Articles written by Chris Basinger


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  • Commercial golden king crab fishermen hopeful for management changes following record-breaking season

    Chris Basinger|Sep 21, 2023

    Golden king crabs appear to have returned to Frederick Sound en masse after years of low commercial harvests, but it remains to be seen how much crab will be up for grabs for fishermen next season. The commercial golden king crab fishery in Southeast, which typically opens in mid-February, is regulated by an annual recommended harvest strategy developed by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G). Under the harvest strategy, the department establishes a guideline harvest level (GHL) and a...

  • Between the pilings

    Chris Basinger|Aug 24, 2023

    Most people in Petersburg can say that much of their lives are spent on the water, whether that be fishing for a living or for food and fun, transiting to cabins, or taking the ferry to a basketball game or on a Costco run. To many, the waters of the Inside Passage are almost a second home. But only a few can say their homes rise and fall with the tides, that from the moment they wake up in the morning to when they go to bed the tides are a constant force in their lives. The live-aboards of Sout...

  • Crew member on Petersburg-based seiner perishes near Point Warde

    Chris Basinger|Aug 17, 2023

    A crew member on the F/V Legacy, a Petersburg-based seiner, died earlier this month while fishing about 30 miles southeast of Wrangell, according to the Wrangell Police Department. At around 6:15 in the morning of Aug. 1, Paul Anthony Kavon, 64, of Oxnard, California was setting the net along the shore at Point Warde when the 19-foot power skiff he was operating struck a rock, according to captain of the F/V Legacy, Joe Cisney. “The skiff was hung up on a rock off the shoreline … the net kept going with the current … started pulling on the s...

  • House depositing human waste into Wrangell Narrows could get order to vacate

    Chris Basinger|Aug 17, 2023

    The Petersburg Borough Assembly voted during its Aug. 7 meeting to schedule a non-compliance hearing to consider issuing an order to vacate 410 Mitkof Highway until it is legally connected to the borough sanitary sewer system. Borough Building Official Ray Wesebaum and Utility Director Karl Hagerman requested the hearing after the building owner, Courtney Johnson, failed to repair the building by hooking it up to the sewer system. According to their report to the assembly, the property was inspe...

  • PIA close to purchasing North 12th Street lot

    Chris Basinger|Aug 17, 2023

    The Petersburg Borough Assembly voted to move the Petersburg Indian Association's application to purchase a borough-owned lot at the corner of Haugen Drive and North 12th Street forward during its Aug. 7 meeting. Though the application is moving forward, the assembly did not come to an agreement on how the lot should be sold-either by a public sale or by a direct sale to PIA. The 0.31-acre property, located at 10 N. 12th Street, is undeveloped apart from the Petersburg School District's...

  • Blind Slough hydro refurbishment site work ongoing

    Chris Basinger|Aug 10, 2023

    The Blind Slough Hydroelectric Refurbishment is in full swing as crews prepare the powerhouse for the installation of the new turbine and generator. Blind Slough has produced local hydro power out of Crystal Lake for almost 100 years and provides approximately 25% of Petersburg's power. The project looks to replace the 1955 Pelton wheel turbine and other powerhouse equipment to keep the facility operational and possibly increase power generation. Utility Director Karl Hagerman said a lot has...

  • Hospital Board moving meetings to assembly chambers

    Chris Basinger|Aug 10, 2023

    The Petersburg Medical Center Board will begin holding their regular meetings in the Petersburg Borough Assembly chambers starting later this month. PMC CEO Phil Hofstetter made the announcement during his report to the Petersburg Borough Assembly on Monday, saying “I think it’s an exciting opportunity to provide a little more availability for the community to hear our meetings.” The hospital board, which previously met in the Dorothy Ingle Conference Room, discussed making the move in an effort to make their meetings more visible and accessibl...

  • Municipal election will feature ballot proposition on candidate eligibility

    Chris Basinger|Aug 10, 2023

    Petersburg residents will have one ballot proposition to decide on when they go to vote in this year's municipal election on Oct. 3. Proposition #1 will ask if the borough charter should be amended to allow borough employees to serve on boards or commissions, except for those that directly administer their employment. The change, for instance, would allow a Petersburg School District employee to run for borough assembly or the hospital board but not the school board. The proposed amendment was...

