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Southeast Alaska News

Half-staff announced for former Alaska lawmaker

Thu, 2014-01-02 13:46

Gov. Sean Parnell has ordered all state flags to be lowered to half-staff on Friday in memory of former Rep. John M. Sweet.

Sweet died on Sept. 11 in Boulder, Colorado. He was 88.

Born in Parker, Pennsylvania, Sweet served in the U.S. Marine Corps during World War II. He was a geologist with Atlantic Richfield Company, and worked in Prudhoe Bay. He represented Anchorage in the state House from 1969 to 1970.

Sweet is survived by his wife, Mirabel, of Boulder, and six children.

Petersburg committee considers borough land selection

Thu, 2014-01-02 11:32

The Petersburg borough is one year old this month (January) and is still going through the process of transitioning to an expanded municipality. Besides creating new borough ordinances and assessing the value of land within Petersburg’s boundaries , local officials are also considering which state land will be claimed by the new local government. A committee making recommendations on land selection started going over maps of the available parcels earlier this week.

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Selection of state land is one of the incentives for forming a new borough. Not all of the state’s holdings are available to the new municipality; in fact, it’s just a small portion. The lands are called vacant, unappropriated and unreserved or VUU land and it’s acreage that has not already been selected for grants to the university, Alaska Mental Health trust, Southeast state forest or other state uses. State law says the new borough is entitled to no less than 10 percent of the VUU land within its boundaries.

A December 6th letter from the Department of Natural Resources says 10 percent of the available land is 18-hundred acres. However the DNR says that amount will be reduced by 457 acres, because of a prior municipal entitlement already given to the old city of Petersburg. That leaves a selection of over 13-hundred acres, 1,374 to be exact.

Committee members thought the borough should be seeking more than that. However, chair Rick Braun wanted to go ahead with the selection process. “I would suggest out of the VUU that we have been given, that we select the 13-hundred something acres and get what we can now and proceed with a legislative appropriation or some other way to get the additional land instead of holding up the whole process,” Braun said.

Wrangell Republican Peggy Wilson got a bill passed in 2010 increasing the land given to the Wrangell and Haines boroughs. Under that bill Wrangell was entitled to just over nine thousand acres and Haines over 31-hundred acres. Committee member Ron Buschmann thought the borough could convince legislators that the Mental Health Trust and University have already selected the most valuable state land in the area and Petersburg should be granted more of what’s left.

Dave Kensinger thought the borough could make an argument for 10 percent of what’s been granted to the Alaska Mental Health Trust in the area. “If mental health got a hundred acres we should be able to get another 10 acres in unreserved state land. So it should increase our allotment,” Kensinger said. “Cause the state’s given up a lot of land to non-tax-paying entities in the borough, with mental health land and university land.”

The land available for selection have been further reduced by the creation of a Southeast state forest, with acreage that could be used for future timber sales.

The committee voted unanimously to recommend the borough seek legislative help to increase its land selection. That was the only recommendation made by the committee during its second meeting. However, the group started looking through maps supplied by DNR of the available lands.

Committee members discussed for what purpose the borough should be selecting . Responses ranged from rock pits, to drinking water protection to general economic development.

Buschmann wanted to target acreage that could be developed. “You know economic development lands but also like some waterfront land that we could sell at some point. I mean the mental health has made a tremendous amount of money off the lands they sold, between the city, the old city limits and Papkes Landing, and use that to fund some of things we’re gonna have problems funding, like rebuilding the Papkes dock and some of that stuff.”

Papkes Landing is 10 miles south of downtown Petersburg and the borough may take over a state owned dock and boat ramp there, separate from the borough land selection process. There’s no available state land to select at Papke’s – but a parcel not too far away at Falls Creek drew some interest from the committee. There was also support for land on the Kupreanof Island shoreline just north of Sasby Island. That’s along one possible road route connecting to the nearby community of Kake.

Several other possibilities also had interest from committee members. One was a waterfront parcel on Southern Mitkof that holds a mothballed parking and ferry terminal, once used for a ferry connection to Prince of Wales Island.
That area also includes a shoreline log facility where logs can be transferred into the water and rafted to away to a sawmill.

