March 15, 2013 • Vol. XXXVI, No. 4

Last Mammoth, Last Hunter

Team Alaska, the snow sculpting team from Skagway, celebrated its 10th anniversary with “The Last Mammoth” at the Sourdough Rendezvous. The sculpture earned them two first place awards, the Jury Award and People’s Choice. The sculptors were Peter Lucchetti, Bruce Schindler, Ken Graham, and Philip Clark. Lucchetti said the sculpture depicts a hunter jumping on top a mammoth who has fallen through the ice. A tusk sticks out of the broken ice. It also could be viewed as “The Last Mammoth Hunter,” Lucchetti said.

Photo courtesy of Peter Lucchetti

Municipality to get access to Ore Dock for Gateway Project engineering
Long-term dock repair to be completed in 2017

By KATIE EMMETS

The Municipality of Skagway can proceed with developing the Gateway Project, even if the affected tidelands are still under lease to White Pass until 2023. All they need is access.
The last week of February, Skagway municipal officials met with ClubLink Enterprises Limited representatives in Coral Springs, Fla., to discuss the Skagway Ore Dock.
Mayor Stan Selmer, Skagway Assemblyman and Negotiator Dan Henry, Borough Manager Tom Healy and Borough Attorney Bob Blasco met with Chairman and CEO Rai Sahi and former White Pass President Eugene Hretzay.
Municipal officials discussed gaining access to Skagway’s Ore Dock for preliminary Gateway Project analysis and engineering. The municipality has since submitted a formal request to ClubLink for access and expects to hear back soon. Healy said the municipality would request access for construction of the project when the time comes.
Selmer said the proposed time schedule for the Gateway Project includes a two-winter construction period beginning October 1, 2014 and finishing in spring of 2016. The municipality must spend the $10 million it received in state funds for the project before June 30, 2016.
As far as the White Pass lease, which ends in 2023, Selmer said there is no change.
“We didn’t go to Florida to get the lease back or change terms of the lease or get them to surrender parts of the lease,” Selmer said. “We went there to figure out how we will build our Gateway Project.”
The White Pass negotiations, which have been on many assembly executive session agendas for the past two years, were an attempt to get White Pass to surrender land in order for the municipality to construct its Gateway Project.
But the municipality doesn’t need the railroad to surrender land anymore.
“We just learned some new information in the last couple months which has stopped White Pass negotiation discussion in executive sessions,” Selmer said. “Since we own the land the ore terminal is on, we can use the $10 million in state grant money to construct the project, even though White Pass is leasing it.”
Before municipal officials were made aware of this from its attorneys, they tried gaining access to the land asking White Pass to either surrender the land permanently or temporarily while they constructed their project.
Selmer said no White Pass waterfront lease amendments are being considered at this time.
“Will there be any amendments in the next ten years – that’s an impossible for me to answer,” he said.
On March 4, Sahi sent a letter to the municipality with the company’s compliant Ore Dock long-term repair plan, which municipal officials are submitting to Moffatt and Nichol Engineers for its opinions.
According to a letter from PND Engineers, Inc., the plan includes four phases, which will be completed in 2017.
Phase one, which includes restricting access to designated area on South Timber dock and access to walkways will be completed before the summer. By the end of the year, phase two, which includes removing the aforementioned walkways, adding bull rails and handrails and refurbishing the catwalk among other things will be completed.
“Every attempt was made to identify all deficient components identified in the Moffat and Nichol report. However, due to the highly variable framing and conditions encountered there may be additional areas of the dock that require attention once inaccessible areas are exposed while performing the work,” the letter reads. “PND Recommends the dock be continually monitored during any operational use and after significant environment events for signs of overload damage to the superstructure and supporting substructure.”
The letter also states that the dock will require routine maintenance inspections and additional repairs on a regular basis to maintain the operational condition of the structures.
Repairs are currently being done on areas that were deemed extremely dangerous.
While in Florida, Sahi announced to the delegation that John Finlayson would be replacing Hretzay as president of White Pass and will arrive in Skagway in early April (see related story on page 8).