  • Assembly appeals ADNR municipal land selection decision

    Chris Basinger|Aug 10, 2023

    The Petersburg Borough Assembly voted to appeal an Alaska Department of Natural Resources decision rejecting the conveyance of 523.44 acres to the borough during its meeting on Monday. The final finding and decision recently issued by ADNR rejected the conveyance of two parcels chosen by the borough as part of its municipal land selections-Prolewy Point, measuring 513.41 acres, and Hood Point, measuring 10.03 acres. Conversely, the decision also approved the conveyance of approximately 2,736.69...

  • Ordinance allowing borough to auction equipment online approved in first reading

    Chris Basinger|Aug 10, 2023

    The Petersburg Borough Assembly voted in favor of an ordinance during Monday’s meeting that would raise the minimum value required for borough personal property and equipment to be sold through public competitive bidding and allow the borough to sell items in online auctions. The assembly voted 4-0 in support of Ordinance #2023-12 in its first reading with Mayor Mark Jensen, Vice Mayor Bob Lynn, and Assembly Member Scott Newman excused. Borough Clerk Debbie Thompson called it a “housekeeping” ordinance as it would update the former city code...

  • 20 seats open for 2023 municipal election

    Chris Basinger|Aug 3, 2023

    Petersburg residents can now file for candidacy in this year’s municipal election, which will be held on Oct. 3, 2023. 20 seats will be up for election this year, including two on the Petersburg Borough Assembly currently held by Dave Kensinger and Jeff Meucci. Both seats on the assembly are three-year terms. Katie Holmlund is the lone incumbent on the Petersburg School District Board up for election this year—also for a three-year term. The Petersburg Medical Center Board will have three seats on the ballot this fall. The seats that are cur...

  • Forest Service working to clear Petersburg Lake Trail

    Chris Basinger|Aug 3, 2023

    U.S. Forest Service personnel have spent the summer cutting through debris along the popular Petersburg Lake Trail as part of a trail maintenance project funded by the Great American Outdoors Act. The 10.5-mile trail has been nearly impassable for years due to fallen trees, mud, and rotted out wooden walkways, preventing hikers from accessing the cabin that sits on Petersburg Lake on foot. "The trail has been degrading for a long, long time and the Forest Service, we just haven't had funding to...

  • Hospital Board approves FY24 operating budget

    Chris Basinger|Aug 3, 2023

    The Petersburg Medical Center Board unanimously approved the hospital’s operating budget for the next fiscal year at its June board meeting. PMC CFO Jason McCormick presented the draft FY24 operating budget at the meeting, which features a budgeted total operating revenue over the next year of $25.34 million. The budgeted revenue is an optimistic increase from the estimated FY23 total operating revenue of $22.46 million—mostly driven by a budgeted 18% increase in net patient revenue from the previous fiscal year. According to McCormick, PMC nee...

  • Hospital Board could hold future meetings in assembly chambers

    Chris Basinger|Aug 3, 2023

    The Petersburg Medical Center Board discussed holding future board meetings in the Petersburg Borough Assembly chambers last week in an effort to make their meetings more accessible to the public as the new facility project progresses. The board typically holds its meetings on the last Thursday of each month at 5 p.m. in the Dorothy Ingle Conference Room, located on the first floor of the hospital. Though hospital board meetings are open to the public, both in person and over Zoom, they are not broadcast by KFSK like the assembly and school...

  • Trial date set for police chief's lawsuit against borough

    Chris Basinger|Jul 27, 2023

    James Kerr v. Borough of Petersburg has been scheduled for a six-day jury trial in the Juneau Superior Court beginning on March 18, 2024, according to court records obtained by the Pilot. Petersburg Police Department Chief Jim Kerr, through counsel, demanded a jury trial on all claims in the case in a request filed in the court last December. Kerr is suing the Petersburg Borough for allegedly defaming him and portraying him in a false light in a statement released by the borough in response to a public records request filed by KFSK last year. T...

  • Assembly approves utility extensions to 3 residential lots

    Chris Basinger|Jul 27, 2023

    The Petersburg Borough Assembly unanimously approved a resolution at its July 17 meeting to extend utility connections to three residentially-zoned borough-owned lots. The decision comes as the borough continues to address the ongoing housing crisis in Petersburg in a bid to make the lots more affordable for a possible future sale. The three parcels that will see the utility connection stubs installed include 1200 Lake Street, 200 Aaslaug Street, and a 8,862 square foot lot near Hungry Point. The assembly approved the use of up to $100,000 from...

  • Informational signs on Indigenous culture coming to Sandy Beach

    Chris Basinger|Jul 27, 2023

    Four interpretive signs detailing the cultural and natural history of Sandy Beach are set to be installed at the park within the next year. The signs will describe four themes of Indigenous people's presence at Sandy beach-arrival, fish traps, petroglyphs, and shell midden. "It's a dream," PIA Tribal Council Member Brenda Norheim said. "Something that we have been talking about for...at least the last 10 years of being able to have more of a presence in our community overall and with telling...

