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



Working on the Haines Visitor’s Guide this week made us think of using the town’s marketing slogan, “Adventure Capital of Alaska.”

Including it though would require checking each year, as such monikers tend to suffer mysterious, sudden deaths.

When I arrived in Haines in 1986, “Home of the Chilkat Dancers” was embossed at the bottom of Chamber of Commerce stationery. We were famous for the local Tlingit dance group that performed at world events and for cruise ships.

But not for long. National and statewide media discovered the recently minted Alaska Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve and we became “The Valley of the Eagles.”

For a while in the early 1990s, we played up our role as the backdrop for the Disney movie “White Fang,” though I don’t think that ever made it onto letterhead, or even on a Disney dog bowl.

If memory serves, it was in the late 1990s when a local real estate boom coincided with several sunny summers that we become “The Alaska of Your Dreams.” Heady stuff.

Dreaming, however, lost out in popularity to more active fare and we became adventure capital for all of Alaska. To me, this one rings a bit too much like “Jungle Gym of the North,” as though we ought to reassure people on the ships that we won’t seize their lawn chairs and force them into climbing gear.

The marketing people say it’s all about “branding” and something we have to do so folks won’t confuse our town with somewhere else.

About 10 years ago my wife and I rode bicycles along Australia’s Great Ocean Road (a fine piece of marketing, itself), pedaling past sections of shoreline alternately branded “The Surf Coast,” “The Limestone Coast” and “The Shipwreck Coast.”

We could hardly wait to see what coast name was coming next, as little else on the ride had changed.

Having a sporty or enchanting name for your town and its landmarks is the price of tourism and it may be unstoppable. Some stalwarts on the north side of town clung to the name “Garbage Point” for their cliffside neighborhood, as that’s where the town’s garbage was dumped for years. But the real estate people wouldn’t have it, and it’s now “Nukdik Point.”

We should probably rebrand it “Sunshine Point” and be done with it. Also, we will need to address“Mosquito Lake.”

A proposed ordinance by assemblyman Mike Case to do away with the second public comment opportunity at Haines Borough Assembly meetings begs the question: Which members of the public have sought fewer opportunities to comment?

This idea comes on the heels of several actions the borough has taken in recent years that have limited public access to local government. Others include:

∙ Eliminating access to the police call log;

∙ Requiring written “public records requests” to obtain certain documents;

∙ Eliminating disclosure of names of applicants for lower-tier jobs as well as detailed evaluations of borough department heads; and,

∙ Reducing public hours at city hall.

We don’t remember that anyone in the public asking for those restrictions, either.

The borough administration also has reduced its advertising budget by placing fewer notices in these pages and putting more on Facebook and Twitter.

The fact that residents became aware of upland changes associated with the harbor expansion project only after an illustration appeared here suggests that the borough needs to do more advertising, not less.

- Tom Morphet


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