2016 took a somber tone early on with an Angoon plane crash killing three Wrangellites. The pilot of the Cessna 206, David Galla, and passengers Greg Scheff and Thomas Siekawtich died in the April crash.
Survivor Morgan Enright went through months of rehab and returned to Alaska to continue rehab in October.
“It’s nice just to relax and be home. I know I’m going back to work in Angoon here in a couple of days, but it’s definitely nice to see familiar faces at home, just hanging out and starting care here,” said Enright while visiting friends and family in Wrangell.
Enright works as a heavy equipment operator, and was headed to Angoon to help build a ferry terminal when the accident happened. She spent six months recovering in three different facilities across the country, defying the expected year-plus process.
Designs were finalized for the former Wrangell Institute property development. The Alaska Native Science and Engineering Program is seeking to build a residential school on the property. Vice Provost Herb Schroeder said the school would provide accelerated learning programs.
“What we want to do is build a residential school there that will hold at least 400 students from across Alaska,” said Schroeder. “When they attend this school, they can earn college credits and graduate from high school in as little as three years.”
A local committee was formed to oversee to proposal’s progress. Members from the Wrangell Borough Assembly and School Board sit on that committee. Borough Manager Jeff Jabusch, Superintendent Patrick Mayer and a Wrangell Cooperative Association member also sit on the panel.
The committee is still seeking native support from around the state.
The U.S. Forest Service also released the draft environmental impact statement for the Wrangell Island Project this summer. The timber sale offers 65 million feet of old-growth timber on 5,000 acres. Industry groups have criticized the plan, saying it’s no longer an economical sale.
Alaska Island Community Services also announced that it will merge with Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium. SEARHC will take over several administrative duties, but the Wrangell medical provider will retain its name. A panel of community members will be formed to inform the SERAHC board on decisions affecting Wrangell. The merger will be finalized in early 2017.
A proposed Wrangell marijuana operation, Happy Cannabis, applied for cultivation, retail and extraction licenses with the state. The Planning and Zoning Commission approved conditional use permits for cultivation and the downtown retail shop, but the state still needs to approve the all three licenses before Happy Cannabis can open its doors.
Also, former Wrangell doctor Greg Salard was sentenced to 20 years in prison in February for receiving and distributing child pornography.