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From Our Listeners

Southeast Alaska News

Companies file export application for gas project

Tue, 2014-07-22 00:07

JUNEAU — The companies pursuing a major liquefied natural gas project in Alaska have applied for an export license with the U.S. Department of Energy.

Securing the authorization is seen as critical for the viability of the mega-project, which the companies say would be the largest of its kind ever designed and built.

The filing was made Friday, but it was announced by the companies on Monday. Participants in the project include BP, ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobil Corp., TransCanada Corp. and the Alaska Gasline Development Corp.

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Former president George W Bush donates to Sullivan

Tue, 2014-07-22 00:06

JUNEAU — Contributors to Republican U.S. Senate hopeful Dan Sullivan’s campaign include a former president and first lady.

Former President George W. Bush and his wife, Laura, each contributed $1,250 to Sullivan in April. The donations show up on his latest financial disclosure, which spans from April through June.

Sullivan served as an assistant secretary of state in the Bush White House.

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17 billionth barrel flows down Alaska pipeline

Tue, 2014-07-22 00:06

JUNEAU — The trans-Alaska pipeline has moved its 17 billionth barrel of oil.

The operator of the 37-year-old pipeline, Alyeska Pipeline Service Co., announced the milestone Monday.

It has been nearly five years since the 16 billionth barrel flowed down the line, in October 2009.

The 800-mile pipeline is the economic lifeblood of the state, which relies heavily on oil revenues to run. The pipeline runs from the prodigious North Slope to Valdez, from where tankers are shipped.

Alyeska says the pipeline has generated about $180 billion in state revenue.

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Limo's 17 occupants uninjured in drive-by shooting

Tue, 2014-07-22 00:06

ANCHORAGE — Anchorage police say there’s been no reports of injuries after more than 30 rounds were fired at a limousine bus containing 17 people.

Police say 10 rounds hit the limo during the early Sunday morning shooting in Midtown Anchorage.

All but one of the limo’s occupants fled the scene when the bus stopped.

The remaining witness told officers the limo’s occupants had spent about two hours earlier in the evening at Al’s Alaskan Inn. The witness wasn’t aware of any altercations at the nightclub and said she didn’t know why anyone would shoot at them.

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Search underway for Brevig Mission man missing

Tue, 2014-07-22 00:06

ANCHORAGE — Alaska State Troopers say searchers have found the clothing of a Brevig Mission man who has been missing for nearly one week, but no other sign of him has turned up.

KTUU says 21-year-old Clarence Ray Olanna was last seen by his family last Tuesday.

Troopers say Olanna’s clothing was found the following day on the shore near the western Alaska village.

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Parnell reports raising more than $285K

Tue, 2014-07-22 00:06

JUNEAU — Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell raised more than $285,000 during the latest reporting period, including $100,000 from the state Republican party.

Parnell reported having close to $450,000 on hand, with about one month to go before the primary. The other Republicans running are Russ Millette and Brad Snowden.

Millette was elected state GOP chairman during a boisterous 2012 election but was ousted by party leaders before taking over.

The report, filed with the Alaska Public Offices Commission, runs from Feb. 2 through July 18.

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City mulls fence regs to protect moose

Tue, 2014-07-22 00:06

ANCHORAGE — After five moose were gored to death trying to jump over some decorative fences, officials in Alaska’s largest city are considering regulations to make the gothic-style fences safer.

The Anchorage Assembly on Aug. 5 will hold a public hearing on proposed regulations for metal palisade fences that have spiked, pointed tips.

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Soldier mauled by bear was wearing Army protective gear

Tue, 2014-07-22 00:06

ANCHORAGE — An Alaska Army National Guard soldier was wearing a combat helmet and other protective gear when he was attacked by a bear while participating in a training exercise at a military base, officials said Monday.

Sgt. Lucas Wendeborn of Valdez is being treated for puncture wounds and lacerations after the mauling Sunday at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson. The female brown bear was defending her two young cubs, base officials said.

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Reindeer dogs from Alaska's cranky hot dog vendor

Tue, 2014-07-22 00:05

ANCHORAGE — There’s no shortage of hot dog stands hawking that spicy, oh-so-Alaska treat, the reindeer dog, in downtown Anchorage. But only one of them has consistently long lines.

M.A.’s Gourmet Dogs is owned by a guy with an attitude and seven types of tasty grilled dogs — including one with a little bit of Rudolph in it. The reindeer meat, too lean to hold together alone, is mixed with pork and beef. It’s the hands-down crowd favorite, every bite delivering a pleasing crunchy pop.

