Now you see them ...

These cars at Paul Knapp’s yard will go out with the tide on the scrap barge when it finally gets here. City Public Works Director Grant Lawson figures about 31 vehicles will be on board. -DL

Clinic turns up green
Denali Commission grant totals $100,000, other projects taking off

By DIMITRA LAVRAKAS
It is, everyone agrees, absolutely terrific. The Skagway Medical Clinic has received the $100,000 grant from the Denali Commission for the “wellness center,” a so-called “campus” project at the site of the Recreation Center at Twelfth and State.
“We beat out 70 other applicants,” said Cindie Law, who was recently appointed clinic administrator by the Skagway Medical Corp. board of directors. Law wrote the grant with the help of Veronica Bush.
The money means the Recreation Board, the Senior Task Force, and the clinic board of directors can all do the preliminary work they need to determine what they can or can’t afford to offer to the community.
The aim of tying all three projects together is to offer the community a comprehensive facility that deals with a healthy lifestyle, medical care, and assisted living quarters, said Law.
It would also save all parties money by pooling employees – one billing clerk, one maintenance person, one administrator, she said.
“Human services – that’s where you run into huge operational costs,” Law said.
There’s further favorable fallout from the grant.
Patricia Atkinson, with the state Division of Social Services, read the grant and she has received a grant from the Robert J. Woodward Foundation to find a new project within Alaska to do a new senior center and follow it from beginning to end.
“She knew all the terminology, all the documentation,” said Law about Atkinson’s meeting with the Senior Task Force March 28.
“She was great, very informative,” said Margaret Burnham, task force member.
Burnham said Atkinson recommended the group apply for a housing loan in order to come up with all the data they’d need to apply for other grants.
“So we’ll do it one step at a time,” said Burnham. “We put a lot of time into it, and we were getting frustrated, but this is a positive thing.”
“I’m excited for the community,” said Law. “Even if we don’t decide to do this as a joint project, we’ll all have our own feasibility study in hand to go on with our projects. This will give the community a chance to see what they really need.”
Task Force member Denise Taylor said she was very happy to hear the news and commends Law for the effort she put into applying for the grant.

“Now we have a jumping off point for our project,” Taylor said. “We were stalled for a while, but not any more.”
The Recreation Center also stands to benefit from the grant and the “campus” approach to pursuing funding.
“I’m happy the Skagway Medical Clinic is getting assistance to create a medical facility that’s financially stable,” said Dennis Bousson, the city’s RecreationBoard chair. “If the Rec. Center can benefit from this program and be of assistance – all the better.”
But going forward will not be rapid, advises Law.
“The realistic time line is four years – that’s what I see if we do it right and if we rely on grants, the whole thing will cost $8 million, and we don’t want to take that from sales tax revenue,” she said. “Realistically, we’ve been in the black and I don’t see us asking the city for money in the future.”
The billing process has been beefed up, said Law with patients paying directly to Quest Diagnostics for lab tests and to the clinic for any tests they do on site.
A sliding scale fee is being instituted for visits, prescription drugs and procedures, said Law, and will reflect a person’s income monthly. In Skagway, some people don’t work in the winter but are employed in the summer, she said. Just ask for an appointment for a financial evaluation.
New fees are being looked at. A working committee of board members Beth Cline, John Mielke and PA Tim Cristman met and recommended using the National Standard of Fees after finding the clinic’s fee structure to be in noncompliance with standards of practice. The whole board still needs to approve it.
A patient grievance procedure has been set in place and a bill of rights for patients so everyone knows what their rights are when seeking medical treatment.
Law kept ticking off more news the clinic wants to share with the community.
Kendel Simm has been hired as the Physician’s Assistant and Chief of Staff and will start work May 1. She and her husband will be moving here from California.
The clinic is also moving ahead with a new medical director, after the resignation of Dr. Sharon Fisher of Juneau. Law went to Seattle last week to meet with Dr. Becky Bay to discuss getting her licensed in Alaska. Bay would come here once every six weeks, but stay for a week. Bay’s looking to leave the rat race for a quieter pace, Law said, and may possibly retire here.
“It would be great for someone to be here for one week,” said Law. “The medical director is supposed to collaborate with the Physician Assistants, but if you’re seeing patients how can you observe the PAs?”
Reaching back to the Rural Health Network grant the clinic received several years ago, Law was able to recoup money from the grant that was not used and sent back. With part of it, the clinic has purchased a pharmacy machine for $35,000. Just like the one they use at Walgreen’s, Law said.
The machine informs the person inputting the request for medication about: a client’s allergy and medication record to make sure there’s no adverse reaction; it counts them and dispenses without the PA ever touching a pill, and logs in how many have been dispensed and when a refill is needed; and reorders automatically. It also gives a patient complete information about the potential drug’s side effects. It’ll be here operational by June.
“Now patients can call and get them immediately instead of in three days,” said Law.
An On The Job Training grant will cover half of Veronica Bush’s billing clerk salary for six months and half of Susan Frederick’s temporary filing position.
“I think within the next year, you will see a decidedly different clinic,” said medical board President Frank Wasmer. “We’re doing a review of the clinic, top to bottom, and we’re very excited by the Denali Grant. You will see a lot of very public meetings. The new medical building, from the clinic’s point of view, will now be priority No. 1.”

