June 11, 2010 • Vol. XXXIII, No. 10
Local entrepreneur Dennis Corrington poses with a cardboard cut-out of Skagway’s most famous former resident in his Sarah Palin Store. Read more about “What’s New” in town this summer on page 6 of our print edition.
Photo by Katie Emmets
No-shooting boundary line moved to Boulder
Assembly compromises on limits along Dyea Road
By KATIE EMMETS
After two months of planning and revising, the no-shooting boundaries were changed on June 3 with the passing of ordinance No. 10-07.
The new northern boundary line will begin at Boulder, 4.5 miles along the railroad track, and will continue westerly in a line to Mile 4.0 on the Klondike Highway. Included in the no-shooting zone is Yakutania Point Park, the Dyea Road intersection, Smuggler’s Cove, Pioneer Cemetery, and the beach area of Long Bay.
The boundary move was suggested after the shooting of Eric and Katherine Moseley’s dog Shae. At dusk on April 5, Skagway resident Luke Rauscher mistook the dog for a coyote and shot it with a 30-06 rifle just north of the existing boundary line at Reid Falls Creek. He was charged with animal cruelty for shooting a domestic animal and fined $50.
Twenty-eight Skagway residents voiced their concerns at the Thursday night assembly meeting and opinions were split 50/50 as 14 people were for the move, and 14 were against it.
Thor Henricksen told the assembly he thinks adding more gun control to Skagway is un-American and hunting is not a public safety issue.
“I am embarrassed that this is even being considered in the USA,” Henricksen said. “This ordinance should be thrown in the garbage.”
In response to Henricksen’s comment, Mark Nadeau said as a hunter and former military officer, he doesn’t think it’s “un-American to want to protect your family that you fought for.” Nadeau said most of the people in Skagway don’t know which areas allow hunting in them and suggests signs be posted to inform them that shots could be fired near where they are walking.
After hearing approvals and concerns from its community, the assembly amended the ordinance six times to create more of a compromise between the two groups.
One section was completely cut out. Those opposed to the ordinance had the biggest issue with language that stated a hunter would not be allowed to shoot a gun until walking 300 ft. away from any roadway or trail. The assembly and residents alike agreed that it would be difficult to discern when someone is 300 ft. away.
Another amendment pulled in the western boundary from a proposed 1,500 feet west of the Dyea Road to 300 feet, as proposed by Assemblyman Dave Hunz.. The vote on that amendment was a 3-3 split with Mayor Tom Cochran breaking the tie.
Cochran said he thought 1,500 feet was too excessive and 300 feet would protect all residential areas.
Also protected under the new boundaries is Scott Logan’s property at the end of Liarsville Road.
Logan said he was in favor of most things included in the ordinance, especially the boundaries being extended past his house.
“There is no way the hunter shot that dog with a 30-06 without shooting towards my house,” he said.
Soon, there will be boat tours going up and down the Skagway River that are almost silent, he said. If the boundaries didn’t move, there could potentially be hunters shooting toward the boat.
“This has nothing to do with hunting, he said. “It’s about not killing ourselves.”
Borough budget passes on 4-2 vote
School cuts retained despite objections
By JEFF BRADY
The Skagway Borough Assembly has approved a $5.065 million budget for the next fiscal year that includes a much-debated $151,780 cut to the school’s operations budget.
In a final attempt to try and sway four assembly members who had approved the cut at a previous meeting, a few parents, a teacher, two students, a former mayor, and the new school superintendent spoke to the consequences of their action.
“If I don’t see a more complete school schedule, we will leave this winter,” said parent Shauna Thomas, who has two girls in school.
Former mayor Tim Bourcy said, “the best thing we can do is educate our children” but if the assembly members were willing to cut back on the seeds of education, then they need to cut in other areas like off-duty officers who drive municipal vehicles. “Take actions that make the public feel they are being served,” he said.
New Superintendent Jeff Thielbar, who had flown in the day before, said he agreed with the assembly’s message of fiscal responsibility. But he also asked them to reconsider. Referring to some of the assembly members’ comparisons of the cost per student in Skagway versus Anchorage, he said the costs for rural districts are higher.
