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From Our Listeners

Southeast Alaska News

For rural veterans, treatment is just a phone call away

Fri, 2014-01-10 10:17

Listen to iFriendly audio.

George Bennett Sr. discusses SEARHC’s new pilot program: telebehavorial health services for rural veterans suffering from post traumatic stress disorder.

Fri Jan 10, 2014

Fri, 2014-01-10 10:06

Listen to iFriendly audio.

A nearly-half-million-dollar grant will speed restoration of Alaska’s oldest Haida longhouse. Curbside recycling is starting to get a toehold in Southeast Alaska, starting with Petersburg. The Sitka School Board has a cautious approach to building next year’s budget: assume that Sitka Schools will have about 20 fewer students. Large parts of Sitka lost power Thursday night after an operator technician at Blue Lake Hydro plant bumped his ladder against a control panel.

Sitka school gets new building

Fri, 2014-01-10 01:07

SITKA — Students at Sitka’s Pacific High School are starting the new year with a new school.

For two years, Pacific High operated out of the Southeast Alaska Career Center while its new building was being built.

The site where the new school sits has been dedicated to education for more than a century and has gone through a number of incarnations. The original was an Alaska Native training school that had one room and was segregated.

read more

Heli-ski operator says land encroachments were 'minor'

Fri, 2014-01-10 01:07

JUNEAU — A Haines helicopter ski operation that has agreed to plead guilty to unauthorized use of federal land says the encroachments were “minor, infrequent and unintentional.”

Southeast Alaska Backcountry Adventures, or SEABA, released a statement through its attorney on Wednesday.

read more

Parnell: Alaskans have never been so well-positioned

Fri, 2014-01-10 01:06

Editor’s note: The Juneau Empire will feature Q&A segments with candidates in statewide races leading into the next election. The following interview with Gov. Sean Parnell was held at the Empire’s office on Jan. 7. It has been edited for length.

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Bump! in the dark blamed for Sitka power outage

Thu, 2014-01-09 23:02

Large parts of Sitka lost power for about a half-hour this evening (Thu 1-9-14), after a technician at the Blue Lake Hydro plant bumped his ladder against a control panel while changing light bulbs.

Blue Lake operator Frank Rogers said the bump was just enough to cause a protective relay to open, isolating the Blue Lake switchyard from Sitka’s other main power source at the Green Lake plant.

Green Lake was powering most of Sitka when the mishap occurred at about 8:30 PM. Residents along Halibut Point Road, at the far end of Sitka’s utility system were supplied by one of the Blue Lake generators which remained on during the event.

Rogers says it was just a matter of balancing the two hydro plants to restore power, which took about a half hour.

And he added that it’s great to have fresh light bulbs in the control room.

Sitka is currently in the middle of a $157-million project to raise the height of the Blue Lake Dam by 83 feet, and add a third generating turbine. It’s the most expensive public works project in the city’s history.

High enrollment won’t budge next year’s school budget

Thu, 2014-01-09 20:36

Despite an upswing in enrollment, the Sitka School Board is going to be cautious as it starts to build next year’s budget.

At its regular meeting this week, the board decided to assume that Sitka Schools will have about 20 fewer students than they have now.


Listen to iFriendly audio.

It’s a bit of a game, choosing an enrollment number — and according board president Lon Garrison, the single most…

“…important parameter for determining the school budget.”

At the moment the district has 1321 students, down 17 from when the official school census was taken in October.

That decline is typical, school officials say. But it’s also well above the 1,295 the district built this year’s budget on.

The unexpected surplus of students was a major factor in a $1-million increase in the 2013-2014 budget.

Each student is worth money to a school district. The state calls it the “base student allocation,” and it’s also sometimes called the “foundation formula.” And it’s not exactly spare change.

“By the time you get through the formula the students are pretty close to $9,000 a piece.”

That’s superintendent Steve Bradshaw. The $9,000 per student is dwarfed by the revenues for intensive needs students. That comes to around $75,000 per student. The Sitka School District had 42 intensive students during the October census, three more than it planned for in the budget.

But board members were not feeling rich, and not confident that the upswing in enrollment was a trend. District business manager Cassee Olin dismissed the idea that enrollment was up due to the construction of the Blue Lake Hydro Expansion project.

She said only two students could be attributed to all the capital projects underway in Sitka at the moment.

Superintendent Bradshaw had the explanation, but not the reason, for the bump.