Above: Workers repair urgent areas of the Skagway Ore Dock March 8. —KE

White Pass & Yukon Route railroad gets new president

John Finlayson has replaced Eugene Hretzay as president of White Pass and will be arriving in Skagway in April.
According to a March 6 announcement from ClubLink Enterprises Limited Chairman and CEO Rai Sahi, Finlayson has been with ClubLink for more than 15 years and began as a golf club manager. He was instrumental of many of the company’s Florida acquisitions and was promoted to ClubLink’s Vice President of United States Operations and transferred to the U.S. on a permanent basis. Finlayson is a graduate of the University of Toronto and has been involved in the golf industry for the past 25 years.
“I wish to thank Eugene Hretzay for his service as President of White Pass for the past three years,” Sahi wrote. “He will continue as Vice President, General Council and Secretary of ClubLink Enterprises Limited.”
Mayor Stan Selmer said he is confident that White Pass and the Municipality of Skagway will continue to develop a good working relationship and said that Skagway will benefit from Finlayson’s experience with management. – KE

Assembly to raise waterfront lease amount vote trigger in municipal code

By KATIE EMMETS

After the Skagway Borough Assembly on March 7 tabled an ordinance that could have done away with a public vote for $250,000 or higher leases, members decided in a joint Skagway Port Commission meeting this week to raise the dollar amount. The ordinance will be amended when it is brought back to the table March 21.
As Skagway Municipal Code Section 16.02.025 is written, any municipal lease on Skagway’s waterfront that totals more than $250,000 during the life of the lease would require a public vote.
Most businesses on the west side of the waterfront are subleased from White Pass and Yukon Route Railway, and no votes have been needed. But if the ordinance stays as is, with a $250,000 lease triggering a vote, when White Pass’s lease is up in 2023, subletters TEMSCO Helicopters Inc., Petro Marine, and Alaska Marine Lines would be affected. The Pullen Creek RV Park, Harbor House and Skagway Fish Company leases on city property on the east side of the waterfront also would need a public vote.
During the joint meeting on Wednesday, Skagway Borough Assemblyman Gary Hanson, who has been adamantly against taking the vote out of code, suggested creating a dollar amount that wouldn’t require a public vote for businesses like Petro Marine, TEMSCO and the Fish Co., but one that would call for a public vote on important leases that have the potential to affect the Skagway community for many years.
“I think we should put a number up there high enough that we won’t have to revisit the number for the next 20 years,” Hanson said.
Mayor Stan Selmer said he understands if Skagway residents want to hold White Pass to a different standard than other waterfront businesses considering the current 55-year waterfront lease, but doesn’t understand holding Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority to a different standard because it is a state entity.
While doing research for the ordinance, Selmer found that Sitka is the only other Southeast Alaska export town that has a public vote on waterfront land.
“Sitka has a public vote on waterfront leases that have a property value of $750,000 or more, but they exempt all state entities, including AIDEA, from a vote of the people requirement,” Selmer said.
Skagway Borough Attorney Bob Blasco supports the state entity vote exemption, Selmer told the commission and assembly members.
While discussing why Sitka has a state lease vote exemption, Interim Borough Manager Tom Healy said he thinks it could have something to do with the public trust doctrine, in which state and public entities are bound to the doctrine that they will manage their land for the good of the people.
Selmer said the $250,000 waterfront lease public vote was created in 1990 when Curragh Resources and AIDEA wanted to construct a second ore terminal in the vicinity of Pullen Park and the staging area.
Though the second terminal idea was scrapped before it ever went to a public vote, the code still remained, but has never been used for any existing lease.
“There has never been a public vote on any waterfront lease since the vote was created by the assembly,” he said.
He did note that a public vote was taken in 1983 to buy the Railroad Dock and the deal was rejected by voters. But Hanson noted that Skagway was in dire economic straits at the time after the closure of the railroad.
When Ordinance No. 13-05 was brought to the table for a second reading on March 7, two residents spoke in favor of repealing the vote, while five were in favor of keeping the vote in code and amending the terms.
During public testimony, those against the ordinance said they were not opposed to the assembly increasing the amount or adding a term limit on leases.
Assemblymen Hanson, Mike Korsmo, Paul Reichert, Steve Burnham Jr. said they would vote against the ordinance as written. Then, after a long discussion, the ordinance was tabled in order to work on amendments and get port commission member’s opinions on amounts and limits.

