By Melinda Munson
Angela Wetz, acting superintendent at Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park was named permanent superintendent. Wetz, a 10-year veteran with the National Park Service, was previously superintendent of Fossil Butte National Monument in Kemmerer, Wyoming and Nicodemus National Historic Site in Nicodemus, Kansas.
Wetz arrived in Skagway last August. The normally bustling town was mostly shuttered as the city dealt with the absence of cruise ships and the ramifications of COVID-19.
Wetz shared her thoughts about the experience with The Skagway News.
What are you looking forward to the most now that you’ll be staying in Skagway?
“I think like almost everybody, I am excited to see visitors in Skagway again. While huge visitation doesn’t seem on the horizon for this year, I am eager to capitalize on the visitation we do get to provide outstanding visitor experiences and continue in the digital outreach so people can learn about Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park and want to come visit in the future.”
What has been the most challenging aspect of the position so far?
“Managing during a pandemic has been the most challenging aspect of the position. The pandemic requires all of us to be very flexible and learn new ways to accomplish our work. Whether it is converting to telework, trying to flex schedules or do work in ways that promote social distancing, or using virtual means versus face to face, it has required all of us to adjust the way we do work. This shift has inspired all of us to think creatively and adjust frequently, and all the staff have done such a great job of doing all they can to keep themselves and their co-workers safe.”
What has been a great thing about living in Skagway?
“I can’t say enough about the amazing opportunities and community in Skagway. My daughter, Rocky (our dog) and I have enjoyed hiking the trails, exploring Dyea, riding bikes and enjoying the local businesses. The community events around Christmas were fun and we can’t wait to experience them during a normal year. I have really enjoyed the quilting club this winter, and the incredible ladies that helped me graduate from making masks to making progress on a small quilt. Skagway is an incredible place and everyone from the staff at the school to the employees at the grocery stores have been super helpful in the transition to living here.”
What has been a challenging aspect of living in Skagway?
“For me the most challenging aspect of living in Skagway is the isolation brought on by the pandemic. Not being able to go home for the holidays was especially difficult. I am looking forward to being able to socialize more, travel getting easier and the border opening. I have lived in quite a few small towns that require planning and creative procurement of goods, but Alaska has sharpened my skills.”