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Photo: U.S. Secretary of Labor visits Alaska

Tue, 2014-07-22 00:04

U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez, left, speaks as U.S. Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, right, listens during a roundtable discussion about employment opportunities for veterans in Anchorage, Alaska, on Monday, July 21, 2014. The Anchorage visit was the conclusion to a three-day trip to Alaska that included another roundtable discussion in Fairbanks and a visit to a job training center in Palmer.

Numerous cars vandalized, burglarized in Anchorage

Tue, 2014-07-22 00:04

ANCHORAGE — Numerous vehicles have been vandalized and burglarized at a south Anchorage apartment complex.

KTUU reports 12 cars were spray-painted over the weekend at the complex, located near Dowling Road’s intersection with the New Seward Highway. Cars also had seats slashed and windshield wipers stolen.

The string of burglary and vandalism has been occurring for almost three weeks to cars parked at the complex.

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Crews work on Bethel harbor project

Tue, 2014-07-22 00:04

BETHEL — Construction crews are working on an environmental protection project at the Bethel small boat harbor.

KYUK reports that crews are sloping the banks of the harbor and adding armor rock to protect it in the future.

Bethel port director Pete Williams says embankments have sloughed off into the harbor, causing it to get rather shallow.

This summer’s state-funded, $3.7 million work is among the final steps of a multi-year dredging and harbor improvement project.

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Assembly approves funding for OceansAlaska

Mon, 2014-07-21 22:47

Ketchikan Gateway Borough offices are in the White Cliff building.

In a split vote Monday, the Ketchikan Gateway Borough Assembly approved an ordinance providing $144,000 now to OceansAlaska, and directing the borough manager to start negotiating a loan of $600,000 to the struggling shellfish seed producer.

http://www.krbd.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/21OceansAlaska.mp3

Remember the wooden bowls? OK, that was a long time ago. How about the veneer mill?

If you look up some of the economic development projects that the Ketchikan Gateway Borough has funded, you’ll find some lemons. That’s one concern. The other is that this project – OceansAlaska –has a recent history of mismanaging funds provided by the borough.

So, you can probably understand the hesitation.

Here’s Assembly Member Glen Thompson, who said the borough shouldn’t jump in where the free market fears to tread: “I’m going to tell you a story of what’s going to happen with this. You’re going to give then $600,000, and in about three or four years, they’re going to come back and say, ‘Ooh. We almost made it, but we need another $200,000.’”

And Mike Painter, who said he can’t just forget about OceansAlaska’s history, and how it’s changed missions several times: “The sustainability of the operation – they shifted gears from an aquarium to a learning facility. Now we’re going to try producing seed.”

And here’s Bob Pickrell speaking during public comment, and challenging the Assembly to think with their own wallets, in addition to the taxpayers: “Let’s play this game tonight. Each one of you write a check; a personal check — let’s say for $5,000 — and put that in front of you before you take that vote. When you take that vote, if it’s a yes, you’re going to give it to OceansAlaska for seed money at exactly the same terms that you’re going to spend the taxpayers’ money: 4 percent interest, payable back starting in 2019.”

Assembly Member Alan Bailey agreed that the borough doesn’t have a good track record when picking economic proposals to support. But, he talked his way around to supporting the ordinance:

“I just want to say, this is an economic development fund,” he said. “What is the purpose of that fund, what are we to use it for, if not for attempting to create an economic environment for the community?”

And here’s Assembly Member Bill Rotecki, a former board member of OceansAlaska, who continues to support the nonprofit’s goals: “Southeast Alaska is in a unique position to have a strong and thriving mariculture industry. And if you look at where it’s happened around the world, the venture capital didn’t do it. It was a kick from the local governments. And in most cases, a lot more aggressive than this.”

OceansAlaska produces oyster and geoduck seed for Alaska shellfish farmers. That seed is in high demand, but OceansAlaska is in a financial mess.

The nonprofit has debt that it can’t pay, and officials publicly admit that a previous borough loan was misappropriated. The board of directors is new, though, as is the staff. They’ve come up with a new business plan, hired a bookkeeper and say they’re dedicated to making the organization viable.

But they need money to make that happen. And they say if the borough invests in OceansAlaska, those public funds will come back in the form of a loan repayment, and economic support for local mariculture startups. Peter Metcalf is vice president of the new OceansAlaska board.

“One thing I can say about the board of directors is that we’re all business people and we’re all into this kind of thing – to try to make it a clean operation that’s not dependent on grants and loans, but is making money,” he told the Assembly. “We believe that it can. A couple of us have made investments, in the sense of paying off debt.”

