Yukon Premier Pat Duncan shakes hands with former Mayor John Mielke after signing the Memorandum of Understanding. See story below. Photo courtesy of YTG permier's office
Bourcy wins mayoral race
Some old, some new faces win terms; pool proposition passes easily
By DIMITRA LAVRAKAS and STAN BUSH
The morning of Oct. 3 at 1:45 a.m., poll worker Will Godbey belted out the results of the last hand-counted ballot. Good thing too, fellow election judges Barb Brodersen, Susan Smith and Don Hather looked as if they couldnt have held their eyes open much longer.
Incumbent Councilmember Tim Bourcy won against first- time candidate and longtime resident Jan Nelson for the mayoral seat. Seventeen-year resident Mike Korsmo won his first elected seat along with incumbent Dan Henry for three-year city council terms.
Unopposed School Board incumbents Christine Ellis and Dawn Kilburn easily retained their seats, and were joined on the board by Tom Cochran and Bruce Weber.
New Mayor Tim Bourcy said hes looking forward to the job.
This week Im going to Anchorage and meet with the Boundary Commission and see if we can move the borough petition forward, and hopefully meet with the Bureau of Land Management about the Mahle land claim, he said.
Who will he choose to fill his vacant seat?
I have about four people Ill be interviewing when I come back from Anchorage, and Ill announce that at the next council meeting, and talk to the people on the committees to see if theyre still interested in serving on them, Bourcy said.
Nelson was philosophical about the outcome and whether he would run again.
It would depend on the circumstances, he said. I think any citizen should be available for public office if theres enough people wanting them to run.
I wasnt too impressed with politics. I think I learned some things, it was an education, he said. People cast their ballots and we need to honor their decision I said that all along.
The election led incumbent councilmember and winner of a second term Dan Henry to simply say, Im ecstatic.
Im really excited, said Korsmo last Friday. I think after the council meeting last night, Im excited about the things we can accomplish. I think the town really sent a message to move ahead in a positive manner.
He said once the major issues like the borough petition and the Mental Health lands are settled, it would be time to concentrate on harbor development.
Robert Murphy, who had served on the council previously, was unsuccessful this time, but not beaten.
I was disappointed I didnt get elected, he said by phone from Anchorage. I am happy that the people who were elected are serving. Im definitely going to run again, and I guess if the mayor chose to seat me, I would be happy to serve.
At the councils Oct. 4 meeting, John L. ODaniel, asked Bourcy to consider Murphy as his replacement.
City Clerk Marj Harris swears in, from left, Councilmember Korsmo, Mayor Bourcy, and Councilmember Henry. DL
Former Economic Development Director Candice Wallace, who ran for the three-year term and for the first time for public office, said it was time for the city to move on and deal with the issues.
The issues right now are (important), because of the uncertainty of our future with the tourism industry, we need to do whatever can be done to lessen negativity to our community, she said.
Karen Gee, who also ran for a three-year council term, said she intends to run again at a later date. It was the first time she had run for public office.
My congratulations to everyone who won, and I hope they do a good job, Gee said.
Had Nelson and Gee been elected it would have marked a historic first a father as mayor, daughter on city council, and another daughter, Chris Ellis, on the school board all at the same time.
The school board candidates also had some thoughts.
Im just happy that I got on, for a while I thought I was going to lose. said Tom Cochran who won in the election for two- year school board seat. Cochran actually trailed Joanne Korsmo in the election until past midnight.
Also elected on the school board to three-year seats were Ellis and Kilburn, and in the one-year seat was Bruce Weber, who took off a year from the last time he held a chair on the school board.
I have not worked with Tom or Bruce yet, but Im looking forward to it, Ellis said. We hope to make a positive change.
The new board is looking to improve many different things at the school, primarily the heating issue and, as usual, funding.
I think that we are going to be a very positive force, Weber said.
Newly-elected city council and school board members did not actually begin their term until the Monday following the election.
Proposition I, which calls for research on the construction and operation of a swimming pool, won with a two-and-a-half lead at 385-150.
It was a big turnout with 538 ballots cast, the largest number of voters in more than a decade. With a larger number of registered voters, this represented a 58 percent turnout compared previous highs of 60 percent in 1997 and 66 percent in 1995.
The number of registered voters increased from 866 to 924 over last fall, but the increase didnt really play a role in deciding most races, except for the close one between Robert Murphy and Korsmo for the three-year council seat, and for the Joanne Korsmo and Tom Cochran race for the two-year school board seat.
Voters must have seen this as an important election as there were no cartoon characters write-ins for office.
Mielke signs MOU with Yukon
Last act jells historic relationship
By DIMITRA LAVRAKAS
After more than a years delay, Mayor John Mielke signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Yukon Premier Pat Duncan at the old White Pass & Yukon Route Depot in Whitehorse Sept. 28.
