The Ketchikan City Council on Thursday night moved quickly through its main agenda. The city then entered into executive session to discuss matters related to the sale of the Ketchikan Public Utilities Telecommunications Division.
A few items generated some brief discussion Thursday night.
The Ketchikan Fight Club requested a one-time waiver to allow a limited number of spectators under the age of 21 to attend its June 27th event. The club holds boxing and mixed martial arts events at the Ted Ferry Civic Center.
Under the current agreement, spectators must be 21 or older because alcohol is sold. Underage fighters are allowed to compete, but are kept in a separate, restricted section. Gabe Duckworth is with the Ketchikan Fight Club.
“This proposal was submitted after multiple meetings with city officials. I think we believe it is an appropriate and safe step towards our company’s solvency. I believe with our security and the police officer presence already agreed to, we can give this a try, and then re-meet with city officials before moving forward in any directions.”
Council Member KJ Harris asked Duckworth if this really was a one-time waiver.
“Absolutely. A one-time thing before any future show, period.”
Just before voting, Harris commented he thought the Council should give the Fight Club a chance.
Council Member DeAnn Karlson says she’ll support the waiver, but has some concerns.
“I think one time is a good predictor of how this might be useful in the future. If they’re using it to generate more revenue so they can keep up with the security demands and those types of things, I can get onboard with that. But I just have my misgivings that you’re really going to be able to keep those people segregated. But from what Gabe (Duckworth) said, it sounds like they have a pretty good plan in place, it’s just a matter of working the plan.”
The Council unanimously approved the motion.
In other business, the Council approved the Ketchikan Medical Center Master Plan Schematic Design and also approved a $50,000 transfer from the KPU Enterprise Fund Reserves to the Telecommunications Division to pay for legal services associated with the proposed sale of the Telecommunications Division. The Council will retain attorney Jeffry Hardin of Locke Lord of Washington, DC to assist in negotiations with potential buyers.
The Council met in executive session for about 45 minutes. Mayor Lew Williams III said staff was given direction, but no business action taken.
During public comment at the beginning of the meeting, a chair was pulled up to the podium so young Connor Pearson could address the council. He asked the Council why signs were placed on a downtown statue.
“Because when I was little, my grandma used to take us down sometime and get us and ice cream and we would go play on the statues and now there’s those signs. Well if I owned those statues, I would have taken the signs off and let tourists take pictures on them, and let kids play with them because they’re metal and on the bottom is rock so there’s no way they’re gonna break.”
The statue Pearson refers to is called “The Rock” and was created by Ketchikan Artist Dave Rubin. It is located on Berth 2. The bronze statue features seven life-size figures including a miner, logger and Alaska Native elder. City Manager Karl Amylon says the signs were put up for safety reasons. Toward the end of the meeting, Port and Harbors Director Steve Corporon gave additional details. He says he worked with the artist to come up with a plan.
“Kids were climbing on top of the statue. Some were hanging from the spear and swinging, or swinging from one of the arms. It was just not a safe situation. Dave (Rubin) wanted interaction for pictures, but he didn’t want them up where they were going to get on the statues themselves. We talked extensively about that. He helped us position the signs. We purposely put them flat on that top step so they wouldn’t show up in people’s pictures. It’s worked tremendously.”
Corporon says he doesn’t mind if people get up on the first or second steps at the base, and says people occasionally do. Corporon says since the signs have been up, he hasn’t seen any children swinging or crawling on the statues.
During his report, Amylon informed the council that the City and Borough Cooperative relations committee discussed adding an excise tax to tobacco products. He says the committee recommends an excise tax of $3 per pack on cigarettes and a 75 percent wholesale markup on other tobacco products. Amylon will bring a proposal to the council at its next meeting for formal consideration.
Council member Matt Olsen, in light of a discussion at the last Borough Assembly meeting, suggested having City staff prepare a ballot measure regarding library powers. During the Assembly’s June 1st meeting, several Assembly members expressed displeasure in providing funding for the City-owned library without having any say in how those funds are used. Assembly Member Bill Rotecki at that meeting suggested the Borough should assume library powers if it wanted a say. Mayor Williams Thursday night asked for four-hands direction to proceed with a ballot measure. Four hands were raised.
Olsen also informed the Council that he has accepted a job to teach at the Chinese-American International School in San Francisco. He says he will be leaving Ketchikan in mid to late August.
Williams said he’s sad to see Olsen leave and wished him well. A plan for filling Olsen’s vacant council seat will be considered at the next council meeting. That meeting is scheduled for June 19th.
Council member Dave Kiffer was the only member absent from Thursday night’s meeting. He is currently in Japan as a chaperone for the Kanayama student exchange program.