The Ketchikan City Council heard from Women in Safe Homes supporters Thursday, and opted to approve a $16,500 grant for the local domestic violence shelter.
The motion passed unanimously and with little discussion. It had been delayed from the previous Council meeting after it was learned that WISH has been on probation from the state Council on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault since last fall.
CDVSA placed WISH on probation following a site visit and policy review. The state agency said that the local shelter had violated regulations.
City Council members wanted more information about the probation before approving the grant. WISH officials responded with a detailed letter describing the remediation steps required by CDVSA, and what WISH is doing to comply with the state council’s directives.
During Thursday’s meeting, various WISH employees spoke to the Council about the local grant and the programs it funds, such as the Girls on the Run, which focuses on improving self-esteem among young women.
Terri Burr, the Family Services Manager at WISH, said she had a foster child go through the Girls on the Run program.
“Back in the day, when I enrolled the child I had, there was a waiting list,” Burr said. “There weren’t that many girls that could be in the program. I think it was 11 or 12. Now we’re up to, I heard last year it was 20 girls at each school. Growing up a female in Ketchikan is not easy, and this program is pretty wonderful, and it’s so healthy.”
Council Member Judy Zenge thanked WISH officials for attending and providing information about the shelter and the programs that the city grant will support.
“I’d like to thank everybody who’s come out tonight and responded to the questions we had. It’s important as a Council that we question where we give our money,” she said. “And when we hear that there’s a problem, it’s important that we ask you questions. You’ve obviously demonstrated to us how dearly you think of your program and how hard you work, and I want to say I appreciate that. Thank you.”
Also during public comment, the Council heard from Keith Smith of Southeast Alaska Independent Living about the need for a wheelchair-accessible taxi in Ketchikan.
There was one a while ago, purchased by SAIL and leased to a local cab company. But, Smith said, that business decided to stop using it. Since then, SAIL has secured grant funding for another wheelchair-accessible taxi, but none of the local cab companies will accept it.
Smith said the reluctance stems from the expense of maintaining the cab. However, he said, that argument doesn’t hold up because of a tax credit available for providing the service. There is a second reason, he said, “and this, to me, is a little sad: It takes longer.”
In the cab world, extra time spent getting a passenger into a vehicle is potential time lost with other fares. However, Smith said, that shouldn’t be an acceptable reason.
Council Member Bob Sivertsen asked that the issue be placed on the next meeting agenda.
The Council also heard from Gigi Pilcher, who asked the city to consider inviting the Federal Bureau of Investigation to Ketchikan to look into the issue of missing people. Pilcher said she is not criticizing local law enforcement. However, she said the families of the missing people would feel better with an outside review.
Also Thursday, the Council rejected a contract with Moffatt and Nichol for planning and design of port improvements, and directed the company to come back with a less-expensive proposal.
The next Ketchikan City Council meeting is March 3.