Pumpkin Carver

Polly Brown concentrates intensely on carving a pumpkin at the Recreation Center’s Pumpkin Carving Contest and Cake Walk Oct. 29. Asked if she was using a tool, she replied proudly, “Yes, I am.” For more photos see our Halloween page. Dimitra Lavarakas

FedEx cuts 400 Alaska communities
Packages to Skagway delayed several days with transfers to Post Office from FedEx hub in Anchorage

Wondering why that item you ordered from a catalog took so long to get to you? No, it’s not the weather and it’s not increased national security, it’s because FedEx suspended delivery service to 400 Alaska communities as of June 1.
Skagway is one of them.
With the softening of the economy, said Rick Ohnstott, senior manager for FedEx Express ground operations in Anchorage, the company could no longer afford to pay the small carriers it used to deliver to those communities that weren’t FedEx hubs. Ohnstott said the company picked up the tab for the last leg of a package’s trip from the hubs, and it just couldn’t afford to do that anymore. The company had been providing the service since 1984, he said.
It was lucky the carrier ended that service, Ohnstott said, because of the Federal Aviation Administration’s ruling that anything over 16 ounces can no longer be carried on an airplane that has more than 60 passengers.
Now FedEx packages are taken on a daily basis to the U.S. Post Office and Priority-mailed to its final destination, he said. Skagway parcels go through the Post Office in Anchorage, one of the company’s hub cities.
There have been problems with trying to trace a package, because once it hits the post office, essentially it’s off the FedEx system.
You will receive your package, but at the other end, the sender believes it’s FedEx service all the way.
“Our customer service will notify the shipper,” said Ed Coleman, spokesperson with FedEx in Tennessee. “We offer a seamless service.”
The question was posed to the company’s press relations office: Does the shipper understand they are paying the price for a service that FedEx no longer provides? Last week, the company’s spokesperson said he would get the answer, but as of deadline has not.
Tina Cyr, director of marketing for White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad, said she’d been thinking the issue was something the Alaska State Chamber of Commerce board might want to investigate as it affected so much of the state. It almost put a crink in a special event the company held.
“We did a brass plaque for Don Barry, the shipping cost $88 by FedExing it,” she said. “We ordered, and it was boxed to ship on Sept. 10 by second-day air, mailed from Anchorage on Sept. 15, and it arrived here on Sept. 24. Of course a lot of things occurred during those dates,” she said, referring to Sept. 11.
She said she does understand how difficult it must have been for FedEx to deal with so many small carriers and the liability that goes with it.
A couple of weeks ago, the Skagway News received a FedEx from Wells Fargo in Minneapolis, Minn., with an ad to run in the Oct. 26 edition. The ad was FedExed on Oct. 15, mailed from Anchorage Oct. 18, and received at the Skagway Post Office on Oct. 24. A total delivery time of nine days.
Andrew Green, port manager for Cruise Lines Agency of Alaska, said passengers who ordered medication to arrive when they docked in Skagway experienced delays.
Ohnstott says FedEx has never been able to honor the money-back guarantee for second-day service in Skagway or in other Bush or rural locations.
While you will receive the package, there are some other problems you may have.
“The question arises, what happens if you want to refuse your FedEx?” said Tanya Pashkowski, customer service representative for Wings of Alaska, the carrier for FedEx in Skagway. “If you take it away from your P.O. box, you’re toast. You have to refuse it at the post office if you don’t want it.”
You can still send out packages with FedEx, she said, by taking it to the Wings office at the new airport terminal.

Council, board work on MOU for future of fish hatcheries
MOU draft to help parties set guidelines

