A COLD SHOULDER

Holland America Line’s Zaandam got a cold shower when it went into Skagway’s shoulder season Oct. 1. High winds and rain whipped the dock as the last cruise ship of 2003 readied to sail. It was also the last night for an ambulance (at gangway) call to a ship. Dimitra Lavrakas

Catsi new face on Council, Selmer re-elected
Fairbanks a School Board shoo-in, a dark horse runs away with other seat

By DIMITRA LAVRAKAS
Stan Selmer retained a seat on the City Council with 237 votes (56 percent) in the Oct. 1 municipal election, and surprisingly, newcomer Mike Catsi won a seat with 280 (66 percent). Bert Bounds drew 172 (41 percent), and this week, pronounced himself pleased with the amount of support he drew. “One hundred and seventy-two people agreed with me,” he said.
Selmer, while looking forward to another term on the Council, said he was concerned about the small number of candidates.
“Generally though there needs to be some way to encourage more people to run for office,” said Selmer. “Even in a small town like Skagway, choice is very important and while I’m confident that all those elected are good candidates and will serve the voters well, it is important that more people take an interest in playing a role in municipal and school government.”
Catsi said he was looking forward to being a part of the decision-making process for the next three years.
“I’d like to see a lot of progress made on the Rec. Center, clinic, and senior housing campus,” he said. “Maybe after three years we’ll have concrete plans or funding or some dirt dug.

Michael Catsi takes the oath of office Oct. 7 at City Hall. DL

“I’d like us to move forward with the borough – it’s taking a lot of time and energy.”
Overall, he said the city is in pretty good shape and it’s heading in the right direction.
Selmer was not available for comment.
Julene Fairbanks was the largest vote-getter (344) of all with a whopping 81 percent, winning her three years on the school board.
She said she wants to improve communications between the board and the school community and the community-at-large. Overall, she thinks the school is running smoothly.
For the one-year school board seat, write-in Chris Maggio won with 10 percent. Not an official write-in candidate, Maggio crept up from behind to win even though he wasn’t registered to vote in Skagway until Sept. 19.
The City Council OK’d his taking a seat when it canvassed the election Oct. 3, and after City Clerk Marj Harris advised that even though Maggio was not registered in time to be an official write-in candidate, as a registered voter he is qualified to serve.
Maggio said his plan is to “sit back and listen,” and then see where he could make the most contribution. He is a strong supporter of vocational and fine arts education, he said.
Skagway now has 906 registered voters, Harris said, and 600 ballots were printed for the election. With 423 ballots handed out, that sets the election turnout at 47 percent.
This election marked the first time the city used the state’s AccuVote machine, with the count coming almost instantaneously after the polls closed. Counting the write-ins took two hours, said Harris.
Sadly, a Skagway tradition fell to this progress – the counting of the quirky write-ins. No more Donald Duck or Mickey Mouse tallies.
However, here are the results of the write in votes: City Council – Colette Hisman, 18; Robert Murphy, 6; John Mielke, 3; Jan Nelson, 3; and the rest of the write-ins garnered one vote – Suzanne Hartson, Dave Lama, Lori Clyde, Robert Donahue, Barbara Brodersen, Candy Bounds, Dennis Bousson, Gary Hisman, Dave Schaler, and Chris Rohlf.
School Board three-year term: Maxine Selmer, 3; Blaine Mero, 2; Don Hather, 2; Nan Saldi, 2. With one vote each – Susan Smith, Brad Thoe, Charles Dolan, Scott Logan, Nancy Schave, Niki Hahn, Dawn Brown, Bruce Weber, Chris Maggio, Karen Gee, Jeannie Vogel, Jim Jewell, and Jauna Dolan.
School Board one-year term: Bruce Weber, 10; Bill Hunz, 5; Nan Saldi, 5; Julene Fairbanks, 4; Dawn Brown, 3; Lynette Roseberg, 3; Marlene McCluskey, 4; Scott Logan, 3; Colette Hisman, 3; Darin Belial (sic), 3; Niki Hahn, 3; Janilyn Heger, 2; Bob Carlson, 2; Jeannie Vogel, 2; Scott Mulvihill, 2; Joann Korsmo, 2; Joanne Worley, 2; Dorothy Brady, 2; Bert Bounds, 2; Marcia Berry, 2; Nancy Schave, 2; Boyd Worley, 2; Robert Donahue, 2. These people received one vote – Ken Mayo, Sherena Cotton, Mickey Derwig, Jean Etue, Sheryl Dennis, Ed Fairbanks, Nola Cole, Brent Moody, Cindy O’Daniel, Heather O’Daniel, Lynn Herbig, Mildred Meroney, Steve Smith, Dan Cook, Carol Bourcy, Robin Boynton, Blaine Mero, Jauna Dolan, Mike Korsmo, Susan Smith, Chris Rohlf, Josh Cochran, Teresa Brown, Rod Jensen, Laura Moscatello, Elda Neitzer, Michelle DeKenned (sic), Leslie Dodd, Glenda Choate, Sharon Bolton, Cherit (sic) Whiteman, Dennis Bousson, John Westfall, Becky Jensen, Tina Mayo, Fred Hosford, and Maxine Selmer.

