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Southeast Alaska News

Home owners appeal 30-day demolition order

Fri, 2014-01-03 11:54

The owners of a house on Wrangell Avenue in Petersburg are hoping a superior court will throw out last month’s order by Petersburg’s borough assembly to require repair or demolition of the aging building.

Karen Ellingstad and Fred Triem on Thursday, January 2 filed an administrative appeal of the assembly’s decision that their house at 1011 Wrangell Avenue is a dangerous structure and needed to be fixed or demolished within 30 days.

The assembly made their decision at a December 2nd meeting following testimony from Triem and a closed-door executive session on the issue. In a written report, borough building official Leo Luczak wrote that the foundation of the structure had failed in 2009 and as a result had multiple violations of building code. Luczak deemed the home a dangerous building and thought the unoccupied house is uninhabitable and presents a hazard to the public and surrounding properties.

Luczak sent a letter to the home owners this summer notifying them he considered the building dangerous and requiring changes. Neighboring property owners also have written to the borough seeking to have the structure razed.

Triem and Ellingstad argue that the borough did not correctly issue a final order with a 30 day appeal period and they challenge the borough’s procedure for setting a hearing date or giving the home owners information for the hearing. The couple argue their due process was violated at the non-compliance hearing held by the assembly. Among their appeal points, Triem and Ellingstad are questioning whether the borough provided any evidence that the structure is rotten or dangerous. The pair also question whether the assembly violated the state’s open meetings act by conducting deliberations behind closed doors.

In an order dated December 5th, the borough assembly required the house be fixed or demolished within 30 days or the borough would remove it. In an email Thursday, Luczak wrote that he planned to consult with the borough attorney about the matter before determining the next step. Triem wants more time to fix the home.

It’s not the first time the two sides have argued in court over the upkeep of a local building. The city of Petersburg was in and out of court with the property owners for more than a decade over the condition of an old building on the corner of First and Fram Streets. That building was eventually moved out of the street right of way, placed on a permanent foundation and refurbished.

Photos sought for Alaska seafood marketing

Fri, 2014-01-03 11:50

Your best photo of commercial fishing in Alaska could win Alaska Airlines photos or an Apple Ipad.

The Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute, or ASMI, is putting out the call for submissions for its second annual fishing photo contest.

Photo courtesy of the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute


Communications director Tyson Fick said the photos will help tell the story of the Alaska seafood industry and will help ASMI market that seafood to the world. “You know whether in store, recipe leaflets, they could wind up on the website, facebook, things like that, all the different avenues that we use to promote Alaska seafood,” said Fick.

Prizes will be given out in seven categories including throwback, scenic, family, boat or action photos.

“What’s new this year is after we get all the entrants in, we’re gonna put up about 20 or 30 of the judges selections that then will be on our Facebook site and we’ll have a fan favorite option and the one that gets the most likes through the facebook page, the photographer will get a trip for two anywhere Alaska airlines flies,” Fick said.

Last year the contest brought in close to 600 entries. The deadline for submissions is February 2nd. Winners will be announced February 17th. There’s more information, including rules and forms on the ASMI website.

Sealaska board chairman Kookesh to leave post

Fri, 2014-01-03 11:36

Outgoing Sealaska Board Chairman Albert Kookesh addresses Native leaders during a 2011 issues forum. (Ed Schoenfeld/CoastAlaska)

Albert Kookesh is stepping down as board chairman for Sealaska, the regional Native corporation for Southeast. He’ll leave the post at the same time Sealaska CEO Chris McNeil retires.

Kookesh, a former state lawmaker from Angoon, has been Sealaska board chairman for 14 years.

The 65-year-old plans to remain on the panel. But he says a heart attack last spring means he has to cut back on his commitments.

“I think I’m Superman and I think I can do all the things I did before the heart attack, but that’s just me. My family really doesn’t think so and I really think that I better step back,” he says.

Kookesh also chose not to run for reelection as co-chair of the Alaska Federation of Natives last year. He also held that position for 14 years.

He says board vice chairwoman Rosita Worl would be a good replacement.

But she says she has too many other commitments to succeed Kookesh.

“We’ve got 13 members who sit on the board and each one of them are leaders in their own right. So from my perspective, anyone of them has the capacity to become chair and continue with the leadership,” she says.

Rosita Worl addresses the Native Issues Forum in Juneau in 2011. (Ed Schoenfeld/CoastAlaska)

Worl runs the corporation’s cultural arm, the Sealaska Heritage Institute.

Such changes are not unusual.

“People in those positions usually mentor or have someone in mind that they have groomed to take over the leadership roles,” says Vicki Otte, former executive director of ANCSA Regional Association, representing Native corporation presidents and CEOs.

“I would expect something like that to happen there,” says Otte, CEO and former board member of MTNT Limited, a village corporation in the Kuskokwim basin.

Sealaska’s 2013 proxy statement says the board chair earns a base pay of about $65,000 a year, including health insurance. There’s extra compensation for attending meetings and events. Sealaska Shareholders Underground, a group critical of the corporation, calculated Kookesh’s 2012 compensation at around $76,000.

