Parents Heather Call and Will Wacker welcomed Josephine “Josie” Brooks Wacker to the world at 8:32 a.m. on Feb. 16. She weighed 9 pounds and was 20 7/8 inches long. She was born at Bartlett Regional Hospital. Josie joins big brother Sullivan “Sully” who turns two next month. Heather and Will, outdoor enthusiasts and backcountry powder seekers, said it was not lost on them that she was born on a beautiful snowy day.  

Cindy Buxton and Russ White have returned from their camping trip in New Zealand that was planned for seven weeks but lasted about a year. Just as they were about to head home last March, Russ became very ill, spent 10 days in the hospital in Whangarei, and was diagnosed with leukemia. This was last winter, just as COVID was ramping up and Russ couldn’t get home safely for treatment so they decided to stay in New Zealand. Their daughter Sheeshao White left college in Oregon within six hours of the phone call and their son, Eli White, took a leave of absence from his job in Seattle. They both arrived in New Zealand just before the border closed to non-citizens. Days later, New Zealand started a hard (level 4) lockdown for five weeks. Eli eventually had to return to his job but Sheeshao stayed and enrolled in school in New Zealand. After Russ began successful ongoing cancer treatments they bought a tiny campervan, and traveled around New Zealand, staying in close to 100 campgrounds for almost eight months until their extended visa(s) expired.  Cindy reports, “We are very grateful to all the Haines folks who provided extensive invaluable help during the year.” 

Their trip back to Haines was full of cancelled flights, overbooked flights, lost luggage, unexpected overnight layovers, and 24 hours without being able to take off their masks. Traveling through the US to get home was an intimidating process after living in COVID-19-free New Zealand. They are quarantining at home until it is certain they didn’t catch the COVID-19 virus on their airplane flights. 

 John Hagen has a new job. He recently started as the Curator of Indigenous Art & Initiatives at the Anchorage Museum. He said, “I am excited for this new opportunity.” He is working remotely from his current home in Wisconsin until this summer. John and wife Margaret Friedenauer moved to Wisconsin from Haines last spring when Margaret took a job as the Economic Development Recovery Coordinator for Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa. Margaret says she is enjoying all the cross country skiing this winter as there are many trails near her new home. 

 Kaya Ramirez of the F/V Rustler was featured on the Salmon Sisters’ Instagram page for their weekly feature: Young Fisherman Friday. The Instagram page more than 82,000 followers. Sisters Teal Laukitis and Claire Neaton of Homer are fishermen themselves and own and operate Salmon Sisters which celebrates coastal heritage, wild places, ocean stewardship and Alaskan seafood through products and design. The Salmon Sisters give a portion of proceeds to the Food Bank of Alaska, in the form of wild fish. 

Kaya gillnets and tenders with her uncle Greg Bigsby. Kaya said, “I wouldn’t be where I am today without the support of my family, my great aunt Beth MacCready and my uncle Greg. I want the world to know there is nothing better than a fresh fillet.Gratefulness is everything, and we are so lucky.” 

Lori Giddings continues to coach the middle school girls’ basketball team, a role she has been in for years. Lisa Shove has joined Lori this year. There has been some shuffling in the middle school boys’ coaching staff as former coach Tyler Swinton is now coaching the high school boys’ team and Chris Dixon moved. Chevy Fowler and Jesse McGraw have filled that void and are coaching the middle school boys’ team this year. Coleman Stanford is coaching the high school girls’ team again this year with support from Fran Daly. The middle school basketball program is no longer part of the Haines Borough CYD program. It is now under the direction of the School and Activities Director Lynzee Swinton.

 Police Chief Heath Scott has been appointed to a new, non-profit national board focusing on assisting small law enforcement departments: Small & Rural Law Enforcement Executives Association (SRLEEA). Their mission is to advocate, strengthen, unite, and raise the capacity of small, rural and tribal law enforcement executives and the departments they serve. They have recognized that many police standards are the same in both small departments and large departments but small departments do not have the budget or tax base to provide the same resources. Like Haines, more than 50% of police departments nation-wide employ fewer than 10 police officers.