One of the top stories here in 2015 was the opening of a large gold and copper mine up the Stikine River in British Columbia. About 100 people marched through Wrangell to mark the one-year anniversary of the Mount Polley mine disaster and to protest the Red Chris mine.
After the protest, Wrangell tribal member Apryl Hutchinson said she hoped the community effort would make a difference.
“We don’t want what happened at Mount Polley to happen on the Stikine,” Hutchinson said. “And we just want to make everyone aware–especially here in Wrangell at the mouth of the river–aware that we are here, and we’re not going to stand for it.”
A new ferry started running between Wrangell, Petersburg and Coffman Cove on Prince of Wales Island this year. There have been delays and complications with the service throughout the fall, but it’s continuing to provide a new mode of transportation for Wrangell residents.
2015 has also seen some big plans for economic development. Community members participated in the development of a downtown waterfront master plan this year. The borough is also looking into developing an old mill site for marine industrial use, and making the former site of the Wrangell Institute into a residential development.
“One of the issues that we’ve talked about also is if some of our development plans even just continue on the slow growth that Wrangell has been moving down, residential property will begin to be a bottleneck,” Borough Assembly Member Julie Decker said.
The Wrangell Cooperative Association opened its new cultural center and carving shed, completing the second phase of the tribe’s three-part Native cultural revival plan.
Wrangell Medical Center got a new CEO and chief financial officer this year.
The University of Alaska Southeast expanded its presence to Wrangell when a Tech Prep office opened in the school district.
And former Wrangell doctor Greg Salard was convicted of receiving and distributing child pornography. He has yet to be sentenced.