Mildred Meroney fastens a ribbon to the handrail at the McCabe Building to alert voters to the polling site at the renovated municipal complex. While not yet open to the public, the upper hall was used for the Aug. 22 election. City offices will be moving into the building during the last week of August. Photo by Dimitra Lavrakas
Three school board members recalled
So far six have filed for five open seats
By DIMITRA LAVRAKAS
In typical Skagway fashion, some people came to vote on Tuesday just for the school board members recall vote. That accounts for the change in the numbers of the 363 voters who turned out for the primary and the 377 counted in the recall vote.
Veronica Bush received 238 yes votes for recall and 133 no votes; Lynne Cameron, 198 yes and 174 no and Glenda Choate, 198 yes and 174 no. All are now off the school board.
There were five question ballots and five absentee ballots, but their count will not make a difference in the final outcome. The election was then canvassed by the city council Thursday night.
The remaining school board members, Bruce Weber and Don Hather, will now have to appoint an interim member, and then the three of them must appoint two more to serve until the Oct. 3 municipal election.
I hope people will step up to the plate, said recalled school board member Glenda Choate. Its every citizens responsibility to do that.
Choate said she voted her conscience and has no regrets about her time on the board.
We asked the city for $800,000 for the school system this year, but the money doesnt come from just the parents, it comes from all of the taxpayers, she said. She lauded Superintendent Richard Lee for opening lines of communication with the community by mailing the back-to-school newsletter to every boxholder.
When he (Lee) came in here, nobody helped him to know the ways of the community. Nobody takes responsibility in that school, hes all alone, said Choate.
Veronica Bush was thankful for those voters who voted to retain her.
I want to say thank you to those 133 people for supporting my point of view and seeing what is real from what is unreal. Thank you for supporting me, she said the next morning.
Lynne Cameron would not comment.
The three school board members were the focus of a recall petition after a March 20 school board meeting that 90 residents attended, the majority of whom asked the board not to rehire Lee. All three voted to retain Lee.
All five school board seats are now open for the Oct. 3 election. Weber has said he will not seek reelection, but Hather has already filed for re-election. As of Aug. 23, Janilyn Heger, Dorothy Brady, Michelle Carlson, and Leola Maudlin had also filed for school board seats.
The deadline for filing is Monday, Aug. 28. at 4 p.m. Incumbent city council members J. Frey and Dave Hunz also have filed to retain their seats and are as yet unchallenged .
Taylor may get new trial
Court of Appeals rules 2-1 to reverse conviction
By DIMITRA LAVRAKAS
Paul Taylor, former president of White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad, has triumphed in a U.S. Court of Appeals ruling that reversed his 1998 felony conviction on two counts of giving false statements to federal investigators. The ruling held out the possibility of a new trial.
On Oct. 1, 1994, a backhoe cracked a fuel line at Six Mile on the railroad tracks spilling oil, and U.S. Coast Guard and state Department of Environmental Conservation investigators flew in to look into it.
The good news is Im not guilty, said Taylor. Taylor said the decision came down three weeks to the very hour after the oral arguments were given.
He was acquitted on seven other charges at his original trial; failure to report a spill, negligent discharge, conspiracy, three counts of giving false statements, and obstruction of justice. He was sentenced to nine months in prison and fined $10,000 for the two remaining counts.
After presenting a 75-page brief to the U.S. Court of Appeals in April 1999, Taylor had to wait until this Aug. 21 for the courts decision. The decision was filed on Aug. 17.
This is tremendous news, said Taylor. Im not sure where we go from here, this will be a developing thing.
Taylor said he was surprised the court ruled on only one of the numerous issues raised in attorney Tim Petumenous brief, choosing instead to focus on the testimony of Stan Selmer, then employed by White Pass.
Selmer testified at the trial that Taylor had instructed him four years prior to the October 1994 incident, not to report or to minimize a spill that occurred in another location.
