Through a Child's Eyes

Teslyn Korsmo gets a captain's eye view of Skagway from the bridge of the Zaandam on a tour of the new Holland America ship during its maiden stop in Skagway on May 15. Photo by Jeff Brady

Big horses are coming to Skagway
Mayor's veto upheld on 2-2 vote

By JEFF BRADY
The Skagway City Council on May 17 did not have the votes to override Mayor John Mielke’s recent veto of a previous council resolution to place a moratorium on animal-driven tours in Skagway.
With only four council member present, it would have taken all four to override the veto. The vote was 2-2, making way for a second horse and buggy operation on the streets this summer.
Haines Carriage Co. owner Ron Walker said this week that he hopes to have his new operation under way by June 1. Walker plans to operate two 33-foot-long, 20-passenger wagons, each pulled by two Clydesdale horses. They will be staged at the docks for picking up passengers, he said, and will overnight at a facility outside of town.
Walker said he was coming to Skagway this week to meet with people, including the Police Department which must grant a certificate of transportation for the new operation.
Walker said if people have concerns about their operation, then they should bring them to his attention so he can address them.
There were plenty of concerns relating to public safety and congestion during the debate at the May 17 council meeting.
Sharon Garland, who owns Skagway Carriage Co., formerly the Skaguay Hack, said lifting the moratorium will transform her business from a hobby to a competitive venture. She said will have no choice but to put four more buggies on the streets to compete, thus adding to the congestion.
However, Kurt Kosters countered that big horses are historic and should be a great tourist attraction.
Casey McBride was concerned that the big wagons could be a hazard on narrow Congress Way. “There’s no place to pull over,” he said. “There’s a lot of passing, it could be a dangerous situation.”
During council debate on the issue, member Dan Henry said he voted for the moratorium “because we have identified a congestion problem, without question.”
He added that he had “no less than two and a half dozen calls” after the last newspaper came out with the story about the council’s moratorium and the mayor’s veto. “Every single one was concerned about safety and congestion,” Henry said.
Tim Bourcy, who voted with Henry to override the veto, said he doesn’t like putting up barriers for business, but liked having the moratorium until July 1 to force the council into making a hard decision.
J. Frey said he would vote for the override only if a full council would have a chance in the future to reconsider the moratorium. He added that they should not have approved a hitching post for the operation downtown, and then voted against the business that would use it. “I don’t think we did the right thing ... it looks silly,” Frey said.
Dave Hunz, who voted with Frey against the override, agreed and asked members to address the overall issue of congestion.
Mayor Mielke reiterated that he vetoed the council’s moratorium because of the timing. “I don’t like dealing with congestion on a case-by-case basis,” he said.
To all this, Henry responded, “I don’t have a problem with looking silly if it addresses the public safety of the community.”
When asked this week how he would address some of the concerns expressed during the recent meetings, Walker, who was not at the May 17 meeting, said he needed to listen to the council meeting tapes and meet with people.

