Haines votes to support Skagway borough bid
Public comments due in late December

The Haines Borough Assembly has drafted a resolution to support Skagway’s bid for its own borough, reported Mayor Tim Bourcy at the Skagway City Council’s Nov. 15 meeting.
A meeting of the Haines Borough Assembly was scheduled for Tuesday.
The resolution reads that the Haines Borough Assembly does not agree with any proposal that would place Skagway in the Haines Borough against their will, and that the people of Haines and Skagway are not dependent on each other economically or politically. It states that Skagway has always been a separate, fully functioning independent municipality, and that the current system of a separate independent government works well.
The Haines Borough Assembly will ask the local Boundary Commission to “proceed with the City of Skagway petition for incorporation as a first class borough and allow the people of Skagway to choose for themselves the form of government that best addresses their needs.”
While the City of Skagway would be dissolved, government would retain the same powers, duties, liabilities, assets, functions, and revenue sources.
Public comments, for and against, are due by Dec. 28. (See ad page 4).
City Manager Bob Ward said the main stumbling blocks to borough incorporation is the city’s small population and single-city status. Only Yakutat, which has a similar situation, has ever been awarded single-city borough status.
It will be an uphill battle, Ward said, but if refused, there are other avenues of appeal.

SAR rescues Haines man
Goat hunter stuck on ledge for hours

A Haines goat hunter, caught by darkness and a low tide, was rescued by the Skagway Volunteer Search and Rescue on Thursday. Other mariners and the weather cooperated.
Dave Shackford, 45, of Haines was lowered by a web harness off a rock ledge about 30 feet off the water, south of Kasadaya Creek. The creek is about two miles south of Skagway down Taiya Inlet.
Climbing the steep cliffs around 2 p.m., he was watched by his friend John Lawson in a skiff. With darkness falling, he started to climb back down.
SAR Capt. Wayne Greenstreet, who was the incident commander for the rescue, said they figure Shackford may have been up as high as 1,300 to 1,400 feet, and whether he fell or climbed down closer to the water, no one can tell. Shackford told his rescuers he couldn’t remember falling.
Lawson radioed the Coast Guard from his boat. Gene Richards across the inlet at Burro Creek Fish Hatchery heard the radio transmission and called the Skagway Police Department, who in turn notified SAR. The call came in about 4:45 p.m., said Greenstreet.
They had to scramble for a rescue boat.
“It took 30-40 minutes to locate a boat to rescue him,” Greenstreet said.
SAR has two Boston Whalers but has never been able to raise the money for motors, said Greenstreet.
Glenn Mitchell, owner of Choctaw Charters, was called, but his wife, Shirley had to go track him down at the high school volleyball tournament. The pair fired up the boat and headed out. In the meantime, Skagway resident R.A. Stevens offered his boat, and Greenstreet decided to use Stevens’s boat, as his was making better time.
The six responders from the Fire Department, Emergency Medical Services and SAR left the Skagway Small Boat Harbor at 5:28 p.m. and arrived on scene at 6:13 p.m.
Luckily, the tugboat “Northern Spirit,” hauling the fuel barge, also responded and stood by with its big spotlight trained on the cliffs.
“They provided us with a lot of light, that’s what we shot for,” said Chris Grooms, EMT II.
By 6:30 p.m., Shackford was in the boat and heading to Skagway.
“I think he’s fairly stable, a little banged up,” said Greenstreet. “He said he didn’t fall, but he did. He was pretty banged up.”
By 9 p.m., Shackford was ready to be medevaced from the Skagway Medical Clinic to the Whitehorse Hospital.
EMT Capt. Bob Dill said the next morning Shackford had head injuries, and multiple scrapes across the chest and shoulders.
“He was damp and chilled,” Dill said when asked if Shackford was hypothermic. “He was reasonably dressed in multiple layers, but not dressed well enough to sit down for hours.”
Dill said Shackford was climbing in an area with 60-degree slopes, which hindered the rescue. With a low tide, the 15-18-foot wall of barnacles meant the climbers couldn’t get to him from the boat directly under him. Traversing the rock horizontally from a more accessible spot, they dropped down, put Shackford in the chest sling and lowered him into the boat.
Again, luck with them, the seas were calm, and there was little wind. Towards the end of the rescue it did start to rain.
Val Pike, spokesperson for the Whitehorse Hospital, said on Friday that Shackford was admitted overnight for observation for a closed head injury and was released.
Thirteen people were involved in the search including responders and a support crew at Fire Hall base.
And 13 hamburgers awaited them on their return, half growing colder as the six main rescuers stayed at the clinic making sure Shackford was all right.
Mark Larsen, one of the two EMTs assigned to make the drive trooped in, water dripping from his hair, grabbed two burgers with fries, a couple of pops, handfuls of mustard and mayonnaise packets, and headed out. Lawson also rode in the ambulance with his friend.

Tax holiday goes into effect this week
An ordinance declaring a sales tax holiday for Nov. 19-Dec. 24 was OK’d by Council resolution at its Nov. 15 meeting. No sales tax will be charged on items purchased in Skagway during those dates.
“No doubt it will create some heartburn,” said Councilmember J. Frey referring to the bookkeeping for businesses. “All you have to do is keep track of your sales tax and that’s no big deal.”
He allowed as last year there wasn’t enough notification given to businesses about the tax break, and pondered its effects on city coffers.
“It won’t hurt us that much,” he said.
“It’s a little like ‘The Grinch Who Stole Christmas,’” said Selmer. “You choose those dates to miss Christmas.”
“If you don’t have it by the 24th, you missed it,” replied Frey.
Frey did have a serious fiscal note, however.
“I want to see what next year may bring,” he said. “It could be disastrous. Our debt takes up more than 40 percent of what comes in from sales tax. Any significant drop and we’d have a problem.”
If something that drastic does happen, he said, there may have to be an increase in property taxes.


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