UPDATE: The assembly passed an amended ordinance on March 21 that raised the limit to $5 million, with an exemption for leasing to state agencies. The ordinance will go to a third and final reading on April 4.



Plans revealed for two smaller ferries, communities concerned about logistics

By KATIE EMMETS
The proposed plans for two smaller Alaska Class Ferries that were made public by the Alaska Department of Transportation last month have caused quite a stir with the Upper Lynn Canal residents they would be serving.
According to the report each Day Boat ACF would be about 280 feet in length, have a passenger capacity of at least 300 and a vehicle capacity of at least 53, which are numbers based on current summer traffic on the Lynn Canal.The service speed should not be less than 16 knots.
The first ferry would cost $49.2 million, while the second would cost $44.3 million.
The report states that the first priority route of the ferries would be the new North Lynn Canal Service, which would have one ferry sailing from Haines to Skagway and back to Haines, and the other ferry sailing from Juneau to Haines and back to Juneau.
The second priority has the boats being used between Angoon and Juneau, Juneau and Gustavus, Juneau and Hoonah, Juneau and Tenakee, and Metlakatla and Ketchikan.
The third priority, the Juneau Access improvements State Preferred Routes, has one ferry going respectively from Skagway and Haines to Katzehin, where a potential road to Juneau would begin.
A big difference between the potential ferries and the ones operating now is the placement of the doors and the bow construction.
While discussing the day boat plans at a Skagway Port Commission meeting,
Marine Transportation Advisory Board member Mike Korsmo said they would load from the stern in Juneau and the bow in Haines, which would require ferry dock modifications.
“Most terminal modification is paid for with federal money, which is little scary right now,” Korsmo said in reference to the recent government funding cuts.
Port Commissioner Tom Cochran added that they might have two new ferries with nowhere to dock them.
Korsmo said the plan calls for bow and stern loading, a “roll on roll off” concept, because it is supposed to save more time, but the fact is there will be no time saved because there will still be transportation they are waiting on from Skagway before they can leave Haines.
Korsmo said the plan, so far, does not require Skagway’s terminal to be modified.
The plan also calls for the back end of the car deck to be uncovered.
“These are the things DOT is getting the most comments on regarding safety,” Korsmo said, adding that Alaska residents who will most likely be using these boats are concerned with the open deck and clamshell bow doors.
Korsmo said that even if the walls that surround the cars are 14 feet tall, he has seen ocean spray reach over that height while in the Upper Lynn Canal.
Mayor Stan Selmer wrote a letter to the DOT explaining that safety has always been Skagway’s first and foremost concern in any discussions of transportation in the Upper Lynn Canal.
“The Municipality of Skagway requests that design changes be subjected to stringent processional review including, but not limited to, peer review by seasoned mariners who have personal experience sailing in the waters of Lynn Canal and independent review by an impartial engineering firm outside of the department’s control,” Selmer wrote.
Because ridership is so high in the Upper Lynn Canal, Selmer suggests DOT not do anything that would bottleneck traffic in the area because it might cause financial losses to the Alaska Marine Highway System.
Senator Denis Eagan closed the recent joint Alaska House and Senate Transportation Committee hearing with a request for public meetings held in the affected communities, and Selmer said Skagway looks forward to having one in Skagway.
Skagway resident Willeke Burnham wrote a letter to Egan expressing her opinion and asking him to help.
“Having a reliable Alaska Class Ferry is vital to our community and quality of life,” Burnham wrote. “The Governor’s decision to change from one reliable ferry to two smaller ferries astounds me. It is obvious to me that the Governor has not had to rely on ferry transportation and does not realize the impact it has on one’s life when a ferry gets cancelled due to weather.”
Burnham thinks creating two smaller ferries instead of one larger more reliable ferry will en up costing the state ever more money since “inclement Southeast Alaska weather will render them useless.”
Comments concerning any factual errors found in the Design Concept Report should be submitted to DOT no later than March 15. The link can be found at http://www.dot.state.ak.us/amhs/alaska_class/submit_comment.shtml.

