2015 started off with the Petersburg School District looking for a new superintendent as Lisa Stroh resigned after just a half year on the job. The job eventually went to elementary principal Erica Kludt Painter and Stroh was paid for the remaining six months of the school year despite her decision to leave town.
Also in January, Tye Peterson, the school district’s former maintenance director was sentenced to 12 years in jail for possession and distribution of child pornography, as well as photos he took of students and obtained from district laptops.
Petersburg started collecting a new tobacco tax in January, boosting the cost of a pack of cigarettes two dollars and bringing in some additional money for the municipal government.
In May Governor Bill Walker helped the borough dedicate a newly completed drive down dock on the waterfront.
“Timing is everything and Petersburg is fortunate they worked on this during the years they did,” Walker said. “It’ll be a while probably before we can do another one quite like this and this is a great success story.” The new dock gives harbor users another spot to load boats.
Meanwhile, motorists on the two main thoroughfares here waited to drive around flaggers and construction machinery for a two-year 8.3-million dollar repaving and sewer project on two state-owned roads. The work will continue in 2016.
Four people were rescued from the fishing tender Kupreanof which sank off Cape Spencer in early June. The 73 foot boat, homeported in Petersburg, was heading to Bristol Bay.
The town welcomed a new cruise ship visitor in the summer. The French boat L’Austral made its first stop here in June.
Petersburg wrestled with controversial changes to the borough’s curbside recycling program. Early next year, the borough plans to take over that collection from a private contractor and swap out blue plastic bags for large plastic containers.
In August, Mark Weaver, a Petersburg businessman was sentenced to five years probation and a 10-thousand dollar fine for an explosion in the rock pit behind Petersburg’s airport the year before. Weaver is not allowed to return here for five years as part of the sentencing.
Southeast’s pink salmon run came in well below the forecast, with a regional harvest of around 35 million fish, a little over one third of that from the parent year two years ago. One possible culprit is ocean survival for the young salmon encountering an unusual blob of warm water in the Gulf of Alaska and some new warm water species.
The parent company of Icicle Seafoods was ready to sell the seafood processing company. Two Indonesian companies were expected to purchase Icicle in August but the deal fell through. Icicle was started in Petersburg by local fishermen in 1965 and marked its 50 year in 2015.
Workers remodeling Petersburg’s historic Sons of Norway Hall found artifacts dating back a century, likely placed there by the original builders and some of the first Norwegian residents of the town.
In late September, outburst flooding from the Baird Glacier colored the waters around Petersburg a glacial green and sent numerous ice bergs drifting around Frederick Sound.
Petersburg residents reported a meteor streaking across the night sky in November, with a bright flash and a boom strong enough to shake houses. “I just saw this bright flash,” said resident John Havrilek. “It was streaking across the sky. And then I heard the explosion and then the thunder went on for probably 30 plus seconds, the reverberation from the initial blast.” The National Weather Service also recorded lightning strikes on Kupreanof Island at that time. The Petersburg Pilot later reported the meteor was tracked by a NASA scientist and may have hit the earth near Duncan Canal.
In December, the state supreme court ruled in favor of Petersburg and the state’s Local Boundary Commission over Juneau’s challenge to the northern boundary of the new Petersburg borough.