May 14, 2010 • Vol. XXXIII, No. 8
'You've Got to Pick a Pocket'
Hannah O’Daniel shows off a fancy coat as waifs snatch her purse, hat, scarf, and jewelry during a song from the musical “Oliver” at the school’s annual Spring Concert on May 7. The school’s music program has already had its pocket halfway picked in next year’s school budget. See more photos below.
Photo by Andrew Cremata
Borough cuts municipal contribution to school operations by $151,780
By JEFF BRADY
Despite hearing near-unanimous testimony from several citizens in support of full school funding at the May 6 borough assembly meeting, members voted 4-2 to support a motion by Dave Hunz to cut the operating fund request from the allowable cap of $1.251 million to $1.1 million, and fund outside the operating budget programs at an amended amount of $353,054.
Assembly members who voted for the motion said they were being fiscally responsible and were surprised the board had not implemented a Reduction In Force, relying on only a resignation to eliminate a position. The two dissenters said the school had already cut enough and needed the borough’s support so programs would not suffer.
The board now must decide where to make further cuts in its regular school instruction budget. The $151,780 cut could lead to the loss of one or two more teaching positions, and the board was set to tackle the problem in yet another budget work session on Thursday night after this issue went to press.
The May 6 meeting was standing room only, between those testifying about proposed changes to shooting boundaries and the animal control code (see borough digest) and school funding. Of the 25 residents who spoke to the school funding issue, all but one supported the school district’s request.
The district had initially submitted a request that funded the operating budget to the cap allowed by the state, $1,251,780, and an additional $409,752 in additional programs. After a joint work session with the assembly last month, the school board trimmed the latter figure to $353,054 by cutting out pre-school and reducing music to a half-time program.
Most of the testimony favored a restoration of those two programs or funding the school budget as presented.
School Board member Stuart Brown started by saying that if the assembly passed stricter enforcement of its sales tax code through more audits, then it could probably collect the $54,000 they had just cut, “and we can go after grants.” Members Joanne Korsmo, Darren Belisle, Christine Ellis, and Superintendent Les McCormick urged them to pass the budget as presented “for the kids.”
Former assemblyman Mike Korsmo said the members should support the school’s request, because “the city is not hurting financially.”
Former Mayor Tim Bourcy, who admitted being a critic of school budgets in the past, said witnessing the students’ Smithsonian science trip presentation that week made him a believer.
“When I saw those 20 kids do that presentation and seeing how mature and intelligent they were – our money spent on schools has come back,” he said.
Parent Niki Hahn said the board “made an honest effort to cut the budget,” and several others simply said they supported the school budget.
One resident, Blaine Mero, said he did not support the funding request. He said his opinion may be unpopular, but he was surprised the district did not initiate a Reduction In Force.
When it came to the table late in the meeting after many of the citizens (other than board members) had left, Mayor Tom Cochran asked first for a motion to fund the operating budget to the cap. At the work session he had supported this stance, and said they could cut the outside funding requests.
The motion was made, but members then started discussing the per student cost and teacher-pupil ratio at the school.
Hunz said the per student cost to the municipality had been $13,000-$14,000 per kid, and that he would like to see it go to $15,000 per kid. He would explain later that this logic led him to request the amended operating fund reduction to $1.1 million. The district’s enrollment had dropped from 95 to 72 in one year, so the per student cost would be increasing under his proposal, but not as much as the school wanted. He said that the district should be funded by the municipality much as the state funds it, on a per unit cost, not unlike a business.
Tim Cochran, the assembly’s liaison to the district, contended that salaries and benefits at the school comprised 77 percent of the budget, which was too high for the district to sustain. He said later that the average salary of the nine teachers in the operating fund was $58,442 with additional benefits of $24,980.
“We cannot continue to fund a budget fully that pays these wages and benefits to the number of teachers on hand without the school board imposing a RIF, or seeing an influx of a minimum of 29 new students,” he said.
Hunz talked about splitting the cost of funding the school between property tax and sales tax, but Mark Schaefer said he had been hearing from tax payers who would fill the room if it came to taking school money out of property tax.
