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

Editorial

 


There was a dust-up over the orange arrows spray-painted around town for the Sheldon Museum’s Totem Trot fundraiser.

The arrows were drawn with solvent-based marking paint, the type used during construction projects on asphalt and gravel. On oil-based asphalt, the paint wears off. But on a concrete sidewalk, it tends to stick around.

Some people suggested the museum pay to have arrows removed.

Here’s a friendlier solution: Museum staff could create a tri-fold brochure of its “totem walk” for visitors. The walk is a big loop around town and Fort Seward highlighting local history, culture and geography. Visitors could learn and become engaged in our town by following the helpful, orange arrows.

The Totem Trot did raise one legitimate concern: We have cut so deeply into certain budgets that our highly-qualified museum director has been reduced to begging donations to keep the facility’s education programs afloat. Now that’s a worry.

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If our elected leaders wanted to crush hometown pride, they couldn’t do much better than to continue reducing grant funding of local non-profits.

Many of these organizations provide vital or important public services for a fraction of what it would cost government or private enterprise to do the same job. How much would it cost the borough to operate a counseling service? A preschool? An animal shelter?

Non-profits are lean because they’re often staffed by volunteers or low-paid workers who believe enough in their groups’ missions and in our town to give of themselves for the benefit of all.

Instead of finding ways to limit our support of them, we should be establishing a town holiday in their honor.

In the meantime, Haines Borough Assembly members should consider establishing total grant funding to non-profits at 1 percent of annual borough spending. For example, the current fiscal year’s $11.9 million borough budget would equate to $119,000 in non-profit grants.

That amount isn’t as much as the borough has provided in some recent years, but is more than it’s giving this year.

A percentage basis would allow community groups to benefit when the town is flush, but also require them to tighten their belts when others are doing the same.

Further, it would guarantee non-profits a flow of funding that couldn’t easily be siphoned off by politicians seeking a cushion from difficult spending decisions or desiring to feather other, less-deserving nests.

- Tom Morphet

 
 

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