By KATIE EMMETS
The proposed plans for two smaller Alaska Class Ferries that were made public by the Alaska Department of Transportation last month have caused quite a stir with the Upper Lynn Canal residents they would be serving.
According to the report each Day Boat ACF would be about 280 feet in length, have a passenger capacity of at least 300 and a vehicle capacity of at least 53, which are numbers based on current summer traffic on the Lynn Canal.The service speed should not be less than 16 knots.
The first ferry would cost $49.2 million, while the second would cost $44.3 million.
The report states that the first priority route of the ferries would be the new North Lynn Canal Service, which would have one ferry sailing from Haines to Skagway and back to Haines, and the other ferry sailing from Juneau to Haines and back to Juneau.
The second priority has the boats being used between Angoon and Juneau, Juneau and Gustavus, Juneau and Hoonah, Juneau and Tenakee, and Metlakatla and Ketchikan.
The third priority, the Juneau Access improvements State Preferred Routes, has one ferry going respectively from Skagway and Haines to Katzehin, where a potential road to Juneau would begin.
A big difference between the potential ferries and the ones operating now is the placement of the doors and the bow construction.
While discussing the day boat plans at a Skagway Port Commission meeting,
Marine Transportation Advisory Board member Mike Korsmo said they would load from the stern in Juneau and the bow in Haines, which would require ferry dock modifications.
“Most terminal modification is paid for with federal money, which is little scary right now,” Korsmo said in reference to the recent government funding cuts.
Port Commissioner Tom Cochran added that they might have two new ferries with nowhere to dock them.
Korsmo said the plan calls for bow and stern loading, a “roll on roll off” concept, because it is supposed to save more time, but the fact is there will be no time saved because there will still be transportation they are waiting on from Skagway before they can leave Haines.
Korsmo said the plan, so far, does not require Skagway’s terminal to be modified.
The plan also calls for the back end of the car deck to be uncovered.
“These are the things DOT is getting the most comments on regarding safety,” Korsmo said, adding that Alaska residents who will most likely be using these boats are concerned with the open deck and clamshell bow doors.
Korsmo said that even if the walls that surround the cars are 14 feet tall, he has seen ocean spray reach over that height while in the Upper Lynn Canal.
Mayor Stan Selmer wrote a letter to the DOT explaining that safety has always been Skagway’s first and foremost concern in any discussions of transportation in the Upper Lynn Canal.
“The Municipality of Skagway requests that design changes be subjected to stringent processional review including, but not limited to, peer review by seasoned mariners who have personal experience sailing in the waters of Lynn Canal and independent review by an impartial engineering firm outside of the department’s control,” Selmer wrote.
Because ridership is so high in the Upper Lynn Canal, Selmer suggests DOT not do anything that would bottleneck traffic in the area because it might cause financial losses to the Alaska Marine Highway System.
Senator Denis Eagan closed the recent joint Alaska House and Senate Transportation Committee hearing with a request for public meetings held in the affected communities, and Selmer said Skagway looks forward to having one in Skagway.
Skagway resident Willeke Burnham wrote a letter to Egan expressing her opinion and asking him to help.
“Having a reliable Alaska Class Ferry is vital to our community and quality of life,” Burnham wrote. “The Governor’s decision to change from one reliable ferry to two smaller ferries astounds me. It is obvious to me that the Governor has not had to rely on ferry transportation and does not realize the impact it has on one’s life when a ferry gets cancelled due to weather.”
Burnham thinks creating two smaller ferries instead of one larger more reliable ferry will en up costing the state ever more money since “inclement Southeast Alaska weather will render them useless.”
Comments concerning any factual errors found in the Design Concept Report should be submitted to DOT no later than March 15. The link can be found at http://www.dot.state.ak.us/amhs/alaska_class/submit_comment.shtml.

More than 800,000 cruisers expected this summer
This issue's print edition includes the annual Cruise Ship News with the 2013 schedule as an insert in the paper.
Skagway will see a boost of about 48,000 cruise ship passengers. New ships coming include the Celebrity Solstice, which will be the largest at 2,850 passengers. It replaces the smaller Infinity. Also new is the Grand Princess, replacing the smaller Sea Princess, and the Carnival Miracle, which is the same size as the Carnival Spirit, which it is replacing.
Returning after a few years away are the Norwegian Sun. Holland America’s Amsterdam will be calling weekly after visiting just two times last summer. All together, the above changes will take Skagway over the 800,000 mark for cruisers this season. – JB

