February 2, 2012 | Vol. 42 No. 5

Borough Digest

26 Mile repeater needs replacing

Manager Mark Earnest informed the Haines Borough Assembly last week that a 26 Mile repeater was “down, and it appears to be down for the count.”

“This is a shared-use facility,” Earnest said. “The Klehini volunteer fire department relies on it extensively, as well as the Alaska State Troopers and the State (Department of Natural Resources) Division of Forestry, for communications past 26 Mile.”

Public facilities director Brian Lemcke said the equipment was due to be replaced by 2013, to meet narrowband requirements.

“We’ve got several proposals for the new radio equipment that we’re going through right now,” Lemcke said Wednesday. “The building up there is just not worth putting anything new in, so the maintenance guys are kind of prefabbing a new building for up there, in our shop down here. Sometime within the next two weeks, we’re hoping that we’ll get that set up onsite and the wiring moved in and some new radio equipment in there.”

He estimated the cost at up to $25,000, and Earnest said the borough is seeking grant funding that supports public safety needs.

“It boosts the signal for us to have communication with our ambulance crew once they leave town, and it also provides the link to get emergency communication to the Klehini Valley fire department,” said Roc Ahrens, local disaster response planner. “Without it, Klehini Valley can’t talk to dispatch, nor can dispatch or any of us here in town talk to the ambulance once they get up into the 18 Mile area or so.”

Meeting minutes to be lengthened

The Haines Borough Assembly last month directed borough clerk Julie Cozzi to return to providing a synopsis of discussion in meeting minutes.

Resident Deborah Vogt spoke at the Jan. 10 meeting and voiced her opposition to the use of “action minutes.”

“I am fairly passionate about the difference between action minutes and summary minutes,” Vogt said. “I believe that we have been well served by our clerk in the past and the quality of the minutes that we have had.”

Resident Sally McGuire also wrote in support of meeting synopses.

“Thorough minutes are essential,” she wrote. “Nobody gets to all the meetings and we need to know who said what (and) how they justified their votes.”

Cozzi recently started abbreviating the minutes at the request of the assembly, after discussion that the minutes were subjective and a time issue for staff. Cozzi told the assembly she supported going back to a synopsis.

“To be honest with you, I find the new way more time consuming,” she said.

Horses escaping due to snowfall

The Haines Borough Police Department this winter has responded to several calls for loose horses that have used heavy snow to escape fences.

“Horses need a lot of attention during the winter and the fences need a lot of attention,” said police chief Gary Lowe. “I know it’s hard to do; it’s hard for me to maintain our fence during the winter. You’ve just got to get through it.”

The department’s Facebook page in early January shared a photo of a horse outside the borough’s public safety building. “The first ‘arrest’ of the year. The culprit said he was just horsing around.”

Following a Jan. 12 report of a loose horse on Small Tracts Road due to a broken fence, a resident posted, “Oh my goodness – what’s with all the run-away horses in Haines?”

“I think the freezing ground and snow cause a lot of problems with fences,” Lowe responded. “I know at my house, the goats can walk on top of the snow, which is higher than the fence.”

Lowe said citations would not be issued for loose horses unless “it gets to be a flagrant, frequent thing.”

“We would prefer that the owner just make sure that the horse stay safe and not get out,” he said.

Harbormaster returns from leave

Haines harbormaster Ed Barrett is back on the job after a month of leave.

Barrett said he took leave for medical issues and the bulk of it was unpaid. Assistant harbormaster Joe Parnell filled in for Barrett during his absence and Barrett said Parnell did “a great job” during a month that included heavy snowfall and a sunken boat at the harbor.