Ketchikan Police Department. (KRBD file photo)

The Ketchikan City Council learned Thursday that longtime Ketchikan police officer Lt. Joe White has been chosen as the new chief of police.

City Manager Karl Amylon said White was chosen from a strong pool of candidates.

“And it was really the unanimous recommendation of the screening committee that Joe be promoted to chief,” he said. “I’m really looking forward to working with him and I think he’ll do a great job with the department. Joe, congratulations.”

White was the only local applicant, and has been interim chief since former Chief Alan Bengaard retired in late January.

White told the City Council that he looks forward to his new job.

“I’ve had a 21-year career to this point serving the City of Ketchikan with the Ketchikan Police Department and it’s been a pleasure to serve the city,” he said. “I’m very excited about this new challenge that faces me, and I’m excited to lead the department in the community, to see what we can accomplish.”

Also Thursday, the City Council agreed to move toward selling the facility that housed the state youth detention center. The building reverted back to city ownership after the state closed the center last fall.

There was one attempt to convert the vacant building into a center for people under the influence to safely spend the night, but a state grant wasn’t forthcoming.

During his report to the Council, City Manager Karl Amylon thanked Museum Department staff members for their hard work getting the Tongass Historical Museum exhibit done in time for last week’s opening of the newly renovated building. Amylon also thanked Port and Harbors Department staff members for their extra efforts getting ready for the first cruise ship of the season, which arrived a day early.

During Council member comments, Judy Zenge said she smelled a strong odor of marijuana smoke while walking on Dock Street downtown on Thursday.

“It was so thick,” she said. “And that was, you know, one ship in? Kids walking around? This is not – we’re going to have to really look at this. It was pretty thick and it was pretty disgusting.”

There is one marijuana retail store open so far in the downtown area. Another one is in the process of opening. Cruise visitors who purchase marijuana don’t have a legal place to consume it, because public consumption is not allowed and they can’t take marijuana onto the ships.

Owners of the Stoney Moose on Stedman Street have plans to open a cannabis café, where patrons can smoke pot in a controlled environment. State officials, though, have not yet approved regulations allowing on-site consumption lounges.