The Russian ore ship AMUR is guided along the Skagway Ore Terminal dock by two tugs Wednesday morning, Oct. 24. The AMUR will be loading about 6,600 tons of copper concentrate from Sherwood Copper’s Minto Mine in the Yukon Territory. The shipment, reportedly bound for China markets, is estimated around $16 million. It took about 12 hours to load, and is the first ore shipment from the state’s AIDEA-owned Skagway terminal in nearly a decade, ushering in a new era in mineral exports from the Yukon.

Photo by Andrew Cremata

Port planning kick-off
Bourcy to chair new committee

If there is any indication from the first meeting of the Skagway Port Development Committee, interest in the port is certainly growing. Nearly a full committee and several others showed up to participate or listen via teleconference.
Mayor Tom Cochran, a committee member, was unable to attend the Oct. 22 organizational meeting due to illness, but e-mailed his opening comments.
“I believe this particular committee to be the most important project for the Municipality of Skagway at this time,” the mayor wrote. “I would like to thank all the members for accepting their appointments and especially Paul Taylor and Alan Sorum for the work they have put into this so far. I look forward to working with all of you in developing the port of Skagway to be internationally recognized as a full service intermodal port facility.”
Borough Manager Sorum and port observer Taylor, who has done a lot of work locally and for the state, were in attendance along with official committee appointees Tim Bourcy (former mayor), and Michael Brandt, (WP&YR). Interested parties at the table were Ports and Harbors Committee Chair Tim Roseberg, and Ed Fairbanks of Fairway Fast Freight, a former port engineer.
Listening in were committee members John Wood (recently retired ore terminal project director for AIDEA) from Eagle River, Paul Axelson (Southeast Stevedoring) from Ketchikan, Eugene Lysy and Roy Matson (Yukon Economic Development). Aside from Cochran, the only member not in attendance was Chris Anderson of AIDEA, the state agency that owns the Skagway terminal.
Cochran said the members should elect a chair and vice chair and he’d be happy to serve as either one. After a round of introductions, Wood nominated former mayor Bourcy as chair, and Cochran as vice chair. The others concurred with the choices.
“I don’t know what I did to you guys,” Bourcy quipped, but said he would serve. He noted that creation of the committee was his last act as mayor before leaving office after last June’s borough election. Cochran, who narrowly defeated Bourcy, carried the port banner and made the appointments over the summer.
“It’s a pretty big endeavor for the short and long term,” Bourcy continued, urging the committee to pull together everything that’s been produced so far about the port. He listed the Skagway Comprehensive Plan (which is undergoing a timely update), the recently updated Alaska Coastal Zone Management Plan for Skagway, and the Yukon Port Access Study which was finally released last summer.
“Let’s pull it all together to see what makes the most sense ... and make the best choices,” Bourcy added.
Completion of the seawalk and boat harbor wave barrier projects, which did not get state funding last year, are on the short-term list, noted Bourcy and Sorum.
Beyond that, the committee is looking five years out at expansion of the ore terminal for the proposed Selwyn lead-zinc mine and other properties. A port steering committee charge developed by Taylor and Sorum outlined a direction for hiring a port consultant and producing conceptual and business plans.
Those plans will help drive the funding of port projects, which could come from the new cruise ship tax’s regional fund.
An immediate task is improving port perception. Until this week, Skagway had gone nearly a decade without an outbound ore ship.
“Excepting cruise ship commerce, the port suffers from a negative commercial reputation,” the charging document stated. “Some of the negatives are that the port caters to only cruise ships, there is no room for expansion, the port is too busy, Skagway is just a tourist town, there is no current ‘marketing voice’ for the port.”
Brandt offered White Pass’s expertise in marketing the port, and Sorum is setting up a website. Photos of the arrival of the ship for Sherwood Copper’s first Minto Mine shipment will soon be splashed across it.
In addition, the Yukon members of the committee invited the chair and members to a series of meetings and conferences in Whitehorse next month.
Lysy said they could take the delegation around to meet the premier, have them introduced to the legislative assembly, and meet with the Yukon chamber and mining organizations, even the media.
This would give Skagway “a good profile in the Yukon and a kick off for your planning,” Lysy said.
Before the trip to the Yukon, another port steering committee meeting will be held early in November.

