the design for approval by the City of Skagway.

Backtracking on ferry plans

Taylor says winter ‘experiment’ not final till August after ferry advisory board challenges moving fast ferry Fairweather south

By CASEY GROVE
Recently proposed changes for winter ferry service were discussed during a teleconference of the Marine Transportation Advisory Board on June 22. Alaska Marine Highway Deputy Commissioner Robin Taylor listened to comments and tried to answer all of the questions from Lynn Canal and Prince William Sound communities.
The meeting was supposed to address service in Lynn Canal, but after hearing the Deputy Commissioner’s opening remarks, Skagway Mayor Tim Bourcy told Taylor, “We didn’t really get a lot of information on the Lynn Canal service.”
“It’s exactly the service you had last winter,” Taylor answered. “Nothing’s changed.”
The Alaska Marine Highway System announced May 19 on its Web site that the Fairweather would stop coming to Skagway Oct. 1 in order to see how the fast ferry would operate on new routes based out of Petersburg. During a call-in show on KHNS, Taylor referred to the experiment as merely a “proposed” change and said nothing would be finalized until August.
“I am definitely not happy with the process that’s occurred here,” Bourcy told Taylor. “I don’t see the point of having (the Marine Transportation Advisory Board) if you’re not going to use it.”
“It’s a disaster,” Bourcy said of the administration’s constant meddling with ferry schedules. “You are harming businesses and you are harming communities because you guys can’t get this system consistent and reliable,” he told Taylor.
The board proposed a schedule that would bring the Fairweather to Skagway three times a week, and a mainliner every Monday. Taylor also said the administration is shopping around for open-deck boats to serve as shuttles between Haines and Skagway.
“It’s going to increase the cost of freight to this community,” said Councilmember Mike Catsi, who asked that the state scrap the shuttle idea. Taylor said he would consider it.

Charlene and Daniel Hogan from Tulsa OK, brought in about $300 worth of merchandise to ship home. Audrey Neitzer processes the job as Elizabeth Burnham, store manager, supervises. AC-C

Skagway Mailing Center opened by SDC

By ARDYCE CZUCHNA-CURL
Packing and shipping is what the new Skagway Mailing Center is all about. The business which opened May 23 on 6th Ave. west of Broadway is making life easier for some tourists and local merchants.
Others are trying to figure out what the center does and how it works.
“Tourists and merchants can bring in their goods,” said Mike Catsi, executive director of the Skagway Development Corp., which operates the center.
“We (mailing center employees) do the packing and shipping. Most merchants lose money shipping goods when they figure in postage, packing fees and labor involved. In addition they can’t be selling while they’re packing.”
The mailing center has distributed business cards to merchants, and some are already sending customers to the mailing center, said Elizabeth Burnham, store manager.
Next door, Alaska Fleece Co. manager, Sal K. said, “I’ll send my customers there. Otherwise I have to find a box. It’s a nuisance and I don’t know how much to charge. They (the customer) can buy more then. The more room they have, the more they buy.”
Mary Strange at Skagway Outlet Store said, “We’re sending
people to the center. It’s good for international orders. You can walk right in and they’ll send it for you (the customer). For us, it’s nice and it’s right around the corner. We’ve had good response.”
Daniel and Charlene Hogan from Tulsa, Okla. arrived at the mailing center loaded down with bags of gifts to ship home last week.
“We’d have to buy another suitcase or maybe a trunk if we
couldn’t ship this stuff,” Hogan said.
“We couldn’t go all this way and not take back something for family and friends,” Mrs. Hogan said. “We’ve been in Alaska 15 days, but we bought all our things in Skagway because we could ship them home from here. Prices aren’t bad here either.”
Their purchases included several denim shirts, a fleece, a sweat shirt, numerous t-shirts, an Eskimo doll, a crystal moose and materials to make beer bread.
Mrs. Hogan said a shopkeeper told them about the mailing center.
“But we’re keeping the candy bars with us,” said her husband.
Some merchants aren’t using the service because they are responsible if a claim is filed and prefer to do their own shipping.
But Catsi said other “merchants like the idea of the center because they’re no longer liable for the packages and their employees can be selling instead of packing. They can order larger quantities of goods if they don’t have to store a lot of boxes, bubble wrap and tape in their back room.”
The business is not meant to be competition for the U.S. mail. Skagway Mailing Center hopes to complement the services of the
post office.
“But we’ve learned mailing is more complex than we thought,” Catsi said. “We’re developing an appreciation for the postal service. We have a good relationship with them and Elaine Brummett has been most helpful.”
Postmaster Brummett said, “If a merchant has something they can’t box, they’ll go to the mailing center, but we haven’t noticed a difference in the length of our lines yet, and we still have to re-weigh and check things because they (the employees) are new at this. It will take time, but they (at the mailing service) have done well. They are good about calling and asking questions. We’re working well together. I don’t see this as competition.”
Mailing center employees have boxes, bubble wrap, Styrofoam peanuts, and tape and are prepared to package items as they come in and take them across the street to the post office.
The customer pays the cost of postage, plus fees for materials and handling. There’s no extra charge for priority mail boxes supplied by the post office, but if a customer needs a larger box, the mailing center has them and the customer doesn’t have to find his own large box nor stand in line at the post office.
The mailing center is the brain child of the SDC. Catsi said his board met weekly this past winter trying to come up with a fund-raiser that would be a useful service for merchants but would not compete with them. They conducted a survey of businesse to see if a mailing center would be viable.
“Grants for non-profits have dried up, so our idea was to come up with a for-profit business that would raise money to go back into the non-profit SDC,” Catsi said.
Asked whether the Mailing Center would be open year-round, Catsi said it would depend on whether they can come up with other services the locals could use during the winter.
“Packing and shipping is our main emphasis, but we’re hoping to offer other services, such as Western Union money transfers to cruise ship passengers and crews during the tourist season,” Catsi said.
“Eighty percent of the funds coming into Skagway each summer leave the community according to a study made in the year 2000,” Catsi said. He believes the mailing center will help keep more of that money in the community.

FOURTH OF JULY SCHEDULE!!!!!!!


PHOTO OF THE WEEK

SKATE SEQUENCER – Court Hoffman ollies onto the funbox and performs a “tail manual” at the local skatepark by the SRC. Photo illustration from sequence by Casey Grove

OTHER ONLINE FEATURES THIS ISSUE...

• FISH THIS!: Amazing Tales from the Deep, Part 2

SPORTS & REC. ROUNDUP - Yukon River Quest father-daughter team pre-race interview; Skagway pedalers in KCIBR

• OBITUARY: Barbara Elliott

HEARD ON THE WIND with some "Tourist Twaddle" from the past!

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