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Southeast Alaska News
Pianist Matt King is one of several out-of-state musicians who are visiting Ketchikan to add their talents to the Jazz & Cabaret festival this weekend, presented by First City Players. King and First City’s Elizabeth Nelson discuss the upcoming performance with KRBD.
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Audubon Christmas Bird Count organizers Jen Cedarleaf and Vicki Vosberg discuss the results of this year’s count, which took place on January 4.
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Students of Vida Davis carry on her legacy. Bitcoin makes its debut at a pair of Juneau retailers. House Minority Leader Beth Kerttula anticipates another rocky legislative session.
Vida Susan Davis, a native elder, and leader of Tlingit language revitalization in Sitka died earlier this month. 35 years a Tlingit language instructor, Davis helped many Sitkans develop a cultural identity. Two of Davis’s long-time students, Nancy Douglas and Heather Powell talk about her legacy. They say that thanks to Davis and other native elders they have the tools to continue teaching Tlingit culture.
KASAAN — A grant will help speed restoration of the oldest Haida longhouse in Alaska.
The original house was built 130 years ago by Haida chief Son-i-Hat. It was known as Naay I’waans, The Great House, though many call it the Whale House for its carvings inside.
Like most wood structures do in the rain forest, it deteriorated over time.
FAIRBANKS — A New Year’s tradition has left residents in one Interior Alaska community off the grid.
The traditional way to ring in the new year is to shoot off guns at midnight on Jan. 1 in the community of Tanana, located about 150 miles west of Fairbanks.
BETHEL — It’s the type of thing that’s never supposed to happen.
Isabella “Boo Boo” January, 6, was diagnosed with a cancerous tumor on her right kidney on Dec. 9. Her parents said it came as a complete surprise.
Her parents, Chip and April, unsure of what the future would bring, sent out a call for help on social media. The community stepped up in a big way. Through a donation site (gofundme.com/JanuaryCancerFight) they have already raised over $13,000 of their $20,000 goal.
PETERSBURG — Petersburg is gearing up for a new curbside recycling program.
The city already offers recycling, but residents have to sort it, and not all materials can be recycled.
The new program starts Feb. 4, KFSK reported. Customers don’t have to sort, and they can put most plastics, aluminum, tin, glass, cardboard and paper into the same bag. All they have to do is set the bag next to their garbage on normal pickup days.
Public works director Karl Hagerman told the assembly that recycling bags will be distributed at the start of the program.
KODIAK — Last month, Kodiak resident Jun Belen was feeding kids at a school on the Philippine island of Leyte when he was struck by the kindness of one boy.
JUNEAU — Bills that would axe recommended salary increases for top state officials, institute crisis training programs for schools and limit use of drones by law enforcement were among the first wave of legislation filed Friday ahead of the upcoming legislative session.
ANCHORAGE — A recent state analysis of injuries treated at a Dutch Harbor clinic provides some patterns on who is injured, and on what vessels, in Alaska’s fisheries.
According to a report from the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services Division of Public Health: “It is not surprising that the majority of the non-fatal injuries occurred on catcher processors, as they employ the largest number of workers and process the largest volumes of seafood relative to other vessel types.”
ANCHORAGE — A lawsuit filed against the firm that formerly oversaw expansion of the Port of Anchorage should be dismissed, the company’s attorney said Thursday.
Kurt Hamrock told a federal judge that as a federal contractor, Integrated Concepts and Research Corp. is protected by sovereign immunity, just like the federal government, the Anchorage Daily News reported.
Hamrock also said company did nothing outside the scope of its contract. Only actions exceeding the contract provisions can be the basis for a lawsuit, Hamrock said.
FAIRBANKS — Mushers and others have reported seeing bloodied grizzly tracks on trails near Denali National Park and Preserve.
Four-time Iditarod Trail Sled Dog champion Jeff King lives in the area, and told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner that he saw fresh, bloody bear tracks Wednesday.
“I followed them for about a mile up the Yanert Valley,” he said. The bear walked in the middle of the trail, and didn’t appear it wanted to get off it.
King said the fresh tracks made him apprehensive, and the fact they were accompanied by blood didn’t help.
