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



Christmas lights already strung around town are a welcome sight. It’s been gray around here since June and the weatherman says we’re in for more. Warmer-than-average temperatures mean rain instead of snow, and a dark landscape instead of a bright one.

Rainy winters are long. Shovelers and plow drivers have little work. Without weather for skiing, skating, snowshoeing, and snowmachining, residents leave town or stay and get grumpy.

The Haines Borough Assembly could brighten up our winter outlook by expanding hours at its recreation facilities, including by opening the high school gym on Sundays and by adding Friday night and Sunday swims at the pool. Also, why not open the public library until 9 p.m. on Friday nights and other nights?

Bringing back a winter program like “The Big Read,” sponsored through the public library or museum, would add another healthy diversion. How about reviving Friday night movies at the Chilkat Center? That program, once sponsored by Community Education, was popular. There are myriad other ideas that wouldn’t cost much.

The borough is sitting on millions of dollars of savings set aside for a “rainy day.” It appears our rainy days have arrived.

Not every family has the money or can take the time to head south for a month of attitude adjustment. When winter weather is inhospitable, opening public buildings for recreation and offering fun programming are “community development initiatives” we can afford.


Thanks to the American Bald Eagle Foundation for hosting the 20th Alaska Bald Eagle Festival. The festival is a tailor-made event for Haines, as its star attraction – the annual gathering of eagles – is one we get for free.

The festival is a gem, too often taken for granted. For residents, the festival offers an opportunity to learn more about our area and to meet festival guests and visitors who are genuinely excited to be here. Those are invigorating experiences, particularly in winter.

For businesses, the festival brings a plug of travelers we’d otherwise not see.

The festival can be made stronger through partnerships with community groups, a bit more coordination, and additional borough support. The borough should expand advertising of the festival to birder and wildlife magazines, as well as through region and state media. The Department of Fish and Game might help in lining up a roster of wildlife presenters. Groups and businesses can participate by scheduling events – think fun runs, a parade, special events at watering holes – around the festival. If memory serves, Lynn Canal Community Players owns a few, person-sized eagle outfits.

About 60 people turned out at Friday’s “open mic” at the Pioneer Bar to listen to about a dozen acts, but few appeared to be festival-goers. With a little work and cooperation, we can bring the community and the festival together for this event, to the benefit of both.

- Tom Morphet


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