Haines mayor retires from troopers

Posted: Monday, May 15, 2000

HAINES - The mayor of the city of Haines no longer will be the Chilkat Valley's highest-ranking law enforcer as of June 1.

Don Otis, a 20-year Alaska State Trooper, is retiring. He told the Chilkat Valley News that working both jobs is pinching his time.

``I could do a better job at either one without the other one,'' Otis said. ``It's time to retire.''

Otis said quitting will afford him personal time and allow him to devote more effort to mayoral duties. He currently works at least two hours daily at city hall for his annual $9,000 pay.

Residents and visitors spread out through the valley in summer and the trooper's workload increases with duties such as busting teen drinking parties and conducting search-and-rescue efforts.

``For the last 10 years in the summer I've been leery of getting too far away from the phone,'' Otis said. ``Now I can relax and take time off without having to worry about what's happening when I'm not around.''

Otis has served as Haines' lone trooper since May 1990. He said he said he takes most pride in helping reduce drunken driving deaths. The fatality rate has dropped from three the year he arrived to about one every four years, he said.

Otis' supervisor, Sgt. Will Ellis of Juneau, lauded Otis for launching the local search-and-rescue team and for his participation in hunter safety education programs.

Otis said giving up one part of his job - carrying a gun - will be a cinch.

``I haven't carried a gun in years,'' Otis said. ``I guess the reason I don't is everybody else here seems to do OK without one.''

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