The committee also discussed the possibilities for potential rock pits for generating revenue in the new borough. Ultimately they made no recommendations yet to the borough assembly on specific parcels. They plan to meet again in January. The borough land selection and conveyance process could take a total of three to five years.

Wear a cardboard pirate boat, your imagination is the limit

Thu, 2014-01-02 11:09

Listen to iFriendly audio.

Jeff Budd with Greater Sitka Arts Council discusses this year’s wearable arts show, and a new iconography workshop.

 

 

Thurs Jan 2, 2014

Thu, 2014-01-02 10:57

Listen to iFriendly audio.

KCAW’s CoastAlaska sister stations recap their top stories of 2013.

New election boundaries move Haines to a downtown-Juneau-Douglas-Skagway district. A magnitude 7.5 earthquake shook Southeast Alaska on January 5th damaging fiber optic cables on the sea floor. Juneau got its first new mayor in nine years. An entomology student at the University of Alaska Fairbanks found a new species on insect on Prince of Wales. Petersburg’s large fleet of purse-seiners had a huge year targeting an all-time record return of pink salmon.

Heli-ski operator signs plea deal in land-use case

Thu, 2014-01-02 01:16

ANCHORAGE — A Haines helicopter ski operation has agreed to plead guilty to unauthorized use of federal land.

The U.S. attorney’s office, in a bill of information filed Monday, said Southeast Backcountry Adventures used land it knew was closed to commercial activity for a March helicopter ski trip. Prosecutors said the company operated in the closed area for much of its 2012 and 2013 seasons.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrea Steward told the Anchorage Daily News the case came to light after the death of a skier on March 3.

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Sobering Center offers safe place for intoxicated

Thu, 2014-01-02 01:16

BETHEL — A safe place in Bethel for intoxicated people to sleep off a night of drinking has grown into a round-the-clock operation that wants to better serve those who need help.

The Sobering Center was initially open four nights a week but has expanded its hours over its four winters in operation. It provided 1,860 bed nights in 2012 and served about 970 unique individuals, KYUK reported this week.

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Man arrested following Anchorage shooting

Thu, 2014-01-02 01:15

ANCHORAGE — Police believe alcohol was a factor in a shooting incident at a south Anchorage home early Wednesday.

Authorities say 23-year-old Chad Andrew Vansickle was arrested on assault and weapons misconduct charges. Police, in a statement, said they responded to a report of an accidental shooting. They say the male victim was taken to a hospital and was in serious but stable condition.

Police spokeswoman Jennifer Castro tells KTUU said it sounded like the victim and Vansickle “were playing with a gun and it discharged.”

Federal agency plans to survey fishing businesses

Thu, 2014-01-02 01:15

KODIAK — A federal agency is planning to measure the economic impact of fishing businesses.

Notices posted in the Federal Register show the National Marine Fisheries Service plans to survey U.S. seafood processors and bait-and-tackle shops during 2014. The Kodiak Daily Mirror reports survey data will be incorporated into impact statements produced by the federal government before an action is taken.

Tackle business owners will be asked to characterize and quantify their operational costs and sales revenue and describe their clientele.

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Director: Bigger dividends likely in 2014

Thu, 2014-01-02 01:15

ANCHORAGE — Alaskans could see a greater share of the state’s oil wealth when dividends are distributed this year.

Permanent Fund Dividend Division director, Dan DeBartolo, tells the Anchorage Daily News that after several years of declining dividends, 2014’s payment “will likely go into the four-figure territory once again.”

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State waiving administrative fee for flu shot

Thu, 2014-01-02 01:15

ANCHORAGE — State health officials say they’ll waive the administrative fee for the flu vaccine for certain Alaskans in an effort to get more people immunized.

The health department, in a release, says state-supplied flu vaccine is available for free for those under the age of three. Older individuals can qualify, too, if they meet certain requirements, such as having no insurance or having an insurance plan that doesn’t cover vaccines.

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ASMI hosts photo contest

Thu, 2014-01-02 01:15

The Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute is holding a Facebook photo contest to bring Alaska to the world.