To pay or not to pay, that is the question
Bounds claims payment to H&H would compound the situation

By DIMITRA LAVRAKAS
The City of Skagway is withholding payment to Hunz and Hunz Enterprises for recent work on the Fire Hall, as it continues to respond to protests from Bert Bounds.
This is becoming a more complicated story as the days go by. But let us begin with the basics.
Bert Bounds, owner of Bounds Electric, was the low bidder for the Fire Hall Bay 4 Remodel Project. He says he did not refuse the contract, but just would not sign it with the $1,000-a-day liquidated damages for not completing the work by April 1.
City Manager Ward said that in a meeting with Bounds, he told Bounds the damages were seldom charged and the city could work around any time constraints if Bounds had a problem with obtaining any of the job’s materials. Bounds says Ward never offered to negotiate on the terms. Bounds has repeatedly said his lawyer advised him not to sign the contract if the charges were included.
Ward claims that Bounds flatly refused to sign the contract when it was awarded to him, a clear indication Bounds was rejecting the contract, and so Ward offered it to the next lowest bidder – Hunz & Hunz, whose owner is Dave Hunz, a city councilmember.
Bounds claims the award was illegal because Ward did not go back to the city council and have the council vote to award the contract to Hunz, and that by city code Ward was not authorized to sign the contract, only the mayor.
Ward said he has always signed contracts since working for the city, and no hint of illegality has ever been raised. It was something his predecessors did, he said.
Bounds, through his attorney, has filed a formal protest with the city, and that is winding its way through the process.
The city’s latest answer to Bounds’ charges was sent to him this week, and again the city will use the Police Department to physically serve Bounds as well as sending a certified letter.
Bounds was previously served the city’s first response to his appeal by Police Chief Dennis Spurrier, something Bounds has characterized as being heavy-handed and threatening.
This is not the case, said both Ward and Spurrier.
“We routinely use the Police Department for service because people tend to decline to sign for certified mail they receive from the city,” said Ward.
As to Bounds’ claim that Spurrier served him and said, “Bob said to give this to you,” Spurrier denies the statement was made or that any intimidation was intended.
“It is not uncommon for city hall to contact this office and require a formal service to people of the Skagway community,” said Spurrier. “People don’t always accept certified letters from the city. It’s usually just an envelope and so I don’t know what’s in it.
“It sounds as if Mr. Bounds misrepresented what I said. Mr. Ward’s name was never mentioned. I said, ‘I was asked to serve this envelope on you.’
“Mr. Bounds said, ‘This must be the answer I was looking for,’ and he left,” said Spurrier.
It was not necessary, Spurrier said, for Bounds to sign off on the service.
Spurrier said he had passed the envelope over earlier to the night officer for service, but Bounds was not seen on that shift.
At the council’s April 4 meeting, Bounds asked if Hunz had met the deadline of April 1 for completion.
Hunz, did “substantially” complete the work by April 1 and the there was “beneficial occupancy,” said Ward at the meeting.
But Bounds said he went by the Fire Hall and shot a video of people still painting pipe, and that there were still numerous code violations that had to be completed.
Ward said city inspector Bob Dill returned to work April 1 and it was not until April 2 that Dill had a chance to inspect. Dills told Ward that there were several punch list items to complete to rectify the violations.
The job was finished, but what about payment? In a letter to the council on April 4, Bounds contended that to pay Hunz would “compound existing damages and probable filings of violations with the state of Alaska’s criminal code.”
Councilmember J. Frey, chair of the Finance Committee, moved to approve all the checks written except the one for Hunz & Hunz at the council’s April 4 meeting.
The check was not approved and the council went into discussion about whether to pay Hunz for work on the Fire Hall Apron contract. They eventually decided to hold a special meeting April 8 and go into executive session with city attorney Bob Blasco to discuss the city’s response to Bounds’ protest.
At the beginning of the April 8 special meeting, Mayor Tim Bourcy said that he had advised Dave Hunz not to attend. The council then went into executive session to discuss the issue in teleconference with their attorney.
Monday night, as this reporter and Bounds waited for the executive session to end, Bounds spoke to several other concerns.
Bounds said Hunz went over budget on the Fire Hall job, and that the extra money was not approved by the city council. Ward said Wednesday there were several necessary change orders to the mop sink, ceiling fans, and circuit breakers that amounted to $1,113.90.
Bounds also claimed that Hunz has received preferential treatment in several past contracts because Hunz’s contracts did not always have the liquidated damages.
Ward later said the damages are always in the template of the contract form, but are sometimes removed when it’s a simple job that has weather constraints – like working with concrete.
“There have been 21 contracts awarded since 1996 – 16 have liquidated damages, seven did not,” said Ward on Wednesday.
When the council reconvened three hours later, there was no decision whether to cut the check to H&H for the job, but a draft incorporating the discussion with Blasco was approved.
Councilmember Colette Hisman’s parting comment was: “From the beginning of this process, we could have saved a lot of time and trouble had we met with Mr. Bounds, and I still think we would have something to be gained on both sides.”
On Wednesday, city hall released Ward’s report to the council on Bounds’ latest appeal.
Portions of the April 1 protest from Bounds’ attorney and the city’s response this week are printed side-by-side on page 7.
Bounds’ comments on the response are due within 10 days of receipt of the report, but a request for extension can be made.
The council has 15 days after receiving Bounds’ comments to accept or reject the appeal, but the council has to give reason for rejection. If accepted, the council may decide the issue without a hearing if the appeal involves questions of law without genuine issues of fact. If this is what the council decides, it has 20 days to serve its decision by personal service or certified mail.