Assembly Member Todd Phillips spoke in support of the measure, and reminded his colleagues that risk sometimes pays off.

“No risk no glory,” he said. “We can look at the shipyard. If we didn’t help put money there – (look) where they are today. So there are positives to the negatives.”

The ordinance passed in a 5-2 vote. Painter and Thompson voted no.

With that ordinance’s passage, the borough agrees to provide a $144,000 grant to OceansAlaska in the short term. Borough Manager Dan Bockhorst then will investigate a $600,000 loan to OceansAlaska from the borough’s economic development fund. That loan would be paid out to OceansAlaska over five years, and paid back over 20 years.

If the loan is successfully negotiated, the grant will be rolled into that amount.

In other business, the Assembly voted 6-1 to reinstate non-areawide funding of about $400,000 to the city-owned Ketchikan Public Library. Painter voted no.

On a related topic, the Assembly declined to give four-hands direction to the borough manager to investigate a proposal for the borough to take over library powers from the City of Ketchikan. The brief discussion did, however, lead to some inevitable talk about consolidation of the two primary local governments.

Assembly Member Thompson said if the borough takes over some city powers, it should include more – such as the fire department and the hospital – and it should be done all at once, rather than piecemeal.

Rotecki suggested that the slow approach might work better.

“Warm up to it, have a discussion,” he said. “(It) seems like the obvious one is the fire departments to start with. I’m OK with waiting for it to be brought up by the public, or the city to push it further, to push it back again.”

The community has voted multiple times on proposals to consolidate the city and borough of Ketchikan. It has failed each time.

Also Monday, the Assembly heard concern during public comment about a dog that had been kept in a large wooden box built into a truck bed. Eddie Blackwood, the borough’s animal control director, told the Assembly that his office checked on the dog, which appears healthy, and worked with the owner to establish a better housing situation for the dog. Blackwood said his department will continue to monitor the dog’s welfare.

Women crush record in soggy ’14 Alpine Adventure Run

Mon, 2014-07-21 21:04

Women’s champion Tasha Folsom crosses the finish line on Harbor Mt. (Sitka Alpine Adventure photo)

On a day that seemed almost guaranteed to produce no record times, two Sitka women on Saturday (7-19-14) crushed the course record in the 21st Alpine Adventure Run.

See the complete race results here.

Tasha Folsom took first place in the women’s event, with a time of 1:18:10 — a full two minutes faster than the record set last year by New York runner Emily deLaBruyere.

Runners encountered steady rain and winds of about 20 miles per hour on the Gavan Ridge.

Folsom says she’s used to wet conditions.

“I’ve trained in that crappy weather multiple times this season. So I didn’t have to adjust much of anything to get through the course on a wet day.”

Folsom also competed in Alaska’s other classic mountain event, Seward’s Mt. Marathon race, on the 4th of July. That event features a 3,000-foot climb straight up the mountain, and then a wild descent nearly straight down. She finished 13th overall for women in her first time out.

Folsom is not quite sure how Mt. Marathon played in to her success in the Alpine. She believes the Alpine requires more endurance for the long ridge run, while Mt. Marathon requires a lot of strength.

She was surprised to claim the Alpine course record.

“You know, I just wasn’t feeling it the entire race. They told me my time and I just didn’t believe it. I thought, Nah, people are playing a joke on me.”

In second place for women, Sitkan Emily Routon also came in under the previous record pace, finishing in 1:19:58.

Despite the weather, men also posted fast times: Four-time champion Sam Scotchmer of Sitka finished :44 seconds off his record-setting pace last year, finishing in 1:04:47. Anchorage challenger Matias Saari crossed the line about 90 seconds later, with a time of 1:06:10.

The Alpine Adventure Run originated 21 years ago as an Eagle Scout project by Josh Horan. 15 runners participated in that first event. Horan’s mother, Christine, has remained race director ever since. The race is now capped at 75 participants, and usually fills within two hours when registration opens in April.

Sitka father, son finish 3,000 mile trans-America run

Mon, 2014-07-21 20:29

David Wilcox (l.), Brett Wilcox, Olivia Wilcox, and Kris Wilcox are greeted on the boardwalk in Ocean City, NJ, as they wrap up their 6-month, 3,000 mile run. (RunningTheCountry.com photo)

A father-son team from Sitka has completed a six-month run across the United States.

Brett and David Wilcox ran into Ocean City, New Jersey, on Saturday (7-19-14), after covering 3,000 miles on foot. The project was intended to raise awareness about the hazards of genetically-modified foods.