Thielbar said he can make cuts with $150,000 less in the budget, “as long as we are willing to accept the consequences of the decision.”
Teachers will be lost, he said, adding, “This will hurt the education of Skagway students, and there will be damage that will take years to recover.”
Thielbar welcomed assembly members to be on a panel of staff, parents, and business representatives to address the school situation. “We can make it work and we will,” he concluded. “That’s my promise to you.”
Students Brandy Mayo and Alexis Grieser worried about the work load being forced on the remaining teachers, and how that would affect the quality of their education.
“Ultimately, you’re hurting us,” Mayo said.
“If we are not given all the opportunities, our chances in the real world will not be there,” added Grieser.
Businessman Mark Nadeau suggested that if the assembly all along planned to cut the so-called cap funding, then it should have notified the school board in January, not at the first reading of the budget.
“What other departments had 10 percent cut from their budget?” he asked.
Mayor Tom Cochran said other departments were cut last year, but finance chair Dan Henry disputed this.
But Mavis Irene Henricksen said in the 1950s the school was able to educate with less, and can do it again.
“I’m tired of the beating this council has taken,” she said. “All four did it with a lot of pain.”
She said the school should have addressed its fiscal problems three years ago, but kept coming back for more. Likewise she said the assembly should have started addressing port issues 10 years ago to foster economic development.
The final comment came from board member Stuart Brown, who thanked the assembly for the money it was giving them this year. “We will have the best kids in the state,” he said.
A couple of small budget were amendments were made without objection, and the mill rates were set: 8.0 mills in Service Area I , 6.6 in Area II, 5.28 in Area III, 3.44 in Area IV, and 1.44 in Area V.
Then Assemblyman Dave Hunz moved to incorporate the school operating cut in the sales tax budget as part of the third reading of the overall budget. The school operating fund dropped from the state-allowed cap of $1.251 million to $1.1 million.
Hunz said he had “taken a lot of heat” but the “per student cost is where I cam from.” As the numbers of students went down, that cost kept going up and spending outside the cap became “astronomical,” he said. “They should be under the cap with the whole school budget.”
Member Colette Hisman agreed.
Henry countered that he looks at the situation as, “Can we afford to educate our children?” And his answer remains that the borough has the money and needs to stop acting like “Big Brother.”
“The School Board has done what they can do,” Henry said. “We have the money in the budget in front of you.”
He said elected officials, after hearing from the public, are being the most responsible when they have the ability to change their minds on an issue.
But Assemblyman Tim Cochran said the school had lost 23 kids and was heading in a direction that was unsustainable. As in past meetings, he blamed teacher salaries and benefits.
“We have to cut,” he said. “If we don’t cut, there will be a big crash.”
Member Mark Schaefer added, “None of the arguments are going to change my mind.”
To this, Assemblyman Paul Reichert responded that they were “not representing the wishes of the community.”
The vote was taken, and the amendment passed 4-2 with Henry and Reichert voting against the reduction in the school operations line item.
Mayor Tom Cochran, who had seen his earlier veto of the school budget overridden by the same four assembly members, said they could always make a motion to take money out of the port fund and put it toward the school. Henry commented that they were in such “financial duress” that it was time to cut the huge police and fire department budgets. He said only the museum and library stuck to the 15 percent cuts demanded by the assembly last year, and that a firestorm was needed.
But the mayor said that though he was not happy with the budget, too much work had already gone into the budget to revisit it.
Final reading of the budget passed on a 4-2 vote along the same lines.
“I have to say this is the most contentious budget I have ever been involved in,” the mayor said.
The school board will be addressing changes to their budget on June 22. At this week’s board meeting, which had been postponed from the end of May, Thielbar said he needed more time to balance the budget and have a final document for the board to approve.
“I think we will have a great education next year,” he said.
Cremata is sanitized for his next meal on the Norwegian Pearl.
Embedded on a ship: Cremata takes first cruise to Alaska
By ANDREW CREMATA
During the summer, we see them every day. Wide-eyed and wandering, they seem focused on nothing at all. In the moments that we interact, their questions seem ridiculous or trite. They do things that make us laugh out loud, shake our heads, and sometimes we seethe with frustration over their apparent lack of even the most basic social skills.