Building from the ground up: more gift shops for 2002

By STAN BUSH
Slated for more tourists than any previous year, Skagway has experienced what you could call a building boom.
The increase in tourism to the Upper Lynn Canal has lot owners quickly selling them off to the highest bidder. For what use? A case of more of the same apparently. Of the three lots under construction on or directly adjacent to Broadway, each one will be utilized by new gift and retail shops.
New shops mean more jobs, but Dave Brena, owner of the new building that soon will become The Skagway Mining Company, says it isn’t the jobs that are hard to find.
“The housing is a real problem that may only get worse,” Brena said. “We are installing employee apartments above the building (Skagway Mining Co.).”
Brena, a major advocate for the new development downtown, believes there is a trend toward larger stores that are part of chains. Stores like Skagway Shirt Company, rather than the traditional mom and pop shops, are quickly filling up the Historical District. Brena’s new building was leased on the largest available lot in town and will become the second largest shop in town in the matter of square footage.
“The larger, more aggressive companies are willing to take a chance up here,” said Brena. “They have a lot less to lose.”
With the new construction in town, space becomes more limited every day and that, said Brena, leads to several problems with the trafficking of tourists during the summer months. However this should come as no surprise. As Skagway’s leading industry, the town has been constantly preparing for the increase in both tourists and new businesses.
Brena is not the only one putting up a new building. The Manolakakis family is in the process of replacing the Northern Lights, a restaurant that had been a favorite amongst both tourists and locals for over a decade, with a new gift shop. Also Dennis Corrington has built a new shop on the corner of 2nd and Broadway on land leased from Bill Barger, who moved Barger’s Fine Gifts into the Window North building across from the Elks. That new building will house two gift shops. One of which is a former tenant of that property, Klassique Jewelry, and a new business which is unique because it is the only one of its kind in the state. The Loom, a Turkish tapestries shop, will open at the beginning of the season.
“The new construction will increase the tax base (in Skagway) and that is a good thing,” said Barger.
And these new businesses certainly have not received the short end of the stick when it comes to position on Broadway. Located within a stone’s throw of the railroad depot, The Skagway Mining Company and the new Barger-Corrington building will be able to intercept a great deal of the tourist traffic from the White Pass and the roads that lead directly toward the docks. The Manolakakis building located right in the heart of the town, is also in a high traffic position in the city.
So is this only a short term expansion for a city that relies on a seasonal market or the beginning to what truly could turn out to be a boom in the construction on and around Broadway?
Dennis Corrington believes that this is all part of enriching the city.
“I think that the change means that every year Skagway gets older and better,” Corrington said. “We are becoming more congruent to the way Skagway was in the 1890s which is what the Historic District wants. I think that it is vital to the community.”

Now you don't ...

A decidedly different view of Knapp’s yard after removal of the vehicles. - DL

OTHER STORIES:

• Skagway Health Fair photo page

• "Sucked into Windfest" and Easter Egg Hunt photo page

• Folk and Filmfest previews

To read every story in The Skagway News, you have to subscribe to the real thing. Cost for an out-of-town subscription is just $30 a year second class mail or $40 a year first class mail. We take credit cards. Call us at 907-983-2354, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. weekdays Alaska time, or just mail a check to Skagway News, Box 498, Skagway, AK 99840.