READY READERS

Residents check out the refreshments and the new library set-up at a reception Feb. 2. The Skagway Library had new carpet installed and reorganized and rearranged the shelves for better accessibility. - Dimitra Lavrakas

Bartlett to manage Skagway clinic
Medical board agrees, city asks for input

By DIMITRA LAVRAKAS
Meetings between the Skagway Medical Corp. board of directors, the Skagway City Council and Bartlett Regional Hospital of Juneau have resulted in an agreement for the hospital to take over administration of the Skagway Medical Clinic.
The City Council approved the move at its Feb. 6 meeting, so Bartlett Administrator Bob Valliant can begin a search for a clinic administrator. Valliant said at a Feb. 5 special meeting with the city, Bartlett, and the medical corporation board that it may take several months to find one with the correct experience and willing to move to rural Alaska.
Mayor Tim Bourcy said at the joint meeting that the city should have a role on the SMC board because of its financial contribution and that it owns the building. The city’s average annual contribution to support the clinic has been $125,000, Bourcy said.
There have been several audits done of the Skagway Medical Clinic’s finances with the city also planning for one to be done.
The audit completed by the SMC board’s audit committee was due out Monday, but release was delayed until later this week, said Vice President Bub Enloe. He said there were some items in the report that might be considered libelous according to the board’s lawyer.
Board member Karen Gee, and clinic members Candice Wallace and Sharon Bolton were on the audit committee.
An overview of the clinic’s finances done by Bartlett’s accounting firm, Elgee, Rehfeld, Mertz & Barrett, indicated that $99,740.45 in small balances on many accounts has gone uncollected.
The three-year, $573,786 Rural Health Network Grant awarded in 1999 by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, showed several areas of concern: only 4508,786 was reported in expenditures, but the total amount was disbursed; former administrator Cindie Law was paid $50,886 in her position as administrator, but also paid $78,142 to administer the grant; $1,643 in undocumented ATM withdrawals; and cash advances and charges from the clinic’s credit card seem to be personal and are not reconciled.
When contacted, Law said an official in the federal department said the positions had to be separate, and separate hours had to be reported for each position.
“If I was trying to hide it, why would I have it on the payroll and pay taxes on it?” she said.
City Manager Bob Ward said he had contacted the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and they were unaware that Law was also being paid a salary.
“This does not imply there was any criminal or wanton deeds here,” Ward said. “There was a misunderstanding of how those funds were used.”
Ward said the city would want to see the money returned.

White Pass picks Danielson to head company
New railroad head stresses communication, fiscal responsibility