Our moments together are always brief, two worlds colliding for only an instant before they disappear and we crack open a beer. They take pictures to remember while we simply wave goodbye and forget. They are passengers on the cruise ships and maybe all of us, at least once, have wondered about Alaska from their perspective.
I had the unique opportunity to sport my own polyester jacket, and hang a camera around my neck, during the second week of May when I stepped on board the Norwegian Pearl for my own week-long cruise to Southeast Alaska. It was an opportunity to see how the other half lives and how their opinions of the place we call home are forged.
This was also my first cruise, and as I waited in line with a horde of fellow travelers, I was a little concerned about being crippled by claustrophobic anxiety once onboard the ship. A fire alarm and subsequent evacuation of the boarding station in Seattle did little to allay these fears, but once onboard it was obvious there was nothing that could stand in the way of my freestyle fun.
The first day at sea was a blur of orientations and bountiful buffets. There was a concerted effort on the part of the cruise staff to familiarize guests with the wide range of goods and activities on which they should consider spending their money. Even though the motto of NCL is "Freestyle Cruising," very few things on the cruise ship are free, and even a few things that are free will end up costing you money.
This became apparent on the second day of the cruise when a fellow passenger explained that a piece of art they “won” would cost $45 to ship home, as it could not simply be removed from the boat due to some obscure, ancient, and quite possibly make-believe, maritime law.
There were other, less subtle marketing ploys such as the lab coat clad “doctor” hawking the miracles of anti-aging cream in front of a 30-foot-tall video screen that made even the tiniest of wrinkles look like an aerial view of the Grand Canyon. There were the tables upon tables of jewelry that were brought into the atrium at 10 a.m. and immediately swarmed upon by bargain hounds in a sort of feeding frenzy. There was the jewelry shop representative touting the exquisite quality of the “Amoro” collection, and its distinction as the most romantic jewelry known to man.
How one quantifies the romantic level of a particular piece of jewelry might seem like a mystery, but it turns out it is directly related to its (significantly discounted) price. One thing is certain, when it comes to discerning the romantic qualities of the jewelry you buy for your sweetie, it’s best not to take any chances.
As the vessel approached the first port of call in Juneau, I took a stroll on the outside deck to clear my mind. After passing by a fellow selling $8.50 plastic take-home souvenir cups full of some frozen alcohol concoction I moved toward the bow of the ship where a few couples were looking out over the water with their binoculars. A man in a Mariners cap standing next to me said someone had seen whales just 20 minutes prior.
Almost on cue, the captain came on the loudspeaker and said whales had been spotted in the area. Immediately afterward, the Cruise Director’s voice echoed along the hull and said, “I’m sorry to announce that whale watching in Juneau has sold out. But I have some good news! We just got word that the whale watching company has just opened 100 more spaces, so go by the shore excursions desk as soon as possible to make sure you get a seat.”
Much like jewelry, when it comes to whales it’s best not to take any chances.
I struck up a conversation with an older couple on the deck who were diligently scanning the waves for any sign of spouts, fins or tails. They were veteran cruisers, but it was their first time to Alaska. They were already marveling at the endless mountain ranges passing along our flanks. I asked them how they felt about the constant barrage of marketing on the ship, to which they said the single most important thing I heard on the entire cruise.
“We don’t really even notice it,” he said. “We just wanted to come to Alaska. It’s always been our dream.”
I remembered the first time I saw a whale. It was back in 1996 riding the fast ferry to Haines. The whale was spouting about a mile away and a few people were pointing it out to me but I just couldn’t see it. My eyes didn’t know what to look for. I had no frame of reference. When I finally caught my own glimpse it was transcendent and unforgettable.
As I spoke with the couple I caught sight of a (now) familiar spout just off the bow of the ship. I pointed out what appeared to be four humpbacks as they passed parallel to our position. At first the couple strained to see what their eyes had never glimpsed, but when they saw the tail of one ocean giant rise and fall from the waves they both shouted expletives of joy and took turns looking through their binoculars. After they passed they thanked me profusely, as though I had magically made them appear.