There were some lonely times for the Wilcoxes, especially in the vast stretches of the Southwest.

But on the eastern seaboard, that had changed.

“We hit the big bridge going into Ocean City, and got a police escort. We were joined by a local runners club, so there were 10 or 12 of us. Kris (Wilcox) joined us. And with a police escort, they would stop all the traffic, even if we had a red light we got to keep running through it. And we ran right on to the boardwalk. There was a huge crowd waiting. They had been informed that we were coming. They were very excited. People had passed out GMO-free USA seeds. So they had some inkling of what our mission was….And it was the culmination of six months of actual running, and a year-and-a-half of preparation and time leading up to that moment.”

53-year old Brett Wilcox and his 15-year old son David are now the first father-teen son team to run across the country. They started on January 18 in Huntington Beach, California. David is the second-youngest runner to accomplish the feat.

The family concluded its epic run on July 19, 2014, Brett and Kris’s 25th wedding anniversary.

Wife and mom, Kris Wilcox, piloted the support vehicle and handled endless logistics. Team member and sister, Olivia, provided support and dog wrangling.

Covering 20-miles a day, six days-a-week, Brett Wilcox is glad the United States is only 3,000 miles across.

“I’m down 8 pounds, and I bet David is down a few pounds, and up a couple of inches. I don’t think we could sustain that sort of schedule long-term. I think we were eating muscle. And we’re pretty worn out and pretty exhausted.”

The Wilcox family was on a campaign to raise awareness about GMO’s — or genetically-modified-organisms — and their prevalence in the American diet. Trying to live by their ideals, they were often frustrated trying to buy GMO-free food in stores along the more remote parts of their route.

But Wilcox says their message seemed to catch up with their run as they crossed the Mississippi and entered more densely-populated areas of the country.

“The final few days were pretty epic. There were some key people in Pennsylvania and New Jersey who got hold of our run, and really turned it into a mission. From GMO-Free PA and GMO-Free NJ, and they did all sorts of things to make sure the media was aware of what we were doing.”

The Wilcoxes maintained a website and blog during their run, and the number of media events increased significantly as the family moved eastward — and almost sabotaged their grand finale, as they ran to a radio interview only 14 miles from the finish line in Ocean City.

“And I took a wrong turn, even though we have the phone which told us exactly where to go. So 14 miles turned into 16 miles, and we made it to the interview with three minutes to spare, dripping wet.”

The Wilcoxes gave up their jobs, and started an Indiegogo campaign to accomplish their activist run. Their house and apartment in Sitka are leased through August. Though he’s optimistic that he’ll be able to get his old job back as a behavioral health counselor, Brett Wilcox and his family are essentially jobless and homeless.

KCAW – Do you feel it has all been worthwhile, or is it too early to tell?
Wilcox – Right now I would say it has absolutely been worthwhile. It’s been very challenging, very difficult. Day-by-day struggles just making it work, and dealing with the exhaustion and the potential injuries — it has been hard. But I wouldn’t want to have missed this experience for anything.

David Wilcox suffered from an injury for part of the trip. His dad credits a chiropractor in Pennsylvania for diagnosing and correcting the problem. David will be entering 10th grade in Sitka this fall, where his ambition is to try out for the Cross-Country team. Olivia will be entering 8th grade.

And due to some last-minute re-arranging of the itinerary, Brett and David crossed the finished on Saturday, rather than on Monday.

For Kris Wilcox, it was a special day.

“I did tell them that this would be a great wedding anniversary gift for me, if they finished on the 19th.”

Brett and Kris have been married 25 years. They’re headed to Washington DC next, for some additional activism on GMO’s, and plan to be back in Sitka sometime in August.

Former president George W Bush donates to Sullivan

Mon, 2014-07-21 16:21

JUNEAU — Contributors to Republican U.S. Senate hopeful Dan Sullivan's campaign include a former president and first lady.

Former President George W. Bush and his wife, Laura, each contributed $1,250 to Sullivan in April. The donations show up on his latest financial disclosure, which spans from April through June.

Sullivan served as an assistant secretary of state in the Bush White House.

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Pink building pilots federal biomass boiler study

Mon, 2014-07-21 14:31

The Federal Building in Ketchikan, referred to by locals as “the pink building,” has been involved in an energy pilot project for the past couple of years. As a result, the General Services Administration, which owns the building, has decided that biomass is a viable alternative, and officials are looking into installing new boilers in other GSA-owned buildings nationwide.

http://www.krbd.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/21Biomass.mp3

Seattle-based GSA spokeswoman Stephanie Kenitzer said the pilot project in Ketchikan is part of the federal government’s Green Proving Ground Project, which tests new technology to see whether it works elsewhere.