Whose responsibility is it for the school’s fish hatchery and what will happen once the city builds its own was on the table at a joint meeting of the Skagway School Board and the Skagway City Council.
At the meeting Oct. 25 in council chambers, City Manager Bob Ward said the history of the school’s Jerry Myers Fish Hatchery has been that the school dealt with the curriculum and the city handled the management and the bills. But the line has blurred over time, he said.
The draft Memorandum of Understanding drawn up by the board would help both parties to better understand their responsibilities.
The MOU clarifies the city’s role as providing funds for everything except the teacher’s salary, and that the money is not a part of the city’s fiscal contribution to the school.
The school makes sure the permit is in place, oversees the hatchery operation and provides the teacher, who is chosen by the school board and superintendent. It would be reviewed in 2003.
When the previous science teacher balked at managing the hatchery last year, there was talk the program would be dumped. However, this year, elementary teacher Rex Kilburn was chosen by the board to run the hatchery, and has begun to establish a budget based on previous receipts the city had on file for utilities and supplies.
That’s something that has never been done before, but is necessary, said board President Chris Ellis, to determine how much money is needed to complete important capital improvements.
The board also wanted to disburse the funds, and went to the city with the request.
Ward said it was really no major issue for him or his staff, and that it would be easier for the staff to write a big check than many little checks. The distinction will still be in place, he said – managerial and curriculum. The council increased the hatchery budget from $12,000 to $15,000 this fiscal year, he said.
Superintendent James Telles talked about vandalism of the weir at the Pullen Pond bridge. There was extended discussion about whether to lock it up or buy another that is vandal-proof.
School board member Tom Cochran said the school has deferred maintenance on the facility, and there have been no capital improvements.
“Tell us what it is, and I’m prepared to fund it,” said Councilmember J. Frey.
Concerning maintenance, board member Dorothy Brady said it would be helpful to know what the city or the school is expected to do, commenting that “Public Works is overloaded.” She said there is a PVC valve that needs to be replaced and a hatchery wall needs to be insulated to help lower heating costs. Councilmember Dave Hunz said he thought Public Works was responsible for the repairs as it is in charge of maintaining city property.
Board members said they were uncertain of the school hatchery’s role once the city builds its hatchery at Pullen Pond.
“The work the (school’s) fish hatchery has done has furthered a lot of talk about fish in the Upper Lynn Canal,” said Ward. He stressed that the new hatchery would have an educational curriculum, and sees the school as a “major player” in the new hatchery.
“The frustration I have is this inconsistency with what’s going on,” said Mayor Tim Bourcy. “We’re constantly funding something we get no return on. It’s a concern for people who pay taxes. We have to get to a position to where it’s stable. Everyone in this room wants the same thing.”
Talk turned to the weir again and the fate of the fish that were captured and released, leaving the hatchery without a supply of eggs.
“We did have seven males and one female, but the female was released, and without the female, the males were useless and we had to release them,” Kilburn said.
This statement caused a considerable amount of prolonged laughter.
Even after reassurances, how the city’s hatchery would dovetail with the school’s remained a concern.
“The permit the school gets is an educational-based permit,” said Cochran. “If the big hatchery goes for an educational permit, does that nullify ours?”
Ward said the three-party agreement between the state, the city and Douglas Island Chum and Pink hatchery would make the city’s hatchery a production facility.
Former Councilmember Stan Selmer said there are a lot of fish in Pullen Creek right now, but large Dolly Vardens have also been spotted and they might eat all the salmon eggs. He said he recently saw a 30-pound and 50-pound king in the creek. He also suggested the creek be closed to fishing until after the brood stock is caught.
Councilmember Mike Korsmo said he was attending a fish restoration seminar in Washington state and would bring back material.
J. Frey warned of the possibility that the city hatchery would be so successful, the resulting fish runs would cause an increase in commercial fishing.
“I’m opposed to a commercial opening in (upper) Lynn Canal, and if you’re not careful, that’s what you’ll have.” said Frey.
Korsmo said he wanted to see the “natural run of genetically superior fish” of the Taiya River protected.
The school board agreed to work on the Memorandum of Agreement between the school and the council and present it to the council for consideration.
At the board’s Oct. 30 meeting, Cochran opened the discussion about the joint meeting by saying: “What should have taken 15 minutes, took two-and-a-half hours to do,” he said. “The MOU just needed a little tweaking.”
Cochran said the council didn’t seemed opposed to capital improvements, but want to know when they go over budget.
While the M.O.U. was on the agenda at the council’s Nov. 1 meeting, at that time, the councilmembers felt they hadn’t had enough time to review it, and so the matter was tabled until the Nov. 15 meeting.

Mayor picks Selmer, cites experience
Mayor Tim Bourcy has recommended Stan Selmer to fill the city council seat that Bourcy vacated upon his election as mayor last month.
The appointment must be approved by a majority of the council at the Nov. 15 meeting. If approved, Selmer will serve until next October’s city election. Bourcy would have made the appointment at the Nov. 1 meeting, but he and City Manager Bob Ward were weathered out that day after attending a conference in Seattle.
Councilmembers wondered aloud at the end of the Nov. 1 meeting if they should try to get hold of Bourcy to call in his selection, so they could take a vote within 30 days of the election. But City Clerk Marj Harris pointed out that city code does not specify a time period for making such an appointment. As it turned out, Bourcy wasn’t able to confirm his decision with Selmer until he returned.
At a meeting in October, Selmer, a former mayor and councilmember who decided not to file for reelection in October, said he was interested in the seat, and wanted to continue being active with the flood control issue.
Bourcy, in announcing his decision this week, said Selmer had the most experience for the job.
“I think the amount of experience he brings ... well, it’s hard to get that experience,” Bourcy said. “We have a number of issues – borough, flood control and rec. center. He is well aware of where all these things are and the council’s desire to move these things forward.”
Because of an increasing work schedule that kept him from attending many meetings last spring and summer, Selmer offered to resign his council seat but members asked him to stay on until the election.
This week, Selmer, the local manager of Alaska Power and Telephone, said his work schedule will allow him to serve one more year.
“My work schedule now is such that I can dictate travel around meetings, usually,” Selmer said, adding that an unfortunate conflict with AP&T’s annual meeting in Washington will force him to miss the first council meeting in December.
In addition to the flood control issue, Selmer said the events of Sept. 11 made it “clear to me that we need to work hard to ensure Skagway can continue its economy base with tourism. While a lot of that is out of our control, certainly encouragement for tourism is a loud message that should be coming from Skagway.”
Specifically he said now is not a time for new taxes on the industry.
Bourcy thanked the others he had interviewed for the job –Dave Vogel, Stuart Brown, Dennis Bousson, Robert Murphy and Monica Carlson – for being interested in possibly serving.
“It’s great we have that many people in the community who are active,” he said. – JEFF BRADY


• Honor Band, wrestling and volleyball

• Halloween and Paranormal Conference

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.