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Southeast Alaska News
A pair of kayakers paddles between a humpback whale and a harem of sealions as herring spawn in Sitka Sound Sunday in Sitka, Alaska.
ANCHORAGE — A Coast Guardsman who found the bodies of two murdered co-workers thought at first they were pranking him.
Petty Officer Cody Beaufort said Wednesday he was preparing for a transfer on April 12, 2012, and could not believe what he saw when he reported for work at about 7:30 a.m. at the Coast Guard’s Kodiak Communication Station.
An investigation surrounding missing evidence from the North Slope Borough Police Department is underway in Barrow after money and drugs disappeared at the department more than a year ago. As of Tuesday, the borough is in the process of hiring an investigator to look into the allegations.
ANCHORAGE — Two Republicans running against Democratic U.S. Sen. Mark Begich told a crowd of Alaska Native leaders at a candidates forum that they value subsistence, but they stopped short of answering a question about the U.S. Supreme Court’s refusal to review the state’s appeal of a lower court’s ruling on rural fishing and hunting rights.
Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell and former state natural resources commissioner Dan Sullivan spoke Tuesday at the Alaska Native Village CEO Association conference, the Anchorage Daily News reported.
ANCHORAGE — Genetic variation in more than 300 polar bears from Alaska was analyzed in a recent study that looked at genetic elements not used in earlier studies.
The study was conducted by University of Alaska Fairbanks Professor Matthew Cronin, who worked with colleagues at the University of California Davis and Montclair State University in New Jersey, the Anchorage Daily News reported this week.
Pauline Fredrickson was born in Cordova, Alaska, in 1929 and relocated as a child first to Chichagof Island and then to Sitka, where she has remained to raise her family, and lead us all with her wise, generous spirit. She dropped by Raven Radio to record a tribute to the station called Build on the Good, which you can listen to here. On her way out she insisted on a photo-op with KCAW News Director Robert Woolsey, her next-door neighbor for 27 years!
During her recording session, Pauline offered many thoughts and observations about her nearly-85 years as an Alaskan, which we will share from time to time on our airwaves and on our Facebook page.
Answer: At least 11!
We were lucky enough to have 11 members of “The Hundred” in today during Hometown Brew to help celebrate Raven Radio leading up to our One-Day Spring Drive this Friday, April 4th.
We’ve raised about $30,000 on our way to our goal of $85,000. If you enjoy the diverse music and talents that Raven Radio brings to our community, please consider making a donation online now! http://bit.ly/1qqajdV
Members of Petersburg’s borough assembly Tuesday tried to cut funding for community service grants and borough departments but did not have enough votes to approve those reductions. That was after local organizations that rely on borough grants made their case for continued support.
For mobile-friendly audio, click here:
Representatives from the school district, Petersburg mental health services, KFSK, the Clausen museum, and Mt View Manor food service turned out to answer questions about how grants and payments to the various organizations are used. That’s after borough assembly members last week questioned some of the payments and mentioned making reductions.
Overall, the items in the borough community services budget total nearly two million dollars, with $1.8 million of that going to the local school district.
School superintendent Rob Thomason urged the borough to maintain that contribution. He said the district anticipated a drop in state funding of 300,000 dollars or more and said they’ve been reducing its staff to make up for that funding loss. “In the 2014-15 school year there’ll be three fewer teachers in the district and one less classified or instructional assistant. Those teachers are an English teacher, an elementary teacher and a special education teacher plus the one classified person. These reductions are the result of one retirement, two resignations and one, our first in many many years, reduction in force, where we actually told someone I’m sorry we do not have a job for you.”
Thomason noted the district has been reducing staff in each of the last five years. Petersburg Mental Health Services director Susan Ohmer said the 85,000 dollars in borough grants to her organization have allowed mental health to employ another clinician. Ohmer said that local funding also helped mental health secure other state and federal grant money. “Without local funding it hamstrings us in so many different ways in terms of leveraging grants and being able to see the type of clients that we see and being able to provide the level of response that we provide for the police and the hospital and other agencies that ask us for help.” Ohmer said loss of the local grant money would mean her agency would have to refer clients elsewhere.
