Petersburg Pilot -


2011 Year-End News Review


Pilot File Photo

Year in Review: This young bull, probably a year old, stopped along the Shakes Slough shoreline on the Stikine River to check out the surroundings. He casually browsed and grazed while moving slowly around the fringe of the slough.

Jan. 6: A solitary case of “whooping cough,” was reported by the Public Health Nurse. Bordetella Pertussis is a highly contagious respiratory infection that is easily spread and can be treated with antibiotics.

The city council asked Petersburg Municipal Power and Light superintendent to re-evaluate its request for a back-up generator after bids came in at over a million dollars beyond the budgeted $1.8 million cost.

Jan. 20: The Petersburg Police Department filed a 19-page petition to forego representation by the Petersburg Municipal Employees Association and form their own bargaining unit.

John Murgas of Island Ventures, LLC sought the mutual termination of his Scow Bay land lease with the City of Petersburg after he was required to carry pollution insurance as a term of the lease. The debate over the insurance requirement lasted the entire calendar year and was still being debated at the city council level during their last regular meeting of 2011.

Remodeling of the Joy Janssen Clinic and framing for the city’s fire hall were underway in January.

Cora Campbell, a 1997 PHS graduate, looked forward to having the Legislature confirm her appointment as the Commissioner of the Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game. State Senator Bert Stedman supported Campbell’s appointment. “I think she’s a good appointment. I think she’ll do a good job. I think she has a good background for it,” Stedman commented.

Jan. 27: Local, state and federal investigators arrived in Petersburg to conduct a drug investigation that netted four ounces of heroin and two ounces of cocaine.

Cascade Creek, LLC was criticized for shortcomings in its scoping document that is required as a part of their effort to develop a hydropower project on Cascade Creek in Thomas Bay.

Andre Franklin, 32, rejected a second plea agreement for charges of furnishing alcohol to an undercover informant. At his first hearing, the court rejected a plea agreement of 90 days in jail with 90 suspended, after 30 community members appeared at the hearing to show their displeasure with furnishing alcohol to minors. Franklin asked his attorney to take the case to trial, rather than accept a plea of 120 days in jail with 110 suspended, leaving 10 days to serve.

Feb. 3: The Kupreanof City Council passed a resolution opposing Petersburg’s borough formation.

The city council considered paving the fire hall driveway with concrete rather than asphalt thus adding an estimated $250,000 cost to the original $350,000 cost of the driveway.

The ADOT was in town to discuss the downtown-paving project that has been underway since 2008. The project was to be completed in phases, block by block, to alleviate disruptions to main street traffic.

Feb. 10: The Petersburg Volunteer Fire Dept. celebrated 100 years. In 1910, 10 men formed the department, which served 600 people. Today a 72-person group serves the city providing fire, EMS and search and rescue services.

The Petersburg Medical Center began the search for a new administrator to replace John Bringhurst who has served for 14 years.

Feb. 24: Ten members of the Petersburg Bible Church returned from a weeklong trip to Haiti to investigate the needs of the island people and to plan for future projects.

March 3: An ad signed with initials FNP stated: Let’s work together to revitalize the shipyard.

The borough formation committee met to discuss ways to secure the final three required signatures to allow submission of the city’s borough petition to the Local Boundary Commission for consideration.

Selene MaryAnn Tieden was the city’s New Year Baby, born on Jan. 13.

Dave and Nancy Berg traveled to Tanzania to investigate a micro-loan program funded by the Petersburg Rotary Club and other donors amounting to a total of $22,000.

March 17: 2010 census data showed that while the state population increased to 710,231 people, Petersburg’s population declined from 3,224 in 2000 to 2,948 in 2010.

Bruce Leaman, Director of the International Pacific Halibut Commission came to Petersburg to report yet another cut to the Area 2C fleet. A 47 percent cut was announced bringing the allowable harvest to only 2.33 million pounds. The IPHS also recommended that in order to meet the 2011 guideline harvest level of 788,000 pounds for the charter fleet, a catch size limit of 37-inches or smaller would be in place for 2011.

The Petersburg Indian Association announced the opening of their 50-person state of the art conference facility at their headquarters on 12th Street. The facility is available for rent.

March 10: Petersburg was denied its appeal of a decision to award a preliminary permit to Angoon for development of a hydro project at Swan Lake in Thomas Bay. The FERC used a lottery system to award the permit and the United States Court of Appeals upheld the award decision.

The drug-sniffing dog “Justice” appeared at a PHS assembly for high school and middle school students.

The PHS cheer squad, led by Rachel Etcher and Veronica Maldonado, won the regional title in Juneau.

March 24: A day before going to a jury trial, Andre Franklin was sentenced to 120 days in jail with 90 days suspended by Superior Court Judge Trevor Stephens. Following his ruling, Judge Stephens said, “Anytime that an adult buys alcohol for a juvenile you run the risks that the juvenile is going to do something stupid.”