Two of the three judges, Stephen Reinhardt and Sidney R. Thomas, agreed that the time limit had passed for evidence of prior bad acts similar to the one Taylor allegedly committed.
Care must be exercised in admission of Rule 404(b) (which governs prior evidence of other crimes, wrongs or acts) because of the danger posed by the human tendency to draw a conclusion which is impermissible in law: because he did it before, he must have done it again, (United States v. Bagley), the two assenting judges wrote in their opinion.
However, Judge Dorothy W. Nelson wrote in her dissenting opinion that the prior act, which occurred four years before the spill, was not too remote in time. She noted the court has repeatedly upheld the admission of evidence of prior acts that were more than seven years old.
Reinhardt and Thomas, did write in their memorandum that, Given our resolution of the Rule 404(b) issue, consideration of the remaining issues is unnecessary, except the question of sufficiency of the evidence. As we have noted, although the evidence was not overwhelming, it was sufficient to sustain the verdict.
That means Reinhardt and Thomas found the evidence in the case weak, but still sufficient for a new trial.
It is up to the prosecuting U. S. District attorney to decide whether or not to go forward with a new trial. U.S. District Attorney Tim Burgess was away from Anchorage on business and could not be reached for comment. But Assistant U.S. District Attorney Karen Loeffler said the decision on a new trial is under consideration.
Ed Hanousek, a co-defendant with Taylor, was found guilty of a misdemeanor charge of negligently discharging oil. He was sentenced to six months in prison and six months in a halfway house, and a $5,000 fine.
Bruce Gagnon, Hanouseks lawyer, said on Tuesday his clients denied appeal to the Supreme Court this winter, means Hanousek will do the time, most likely this fall. Hanousek also appealed his sentence to the court of Appeals in 1999, but was denied.
The day the decision came down, Taylors son Matt could be seen cruising around town telling everyone about it.
I couldnt be happier, said Petumenous.
Neither could the Taylors.
June wins open primary
over Skagway mayor
By APRIL BUSCH
At exactly 8 p.m. on Aug. 22, the renovated McCabe Building completed its first official day of duty as poll worker Barb Brodersen bellowed from the outside steps, Hear ye, hear ye, the polls are now closed.
Of the 847 registered voters in Skagway, 363 turned out for the statewide primary election 14 less than for the concurring school board recall vote. Overall state turnout was around 10 percent.
Democrats took Skagway and the state House, but Republicans carried the Southeast Island- Kodiak Districts vote for State Senate and U.S. Representative.
Skagway voted for John Mielke, D-Skagway, for the state Senate by 71 percent of the total vote; Democrat House Rep. Albert Kookesh, D-Angoon, by 88 percent; and Clifford Greene, D-Haines, by a 26 percent majority as U.S. Representative.
House District 5 overwhelmingly voted to send Kookesh back to battle to be House representative by 85 percent compared to Terrance Pardees, R-Haines, seventeen percent, but sent Rep. Alan Austerman, a Kodiak Republican, to the state Senate election with 1,176 votes. Hell face Haines Democrat Tim June, who totaled 910 in Senate District C.
Don Young, R-Alaska, could be voted into his fifteenth term as Alaskas representative to the U.S. House with the force of 49 percent of the votes, three times as many as the closest candidate, Clifford Greene, the Democratic candidate.
Skagways Mayor, John Mielke, was grateful to the community of Skagway for its support and gained a lot of insight and experience during the campaign.
Tim (June) and Alan (Austerman) deserved to make the ticket, Mielke said. You reap what you sow and they put in a lot of time traveling and campaigning.
If Mielke runs for state office again he will have less competing responsibilities, he said. Its too difficult to hold down a full-time job, go on the road and give the attention to each that it deserves.
Mielke said he learned a lot, had a great experience and, I dont think thats the end. Im open to possibilities.
