Mayors First Year Report for October 2017

I would like to present an overview of what’s going on in the Mayors’ office;

Regarding Grants;

The Ice Bin grant application did not make the grade last year, and will be resubmitted. Mr. Keizer has volunteered to attend the Community Development Block Grant workshop next week after which we will be reviewing and revising the grant application for resubmittal by December 1st this year. ( This has also been turned in to the fed’s as a “Shovel Ready Project” grant request.)

The Ice Machine grant in hand will be used in part to roof half of the Fish Plant building. The roofing machine manufacturer’s representative will be here the first week of November to train us on operating the machine, and that training will include beginning to form the roofing for the Fish Plant, the first of many roofing projects.

The Fuel Dock grant engineer has assured me it will be advertised for bids this fall with construction to begin spring of 2018. ( This project was also turned in in its entirety as a “Shovel Ready Project” grant request .)

The Penstock Grant work is in progress, 95% of the materials are in town and we have begun the process of staging fill materials at the top of the hill. In the spring we will arrange a preconstruction meeting with the engineers contracted for inspection services and begin wrapping and covering the penstock.

Regarding our Public Works department;

I have developed a draft job description for the Public Works Department Supervisor and will be discussing it with our personnel board in the next couple of weeks. I hope to have it posted in November. Until then I am supervising a reorganization of the City Shop facilities while Quinton is responsible to see to it that we bring all our water and sewer operations into complete compliance. Both Allen and Derek Stewart will be assisting him in this effort on a part time basis.

We have begun a large cleanup and repair effort to address the maintenance backlog at our City Shop, City Equipment Yard, the boat yard, school yards, fish plant, and harbor facilities. Please note that the volume of work that needs to be addressed cannot be condensed into one report and will be ongoing during my complete term as mayor. And it has been expensive. The average total of City employee wages has temporarily increased by over $8,000.00 per month for 2018 as compared to 2017, but this includes a lot of things besides Public Works.

A sample of labor costs for the last 9 months includes;


(please note we are working on a lot of things here and these numbers change daily)

$6,773 charged against grant projects (partially reimbursable)

$34,150 in building repairs, painting, and rebuilding the boardwalk and deck at the Crab Plant

$3,562 charged to the School District. We are now assisting with their maintenance on a work order basis. The school systems maintenance backlog is also large, and the City will be able to keep our staffing level higher using income from their funding sources.

$8,032 in harbor repairs and additional monitoring. And we are just getting started on needed repairs on our floats.

We will be cutting back on these expenses and repairs to meet budget requirements, and most of our additional labor in the next year will be charged against funded projects, for example;

The Fish Plant roof, ready to go, and partially grant funded

The Freezer Building roof. We just received a large insurance settlement for the earthquake damage to the roof and third floor and I am submitting a proposal to the City Council for how to address that project.

The Penstock Project

Maintenance work order projects at the school.

Other projects underway include;

The DOT will be starting our boardwalk structural repairs this winter.

Electronic upgrades to our generator controls are needed, and a $42,000.00 grant has been applied for. In the interim we are purchasing the surplus electronics from Illiamna, who just made the same upgrade recommended for us, and for $2,000.00 I hope to put off the upgrade for up to 5 years while we shop for funding.

The land fill electrical utility extension and cell tower. This has been delayed by a troublesome supplier I will no longer be using and the unfortunate death of Mr. David Kunat near Haines in May this year. I am in communications with Byte Networking and we still plan on a tower in spring, and HOPEFULLY, cell service next year.

We are putting together a fund raiser called “THE PELICAN PLAYGROUND EQUIPMENT FUND”, it should be ready next month so people can donate online or send checks to City Hall for deposit to the account. We will place an announcement on the Chamber of Commerce website and Facebook, then the social media users can take it from there. Stay tuned.

And here is something else I would like the public to think about. Why don’t we start talking about selling the “Old Bunk House” as a standalone business oppurtunity. It would be great to get rid of the maintenance workload there and use that money to fund other things like additional housing.

Thanks for your time, and you know where to find me if you have any questions.

Walt Weller, Mayor

Pelican Chamber of Commerce News

Pelican Chamber of Commerce News

Pelican has never recovered from the decision by Seattle based Pelican Seafood’s to sell all of its holdings to Kaio Suisan, a Japanese firm in the early 1970’s. In the late
1980’s, all the holdings were then sold to Kake Tribal Corporation. The cold storage, cannery, fuel dock, general store, company houses, and utility were eventually
returned to local ownership, the City of Pelican, in 2010. It has been a struggle to find new private investors in the former seafood plant. Recently, a local man and
wife have taken the challenge of starting up a fish processing and freezing business. Yakobi Fisheries is the brainchild of Seth and Anna Stewart.

To say Yakobi Fisheries is homegrown is an understatement; Seth was born in Pelican and graduated from high school there. The Stewart family is fairly large in numbers in Pelican; his parents, two brothers, two sisters, a brother-in- law, aunt & uncle, and several cousins still reside in Pelican or at least call it home. After high school he attended Southern Oregon University in Ashland, Oregon. At college he earned a Bachelor’s degree in business management in 2005; more importantly he met Anna, his future wife and business partner. Anna worked on the Shoreline buying scow at Ewe Ledge in Lisianski Inlet; she and Seth were married in 2011. Today they have two children, Marin 3 years, and Zane, 15 months old.