Ketchikan’s annual Chamber awards banquet is about honoring individuals, but it also is a celebration of the community as a whole. Each of the honorees expressed appreciation of this place and the people in it.
The awards segment of the evening kicked off with Outstanding Youth Leaders, Rick and Pat Shaner. Both Shaners are retired teachers who founded numerous church-based youth groups and substitute-teach in local schools. A crowd of young people emerged with flowers for the couple when their names were announced for the award.
Here is Pat Shaner, thanking the Chamber for the honor.
“We feel blessed beyond anything you can imagine,” she said. “Our kids keep saying, ‘Why don’t you move down here with us?’ We say we have kids in Alaska that need us.”
Next, Chamber Business Manager Chelsea Goucher announced the Outstanding Community Event, the annual Shellfish Festival. The sponsoring organizations are the Alaska Shellfish Growers Association, Southeast Alaska Regional Dive Fisheries Association and OceansAlaska, and the event has been extremely popular for each of the four years it has been held.
“Just try to get a ticket at the last minute, or even a week before,” Goucher said. “It’s nearly impossible. The attraction is buckets upon buckets of southern Southeast Alaska’s best in shellfish delicacies, prepared by its premier chefs and cooks. Alaska produced oysters, spot prawns, geoduck clams, sea cucumbers, scallops; all of this is featured as part of the feast at the festival.”
Outgoing Chamber President Judy Zenge then announced the President’s Award, which went this year to Doug Ward. She praised Ward for his community advocacy, and his involvement in the Chamber over the years. Ward gave a characteristically entertaining acceptance speech.
“When I first got here, I remember the stench of the seaweed at low tide and the rotting logs and the dying fish on the beach, and it brought tears to my eyes then, too,” he said. “It didn’t take too many years that I started noticing a subtle difference, in when I got off that plane, I began to enjoy that smell.”
Nancy Christian presented the Entrepreneur of the Year Award to Alma and Dennis Parker,
who own StudioMax fitness and dance studio. Christian said it was the couple’s dream to own the business, but Dennis Parker offered a clarification.
“Real quick, I’m gonna clear something up here. It was not my dream,” he said. “I have come to Ketchikan, I get that smell, I have not yet learned to love it. The community of Ketchikan, the people of Ketchikan, I love.”
The Business of the Year award went to Parnassus Books, and former owner Maggie
Freitag. She worked many years at Parnassus before buying it in 2004 from founder and longtime owner Ms. Lillian Ference, and Freitag recently sold the bookstore to former librarian Charlotte Glover.
“If you don’t recognize me, I’m the retired Maggie Freitag,” she said. “I felt honored to be part of Lillian’s business, I felt honored to take the helm of Parnassus and I know Charlotte is going to do a great job carrying on the tradition of Lillian.”
The evening ended with the Citizens of the Year: Tom and Mary Schulz.
Tom Schulz, a retired judge, volunteers much of his time to local organizations, including the District 36 Democrats, Ketchikan Community Foundation, Ketchikan Yacht Club and Women in Safe Homes.
Mary Schulz is a former teacher who has been honored in the past for her teaching activities, was among the WISH Women of Distinction honorees two years ago, and helped found First City Homeless Services. She also is devoted to promoting swimming safety, and started the local Masters Swim Program for adults in Ketchikan.
Penny Pedersen, announcing the award, noted that Tom Schulz moved here from Juneau first, and Mary followed later with the kids, a lot of animals and a pickup truck with a busted rear window. Mary explained that it was damaged when her son drove the snowmachine into the truck bed.
“Actually it wasn’t Bryan’s fault,” she said. “We had to get the snowmobile to Ketchikan – we didn’t realize there wasn’t any snow here. So I said we can get it in the back of the truck. I told Bryan you run it around and I’ll back up into the snowbank and you can drive onto the truck. So, he knows he’s going to have to gun it to get it on the truck. In the meantime I think if I put this plywood over the snowbank, then he wouldn’t have to jump the little gulf there. But I didn’t tell him. So he gunned it, he shot through the air, landed in the back window and — what can you say?”
In a brief and emotional acceptance speech, Tom Schulz summed up the general theme of the evening.
