Articles written by Orin Pierson

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  • Ceremony welcomes Hutli totem pole to Sandy Beach

    Orin Pierson|Jul 11, 2024

    Representatives of Petersburg Indian Association (PIA) and the Hutli committee and members of the Séet Ká Kwáan Dancers welcomed the public to witness the unveiling of the story totem pole at Sandy Beach Park on July 5. The totem pole was created by Tlingit carver Fred Fulmer Sr., Saat-Kaa, of Everett, WA - commissioned by PIA for the Hutli project. "Hutli is a Tlingit work roughly translated to Thunderbird and the thundering sound of the wings," Brenda Louise told the sizeable crowd on hand for...

  • Multi-million dollar school roof bond proposal passes first reading

    Orin Pierson|Jul 11, 2024

    The question of whether to approve a multi-million dollar bond for "critical major maintenance and safety capital improvements" at the school may come before voters this fall. Petersburg Borough Assembly heard an ordinance introducing the proposed bond at their meeting on July 1; a public hearing about the bond proposal ordinance will take place during its next reading. The bond amount initially described in the ordinance included $4.5 million dollars to cover the borough's share of the state...

  • Ordinance on future sales tax exemption changes fails in final reading

    Orin Pierson|Jul 11, 2024

    Ordinance 2024-11 — to place before voters an amendment to the borough charter to remove the requirement of voter ratification for future changes to sales tax exemptions — failed in its final reading at the July 1 assembly meeting. Borough Finance Director Jody Tow explained during the prior assembly meeting that, if passed, this change would be helpful during times of unknown state revenues to free up the assembly to act more flexibly and quickly to resolve budgetary issues. Petersburg is the...

  • Transformer blows in downtown sidewalk vault, causes brief power outage in Petersburg

    Orin Pierson|Jul 11, 2024

    A power outage affected downtown Petersburg on Wed., July 10 from around 10:30 a.m. until around noon. The outage was caused by a transformer failing in its vault located in the sidewalk on Excel Street near the Hammer & Wikan Hardware store, Petersburg Utility Director Karl Hagerman told the Pilot. Smoke was observed coming out of the sidewalk vault after the transformer's failure, causing some concern to bystanders. The power went out when the transformer fault tripped the breaker for the...

  • Petersburg's utility customers are asked to inspect their water service lines this month

    Orin Pierson|Jul 4, 2024

    Petersburg utility customers are being asked to check what material the water service lines connecting to their homes or buildings are made of. This is part of a nationwide service line inventory required because of an EPA rules revision earlier this year. A survey was mailed out along with June's utility bills; it provides illustrated instructions on how to inspect your water service line, what to look for, and how to report the results. Taking part in the service line inventory is a...

  • Petersburg seiner sinks in Anita Bay; all five crew swiftly rescued

    Orin Pierson|Jun 27, 2024

    Coast Guard Sector Southeast received a call Tuesday morning, shortly before 10:00 a.m., that the Petersburg-based seiner the Pamela Rae was taking on water in Anita Bay, located on Etolin Island near Wrangell. The call came from the F/V Confidence, relaying a call from their sister fishing vessel Barbara which was on the scene and providing samaritan support, U.S. Coast Guard spokesperson Lt. Matt Naylor told the Pilot. The Pamela Rae was taking on water fast and was rolling over. They had...

  • Borough voters to decide on sales tax cap increase in October

    Orin Pierson|Jun 27, 2024

    A ballot proposition on this October municipal ballot will put the question to Petersburg voters whether to increase the amount of sales tax that can be collected on a single purchase from $72.00 to $300.00. At their regular meeting on June 17 the Petersburg Borough Assembly unanimously passed Ordinance 24-10 in its third and final reading to propose the municipal code amendment for this sales tax exemption change to borough voters. Currently in the borough, sales tax liability for any single...

  • Editorial:

    Orin Pierson|Jun 27, 2024

    In January, the Wild Fish Conservancy — the same Washington-based conservation group that unsuccessfully sued to shut down last year’s SE Alaska troll fishery for king salmon — filed a petition with the federal government to list Alaskan Chinook salmon as a threatened or endangered species and designate critical habitat under the Endangered Species Act. This action obligated the National Marine Fisheries Service to conduct a 90-day evaluation of the petition. And despite finding that the petition “contained numerous factual errors, omissio...