March 31: Piston and Rudder Service announced it would re-open the shipyard and combine its marine engine installation and repair service with haul-out services, hull painting and repair, shaft and prop work. The shipyard had not been operational since Sept. 30, 2010.

The Petersburg Pilot requested the release of names and applications of the finalist applicants for the Petersburg Medical Center’s administrator’s position in accordance with state law. Pilot publisher Ron Loesch, was told by John Bringhurst, current administrator, that the request for information could hurt the search process.

Contractors were busy installing new airport runway lighting, necessitating occasional closure of Haugen Drive.

A bankruptcy filing by Cruise West left some local businesses unpaid for charter services, seafood purchases, moorage and other shore-side services. Tonka Seafoods seized five busses from Cruise West for payment of $25,000 in fresh seafood deliveries to the boats.

April 7: The city manager informed the council that the city, school and hospital could face a 50% rate hike in health insurance premiums, instead of the expected 15% hike. All three establishments said they would be looking at available alternatives for their insurance coverage.

This week the final two required signatures for the city’s borough petition were secured, enabling the city to submit their petition to the Local Boundary Commission in Anchorage.

Nearly 120 residents marched in a parade and met at the council chambers as part of a statewide rally to Choose Respect and to address the issues of domestic violence and sexual assault.

The Petersburg Library Board announced their intent to seek a $1 million to $1.5 million-bond issue to raise funds for the construction of a new library. Library board member Jon Wright told the city council the library had 70% of the required funding in hand.

April 14: Wrangell-based Sunrise Aviation bought Pacific Wing, Inc. owned by Rod and Darcey Judy of Petersburg. Prior to starting Pacific Wing, Rod flew for Alaska Island Air and spent a total of 46 years flying throughout Southeast Alaska.

April 21: A dodge ball tournament featuring over a dozen teams raised funds for Petersburg’s field of dreams project and to raise awareness about nutrition and physical activities for youth.

Petersburg city council viewed the redistricting options presented by the State Redistricting Board and called the options disgusting, confusing, mislabeled and wrong.

The Rainforest Islands Ferry Authority announced plans to begin year-round ferry service in April 2012 that would service a route between South Mitkof Island, Wrangell, Coffman Cove and Ketchikan (in summer only).

May 5: Side-by-side front-page stories announced the resignation of city manager Scott Hahn after 1-1/2 years at his post and the hospital board’s hiring of a new administrator, Elizabeth Woodyard from Susanville, Calif.

The Kupreanof city council hosted a public gathering to discuss Petersburg’s borough petition. The purpose of the meeting was to look at the borough petition process, and not to badmouth anybody, according to Tom Reinarts. No comments were made in support of the borough petition at the meeting.

The second phase of the PMC Clinic remodel was completed and the staff moved into the new space. The remodel provides more clinic space in a two-floor configuration and provides more privacy for patients checking into the clinic.

Petersburg high school hosted a four-day artist workshop that drew over 100 students to Petersburg for 23 different sessions.

A mock car accident was staged behind the community gym that portrayed the serious message to students about impaired driving. The event was hosted by the Petersburg Fire Department and the Taylor White Foundation.

May 12: Desiree Burrell was named magistrate of the Petersburg Trial Courts following the retirement of Darlene Whitethorn.

Tina’s Kitchen, an open-air summer eatery was purchased by Amyee Peeler of Sitka. The business was renamed Inga’s Galley.

May 19: Christine J. Ware, the director of the Petersburg Children’s Center was charged with nine criminal counts including alleged theft, falsifying business documents and forgery related to her position at the Center.

The PHS track and field teams placed first (girls) and third (boys) at the regional competition in Juneau.

The Petersburg Indian Association hosted a sea otter pelt sewing class. Six students participated in the training sessions.

The city council discussed the acquisition of the Reid property at mile 2.5 Mitkof Highway for use as a future marine services facility. The benefit of the waterfront property was that it did not require dredging at the face of the dock.

May 26: The city’s fiscal year 2011-12 general fund budget featured about $8.8 million in revenue, contrasted with expenditures of $8.73 million.

The PHS graduating class of 2011 numbered 55 students. Ashley Kawashima was the Salutatorian and Eleanor Bergren was Valedictorian.

Wendy Einerson and Cheryl Baldwin of the support staff and teachers Don Holmes and Steve Sipper were recognized for their services when they retire from the school district at the end of the school year.

June 2: The USCG patrol boat Anacapa skipper, Lt. Matthias Wholley was temporarily relieved of his command and Executive Officer Lt. j.g. James Toomey assumed temporary command of the vessel.

Stan Malcom’s 49.5 lb. king earned him first place in the 2011 Petersburg Chamber of Commerce King Salmon Derby. He won the $7,500 cash prize. Tom Drennan and Melissa Newman placed second and third respectively.

