UPDATED: Dunleavy's inauguration plans change -- no more snowmachine ride

ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - Updated Sunday, Dec. 2:
Gov.-elect Dunleavy will no longer plan to ride to Noorvik from Kotzebue by snowmachine. His transition team made the announcement Saturday. The rest of the itinerary for the day is nearly identical, though Dunleavy will fly directly to Noorvik from Anchorage in the morning. He and his family will depart from the village at 3:15 instead of 4:00.

Governor Bill Walker said he will not be able to attend the inauguration ceremony, as he will remain in Anchorage to work on reopening state facilities and damaged infrastructure.

Walker said he had spoken with Dunleavy about his absence at the State Emergency Operation Center Friday. "I wish (Dunleavy) and his Administration the best as they take office and assume control of the recovery efforts," Walker wrote.

Original Story posted Wednesday, Nov. 28:
Gov.-elect Mike Dunleavy’s inauguration details for this coming Monday are set, and if the weather cooperates, Dunleavy will ride to Noorvik by snowmachine from Kotzebue. The two communities are about 42 miles apart as the crow flies. He and Lt. Gov.-elect Kevin Meyer will be sworn in at 11:55 a.m. at Aqqaluk High School and Noorvik Elementary School by Judge Paul Roetman.

If the weather allows, Dunleavy and Judge Paul Roetman will depart Kotzebue at 8:30 a.m. by snowmachine and travel to Noorvik, a community of about 600 on the Nazuruk Channel of the Kobuk River. It’s Dunleavy’s wife’s hometown, and he spent time living in the area.

Why travel by snowmachine? “He loves it,” said his transition team’s spokesperson, Sarah Erkmann Ward. He’ll travel with the judge because, by law, Dunleavy must be sworn in by noon on the first Monday of December. If anything delays their travel, Roetman will swear Dunleavy in “on the ice,” if he has to, Erkmann Ward said.

She also said that traveling by snowmachine will highlight the importance of snowmachine travel in rural Alaska. Erkmann Ward did not know which route will be taken Monday – the shortest distance between the two communities is across a wide part of Hotham Inlet. A trip further down the peninsula on which Kotzebue sits would add miles to the trip, but a narrower crossing. He’s expected to be in Noorvik two hours after his departure, Erkmann Ward said, emphasizing that weather would be the determining factor in whether the journey is made by snowmachine or by chartered plane.

After the swearing-in, Dunleavy will make brief remarks, Erkmann Ward said, but she said it wouldn’t be something to characterize as a speech. A community celebration will take place from 1:00 – 3:00 p.m. in the school gym, and Dunleavy and his family will leave Noorvik by plane at 4 p.m.

Channel 2 will live-stream Dunleavy’s swearing-in Monday, just before noon.

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