Colette Hisman pointed to a spreadsheet she requested that showed how much extra the school had been asking for, and receiving, the past eight years. It had grown from $8,166 for fish hatchery in 2002 to a high of $450,392 last year for student activities, food service, pre-school, vocational education, technology improvement, and music. And without the district getting a waiver for its counting period, she felt they needed to do a RIF.
Assemblymenbers Cochran, Schaefer and Hisman voted for Hunz’s amended motion to reduce the cap to $1.1 million.
Paul Reichert and Dan Henry supported the budget as presented. Reichert said that while he agreed with having a good business approach, he did not agree that “those rules apply here with kids.” He said he had sat through meetings and saw where teachers had cut corners where they could.
“I go to (municipal) budget meetings and I haven’t seen a department work half that hard to bring their budget down,” he said.
Henry said borough code allows funding of the school through sales tax, and “we currently have those funds.” He said to keep it a great school, they need to be proactive to elevate a school that had just lost its social studies teacher. He said a school is one of five main reasons people have when choosing a place to live, and feared they could lose more families.
After the 4-2 vote, Hunz said he would leave the outside funding requests alone. Henry asked, not jokingly, about what they were funding, now that they had just cut “reading.” But they voted 6-0 to approve the amended extra funding amount of $353,054.
The mayor said the action was not what he expected.
“I imagined the operating fund passing no problem,” he said. “I guess I was mistaken. I don’t know how to react.”
Hisman said it was not an easy decision and she understood the position the school board was now in, and the pressure they are all under.
“It bothers me when I hear from people that I ‘don’t support the school and children’,” adding that she consistently supports the kids, but she has to be “fiscally responsible to everyone in this community.”
When asked later why he didn’t vote based on the public’s testimony, Hunz said he hears the other side on street corners from people who are afraid to speak out at meetings. When asked if he would reconsider if there were a resounding public outcry over the vote, Hunz said there would have to be some strong numbers presented to change what he came up with.
“I had a reason for my decision and am willing to stand behind it,” he said.
Tim Cochran said the school board had been warned not just this year, but it previous years, that they needed to make more cuts to address the declining enrollment. Hunz said it had not been fair last year when other departments in the borough held the line or made cuts, and the school saw an increase. He said he thought that was made clear at the work session, though he did not at the time directly tell them to cut the operating budget.
Reached after the meeting, Board President Ellis said she was “shocked.” The district had made significant cuts, nearly $400,000, by eliminating the social studies position through a resignation, cutting the librarian and special ed. aide, and reducing health benefits in order to avoid a RIF, she said.
Ellis said she expected possibly having to make more cuts to the outside programs, but cutting the operating budget now, after all tenured teaching contracts are signed, will be difficult. She said it felt like the borough assembly was “trying to do our job for us.”
“We don’t have much wiggle room,” she added, and the board will have to come up with an education plan at a work session this week.
“If you don’t have an instructional program in place, then you are messing with the kids’ future.”
Dr. Jefferie Thielbar selected new Skagway School superintendent
By JEFF BRADY
After an hour and a half of taking questions from school board members and the public Monday night, Dr. Jefferie Thielbar of Barrow was given a vote of approval by the board to be the next Skagway School superintendent.
His hiring was pending the outcome of an executive session over his contract details at a special meeting Thursday night, after this issue was printed. After Monday night’s meeting, board President Christine Ellis and Vice President Darren Belisle negotiated with Thielbar. The next day, Ellis said they were prepared to take a contract to the rest of the board. Before that, however, they were also going to meet with their attorney in a special executive session on Wednesday night. The outcome of these meetings will be reported on the News website Friday.
Thielbar was brought to Skagway after being selected the finalist a week earlier, and his wife Kerry also came down from Barrow (her travel was not paid by the district). About 15 teachers and parents were in attendance and asked questions, along with board members.
