That Makes Me Tick?

Ethan Selmer and Magellan bounds take a look at a human model at the Elementary Health Fair at the Skagway School on March 20. Dimitra Lavrakas

Stardancer ramp ownership in dispute
AML president says company can handle load

By DIMITRA LAVRAKAS

When the White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad signed a sublease with Alaska Marine Lines for a staging area near the ore terminal basin last year, White Pass neglected to notify the City of Skagway of its intent to retain ownership of the improvements to the ramp per its original agreement with the city and state in 1984.
“If White Pass had wanted retain the improvements to that ramp, they would have notified the city and the state 60 days prior to the termination of that agreement,” said City Manager Bob Ward, who said the city also failed to clarify ownership when the agreement ended, and that’s why it is doing so now.
Basically, Ward said, White Pass is using a city asset in its sublease to AML. It’s not that the city has any plans for the ramp or would prevent AML from using it, Ward said, it’s that state money was used to improve the ore dock, including the addition of the Stardancer ramp.
At the time of the original agreement in 1984, the city was concerned that the White Pass cargo dock was falling down and that the city would not be able to handle the three cruise ships scheduled to come in. The city used state money to improve the Railroad Dock and the ore dock, Ward said. A the end of the 15-year agreement, the depreciation was at zero, he said, so there is no money involved in this claim.
Any fees generated from the use of the ramp should go to the city, Ward said in a March 9 letter to Fred McCorriston, White Pass president. Ward also asked for a meeting with McCorriston and an AML representative.
AML President Alex McKallor said he knew that the ownership of the ramp was under dispute.
“Over the long run, we hope it will be resolved,” he said by phone from Seattle.
The company’s new freight station that’s going up will serve AML well into the future, he said. Especially the fact that AML operations will no longer have to steer around Alaska Marine Highway System’s ferry schedule.
McKallor also said that AML could handle the envisioned 40,000 feet of pipe needed for the proposed Alaska Highway gas line project with no problem. He crunched the numbers on his calculator and figured that would mean 50 or 60 loads a week.
As for McCorriston, he said the ownership issue is basically a non-issue.
“When AML builds its own ramp,” he said in a local cafe, “we’d give it (Stardancer ramp) to the city.”

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WP&YR Railroad to delay service to Carcross
The White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad announced Tuesday that it will delay its scheduled service to Carcross, Yukon Territory indefinitely.
“A combination of factors were involved in making the decision: a slowing of the economy; a weak showing in advance bookings for the new service; a change in cruise ship departure times in Skagway resulting in an increased demand for coaches; and, extensive required maintenance on our steam locomotive,” said WP&YR President Fred McCorriston in a press release. “The White Pass, a publicly held company, has a requirement to its shareholders to deploy its assets in a fiscally responsible manner”
A lot of work remains to be done on the line between Bennett and Carcross. Rather than try to begin scheduled service in a manner not up to White Pass customer’s expectations, the company decided to delay the scheduled operation’s start up.
McCorriston elaborated: “With uncertainty facing us in several areas, I have made what can only be described as a very difficult decision. To our friends in the Yukon and especially residents of Carcross, our long term commitment to Carcross remains unchanged and we look forward to the day we can resume service.”
The WP&YR believes the passenger market exists for service to Carcross and hopes to resume service as soon as possible.
The White Pass & Yukon Route railroad carried more than 300,000 passengers on the historic narrow gauge railroad during the 2000 summer season.

Dog owners want public education campaign, neutering clinic
Cat owner wants dogs on leash
A meeting of the city’s Public Safety Committee on Tuesday, brought out mostly dog owners concerned about the city’s consideration of a mandatory leash law for dogs.
As the city’s ordinance now stands, dog owners may have their pets unleashed if they are “under voice control.”
However, Kurt Kosters, who has had three cats killed in his front yard, one with a witness to a pack of dogs as the culprits, said he has complained to the city about loose dogs for over 30 years.
While everyone present agreed that loose dogs are a problem, by the end of the meeting, the solution seemed elusive.
Suggestions ranged from a city-sponsored neutering and spaying clinic to a publicity campaign designed to alert seasonal employees that their dogs must be licensed with the city and have their required shots, to making the leash law seasonal, like downtown parking. There was discussion about whether to use prohibitively high fines for frequent offenders to fund a “doggie jail” and a dog control officer.
Right now, the dog pound is two, small transport kennels in the Police Department’s unheated garage.
Dogs are required under city code to be licensed at City Hall, said Councilmember Dave Hunz.
“If you go to City Hall, there’s only about 20 dogs licensed,” said Hunz.
Several people in attendance said when they first came to town, they were unaware their dogs had to be licensed.
Because the summer season is so busy for the Police Department, Police Chief Dennis Spurrier said dog control was probably at the end of the list of priorities.
Dogs being left outside establishments while their owners were inside came up, and Spurrier said that when an owner is not with its dog, then the dog is not under voice control and has to be tied up. Several people said they make sure their dogs are tied up where they won’t interfere with people going into the building.
People also complained about the lack of provisions for humane treatment of animals in the city code, particularly abandonment.
And the inevitable discussion of dog excrement on city streets and sidewalks was brought up and putting a possible pooper-scooper provision in the ordinance.
Hunz said that the issue would have to go before the city council for final resolution and development of a possible ordinance. –DL

Corrected sales tax figures show sales closer to $75 million in 2000
The report of total sales in Skagway for 2000 that was reported in the March 9 issue was incorrect due to an error in the formula used to total the third quarter sales.
The error doubled the actual third quarter sales to $86,805,396, resulting in an inflated total figure of $118,200,434.
The correct quarterly figures are:
First quarter: $2,538,043
Second quarter: $25,647,683
Third quarter: $43,402,698
Fourth quarter: $3,209,312
TOTAL: $74,797,736
This represents an increase over $69,888,114 total sales reported in 1999.
The figures, provided by the city treasurer, are reported annually in a series of tables prepared for the paper to reflect tourism and sales trends in the city for the past calendar year.
The totals were first questioned in a widely distributed fax by local bookkeeper Sharon Bolton shortly after the paper came out. City Manager Bob Ward initially attributed the increase to a busy construction season and higher fuel prices, however when he and City Treasurer Cindy O’Daniel were able to pull up the tables on March 13, they discovered the error in the third quarter formula.
The error was not part of the city’s Peachtree bookkeeping program, only a problem with inputting the information in an Excel spreadsheet for the newspaper. It was not part of the normal treasurer’s report, which is based on the fiscal year that ends in June.
The Skagway News takes some responsibility for the error, as we should have questioned the spike in the third quarter before publishing the figures. However, there was nothing else wrong in the reporting, as was alleged originally by Bolton. The breakdown of gift shop and tourism service industry figures never add up to the total sales figures, because all sales are not broken down for the paper, only those categories we requested. This has never been a problem in the many years we have been presenting these trends, but in the future we may ask for a more complete breakdown to avoid any confusion. – Jeff Brady, publisher

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