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2011-2012 Assembly holds last full meeting

Danner bids farewell after three years' service

Posted: October 8, 2012 - 7:52pm  |  Updated: October 9, 2012 - 12:05am

The final regular meeting for the 2011-12 incarnation of the City and Borough of Juneau Assembly was held Monday night.

At a special Assembly meeting next Monday, Mayor Bruce Botelho, Deputy Mayor David G. Stone and Assemblymember Ruth Danner will officially relinquish their seats, and Mayor-elect Merrill Sanford and Assemblymembers-elect Loren Jones and Jerry Nankervis will be sworn in.

Danner will not be at that meeting, meaning Monday evening’s meeting was the last for the one-term Assemblymember.

Botelho presented a small plaque to Danner to commemorate her Assembly service.

“For myself, again, Ruth, you have brought incredible passion to your role as Assemblymember,” Botelho said. He added, “There are always bumpy spots. It’s the nature of a family, and we’ve had them. But we’ve also had many great successes, and I think we’ll look back — all of us — with fondness on these years of service.”

Danner received a standing ovation as she accepted the plaque and embraced Botelho.

“It has been an honor and a privilege to serve Juneau over the last three years as a member of this Assembly,” Danner said a few minutes later. “I want to thank the people of Juneau. To be the eyes and ears and voice of the people is a burden I have gladly carried.”

Also at the meeting, Botelho read out a proclamation declaring this week to be “Dale Wygant Appreciation Week,” a tribute to the accordionist and longtime fixture of the Juneau community.

“This is my last proclamation as mayor,” Botelho remarked. “It gives me great pleasure to read this proclamation in honor of Dale Wygant.”

After being serenaded by a group of kazoo-playing friends, Wygant received a copy of the proclamation from Botelho, who joked, “I’m disappointed Dale didn’t bring his accordion, because this proclamation was for the accordion as well.”

The Assembly also voted to hear an appeal filed by Janet Thrower, a 22-year resident of Berners Ave., against a Planning Commission decision to approve Professional Plaza’s request to build a second driveway on the avenue.

“I don’t think that this neighborhood should bear the Professional Plaza traffic,” said Thrower Monday evening, shortly before the meeting. “I think that there needs to be a buffer, and the driveway erases that buffer.”

Professional Plaza currently has one driveway, which accesses Glacier Highway.

Thrower said that when Professional Plaza briefly had a second driveway onto Berners Ave. in the mid-1990s, commercial traffic through the neighborhood surged.

“I have seen the increase in traffic in previous years, when there was a driveway there, and I don’t believe that it’s appropriate,” Thrower said.

In explaining why she took the step of filing an appeal, Thrower, who spoke in opposition to an ordinance allowing Professional Plaza to apply for the permit back in June, said she was doing it for her neighborhood. She suggested a compromise could be reached.

“This neighborhood doesn’t have any other avenue to pursue this if I don’t file this appeal, I believe,” said Thrower. “It seems like, you know, something should be able to be worked out with a left turn-only (driveway).”

Assemblymember Randy Wanamaker spoke up quickly after the appeal was brought up.

“I move that the Assembly accept the appeal, that the Assembly hear the appeal itself and I’ll volunteer to serve as presiding officer,” Wanamaker said.

The Assembly approved Wanamaker’s motion without objection.

On the consent agenda, which includes items for approval without individual discussion, was a resolution supporting the Fiscal Policy Task Force’s recommendations on guidelines for the CBJ budget reserve. That resolution, along with the rest of the consent agenda, was unanimously approved.

The meeting was preceded by a violin concert featuring second-grade students of Juneau, Alaska Music Matters performing such standards as “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” before performing “Happy Birthday” for Botelho, who turned 64 on Saturday. Dozens of parents, children and other onlookers packed the Assembly Chambers for the performance before the meeting began.

• Contact reporter Mark D. Miller at 523-2279 or at mark.d.miller@juneauempire.com.

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