“What we did learn is, indeed, biomass boilers are a good fit and a viable alternative for federal facilities for heating those buildings with hot water, primarily when natural gas is unavailable,” she said.

The study shows that biomass is most effective for buildings in a northern, cold climate, within about 50 miles of a wood pellet mill. And Ketchikan is home to a wood-pellet producer.

The biomass boiler at the pink building was paired with a high-efficiency oil-fired boiler for back-up. Those two boilers replaced a 1964-era, oil-fired steam heat system. Kenitzer said there was an immediate reduction in fuel oil use, but not so much in costs.

“In FY’12, we were able to cut our fuel purchase and fuel use in half,” she said. “We did, of course, have to supplement our fuel purchase with wood pellet purchase, so you’re not going to see a direct cost savings yet. Over time, you may see those kinds of results.”

Kenitzer said that saving money wasn’t really the goal of the pilot project. They just wanted to see whether the system worked, and could be used elsewhere. Sustainability is a bigger goal, with hoped-for lower costs later on.

“Ultimately, the point to push toward a biomass system is for sustainable reasons, and hopefully cost-effective solutions, as well,” she said. “Wood pellets are cheaper, so ultimately if we can move to that, that would be of benefit to the GSA, and ultimately the taxpayers.”

Biomass boilers burn wood pellets as a fuel source, rather than oil. Because wood is a renewable resource, biomass is touted as a more ecologically friendly energy choice.

But, Larry Edwards of the Sitka-based Greenpeace Alaska field office said that other technology could have provided even more benefit to everyone.

“Particularly here in Southeast, where we have renewable hydropower, they should also be looking at heat pumps and underground thermal energy storage,” he said.

Edwards said heat pumps run by hydroelectric power is something he’d like to see tested in Southeast Alaska.

“These methods will end up in lower greenhouse gas emissions in the long run, and also be more economical to run and be totally renewable,” he said.

Kenitzer said the study of Ketchikan’s pilot project looked into other GSA-owned buildings, to find any that could convert to biomass.

“We have identified 150 facilities where this technology would be beneficial and useful, but we’ve not made plans to actually deploy the technology in those facilities,” she said.

That’s about 10 percent of the GSA’s buildings nationwide, from Vermont to Washington. There’s also a handful in Alaska, in addition to Ketchikan’s Federal Building.

Kenitzer said each of those buildings will have to be studied now individually, to see whether installing new biomass boilers makes sense.

Other public facilities in Ketchikan are moving toward biomass as an option. The city-owned library already uses a pellet-fired boiler, and the borough is looking into biomass heat as an option for the high school and the airport.

Funeral held for woman who gave birth in coma

Mon, 2014-07-21 14:22

BETHEL — A funeral has been held in Bethel for a local woman who gave birth while in a coma after spending most of her pregnancy as clinically brain-dead.

KYUK reported the family of 29-year-old Jessie Ayagalria also is holding an ongoing fundraiser to care for baby Faith. The funeral was held Saturday.

The baby was delivered by cesarean section July 8 at an Anchorage hospital. The family was notified of Ayagalria's death three days later.

Ayagalria's sister, Krissy Medina, plans to begin the process to legally adopt the baby.

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Parnell reports raising more than $285K

Mon, 2014-07-21 14:20

JUNEAU — Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell raised more than $285,000 during the latest reporting period, including $100,000 from the state Republican party.

Parnell reported having close to $450,000 on hand, with about one month to go before the primary. The other Republicans running are Russ Millette and Brad Snowden.

Millette was elected state GOP chairman during a boisterous 2012 election but was ousted by party leaders before taking over.

The report, filed with the Alaska Public Offices Commission, runs from Feb. 2 through July 18.

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Troopers charge Kentucky man with possession

Mon, 2014-07-21 13:56

A 39-year-old man was arrested in Ketchikan on Sunday, on a warrant out of Boone County, Kentucky. In addition to the warrant, Jay Campbell was charged with drug possession and promoting contraband.

According to Alaska State Troopers, the original offense for Campbell’s extraditable warrant was for allegedly violating conditions of his felony probation related to possession of methamphetamine.

Following his arrest on the warrant, and during the booking process at Ketchikan Correctional Center, Troopers say that a Suboxone strip was discovered hidden in Campbell’s mouth.

The additional charges stem from that discovery.