It occurred to me that the most important aspect of a cruise to Alaska might just be Alaska itself. It’s ironic to think that week-long visitor to the state might see more of it than a person who has lived in Southeast their entire life. On this particular cruise we stopped in Juneau, Skagway, and Ketchikan and also cruised the entire West Arm of Glacier Bay.
It was in Glacier Bay that a very excited woman standing next to me said something I will never forget. We were stopped in front of the Margerie glacier, a 250-foot tall wall of ancient ice surrounded by floating icebergs. Every few minutes the glacier would calve sending ice fragments plummeting into the silt-green water with the sound of a thousand thunderous bolts of lightning.
The sun peeked out for moment, and a floating iceberg began to sparkle in the suddenly bright light. The woman explained to her partner, “Do you see the glittering gold in the iceberg? The gold only comes out of the glacier when it calves, and it’s always in the black parts of the ice.”
Cruising is undoubtedly an odd scene. For every bald eagle perched majestically on an iceberg there is a man dressed in a seal costume seeking to have his photo taken with you by one of the hired photographers. For every grizzly foraging along the coastline there is a tour salesperson telling you to ride the “Famous Skagway History Train.”
Yet somehow there are moments of pure magic that manage to resonate above the clamor of cruise life - moments we often take for granted as residents.
The morning after leaving Ketchikan I ran into two women I had met at the beginning of the cruise. They were on their first trip to Alaska, and I asked them how they enjoyed their scheduled flight over Misty Fjords National Monument. For the next 10 minutes their faces were aglow with tales of remote lakes, wild grizzly bears, and blue skies untouched by clouds.
It was a story I knew they would never tire of telling, a special day to permanently etch into the folds of their mind, a once in a lifetime glimpse into an unspoiled frontier.
I expected that when I finished the cruise I would be somewhat jaded by all the fake smiles and forked tongues, and while I was indeed changed it wasn’t in the way I expected. The cruise reminded me why our home is so special in the first place, and why so many people spend their hard-earned dollars for a short foray into our very large backyard.
Editors note: Andrew Cremata, who works in the summer for M&M Tour Brokers, was indeed embedded on the ship by his employers to watch how things are marketed on board. As a regular contibuting writer for the News, he agreed to share his experiences with our readers.
Captions: The botox "doctor" will make you ageless; taking in the awe of Glacier Bay; A rare sunny day in Ketchikan for Cremata and the Pearl.
Writers praise Skagway for working magic on first North Words Symposium
By KATIE EMMETS
Writers from all over the state of Alaska gathered in Skagway for the first ever North Words Writers Symposium last weekend.
From Thursday till Saturday, they were given the opportunity to explore Skagway, learn about its history and discuss writing, books and poetry with fellow authors.
Tourism Director Buckwheat Donahue, who organized the symposium, said he likes to read primarily about the region he lives in and wanted the conference to attract authors who write about the state of Alaska.
And it did.
The conference faculty consisted of 14 Alaskan authors, journalists, historians and poets.
“When I read their stuff, I know they’ve been here,” he said. “They are real Alaskans who have gone out and experienced it,” he said.
The symposium will be held annually and brought back to Skagway every third year. Next year, it will be traveling to Dawson City and then to Denali National Park the following year.
“I set up this first symposium to educate writers and give them a background history of our region in hopes they will include Skagway, Lake Bennett, Dyea, and the Klondike Gold Rush, in future manuscripts,” he said.
Although the panels and events were meant to inspire the writers, Donahue said he too was motivated.
“Listening to how they got started made me think,” he said. “Maybe I could put something together.”
There were 16 attendees who sat in on panels and listened to the authors discuss writing with one another.
Donahue said the attendees included people from the region – Juneau, Haines, Skagway, Dawson – and one from North Carolina, Sarah McGuiness, who has been here before. She has been trying her hand at writing after working as a tour guide for a cruise line a few years ago, and remains inspired by Alaska, Donahue said.
High school students Ian Klupar, Airk Cochran and Avi Vogel each were given a scholarship from the local arts council to attend panel sessions.
“Some kids showed up, and that’s cool,” Donahue said. “Maybe we’ll be reading them someday.”