“You brought in 126 kindergarteners and had a graduating class of 69. That pretty much accounts for the numbers right there.”

This was the second year in a row that a large kindergarten class began school. Why there are large numbers of six- and seven-year olds in Sitka remains a mystery.

By starting with a conservative estimate of student numbers, the board will be forced to put some major cuts on the table. They’ve scheduled a series of public hearings through the end of March to discuss them. The first hearing will take place in joint session with the Sitka assembly on Thursday February 6.

Kathy Hope Erickson photographs elusive Deserted Island!

Thu, 2014-01-09 18:14

Kathy Hope Erickson was the guest Castaway on Deserted Island on Friday, January 7th, 2013. Lo and Behold Kathy actually took a picture of her dessert on her island! She also selected ten songs she would choose to have with her, if stranded, perhaps forever. She also chose pear pie with streusel top as her favorite dessert. Kathy remembers her early years in Sitka, lip syncing as The Supremes (see below) and traveling across the country on the program. Below you can hear the show, see Kathy’s list of ten songs and link to a pear pie recipe.

Leandra (Mary) Baker (L) Kathy Hope Erickson (C) and Laurie Cropley (R) dressed as The Supremes circa 1991.

1. The Lord’s Bright Blessing – Bob Cratchitt (Jack Cassidy)

2. Just a Closer Walk with Thee – Kermit Ruffins & The Rebirth Brass Band

3. Come, Let Us Bless Joseph, St. Innocent Academy; St. Michael’s trio

4. You’ll Never Know – Maura O’Connell

5. San Antonio Rose – Ray Price/Willie Nelson

6. Tsu Heidei – Harold Jacobs

7. The Poor People of Paris – Edith Piaf

8. Piece of My Heart – Janis Joplin

9. Just a Walkin’ in the Rain – Johnny Ray

10. Memories Are Made of This – Dean Martin

Recipe for Pear Pie!

A founder’s island

Thu, 2014-01-09 16:59
Stef Steffen helped found Raven Radio and last fall stepped down from the Board of Directors after more than 30 years. From hosting Good Day and Jazz shows, to leading the efforts of two renovations, Stef’s energy and commitment to community radio are part of the heartbeat of this station.  Stef was the guest “castaway” on Friday, December 27th, bringing his list of ten songs that he would choose to have if stranded, perhaps forever on an island. He would also bring a well-frosted carrot cake. Here is a recording of the show which includes lots of early Raven Radio memories, Stef’s list of songs and a link to his dessert of choice. Enjoy! 1)  Ramblin’ Jack Elliot  / Blue Eyes Cryin’ in the Rain 2)  Red Clay Ramblers / Hard Times Come No More  3)  Stevie Wonder / Gotta Have You 4)  Mose Allison / Live the Life I Love 5) Taj Mahal / Giant Step 6)  Patti Labelle / 1,2,3,4,5,6,7 7)  Rickie Lee Jones / Chuck e’s  in Love 8)  Milk Carton Kids / Michigan 9)  Tim Edey & Brendon Power / The Mountain Road / The Corkscrew 10)  Mumford and Sons / The Cave Carrot Cake Recipe

Mayor: State of the borough is ‘pretty good’

Thu, 2014-01-09 16:34

As the nation’s capital gets ready for the State of the Union speech on Jan. 28, Ketchikan’s borough mayor warmed up local residents with a State of the Borough address this week to a packed audience at the regular Chamber of Commerce lunch.

“Since the city mayor said (in December) that the state of the city was good. I feel like I have to up that,” said Borough Mayor Dave Kiffer. “The state of the borough is pretty good. It’s actually darned pretty good. It’s peachy keen. It doesn’t mean it’s perfect, but we’re doing OK.”

Kiffer worked for many years as the executive director of Historic Ketchikan, so it wasn’t a surprise when he offered some historical perspective to his State of the Borough presentation. He recalled when Ketchikan Pulp Co. shut down, the community lost many year-round jobs, and quite a few people moved away.

“At that time, the State of Alaska predicted that we were basically, if not going to dry up and blow away in the future, lose significant population, that the borough was just going to crater,” he said. “At one point they were saying by the year 2020 that there might be 10,000 people left here, or 8,000 or 7,000.”

That didn’t happen, though. The population rebounded and now is back where it was in 2000. And that economic disaster that rocked the country in 2008? Well, it did lead to a drop in cruise passengers for a few years but those numbers also rebounded to where they were before the recession.