SCHOOL SPORTS FEATURE: SHS girls endure some harassment, but play well with boy

Polly Brown dribbles past two Yakutat players during the Panther’s first game in the Region V 1A tournament. Katie Emmets

BOROUGH DIGEST

Manager finalist George Edes comes to Skagway for interview
After conducting phone interviews and running background checks, the manager selection committee narrowed down the search by selecting George Edes of Pismo Beach, Calif., for an in-person interview.
Edes was interviewed in Skagway on Wednesday, and a decision on whether to recommend hiring him will be made soon and forwarded to the Borough Assembly. Watch the News website for updates.
Edes was one of three finalists being considered for the position in a second application period.
Now retired, Edes has more than five years of city manager experience, which includes serving one year in Wrangell. He also worked as the administrative services director and treasurer of the City of Pismo Beach, in which he oversaw and performed financial planning and low-cost financing for capital improvement programs; and handled the treasury and investment services, accounting, budgeting, payroll, utility billing, information systems, and risk management.
For three years Edes was the city manager of Coalinga, Calif., where he was rated as outstanding and exceeded expectations in organizational skill, networking with state and federal officials, handling sensitive items, hiring ability and responsiveness by the city council.
He was also the city manager of Elko, Nevada for a year and a half.
Edes took his first local government job in Wrangell, where he was the city manager from September 1991 to September 1992.
Edes holds a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering from the University of Illinois Champagne-Urbana, an MBA with emphasis in management and finance from the University of Utah, and performed graduate study in public administration at the University of Illinois Chicago.
Edes has been retired for a little over a year and said he has had time to complete personal projects and wants to go back to working after finding a renewed sense of enthusiasm for public sector work. Edes said he envisions working for the next four to five years before retiring again.
The manager selection committee of Skagway Borough Assemblymen Mark Schaefer, Dan Henry and Steve Burnham Jr. interviewed Edes and two other candidates in late February.
Schaefer said Edes had what the committee was looking for in terms of managerial experience, which is why he was chosen for the in-person interview.
The interview, which was followed by a community meet-and-greet, took place Wednesday evening, after this issue’s deadline.
Interim Borough Manager Tom Healy, who has been the acting manager since November, must leave Skagway after this month because of a prior commitment to the City of Palmer, where he was city manager and is now retired.

UPDATE: The assembly met in special session on March 15 and hired Edes to be the next borough manager.

Old City Hall could be saved
The Municipality of Skagway will submit an application to the Alaska Association for Historic Preservation for Skagway's first city hall, located on 5th Avenue, to be considered for its Ten Most Endangered Historic Properties program.
In a March 7 Skagway Borough assembly meeting, Su Rappleye presented the assembly with the history of the building and asked them to save it.
Though she is the chair of Skagway’s Historic District Commission, Rappleye told the assembly she was at the meeting as a private Skagway resident.
The building is a 1.5 story log structure that was constructed in 1897 as the town’s first city hall and jail. It was the first building to be dedicated to the public.
It was the first courthouse, United States Marshal’s office and it once held a 1899 meeting between a clerk from the US Secretary of War’s office in Washington D.C. and Tlingit Chiefs in regards to Russian contact.
In 1901 it became a law office and after that, a home for families.
It was last used in the mid 1990s.
“If no one has been in there in the last 15 years, it could easily be a public safety issue – structurally or wiring,” Rappleye said adding that she’s worried the building could be demolished if someone wants to use that Fifth Avenue property for a business.
She told the assembly there were several interested parties inquiring about it.
“I’d like you to buy it and then decide what to do with it afterwards when you have time,” Rappleye told the assembly.
Because there are several buildings in Skagway that are important to the community, and no entity to look after or take care of them, Rappleye suggested the assembly create a committee that could identity historic properties and give suggestions on how to use them.
“I don’t think anybody’s looking at those properties that are available, and I think it’s important that we try to do that,” she said. “But this one in particular, I’m concerned, might get snapped up and disappear real quickly.”
At the meeting, Tom Healy told Rappleye he had been planning to enter the Old City Hall into the Alaska Association for Historic Preservation’s Ten Most Endangered Historic Properties program. According to the association’s website, the program brings public awareness to Alaska’s threatened historic properties, which leads to increased support for the preservation and stewardship of endangered historic properties.
“The Ten Most Endangered Grant Program funds hands-on preservation work on endangered properties and serves as seed money to leverage funding from other sources,” the website states. “The program calls attention to threatened properties that define our great state, the people that live here and the identity that we share.”
The deadline for applications is March 31.