  • Assembly raises department heads' salaries to stay competitive

    Chris Basinger|Jul 27, 2023

    The Petersburg Borough Assembly voted to implement a new pay schedule for the borough’s 14 department heads based on their longevity during last week’s meeting. The assembly voted 4-1 in favor of the change, which will cost approximately $139,000, with Assembly Member Donna Marsh opposed. The new schedule mirrors the longevity pay schedule that was introduced for borough employees as part of the recently approved collective bargaining agreement between the Petersburg Municipal Employees Association and the borough. The change aims to incentiviz...

  • Assembly reverses Planning Commission decision on new hospital site

    Chris Basinger|Jul 20, 2023

    The Petersburg Borough Assembly, acting as the board of adjustment, approved an application for a preliminary plat and vacation of certain rights-of-way at the future site of the new hospital on Monday, which had previously been denied by the Planning Commission. The Petersburg Medical Center appealed the decision after the Planning Commission voted against the application, claiming that the commission's decision was made in error, will have an adverse effect, and should be modified. The...

  • Borough solid waste disposal costs up by 34% under new contract

    Chris Basinger|Jul 20, 2023

    The Petersburg Borough Assembly voted unanimously on Monday to renew its contract with Republic Services for solid waste transportation and disposal, which includes new terms that significantly raise service fees and could require the borough to secure its own fleet of shipping containers down the road. The new agreement, which goes into effect on Sept. 1, will increase the borough’s base rate for transport and disposal of municipal solid waste from $128.76 to $172.86 per ton, an approximately 34% bump. Public Works Director Chris Cotta w...

  • PVFD recognized by assembly for Catholic Church fire response

    Chris Basinger|Jul 20, 2023

    The Petersburg Borough Assembly recognized Petersburg Volunteer Fire Department staff and volunteers during its meeting on Monday for their efforts to fight the fire that ravaged the St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Church on July 6. The fire, which was ruled an accident and was the result of maintenance work, raged for 10 hours, covering Petersburg in smoke and warranting response efforts from the PVFD, EMS, Search and Rescue, the Petersburg Police Department, the U.S. Coast Guard, the U.S....

  • 'This fire can consume our building, but not our hearts'

    Chris Basinger|Jul 13, 2023

    The St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Church caught fire last Thursday, leaving much of the building in ruins and covering Petersburg in smoke. According to a statement from Fire Marshal Ryan Welde, the fire has been ruled accidental in nature and was a result of maintenance work. The fire originated at ground level on the exterior of the building facing Dolphin Street. It then traveled up the wall via rigid foam insulation located behind the vinyl siding and continued to spread into the eaves... Full story

  • Community Center will partially close during sewer line repairs

    Chris Basinger|Jul 13, 2023

    The Petersburg Borough Assembly unanimously approved a bid award for a project that would replace approximately 200 feet of sewer lines beneath the Community Center during its July 3 meeting. The project will close half of the Community Center while the floor is ripped up and the main sewer line and lateral lines are replaced. The Community Center has been experiencing sewer problems for the last couple of years, such as toilets not flushing and water fountains draining onto the floor,...

  • SEAPA postpones potential wholesale rate increase

    Chris Basinger|Jul 13, 2023

    A potential Southeast Alaska Power Agency (SEAPA) wholesale rate increase has been deferred by at least a year due to record high power sales in Ketchikan, Petersburg, and Wrangell this spring, according to Vice Mayor Bob Lynn. “It’s a record, I mean it’s about 5% above any previous sales that we did this past winter, which is pretty significant,” Lynn said during his July 3 report to the Petersburg Borough Assembly about the latest SEAPA Board meeting The SEAPA Board last approved a wholesale rate increase in December 2022, raising the pri...

  • Dump truck damages power pole causing outage

    Chris Basinger|Jul 13, 2023

    A private dump truck hit a guy-wire supporting a power pole on the dump hill Wednesday, cutting power to the baler facility and water treatment plant, according to Utility Director Karl Hagerman. The outage also affected Sandy Beach Road, North Nordic Drive, Wrangell Avenue, Petersburg High School, OBI, and Petersburg IGA. Petersburg Municipal Power and Light was alerted to the incident near Reservoir Road around 10:10 a.m. and responded. According to Hagerman, the guy-pole that was attached to...

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