Haines High School’s four top wrestlers left Wednesday to ride in a car more than 1,000 miles to the state championship wrestling tournament in Nikiski. That’s too long a trip.
The school district in recent years cut funds for state travel, forcing teams either to drive the school van or go begging for airfares to Anchorage. That effectively made some athletes second-class citizens.
Championship basketball teams collect the cash they need to fly to Anchorage fairly easily through fund-raisers. They arrive fresh for their highest level of competition. Cross-country and wrestling teams can’t raise that kind of cash so their athletes sit in a van for two days, sometimes sleeping on floors at night, just before competing at state.
That puts them at a disadvantage against other competitors, who fly or drive much shorter distances to compete.
Perhaps the school booster club needs to start a "champions fund" so our elite athletes get an equal chance to make their mark at state. Or perhaps a benefactor or two can be recruited to remedy the inequity. Either way, change is needed. The school’s best athletes have earned a better ride than they’re getting.
A decades-old tradition that grew out of the Chamber of Commerce shop-at-home promotion, the Haines Christmas parade is one of too few events held here in deep winter that bring together the entire community.
Thanks to the Gregg family’s creation of the Snow Dragon for a Lynn Canal Community Players’ production years ago, the parade offers more than Santa Claus on a fire engine. Entry in the parade is open to all comers and it would be great to see a few blocks full of floats.
Memorable entries from the past include Cub Scouts as "dogs" pulling a dogsled carrying their den leader, and an elementary school marching band, sporting Santa hats and playing carols. A little imagination, some bunting and battery-powered lights can go a long way.
Also, it would be great for motorists to show a polite regard for neighbors and not park on Main between Second and Third avenues during the parade. Parking there blocks the view for most spectators or forces them into the street. When engines are left running, it also gasses them.
As "Snow-vember" turned quickly to "Slurry Christmas" last week, it was difficult not to think something’s up with the weather. It’s true that November traditionally brings some of our most severe storms, but consider some recent history. November 2005 brought a "100-year" flood that took out sections of all our major roads. The following year, the town set a new record for total winter snowfall, more than 300 inches.Starting three weeks ago, more than 11 feet of snow fell in 19 days, nearly doubling the previous snowfall record for the entire month of November. That was followed this week with winds strong enough to break off trees, knock out power at 14 locations, and blow out a sign that had been in place 50 years. Alaskans pride themselves in shrugging off life-threatening weather. But recent occurrences have been extreme even by Alaska standards.
-- Tom Morphet