The selection comes a week after teleconferenced interviews with three semi-finalists: Thielbar of Barrow; Keith Langfitt of Burkeville, Texas; and Danny Frazier of Palmer. Those interviews and deliberations were held in open session on May 3. The board was unanimous in its top ranking of Thielbar for what he had done at Barrow High School (reaching Adequate Yearly Progress for the first time) and also in Wyoming before coming to Alaska. They liked his motivation, how he talked about working with kids in Barrow, and his ideas on using technology to improve programs.
They said the two other candidates had strengths (Langfitt had experience in small districts and Frazier was an implementer of strategic plans), but they said Thielbar was the best all-around candidate. During his face-to-face interview this week, the focus was more on curriculum, working with staff, and budgeting. He said he had some ideas on dealing with the current budget cuts before the board.
Thielbar said he recently completed his doctorate in education leadership at the University of Wyoming with the idea that he would become a superintendent. He has been a high school principal for 10 years, mostly in Wyoming. He was in Barrow for two years. Before being a principal, he was a junior high and high school science and physical education teacher for 10 years. He said he was looking forward to working with elementary kids in a small school. He spent an hour in the school on Monday meeting kids and staff.
Between them, the Thielbars have five grown kids from previous marriages, and he said they were all supportive of the couple moving to Skagway. Kerry already is showing an interest in gardening, and he said they are looking forward to making a home here.
During questioning, there was a lot of focus on expanding high school curriculum through technology. Thielbar said there are several virtual-type programs for high schools, but he suggested trying to work within the state with other schools using Skype to connect classrooms for courses not offered here. In Barrow, he said they had one course coming from another school in the district, three classes going out to other schools, and one coming in from a UAF program. In addition he suggested certifying staff to teach college Advanced Placement courses in the school and giving them the ability to expand to other schools. He also wants to involve local businesses in the school with On the Job Training opportunities.
Board member Joanne Korsmo said they were looking for “a positive, optimistic leader with positive ideas for the school” and asked him about his philosophy about working with staff. Teachers present also quizzed him on how he will communicate with them.
Thielbar said he preferred an open format with “all the cards on the table” and weekly staff meetings, as well as face-to-face meetings.
“I do want to have sharing meetings,” he said. “You won’t be surprised by anything.”
Thielbar said some personnel issues have to go into executive session with the board, and when it comes to cuts, he said he prefers a “sharp knife to a dull knife” with a full explanation beforehand.
He said he had met with interim Superintendent Les McCormick and business services manager Kathy Pierce about the budget situation, and shared some ideas about how to deal with the cuts being made by the borough, but at the moment it was not up to him. He did say getting the district fiscally sound was priority one.
He said he knows what it is like to be part of a Reduction in Force, as it happened to him after his second year of teaching. If there has to be one, he said he would talk to the staff member individually. But he talked more about what lay ahead, saying, “there will be a balanced budget while I’m here.”
While some in the audience wanted the community and the district to stand up to the borough, Thielbar said he believed more in fence-building. Rather than rehash problems that came before, he said they should sit down with the assembly again, explain the situation, and then say “we’d appreciate if you would reconsider.”
As superintendent, he said he wants to have a relationship with the borough. “They can come to my office, and we can shut the door, cuss it and discuss it,” he said.
On other topics:
• Thielbar said he had administered grants but did not write them. He suggested hiring a grant writer who would more than pay for their salary after one year.
• He supports extracurricular programs. “If there is one kid and one staff member, that’s all it takes” to have a program.
• He said the finances of the district should be kept out in the open.
• He said he would approve of a weighted grade system that is methodical, and also likes having community service, coordinated by teachers, as a graduation component.
• He welcomed having foreign exchange students in the school to boost enrollment because they generally “drive up academics.” He also likes the idea of having a residential school, with Skagway hosting kids in housing that normally would be unoccupied in the winter.
“I like what I heard tonight,” Belisle said before making a motion to hire “Dr. J, or is it Dr. T” as the new superintendent, pending negotiations over a contract. The vote was unanimous.
PHOTO - Jeff Thielbar answers a question from the board. JB
High metal count for Pullen Creek
By ANDREW CREMATA
The health of Pullen Creek was assessed in a recent report compiled by the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation. The report was based on a study of Pullen Creek where it was ascertained that levels of certain metals were higher than acceptable. While the problem is unlikely to go away quickly, the best course of action may be to do nothing at all.