“These are good things,” Kiffer said. “The community clearly is not dying. We’re not going anywhere. We’ve been here for 125 years, we’re stubborn and we’re just not going anywhere.”

That said, there are some issues the community will face as it moves forward. One big one is that the population is aging, as more and more seniors choose to stay. Seniors are exempt from some taxes, and Kiffer said that means over time, more and more people will not pay into the local revenue stream. There’s no clear solution, but it’s something to think about.

Kiffer reviewed some of the borough’s responsibilities, and the biggest one is school funding – all borough property taxes and a chunk of sales taxes go toward local education. The borough also runs the state-owned airport; planning and zoning; economic development; assessment; parks and recreation; animal control and public transportation.

Kiffer said Ketchikan’s transit system is the third busiest in the state.

“This is interesting because if you go back six or seven years, we were talking about getting rid of our transit system,” he said. “It was expensive, costing lots of money, and just not working. Rather than do that, we hired some pretty good staff, put our nose to the grindstone and the borough has created a transit system we can really be proud of.”

Following Kiffer’s presentation, some audience members had questions. One asked about consolidating the borough and city governments, and whether there was a current effort underway to try and make that happen.

“Do I know of anyone right not who is working on consolidation? No. Do I still think people should? Yes,” he said. “We’ve had four elections. Was it five? OK, five elections. We’ve had five different attempts, and several other attempts that didn’t even reach that level. It’s never been successful.”

Kiffer said the trick is to convince the majority of voters that what they will get with consolidation is better than what they’ll be giving up. He doubts that either government will make a new attempt, though, so it will have to be a grassroots effort.

Linda Koons Auger then spoke up from the audience and announced she is collecting names for a list of people interested in consolidation.

Another audience discussion focused on improving access to Ketchikan’s airport. While the state Department of Transportation continues working on the long-awaited Gravina Access plan, local residents and visitors continue to use the ferry system that has been in place for many years. One audience member suggested a baggage check-in and pick-up building on the town side of the system, so passengers at least don’t have to lug bags on the ferry.

Kiffer said there was an attempt to make that happen years ago, but Alaska Airlines nixed the idea. Despite that, he said it makes sense.

“If anyone has ever flown at the airport in Prince Rupert, that’s what you do,” he said. “You go into a building, they take all your stuff, put you on a bus and they drive you to the airport and put you on the ferry. It doesn’t kill them, but of course they’re Canadian.”

Kiffer was elected as Ketchikan’s borough mayor in 2008, and re-elected in 2011. His current term ends this fall, and because of term limits, he will not be able to run again.

Grant advances Kasaan longhouse repairs

Thu, 2014-01-09 15:28

An insect-infested house post is prepared for heat treatment to kill carpenter ants. (Organized Village of Kasaan)

A nearly-half-million-dollar grant will speed restoration of Alaska’s oldest Haida longhouse. The structure was first built 130 years ago.

Hear iFriendly audio.

Haida Chief Son-i-Hat built the original longhouse in the 1880s at the village of Kasaan. It’s on the eastern side of Southeast’s Prince of Wales Island, about 30 miles northwest of Ketchikan.

Scaffolding allows repairs to the Kasaan Whale House smokehole, which was damaged by rot. (Organized Village of Kasaan.)

It was called Naay I’waans, The Great House. Many know it as The Whale House, for some of the carvings inside.

It deteriorated, as wooden buildings in the rain forest do. The Civilian Conservation Corps, a depression-era employment program, rebuilt it in the late 1930s.

Now, the house badly needs repair again.

“It’s a matter of our cultural revitalization, showing that we’re still here and part of these lands,” says Richard Peterson, president of the Tribal Council for the Organized Village of Kasaan.

The tribal government is partnering with the Native village corporation Kavilco, and its cultural arm, the Kasaan Haida Heritage Foundation.

“A lot of the building is still in really good condition. Some of the supports are what’s failing. I think we’re fortunate enough that we don’t need a total reconstruction, so we want to maintain as much as we can,” Peterson says.

Read more about the effort.

The roof of Kasaan’s Chief Son-i-Hat House, also known as the Whale House, is covered by a tarp during repair work. (Organized Village of Kasaan.)

An analysis by Juneau-based MRV Architects estimated full repairs would cost more than $2 million. A scaled-back plan totaled about $1.4 million. It listed several phases to be completed as funds came in.

