Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966




The town is lean this time of year. Wallets are thin from Christmas spending, the snowbirds are in the southlands, and year-round residents start heading out on vacations to sunny climes. Wouldn’t this be a good time for the Haines Borough to offer a tax-free day on local sales?

Other Southeast municipalities have established one day without local sales tax as a way of promoting local stores and shopping at home. Businesses in Haines already offer special promotions for the holidays or customer appreciation events, lopping off mark-ups. But that’s money coming out of their pockets.

The Haines Borough should step up to the plate, as other municipalities have, as a gesture of goodwill to local merchants and residents. A tax-free day in mid-January would be an appropriate tribute to businesses and residents who keep the town running year-round.


My wife usually knows better than to let me drive her truck. She let her guard down between Christmas and New Year’s and we wound up in the legendary Letnikof snowbank at dinnertime on Saturday, Dec. 28.

We weren’t alone. Neighbors were stuck in front of us and behind. I was pretty sure I could have used an old hydroplaning trick to blast through the drifts, were it not for the car high-centered in front of us. I was explaining to my wife just how it might work as she vowed to never again be my passenger.

After a cell phone call to 911, police Sgt. Jason Rettinger and state trooper Andrew Neason showed up and we had about as much fun as a dozen people can in a white-out in the dark, digging and pulling cars out of waves of snow. Then the trooper radioed for a state plow and we all got through.

Not long ago, drivers stranded at Letnikof spent the night at Ed and Molly Hibler’s place on the corner. Lifelong Mud Bay resident Jan Hill recalled that as a child she spent two nights at Hibler’s during a particularly bad storm. Thirty-year resident Sandy Barclay said she and others once dug through the corner by hand, an hours-long ordeal that involved inching their car forward a few shovel-widths at a time.

By the time of our rescue Dec. 28, we were wet, tired, and windburnt, but also grateful. Ed and Molly and their house are all gone now, and the snow shovels riding around in Subarus tend to be those toy-sized ones carried by skiers. Without the help of the big rigs, it would have been a much longer night.


Thanks to Alaska Marine Lines, Lutak Lumber, Mountain Market, Chris Downer, David Benjamin and Erwin Hertz, whose contributions helped make the 9th annual Haines Polar Bear Dip a success. If you dove in but didn’t get your 2014 Haines Polar Bear Club membership card, stop by the newspaper office.

-- Tom Morphet