Brock Tabor of the ADEC met with a small contingent of Skagwegians at the AB Hall on May 5 to go over the details of the report. Tabor said the report outlined TMDLs (Total Maximum Daily Loads) of metals in Pullen Creek including cadmium, copper, lead, and zinc. A TMDL is a calculation of the maximum pollutant a water body can receive and still meet water quality standards.
Tabor explained that various portions of Pullen Creek were contaminated by metals when ore shipments were being brought into Skagway via uncovered trains and trucks. The contaminants blew out from the unsecured loads and found their way into the Pullen system. The DEC report is an update of one done in 1990.
Data compiled from Pullen Creek revealed high levels of contaminants in several portions of the creek, especially areas of confluence. To meet minimum safety standards, all metals would need to be reduced by at least 60 percent, and lead would have to be reduced by 89 percent of its current level.
Tabor said the report should be considered a “pollution budget” designed to restore the health of the body of water. He explained that the contaminants were mostly in the sediment of the creek, and the report lists certain actions that could be taken to restore the health of the system. Those include minimizing disturbance of the riparian area where plants help to leach out contaminants, and simply allowing nature to take its course over the coming years.
Tabor said it’s also important to inform the public and stakeholders on the best ways to manage Pullen Creek through education as 40 percent of pollution comes from urban runoff. Tabor said he was unsure how elevated levels of contaminants could affect salmon that spawn in the creek.
The report is open for public comment until May 21. It can be read at: http://www.dec.state.ak.us/water/wqsar/index.htm
News selected co-winner of Alaska journalism’s Public Service Award
Last year’s series of stories on the high costs of medevacs and how the community responded to the crisis has earned The Skagway News the highest honor in Alaska journalism.
The News was co-winner of the Alaska Press Club’s 2009 Public Service Award along with the University of Alaska Fairbanks Journalism Department, which embedded three students and a professor with Alaska’s Stryker Brigade in Iraq and supplied stories to many daily news outlets.
The awards were presented at the conclusion of the annual APC awards banquet in Anchorage on May 8. Reporter Molly Dischner, now editor of the UAF Sun-Star newspaper, accepted the award on behalf of the News. She also collected a first place award in business reporting for the initial story on the high medevac costs that ran last August. Contributing writer Andrew Cremata also won the Best Sports Columnist award for his Fish This!, his third time winning that category in four years.
Editor Jeff Brady received the news via text messages Saturday evening.
“I hardly ever get texts, but I kept hearing this beep in the other room while my son and I were watching a movie, and when I finally checked it out, there were three from Molly announcing each award,” he said. “I doubt I will ever erase them. It was such a great feeling, and I really wish I could have been there. The Public Service Award is a tremendous honor, and I believe we are the smallest paper in the state ever to receive it. That says a lot about the hard work we put into covering that story.”
Here is what the judge Gary Cohn said about the entry: “The Skagway News is a small newspaper that produced big-time journalism. Starting with the stories of two local residents who were overcharged for medevac flights, the newspaper shined a spotlight on the high cost of medevac insurance. The newspaper showed how local residents were being double-billed for medevac flights and that the cost of such flights had quadrupled in a year.
“The paper’s reporters interviewed health care providers, medical experts, medevac company executives, rescue workers and insurance carriers to give its readers a clear picture of a growing problem of huge importance to local residents. And the paper went beyond just pointing out the problems: its stories discussed possible solutions and helped frame a public policy debate about the best and most-affordable way to ensure that all residents and visitors to Skagway would have access to medevac insurance.
“Its stories came as the nation was engaged in an ongoing debate about health care and health insurance. This was public service journalism at its best, by a small and determined newspaper that takes its civic responsibilities seriously. Congratulations to editor Jeff Brady and reporter Molly Dischner and the entire staff of The Skagway News.”
Cohn is a former Atwood Professor at the University of Alaska Anchorage and a winner of the Pulitzer Prize and numerous other national journalism awards.
