Author: Julianne Stanford

MOS reconsiders possession of Rapuzzi House

The municipality of Skagway is considering transferring ownership of the Rapuzzi house to another entity. The municipality received the Rapuzzi house as a gift from the Rasmuson Foundation in 2008 with the hope of renovating the property to its historic stature. The property was owned by George Rapuzzi, who was born and lived in Skagway from 1899-1986, along with his wife Edna. However, after discovering that it would likely take $1 million dollars to repair the house to the standards of a historical property, Borough Manager Scott Hahn felt the municipality’s funds and efforts could be better focused in a more pressing direction. “I think if you wanted to schedule it where the priority of things is more important, then is it more important than senior housing? Is it more important than recycling?” Hahn said. “It’s not. It’s way down there.” The assembly considered finding alternate methods to fund an endeavor to restore the house potentially through grants, or to transfer ownership of the property to the National Park Service. Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park Superintendent Mike Tranel said the park service would only be interested in obtaining the house if it could be used for employee housing. “I don’t think we need to do anything immediately, other than maybe just finding another direction to go and pause where we were going with,” Mayor Mark Schafer said. “If...

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“Gateway to the Klondike” to be municipality’s offical slogan

After much discussion at a prior assembly meeting on July 21, the assembly unanimously voted to make the municipality’s slogan “Gateway to the Klondike” during the meeting on Aug. 4. Resolution 16-23R proposed to make the phrase the official motto of the municipality, but Assemblyman Steve Burnham Jr. objected to the wording of the document. “This resolution notes that ‘Gateway to the Klondike’ is a motto,” Burnham Jr. said. “I just wanted to bring up the definition of motto, which is ‘a short sentence or phrase that expresses a rule guiding the behavior of a particular person or group’.” Burnham Jr. offered an example of the Boy Scout motto, which is “Be Prepared.” “I think that it could be that ‘Gateway to the Klondike,’ is more like a slogan, which the definition is ‘a word or a phrase that is easy to remember and is used by a group or business to attract attention’, so I just thought I’d throw that out there,” Burham Jr. said. “I think our motto is a good slogan,” Assemblyman Dan Henry said. The assembly moved to change the language of the resolution from motto to slogan to better reflect the definitions of the word. Burnham Jr. additionally proposed the resolution to include language that requires this slogan to be used in all advertising for the...

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MOS approves use of CPV funds to repay water well debt

After months of debate and discussion, the assembly unanimously voted to commit $762,000 of Commercial Passenger Vessel excise tax revenues towards the debt payments for the construction of new water well during a meeting on July 21. The State of Alaska granted the municipality a low-interest loan of $654,000 to construct the well, at a 1.5 percent interest rate over 20 years that will warrant a total repayment of $761,854. The assembly voted to use a portion of the municipality’s share of CPV tax revenues to make those debt payments amidst recent scrutiny of how Southeast Alaska communities have used those funds. In April, the Cruise Lines International Association filed a lawsuit against the City and Borough of Juneau over their purported misuse of CPV funds to build a $10 million life-size, bronze whale statue set in an infinity pool along the city’s water front. The lawsuit triggered an audit of all Southeastern Alaskan cities’ use of the funds, which are supposed to be used specifically for port and harbor infrastructure or to provide services to the cruise ships and their passengers. The audit found that Skagway inappropriately used CPV funds to purchase $114,450 worth playground equipment for Skagway School. However, Borough Manager Scott Hahn said the water well project has clear-cut justification for the use of CPV funds. “I can’t think of anything more directly tied to and...

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Chilkoot artists in residence bring the beauty of trail to larger audiences

This summer, three artists will pack their paint brushes, sketchbooks and cameras alongside some bear spray to spend two weeks trekking back and forth on the Chilkoot Trail as part of an artist in residency outreach program  that is designed to bring the trail’s history and beauty to new audiences near and far. The goal of the program is to “inspire an audience’s curiosity about the Chilkoot Trail and national historical site as a place to visit,” and to “communicate the history of the trail as the First Nation has used it, or in those two years of the...

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Upgrades to municipal website amidst questions over official motto, typeface selection

The assembly had a lengthy discussion over proposed updates to the municipal website at a meeting on July 21. A design team comprised of Borough Clerk Emily Deach, Assemblyman Steve Burnham Jr., Julene Brown and Ray Leggett submitted renderings of a new homepage to the assembly for consideration. “There were a couple things that it seemed like the committee did not necessarily agree on, and one is the font and one is the motto,” Deach said. Deach asked the assembly to weigh in with their opinion and to make a decision on these two matters of contention. “Gateway to the Klondike” is currently on the municipal seal, and the statement “Garden City of Alaska” greets drivers on a sign as they enter Skagway from the Klondike Highway. Assembly members had differing opinions on which of the two should appear on the front page of the website. “One of them directs people to pay attention to Skagway, and the other one directs people to pay attention to the Yukon,” Burnham Jr. said. “One makes us a truck stop, and the other one makes us a destination.” Not all members of the assembly agreed with him. “‘Gateway to the Klondike’, that’s why people come here,” Assemblywoman Angela Grieser said. “They’re not coming here to see a garden.” Assemblyman Dan Henry also supported the use of the “Gateway to the Klondike.” “Well...

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