Community Collaborations

Clean communities, encourage healthy citizens


Over the course of the past year our economy has been stunted and its affects have been felt throughout our community. This summer is a time for rebuilding. Through the weekend of May 7th & 8th nearly 100 people including City & Borough of Wrangell, WCA, & KSTK staff, community volunteers and students & teachers of the Evergreen Elementary School joined hands to ensure that our most cherished attractions, waterfronts, and greenspaces look fresh, inviting, and beautiful.

While Wrangell may not see the full sailing of ships throughout southeast this season, the community will still benefit from out of state independent travelers and our friends and families that visit the island. We wanted to make sure we were putting our very best foot forward as we move into a new season of opportunity. Our efforts foster new energy for private businesses, encourage visitors to return and give rise to our sense of community pride.

Wrangell Parks & Recreation was moved by the collaborative effort to spruce up the downtown corridor. We hope to continue building on the foundation of service that exists in Wrangell. Many hands make light work. And, it's the residents who deserve the joy and glory of a clean community most.

Many hands make light work

Thanks to the chamber for allowing us to use the pavilion!

Thanks to the chamber for allowing us to use the pavilion!

Community Event Fun Facts

  • Borough Manager & Assembly Support
  • Many weeks of planning
  • Substantial involvement from P&R Board Members
  • Five separate days of action
  • Two generous donations
  • All Borough Departments contributed
  • Nearly 100 people made an impact
  • Over 400 hours of time donated
  • Labor and impact valued over 12,000 dollars
  • Multiple community groups participated
  • Many are eager to maintain the garden beds throughout the season

Special Thanks goes to the P&R Advisory Board who always entertain new ideas from staff and support every effort with action and gusto. (Haig Demerjian, Joan Sargent, Cindy Martin, Jeanie Arnold and Liz Buness)

Baked Goods Galore!

Big shout out to Shawna Buness and Christie Jamieson who offered to bake cookies for the event. They sure did deliver some fabulous sweets to round out our meals. It is especially awesome that each of these gals knew they couldn't be present on the day of the event, but still wanted to do something to contribute. Each of them reached out to P&R directly with an offering to supply us with desserts. We're sure glad they did.

Michael Bania & Lezlie Rice

Michael Bania volunteers as P&R Water Aerobics instructor and has quite the following of participants. Monday, Wednesday and Friday patrons meet at the pool just before 10:00AM when the class starts.

Following last Friday's class Michael snagged a gal pal, Lezlie Rice and walked downtown to assist with overhauling one of the garden beds along Front Street. The two dug in without hesitation. Luckily they timed their lunch from J&W's just perfectly. While the rain passed the gals socialized and interacted with the other staff and volunteers on site.

They finished late afternoon, raving about what a good time they had. We are eternally grateful for the volunteer spirit and joy both Lezlie and Michael possess.

Friends of the Library

Margaret Villarma has had a long tenure with the Library in Wrangell. She and P&R Director Kate Thomas started as Department Heads at the same time in 2015. The two have enjoyed working together over the years, sharing resources, brainstorming issues and offering that peer support that is so needed in the professional realm.

Despite the fact that the Library had already scheduled their annual clean up during the same timeframe that P&R proposed the downtown effort, Margaret went out of her way to solicit help from the Friends of the Library. Sarah Merritt, Board Secretary, provided contacts of a couple Library affiliates; Lori Bauer & Nancy Delpero who were available to assist downtown.

Lori and Nancy were more than willing to jump in and help the cause. Friend and comrade, Bonnie Demerjian joined them on Friday afternoon to tackle the garden bed in front of the Dental Office. Between the three of these lades they have a wealth of knowledge and experiences working grounds and gardening. It is safe to say they left the area looking pristine and beautiful.

While all the downtown hub bub was underway, Friends of the Library board members were hitting the grounds around the Library. The Library is one of the most well kempt facilities within the Borough. This is because of the profound dedication of their volunteers and meticulous oversight by the staff.

City Hall, Capital Facilities, Nolan Center & Borough Staff

Big thanks to Sherri Cowan, Erin Meissner and Robbie Marshall who stepped up to assist with grooming the shrubs and garden beds surrounding City Hall. It was super fun to get a chance to work with these folks in a new capacity. Sherri was out there ready to go at 7:30AM. Impressive to say the least.