The act cemented a symbiotic friendship between the territory and Alaska that has stretched over a century. It was also one of Mielkes last official duties before stepping down as mayor.
Mayor Mielke and I had a very useful face-to-face discussion, Duncan said by phone.
The previous NDP government approached a private property owner in Skagway and owners of an unused dock in Haines about purchasing waterfront property. At the time, the government did not speak with officials within either municipality about its need for tidewater access. When Duncans Liberal government took over last year, it decided not to pursue the purchases because the money needed to go to more critical domestic spending priorities.
Duncan said she wanted a more formal MOU that would live on past her or Mielkes terms of office. This is the first MOU between Skagway and the Yukon, she said. There is one between Haines and Haines Junction and another between the State of Alaska and the Yukon.
She (Duncan) agrees me with me that it puts down on paper what weve always felt, said Mielke. Theres always been open friendship and dialogue between us.
For example, Duncan said, Northwest Tungsten Mine, just inside the Northwest Territories southeastern border, may want to ship some of its product through Skagway.
As for the White Pass & Yukon Route not extending its line to Carcross in 2002 as previously thought, she said she was disappointed at the news.
Part of the MOU is how we partner Carcross opportunities to participate more in Skagways visitor industry, she said.
At an oil and gas conference in Calgary on Sept. 21, she stressed that the natural gas pipeline should be built down the Alaska Highway as soon as possible or lose the chance for several more decades.
North America will need Northern gas in the near future, she said, pointing out that regulation review and discussions have been going on for years. ...Lets get it.
The document formally recognizes Skagways strategic importance to the Yukons existing and emerging industrial sectors; the historical relationship of its connection by rail and road; and the mutually beneficial trade and investment links contributing to economic growth and the creation of employment.
Clinic reflexes its muscles
By JENNIFER COLLINS
As the new clinic administrator loaded the office coffee maker, she reflected on changes at the clinic in the two weeks since being hired.
Weve gone through two coffee-makers in the time since Ive been here, Cindie Straub said.
Besides coffee makers, Straub said, the clinic has acquired new equipment and formulated new strategies for making it more patient and employee friendly.
A recent cancer screening caused some to sigh with relief and detected early signs in others, Straub said.
Rather than going to Juneau when people have splinters in their eyes, they can come to the clinic to have them removed with a new tool called a burr, she said.
New fax and copy machines aid in collecting patient information and a wall desk will help to file them.
People will also be able to choose between the two care providers at the clinic: nurse practitioner Lynne Cameron and physicians assistant Tim Cristman, who was hired in March.
Straub originally took over the business manager job formerly held by Lori Kasler, who moved over to the school business managers job this summer. Straub, a finalist for the school job, was then hired by the Skagway Medical Corporation Board. When clinic administrator/physicians assistant Lila Gunnell recently decided to retire, the board allowed Straub, who had previous administrative experience, to take over administrative duties. Both jobs are being combined for a 90-day trial period, she said, and the clinic is looking for a third provider.
Straub said theyve received responses to a query for the third provider and hopes the clinic board will begin sorting through the resumes at the next meeting.
Cristman said these were just the beginning of the changes.
The clinic is looking into purchasing a portable EKG, a machine that monitors a patients heart beat, and an ocular pressure machine for detecting glaucoma, he said.
And people are noticing the changes, Cristman said.
People come up to me and say, Im glad youre here, Cristman said. We like the clinic... We think things are going great.
Cristman said he became interested in health care when he worked with the Emergency Medical Services while he was a police officer from 1990-1994 in Skagway.
He attended the University of Washington, worked for six months with the Federal Bureau of Prisons and then came back to Skagway.
Returning after seven years, Cristman said hes seen a much higher level of care at the clinic.
I see a lot more complicated patients being managed here, he said. The expertise is a lot broader and wider.
Plans to create community preventative education could help warn locals of minor health problems before they become serious, he said.
The clinic is planning a smoking prevention seminar at Skagway City School and blood pressure checks at the senior lunch at the Elks, he said.
He also said they would be willing to do seminars about medical conditions, such as diabetes, at the clinic or at the library.
PA Tim Cristman and Clinic Administrator Cindie Straub. DL
We dont want to do it, just to do it, he said. We want to get the input from the community what they would like us to do as far as health care concerns.
Straub said shes been looking into grants for a hospice to provide for people who would like to spend their last days in Skagway.
Hospice care would require a full-time nurse and a night ward, but Straub said she remains optimistic some patients could be managed in the current building.
Straub worked this summer for the White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad.
Although I came via the railroad, my background really is in administration, Straub said.
She worked as a Broadway producer (the other Broadway in New York), and will finish her masters of business administration in health administration in April.
But in the recent weeks shes been busy organizing things at the clinic perhaps an explanation for the short life span of coffee makers.
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.