And they have. In late November, the Anchorage-based Rasmuson Foundation awarded the project $450,000. Peterson says that, plus funds from the tribal government and its partners, is about enough to complete the work.

“So right now, we’re milling up the logs and they’re going to hand-adz all of the timbers. And we’re just going in and starting to secure up some of the corners that are dropping down. It’s been a really exciting project,” Peterson says.

The effort to stabilize the longhouse has been underway for around two years. But it picked up speed last summer.

The lead carver is Stormy Hamar, who is working with apprentices Eric Hamar, his son, and Harley Bell-Holter. Others volunteer.

Peterson says it’s an all-ages effort.

“The great part is these young kids that are getting involved. And it’s across the lines. Native, non-Native, it doesn’t matter. There’s been a real interest by the youth there,” Peterson says.

Work continues through the winter. Peterson says the focus now is repairing or replacing structural elements so the longhouse doesn’t collapse.

The Whale House is already attracting attention. Independent travelers drive the 17-mile dirt road that starts near Thorne Bay. And Sitka-based Alaska Dream Cruises also stops in Kasaan, where the house is on the list of sights to see.

“Because it’s off-site, you’re not going to see any modern technology. There’s no cars driving by. You can really see how our people lived 200 years ago and experience that and look at those totems in a natural setting,” Peterson says. “It wasn’t put there for a park. This is how it was. And I think people really appreciate that.”

Without too many surprises, Peterson hopes work can be completed in around two years.

Then, he says, the tribe will host a celebration like the one Wrangell leaders put on last year when they finished the Chief Shakes Tribal House.

Grant advances Kasaan longhouse repairs

Thu, 2014-01-09 11:31

The roof of Kasaan’s Chief Son-i-Hat House, also known as the Whale House, is covered by a tarp during repair work. (Organized Village of Kasaan.)

A nearly-half-million-dollar grant will speed restoration of Alaska’s oldest Haida longhouse. The structure was first built 130 years ago.

Hear iFriendly audio.

Haida Chief Son-i-Hat built the original longhouse in the 1880s at the village of Kasaan. It’s on the eastern side of Southeast’s Prince of Wales Island, about 30 miles northwest of Ketchikan.

It was called Naay I’waans, The Great House. Many know it as The Whale House, for some of the carvings inside.

It deteriorated, as wooden buildings in the rain forest do. The Civilian Conservation Corps, a depression-era employment program, rebuilt it in the late 1930s.

Now, the house badly needs repair again.

An insect-infested house post is prepared for heat treatment to kill carpenter ants. (Organized Village of Kasaan)

“It’s a matter of our cultural revitalization, showing that we’re still here and part of these lands,” says Richard Peterson, president of the Tribal Council for the Organized Village of Kasaan.

The tribal government is partnering with the Native village corporation Kavilco, and its cultural arm, the Kasaan Haida Heritage Foundation.

“A lot of the building is still in really good condition. Some of the supports are what’s failing. I think we’re fortunate enough that we don’t need a total reconstruction, so we want to maintain as much as we can,” Peterson says.

Read more about the effort.

An analysis by Juneau-based MRV Architects estimated full repairs would cost more than $2 million. A scaled-back plan totaled about $1.4 million. It listed several phases to be completed as funds came in.

And they have. In late November, the Anchorage-based Rasmuson Foundation awarded the project $450,000. Peterson says that, plus funds from the tribal government and its partners, is about enough to complete the work.

“So right now, we’re milling up the logs and they’re going to hand-adz all of the timbers. And we’re just going in and starting to secure up some of the corners that are dropping down. It’s been a really exciting project,” Peterson says.

The effort to stabilize the longhouse has been underway for around two years. But it picked up speed last summer.

The lead carver is Stormy Hamar, who is working with apprentices Eric Hamar, his son, and Harley Bell-Holter. Others volunteer.

Eric Hammer (front) and Harley Bell-Holter work in Kasaan’s carving shed. (Courtesy Organized Village of Kasaan)

Peterson says it’s an all-ages effort.

“The great part is these young kids that are getting involved. And it’s across the lines. Native, non-Native, it doesn’t matter. There’s been a real interest by the youth there,” Peterson says.

Work continues through the winter. Peterson says the focus now is repairing or replacing structural elements so the longhouse doesn’t collapse.

