- Associated Press - Friday, October 17, 2014

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) - A small community in southeast Alaska is the state’s newest city - the first to incorporate in a decade, according to state officials.

A state commissioner signed incorporation documents this week for Edna Bay, which has a population of 49, the Juneau Empire (https://is.gd/bTKAhM) reported. The community is on Kosciusko Island about 90 miles northwest of Ketchikan.

Elections officials earlier this month certified results of a vote involving locals in Edna Bay on whether to incorporate. State officials said residents voted 33 to 6 to incorporate.

“Many citizens believe that incorporation will allow them to better manage their economic, environmental and political responsibilities,” the state Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development said in a news release about the incorporation. “Incorporation provides the people of Edna Bay with maximum local self-government; it empowers residents by giving them the legal control of their harbor, roads, and refuse management.”

Representatives of the Alaska Division of Community and Regional Affairs were planning to participate in an organizational meeting Thursday with Edna Bay, but weather prevented their travel, the Ketchikan Daily News (https://is.gd/jG0c0q) reported.

“I wish the DCRA staff had been able to attend, but we’re going to move forward,” said Myla Poelstra, Edna Bay’s postmaster and one of the newly elected members of the new city council. “Weather delays are something we’re very familiar with in Edna Bay.”

The division plans to work with the city council as it takes on its duties in coming months.

Poelstra said seeking funds or grants to make repairs to infrastructures is more difficult without incorporation. But she said the community’s new status is only a legal change.

“Everyone here lives here because of the culture and the community and the things that we all enjoy,” she said. “Part of that is the character and we don’t want that to change, but we need to maintain our infrastructure.”

The community had a school for five years. But it was closed this year after student numbers dipped below the state’s 10-student threshold for qualifying for funding.

There might be enough students next year to reopen the school, according to Poelstra.

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Information from: Juneau (Alaska) Empire, https://www.juneauempire.com

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