Council approves Bounds settlement

Terms released just prior to election

By DIMITRA LAVRAKAS
Bert Bounds, owner of Bounds Electric, has accepted the settlement with the city through the court action he put in motion. The City Council approved the settlement Oct. 3.
“Yeah, I’m satisfied,” said Bounds this week. “Did I accomplish everything I set out to do, no. But now the mayor is signing contracts, I got an apology from the city, and I’m on the Procurement Board, which is what I really wanted...”
Last winter, the City Council awarded the bid to Bounds for the Fire Hall Bay Four Interior Remodel project, and Bounds then allegedly refused to accept the contract unless the $1,000 daily penalty was removed.
Bounds took the city to court after City Manager Bob Ward awarded the contract, without the approval of the City Council under city code, to Dave Hunz, owner of Hunz & Hunz Enterprises. Hunz is also a city councilor.
At the time, Ward said he did so because Bounds refused to sign the contract and there was a time crunch for the completion of the project. If Bounds could complete the project in time, he said, why would he worry about the fine? Bounds contended he never refused the contract.
The final settlement is a “compromise of disputed claims,” and it is not taken as admission of liability on the part of the city, it states.
Bounds was paid $2,900 – the amount figured as $900 for his bid preparation fees and $2,000 for the attorney’s fees for that work.
Both Bounds and the city will pay their own costs and attorneys’ fees. Bounds claims his legal fees were $20,000, and the city’s, $50,000. Ward later confirmed that the fees were around $50,000.
A Procurement Code Committee will be formed with Bounds as a committee member, and a member selected by the City Council either from the public or a local general contractor. The third, if a contractor was selected by the city, would be from the general public, and vice versa. Ward would attend the meetings , and they would be open to the public.
An appendix to the settlement reads: “The City acknowledges that on Feb. 12, 2002, the city manager overstepped the limits of his authority when he offered a contract to Hunz & Hunz Enterprises. Said act circumvented the authority of the City Council at that time and was inappropriate under the municipal procurement code.” The settlement also states that this language cannot be used in any way as testimony or to influence the trial, Alaska Building Contractors v. City of Skagway.
Bounds, who had an unsuccessful run for a City Council seat, also said he hopes this leads to a level playing field for everyone.
“I think it’s best for me and the city to go on,” Bounds said. “I’ll be watching and popping my head up...I feel I came out of it with honor...”
The timing of the settlement announcement a few days before the city election was noted by both sides.
In a letter from Bounds’ attorney Ronald Black, Black says that , “He (Bounds) believes the City is purposely delaying approval as an election tactic.”
But city attorney Bob Blasco, in a Sept. 26 letter to Black, said the approval was to go before the City Council Sept. 5, but Black did not respond by that date. When Black sent back the draft release, Blasco writes, it contained conditions and agreements not in the original settlement.
A hearing with Judge Zervos on Sept. 13, did not produce a response from Black on the draft until Sept. 24, Blasco’s letter says.

Safety Board releases plane crash report
Investigator says cause has not been determined

