The top stories in Petersburg in 2014 were an explosion at the borough rock pit that injured a 59 year old man and has him facing federal charges, a hatchery fire and big changes for Petersburg’s harbors.

Federal agents in July destroyed over 50 pounds of a seized commercial explosive at the rock pit behind the towns airport. It was there just days before that Mark Weaver injured himself in another explosion before driving himself to the emergency room. Weaver is facing charges for having the explosives, including hand grenades that authorities say were not registered to him. He’s scheduled for a trial in March.

Federal authorities destroyed smokeless powder at the rock pit seized in July.

Federal authorities destroyed smokeless powder at the rock pit seized in July.

It was March of 2014 that saw a fire at Crystal Lake hatchery destroying the incubation room and some of the king salmon eggs slated for release for the upcoming year. The Southern Southeast Regional Aquaculture Association, which operates Crystal Lake, replaced that structure this year.

Petersburg started up a voluntary curbside recycling program in February. The program has led to a reduction in the amount of garbage shipped to an out-of-town landfill. Local voters in October approved a new excise tax on tobacco that will bring in new money for the borough in 2015 and add two dollars a pack to the cost of cigarettes. However, voters did not want to make major changes to exemptions for sales tax that could have meant more money for the municipality.

Also in October, the community welcomed delegates from around the region to the Alaska Native Brotherhood, Alaska Native Sisterhood grand camp annual convention. Delegates passed resolutions in four days of meetings and heard from several political candidates courting voters in the run up to the November general election.

The transition period continued in 2014 for the new borough government. Local leaders worked to update laws on the books from the old city of Petersburg and consider new ones. Residents in the borough are asking for action on an ordinance on spraying herbicides for weed control. That’s after the Department of Transportation announced plans to spray chemicals along a roadside on Prince of Wales Island. The DOT did not spray there this year but plans to next year near Thorne Bay.

Meanwhile, the northern boundary for Petersburg’s borough is still up in the air. Two years after the creation of the new municipality, the an appeal by the city and borough of Juneau awaits a hearing before the state’s highest court. A superior court judge in February upheld the 2012 decision by the state’s Local Boundary Commission but Juneau is hoping for a different outcome from the supreme court.
Petersburg saw the opening of a new North Harbor in May and started up construction of a vehicle accessible drive down dock in South Harbor, along with other improvements for boaters along the waterfront.

A former school maintenance director, Tye Petersen, pleaded guilty to child pornography charges in June and faces sentencing in early 2015.

Local elementary students saw summer vacation start a little early to accommodate a major renovation of walls and windows at Rae C. Stedman elementary. That work continued until the fall.

Elected officials asked the University of Alaska to suspend plans for two controversial timber sales on Mitkof Island, however the university went forward with logging. The island also saw some local sawmill operators finding new markets for logs harvested in small sales on Mitkof.

2014 saw the quiet transfer of a hydro electric power plant that lights Petersburg Wrangell and Ketchikan. The Ketchikan-based Southeast Alaska Power Agency now operates the plant it owns at Tyee Lake on the mainland near Wrangell. Petersburg and Wrangell are deciding on the future of the Thomas Bay Power Commission, which ran the day the day operations of the hydro plant until August.