Officials look to Rally's return
WRANGELL — Officials this week tried to make the best of last week’s postponement of the Salty Dog Rally.
Among the officials who expressed disappointment was Leslie Cummings, a Wrangell Convention and Visitors Bureau board member who played a large role in facilitating Wrangell’s participation as the end point of a long-distance yachting rally. Cummings made the initial connection with Salty Dog Rally ALASKA organizer Dawny Pack and said, while local organizations who contributed were upset about the plan, they looked forward to Rally’s planned rescheduling in 2015.
“What I think is that they’ll do it again,” she said. “It’s unfortunate. We’re all a little disappointed. This is her (Pack’s) first year. Whatever circumstances came up that made her have to cancel. I do hope that it will happen next year and in subsequent years. I know there was a heck of a lot of support for it, and if it’s not this company maybe we could work out where we do it ourselves. What a great idea!”
Officials with the Wrangell Chamber of Commerce were waiting Tuesday for a $2,000-refund after the postponement, which was sparked by eight of 16 boaters’ inability to obtain a clean bill of health, a standard set by the Coast Guard, according to Pack.
The Chamber was reviewing a contract signed with Salty Dog Alaska in order to make sure the refund was returned, said executive director Cyni Waddington.
“We’re hoping that it’s a legit statement,” she said. “We were having the lawyer review it. I went through quite a procedure to get a contract in the beginning. We had to go over the contract. I guess we were just kind of hoping we could get a solid answer on the refund part before we went public with it.”
The refund is a particular sticking point for the chamber, which budgets on an annual basis and requires the money to finance ongoing operations, Waddington said. Funds raised for particular events stay with those events to fund the same event the following year.
Rally organizers had originally offered to put this year’s donation toward the following year, though with the Chamber’s mode of operations, that wouldn’t be feasible, according to Waddington. Disappointment stemmed more from the volunteer investment in preparation for the rally than it did from the money, Waddington said.
“There was a crew of people who have already put in tons of hours planning this,” she said. “That’s why it was so disappointing, not only because of the economic impact that we wanted, but because all of us wanted to put in a lot of time and effort into something that we wanted.”
Ultimately, the decision to renew the Chamber’s investment in the rally would be made by the board, Waddington said. The Chamber was still seeking to attract and retain conventions and activities with potential economic impact for Wrangell, Waddington said.
Disappointment and bitterness are not the same thing, Cummings said.
“Bitterness is not the word,” she said. “I would say there is some disappointment. I did go through a period of ‘How is this gonna make me look?’ because I’m a relatively new member of the Wrangell Covention and Visitor’s Bureau and this was kind of my baby. But then I thought ‘I didn’t do anything wrong. I didn’t make any mistakes. I had really good people backing me up.’”
Numerous events had been planned for the rally, involving virtually every facet of the community, from Native singing and dancing to golf tournaments.