By DIMITRA LAVRAKAS
The cause of the fatal air crash that took the life of Skagway Air pilot Joel Matthis has not been determined, says National Transportation Safety Board investigator Chris Erickson.
“There’s the factual narrative that’s out, and the final report, which is not out yet and comes from Washington, D.C., that summary or synopsis also contains the finding of probable cause” said Erickson.
Erickson did not know when the final report would be released.
Matthis, the only one on board, took off from Skagway Jan. 15 on a 10-minute flight to Haines. He didn’t arrive, and when he didn’t, Skagway Air operations manager Mike O’Daniel flew the route in a fixed-wing to find him. Unable to locate the plane, O’Daniel returned to Skagway, notified Skagway Search and Rescue, and tried again in a helicopter. By that time, an emergency locator beacon signal was received in Haines. The wreckage was found about 300 feet above the water on the east side of the canal in steep forested terrain, the report says.
A postmortem examination by the Alaska State Medical Examiner revealed death was due to blunt force injuries, and a Feb. 27 toxicology report from the Federal Aviation Administration’s Civil Aeromedical Institute found no traces of alcohol or drugs.
Erickson said the main points to consider in the recent report are that the pilot delayed take-off for 10 minutes because of the weather, and that the two weather observations points in Haines and Skagway posted different weather reports. That is not unusual, said Erickson, because they are in two different places, but the difference indicates the degree to which the weather can change along the canal.
The Skagway Automated Surface Observation System reported at 7:53 a.m., 10 miles visibility in light, freezing rain and mist; clouds and sky conditions, at 2,000 feet scattered, at 2,900 feet scattered, and overcast at 5,000 feet.
At 8:21 a.m., Haines reported that visibility was four miles in light freezing rain and mist, 800 feet overcast, with unknown precipitation ending at 8:21 a.m., freezing rain beginning at 8:21 a.m., snow beginning at 7:55 a.m. and ending at 7:58 a.m.
The report stated “the pilot delayed his departure for about 10 minutes while he waited for weather and light conditions along the route to Haines to improve.” Matthis then contacted the Juneau Automated Flight Service Station at 8:12 a.m. to file his flight plan.
“...Ah, yes Sir, good morning, Skagway for Haines and Juneau,; PA-032; four hours on the fuel; one hour en route; be one and three; pilot’s name is Matthis; I do have the advisories,” was Matthis’ communication to the AFSS. His last contact was with Skagway Air to report he was at Paradise Valley, four miles south of Skagway.
The report notes that Matthis’ “total aeronautical experience consisted of about 2,862 hours, of which about 1,400 were accrued in the accident airplane make and model. In the preceding 90 and 30 days prior to the accident, company records listed 95.8 and 17.8 hours respectively.”
O’Daniel said when something as puzzling as this happens, he does everything he can to figure the cause.
“We took everything apart – more so than the NTSB does,” said O’Daniel. “I took it (the engine) to Anchorage and it was completely rebuilt. I tried to look for things that no one else was willing to look at. You just try not to leave any stone unturned.”
The NTSB did not take custody of the wreckage after its investigators surveyed the crash site, the report said.

President Chris Ellis swears in Chris Maggio and Julene Fairbanks as new School Board members.

Ellis re-elected School Board president

Cochran resignation leaves one seat still open

At a special meeting of the Skagway City School Board Oct. 8, Christine Ellis was the choice of fellow members to continue as board president for the next year.
One of her first tasks will finding one more board member after the sudden resignation of Tom Cochran.
After swearing in newly-elected board members Julene Fairbanks and Chris Maggio, Ellis opened up nominations for officers. Dawn Kilburn nominated Ellis as president, and no one else was nominated. Ellis was elected unanimously.
In succession, the other offices were nominated and filled without objection: Kilburn, vice president; Fairbanks, treasurer; and Maggio, clerk.
All but Cochran, who was not present, were given an office. Ellis explained why his name wasn’t even brought up: “Unfortunately, Tom Cochran has resigned, effective immediately.” Cochran had faxed his resignation letter an hour before the meeting.
In his letter, Cochran stated: “It is with regret that I must tender my resignation as a school board member. Personal issues in my life at the moment have left me no alternative. I have enjoyed working with all of you over the past year and sincerely believe that we have accomplished many good things for our district.”
When asked later why he didn’t resign before the election, Cochran said that was his original plan, but given the slim slate of candidates, he thought it best to wait until now so the board can appoint someone who is interested.
As the special meeting adjourned into a six-hour board training workshop, Ellis said the search for a new board member starts now. Interested persons should send a letter of interest to the school. Deadline is Oct. 22 at 4 p.m. – JEFF BRADY

A Hurlen Construction crane begins to unload materials for the dock extension. - JB

Railroad Dock extension project begins
As the last cruise ship of the season sailed southward last week, a construction barge and crane were northbound to work on extending Skagway’s Railroad Dock for bigger ships in 2003.
The dock, owned by Pacific and Arctic Railway and Navigation Co., a White Pass and Yukon Route subsidiary, will be extended 350 feet, said company President Fred McCorriston.
“The Railroad Dock is being extended to accommodate the large ships so we can safely tie them up,” he said.
The work is being performed by Hurlen Construction of Seattle. The company’s huge crane and barge arrived a couple days after the 1,460-passenger Zaandam used the dock for the last time this season. More of the 2,600-passenger Star Princess-class vessels are due in next year.
In-water work will be done over the next two months during the window allowed by the Department of Fish and Game in the permit for the project, McCorriston said. No dredging is required, but there will be a lot of pile-driving.
Weather willing, the crew will be back around the end of February to finish the project, he added. After the work is completed, the platform will be 250 feet longer at the same width as the south portion of the dock. The additional 100 feet will incorporate a catwalk to five new mooring dolphins.
The project is due to be completed at the beginning of May 2003, McCorriston said, just before the first ships tie up. – JEFF BRADY

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