“I came down here from Juneau in ’73, and all I wanted to be was a trial judge,” he said. “I found a great community. Thank you so much.”
Former Alliance Realty co-owners Robert “Zig” Ziegler and Roger Stone were sentenced in Ketchikan Superior Court today following a plea deal. Each pled guilty to one count of misapplication of property and received identical sentences.
Ziegler and Stone had separate sentencing hearings Friday, but both faced multiple charges of felony misapplication of property and second-degree theft. The two were under investigation for allegations made at the time they were co-owners of Alliance Realty in Ketchikan. Stone reached an agreement in May of last year, and Ziegler last November. Both pled guilty to one count of felony misapplication of property with all other charges dropped.
Under the terms of the agreements, maximum jail time would be 30 days and any additional time, up to six months, would be spent in community service. The judge could also suspend all jail time, requiring only community service. Both are also required to make financial restitution.
During both hearings, Assistant District Attorney Ben Hoffmeister says the embezzlement of funds occurred during difficult economic times. He believes the motivation was ego rather than greed.
“They got themselves into a hole. They made an extremely bad choice by raiding these trust accounts, and they couldn’t get themselves out. I think that’s all based on ego. What is comes down to is that their reputation was more important to them and the problems that they had created for themselves rather trying to atone for them.”
During Stone’s hearing, defense attorney Jeffrey Sauer noted that Stone has no prior record and as soon as the misappropriations were discovered, he cooperated fully with the
investigation. Sauer says a lengthy jail sentence would result in Stone losing his current job in Washington State. He says recovering financial losses is most important and restitution can’t be made by someone in prison.
Addressing the court, Stone apologized for his actions. He says he hopes to be able to continue to support his family while making restitution to those affected.
“I’m deeply sorry for the events that occurred. I probably should have pulled the plug much earlier, but in the heat of battle, when you’re trying to save something that you have in your entire life invested in, sometimes bad decisions get made. I made a very poor decision and I will regret that for the rest of my life.”
Stone has been making payments through a bankruptcy trustee.
During Ziegler’s hearing, defense attorney Sam McQuerry argued that Ziegler was completely unaware of the misappropriation of funds and Stone was fully responsible. He says Ziegler trusted Stone completely as the agency’s accountant.
Much of the discussion in both hearings revolved around a $10,000 check from the trust account made out to, and cashed by, Ziegler. Stone claims Ziegler asked him to write the check and that Ziegler was aware the money was coming from the trust account. Ziegler claims he did not know the money was coming from the trust account. He says his greatest error was not looking closely at the check and trusting Stone with all management of the books.
Presiding Judge William Carey asked Ziegler why, if this is the case, he chose to plead guilty.
“You recognize that the statute that you have pled guilty to states, ‘a person commits the crime of misapplication of property if the person knowingly misapplies property” Carey said.
Ziegler replied, “Your honor, I understand. The reason that I accepted my position right now is that I should have known. It is very accurate to say that I should have done more, and it was my responsibility to do more. And I didn’t. I had relied on others to do that and that’s my fault. But I have sold everything to make good on what was due. I have monitored the situation continually to make sure everything is being done. The opportunity that I have at this point is to hopefully get back to Florida as soon as possible so that I can be gainfully employed and make restitution as quickly as possible.”
Ziegler has been living in Florida where he has an Alaska import business.
Before making his decisions, Judge Carey said both men had already paid a very high price having lost their credibility and reputations. He says some jail time is appropriate, but noted both have been making restitution payments and seeing that funds are returned is most important. Carey imposed the same sentence on both men.
It was a suspended imposition of sentence. Stone and Ziegler received 75 days jail time, 15 to serve, with 60 days converted to community service. For good behavior, jail time could be reduced to 10 days. Both men will be on probation for 5 years, but the term could end sooner if restitution and community service are completed.
Stone requested to begin his incarceration immediately. Ziegler requested to begin serving his sentence on Saturday. McQuerry requested a no-contact order between Stone and Ziegler on behalf of his client. Judge Carey denied the request. Both men will serve their jail time at the Ketchikan Correctional Center and the community service in the states they now reside.
