People say things don’t change much in a small town, but events in Haines last weekend demonstrated that’s not always the case.

Saturday’s open house reception at the Port Chilkoot Distillery was particularly inspiring. Owners Sean Copeland and Heather Shade have transformed a falling-down barn into a small factory and an architectural artpiece. Their rebuild sets a new standard for restoration at Fort Seward, where old buildings are being gradually returned to use and the neighborhood evolves into an arts and restaurant district.

Shade and Copeland’s investment is a bold statement of confidence in themselves and their product and an act of faith in the future of our community. Here’s a toast to their success.

A few hours later Saturday, the Haines Chamber of Commerce annual banquet showcased the Harriett Hall rebuild that has turned the fair’s exhibits barn into a proper banquet hall and convention location. New lighting, furniture and carpeting have made this spot an inviting venue and community asset.

These projects show how far imagination and hard work can lift our community. It’s also worth remembering that the Haines Borough made an unprecedented $175,000 contribution to the fair to complete the Harriett Hall project. For the borough, the fair grant was a strategic gamble that raised eyebrows, but paid off.

It stands as an example of a wise investment, and how public-private partnerships can succeed.


The Haines Borough Assembly shouldn’t hire a manager because the job needs to be filled and it’s found a candidate who is good enough. It should hire a manager because it has found person who will do a great job for our town.

There’s a difference.

Since consolidation in 2003, we’ve hired several managers who were “good enough,” only to learn later that they weren’t.

During a courtship it’s human nature – but misleading – to project messianic qualities on people we don’t know. A recent manager hire attempt in Skagway suggests that a long engagement may cost less time and money than a faster decision and a quickie divorce.

Like in Haines, Skagway leaders hired their most recent manager themselves, without using a recruitment firm. The manager was let go in October atfter six months and received a full year’s pay of $110,000 as part of a negotiated severance. (Skagway also paid for the manager’s living expenses and a car while he was on the job.)

Skagway borough assembly members are back at work, trying to prioritize what they’re looking for in a manager.

Finding a good manager is a difficult task. The odds are long that we’ll land one after a single round of advertising on six websites.

-- Tom Morphet


Powered by ROAR Online Publication Software from Lions Light Corporation
© Copyright 2017