BMAA detected in crabs found in ore basin
After an extensive testing process, an algae, which could cause Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, ALS, has been found in Dungeness crab samples from the Skagway Ore Basin. Similar tests were negative for BMAA presence in shrimp found in the same area, and an earlier test was negative for BMAA presence Skagway’s drinking water.
Over the last fourteen years, three Skagway residents have died of ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease.
“These illnesses generated concern because having three cases of ALS in a community the size of Skagway over a 14-year time span is unusual,” stated a public notice written by Mayor Stan Selmer “Nationally, the average incidence of ALS is currently estimated to be 1-2 cases per 100,000 persons per year.”
After Selmer read an article on causes of ALS, which included β-Methylamino-L-alanine (BMAA) that is produced naturally by blue-green algae that are found commonly in the environment, the municipality had it’s drinking water tested as well as shrimp and crab from the ore basin.
“This testing found no evidence of biotoxins in drinking water and shrimp samples, and low levels of BMAA in two Dungeness crab guts and in the meat of one Dungeness crab,” read the notice.

Recycling Committee forwards recommendation
Skagway’s ad hoc recycling committee has completed its solid waste plan research and will recommend to the assembly that recycling and composting facilities be constructed and that the incinerator be shut down
This week Mark Rogoff of SCS Engineers, the company that was contracted to consult on a solid waste and recycling plan, told committee members and three borough assembly members that this option makes the most sense and would save the municipality the most amount of money totaling more than $2 million over the next ten years.
“There will be significant savings over time,” he said.
Rogoff also suggested the municipality might want to look into some kind of incentive program, like a rebate on quarterly billing, for residents who recycle because they will be contributing to cost savings.
Recycling committee chair Mark Lohnes will present the findings to a full assembly at its March 22 meeting. – KE

From left to right: Rosalie Westfall, Riley Westfall and Alexandra Weber pose with their Alliance Finalist Award and medals at the conclusion of the state FTC Challenge. Right, the team places robot ‘Try Again” in the pit for one of the competition rounds. The robot first grabbed a heavier ring from above and moved to hang it on the plastic arm from the pole on the right. Then, teaming up with another robot, it tackled the tic-tac-toe course in the middle of the pit, trying to hang as many rings as possible to score three in a row. The team made it to the finalist round and took third place overall. Vivian Meyer, Skagway School District

SCHOOL REPORT

Skagway FTC team places third overall at State, makes finals with robot 'Try Again'
The Skagway High robotics Team Sprocketoids finished high in the standings with a third place Inspire Award and was an Alliance Finalist at the First Technical Challenge state championship in Anchorage last weekend.
The team also brought home the Compass Award for the top mentor in the state, John Westfall. The Skagway parent, who assisted the team with building robots, was nominated in a video prepared by the team of Riley Westfall, Rosalie Westfall and Alexandra Weber.
Coach Vivian Meyer said the Sprocketoids made it to the final round with its robot, “Try Again.” It had one of the best working arms of any of the robots at the tourney and earned an Alliance Finalist award along with Team Caffeine from Anchorage and Dew Bot from Fairbanks.
The Skagway team lost to a friendly foe. The top Inspire Award at the tourney went to the Wolfbots, who were coached by former Skagway science teacher Ryan Prnka, now of Eagle River. Second place was Schršdinger's Hat, and third went to Skagway.
The teams are judged on success of the competition, outreach to community, robot design, team spirit, and engineering accomplishment – with all elements factoring into the Inspire Award.
“They were glad that it was one of Ryan Prnka's teams from Eagle River that came in first,” she said. “In the second to last match, the Sprocketoids and Dew Bot tied with the team that came in first.”
Several community members saw the team and its robot in action the week before they headed to Anchorage.
At a fundraiser for both the FLL and FTC robotics teams hosted by the Eagles Auxilliary, more than $4,000 was raised through silent and online auctions. It was split between the two teams. As middle school state champion, the FLL team is heading to the World Festival in St. Louis at the end of April. – JB