During the five days they were in Skagway, the writers took a train trip to Lake Bennett, explored Dyea, rafted down the Taiya River, and had dinner at Jewell Gardens.
Donahue said he first got the idea for the conference a few years ago and mentioned it to Jeff Brady, editor of the Skagway News, and Haines author Dan Henry.
“You have to pick people you know are going to say ‘that it’s a great idea,’” he said, and added that Brady and Henry were also very instrumental to the execution of the conference.
Two years ago, the borough assembly approached Donahue and asked if he had any special projects he needed funding for. He brought up the writers conference idea, and within 10 minutes, three of the assembly members said they liked the idea, and Donahue received $25,000 to get his dream off the ground.
Several local companies donated time and services to the conference.
White Pass and Yukon Route Railroad took the writers to Lake Bennett where they had the option to explore or participate in a writing activity with author Andromeda Romano-Lax. Sgt. Preston’s lodge donated rooms for the writers to stay, and Red Onion Saloon provided tacos and beer for them the first night they were in town.
The symposium had a distinguished faculty, which included Alaska Magazine Editor Tim Woody, “Sarah” author Kaylene Johnson, and mystery novelist and symposium keynote speaker Dana Stabenow.
While they were in town, the authors did book signings at Skaguay News Depot and Books, which donated to the conference.
Occasionally, a tourist would walk through the store and yell, “I love you,” to Stabenow as they passed her, to which she would reply, “Thank you!”
Stabenow of Homer started out as a science fiction novelist, but was inspired to switch genres while reading a crime mystery novel.
“I thought to myself ‘gee, I wonder if I could do this,’” Stabenow said.
Since having that thought, she has published 26 novels, and 17 Kate Shugak murder mystery novels.
Stabenow said that every time she comes to Skagway, she is reminded of the history the municipality possesses.
“It’s staggeringly beautiful here,” she said. “I can’t imagine people walking back and forth on the trail 36 times with 2,000 lbs. I revisit that feeling of awe every time I come back.”
Alaska author Nick Jans, who taught in the Arctic for years and now lives in Juneau and Hoonah, said although he has been to several writers conferences, this one has been his favorite. He said it was one of the most positive literary experiences he has had, not to mention enjoying the location.
“Skagway is an absolutely perfect setting for a conference like this. There are good venues, things to do close by and the hospitality from everyone has been really great,” he said. “This just kicks everyone’s butt.”
Captions: Keynote speaker Dana Stabenow talks about how today's authors need to use all the tools of the web to promote their books; Kaylene Johnson talks with fellow panelists Nick Jans and Tim Woody of Alaska Magazine about being hounded for interviews after Sarah Palin was named the vice presidential nominee; Former resident Nita Nettleton, author of three quirky Alaska novels, and other participants get to know each other on the train to Carcross. - Jeff Brady
See more photos from the symposium in our 2010 North Words Writers Symposium Gallery
CREW REUNITED – Alvin Gordon, inductee Paul Cyr and Wayne Selmer visit Cyr’s shrine in the Yukon Transportation Hall of Fame. Jeff Brady
Paul Cyr inducted into Yukon Transportation Hall of Fame
By JEFF BRADY
WHITEHORSE – Paul Cyr, a working man whose legendary skills on a Caterpillar bulldozer ushered in a modern era of track-clearing for the White Pass and Yukon Route, was recently enshrined in the Yukon Transportation Hall of Fame.
Cyr, who lived in Skagway during his nearly 30 years on the railroad, was inducted on June 1 as the 2010 Pioneer of the Year. He and the late Neil Keobke, another former White Passer in the trucking/bus division, were honored in a ceremony attended by about 100 people at the Yukon Transportation Museum.
Cyr was born in Whitehorse in 1923 and first ran a D-4 Cat as a 13-year-old for a family operation hauling wood. A biography written up for the ceremony said his brother had to fix blocks to the pedals so Paul could reach them. When he was a little older, he helped clear the land for the Whitehorse airport. He also worked on steamships and with airplanes until entering the Canadian Light Infantry. After his service, he joined White Pass’s trucking division, working under Keobke and driving a bus or truck on the Alcan. They were known as “the original Ice Road Truckers,” but that career did not last.