This years ballot was split into open and Republican tickets. Just after 6 p.m. the polls ran out of primary open tickets for the Accu-Count machine that automatically tallies votes. Poll workers had to use paper ballots and hand count them at the end. Normally the Accu-Count can send the total primary count to Juneau, but because of the 11 paper ballots and because there arent any phone outlets at the newly-renovated McCabe Building, poll worker Susan Smith had to phone the results from the temporary City Hall.
Skagway also had six question-ballots. Question ballots are usually from people who arent on the register, City Clerk Marge Harris said. Ballots can also be questioned if voters dont have identification and pollsters dont recognize them.
Virginia Tomlinson, Eastern Star Deputy for Southeast, Ivadell Rapuzzi, Connie Conard, Barb Elliott, and Elma McMillen host the Silver Tea at the annual Flower and Garden Show. Photo by April Busch
Beautiful blooms for 18th annual Flower and Garden Show
Susan Fredricks wins Edie Lee Award for her contribution to gardening in Skagway
By APRIL BUSCH
The Skagway Order of the Eastern Star, a national service organization, hosted the 18th Annual Flower and Garden Show Aug. 13- 15 at the Elks Lodge.
It always comes out just gorgeous, said Connie Conard, SOES secretary.
A few hundred people enjoyed contributions from 30 local residents and businesses that help make Skagway The Garden City of Alaska. This years displays included 79 different cut-flower arrangements and 31 potted plants. Many local non-SOES members helped with everything from baking cookies and watering flowers to announcing exhibit winners.
Through the entryway framed with three shades of blue lobelia, cotton-candy pink summer daises and canary lemon gems, visitors turned the corner into a large room covered in the bounty of Skagway. All of the flowers, fruits and vegetables on display were grown locally.
Susan Fredricks won the most coveted Edie Lee Award for her outstanding efforts to promote gardens in Skagway. Some of it not even on purpose.
Through the years the garden has developed itself, Fredricks said. If the seed spreads itself and it grows then it stays.
Fredricks said the prolific spread of Alaskan Orchids spilling into the alleyway behind her house originated from one seed from Haines.
The winters are so hard here in Skagway, Fredricks said. We dont get the winter cover that Haines does (where she lived before coming to Skagway), so you never really know whats going to come back from year to year.
Her most difficult task is wedging annuals into spots that may or may not have perennial growth.
The award, begun eight years ago, is sponsored by Kellers Curio Store in honor of Edie Lees beautiful gardens and their contribution to Skagway.
All of the entries competed for something that grows- a bush or potted plant, Conard said. The SOES purchases the first-place prizes that are chosen and ordered by Charlotte Jewell of Jewell Gardens.
Lynn and Jeff Ruff, who donated the prize ribbons, had a strong show in the garden exhibits, winning three out of five categories; while Gladys Moran dominated overall. Out of the 25 categories she qualified for ( not including the childrens and the newest garden in town), Moran won eight, tied for first-place in one and placed second in two.
Morans moss covered chair with tea colored roses won first-place for most creative. She also won first place for overall participation, most spectacular for her lobelia wall and one of three Best of Show.
The Elks hall entry was adorned with flowers for the show . Photo by April Busch
Nancy Schaves green-thumb produced a bounty of nine awards including Best of Show, first-place for orchids and first and second-place for Dahlia bushes.
Barbara Brodersens first-place-for-fruit raspberry bush arched over bulging, deep maroon berries.
The Chamber of Commerce awarded the Year 2000 Business Flower Display Award to a local business for extra effort in promoting Skagways Garden City reputation. The White Pass and Yukon Route Railroad won first-place for a great example of what to do with a seemingly unusable space, Sharon Bolton said when she announced the award. The award was for the new flower box on Congress Way. Mile Zero Bed and Breakfast, Stowaway Cafe, Sgt. Prestons Lodge, Reflections and the Purple Moose received honorable mentions.
Guests are encouraged to donate a dollar at the door and to leave donations for cookies, tea and coffee. All of the money raised goes to the SOES graduating senior scholarship fund, joining proceeds from the Christmas bazaar, banquets and other fund-raisers throughout the year. At the end of the year the money is passed out as scholarships for qualified graduating seniors; three seniors received $500 scholarships last year.