The PHS baseball team recorded its first regional win in team history with an 8-0 victory over Thunder Mountain High School in Juneau.

June 9: Piston and Rudder Services, Inc. hauled their first boat since taking over operation of the shipyard when the 58-foot F/V Defiant was pulled onto the marine railway on June 2.

June 16: Cascade Creek, LLC, a private corporation seeking to acquire licensing to build a hydropower project in Thomas Bay was criticized at a June 15 meeting by local, state and federal officials for everything from lack of communications about their project to insufficient and rushed data collection. A lengthy list of complaints was directed at the company. A representative said communications were not what they should have been and added that the working relationship has been frayed.

The city council received 36 applications for the city manager position vacated by Scott Hahn. While Mayor Dwyer favored hiring local candidate Karl Hagerman immediately, councilor Dan Hickman suggested the council look at the applications. “There are some pretty decent applications here,” he noted.

June 23: An Integrated Resource Plan meeting discussed the region’s electrical needs for the next 50 years. Petersburg it was noted now has a peak electrical demand in the winter, due to electrical heat installations. Formerly, Petersburg’s electric load peaked in the summer when canneries were in full operation.

The Petersburg Medical Center re-hired Mark Tuccillo under the terms of a one-year physician’s contract while Dr. Bergren who has been with PMC for 12 years announced his departure in the spring of 2012. Hospital board president Tom Abbott said the departure of Bergren was not related to the hiring of Tuccillo who had spent 15 years with the PMC before he moved to Anchorage.

The city council approved an additional $65,000 expenditure for additional inspection services on the fire hall construction project.

The M/V Christian announced it would relocate to Petersburg from Wrangell to be closer to its points of ministry in SE Alaska.

Hammer and Wikan, Inc. celebrated 90 years in business with a tent sale, barbeque and picnic for customers, shopping sprees, door prizes and many special sales events throughout the year.

The Petersburg Indian Association announced a July opening for the Seaside House restaurant which was purchased, remodeled and staffed in about six months time.

July 7: Petersburg received $2.75 million in funding for capital improvement projects from the State Legislature. Top projects were the drive down dock, elderly housing roof replacement and library construction.

The USCG permanently relieved Lt. Matthias Wholley of his command after he ordered the Anacapa to get underway while intoxicated. As punishment, Wholley received a letter of reprimand, a 60-day restriction and forfeited half a month’s pay for two months.

The 4th of July parade Grand Marshal was Neva Christensen, who has been a resident of Petersburg since she moved here in 1954 to work for the Salvation Army.

July 14: Petersburg joined Fairbanks in filing suit against the Alaska Redistricting Board after Petersburg was moved to District 32 with downtown Juneau.

David T. Janzen, owner of Viking Cab, was arrested by Petersburg Police on a charge of DUI after he was accused of driving a couple home from a Petersburg bar while he was intoxicated, and returned to the bar for more passengers.

July 21: A 2001 PHS graduate, Eric C. Corl died near Delta Junction after his Piper PA-12 Supercruiser crashed after the engine quit. Corl was a Black Hawk helicopter pilot stationed at Fort Wainwright at the time of the accident.

July 28: Stephen Giesbrecht, city administrator of Electra, Texas was hired as Petersburg’s city manager on July 22.

A British television chef, Phil Vickery, visited Petersburg to shoot a television series promoting seafood sustainability.

August 11: Petersburg resident Arnie Fuglvog admitted to a plea deal to one count of violating the Lacey Act for falsely reporting where he caught sablefish in 2005.

Donn Hayes II was hired as director of the Parks and Recreation Dept., replacing Ryan McFarland.

Christin and Caleb Fankhauser moved to Petersburg to pastor the Salvation Army church and its programs.

The Star, a new vintage clothing shop, was opened by Anne Lee on Main Street.

August 25: Heavy weekend rain washed a portion of the Second Street embankment into Hammer Slough. Over 3,000 cubic yards of fill was washed into the waterway, nearly undermining the public works office foundation.

Sept. 1: An emaciated juvenile gray whale was released from a gillnet filled with marine vegetation in Wrangell Narrows. The netting was believed to have come from California or Mexico.

McGraw Custom Construction won the bid to repair the Birch Street roadway for $404,000. The road decking was last repaired in 2003.

Cascade Creek, LLC presented a new power line route and discussed its plans to sell power to Canada from its project site in Thomas Bay.

Sept. 8: The Petersburg Police Chief announced that the police department building was collapsing and needed immediate replacement or repair.

Petersburg broke its rainfall record in August when 17.54 inches of rain fell on the town. The previous record amount of 16.5 inches was recorded in 2002.