Other grantees also made their case for continued grant funding. A draft budget prepared by borough staff includes the same level of funding for community services as last year. That draft budget is balanced in the general fund and even anticipates setting aside 437-thousand dollars for future purchases or projects in the borough’s property development fund.
Assembly member John Havrilek wanted to cut borough spending. “The people in the community that are working at Hammers, TU, they’re not making anywhere near what the people in this room are making, nowhere near. That’s why I have a hard time supporting more funding or even the same funding when I know people are out there that are struggling to feed themselves and their kids. Much worse shape than most of us. Cant afford it. So we need to cut back,” Havrilek said.
Havrilek suggested an amendment to cut the borough budget across the board one percent, reduce the school appropriation by 200,000 dollars and eliminate the mental health grants.
Assembly member Jeigh Stanton Gregor noted his ownership of a private mental health counseling business. Others on the assembly were split on whether he stood to get more business by reducing a borough payment to the other mental health provider in town. Nancy Strand thought he did. “It looks to me like you could stand to gain monetarily which is the question behind recusing,” Strand said.
With Stanton Gregor sitting out the vote, the amendment failed 2-2 with Havrilek and Bob Lynn in favor and Strand and acting mayor Cindi Lagoudakis voting against it.
A motion to approve the draft budget as proposed by staff also failed with three “no” votes, Stanton Gregor, Lynn and Havrilek. Those three also voted for a two percent across the board reduction to the borough budget not including community payments. With Strand and Lagoudakis voting no, that proposal also fell short.
Yet another vote was on a one percent cut across the board. Since that included the mental health grants, Stanton Gregor sat out that vote, and it failed 3-1 with only Strand voting no.
With no proposals getting a four-vote majority, assembly member Bob Lynn made his case for cutting borough spending. “I hear out there almost everybody I talk to says we wanna tax this, we wanna tax that, we want more, we want more and we haven’t looked at cutting anything,” Lynn said. “I’ve got a concern with that, I’ve got a real concern. We know the national budget’s affected. We’ve heard everybody here saying their budgets are going down because the grants aren’t there and everything else. We’ve got some of the same problems. The other one is we have buildings around town that need help and some place along the line we’re gonna have to take care of ourselves I believe and we gotta start saving for it.”
However, Nancy Strand questioned the impact of across the board cuts. “We just spent several hours in meetings with or work sessions with our department heads and I of the impression they’ve cut pretty much as much as they can without really reducing services. So I wonder where these additional one percent or two percent cuts are gonna come from?”
School superintendent Thomason answered that question, noting the school district has already contracted with its staff for next year and any cuts would have to fall on five percent of the district’s budget. “The only place we can go to reduce the number you’re talking about, that magical five percent is sports, activities, music, art, professional development, vocational education, technology and teaching supplies. We cannot, by law, retract contracts. So if you’re gonna make this decision for the school district, be it one percent, be it two percent, be it 200-thousand dollars, there will be a significant community impact.”
Meanwhile, assembly member Havrilek still wanted to find ways to cut borough spending.
:33 “I know we went through these meetings and talked to people but I still think the bottom line is at this spending rate we’re being irresponsible. And unless we create our own reserves if we do have problems or emergencies we’re asking for a disaster. I don’t think its too late, I think we need to start planning now. But you know I don’t know what else to offer.”
Since none of the assembly’s amendments or motions passed, that leaves staff with its original draft budget. That will be up for a public hearing along with three votes, and more potential amendments, during assembly meetings in May and June.
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game has announced this year’s sport fishing regulations for king salmon fishing in Southeast Alaska and Yakutat.
The regulations took effect Wednesday, and will remain through next year.
According to the department, the resident bag and possession limit is three king salmon at least 28 inches long.
The nonresident bag and possession limit for most of the year is one king salmon at least 28 inches long. During May and June, the possession and bag limit increases to two kings.
Additional information can be found online. A link is posted with this report on the KRBD website.
A petition to place the chloramine water treatment issue in front of city voters was turned in at Ketchikan City Hall Wednesday.
If all of the estimated 622 signatures belong to registered city voters, that’s well above the required 356 needed for the petition to pass the first hurdle.
City Clerk Katy Suiter says it will take at least a couple of days to verify the signatures. If there are enough valid signatures, the city attorney then will review it to make sure the proposed ballot initiative language passes legal muster.