Gary Danielson - WP&YR photo

By DIMITRA LAVRAKAS
Tri-White Corp., the parent company for White Pass & Yukon Group of Companies in Alaska and Canada, recenlty announced that Gary Danielson is the railroad’s new executive vice president.
It’s been a circular trail for him. Danielson came to Alaska in 1976 to take a job with White Pass as manager of passenger relations and left when the railroad closed in 1982. He returned in 1999 for a new position as vice president of marketing and corporate planning.
“With over three decades of management experience in the industry, most notable with Qantas Airways, Alaska Airlines and Princess Cruises, and his experience in regional, national and international business planning, marketing and corporate strategy, he is the right candidate to lead White Pass in the coming years,” said Don Turple, vice president and chief financial officer of Tri-White Corp. in a company press release.
Danielson succeeds Fred McCorriston, “who has left the organization to pursue other opportunities after serving as its president for the past five years,” according to the release. Danielson praised McCorriston for overseeing the railroad through its most intensive growth since gold rush days
Agreeing that the company has a far-reaching effect on the town, Danielson said the company has almost completed environmental clean-up on three sites left over from past ownership – the Russel Metals tank farm, the old tank site near the Railroad Dock, and removing old wires and downed telephone and telegraph ties along the railroad’s right-of-way, Danielson said.
“We’ll shut that area of the property down and make sure it can’t happen again,” Danielson said of the area near the railroad shops where the public had been allowed to gather timber from the railroad for use in home heating. He cited the indeterminate age of the wood and the uncertainty of knowing whether it had been treated or not and if so, with what kind of preservative.
John Mielke, former general manager, was also promoted to vice president of rail operations that includes management of the safety management program.
“That’s an extremely time-consuming and important component of the company,” Danielson said.
Some concern had been expressed in the community over the number of rail cars run, but Danielson said the crew feels comfortable with the maximum number of 18, and that there was only one passenger injury last season and no delays.
“There is no mandated length of trains,” Danielson said.
He also wants a freer flow of communication between employees and departments, and it’s okay to have disagreements.
As for the town, he’s looking toward an apprenticeship-type program between the school and the railroad as a way to keep high school graduates employed and living here.
Half-time in Skagway and Whitehorse, Danielson said he keeps his ears open in the Yukon for any projects that may allow the railroad to expand into the territory. He goes to Rotary there every Friday.
But expansion depends on whether a market has been identified. So far, he said, Carcross is not in the picture, but Bennett is. Renovation continues on the north side diningroom and updates to the plumbing.
Steam Engine 73 will be ready for its first trip June 7 to Bennett with a new-type clientele aboard from the incentive market. That’s where a company rewards employees by sending them on a trip, Danielson said.
The dock extension project is ahead of schedule, with the crew due to arrive back next week, and completion set for the first week of May.
The railroad is talking with the state, which owns the underwater rights, about extending the Railroad Dock around the corner to accommodate another ship. That would put three ships at that dock, but how to move passengers from the far end is still in question.
“It’s where the old coal tipper was,” said Danielson. “The old railroad lines are still there.”
The building of eight new rail cars at a cost of $1.6 million has been halted until the cruise market regains some strength after the Diamond Princess burned at the shipbuilders.
“It was a huge revenue loss,” Danielson said. The news that Holland (America) would add eight visits and another Holland ship would dock Sept. 15 helped ease the pain, he said.
Danielson returned to the theme of the need of financial expenditures to meet the return on any expansion.
“The numbers didn’t make sense,” Danielson said of the halted addition to the coffee and gift shop at the depot.

Air monitoring begins this spring
WP&YR to close wood storage area to the public

By DIMITRA LAVRAKAS
Skagway will get an air monitoring device this spring or early summer, said Jerry Guay, project manager for the Air Monitoring Section of the state Department of Environmental Conservation.
The device was originally headed to Skagway last spring, Guay said, based on earlier complaints.
“We’ll set it up early this spring or early summer,” he said. “It’ll detect fine particulate matter from any source – buses, autos, cruise ships, trains.
“We’ll run it for a year and then determine if there are any problems. If there are, we’d leave it there longer,” he said.”
The state of Delaware’s Department of Natural Resources Web site defines particulate matter as microscopic particles that can “reach deep into the lungs and remain there for months or even years. Breathing particulate matter increases the chances of respiratory infections, and causes other problems such as coughing, wheezing, chest pain, shortness of breath. Particulate matter can also trigger asthma attacks in some people.”
Guay said there had been some discussion with the city before about it, but DEC doesn’t need the city’s approval, although it’s always good to get its blessing, he said.
Where the monitor would be placed and who services the station need to be decided, he said.
The Skaqua Tribal Council may be the one, as there are funds for training a tribal member through DEC. Discussions have just begun, said Michael Catsi, environmental specialist for the STC.
The story in this paper’s Jan. 31 issue, “Air quality challenged by residents’ burns,” identified dimensional lumber in one picture as creosote-treated railroad ties, but people have come forward and said they were bridge ties that the White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad had set aside for public use. They were told by the company that the lumber was untreated and safe for burning.
However, White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad Executive Vice President Gary Danielson said the railroad will close the section at the train shops where the railroad ties and bridge timbers are stored.
“The oldest ties that have been pulled out were dated in the 60s and there still could be some in the pile,” said Danielson after speaking with said Ed Hanousek, White Pass’s road master. “Up through the 70s, bridge ties were dipped in diesel fuel, but over the years that should have washed away. Still when the engines go over there is always some dripping from the engines.”
He said Hanousek told him that most ties were natural wood, but sDanielson aid there could be some old creosote-treated ties mixed in the pile.

OTHER STORIES:

• GUEST COMMENTARY: Clinic grievance ignored

• FEATURE: Windfest blows out

• SPORTS: Panthers roll up big wins

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