From left: Billy Lake playing Michael Heney, Doug Rutherford playing Erastus Hawkins, and Angela Drainville playing Harriet Pullen in “Stonecliff,” performed at Skagway School on Nov. 15. PHOTO BY DAN FOX

Skagway PD to unveil app for placing tips

The Opioid Task Force has held its first meeting after a public forum event in early October. The task force members opened a discussion on the group’s next move in combating prescription and illegal drugs in the Skagway community.

Task force member John Hischer said the showing of the FBI’s “Chasing the Dragon” and following Q&A at the public forum had the desired effect, and that he’s received good feedback from families that attended the discussion.

“The discussion continued when they went home, which is perfect,” Hischer said. “That’s what we wanted to have happen, was this to be an ongoing discussion, this would be just the first part of it.”
During the task force’s Nov. 15 meeting, Skagway Police Chief Ray Leggett said the police department is working on something that may help: an app that will let citizens submit tips and photos, as well as audio and video recordings. The app is expected to be finished sometime in the middle of December.

“If you see something, you take a picture of it, you can do an anonymous tip, you can actually come back and say ‘okay, I want to give you this tip even anonymously, but I want to be able to talk with you,’” Leggett said.

In addition, he said the department is also looking into getting a telephone line set up, also for taking tips.

These two initiatives will play into the task force’s next step. At the Nov. 15 meeting, Leggett, Hischer and task force member Tim Cochran talked about holding another public event, with the goal of boosting awareness about the different initiatives being taken by the clinic and police department on the issue.

Leggett said the department is also putting together a handout that will show people what happens with the tips that are submitted and how that information helps the police department and community.

The event is tentatively scheduled for early January, with more discussion on it expected at the task force’s December meeting.

In addition to preliminary talk about the January event, the task force walked through a number of topics related to the opioid situation.

During the meeting, Leggett said the problem in Skagway needs to be defined.

“Until we define it, we can’t work the problem,” Leggett said. “We’re spinning our wheels.”
Tackling issues focused around opioids specifically can be handled with training and education, according to Leggett, such as learning not to share medication and prompt, proper disposal of unneeded pills.

The other prong of the issue is illegal, non-prescription drugs, Leggett said.

“You’re doing really good with the awareness stuff,” Leggett said to Cochran and Hischer. “I would say for our meeting coming up, lets step up our awareness and take it to another level.”

The police chief recommended holding awareness classes over all drug use, not just for opioids.

“What does it look like for someone who is using it, how do mom and dad identify this, how can I tell my kid is doing this, how can I tell my friend – on a kid level – is doing this?” Leggett said.

Skagway prepares for holiday season

If the first few snows of winter and an impending Thanksgiving haven’t done so already, Skagwegians might soon be pulled into the holiday spirit with the onset of December fast approaching.

The month is chock-full of wintertime goings-on, kicking off on Friday, Dec. 1 with an open house at the Public Safety Facility, a tree lighting ceremony and caroling and a holiday concert.

“I try to do a little bit of everything, obviously the Christmas tree lighting is a huge treat, it sort of is our kickoff for the month,” Cody Jennings, director for the Convention and Visitors Bureau said. “You get Santa riding on the fire truck…I think it gets everybody in the Christmas spirit.”

The White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad’s Santa Train is also a big hit typically, Jennings said, and that event serves as a good draw for the Southeast region in general.

“We get a lot of visitors, regional visitors, especially out of Whitehorse, but we do see some from Haines and even Juneau.”

Recreation Center Director Katherine Nelson said the Holiday Home Teas being held this year around town are also worth checking out. The first of these is on Dec. 3 at Dottie Demark’s duplex, with another one on Dec. 10 at John and Cindy O’Daniel’s, and Stuart and Julene Brown’s.

“So you just go check out their place, have a drink or two and hang out, eat some cookies,” Nelson said. “The Home Teas are really fun.”

Near end of the month, Nelson also recommended the Family Ski and Bonfire event on Dec. 26, held out at Jeff Brady’s Alderworks Cabin in Dyea.

“Log Cabin Ski Society, we set all the trails out there if there is enough snow, and a whole bunch of people come out and just ski around, and he [Brady] has one of the writer’s cabins open with hot chocolate and people bring dishes to pass…it gets people excited about skiing,” Nelson said.

Hosted at the Recreation Center, the Dec. 16 Yuletide Ball has changed this year into a more family-friendly affair, in response to the changing interests from the community, according to Nelson

The Recreation Center has been hosting the dance for around 12 years, Nelson said, and was held at the Alaska Marine Highway System ferry terminal before that.

“It was always just the thing to do in the winter,” Nelson said. “But now we have so many kids in town and so many families that it’s really changed.”

To better fit the family dynamic, the dance will start earlier this year and be geared more towards crowds of all ages, including a kid-friendly menu and a hot chocolate bar. The theme of the dance is “Ugly Sweaters.”

Skagway Fire Department aids waylaid AP&T crew

Just after 3:30 p.m. on Nov. 11, the Skagway Fire Department reported to Alaska State Troopers based in Juneau that an Alaska Power & Telephone vessel had gotten stuck south of Skagway, according to a State Trooper press release.

Darren Belisle, AP&T manager of power operations in the Upper Lynn Canal, said he’d had two men working to close down the Kasidaya hydroelectric power plant for the winter. A third worker had been sent in a boat to retrieve them.

As the worker pulled into the boat ramp there, a wave pushed the boat sideways, lifting the vessel up onto the beach and boat ramp.

“The tide was going out – the boat’s a 26-foot boat – so they weren’t able to push it back off the ramp after that wave set them up there,” Belisle said. “So we just called Search and Rescue because I knew they had a boat in the water, and [they] went down and gave it a little tug, and all was good.”

The State Trooper release said that the three workers – Lance Caldwell, Cory Nelson and Jordan Frost of Skagway – were uninjured and out of the field within the hour, with the AP&T boat sailing back to Skagway under it’s own power.

Recycling challenge concludes

The Skagway Traditional Council recently concluded a recycling challenge, which enveloped the first half of the month of November.

The goal of the 6R Recycling Checklist Challenge was to follow six the “R’s”: reduce, reuse, recycle, rethink, repair and refuse.

Following a waste-reduction checklist, 71 people strove to do things like using biodegradable bags, not using plastic silverware or paper plates and buying condiments in glass jars.

The challenge culminated on Nov. 15, which is also America Recycles Day.

Participants in the challenge had the chance to win prizes in a raffle during a movie night, held at the Traditional Council that evening. The challenge is related to several other events the Traditional Council has held, such as a laundry detergent and toothpaste-making workshop and beach cleanup days, according to Stephanie Palmer, program assistant with the Traditional Council.

“It really wasn’t about a competition, it was about creating awareness and just thinking differently,” said Palmer.

Some of the items on the list make easy sense for reducing plastic waste. Re-using plastic containers and using reusable bags at the grocery store, for instance, but other items on the checklist highlighted other, less-obvious ways that plastic can creep into someone’s daily life.

“People I don’t think realize that there is plastic in gum,” Palmer said. “It’s good for people to become aware and actually think about – in a day or week or month – how much waste that they create.”

Palmer said she was happy with the turnout for the challenge. The Traditional Council may do something similar next year, though nothing has been decided yet.

– DF