Former Traditional Council administrator sentenced

Delia Commander, a former tribal administrator for the Skagway Traditional Council, has been sentenced for embezzling approximately $300,000 from that organization, according to a press release from U.S. Attorney Bryan Schroder’s office.

Commander, 64, of Oregon, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Sharon L. Gleason on Monday, Jan. 22 to serve 18 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release. She is also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $297,731. Commander pleaded guilty to one count of embezzlement from an Indian tribal organization.

The release states that from 2010-2014, Commander embezzled approximately $300,000 from the Traditional Council’s funds for her personal use. As tribal administrator, Commander was responsible for day-to-day operations of the tribe, including housing management, environmental and waste management and managing finances for the organization.

According to the release, Commander embezzled the money by using the tribal credit card to make unauthorized cash advances at casinos and other locations, and by making unauthorized personal purchases with tribal funds. These included paying for personal travel – including a trip to Hawaii for herself and a family member – online courses for universities, as well as personal credit card bills, vehicle maintenance and shopping.

“At sentencing, Judge Gleason noted that such a large amount to be embezzled from such a small organization was an aggravating factor,” the release states. “The judge also noted that the system of federal funding for tribal organizations relies heavily on trust, which Commander had violated.”

Downtown parking discussion continues

As the New Year begins, Skagway’s Civic Affairs and Public Safety committees have continued their discussions of traffic flow and parking with several rapid-fire meetings.

At one of these on Jan. 19, the two committees gathered in the assembly chambers to discuss the issues surrounding vehicles of small, medium and large stature, and how to best alleviate congestion caused at certain points around town.

Increasing the pressure to find solutions are the incoming classes of larger cruise ships and an accompanying increase to tourists – White Pass’s Executive Director of Human Resources & Strategic Planning Tyler Rose said the railroad’s projections estimate one million visitors in the 2019 season.

While the town may benefit economically from increases in cruise ship passengers, more infrastructure and parking will be needed to accommodate more vehicles, and streets can continue to become more congested with the additional traffic.

“If you look at a chart of the business, the cruise ship business in this town, it’s almost like looking at Apple’s stock,” Assembly Member Dan Henry said on Jan. 19. “It’s straight up.

“So, we’ve been adding to this situation every single year, however slow or fast that influx has been, and we do I think an incredible job tolerating and dealing with each other whether we’re with trains or buses or streetcars or vans, whatever it may be.”

As the operations in town have grown, however, Henry said the group of people managing the different operations has become less tight-nit, meaning communication between each group needs to be managed in “a more diligent fashion by us every single season as we go forward, starting with this one.”

The intersection of Broadway and Second was identified as a trouble area at the meeting, as was the general flow of traffic and pedestrians on Broadway in the business corridor/historic district. One suggestion made by Mayor Monica Carlson was to improve the cut-through road between Broadway and Congress Way by widening it to facilitate bus staging for the Railroad Dock.

Second and Broadway wasn’t the only intersection discussed – Spring Street, near where it turns into Fifth, was also debated. The tight left turn pinched between National Park Service land and the lumber yard was talked about, as were probable solutions to make it better. The idea of putting a stop sign near there was dismissed, and the location of the fence near the Moore Cabin was questioned.

“If the fence were just on the other side of the boardwalk, people would use the boardwalk,” Assembly Member Orion Hanson said.

Also discussed was making Broadway traffic one-way, heading northwards only.

The suggestion was to turn Broadway into a one-way street starting at Second and going through the downtown corridor. Options of going to either two lanes or one large lane were talked about, but no decisions were made.

Don Hather Wall of Fame nominations open

Skagway’s School is now accepting nominations for one addition to its Don Hather Wall of Fame. Nominees, either an individual or a group, must have contributed to the benefit of Skagway School in an exceptional manner over the course of several years, and nominations must be presented to the School Board at its regular meetings. The nominations must include a name and contact information for the nominee and nominator, and a narrative of one-two pages describing the contributions to the school.

Dual budget amendments get first reading

Two ordinances amending the Fiscal Year 2018 budget were given first readings at the Jan. 18 Borough Assembly meeting. The first of these would amend the Sales Tax, Commercial Passenger Vehicle Excise Tax, Capital Project and Port Fund budgets to account for expenditures related to work done by Port Consultant Moffatt & Nichol, Public Safety Facility communications equipment and services, increased purchase price of the new garbage truck, engineering services for the Seven Pastures flood control project and the electrical upgrade needed at the Garden City RV Park.

Assembly Member Steve Burnham Jr. said the Finance Committee had talked over that ordinance and recommended it for approval.

The second ordinance amended the FY2018 Sales Tax, CPV Excise Tax, General, Tourism, Clinic, Water/Sewer, Solid Waste, Harbor and Port Fund budgets to account for an increase in the cost of computer support services.

Both ordinances passed with a 6-0 vote.