Mushrooming Public Art

Art teacher Judy Sanchez, far left, helps her students work on a sidewalk mural in front of Go-Go Greenhouse on Monday. High schooler Desiree Boswell leans over the mushroom mural she designed and drew with the help of Miranda Collecchi, Aaron Neitzer and Grace Blanchard. Sanchez said she is looking for places to do public art and asks anyone with an idea to call her at the school. In March her classes will have a show at the State Capitol building in Juneau. – Dimitra Lavrakas



• SPECIAL REPORT: Survey says passengers don't know shops pay promotional fees

Work on McCabe Bldg. comes to an end

City awaits final bill, court date with ABC; Ward, council answer critics, defend decisions

A worker from Jewell Construction replaced the last section of flashing on the McCabe Bldg. tower a few hours before the Sept. 6 city council meeting. Except for final landscaping of the site, the project is complete, said City Manager Bob Ward.
The flashing had to be replaced because it was installed backwards by the project’s original contractor, ABC, Ward noted in a report to the council. ABC walked off the project over a year ago in a dispute with the city, and the city council then hired Jewell Construction to finish numerous punch list items and fix problem areas.
ABC has sued the city and the city has been preparing its response which is due Sept. 17, Ward said. He would not go into details of the points the city will make during litigation.
The city has been under some fire recently about the McCabe project from construction worker Kurt Kosters, who thought the punch list work should have gone out to bid, and mayoral candidate Jan Nelson, who has demanded a full accounting of the project. At a meeting in August, Kosters accused Ward of “corruption” but didn’t stick around for the response from councilmembers Dave Hunz and Dan Henry, who said the city council made all the decisions on the project. Nelson, at the Sept. 6 meeting, threatened to sue the city if he didn’t get all the documents he requested. He was given some documents at the meeting. Councilmember Colette Hisman also requested that the city provide citizens with a final report on the project.

Jewell Construction's Jeff Mull finishes work on the McCabe tower. Dimitra Lavrakas

This past Monday, the city provided The Skagway News with a breakdown of what has been paid out on the project thus far.
As of June 2000, the city had paid $2.399 million of the $2.640 million contract, including change orders, that it had with ABC. Of the $240,965 that was withheld from the contractor, the city went ahead and paid ABC’s subcontractors $120,942 for work that they had done, but hadn’t billed ABC for, through summer 2000. The bulk of this amount was for electrical, mechanical and stone masonry work on the project.
Since Jewell Construction took over the project last fall, it has been paid $172,582 in six invoices dating from Nov. 2, 2000 to June 21, 2001. The city is awaiting a final invoice for a small amount of work done over the last few weeks, Ward said.
Jewell’s work, which through June 21 had entailed about $71,000 in direct labor costs, was broken down into three areas: actual contract punchlist items that were not completed by ABC (46%); questioned or omitted items from ABC’s contract (32%); items that were found to be needed and added to the list (14%); and other related labor such as clean-up (8%).
Earlier this year, the council put a halt to more additional items that had come up over the course of the project, such as installing a sound baffle in the fan room below the council chambers. Those items are on hold, Ward said, as is touch-up painting around the tower flashing that was just finished.
All told, the total construction costs will run around $2.7 million (this figure does not include engineering costs).
“I think we’ll be close (to the budgeted amount for the project),” Ward said. “The assertions that we are hundreds of thousands of dollars over on this project are fallacious.”
Ward said the council didn’t bid the extra work because the punch list kept getting modified, and more problems with the original work were found as they got into it.
“It was an unusual project from beginning to end and getting it mopped up required unusual means,” Ward said. “I wish things had been different but it was done with the council on board every step of the way.”
When asked how it could have been done differently, Ward said there were questions in the original bid process about ABC’s “wherewithal to do this type of work.” The city manager and the project engineer recommended against accepting ABC’s low bid, but ABC representatives convinced the council to hire them, Ward said.
“We tried to make the best of it,” he said. “Unfortunately a court will determine whether we made the best of it or not.”

Man knifed in bar after altercation

A South African man will be arraigned on a charge of first-degree assault in the stabbing of a local man early this month in a local bar.
Franswa Fernandez, 30, will be arraigned in Juneau District Court on Sept. 14 on the charge of first-degree assault, and Bridget Erin Cross, 30, will be charged with hindering prosecution in the first degree and driving while intoxicated. District Attorney Susan McLean said the trial date would be determined at the arraignment.
On Sept. 1 at 3:47 a.m., the Skagway Police Department responded to a report of a stabbing at The Red Onion Saloon. Officers and Emergency Medical Services personnel responded to find local rail worker David Lehman, 40, suffering from two knife wounds and bleeding severely. He was medevaced to Whitehorse General Hospital, where he was later reported in stable condition.
Canadian Customs at Fraser was notified, and when Fernandez and Cross attempted to cross into Canada, they were turned back. The couple were apprehended and arrested at Mile Post 14.5 on the Klondike Highway. They were transported to the Lemon Creek Correctional Facility in Juneau. – DL

INS sting nets six in Skagway

When the Immigration and Naturalization Service came into town Sept. 4 to instruct employers on the I-9 form used to verify an employee’s residence status, they got more than they planned for.
Checking up on about 10 businesses, they found six illegal aliens working in Skagway, all from Mexico.
“We came in on a routine operation and went around to different places to check on I-9 forms to make sure they’re in compliance, and check on leads given to us by informants,” said Tim Staebell, assistant district director for the Investigations Unit in Anchorage.
Staebell ran the forms through their data bases and that’s how they discovered the people were not citizens of the U.S.
The six were taken into custody and brought to the border station until they were put on a plane for Anchorage.
“Three have left and three are here with us waiting for the plane to come in,” he said. “They’ll see a judge in Anchorage to see if they will be deported or if there’s some way to allow them to stay.”
Staebell could not comment on who was arrested or where they worked, as the investigation is ongoing. He said the number of people apprehended was the most he ever remembered being picked up in Skagway.
The INS is beginning to cover Southeast more, he said, and are on their way to Juneau, Petersburg and Ketchikan. This was the first-ever INS enforcement operation in Skagway outside of the border station, he said. –DL


• Klondike Road Relay Report from Sept. 14 issue

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