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The January 22nd Borough Assembly meeting covered airline service, remote zoning, and controversy over a marine hoist. It also brought the surprising announcement that Mayor Don McConachie is stepping down.

Photo by Shady Grove Oliver/KSTK News

The session began with a public hearing regarding proposed remote zoning changes in Wrangell. One speaker was concerned that the new areas would be entirely residential lots. The other expressed relief that there would still be a minimum lot size to maintain the remote feel of the outer areas.

City Manager Tim Rooney updated the assembly on the status of funding for Evergreen Street. The Department of Transportation had cut funding for the improvement project.

Wrangell residents sent over 350 letters of protest to the DOT which prompted them to place the project on a waitlist. Should another initiative not require its full funding, the money may be put toward Evergreen instead.

Rooney also addressed Kendrick Equipment’s protest of the City’s contracting with Italian company ASCOM S.p.A. for a 300-ton marine vessel hoist.

“I consulted with Mr. Blasco on their protest and answered all of their ten claims in their protest letter and I’ve rejected their protest,” said Rooney.

Kendrick Equipment will have ten days to appeal this decision to the Assembly.

Essential air service subsidies are responsible for keeping Alaska Airlines flying in and out of Wrangell. This funding is once again up for consideration. Rooney encourages residents to write letters in support of jet service to the community.

Letters, emails, and faxes must be received by January 28th.

Finally, Mayor Don McConachie announced his resignation after more than a decade of service to the City and Borough of Wrangell.

“We all face side roads and dirt paths as we travel down life’s highway.  Today is just a little different in my life.  I have met with a detour of the highway that will require me to travel a very different path,” said McConachie.

“Since 1998, it has been my privilege to serve the City and Borough of Wrangell, Alaska.  Many things have happened during those years- some rewarding, some not so much.  I can say, I have learned something from each one of them.

I was Medevaced to Seattle and spend 11 days away from home.  This, as most of you know, is not my first time.  But I would prefer it to be my last.  Tonight, when I gavel this meeting adjourned, it will be for the last time.  It is not easy for me to do this.  But I need to learn from past events and thank one of all for allowing me this privilege,” said McConachie.

Borough Clerk Kim Flores says Assembly member Bill Privett will take over the responsibilities in the interim.  Following an open period to submit letters of interest for the position, the Assembly will appoint the next mayor.