If it survives both reviews, the city must put the initiative before voters within two months. The initiative would ask city voters to prohibit Ketchikan Public Utilities from using chloramine – a mixture of chlorine and ammonia – as part of its water treatment system.
The city has been moving toward a chloramine treatment system for about 10 years. A group called United Citizens for Better Water formed this winter to oppose the switch.
While the initiative process continues, the city is moving ahead with plans to start that new treatment next week. In a memo to the Ketchikan City Council, Water Division Manager John Kleinegger writes that the process will take about five days. It involves testing the equipment and flushing pipes as the new disinfection mixture is distributed throughout Ketchikan’s water system.
Kleinegger’s memo was part of the Ketchikan City Council meeting agenda, although there is no action item on the agenda related to chloramine.
During that meeting, the Council will consider an agreement with Akeela, Inc., to help relocate the Ketchikan Alcohol Rehabilitation House to property on Washington Street donated by PeaceHealth for that purpose.
PeaceHealth also would provide $100,000 to help with the move, according to the agreement. The city would provide $300,000. The estimated cost to renovate the donated building is $747,500.
The Council meeting starts at 7 p.m. Thursday in City Council chambers. Public comment will be heard at the start of the meeting.
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Between the Buttons is a new Raven program brought to you Wednesdays 10 – 12 by Columbus; here with Tom during this morning’s show. We hope you will support Raven Radio’s eclectic programming with a donation at http://bit.ly/1qqajdV. Our Online Drive is happening now at kcaw.org with over $28,000 donated so far this Spring. If you haven’t made a donation please consider a gift today!
The Financial Foundation Task Force, part of the Ketchikan Wellness Coalition, is holding a financial planning simulation at Shoenbar Middle School Friday. 7th graders will make decisions about what to spend on and what to save. Chelsea Goucher and Gail Klein joined KRBD to talk about the event.
House Republicans presented their proposal for increasing education funding Tuesday, and with it came the first glimpse into legislative decision-makers’ thoughts on fixing the state’s growing unfunded liability problem.
Within Republican Gov. Sean Parnell’s omnibus education bill, HB278, legislators proposed adopting a “pay-as-you-go” plan for addressing the retirement benefit question — one of the biggest issues facing the Legislature this session.
The House Finance committee unveiled its revised omnibus education bill Tuesday, and while the matter is far from settled the initial impression is positive for the Juneau School District.
Originally proposed by Republican Gov. Sean Parnell, HB278 now calls for increasing the base student allocation by $185 this year and $58 in each of the following two years.
The increase, coupled with a change to a portion of the education funding formula related to school size, means Juneau’s increased funding would be about $2.1 million.
As the state legislature continues to mull over the details of a complicated proposal to spur development of an Alaska gasline, the federal government is working to make it easier for Alaskans to understand what’s going on.
Lawmakers are tinkering with Republican Gov. Sean Parnell’s SB138, which outlines the state’s course of action going forward as it works with corporate partners ExxonMobil, BP, ConocoPhillips and TransCanada to build a large liquefied natural gas project.
The Museum of Hoaxes puts it at number 16 on the list of Top 100 April Fools Hoaxes of All-Time.
The Eruption of the Mt. Edgecumbe Volcano was staged in Sitka 40 years ago today, on April 1, 1974. The prank was orchestrated by Porky Bickar and a group of co-conspirators known as the “Dirty Dozen,” using a helicopter and two sling loads of old tires. KCAW’s Robert Woolsey produced the following piece in 2009, to commemorate the 35th anniversary of the hoax.
Last week, in celebration of Women’s History Month, the University of Alaska Southeast Ketchikan Campus Library hosted a panel of women who moved to Ketchikan in the 1950s. They talked about how they arrived, what life was like at that time, the different jobs they held and the social scene.
On the panel were Cathy Bellon, Ernestine Henderson, Elinore Jacobsen and Alaire Stanton. A packed audience filled the university library for the talk, and some in the audience joined the conversation.
Bellon said she moved here in 1955. Her husband was a city police officer, and had a habit of buying boats. The two also worked in the commercial fishing industry, and later owned one of Ketchikan now historic bars.