  • King salmon harvest limit in the Narrows reduced to one per day

    Orin Pierson|Jun 20, 2024

    Fish and Game issued an emergency order last week reducing the harvest opportunity for king salmon in the Wrangell Narrows terminal harvest area. Effective June 15, the possession limit has changed from four king salmon per day - two 28 inches or longer and two less than 28 inches in length - to one king salmon of any size per day. And nonresident annual limits will now apply in this area. Blind Slough freshwater king salmon fishing remains closed for the summer; as does commercial harvest of...

  • Devil's Thumb Shooters on target at state tournament

    Orin Pierson|Jun 20, 2024

    This month, twelve athletes from the Devil's Thumb Shooters - Petersburg's youth marksmanship program - flew north to compete in the Alaska Youth Education in Shooting Sports (YESS) State Tournament in Chugiak. They joined competitors from 18 teams across the state, and the tournament results speak to the caliber of Petersburg's shooting athletes - with first, second, and third place finishes across several disciplines and divisions. One tournament highlight for the Petersburg team was the...

  • School district passes FY25 budget

    Orin Pierson|Jun 13, 2024

    Petersburg School Board unanimously passed the district's FY25 budget at their regular meeting on Tuesday. This year, more of the budget is going to instruction and less to operations and maintenance, summarized PSD Finance Director Shannon Baird. The budget estimates 450 students will be enrolled in the school district in the 2024/2025 school year. That number is around 19 students fewer than the school year which has just ended. Because the base student allocation has remained flat for yet...

  • Food insecurity persists, local nonprofit asks for help

    Orin Pierson|Jun 13, 2024

    Alaskans, including many in Petersburg, have experienced heightened food insecurity for the past several years - ever since the Dunleavy administration cut more than 100 jobs from the state's Division of Public Assistance in 2021, which left offices understaffed and led to a severe, multiyear backlog of applications for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits. Thousands of Alaskans were left without the food aid they needed. To combat the backlogs Gov. Dunleavy added millions...

  • One rescued, one deceased after Narrows boat collision

    Orin Pierson|Jun 6, 2024

    After a six hour search, divers recovered the body of a woman who perished due to a boat collision between a 20-foot Hewescraft skiff and a 58-foot commercial fishing vessel in the Wrangell Narrows near the mouth of Blind Slough on Wednesday morning. A second individual, thrown from the skiff into the water, was rescued by a good samaritan on-scene, according to a USCG press release. "We offer our sincerest condolences to those affected by this terrible tragedy," said Coast Guard Lt. Katy...

  • Petersburg's Class of 2024 sets the bar high

    Orin Pierson|May 23, 2024

    Graduation has arrived for the class of 2024. Commencement events kick off on Tuesday, May 28 with a noise parade around the loop starting at 5:00 p.m. followed by the graduation ceremony in the high school gym at 7:00 p.m. This graduating class faced its challenges. They were freshmen in the fall of 2020, and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic shaped the beginning of their high school experience. "We had teams that qualified for State, but we didn't attend because State wasn't really...

  • Editorial: Bringing home awards for local news

    Orin Pierson|May 9, 2024

    The Petersburg Pilot received quite a bit of recognition at last month’s Alaska Press Club conference in Anchorage. The press club’s annual contest is a valuable opportunity for our newsroom to take stock of the past year’s efforts, and it helps us get some external feedback from experts in the field. Contest entries are submitted by most of the journalists in Alaska working in print, radio, television, and web. And our state is blessed with a lot of top notch local news being produced across the state, so competition is often pretty tight... Full story

  • Dozens in Petersburg cooperate to assemble 'world's largest puzzle'

    Orin Pierson|May 9, 2024

    In January, Petersburg resident Sondra Hurst learned that seniors at a retirement home in her hometown of Springville, Utah had worked together for three months to piece together the world's largest commercially available jigsaw puzzle. Hurst decided to round up helpers in Petersburg to try and do the same, and on Sunday, May 5, dozens of community members who took part in the effort gathered in the community gym to see the puzzle be completed. She recalled to the gathering how her husband had d...

  • Chili cook-off will raise money for rescue equipment

    Orin Pierson|Apr 25, 2024

    This Friday, the Petersburg Police Department and the Petersburg Volunteer Fire Department are turning up the heat for the annual Guns and Hoses Chili Cook-off fundraiser. This will be the third year Don and Julie Spigelmyre have hosted the cook-off. The event was dreamed up by the couple on an airplane ride from Michigan to Petersburg. "We got to talking about how much we appreciate the volunteerism with the fire department," Don told the Petersburg Pilot. The Spigelmyres decided they wanted to...

