Shady Grove Oliver, KSTK - Wrangell
Like many hospitals in Southeast Alaska, Wrangell Medical Center is starting to look its age. A brand new hospital is still the long-term plan, but for now, the building is getting a much-needed makeover.
Suicide rates in Alaskan communities are some of the highest in the country. Last weekend, the One People Canoe Society held a two-day paddle-making workshop in Wrangell. As part of the workshop, participants attended a behavioral health course on suicide prevention. Its goal is to bring communities together to both learn a traditional art and talk about a contemporary problem.
The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation and the U.S. Coast Guard are still monitoring the site where a tug boat sank and leaked diesel fuel near Wrangell last week.
Federal workers who have been furloughed will likely be paid retroactively once the shutdown is over. And government employees who are remaining on the job during the shutdown will be paid for their work eventually, but they don’t know when. For Alaska families living paycheck to paycheck, that’s a severe hardship.
Municipalities across the state held elections Tuesday. Homer’s ban on lightweight plastic shopping bags went into effect January 1st but nine months later, the ban appears to be history. Homer residents voted to repeal the ban in yesterday’s municipal election.
About 600 voters took to the polls in Tuesday’s elections. Incumbent mayor David Jack will keep his position for another year after receiving three-quarters of the vote.
As in many small towns in Alaska, there are no babies delivered in Wrangell’s hospital. Expectant mothers have to leave town to give birth. When they return, there aren’t many services to help them adjust to life with a new baby. Hannah’s Place is a non-profit that provides free courses for expecting couples and new parents. In exchange for taking these classes, parents have access to a “free” store that has nearly everything an infant needs.
A ballot initiative to lower Wrangell’s city sales tax by 1.5 percent is up for a vote of the public in the Oct. 1 general elections.
Wrangell Medical Center has faced a number of issues over the past few years. Finances, personnel turnover, and design changes stalled the plans for building a new hospital. But now, the plans are back on the table. And the hospital and its board of directors think the project is heading in the right direction.
The town of Wrangell, once called the “sleeping giant,” has seen an awakening of its native culture and history. It began with the Shakes tribal house rededication in May. Last month, it hosted both a national traditional foods conference and a Tlingit basketball camp for kids.
One of the last major sawmill operations in Wrangell has been destroyed by fire. Mike Allen Enterprizes burned to the ground in Tuesday’s mid-afternoon fire at 13 Mile Zimovia Highway.
Former Wrangell Medical Center CEO, Noel Selle-Rea, has been named the interim administrator for the Southeast Regional Health Consortium, or SEARHC Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital in Sitka.
The Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium Traditional Foods Program is hosting a gathering this week in Wrangell.
Wrangell’s Shakes Island Clan House was rededicated over the weekend. Hundreds of visitors from across Alaska, Canada, and the Lower 48 poured into the small island town to witness the historic event.