Capital Facilities staff, Duke Mitchell joined P&R staff Lane Fitzjarrald and Mason Dingwall during the event. The guys installed a new picnic bench in front of City Hall, changed out the chain bird deterrents on the trash cans and generally kicked butt doing all the things. Cheers to you!

Cyni Crary of the Nolan Center was generous enough to build a consumables package for the meals and coffee. The Nolan Center is stocked with a plethora of party supplies. It was nice to have those items on the ready. She also offered to clean them upon return. Thanks for making it easy on us! We appreciate you.

Thanks to Carol Rushmore who worked the library grounds on Friday and performed some very necessary weeding around City Hall. And, while Amber Al-Haddad could not be present for the event she ensured that her staff was aware of the effort. Amber scheduled Capital Facilities crew member, Duke Mitchell to be available in any way that was needed. Duke knocked it out of the park.

Big thumbs up to John Sargent who transported waste to the dump and monofill site all day on Saturday.


KSTK was inspired by the community effort and the feel good vibes of doing something nice for yourself and others. Board members and staff came together on Friday May 7th, to clean up the exterior grounds of the KSTK Broadcasting Facility. Each year the crew gets together to do a little refreshing of their cherished workspace. Needless to say things are looking bright and inviting up there.

KSTK has always been a huge support to Parks & Recreation along with so many other groups that utilize their services. This year KSTK helped us promote our Pet Waste Campaign, Community Collaborations Event, COVID Mitigation Measures and Programs. Additionally, KSTK has invited us to chat about all the happenings at P&R during their annual pledge drive and the beloved Talk on the Rock radio show. We are grateful for their creativity, outreach and promotions.

Consider using KSTK as an outlet for your business and/or community promotions. You won't be disappointed.

Featured above are Don, Nola and Cindy.

Electrical Department

Thanks to Dwight Yancey, Chris Stewart and Mark Armstrong. These guys installed the summer banners on the light posts downtown. The electrical crew does some critical work for our community, often taking risks that few would want to experience. We are stoked to see them out and about, joining in on the fun. It's pretty neat to see them up in the bucket truck too!

Cheers to Rod Rhoades, Electrical Superintendent, always willing to lend a helping hand to his fellow department heads.

Wrangell Cooperative Association

Esther Reece, Kim Wickman, Lizzie Romane and Deanna Horn from WCA joined forces to conquer the garden bed in front of the Elk's. The crew spent the last four hours of the event on Friday laughing and bonding while making an impact on the grounds of downtown. These ladies are a hoot and we had a darn good time hosting them for the event. THANK YOU from the bottom of our hearts.

Also featured here: Renate Davies, who absolutely crushed the work event. She was here , there and everywhere. It's hard to keep up with her :)

Totem Park

WCA staff have been absolutely refreshing to work with over the years. There has been reciprocity in project support, ongoing brainstorming to help with waste management in town, and educational curriculum for the summer recreation programs. As small token of our appreciation we did a little tidy up at the Totem Park.

Thanks to Sentry Hardware for ongoing support and materials!

Big picture

Saint Frances Animal Rescue

Diane O'Brien is one of several Board Members for the Saint Frances Animal Rescue, located in Wrangell. Saint Frances is a non-profit organization created to help place abandoned pets into loving, caring homes. Board members spend countless hours fundraising and caring for rescue animals within the community. Most recently the group is working to reestablish a site for the shelter. In and amongst all the great work they are doing, Diane O'Brien added one more thing to the list, helping other community group efforts as a form of reciprocity and support. We are sincerely grateful for the time Diane spent to replenish a garden bed located on Lynch St., adjacent to the downtown pavilion.

Check out their Facebook page to learn more about the rescue group.

Big picture

Thank you for the delicious food & coffee!

Alaska Vistas & Crew

Alaska Vistas is big supporter of community events. Whether they offer a helping hand, gift a financial contribution or just create the opportunity on their own they seem to find a way to get involved. This year they did a little of everything. The group contributed financially to the materials needed, rallied their crew for labor and solicited support from other businesses and community members. We appreciate their service minded approach to community.

Contributing crew members include: Sylvia Ettefagh, John Verhey, Ceona Koch, Janet Strom, Dennis Strom and Dana Joy. Also featured: Renate Davies (told ya she was everywhere).