Skagway's Tower of Babel topples
No e-mail, no credit card service, no long distance for seven hours
By APRIL BUSCH
Whether trying to verify credit card funds, corresponding by e-mail, billing, shipping and ordering over the phone or just calling long distance, Skagway business was stymied when Alascoms radio repeater failed Aug. 14.
Weve never had a total outage like this before, said Stan Selmer, manager of the Skagway Alaska Power & Telephone office. (Phone service) has gone down maybe two or three times in the last three years, but for minutes at a time, not hours.
Starting at 3 a.m., a problem developed around Mount Ripinsky outside of Haines, said Catherine Opinsky, Alascom representative.
Technicians were unable to reach the transmitter because of weather. The problem corrected itself without technician assistants at 11:15 a.m. according to Alascom, but service to Skagway didnt resume until 6:12 p.m.
The cause of the outage is still under investigation, but subsequent service problems that began at 11:15 a.m. on Aug. 17 rapid dial tones, out-of-service messages, disconnections, clicking were probably the result of technicians working on the repeater, Selmer said.
Alascom is in an on-going process of repair and upgrade between Skagway and Haines, Selmer said.
This verifies why they need to upgrade the equipment, Selmer said. The likelihood of anything happening like this again, once the upgrades are complete, arent very good.
Skagway does have three phones for emergency use, so service is never completely down. AP&T has a fiber-optic cable to Haines and a satellite phone. The fire department also has a satellite phone.
We had to make a few emergency calls on (Aug. 15) and one (Aug. 17) for a search and rescue situation, Selmer said.
While emergency services were able to go around Alascom long distance service, local businesses just had to deal.
People have had to pay with checks or cash, said Tim Fairbanks of Fairway Market. Weve had to fly our orders to Juneau to get to Seattle.
Local chain-store Little Switzerland was able to call their other stores to verify credit cards, Skagway manager Bill Tarsk said. Lynch and Kennedy was not so lucky.
Weve been swiping (the credit cards) by hand, said store owner Rosemary Libert. Its very labor intensive. Basically this is what we had to do before computers.
Theres no way for businesses to verify available funds without long-distance access.
If someones declined Ill just swipe forever, Libert said. Im glad its not Tuesday or Wednesday. We wouldnt be able to keep up.
Cruise ship passengers were forced to wait for their next stop to be able to call home. Susan and Steve Brown from Boston were frantic they couldnt check up with their dog-sitters to make sure their old German shepherd was all right.
People who couldnt use their credit cards faced the same problem trying to withdraw cash from the bank. The National Bank of Alaska ATM machine was down and tellers computers werent able to connect to other bank accounts or to find out account numbers of members.
Weve just been walking around, said Erik Niebuhr, personal banker. We cant do anything. We cant look up accounts. We cant look up loans. We cant get our e-mails.
They were able to continue withdraws and deposits with people who knew their account numbers.
For the most part, at least we know everybody so we can still conduct business, Niebuhr said.
Even getting out of Skagway was impaired.
We cant make any reservations because were linked to the system, said Aaron Long, Alaska Marine Highway System terminal agent, who had to dust off his charts and figure out rates by hand. Weve had to turn a few people away and just say, our hands are tied.
Agents were only able to guarantee ferry space to Juneau, because they had local records of passengers, but didnt know how many passengers the Juneau agents had booked to tell if there was still space available.
Im sure some people turned away because of the uncertainty, said Gary Hanson, ferry terminal manager. Luckily the ship wasnt full so we knew we could get everyone on. If this had been one day earlier, during the Haines fair, even walk-on passengers would have been taking a chance.
Hanson had to wait for someone from Juneau to call Skagway to find out if the ships were on time.
They could call in, but we couldnt call out, Hanson said. Juneau had to relay messages for us.
Oh man, its been terrible, Hanson said.
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.