ASMI wants Alaskans to submit photos showcasing “the best of what Alaska has to offer: our people, our beautiful scenery, and our seafood!”

Submitted photos will be uploaded to ASMI’s Facebook page where fans can vote for their favorite shots. The overall grand prize for the most-liked photo is a trip for two on Alaska Airlines.

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Shrimp fishery to remain closed indefinitely in 2014

Thu, 2014-01-02 01:15

Juneau’s sport and personal use shrimp fisheries will remain closed indefinitely in 2014, according to a release from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. The sport and personal use fisheries, as well as the commercial fisheries, were closed July 1, 2013, due to low shrimp population.

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Kookesh stepping down as Sealaska board chair

Thu, 2014-01-02 01:14

Albert Kookesh will step down as the chair of the Sealaska board of directors, the Southeast Alaska regional Native corporation announced on its website on Tuesday. Kookesh has served as the board chair for 14 years.

In a letter to shareholders, Kookesh said a heart attack in March has required him to cut back on work commitments. He writes that he’s made a full recovery and is in good health.

“However, I gave my family and friends a scare, not to mention how it scared me,” Kookesh wrote.

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8-year-old donates hair to kids in need

Thu, 2014-01-02 01:14

KODIAK — Hanna Moody may look like your average 8-year-old girl, but to some unknowing child in the world, she’s a hero.

Moody made the decision to cut off all her hair in order to donate it to Locks of Love, a nonprofit that provides hairpieces to financially disadvantaged kids suffering from hair loss. The donations are intended to help their self-esteem and confidence.

On Dec. 21, Hanna and her mom Kathy went to Vizhunz Salon, where she had 12 inches of hair cut off to donate.

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FBI gets tips about late Alaska serial killer

Thu, 2014-01-02 01:14

PORT ANGELES, Wash. — The FBI has received about 100 phone calls since asking the public for information about late Alaska serial killer Israel Keyes.

But FBI special agent Jolene Goeden of Anchorage said this week that none of those calls has connected Keyes to missing people on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington state, where he lived from 2001 to 2007.

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Dormant issues thaw along with a melting Arctic

Thu, 2014-01-02 01:13

WASHINGTON — The United States and other nations face many challenges and opportunities in the Arctic, a frozen frontier where melting ice is creating new shipping lanes, opening up access to massive oil, gas and mineral deposits, threatening coastal villages and posing possible future security threats.

Key questions and answers about stepped-up activity on the tip-top of the Earth:

Q: Why is the Arctic a key new international interest?

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Fairbanks youth shelter hopes to open by February

Thu, 2014-01-02 01:13

FAIRBANKS — Fairbanks’ soon-to-be newest youth shelter, The Door, hasn’t quite opened its own doors yet, but the building took one significant step in the right direction Sunday.

Volunteers from Community Covenant Church showed up at the storage unit of Fairbanks Youth Advocates, the organization that runs the shelter, Sunday morning. The volunteers brought their own box van, loading all of the small two-story shelter’s furniture and transporting it to the new building.

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Task force members clash on education funding

Thu, 2014-01-02 01:13

JUNEAU — A legislative task force clashed Tuesday over funding as they worked on a blueprint for addressing education in Alaska.

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Database connects misplaced money with rightful owners

Thu, 2014-01-02 01:12

We all know the old adage: If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. That’s how Lisa White felt when a friend told her about missingmoney.com, a website that claims to connect people with long-lost checks.

But, as White found, the site is legit — the Alaska Department of Revenue uses it to keep track of the approximately $83 million in unclaimed funds it holds on to, DOR special assistant Lacy Wilcox said. Alaska is one of 45 states that links its coffers of unclaimed checks to the site.

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Alaska to expand Medicaid management program

Wed, 2014-01-01 01:02

The Department of Health and Social Services is looking at a Medicaid care coordination program in 2014. The pilot project would supplement the department’s Care Management Program that, according to a department brochure on the state’s Medicaid program, oversees Medicaid recipients “who have used services in an amount or at a frequency that is not medically necessary.”

In a request for proposals (RFP) issued Dec. 24, the department says it seeks to implement a coordinated care program “to combat harmful and costly inappropriate use of Medicaid-covered services.”

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