It’s flu season, and as of Friday, there were 13 confirmed local cases of influenza. And Ketchikan Medical Center was waiting for test results on 15 additional cases.
Infection Preventionist Pamela Standley said she expects at least half of those results to come back positive. She said all known cases so far have been the H1N1 strain, also called “swine flu.”
The hospital urged people to get a flu shot. It’s not too late in the season, and protection against H1N1 is included in the current vaccine. Locally, vaccinations are available at some pharmacies, from primary care providers and at the Ketchikan Public Health Center.
If you do suspect you have the flu, Standley recommends staying home to minimize spreading the disease.
The Ketchikan City Council on Thursday approved a seasonal sales tax, but it might not last.
After the Council voted 4-3 in favor of the 1-percent summertime tax, one of the members who voted yes – Bob Sivertsen – asked that the Council reconsider the vote. So, the issue will come back at the next regular meeting.
The Council did vote earlier in the meeting on an amendment that would have changed the seasonal 1-percent tax hike to a year-round half-percent increase. But, that measure failed.
In an interview Friday, Council Member Marty West says she proposed that amendment in response to comments from the public.
“We heard from several people last night talking about what a bookkeeping nightmare that would be,” she said. “Just different logistical things about having to adjust the sales tax in their businesses twice (a year).”
Some members of the public asked the Council to consider more budget cuts before increasing taxes. However, City Mayor Lew Williams III says the current budget is the result of two decades of cuts.
“People who came to the meeting and said cut the budget. Well, we’ve been cutting the budget and doing things to keep us from having to raise taxes for 20 years,” he said. “It comes down to now, if we cut things in the budget, we’re going to be cutting the service levels. With that and some increases in debt service with the library and fire department, we opted for the sales tax.”
Williams says if enough people come back in the fall to say they still want budget cuts, the Council can explore reducing services.
Also Thursday, the Council approved a 4-percent increase in wastewater fees and postponed a water rate increase. West says the delay is at the request of seafood processing companies, which use a lot of water in their operations. Officials with those businesses told the Council that they wanted to come up with a different proposal for the city’s consideration.
The Council also appointed Dick Coose to fill a vacant seat on the Council. Coose was on the Council previously, but lost his bid for re-election in October. The seat will be on the ballot, along with two others, this coming fall.
The next regular City Council meeting is next week. Thursday’s meeting was rescheduled from Jan. 2 because of the New Year’s holiday.
There were two winners for the first Rain Game Classic, a new rainfall guessing game put on by the Petersburg Chamber of Commerce.
Chamber director Cindi Lagoudakis announced the winners Friday. Hilary Bell and Helen Boggs both win a check for 240 dollars. Both submitted guesses of 110.2 inches, just one hundredth of an inch from the actual rainfall amount last year, 110.19.
The chamber sold 960 dollars worth of tickets for the 50-50 raffle, so the prize money totaled 480 dollars and the two winning guesses split that amount.
“We’re gonna make a more concentrated effort to sell tickets this year,” Lagoudakis said. “We wanna get them printed a little bit earlier and now that people know what it’s about I think it’ll gain a little bit of momentum but it should be kind of fun. Then of course we cut off the entries some time in the fall so there’s a time period there where who knows what’s gonna happen. And I think the heaviest rainfall date was sometime around December 14th so anything can happen after that October date.”
Lagoudakis hopes to have tickets for the next round of guessing available for the Chamber banquet in March.
The state will terminate its partnership with TransCanada under the Alaska Gasline Inducement Act, Gov. Sean Parnell announced Friday at an Alaska Support Industry Alliance gathering in Anchorage. Parnell also said the state will pursue an equity stake in the Alaska gas line.
“As a partner in the gas line project, Alaska will control its own destiny,” he said. “Ownership ensures we either pay ourselves for project services or negotiate and ensure the lowest possible costs. As a partner, Alaskans stand to gain more.”
City Council Member Marty West gives a recap of the Thursday night Council meeting, where members voted on a 1-percent seasonal sales tax increase. The vote passed, but one member who voted “yes” said he would like to reconsider a new proposal, for a half percent sales tax increase year-round. The Council will vote again at their meeting next week.