Margaret Friedenauer, KHNS - Haines
Thousands of rural Alaskans will see their power bills go up after the first of the year. That’s because the Regulatory Commission of Alaska, or RCA, approved an 11 percent rate increase last week for Alaska Power Company customers. That’s lower than the hike the company asked for. But it’s still more than many residents in Southeast and the Interior say they can afford.
A Canadian company is exploring copper and zinc deposits at the Palmer Project site north of Haines. It’s not even a proposed project yet – but it’s is already dividing the community of Haines. One group having a hard time forming consensus on the issue is the commercial fishing fleet in the Northern Lynn Canal.
One man is reported safe after his fishing boat sank in Lynn Canal on Sunday night. Twenty-five-year-old Woody Paul of Haines was rescued by another fishing boat in William Henry Bay north of Juneau after his boat the 36-foot, Kyra Dawn began taking on water and then capsized.
It’s hard not to dream big among the tall mountains and wild sea in Southeast Alaska – especially in Haines where Christy Tengs serves dreamers and misfits alike in her family’s downtown institution, the Pioneer Bar and Bamboo Room. Even she has a dream – to meet the famous person who has inspired her and propelled her to become a star in her hometown.
Mother Nature rattled Northern Southeast this morning with and magnitude 5.9 earthquake and several dozen aftershocks. The quake appeared to have damaged internet and cell service to thousands of Southeast residents.
An investigation continues into what caused a tourist train to derail along a mountain pass north of Skagway yesterday, injuring 19 passengers.
A tourist train derailed Wednesday afternoon north of Skagway and initial reports stated some passengers received minor injuries. The White Pass Yukon Railroad runs scenic train tours between Skagway and Carcross, Yukon. Railroad president John Finlayson confirmed the derailment and said the company was still investigating the cause. He said did not want to comment on any injuries while passengers were being treated and evaluated.
Gov. Sean Parnell wants the hiring process for state employees examined after it was revealed a former police officer hired with the ferry system has a checkered past. Several people who talked about Jason Joel’s job performance for a previous story did not want to share their identity, including a former Haines Police Dispatcher who alleges Joel harassed her on the job. Now she is speaking out.
A former Haines Police officer with a questionable work history was recently hired by the state for a high level security position, but the state is not releasing much information about the hiring process or what it knew about his past.
Alaska Marine Highway workers approved a strike authorization this week, meaning the Inlandboatmen’s Union could call for workers to strike within the next month if the union and state can’t agree on a new contract.
A Skagway man is in custody after allegedly on a vandalism spree and slashing the tires of most of the squad vehicles on the town’s police force and setting a police dispatcher’s car on fire.
State ferry service to Skagway resumes on Sunday.
Alaska Marine Highway ferries have not been running to Skagway since the ferry dock there sank on April 24th. The state was able to contract with a marine salvage and repair company out of Juneau for an emergency sole source contract, and the dock was re-floated a few days later.
State transportation officials agree that a burst water pipe likely caused the Skagway ferry dock to sink last month. Repairs continue in hopes of getting the dock operational and returning ferry service to the Southeast community within the next week.
Contract talks between the state and Alaska’s ferry workers are heating up as each side disagrees on how to make up the gap between revenues and the cost of operating the ferry system. Workers are now considering whether to authorize a strike if negotiations remain stalled.
Haines seems like a quintessential Southeast Alaska town. There are eagles, bears, salmon, big mountains and rough water. It’s a picture-book no stoplight, no movie theater, low crime type of community. But there’s a seedier and eclectic side of Haines that emerged late this winter: the underground puppet scene.