Assembly supports fruit and nut, accessible gardening resolutions

Skagway’s Borough Assembly passed two resolutions to continue supporting both the Fruit and Nut Tree Planting Initiative and the Higher Ground Program during its meeting on Feb. 15.

In a letter to the assembly encouraging it to approve the resolutions, resident Kim Burnham said the Higher Ground Program – started as a pilot program in 2016/2017 – has constructed three accessible garden beds and provided them to members of the community. The project provides gardening opportunities to seniors and/or those with special needs in the community, and “seeks to promote public awareness of the nutritional and therapeutic benefits of gardening,” Kim Burnham wrote in her letter.

Assembly Member Steve Burnham Jr. said he delivered the three beds that were distributed to the community.

“And I have to say it’s probably the greatest thing that I’ve had the opportunity to do in the community since being elected,” Burnham said. “It really feels good to be able to help out seniors who would like to garden, and are unable or have difficulty accessing gardenable ground.”

A slightly longer-lived program, the Fruit and Nut Tree Planting Initiative helps subsidize the planting of said fruit and nut trees to the tune of $20 per tree, for a limit of five trees per 5,000-square-feet of property, a limit of five trees per applicant per year and 15 trees per household total. Since its inception in 2012, 158 trees have been planted, with 41 different households participating in the venture.

Resident Simon Vansintjan spoke in support of the programs during public comments prior to the vote.

“I think those are two awesome initiatives that the city supports, and they are very cheap as well,” Vansintjan said.

Both resolutions were approved 4-0.

Elder Care Committee begins drafting business plan

A recently-appointed Elder Care Ad Hoc committee has begun tackling its primary objective: Devising a business plan for a senior center/assisted living facility.

Mayor Monica Carlson appointed the committee – which is made up of Denise Caposey, Kathy O’Daniel and Carl Mulvihill – with the directive of hammering out a plan to operate the proposed senior center when it is built.

At the group’s first meeting on Feb. 13, Caposey and O’Daniel, along with several members of the public and using a template provided by the Skagway Development Corporation (SDC), began discussing the finer points of what such a plan would entail in order to meet the needs of Skagway.

O’Daniel said the center should take care of every need that seniors would require, and the discussion often veered into the creation of an assisted living facility, rather than a senior apartment building.

“We should be doing that, it should be in place right now, or maybe a long time ago,” O’Daniel said, adding that there have already been many seniors who have had to leave the community. “Every time I put another elder on a plane or ferry, going outside [Skagway] to live in an assisted living home, I get so angry my hands buzz.”

There was also talk of letting residents who temporarily need help, such as a person who’s been injured and can’t get about easily, stay in open rooms, but nothing was cemented at the meeting.

O’Daniel and Caposey discussed ideas and ran down the checklist provided by the SDC, which covered topics like coming up with a marketing strategy, an executive summary for the business and an overview of the industry. At the end of the meeting, after discussing each section, Caposey said she’d begin sketching out a business plan and present it at the next gathering of the ad hoc committee. The committee is also distributing a survey looking for feedback from the community – that survey is as follows:

  The Elder Care Ad Hoc Committee is putting together a Business Plan Outline for the new senior complex.  One of the things we need to decide is the requirements for getting into the apartments, and we need your input. Please check three requirements you feel should be used for admitting folks into the housing. Return to City Hall or to me, Kathleen O’Daniel.  I will pick up if you call me at (907) 815-7788

• Income                               

• Minority                            

• Age

• References                                   

• Family status

• Residency status

• Credit rating

• Family support

• Veteran

• Children

• Disability

• Memory care

• Marital status

• Other (please list)

Proposals for Incinerator maintenance, upgrades approved

At its Feb. 15 meeting, the Borough Assembly approved proposals for upgrades to its Incinerator Facility from Boreal Controls Inc. and Eco Waste Solutions.

Eco Waste is fabricating the burners for the incinerator, which Borough Manager Scott Hahn said have to be created on a custom basis.

“A lot of this stuff is special fabrication, because they don’t make parts for these things anymore,” Hahn said.

That portion of the costs clocks in at $11,862.13. Boreal Controls’ part of the project will cost $213,234. The work in Boreal Controls’ hands covers a large list of upgrades to electrical components and software, as well as engineering services.

– DF

International Bike Relay registration to open

Online registration for the annual Kluane Chilkat International Bike Relay opens on March 15 for this year’s event, which takes place June 16. This is the second attempt at holding the 25th anniversary event: Last year’s ride had to be canceled on the morning of due to unexpected snowfall and black ice. Teams can enter in one of several categories. There are solo, two-, four- and eight-person teams for men, women and mixed.

The last few years have seen this international event fill up in just a few days, attracting riders from the Yukon and Alaska, was well as from other parts of Canada, the United States and often further away. Race officials expect all 1,200 rider spots to fill up within 24 hours or less.

Along with the 1,200-rider cap, there is a limit of 95 teams in the 8-person category. Solo riders are given a bit more time to make the big decision to ride the entire 240-kilometer distance. Registration for solo riders closes on April 13. Start times and other logistical information for the 2018 event are posted on

As motor vehicles continue to be the primary safety concern, signage and messaging to participants will continue to focus on and encourage safe, cautious driving habits. The bike relay is an international event, crossing the U.S.-Canada border 65 kilometers from Haines. All visitors to Alaska, including riders on Leg 7 must show a passport at U.S. Customs. Cyclists will have to dismount and show their passport. It is best for Leg 7 riders to be U.S. or Canadian citizens. Participants should check the event website for details about clearing customs. To register or for more information on the bike relay, visit the website at


Nola Lamken next to her garden, provided by the Higher Ground Program. PHOTO BY KIM BURNHAM