Brady said it was the first time he had ever submitted stories for the Public Service Award.
“I know our little paper is well-received and has something of value for the community in every issue, but this time I felt our coverage really made a difference in the lives and well-being of every citizen in the town,” he said. “I didn’t think it had a chance of winning because there usually are some major issues being covered well by the bigger media in the state. To be recognized on a level with what the UAF students did in Iraq was extremely gratifying. We had our own UAF student (Dischner) doing great work in Skagway. ”
PHOTO - Molly Dischner accepts the Public Service Award from the Alaska Press Club in Anchorage. Jess Hoff
Nearly $11 million could be coming to Skagway from latest session
By JEFF BRADY
If all of its projects funded by the Alaska Legislature survive the governor’s veto pen, Skagway could be looking at $10,936,408 in project funding from the state next year.
The breakdown coming out of Juneau this year is impressive:
• Harbor matching funds: $5 million.
• Harbor improvement funds: $4 million (from the cruise tax).
• Wastewater treatment plan improvements: $800,000 (cruise tax).
• Municipal revenue sharing: $427,847.
• Land purchase for DOT highway maintenance facility (currently being leased): $407,000.
• Skagway Traditional Council utility building: $200,000.
• Dyea Road washout emergency repair: $101,561.
In an interview this week, Rep. Bill Thomas (R-Haines) said he is hoping the governor won’t veto any of the projects. Gov. Sean Parnell has stated he will be using line item veto power on a capital budget that he feels is too fat.
Thomas described the hectic end of the session leading up to the passage of a bill that lowered the cruise tax. Thomas moved a bill out of House Finance that would have given all communities impacted by ships $8 per head, except those that already get money from their own municipal head taxes (Juneau and Ketchikan). But his bill was usurped in a move by the majority leader from Ketchikan who instead put forth the original bill from the Senate which added money back in for the larger communities.
“He was supposed to bring my bill up to level the playing field,” Thomas said. “But he was able to get the votes and rip off the rest of the state.”
Thomas added that the district’s port towns did not get hurt by the bill – Skagway will still be getting $5 per head – but additional money that would have gone to developing ports such as Hoonah and Kodiak is a lot less. There is a limit of $8 million for “emerging ports” from the bill, he said. “They can get it, but we didn’t give them a lot.”
Thomas said the session involved “long and hard hours because we wanted to make sure everyone had their hearings.” He said some committees had as many as 11 hearings on bills, and at Finance they would have three or four.
But the long hours hasn’t stopped him from filing to run again.
Thomas is hoping to preserve his and other rural seats as well. He was proud of the Legislature for passing a resolution placing a question before the voters in November to expand the Legislature by two seats in the Senate and four in the House. With more movement to larger population areas in the past decade, there is a strong possibility District 5 and other rural districts could go away in the upcoming reapportionment after the 2010 census.
“We passed it to protect the rural seats that we have,” he said.
Thomas also highlighted passage of a bill that allowed holding child custody hearings in advance for military personnel before they are shipped off to war. He said they also put $50 million back in the Renewable Resources Fund that could help regional hydro projects.
He said he voted against the governor’s education bill for performance scholarships because it did not give rural districts enough money to help students qualify.
“The polling we did said our 13 school districts could not (meet the performance standards) without hiring one-to-two more teachers,” he said.
FIRST VISITORS, FIRST COPY
Darlene and Brian Gaskill of Syracuse, NY were the first passengers get off the first ship of the season, the Norwegian Pearl, on May 5. Newsie Nathaniel Leggett hands them a copy of the 2010 Skaguay Alaskan Visitor Guide, which is inserted in this issue. It contains new historical features about love lost and found in gold rush Skaguay. See more first day photos in Heard on the Wind, and watch for the online edition of the 2010 Alaskan coming soon. Photo by Jeff Brady
Princess pulls smallest ship for 2011 season
Princess Cruises announced on April 29 that it will send five ships to Alaska in 2011, one less than in 2010. The 710-passenger Royal Princess, which calls on Skagway eight times this summer, will be heading elsewhere.