A first marriage took him to California and Anchorage for a time, but when it ended, he returned to the Yukon in 1959. White Pass offered him a job in Skagway as a full-time, heavy-duty equipment operator.
The job took him up the rail line where he assisted track crews and bridge gangs, cleared derailments, and in the winter, plowed snow. During the early 1960s, the railroad was still using its steam rotary snowplow fleet to keep the line open in winter, but Cyr’s alert action during a bad storm changed things.
In January 1962, a southbound train and both of the rotaries became trapped in a blizzard.
“Knowing that the passengers and crew members were in need of help, Paul introduced his D-8 Cat for the job of snow clearing,” the bio reads. “It was slow going, with no lights on his Cat and its tracks hanging over the edge in places; Paul made his way through the snow drifts and across the high bridges to the rescue.”
The feat and proof that he could “walk the Cat” over the bridges demonstrated “skills that changed the White Pass,” said presenter Archie Lang, the Yukon government’s transportation minister. “Because of this event, White Pass has used Cats to clear bridges ever since.”
Several photos were shown on a screen, and it was noted how he survived accidents and saved co-workers. The event’s emcee, historian/author Michael Gates, called the photos “amazing.”
Cyr retired in 1988, and, with his second wife Alice, eventually settled in Tagish. Alice and daughter Tina were in the audience.
Paul read a brief acceptance speech after being presented the award.
“I’ll put this somewhere where I can see it,” he said. “I am pleased to be chosen for the Yukon Transportation Hall of Fame…. That’s it.”
Former Skagway resident Wayne Selmer, who flew down from Anchorage for the event, then offered an emotional testimonial of Paul Cyr’s skills.
“This award is pretty important to me,” Selmer said, and he told a story about working with Paul on a crew that blasted rock near an old snow shed in the summer of 1967, when he was 18 and just out of high school. Part of the shed had been damaged and would not be replaced, he said, and the following March a slide came down in the same area.
Selmer paused for a moment to muster the words.
“You heard about a young man trapped in a snow slide. I was that young man.”
Selmer was in a motorcar and Cyr was near him on his Cat. Selmer described how he could see the snow coming down and had the option of either running through it or jumping off. They tried to run for it, but the snow engulfed the motorcar.
Amazingly, the car kept running and stopped on its own accord, Selmer said, but he was trapped and could not move in the snow-filed motorcar. A little while later though, he could hear the Cat.
“I knew Paul would save me, but what I didn’t know was how much he would scare me,” he said.
Cyr had to move snow while guessing the location of the motorcar. There was a time or two, when the snow was being pushed or pulled, that Selmer’s head jerked from the impact, his hard hat being jammed down on his head. Eventually, Cyr was able to grab the corner of the motorcar, and men were able to shovel down to Selmer and get him a shovel as well.
“I sure was happy to see Paul,” he said.
Whitehorse businessman Rolf Hougen got up to tell stories about travels with Cyr and Koebke, and Cyr related how Koebke gave him a double-bladed axe to take on a bus trip to Atlin. The axe was necessary after the bus slid off the road, so the driver could chop ice to get it back on the road. Cyr said Koebke let him keep the axe for the good job he did.
Alvin Gordon of Skagway was in the audience and talked with Selmer and Cyr after the ceremony. Gordon was on the rotary snowplow fleet and worked with Cyr for many years. He his long since forgiven Cyr “for putting him out of a (rotary) job.”
Gordon said they would be at Bennett waiting for a work order, and Cyr would let him drive the Cat in the gravel pit while the catskinner went off blueberry picking.
“If only White Pass knew,” Gordon said. “He also let Roy Minter (White Pass public relations man) on there too, driving around the gravel pit in a hard had. He had a great time.”
As the evening wound down, the former rail workers talked about card tricks, lifting a float plane from Schwatka Lake with a crane, and those times Paul would say “hop on” and take them over the steel bridge on his Cat.
CAPTIONS: Paul Cyr is presented his award by Transportation Minister Archie Lang; Cyr is shown on his big Cat before heading out on the steel bridge.