Chamber will hold referendum on EDC duties

Fourth of July celebration to remain on Fourth

By DIMITRA LAVRAKAS

Whether to incorporate the function of the Economic Development Commission with the Chamber of Commerce was the question facing the Chamber board of directors when it met with city officials on May 17 in preparation for the Chamber’s general membership meeting on May 18.
At the suggestion of Councilmember Stan Selmer, who was not present at the meeting, City Manager Bob Ward said the reason to use the Chamber’s 501 C (6) non-profit status for EDC is that it would be expedient and help limit the amount of organizations now in town. He cited volunteer burnout as a real problem.
For EDC to be taken over by the Chamber, Ward said, there would have to be an ordinance change on the city’s side and a bylaw change on the Chamber’s side.
If the merger were to happen, he said, all of EDC’s office equipment would go to the Chamber office, save Ma Pullen’s desk that would go to the Skagway Museum.
Figuring the organization’s budget at $200,000 a year, Ward said there was enough money left in the Tongass Forest funds to last for two years. After that, the council would have to look to the sales tax fund. With the organization being separate from city government, Ward said the EDC would have more leverage with state grants.
The suggestion received a mixed reaction at the general membership meeting.
“If we do this, we’re basically changing the Chamber,” said member Jeff Brady. “With a two-month deadline, I don’t think we‘re ready. Maybe we should work on it next winter. No one has time this summer.”
Board member Tina Cyr agreed, saying “Our plates are more than full.”
In fact, one of the options presented at the meeting for dealing with the EDC was listed as, “Run Away.”
The location of the Chamber office still remains a question.
Last Friday, the Chamber membership met in the Chilkoot Dining Room at the Westmark.
A referendum for the membership on the EDC issue was planned and ballots will be mailed soon, said Sharon Bolton, the Chamber’s administrator.
In other Chamber news, Jan Tronrud has been appointed to the board of directors to the seat vacated by Candice Wallace.
Independence Day will be held on July 4 this year. The Convention and Visitors Bureau will coordinate events this year, and the theme will be “Women of the Klondike.”
There had been a request by members of the community to have it moved to a day when there are no ships so people who have to work can enjoy the day. But the general sentiment was that visitors are expecting to enjoy a small-town Fourth and may have planned their trip with that in mind.
“This is to assure people it’s still on the Fourth,” said Reed McCluskey, Chamber president. “It’s too late this year to entertain a change.”
The issue will most likely be revisited next year.
But Tourism Director Buckwheat Donanhue announced that the CVB has budgeted for a town birthday party in 2002, similar to last year’s centennial celebration on the McCabe grounds, so the community can gather on a non-ship Saturday. – DL

Board President Michelle Carlson gives her son, J.R. Edwards, his diploma at the Skagway graduation ceremonies on May 18. More graduation coverage on the special events page. See link below. Photo by Jeff Brady

Outgoing School Board President looks back

Carlson feels she accomplished everything she set out to do

By DIMITRA LAVRAKAS

Michelle Carlson, who spearheaded a campaign to oust the last school board in 2000, and then was elected to the board and became its president, is leaving Skagway for Soldotna. Her husband, Leif, has a new job there on the Kenai Peninsula.
Expected for a few weeks, Carlson’s resignation was turned in at the May 17 meeting, but she was allowed to give out diplomas on graduation night, including one to her son, J.R. Edwards.
Today at 5 p.m. is the deadline for residents who wish to submit a letter of interest to fill her seat. The board will appoint a person from the pool of applicants to fill the seat until the next city election in October.
Looking back, Carlson said she’s glad she organized the recall election, and feels she leaves a solid foundation behind.
“Looking back, what I set out to do – everything was completed for the most part,” she said by phone. “There are a few things hanging out there, but they’re minor, like (updating) the policy manual.”
One goal she feels particularly proud to have met is bringing in strong leadership at the school. The board worked out a settlement with former Superintendent Richard Lee early in the school year and replaced him with James Telles.
“Before, we didn’t lose superintendents because people were unhappy, but because we couldn’t pay them enough,” she said. “We need to take care of them. If employees are treated well, that will come back better to your kids. People said they have seen a difference.”
Carlson said she’s been reading the board minutes for the last five years, and realized that what this board has accomplished was discussed before, but never acted upon.
She had said it would be a test to see if the main office can function with just two staff members, after the board decided not to replace Beryl Hosford’s position, when Hosford took the school administrator’s job. It was necessary, she said, to have the school fall in line with the state mandate to dedicate a larger percentage of funding for students than administration.
“I learned a lot,” she said about her time on the board. “I had some anger management problems, but learned to deal with it in a more professional way.
“The board training was very beneficial. We filmed the training for oncoming board members and teachers.”
“Most of all,” she concluded, “it’s been fun, and I’ll miss it very much.”

• Graduation and School Awards

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