Members of the SHS girls cross-country team huddle up before the start of the ASAA 1A-2A-3A State Championship Sept. 30. The young team suprised everyone with a fourth place finish. See story and more photos in features. Photo by Klas Stolpe
Oct. 2 Election
Clinic bonds, sales tax split approved
By JEFF BRADY
Skagway voters on Oct. 2 gave a big endorsement to bonding new clinic construction, and in a closer vote passed a proposition that will alter the sales tax rates during the summer and winter seasons.
Proposition 1, which asked voters to reduce the sales tax from the current 4% to 3% October through March and increase it to 5% April through September, with a new year-round exemption on food items, ended up passing 162 to 143.
The spread had been wider 30 votes from the initial tally at the polls on Oct. 2, and narrowed after the counting of 48 absentee and 2 questioned ballots at the Canvass Board meeting on Oct. 4.
Proposition 2, which asked voters to approve up to $5 million in general obligation bonds for funding new clinic construction, held up strong, with 197 for and 106 against.
Mayor Tom Cochran said he was really happy to see our two ballot measures pass.
The overwhelming two-to-one margin for clinic bonding will help the borough obtain funding from other sources, he said. The latest clinic estimate, if construction started next spring, is $7.84 million, so the borough is seeking additional funds from granting agencies like the Rasmuson Foundation and Denali Commission.
When they see broad public support, it makes (the project) viable, Cochran said.
The next step is to approach the Alaska Municipal Bond Bank to prepare the bonds. According to the measure passed by voters, the bonds will be paid through a combination of property and sales taxes over a life of up to 30 years.
The recently passed sales tax measure will help pay that bill. It is expected to net an additional $850,000 annually.
The new sales tax structure, by ordinance, will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2008, and the borough will be getting out ads and flyers notifying businesses and residents of the changes ahead.
Finance Chair Dan Henry gave the passage two thumbs up. The seasonal sales tax split was a way to create some tax relief for the year-round residents of the community, he said.
Henry said his committee will be looking at other options to help the winter economy, such as reducing or eliminating the hotel bed tax rate in winter.
In the meantime, he plans to introduce an ordinance establishing a sales tax holiday in November and December.
The propositions grabbed most of the fall election focus this year, as few ran for office.
Incumbent Assembly Members Mark Schaefer (207 votes) and L.C. Cassidy (199 votes) held off a challenge from Mavis Irene Henricksen (124 votes), while unopposed School Board President Darren Belisle grabbed 245 votes.
All three winners had been elected in a fairly crowded Skagway Borough Incorporation election back in June, but had drawn the short straws, meaning their seats would be up again in the fall. They easily won reelection.
Sticker shock: New rifle range estimate $457,000
Any chance that the Skagway Borough could move quickly to abandon the old rifle range this fall and move up the hill to a new one were dashed last week when an engineers estimate for the new facility came in over $450,000.
The borough had $70,000 reserved in its budget for the project, and Borough Mayor Tom Cochran said they will have to put the brakes on fast tracking for now.
Borough Manager Alan Sorum, in his report to the Assembly last week, said that due to the high cost, R&M Engineering has been asked to break up the project into smaller parts and complete the permit application process.
He said some parts like tree removal and earth moving could be done by the borough, whereas drilling and blasting would have to be contracted.
Items like sound buffers or a shooting bench could be projects completed by community volunteers, he added.
Sorum did confirm that the borough owns the land for the proposed range, which is just north of the old dump site on AB Mountain, in a box canyon. The site will be flagged soon.
Assembly Member Colette Hisman said they should first find out what is required of the borough for safety before doing any work.
After receiving letters about the dangers of the existing facility last month, the Assembly had the public works department erect some safety warning signs at the range.
Members were divided on whether to close the current range before the new one is ready. JB
Minto Mine goes commercial
First ore ship due late October
Sherwood Copper Corporation announced last week that it has completed the commissioning process for the Minto Mine in the Yukon and was declaring commercial production as of Oct. 1.
Achieving commercial production at our high grade Minto copper-gold mine is a major milestone..., said Stephen P. Quin, president and CEO of Sherwood Copper in a press release. He credited management, employees and contractors who have worked diligently through the commissioning process to achieve design throughput and recoveries.
Construction was completed ahead of schedule and essentially on budget. An official opening ceremony was held Oct. 11.
During September, mill throughput averaged about 1,500 metric tons per day (tpd). Copper recoveries exceeded 92 percent in the late Sept. and early October, essentially at design levels. Copper concentrate grades averaged 35 percent. As a result, the release said, Sherwood declared commercial production had commenced as of Oct. 1, meaning mine production from that date forward will be recorded as mineral sales revenues and costs of sales in the statement of earnings.
At the end of September, approximately 4,600 dry metric tons of copper-gold-silver concentrates were stored at the port of Skagway, and more than 1,000 additional dry tons of concentrates in the storage shed at the Minto mine. All of the latter concentrates, plus additional production post month-end, will be trucked to Skagway prior to the beginning of freeze up of the Yukon River and suspension of barge access to the mine. The first concentrate shipment, comprising up to 6,000 dry tons of concentrates (averaging approximately 9 percent moisture), is expected to depart Alaska for smelters in Asia in the latter part of October.
The Skagway Ore Terminal, being refurbished under an agreement with the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority, is available for ship loading purposes. The remaining components, such as the new truck unloading station, are not required for ship loading, and should be completed by months end.
PHOTO OF THE WEEK
WALL TO WALL Bartenders pour drinks for the crowd at Moes Frontier Bar on closing night. See story and more photos in link below. Photo by Andrew Cremata
To read all the stories in the News, including complete borough and school digests, letters and commentary, police and court reports, and view our many advertisers for Skagway products and services, you must subscribe to the real thing. Out of town subscriptions cost $35 per year for second class mail, $45 for first class mail. Send a check to Skagway News, Box 498, Skagway, AK 99840 or call us at 907-983-2354 with a credit card number.