  • Lunch ladies win national award for innovation

    Orin Pierson|Mar 7, 2024

    This week, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that four school districts in the country would receive the new Healthy Meals Incentives Recognition Award, for "their trailblazing and innovative efforts to improve the nutritional quality of meals for their students." Petersburg School District was among those four receiving the national recognition. These awards - part of the Biden-Harris administration's Healthy Meals Initiative (HMI) - celebrate school districts who embrace... Full story

  • The right to protest is enshrined in the constitution by Orin Pierson, Petersburg Pilot publisher

    Orin Pierson, Pilot Publisher|Feb 29, 2024

    A crowd of hundreds marched through downtown Anchorage last month calling on the governor and the legislature to increase funding for public education in Alaska. A few weeks later, protestors gathered on the steps of the capitol in Juneau with signs and songs emphasizing that same message. And a few weeks after that, Governor Dunleavy proposed a piece of legislation that would create a new crime in Alaska: “obstruction of free passage in public places.” The proposed anti-protest House bill, HB 386, makes it a class A misdemeanor –with priso...

  • Blind Slough closed to king salmon sport fishing this summer

    Orin Pierson, Pilot editor|Feb 22, 2024

    The fresh waters of Blind Slough will be closed to sport fishing for king salmon this summer, from June 1 through July 31, according to the sport fishing regulations for the Wrangell Narrows and Blind Slough terminal harvest released this week by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADFG). However, in the salt waters of the Wrangell Narrows, king salmon fishing will be open. Both residents and nonresidents will have a bag and possession limit of two king salmon greater than 28 inches long and two less than 28 inches from the salt waters of...

  • Editorial: Local news. Local jobs. Local accountability

    Orin Pierson, Petersburg Pilot Publisher|Feb 8, 2024

    Today, Feb. 8, 2024, the Petersburg Pilot turns 50 years old, and the occasion calls for some reflection on what it takes for a newspaper like ours to survive fifty years and what it takes to carry onward. In last week’s Yesterday’s News column we noted publisher Glenn Luckie’s description of the conditions in 1974 that brought the 62-year publishing run of the Petersburg Press to an end. He wrote about not being able to withstand “rising expenses outstripping declining revenue” and the fatal effect of local merchants reducing their local adver...

  • South Harbor dredging nears completion

    Orin Pierson|Jan 25, 2024

    Western Marine's dredging operations in South Harbor are expected to reach completion this week. Access for harbor users has been partially blocked as crews push through the winter weather to dig the final shoreline areas. The next step will be a survey of the most recently dredged areas, and if all looks good Petersburg Harbormaster Glo Wollen can sign off on the work and the US Army Corps of Engineers can close out the administrative details of the project. The dredge work began in early...

  • First baby of the new year has arrived

    Orin Pierson, Pilot Writer|Jan 18, 2024

    Elsie Marie Broschat was born in Sitka on January 5, 2024 at 3:30 a.m. Her parents are Andrew Broschat, a police officer with the Petersburg Police Department, and Elle Broschat, bookkeeper and owner of Southeast Bookkeeping. Being confirmed as the first baby of 2024 born to Petersburg residents, the family are entitled to receive the many gifts from local businesses published in the January 4th edition of the Pilot. The Broschat family moved back to Petersburg from Sitka in November 2023. They...

  • Trident Seafoods announces plan to sell processing plants in Petersburg, Ketchikan, False Pass, and Kodiak

    Orin Pierson, Pilot Editor|Dec 14, 2023

    Trident Seafoods issued a press release on Tuesday, Dec. 12 announcing a “comprehensive restructuring initiative” that will put the seafood giant “on a path toward streamlining its Alaska operations.” They announced plans to seek buyers for their shoreside processing plants in four locations: Petersburg, Ketchikan, False Pass, and Kodiak. “Our Kodiak operations are integral to the Gulf of Alaska fisheries,” said Jeff Welbourn, Senior Vice President of Alaska Operations at Trident Seafoods in the company’s press release. “They are highly effi...

  • Petersburg Fishing Lodge faces more halibut violations 55 misdemeanor charges filed against Rocky Point Resort owners

    Orin Pierson, Pilot Editor|Dec 14, 2023

    Between April 2019 and December 2021, State and Federal Investigators conducted a lengthy investigation of Rocky Point Resort and its fishing guides and owners after receiving a complaint alleging that Rocky Point owners and guides committed a number of sport fishing violations including not reporting halibut under the Guided Angler Fish (GAF) program, and taking over limits of fish, according to charging documents filed by the Alaska Attorney General’s office at the Petersburg District Court on November 14, 2023. This investigation resulted i...

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