The season includes a total of 104 Alaska departures aboard six ships sailing on three itinerary options during the summer season. The lineup includes Diamond Princess, Coral Princess, and Island Princess traveling on the line’s popular “Voyage of the Glaciers” route through the scenic Gulf of Alaska; Golden Princess and Sapphire Princess sailing the Inside Passage from Seattle, and Sea Princess cruising on 10-day journeys from San Francisco.
Holland America CEO looks favorably at 2012
SEATTLE - Holland America Line is looking favorably at bringing more vacationers to Alaska now that the state’s passenger head tax has been reduced, President and CEO Stein Kruse told the Associated Press.
The cruise line has already decided how many ships to devote to Alaska this year and next, but Stein said recent pro-business actions by Gov. Sean Parnell and the Legislature “will certainly be a positive influencing factor” as the company makes its deployment decisions for 2012.
“I can’t say right here and today what we will do because those decisions haven’t been made, but I can tell you that it’s a far more positive outlook than it has been for the last couple of years,” Kruse said.
Lawmakers lowered the state head tax from $46 to $34.50 last month. Parnell introduced the measure after visiting with industry executives at a Miami trade show earlier this year.
Holland America this year will have eight ships on Alaska runs from Seattle and Vancouver, one more than in 2009, and 149 total departures from the two cities. Six of those ships are coming to Skagway this year, but the number will drop to four next year.
Next year HAL will deploy seven ships making 125 total departures to Alaska. The Ryndam is not coming in 2011, and Skagway will also lose the Amsterdam, which is being deployed to Icy Strait Point (Hoonah) every other week next year. However, Skagway will pick up weekly visits of the Zaandam (calling here just once this season) and see continued weekly visits of the Zuiderdam, Volendam and Statendam in 2011. – AP & SN reports
State marketing boost to show up on TV
The state’s tourism campaign will get a $7 million shot in the arm next year, but those in charge of the campaign say they could do more with dedicated funding.
Lawmakers approved the additional spending during the session that ended last month, bringing the Alaska Travel Industry Association’s annual budget to $18.7 million, up from $11.7 million. ATIA has a contract with the state to manage its tourism marketing campaign.
“It’s great to have this one-term injection of funding but as anyone knows, where you’re trying to grow image, awareness and brand, you need to be in there for the long haul,” ATIA President Ron Peck said.
ATIA lost its bid for a dedicated funding source, even though Gov. Sean Parnell supported it through a bill that would have funneled cruise industry taxes to the organization. Parnell seems likely to approve one-time spending passed by legislators, but there’s still time for vetoes.
More national television ads are sure to be part of an increased marketing effort, since lawmakers mandated $2 million for TV. It’s too early to say where additional funding might go, ATIA Marketing Director Kathy Dunn said. About $5 million will be added through a process that involves marketing committees and board approval, she said.
A dedicated funding source would allow better negotiating for media buys, resulting in the state getting more for its money, Dunn said. ATIA will pursue it again next session.
Peck said that to be competitive, Alaska should be spending between $20 million and $30 million a year. Hawaii, another long-haul destination, spends more than $80 million a year to attract about 7 million tourists. Alaska gets about 2 million tourists.
Peck said the additional $7 million would allow a stronger presence in the marketplace next year, an increased image and awareness of Alaska as a destination, and a stronger television and international presence. – JUNEAU EMPIRE
BOROUGH DIGEST (complete digest in print edition)
Assembly listens: backs no-shooting boundary extensions, nixes changes to animal control code
Nothing gets the Skagway public going like dog control; it dates back to the town’s first ordinance in 1900.
The May 6 Borough Assembly meeting saw a packed house, and most came to testify to a pair of ordinances on the agenda that emerged from a dog shooting incident last month.
While there was support for a recent police department and Public Safety Committee proposal to extend the no-shooting boundaries further north of town (to Boulder on the railroad across to the highway) and west of the Dyea Road (by 1,500 feet), there was adamant opposition to a new proposal to require leashes on dogs outside the downtown area.
