Author Archives: Rachel Waldholz, KCAW

Assembly raises sales tax cap over charter fleet’s objections

Deputy Mayor Matt Hunter and Mayor Mim McConnell during Tuesday night's Sitka Assembly meeting. (Rachel Waldholz/KCAW)The Sitka Assembly voted to increase the sales tax cap from $1500 to $3000 on Tuesday night. The increase is part of an effort to raise an additional million dollars for Sitka’s school system, and came despite passionate objections from charter fishermen.

With retirements, City Hall faces a generational shift

Project Manger Dean Orbison addressed the crowd at the Blue Lake hydro project dedication. It was his last day on the job, before retiring. (Emily Kwong, KCAW)Sitka’s City Hall is in the midst of a generational shift, with a spate of retirements among longtime staff. Those who have retired in April and May alone had racked up 93 years of city service between them.

Blue Lake project dedicated with champagne, cheers and speeches

Project Manager Dean Orbison (left) and Mayor Mim McConnell smashed a bottle of champagne against one of the new, blue turbines. (Emily Kwong/KCAW)State and local officials, including Gov. Bill Walker, gathered in Sitka on Friday (5-8-15) to formally dedicate the Blue Lake dam. The largest public works project in city history, it’s projected to meet the city’s electricity needs for the next thirty years.

MEHS salutes class of 2015

Students graduating from Mt. Edgecumbe High School thanked parents and family members with a rose. (Emily Kwong/KCAW)The Class of 2015 graduated from Mt. Edgecumbe High School today (Thu 5-7-15). Ninety-three students marched in maroon and gold robes, some in high heels and others in mukluks.

Family home damaged in Tuesday fire

People passing by called 9-1-1 to report the Carley home fire, at 4:18 p.m. Tuesday (Photo courtesy of Mayrose Bagoyo)The family whose home was heavily damaged by a fire on Tuesday afternoon (5-5-15) say they are thankful that nobody was injured -- and even their dog survived.

Nobody injured in Sawmill Creek Road blaze

The Sitka Fire Department responded Tuesday afternoon (5-5-15) to a blaze at a house on Sawmill Creek Road. Fire Chief Dave Miller said the fire damaged about a third of the home’s upper story. Nobody was injured. Even the family dog survived.

Assembly chooses lower rate hike and Sitka gets creative to pay for its dam

“One of the dangers there, as oil prices continue to go up, is that people will start to shift over to electricity, and all that additional capacity that you’ve gained by raising the dam will just go into existing inefficient buildings, or into new inefficient buildings," says Jon Heller. (Blue Lake Expansion photo/Desiree Brandis)After a month of discussion, the Sitka Assembly settled on a modest electric rate increase. Residential rates will go up by about 6% in the coming year, to pay for the Blue Lake dam. And when it comes to figuring out how a town of 9,000 pays off a $150-million hydroelectric project, city staff are getting creative.

Sitka Assembly chooses smaller electric rate increase

Sitka’s electric rates are going up, but not as much as they might have. The Sitka Assembly on Monday chose the smaller of two potential rate hikes, by a vote of 4 to 3. A household using about 1000 kilowatt-hours of electricity each month will see their electric bill go up by about $8 a month.

Sitka Budget: City says utility rates must rise

This chart compares current monthly utility costs with two proposals before the Sitka Assembly. Option 1 reflects Ordinance 15-23, which would raise electric rates for an average Sitka household by about 6% this year. Option 2 reflects Ordinance 15-17, which would raise electric rates by about 23%. Both options include a 10% increase in water rates, a 4.9% increase in wastewater rates, and a 13% increase in solid waste rates. (Rachel Waldholz/KCAW)It's not just electric rates - Sitka is also proposing increases in water, sewer and garbage rates. KCAW's Rachel Waldholz is tracking the city budget. She sat down with News Director Robert Woolsey to break down the numbers.

Sitka artist hopes to bring otter to the runway

Peter Williams (right) with models Jerica Young, Anthony Flora and Denise Reed, at TechStyle NYC during Fashion Week in February. (Photo courtesy of TechStyle NYC)This spring, Sitka artist and marine mammal hunter Peter Williams took a trip to New York City, to show his work during fashion week. He's been trying to break into the lucrative fashion world for years. His goal is to bring Alaska Native designs to luxury buyers worldwide. Williams says that one way to save a traditional art form, is to create a market for it.