The Lone Rider

Racer Mark Lohnes pedals hard to boost his team, Jan's Brothel Boys, to sixth overall place in the Kluane to Chilkat International Bike Relay on June 16. See story and photos on special bike relay page. Photo courtesy Jan's Brothel Boys

Mill rate most likely to remain the same

$2.9 million budget; anonymous fax caused change in public hearing date

By DIMITRA LAVRAKAS

When all was said and done after Wednesday’s two-and-half hour Skagway City Council Special Meeting and Public Hearing for the Fiscal Year 2002 Municipal Budget, it appears that the mill rate will remain about the same as last year, said City Manager Bob Ward.
Snipping the Skagway Medical Clinic’s request to cover cost overruns to $39,000, the Recreation Center’s request for $21,000 for additional staff, and taking $15,000 out of the Council’s discretionary fund brought the total to $75,000 – roughly half a mill worth of cuts – bringing the mill rate in Zone 1 down to about 8.3.
“I envision we will have to revisit the Clinic’s request at a later date though,” Ward said after the meeting.
The $2,918,969 budget was scheduled for second reading last night at the regular Council meeting. Unfortunately, this paper’s printing schedule did not allow us to cover the Thursday’s meeting for this issue.
At the beginning of Wednesday’s public hearing, Ward dealt with seven pages of line item questions from former Economic Development Commission Director Candice Wallace.
“When we get into the annual budget deliberations, it is the result of months’ worth of community deliberations in which most of Ms. Wallace’s concerns were addressed,” Ward said, before addressing each item.
Keeping the mill rate down was a concern of many in attendance.
“I am absolutely opposed to any city budget that would increase the mill rate,” said market owner and former councilmember Ed Fairbanks. “The inflation in the city budget exceeds the national inflation rate.”
He was also opposed to providing any money for daycare, saying that his parents weren’t provided daycare, and he wasn’t either.
Parent Joanne Korsmo said she paid out $1,000 for daycare last month, and that Little Dippers Daycare supports the economy of Skagway by allowing parents to make money and spend it in local stores.
City Treasurer and parent Cindy O’Daniel said she thought Fairbanks was a very lucky man for not needing daycare. She said she wished she could stay home with her children, but that living in Skagway necessitated that both she and her husband work.
“My family pays four times as much for groceries as a single person,” she said. She pointed out that every one of the Dippers volunteers work part-time with the Skagway Childcare Council to provide a service for all the children in the community by providing activities such as the Easter Egg Hunt for all children, even those from Whitehorse.
Council Finance Chairman J. M. Frey dealt judiciously with the furor over the $5,000 donation from the City to the non-profit Little Dippers Daycare, by proposing that the $5,000 be divided per student and the same amount be given per student to other daycare facilities in town. Councilmembers Frey, Colette Hisman, Tim Bourcy and Dan Henry voted for the motion. Dave Hunz and Stan Selmer were absent.
But the $5,000 donation to KHNS radio did not fare as well. Despite pleas from KHNS Station Manager John Hedrick, KHNS Board Member David Eslinger, Barbara Kalen and others, a motion failed to put the money back into the budget. The vote was 3-1 for restoring the money (Frey voted no) but four votes were needed for passage.
The public hearing on the budget was rescheduled to June 20 after an anonymous June 11 fax to City Hall cited a city ordinance that made the proposed June 14 meeting illegal because it would have failed to meet the required one-week public notice for a budget hearing.
City Clerk Marjorie D. Harris urged people who had concerns about procedures to call her or come to City Hall.
“If you’ve got a concern, show it to us in black and white, and we’ll own up to it,” she said. “If you have something, stand up and tell us what’s wrong. This kind of thing just erodes the integrity of the entire office.”

The Mascot Saloon group, circa 1977, when Park Service restoration work began. Photo courtesy NPS

It seems like only yesterday
Klondike Gold Rush NHP turns 25 next week

By DIMITRA LAVRAKAS

You’re all invited to a birthday party on June 30. It’s 2 o’clock sharp at Centennial Park. Don’t be late.
It’s been 25 years since President Gerald Ford signed the bill into law that created the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park.
“Even though the park dedication didn’t happen until June of ‘77, we’re having this on the 25th anniversary of the signing,” said Park Superintendent Bruce Noble.
The same organizations will be invited – Parks Canada, Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the Haines Chilkat dancers. “O Canada” and “The Star-Spangled Banner” will be sung. Regional Park Service Director Robert Arnberger will attend from Anchorage. Ted Stevens, one of the original sponsors of the bill, has been asked to come but no word has been received from his office.
Locals who were intimately involved with the restorations have also been invited – Jim Jewell, Jeff Mull and Don Corwin.
There’ll be cake too.
Before the park’s creation, Skagway looked much like a ghost town– dirt streets, tilting dilapidated buildings, little activity on the street.
Tourism had always been a part of Skagway since the completion of the White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad in 1900, and in the 1960s tourism for Alaska was beginning to boom. The town needed to spruce up its image.
Athouh Skagway and the White Pass area became the first sites declared eligible for National Historic Landmark status in Alaska during that decade, something needed to be done about the deteriorating buildings in town.
In his book, “Legacy of the Gold Rush,” Frank Norris notes that it was Elmer A. Rasmusson who first suggested a National Park designation for Skagway in 1933.
In 1961, the National Park Service funded a statewide inventory of historic sites, and Charles Snell, a historian with the NPS in San Francisco noted that “... approximately 100 original buildings still stand... that date from the great gold rush days... These surviving structures are the finest examples of the mining frontier town, 1897-1910, in Alaska.”
So the NPS bought up old buildings from locals and rehabilitated them to their former glory. That is, as they say, history, but now this is history we get to live with every day.

Chamber votes EDC down

Members of the Skagway Chamber of Commerce voted down a move to take over the duties of a newly-created non-profit Economic Development Commission. The vote was 69-46.
The ballots were sent out shortly after the City Council passed an ordinance creating the non-profit saying it would be able to go after grant funding if it were not part of city government.

Fireworks display moved to July 6

The annual fireworks display has been moved to July 6 at 11 p.m., said Tourism Director Buckwheat Donahue.
“Try as I may, I could not come up with a location we could launch fireworks (on July 3) without violating state and federal law.” Firing off a barge as in the past has been unsafe, and in order to fire off a dock, the firing zone has to be away from combustibles, including ships, he said, so it had to be the Ferry Dock on the 6th.
“The Ferry Dock doesn’t have any tanks,” he said. “We can turn off the fuel outside the building and it’s still far enough away from the fireworks.”
The display will cost $10,000, with half paid by the city and the rest from donations to the Chamber. of Commerce from private businesses.

• SAILING ON: Anna Maria and SS Princess Sophia Memorial

• SPORTS: Softball and "Fish This!"

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