Sensing that it was going to be a long night, Mayor Tom Cochran gave a “Civics 101” lesson and urged people to refrain from emotional testimony and simply state whether they were for or against the ordinances. He said the time for personal stories was at the committee level, and that there would be another Public Safety meeting to deal with the proposed changes to the leash law.
But when it came time for testimony, some said the borough was wrong to bring the leash law changes forward in ordinance form before taking it first to committee. They cited the work on the firearms ordinance as an example. Others, including Tim Bourcy, a former mayor, admonished Cochran for trying to limit debate until it gets to committee.
“Don’t sit there tonight and say we are planning to send it back (to committee),” Bourcy said. “You need to understand your role as mayor and the assembly needs to understand its role…. You can kill it tonight.”
Cochran’s response was, “Thank you, and touché.”
About 35 people testified, and most were in support of scrapping the new animal code ordinance as presented at first reading. It would have changed the leash law from its current zone in the downtown 23-street corridor and Seven Pastures Park, to all areas, including the trail systems, except Dyea Flats. It would have removed the current law allowing control by voice command, and added a section on animal waste removal which would have required dog owners to carry collection instruments and a container.
Several said they enjoy Skagway because they are allowed to walk the trails with their dogs unleashed. “You can’t exercise your dog on a leash,” said Jack Inhofe.
Others said the dog poop issue needed to be addressed, but the ordinance went overboard. It was noted that the borough has some donated collection devices to place at trailheads and will be putting them around soon.
Some said it was ironic that a resolution setting fees for violations of the ordinance contained fines that were higher than what the man who recently shot the dog was fined, $30. The fines proposed for having an unleashed dog and not picking up dog poop were $50.
That dog was shot just north of Reid Falls Creek, and there was resounding support for moving the no-shooting line north to Boulder at 4.5 Mile on the railroad across to the highway. And some urged a greater expansion along Dyea Road than the proposed 1,500 feet west.
“I had no idea some of the areas I’ve been hiking in forever were open to shooting,” said Sherry Corrington.
When it came to the assembly table, Public Safety Chair Mark Schaefer said the animal code was on the agenda for the same committee meeting that addressed firearms, but was not ready at the time. There was a recent incident on a trail (see blotter), and the ordinance was modeled after a Juneau ordinance, but he said, “we can kill it, no problem.” However he was the lone vote for it later, stating that he was being like J. Frey, and voting for the one person out there who supports it. Other members said they wanted to kill it and start over at the committee level.
During the firearms ordinance discussion, Paul Reichert moved for an amendment to increase the proposed no-shooting boundary west of the Dyea Road to a half mile and from within 100 feet of any trail to 300 feet. It passed 5-1 with Schaefer casting the dissenting vote. That ordinance will be up for second reading on May 20.
When the resolution came up later regarding fines, the assembly passed the $50 fees for unleashed dogs and failure to remove fecal matter left by a dog, but scratched $25 fines for owners not having instruments or containers to remove the matter. There is a new $25 fee for failure to obtain a dog license, and failure to display it.
Land sale auction June 18
The assembly set the date for the upcoming Taiya Inlet Subdivision land sale as June 18. It will be an outcry auction in assembly chambers at City Hall starting at 7 p.m. The assembly also accepted the recent appraisals by Horan and Co. setting values on the eight parcels between $91,300 and $127,400.
A ninth lot was held from the sale. Its appraisal has been challenged by Bruce Weber and Cara Cosgrove, who have right of first refusal for the parcel from an agreement that resulted from a right-of-way exchange for the new Nahku Road. If no agreement can be reached on the appraisal, that parcel could be sold over the counter at a later date.
Successful bidders will have to put up 7 percent of the value by June 25. Any lands that aren’t sold at the auction will be available over the counter for the next five years. See details in the big ad on page 10.
DDF & MUSIC SHOWCASES
DDF students Alexis Grieser and Brandy Mayo act out a scene. Dainean Teeluk takes a bow after performing three pieces during Dottie Demark’s annual recital for her piano students. JB