Skagway’s Evern Dorn greets his daughter Skye and son Dylan on the Haines airport tarmack Oct. 20 while en route home. Skye will be 5 in February, and Dylan will be 2 in December. Dad missed their last birthdays while serving in Kuwait and southern Iraq, but he’ll be around for the ones coming up soon. Photo courtesy of Allie Joel

The long ride home for Skagway soldier Evern Dorn

Service to our nation in the armed forces requires sacrifice. For those of us who call Skagway home, another year has passed. Maybe we worked two jobs in the summer, took a few minutes after work to have a drink and headed home to our families. Perhaps we watched a little television in our pajamas, got fat on dinner, and fell asleep in our easy chair. Maybe we were on a softball league, or spent weekend in the Yukon camping and fishing with the kids under the midnight sun. It’s easy to forget these simple pleasures, or simply accept them as a given, but these are the things certain men and women must give up when called upon to serve.
Evern Dorn left Skagway on his tour of duty with Charlie Company, 3rd Battalion, 297th Infantry, on July 6, 2006. By the 9th he was in Camp Shelby, 65 miles north of Gulfport, Mississippi, for three months of pre-mobilization training as a driver and automatic rifleman. In October he was deployed to Camp Beuhring, Kuwait.
For one year, Dorn worked in an outpost at a border crossing between Kuwait and Iraq, at first opening the new crossing and then providing security for vehicles passing through the border, conducting personnel searches, and securing the helipad for Iraqi dignitaries.
By November, Dorn was already four months separated from his two children, daughter Skye and son Dylan. At the time Skye was three years old, with a birthday coming the following February, and Dylan was not yet a year old. In a month Dylan would reach that milestone, while his father was enduring the blistering desert heat on the other side of the planet.
In Kuwait, Dorn found some different young ones in need of nurturing.
“When we first got there, there were two wild dogs that had four week old puppies,” said Dorn. “For five months, as the dogs grew up, we fed them our leftovers, like bacon, and they always got cold water.”
Dorn said the dogs grew to trust only persons dressed in U.S. military uniforms, and would bark if anyone approached not dressed in such a way. For five months, the dogs became a common sight as they followed the men around wherever they went.
“They got to be big and fat,” said Dorn.
Dorn said eventually the Navy deemed the dogs unsanitary and took them away. Fortunately, Dorn had unlimited internet access in his barracks, an unusual benefit for military men in the Middle East as most online access in the region is restricted or censored by the government. Phones were available, but according to Dorn, “They didn’t work very well.”
Dorn maintained contact with his family via the internet, receiving e-mails when Dylan took his first steps and said his first words. However, there was one fact which was hard to dismiss.
“I was still a half a world away,” said Dorn.
Dorn wasn’t completely alone. Before leaving Alaska he met Corporal Kenneth Dunn from Kodiak who would serve alongside Dorn until he was discharged. The two became what Dorn calls “Battle Buddies,” sharing bunk beds and many conversations during his tenure in Kuwait.
While Dorn spoke of children back in the states, Dunn told him about his fiance, waiting back in Kodiak for their wedding on Dec. 27 of this year. Dorn will make the trip to Kodiak for the ceremony, tightening the bonds of friendship which blossomed in the desert.
While cruise ships docked in Skagway during the summer months and passengers bloated with filet mignon and baked Alaska roamed the boardwalks of Broadway, Dorn was enduring temperatures which soared up to 140 degrees Farenheit in the noonday heat. The setting sun provided little relief as nighttime temperatures were always at least in the 90s.
Dorn was able to visit Skagway on mid-tour leave during the early part of August, but soon returned to his outpost. There, he trained to be part of a quick reaction force; deployed whenever a plane or helicopter went down.
“I went on Blackhawk heli-rides to train on how to react,” he said.