Public Works Department

All the public works crew supported the community event one way or another. Lorne Cook and Jeff Rooney were out and about early morning to sweep the streets along the downtown corridor. The video below shows the immediate after effects of their efforts.

Stan Campbell and Tom Gillen staged the front loader and dump truck downtown so volunteers could load up organic waste from the garden beds. Stan and Tom transported several loads of waste from the front loader to the dump truck throughout the day. In the end the guys took the waste from downtown and appropriately located it at the mono-fill site.

Deed Gillen and Derek Meissner positioned several extra dumpsters downtown to make them more accessible and ensure that we weren't overloading the dumpsters utilized by surrounding businesses. Dave Bryner assisted with last minute equipment repairs that helped volunteers achieve maximum efficiency when it came to weed eating and mowing.

Andrew Scambler was able to spend the last portion of his working day at the City Hall garden spaces, working alongside his spouse, Sarah, who also works for the Borough, to trim and prune the shrubs and flowers along the building perimeter. Meanwhile Wayne McHolland and Brian Christian were holding down the fort at the Water Treatment Facility and Waste Water Plant-vital roles indeed.

Lastly, Administrative Assistant Elsie Bailey worked along side a group of volunteers to overhaul the garden beds close to True Value and Napa, while Director Director Tom Wetor filled the role of master weed whacker throughout the day.
Public Works Street Effort

Partnership for Tobacco Free Southeast

Tammi Meissner of SEARHC and Police Chief Tom Radke joined 45 students from Evergreen Elementary School to sweep the streets, removing cigarette butts and micro trash along the downtown corridor, stretching from the Harbor Office all the way to City Dock. The students collected over 1,500 cigarette butts and numerous bags of waste. Students learned about the harmful effects of cigarette smoke to their bodies and the environment. They also learned about personal accountability and stewardship. This isn't the first time Tammi has joined up with community efforts such as this. She is constantly reaching out to find ways to collaborate with others and improve the impacts of each effort. We are grateful for her and the Police Chief. They are both extraordinary role models for youth in Wrangell.

Special thanks to Jen Davies, Brian Merritt, Odile Meister and Tawney Crowley who rallied their classes and encouraged them to be apart of the solution. Teaching is not an easy role, but these folks do it with class and ease.

Kudos to P&R Staff-Lane Fitzjarrald, Lucy Robinson & Mason Dingwall. These folks make for an unbelievably powerful crew.

Harbor Department

Steve Miller recently joined the team of department heads working for the City & Borough of Wrangell. Steve has been a pleasure to work with and had no hesitation in assigning a member of his crew to the work effort on both Friday and Saturday.

Harbor Staff, Jacob Hammer joined the community effort. He pressure washed the exterior of the downtown bathrooms and surrounding area. Jacob showed up on time, got to work without pause and stuck to it throughout the entire day. He came back around on Saturday with the same principles. Jacob's second go around included, edging around and cleaning the trash cans and picnic benches with P&R staff member Mason Dingwall.

Jacob and Mason did an excellent job, and we are happy with the results.
Big picture

Alaska Crossings Staff

Alaska Crossings Staff came out to assist with several tasks this weekend. Their efforts included refreshing the wood chips at Kyle Angerman Park, raking and weeding at Totem Park and cleaning up the fire and horse shoe pits at the Elks.

Alaska Crossings serves a profound mission to help youth succeed. Each year they bring in upwards of 40 bright, intelligent and hard working staff that liven up winters in Wrangell. The community knows spring is on its way when the crew starts arriving to the island. Not only does Alaska Crossings serve a profound mission, but they enhance the culture of Wrangell, stimulate our economy and breathe new life into events such as these.

It was super fun to work along side these amazing people over the weekend. We are grateful for their contribution to our community.

Featured above: Alex, Sage (KSTK), Katie and Johnathan. Not photographed; Alex Freericks.

Thanks to the Elk's for their financial contribution.

Tribute to one of the best!

Ron Koch was Wrangell Parks & Recreation's first director. He cultivated a love for all things parks and recreation. He was a driving force in this community for many years. Let this weekend's success be a tribute to Ron Koch and all that he inspired throughout his life. He is still very much a legend within the P&R family.

Our hearts are heavy as we send love to Kathy, Pete, Sasha and the rest of his family.

Wrangell Parks & Recreation

Working for a living, play for life!