BOROUGH DIGEST (complete digest in print edition)
State recognizes municipality for safety
The State of Alaska has recognized the Municipality of Skagway for having outstanding employee safety and health programs.
Labor and Workforce Development Commissioner Click Bishop has approved five municipal areas for the Alaska Occupational Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program. The areas are public safety, administration, recreation center, public works and the Dahl Memorial Clinic.
“All of our staff has been working very hard with the Safety Coordinator Frank Wasmer,” said Borough Manager Tom Smith.
Smith said the recognitions are a wonderful reflection of how Skagway feels about safety. “We want everyone to go home to their families as healthy as they left in the morning,” he said.
Every day has been utilized to train more of the department, Smith said adding that he is very happy and proud of those who have been recognized.
“The Municipality of Skagway places a high value on the safety of its employees,” Wasmer said in a release. “It is basic safety policy that no task is so important that an employee must violate a safety rule or risk injury or illness in order to get the job done.”
In the release, Wasmer said a program has been established which involves management, supervisors and employees identifying and eliminating serious hazards that may come up during work-related tasks.
Change in Skagway Small Boat Harbor fees
Starting on January 1, the Skagway Small Boat Harbor will be increasing its rates. All commercial boats, including fishing charters and kayaks will be charged $1.10 per passenger. If the boat or kayak is only loading, or only unloading this cost will be $.55 cents per passenger.
Non-commercial annual moorage will cost $13 per foot, and transient moorage will be $.35 per foot per day and $3.50 per foot per month.
Before the rates were amended and adopted, they were written as costing $1.50 per passenger for a round trip, as recommended by the Ports & Harbors Advisory Committee. The assembly changed them to $1.10 per passenger for a round-trip, and $.75 per passenger for a one way.
Bart Henderson, owner of the Haines-Skagway Water Taxi, asked the assembly if the rates really needed to be raised at all. Henderson said if they could have afforded to raise their prices, they already would have done so themselves. The company is already having a hard time filling the entire boat each trip, he said, suggesting the price hikes will cost them to lose “thousands of visitors from Haines to Skagway.”
Kori Goertz, the local manager for the water taxi, said Skagway’s harbor rates presently are six and a half times higher than Ketchikan, double Haines, and the same as Juneau. If the new rates passed, they would be ten times higher than Ketchikan, three times higher than Haines and two and a half higher than Juneau.
The assembly amended the rates to increase the commercial fees by 10 percent, and it passed unanimously.
West Creek wood cutting
Thirty trees were bulldozed and cut down in the West Creek area during the placement of the new footbridge, and residents would like to harvest them for winter firewood.
The assembly discerned that it would be OK to cut only the trees that are already down. As per Assemblyman Dave Hunz’s recommendation, the assembly will be asking public works employees to mark which trees are useable with spray paint sometime within the next week. – KATIE EMMETS
SCHOOL REPORT (complete report in print edition)
Count waiver denied by DOE
The Department of Education has denied a request from the Skagway School District for a waiver of the count period, which would have allowed it to begin in September instead of October.
Thielbar explained that the state looked at pupil counts from both October and the spring and determined that Skagway would gain only .5 students from the change.
Five of the 10 kids that may have been counted were already being counted for half-time, according to DOE. District secretary Debbie Knorr explained that those five were counted because they attended school until late September and the state allows them to be counted for 10 more days, which goes into the October count period.
Two-year contract for Thielbar
After a 20-minute executive session at its June 8 meeting, the Skagway School Board approved a two-year contract with Dr. Jefferie Thielbar, their selection as the new superintendent.
Thielbar will be paid $98,000 per year. His annual contract normally begins on July 1, but this year’s contract was advanced to June 1 to allow him to begin work on the school budget.
Several in the audience and at the table welcomed Thielbar.
“You’re going to love it,” said parent Loya Zalit.
“I’m happy you are here and that we won’t have another year like the year we had,” said board member Joanne Korsmo.
“I think it’s going to be a great year,” added Stuart Brown, “and we should focus on the positive, everybody.”
The board will deal with changes in its budget at the June 22 regular meeting (see borough budget story).