Last spring, work began on Wrangell’s Downtown Revitalization project. Over the next year improvements will be made to Wrangell’s central business district roads, sidewalks and public works infrastructure. Crews finished paving the cul-de-sac and sidewalks near the entrance to city dock, as well as some utility work on Front Street before the winter shut down in early December. The project is comprised of 5 phases, all scheduled for completion by August of 2012.

Paving and utility work was also done at Wrangell’s Marine Service Center and Heritage Harbor. And planning continues on the long awaited Mariners Memorial which will be located at that Harbor.

After nearly a decade of planning and grant writing, the historic Chief Shakes Tribal House, in Wrangell’s downtown harbor is now in the midst of a major restoration project. Under the direction of Wrangell’s Cooperative Association, carvers from all over Southeast Alaska, as well as Master Carver Wayne Price of Haines came to Wrangell for the project. The project developed Wrangell’s first female adzing team and promoted community participation in Tlingit activities. At this time the group of carvers is in the process of adzing over 7,000 sq. ft. of cedar while preparing for the dismantling and replacement of the clan house walls and posts. The reconstruction is set to begin in the spring of 2012.

In a special election on November 15th, Wrangell residents voted in favor of the construction of a new replacement hospital facility. The facility is expected to cost an estimated $29-million, and will be located off Etolin Street on city land designated for the new hospital and Alaska Island Community Services clinic. A construction team is finalizing design and budget logistics of the new hospital, while construction of the AICS clinic is already underway.

School started this year with cheers, as kids at Evergreen Elementary School rushed on to their new playground. After years of planning, and over a million-dollars the new facility was completed in September.

The new playground was not the only change for Wrangell’s School District. After 8-years as Schools Superintendent Woody Wilson retired. Replacing Wilson is new Schools Superintendent Richard Rhodes.

Even with all the work going on around town, there was still time for fun. Wrangell’s annual “Bearfest” brought out hundreds of locals and tourists, to participate in the summer’s week long events, which included a 5-K race, lecture series, and performance by Seattle, Washington based musical group Pearl DJango. Wishing all a happy New Year, and good things to come in 2012.

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