The Whale House is already attracting attention. Independent travelers drive the 17-mile dirt road that starts near Thorne Bay. And Sitka-based Alaska Dream Cruises also stops in Kasaan, where the house is on the list of sights to see.

“Because it’s off-site, you’re not going to see any modern technology. There’s no cars driving by. You can really see how our people lived 200 years ago and experience that and look at those totems in a natural setting,” Peterson says. “It wasn’t put there for a park. This is how it was. And I think people really appreciate that.”

Without too many surprises, Peterson hopes work can be completed in around two years.

Then, he says, the tribe will host a celebration like the one Wrangell leaders put on last year when they finished the Chief Shakes Tribal House.

Scaffolding allows repairs to the Kasaan Whale House smokehole, which was damaged by rot. (Organized Village of Kasaan.)

 

Community Foundation talks funds and future plans

Thu, 2014-01-09 10:49

Tessa Axelson and Tom Shulz of the Ketchikan Community Foundation talk about how much money the foundation has raised and how they plan to support community organizations this year. CommunityFoundation

Docent program to use local science knowledge

Thu, 2014-01-09 10:30


Listen to iFriendly audio.
Ashley Bolwerk, with the Sitka Sound Science Center, discusses training opportunities for docents (and junior docents) at the center. Bolwerk says Sitkans may know more about the natural world than they realize, and can offer a valuable service to visitors. Learn more about the Sitka Sound Science Center docent program online.

Thu Jan 9, 2014

Thu, 2014-01-09 10:21


Listen to iFriendly audio.
Even in new building, Pacific High takes learning outside walls. Petersburg considers lawsuit to recover expense of challenging interim redistricting map. Committee explores options for changes to Petersburg senior sales tax exemption as population ages.

Kookesh, others to challenge overfishing charges

Thu, 2014-01-09 01:09

Former lawmaker Albert Kookesh says he and two other men charged with overfishing intend to again appeal the charges. The Alaska Court of Appeals on Dec. 27 reinstated the charges against Kookesh, Rocky Estrada and Stanley Johnson after the men had succeeded in having the charges dismissed by a Sitka district court judge in 2010. A fourth man cited, Scott Hunter, did not appeal the citation. The citations carry a $500 fine.

read more

Army to reduce authorized soldier count in Alaska

Thu, 2014-01-09 01:07

ANCHORAGE — The U.S. Army has largely spared Alaska from personnel reductions tied to federal budget cuts.

Army Alaska announced Wednesday that Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage will lose 780 soldiers by September 2015, falling to authorized personnel of 4,598.

Fort Wainwright in Fairbanks will gain 367 soldiers by the end of fiscal year 2015, pushing the number of authorized personnel to 6,198 soldiers.

The net loss for Alaska: 373 soldiers.

read more

Plane lands in median of major Anchorage street

Thu, 2014-01-09 01:07

ANCHORAGE — A pilot who made a safe emergency landing on a major Anchorage street said he lost power, waited for a break in traffic, then descended onto the snowy median.

Armon Tabrizi said he was not immediately sure where to land before deciding to put the Cessna 172RG Cutlass down in the middle of Boniface Parkway Tuesday afternoon, the Anchorage Daily News reported. Tabrizi, 27, avoided cars and stoplights, and no one in the plane or on the ground was injured.

Meredith Hazen was driving on the four-lane street when the plane came down.

read more

Group takes next step to legalize marijuana

Thu, 2014-01-09 01:06

ANCHORAGE — A citizens’ group hoping to make Alaska the third state in the nation to legalize recreational use of marijuana took a step closer Wednesday, submitting more than 46,000 signatures to the state election office.

If enough signatures are verified — they need about 30,000 qualified signatures — the question of whether to make pot legal in the nation’s northernmost state will go before voters in the Aug. 19 primary. Signatures must come from at least 7 percent of voters in at least 30 House districts.

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Task force co-chair says more info on the way

Wed, 2014-01-08 21:09

The House Sustainable Education Task Force has spent $20,666.59 of its $250,000 appropriation so far, according to a legislative accounting document acquired by the Juneau Empire.

The task force came under scrutiny last week after its first report was released. The two-page report, which was labeled as preliminary, didn’t provide any hard numbers or analysis related to the state’s education system as anticipated. It did, however, note “that current education spending is not sustainable.” That statement provoked ire from task force member Andrew Halcro.

read more

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