“He said stick with me and we’ll go places,” she said. “I never dreamed it would be the Potlatch Bar.”
Henderson, a retired clerk of court, officiated at countless weddings over the years. Her mother-in-law owned June’s Café, and her husband worked in construction.
Henderson worked at “Mother June’s” restaurant for a while, then at the Stedman Hotel, owned by Gordon Zerbetz. This was back when many women didn’t work outside the home, and Henderson’s husband decided she shouldn’t either.
“So I gave Gordon Zerbetz about three months (worth of) two-weeks’ notice, and he would never hire anyone,” she said. “So finally I just didn’t show up for work. He didn’t want me to quit! I was enjoying it, but my husband said no, absolutely you can’t do that.”
Henderson got back into the job marker later, though, and worked many years for the state before retiring.
Elinore Jacobsen is a retired nurse, who worked at the old health center and hospital, which both were downtown. She also would fly out to remote communities to provide health care for people who couldn’t afford to come to Ketchikan.
“I would sort of screen the patients and get a general, and then categorize them,” she said. “That was really an interesting experience and something I think the State of Alaska did and should have done for those individuals who had no access to health care.”
Alaire Stanton is a former city mayor, City Council member and Pioneers Home director, among her other volunteer positions. She moved to Ketchikan in 1954. She was 18, recently married and her husband had just been hired at the brand-new pulp mill. She also was pregnant.
“During the first summer, there was hardly any movement back and forth between the West End and downtown because they were reconstructing Water Street,” she said. “When I had to go to the doctor for my appointments because I was pregnant, I had to walk from basically the Lutheran Church down to the MBA Building. And that was a very cumbersome
way to get downtown because often it was a couple planks alongside a building. It was a frontier experience that first summer.”
While not one of the panelists, Gerry Gnasiak is another 1950s arrival. She joined the conversation, and talked a little about the racial divide that she experienced here in the 50s.
“I was probably the only multi-racial person on the island when I arrived here,” she said. “There was a divide. And there never is a divide that’s pretty. It was pretty ugly in some cases.”
Henderson, who is African American, said she never noticed any racism in Ketchikan at that time. Stanton noted that there was another kind of division, centered on the pulp mill.
“There were a lot of old-timers in the town, including the merchants, who never really accepted the mill people until 1965, when the mill workers went on strike and the money dried up at the merchants,” she said. “And then they realized what an impact the mill workers had on this town.”
On a lighter note, the women recalled how they adjusted to life in Alaska’s First City. Henderson said she bought the equivalent of a rain jacket for the baby stroller, so she could walk with her kids in Ketchikan’s typical downpours.
Knasiak remembered a lesson in footwear that she immediately learned.
“I arrived in 3-inch heels, a suit, a hat and gloves,” she said. “That’s the way we did it. It was 1955, and the streets were planked, I got off and the first thing I did I caught my heel and pitched forward. Happily there was a guy in back of me and he caught my coat, or I would have been toothless.”
Knasiak says she never wore 3-inch heels again.
Listen to the full panel discussion below.
Tonight on a special Radio Celebration edition of Analog Playset, Dan brings us an exclusive interview with Justin Pierre, the guitarist and singer of the band, Motion City Soundtrack. They’ll discuss their favorite MCS songs, the next album, Superman, and more! Justin even shares some songs straight from his personal playlist. Tonight at 9pm on www.kcaw.org.
Please show your support for our local programs here: http://bit.ly/1qqajd
Parents discuss this Thursday’s fundraiser for Mt. Edgecumbe Preschool, which will be a “World of Cardboard”-themed spaghetti dinner and dessert auction. Attendees are asked to make cardboard creations to bring to the event, to be displayed and experienced. The dessert auction will feature cakes and pastries donated by local businesses. The funds raised will be used in part to match a grant from the Rasmuson Foundation to purchase a 14-passenger van for the preschool, to be used for field trips. The dinner will be Thursday, April 3, from 5 to 7 p.m. at Harrigan Centennial Hall. Entry is $15 for adults, and $5 for children. For more information, call 966-2675.
The Sitka School District goes looking for teachers in Seattle. Roller derby picks up speed across Southeast. And is Juneau healthier than Sitka? Don’t make us laugh.