Angoon village corp. changes management

Posted: Tuesday, February 27, 2001

Kootznoowoo Inc. announced its president won't renew his contract when it expires in August.

Carlton Smith, Angoon's Native village corporation's president and chief executive, will end his three-year term this summer. Corporation Chief Financial Officer Doug Wellington also will leave.

The change is part of a plan to cut expenses and move the corporation from a chief executive in charge to a holding company with a general manager overseeing investments, said Matt Kookesh, chairman of the Kootznoowoo board. Wellington's accounting functions will be contracted out, Kookesh said.

The move will save the corporation around $100,000 a year, Smith said.

"Carl and Doug have done a good job," Kookesh said. "I wish we could afford them, but we can't."

The board hopes to have a general manager hired by July, Kookesh said. The general manager will be in charge of the company's four commercial buildings, and look for other profitable commercial real estate opportunities, he said.

Kootznoowoo owns the Kootznoowoo Plaza in Juneau, a building in Angoon, and commercial buildings in Nashville, Tenn., and Albuquerque, N.M.

During Smith's three years, the corporation cut staff from 22 to five and sold several unprofitable businesses, including The Learning Company and Taquan Air.

The Learning Company, based in Juneau, closed in 1998 because it wasn't meeting expectations.

Kootznoowoo bought half of Ketchikan-based Taquan in 1997. At its peak, it was the largest regional carrier in Southeast with 22 aircraft ranging from floatplanes to jets, and employed more than 200, Smith said. In 1999, Kootznoowoo bought the other half of the airline so it could be liquidated.

Some issues are still pending with its closure, Wellington said.

After his contract is up in July, Wellington said he plans to move to Vancouver, Wash., to be with his family. Smith said he intends to help Kootznoowoo make the transition to a general manager and also is evaluating a couple of investments in Juneau, he said.

Through the 1980s to the mid-1990s, Kootznoowoo handed out 629 home sites and about $50,000 total to its roughly 950 shareholders. Most of that money came from timber operations.

With a drastic reduction in timber income and several bad investments, Kootznoowoo halted dividends from earnings several years ago.

"The transition away from timber is very, very challenging," Smith said.

Dividends are still provided by the corporation's permanent fund, set up to provide dividends independent of operational income.

"I think that's what's kind of saving us right now," Kookesh said.

Kootznoowoo has assets of around $14 million with another $15 million in its permanent fund, Smith said. That doesn't include land and subsurface mineral rights, he said.

Kookesh said the corporation will keep on its current path of investing in commercial real estate. Eventually, he would like to move its headquarters in Juneau back to Angoon, he said. The move would help the Kootznoowoo Plaza building turn a profit and better utilize office space in Angoon, he said, but the decision is up to the whole board.

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