Sept. 15: Torrential rains brought the Stikine River to near record flood levels on Sept. 10 when the river rose to 30.55 feet. The record high for the river was recorded on Sept. 23, 1994 when the river was at 30.60 feet.

Sept. 22: Charles Davis, LeConte Trailer Park owner was advised by the City of Petersburg that he had 30 days to bring his park into compliance with code violations.

The USFS Petersburg District Ranger Chris Savage accepted a job in Washington, D.C. as Assistant Director for Watershed, Fisheries and Aquatic Resources.

Sept. 29: Torrential rains and wind on Sept. 23 brought a landslide across Mitkof Highway at Mile 7. Trees fell all around Petersburg as wind gusts of up to 70 mph battered the area. A portion of the Alaska Airlines freight terminal roof was also lifted off the building.

John Glenn of Glenn Custom Milling in Shelton, Wash. approached both Wrangell and Petersburg with a plan to locate a sawmill in their town.

Oct. 6: After more than two years of negotiations, the city employees ratified a 3-year contract by a vote of 50-12. Hourly city employees received a 40-cent an hour COLA for each of the three years of the contract. City employees’ paid time off was reduced.

By just 38 votes, $1.5 million in bonds to construct and equip a new public library were approved by voters.

Petersburg set a September rainfall record with rainfall totaling 23.67 inches. The previous record was set in 1987 with 21.18 inches.

Oct. 13: The City and Borough of Juneau moved to add half of Petersburg’s proposed borough land into its borough boundaries.

Bear cub mayhem hit Petersburg this year when over 15 sightings were reported to the ADF&G and the police department this week. Biologist Rich Lowell moved cubs out of town as they were trapped at various locations around town. Bear sightings continued to be reported, well into December.

89 moose were harvested in the area this year with 36 of the bulls being taken on Kupreanof Island.

The bumper catch of pink salmon in Southeast Alaska at 59 million fish, beat the 55 million forecast. Regionally, Southeast Alaska took first place in the state for the most valuable salmon harvest worth over $203 million according to the ADF&G. By the time a final tally is computed this spring catch values will certainly go higher.

Nov. 3: Heavy rain mixed with high winds brought a half-mile swath of muskeg, trees and rocks atop buildings owned by Don Koenigs and Gloria Ohmer at mile 5.1 Mitkof Highway. Damage to the structures and property stored at the site totaled an estimated $170,000.

Viking swimmers and divers sent seven of their own to State competition after making a strong showing at regionals.

Nov. 10: Preston Marsh won two state championship medals and helped his boys team place 4th in the State Meet.

The Lady Viking volleyballers placed 2nd at Regional competition in Juneau.

Nov. 17: Petersburg patrol officer Alice Williams placed second in her co-ed class at the Fairbanks Police Academy.

District-wide enrollment for Petersburg Schools stood at 427 students, down about 25 students from what was expected from last year’s numbers.

Nov. 24: A last minute effort to salvage the Romiad Building will not be at the city’s expense. The city council approved a request for proposals to remove the structure from the land that will house the new city library at the corner of Haugen and 2nd Street.

Dec. 1: GCI will soon activate two new cell phone towers at Howkan Street and on Hungerford Hill that will provide faster internet connections for mobile devices that are up to 15 times faster.

The Sons of Norway celebrated their 100th anniversary with a Youth Heritage Day at the Sons Hall. Children learned crafts, baked and watched a movie.

After four Petersburg Indian Association board members resigned on Oct. 12, Jeanette Ness defended herself after Derek Lopez and Tribal Administrator Will Ware said her recorded minutes of the meeting were inaccurate. The tribal members and the public are awaiting the release of a comprehensive statement about the matters that prompted the resignations of four board members.

Dec. 8: Over $30,000 was raised for the Wittstock family at a fundraising auction and dinner held at the Sons of Norway Hall. The donations helped the family defray travel and medical expenses incurred when Mike Wittstock was treated for Acute Myloid Leukemia.

Pilot File Photo

Year in Review: Andrew Wikan and John Hammer, the founders of Petersburg retailer Hammer & Wikan stand in front of a delivery truck used by the business when it opened. Hammer & Wikan celebrates 90 years of local business

Dec. 15: The Local Boundary Commission ruled that Petersburg’s borough petition could proceed through the review process after Juneau filed their petition in reaction to Petersburg’s proposal. The LBC could have acted to consider petitions from Juneau and Petersburg together, thus delaying action on Petersburg’s petition.

Petersburg’s pollution insurance requirement for a Scow Bay lease holder continued to be debated by the Petersburg city council, harbor advisory board and other officials.

Dec. 22: Piston and Rudder Services announced the expansion of their retail sales area with the construction next year of a 50x60 foot two-story building next to the current retail space.

The city council declined to appeal their redistricting legal battle after the State Superior court ruled that Petersburg should remain a part of District 32 and deemed the new district, “compact enough.”


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