There were times Dorn and the rest of his team were sent out on mission, but fortunately the close calls turned out to be false alarms. “Nothing real bad happened,” he said.
Still, his 12-hours on, 12-off days at the outpost were often more like 16-hours on, 8-hours off. Transport to the outpost took an hour each way, and Dorn was assigned to conduct vehicle inspections before heading out.
Getting home to Skagway after his discharge proved to be one of the most frustrating aspects of the entire tour of duty. When it came time for his October release, Dorn made it to Camp Shelby, and was anticipating arrival in Skagway after a short series of flights. After making the 65-mile drive to Gulfport, checking in and loading on the plane, things started to go wrong.
During mid-takeoff, the steering on the front wheel of the airplane malfunctioned forcing it to power down and return to the hangar. The crew said it would take a couple hours to fix, but after that time went by, Dorn was notified the flight had been cancelled. Dorn waited in line to change his tickets, already at the airport for five hours, and was told he could either wait for the next flight in 12 hours or take a bus to New Orleans for an earlier flight.
Dorn opted for the two hour drive to New Orleans and boarded his connecting flight to Atlanta. The flight out of Atlanta had to be diverted due to a massive storm on the eastern seaboard. While Dorn watched lightning flashing in the clouds all around him, the plane took a two hour detour around the melee, causing him to miss his connecting flight in Seattle.
Dorn decided to get a hotel in Seattle for his overnight stay. “I wanted an actual bed to sleep in, take off my boots and relax,” he said.
After a couple hours sleep he was back in the airport at 5 a.m. and was in the air by 7:30. En route to Juneau, the pilot came on the speaker and said they may not be able to land in Juneau due to bad weather. For two hours the plane circled Juneau, until fuel limitations necessitated traveling to Yakutat, then Cordova, and then all the way to Anchorage.
Twenty minutes later Dorn was back in the plane, first to Cordova, then Yakutat and at 7:30 on Friday the 19th, “Finally to Juneau,” he said.
On the following day, Dorn flew into Skagway at 11 a.m., but not before first flying into Haines and being greeted by his kids, sharing embraces on the runway. Skye was able to travel to Skagway with her dad, the mention of which brought a smile to Dorn’s face.
Dorn said, “The best part of returning home is getting to see my friends and family and seeing my kids.”
He added, “It’s nice being able to wear my civilian clothes and everybody doesn’t look the same.” Dorn said it’s nice to go to bed and do things whenever you want, and not being awakened at all hours of the night with someone saying, “You have to go again.”
Dorn said while he missed much of the early stages of Dylan’s growing up, he hopes to be around for his potty training and beyond. Until Oct. 8, 2010 Dorn is still enrolled in the National Guard, so there is always a chance he could be redeployed. “That’s up to the government and the president,” he said.
In the meantime, Dorn expressed thanks to all Skagwegians who sent him mail and care packages while he was in Kuwait and added, “I’m back in the United States. There’s nothing that can go wrong, anymore.”

Does a bear - - - - in the garden?
A bear decided to climb into a crabapple tree at Jewell Gardens Monday night, but the 10-year-old tree did not hold the bruin, who left behind a variety of road apples from the encounter.
Garden employees noticed the vandalism in the morning.
“The top of the tree snapped off and there was a lot of bear poop all around,” said Charlotte Jewell. “It was my oldest tree but it did not hold him.”
A bear has reported been roaming into the city as well during this mild fall (see blotter). Keep your garbage contained. – JB


SENTINEL IN THE WOODS – A rare view of a marten on the watch in the woods near Skagway.

Photo by Andrew Cremata

• BUILDING FEATURE: Mural uncovered, S. side to be demolished (Oct. 26, 2007)

• SN INTERVIEW: New KGRNHP Superintendent Susan Boudreau

• SCHOOL ACTIVITIES: Hungry wrestlers grab wins in Hoonah

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