Margaret Friedenauer, KHNS - Haines
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.
A heliski guide caught in an avalanche over the weekend near Haines died late Monday according to a statement posted online by his family.
A massive landslide in Glacier Bay National Park more than a week ago is exciting scientists around the world for the way it was the detected, the images of the slide and the sheer magnitude of it. It’s also near a similar slide that occurred in 2012 on Mount Lituya.
Rural Alaska communities are not known for having good internet connections, cell phone reception or, really, many good ways of connecting to people and programs outside their area. But rural public libraries do now have those types of connections, thanks to a program through the Alaska State Library that connects libraries all over the state – and country – for a variety of programs and purposes.
The Department of Justice last week filed criminal charges against a Haines heli-skiing company for repeatedly operating tours on federal land without a permit. The violations came to light because of a fatal accident within the off-limits area in March of last year.