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Since Skagway’s Opioid Task Force members met for the first time last month, they have been finalizing the committee’s goals. The group met again on June 28 to further develop the four objectives the members had decided on.

The meeting included Borough Assembly Member Orion Hanson and Dahl Memorial Clinic Behavioral Health Clinician John Hischer. Tim Cochran, assembly member and third member of the task force, couldn’t make the meeting.

Amy Coughran, registered nurse with the Dahl Memorial Clinic, was also there. During the meeting, Hischer laid out the four goals.

“We decided on, for the goals anyway, increase public awareness and understanding of opioid abuse, then the second one is increase Skagway’s capability of treating those suffering from opioid addiction,” Hischer said. “Then the third was reduce the amount of opioids in Skagway and then the fourth was increase protective factors from opioid abuse.”

To work toward the first goal of increasing public awareness, the committee has organized a free event that will show a short film created by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The 50-minute film, “Chasing the Dragon: The Life of an Opiate Addict,” is a documentary aimed at educating students and young adults about the dangers of addiction, according to the FBI. Hanson said he believes it can be fairly graphic, so it may not be appropriate for children under the age of 13, although the committee does hope to see teenagers and young adults there.

“We’re hoping we have a wide participation level of people who recognize that this is a problem that’s here in Skagway, it’s not just a statistic that’s on the news, it’s everywhere, it’s here,” Hanson said.

Following the screening, there will be an open discussion afterward for questions, concerns and comments. Hischer is hoping to bring out representatives from the clinic, police department and the assembly.

The screening will be held at the Skagway Traditional Council on Monday, July 24 at 5 p.m.


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Anthony Wallace, a musician from Canada, just spent two weeks on the Chilkoot Trail trying to blend film, nature and music.

Anthony Wallace presents some of the music he worked on while hiking the Chilkoot Trail. PHOTO BY SHAY SPATZ/NATIONAL PARKS SERVICE

“I think when you play in different spaces, you may write things differently,” Wallace said. “Like I played by a waterfall, and it’s really noisy, so you’re going to play more aggressive, louder stuff. Or I played in the rain one day, and it’s just colder and you play slower.”

Wallace is part of the Chilkoot Trail Artists in Residence program, a collaborative effort between the Yukon Arts Centre, Parks Canada, the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park and the Skagway Arts Council. From June 22-July 5, he took a carbon-fiber violin, several hundred feet of steel fishing cable, cameras, microphones and other equipment up the Chilkoot to work on creating a project that combines natural sounds, improvised instruments and classical music.
Using supplies he brought along with him, Wallace made a wind harp using fishing line and odds and ends along the trail. He recorded those sounds and music from his violin during the two-week jaunt along the historic path. The variety of scenery on the Chilkoot helped foster creativity, Wallace said.

“It was good, the days we were hiking, we were hiking, so I didn’t play that much, but to have every two days to be in a different environment…having a change in environments all the time on the hike was great,” Wallace said. “Different acoustics, different surroundings.”
Wallace gave a presentation of his project at the National Parks Service visitor’s center on July 6, and performed some of the music he’s been writing.

The next artist in residence, Cameron Quevedo, will present his work on July 15 at the visitor’s center. The last artist, Virginia Mitford, will present on July 19.


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The municipality recently promoted Tyson Ames to the position of Public Works director. The Borough Assembly approved the appointment at its meeting on July 6. Mayor Mark Schaefer said it wasn’t a hard decision to make, although they had really good candidates to choose from.

“We had good candidates, they were all good, but somebody has to stand out a little bit above everybody else and for me, it was Tyson, and I think both myself and the public works person thought the same thing,” Schaefer said. “I think Tyson is going to do a good job.”

Borough Manager Scott Hahn said Grant Lawson, who worked for the municipality for 34.5 years and recently retired from the position of Public Works Director, has been great at getting work done and was a great employee.

“Grant was just an absolute gem, a huge asset to the city,” Hahn said.

The assembly also performed an evaluation on the Borough Clerk, Emily Deach, on July 6. Schaefer said that it’s sort of obvious that Deach received a good evaluation.

“I think it’s pretty obvious with the assembly, she gets it all done and she puts up with a lot,” Schaefer said.

Hahn said he also evaluates his own staff and department heads on a yearly basis.

“I’ve got a great staff,” Hahn said. “I don’t have any problems; there’s always goals and things to try and improve oneself.”

-TS & DF

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The local softball league recently held its annual Fourth of July tournament, and one of Skagway’s teams represented well by taking first place.

The tournament was open to anyone, including Canadian teams.

Out of the 15 total teams, there were three from Skagway, one from Haines and one from Juneau. The rest of the competitors came down from Canada.

Skagway’s “Amak Towing” team took home first place in the A division and “The Padres” – a team from Whitehorse, Yukon Territory – placed first in the B division.

“It seems like the Skagway teams are always a couple of the top teams in the tournament,” said Adam Smith, co-commissioner for the league. “Skagway does a good job representing for Alaska.”

Despite the rainy weather, Smith said all of the teams that were registered showed up.

“It’s the first time, since I’ve been helping, that we’ve had that many teams, so it was definitely a little tricky, but no, I think everything went very well,” Smith said. “I would probably change the weather and give us some sunshine.”


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