Seth first started in the commercial fish business at the tender age of ten when he went fishing on his cousin’s boat. During the college years he began crewing on a local commercial longline, crab, and salmon trolling boat. In a few short years Seth purchased the wooden troller, “Dutchmaster”, later sold it and bought the fiberglass built troller, the “Camosun”. With a college background in business and economics, and a wife involved in the fish buying end of the commercial industry, it is no surprise the Stewarts became interested in processing and marketing the end product.

Local woman, Deb Spencer, was running the buying scow, Shoreline, where Anna was first employed in the Pelican area. Deb and husband, Keith Heller, had built a small fish processing and freezing building at the southern end of Pelican. In 2010, she began tutoring Seth in the area of fish processing and marketing. Indeed for the first couple of years Deb did all the processing of the fish provided off Seth’s boat. Seth was a quick study and once he could see there was a viable market, he and Anna leased space from Deb so he and Anna could handle the entire operation.

By 2013, most of the Stewart’s product was of frozen portions of salmon; their customers were mostly individuals in organized buying clubs. The orders were generally for quantities of a couple hundred pounds, but larger groups would request a larger amount. At the end of this first year, the total amount of finished product was about 4,000 pounds. As word spread of the product quality, the problem of storage capacity for a frozen product arose. In 2014, Seth and Anna were borrowing freezer space from relatives in order to meet demand for vacuum packed King and Coho salmon fillets; if the operation was to grow, the business model had to change.

In 2015, the Stewarts made a huge change; they signed a lease with the City for a portion of the former crab cannery. Yakobi Fisheries was now Seth’s full time job. All the salmon were delivered by local commercial salmon trollers; processed and frozen in the renovated space. The employees of the company were almost entirely family members. During this season the first non-family member was hired. Operating on a limited budget it was difficult to find additional employees during the busier midsummer months. Loyal family members, friends and fishermen allowed for success in this first year at the new site.
By the end of the 2017 season, Yakobi Fisheries had up to 16 employees on the payroll at one time; nine were full time seasonal not counting the owners.  Approximately 66,000 pounds of finished processed fish were shipped out.  All the salmon were sold by local fishermen and were paid extra for bringing in high quality fish.  Seth is careful to examine the incoming fish for quality and he expects the best possible product.  The salmon fillets sent to the buyers, whether a restaurant, market, or an individual must be of premium quality to incentivize return business and maintain a reputation of excellence.  Yakobi Fisheries processes sport caught fish for the charter fleet and sportsman as well.

Yakobi Fisheries has added special processing and storage equipment.  For the 2017 season, the following were utilized:  a commercial vacuum packer, 8’ x 16’ storage freezer, 6’ x 8’ storage freezer, 6’ x 8’ plate freezer, (800 #’s of fish to -30 in 3 hours), 3 large standard chest freezers, two 25 cubic foot double stage freezers, (hold @ -30), and 3 twenty foot freezer vans.  Yakobi Fisheries leases a storage unit in Juneau where there are 4 twenty foot freezer containers that can hold about 50,000 pounds of product.

The year 2017 saw another major change for Yakobi Fisheries.  Chris McDowell of Juneau was added as a business partner.  Chris is a life long Alaskan and took up commercial fishing with his father, Eric, not long after beginning to walk.  Chris manages the Juneau operation; his enthusiasm and knowledge of various fisheries is a valuable asset for the business.  

In order to ship supplies in and product out, Yakobi Fisheries rely heavily upon the Alaska Marine Highway System and Alaska Seaplanes.  Juneau based Jerue & Smith Transport bring freight vans out to Pelican on the ferry loaded with an assortment of goods and haul the frozen Yakobi Fisheries product back to Juneau. The AMHS plays a vital part when it comes to moving the heavy loads of frozen fish to market. The Alaska Seaplanes flies in boxes of fish that are needed right away for the purchaser; less in quantity, but an important aspect of the operation.
With the 2018 season right around the corner, the business is looking at more growth.  The demand for high quality fish from past customers will allow for an increase of about three times the production of 2017.  The increase in sales will require a payroll for 15 permanent seasonal employees.  Coho will remain the primary salmon processed with lesser quantity of King and Pink Salmon.  There will also be some processing of Halibut and Black Cod during 2018.  There is also the possibility that a fish smoker will be added to the production line.

The expansion of Yakobi Fisheries will result in additional raw fish tax paid to the City of Pelican, more freight for the ferry system and Alaska Seaplanes, more electricity purchased from the City, more fuel sold to the fishermen, and the potential for new businesses.  Seth has an option for a 25 year lease on the facility and he has plans for further growth.  

It will be 80 years this August since Kalle Raatikainen brought his fish packer, “Pelican”, to Lisianski Inlet and proceeded to build a cold storage plant.  The Pelican Cold Storage that many of us remember is no longer, a victim of a changing economy, technology, and market conditions.  Seth and Anna have brought the same spirit of “can do” and pride in work product to Pelican as did Kalle Raatikainen but with new equipment and energy.  If you need a quality fish product, contact Yakobi Fisheries:  (907)209-1053 or yakobifish@yahoo.com.   See www.pelican.net for more information on Pelican.
Apex-El Nido

Apex-El Nido

Millrock Resources has entered into an agreement with the present owners of this mining claim to market the mine.  In October the USFS issued a permit to allow exploration at the site for a perspective buyer.  The permit identifies the conditions under which any exploration may take place; this is a necessary step for the potential re-opening of the mine.  To learn more, Google Millrock Resources and Tongass Forest Projects, Hoonah District.