The proxy listed the CEO’s pay, benefits and bonuses totaling about $675,000.

CEO McNeil announced his planned retirement in October after 12 years at Sealaska’s helm.

The board is accepting applications for his replacement through the end of February. It’s drafted a list of qualifications and hired a San Francisco-based recruiting firm to help.

“I think as some of the board members say (we want) ‘somebody who walks on water’,” Worl says.

She says the new CEO must be a shareholder willing to live in Juneau, where Sealaska is headquartered.

“Very definitely we want that individual to have the business acumen to run a large corporation. We want them to have that experience in the business world. And we don’t exclude the nonprofit world either, because some of our nonprofit organizations are probably larger,” she says.

The new CEO will take over at the corporation’s June annual meeting. That’s the same time the board chairman will step down.

But Kookesh says he’s not worried about continuity of leadership.

“If I was stepping off of the board the same time he was stepping out of the CEO job, I might be a little bit concerned about it. But I’m still going to be there,” he says.

He says he’ll run for re-election in 2015, when his board term ends. He was first elected to Sealaska’s governing body in 1976.

Sealaska critic and frequent board candidate Mick Beasley.

Some shareholders are looking forward to the change.

“I believe that new ideas will be able to come forward and many other stockholders will be included,” says Juneau’s Mick Beasley, who is among those critical of the board and corporation management.

Beasley has put term-limit and discretionary voting resolutions before shareholders in past years. He’s collecting signatures again to try to change discretionary voting.

He’s also run for the board several times and plans to do it again this year.

“Reshuffling the deck at Sealaska from within is not going to produce growth. Sealaska will never rise above the self-interests of Sealaska directors and upper management and grow. After all, the daily wage becomes more important than the company,” he says.

Kookesh spent 16 years in the Legislature, eight in the House and eight in the Senate. The Angoon Democrat has a law degree, was a commercial fisherman and owned a lodge and store.

He says one of the board’s top actions was to push to allow tribal members’ descendents to become shareholders.

“We’re one of five corporations in Alaska that have changed that policy and opened the doors to new Natives born after 1971.That’s an accomplishment I’m very proud of,” Kookesh says. “I’m also proud of the fact that we’ve taken care of our elders. We’ve given everybody over 65 an additional 100 shares to lessen the impact of those new Natives coming into the corporation.”

Sealaska has more than 21,000 Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian shareholders. About half live outside Alaska.

Take an 80s Journey to End 2013

Fri, 2014-01-03 10:56

How did Speaking Tube end 2013? With a rad playlist of 80s music. Listen to the show as AMT2 Ripley of USCG Air Station Sitka takes us on a “journey” through the 80s. By the way, he has awesome hair.

 

 

 

Sitka’s Himschoot honored by White House

Fri, 2014-01-03 10:30


Listen to iFriendly audio.
Keet Gooshi Heen science teacher Rebecca Himschoot has won a Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science, one of 102 educators — and only two in Alaska — to do so this year. The award comes with an unrestricted $10,000 cash prize, and an all-expense paid trip to Washington DC.

School boosts wellness program

Fri, 2014-01-03 10:24

Ketchikan schools have improved lunch programs and wellness programs.  School wellness program coordinator Barbara McCarthy speaks about the progress.  SchoolWellness

Fri Jan 3, 2014

Fri, 2014-01-03 10:19


Listen to iFriendly audio.
Former Sen. Albert Kookesh steps down as Sealaska board chairman, will retain seat as board member. US Coast Guard and Sitka Mountain Rescue advise residents to take simple precautions against weather and darkness when heading outdoors for recreation. Petersburg launches rebate program for air-source heat pumps. KFSK’s Matt Lichtenstein leaves radio after 18 years to become a power troller.

Senate committee OKs saving Saint Mary's cabin

Fri, 2014-01-03 01:08

BETHEL — A man from the southwest Alaska village of Saint Mary’s is one step closer to saving his remote cabin, thanks to a recent action by a U.S. Senate committee.

William Alstrom’s cabin is about 31 miles northwest of his village. The federal Bureau of Land Management said the cabin had to go because it is illegally located on the Andreafsky Wilderness in the Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge.

read more

Trying to help others

Fri, 2014-01-03 01:07

Just over nine months ago, Army National Guard Sgt. James Bearup put a shotgun into his mouth and blew away memories of his military service in Afghanistan, an inability to find consistent work to support his wife, growing family and the pressure of coping with day-to-day life with post-traumatic stress disorder.

The 29-year-old left eight siblings, a wife and two children, 30 nieces and nephews and two parents shocked with the loss, suddenness and permanence of his departure.

read more

CH2M Hill selected as program manager for Anchorage port reconstruction

Fri, 2014-01-03 01:07

CH2M Hill has been selected by the Municipality of Anchorage to manage the design, engineering and reconstruction for the troubled Port of Anchorage expansion project, Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan announced Thursday.

The company will take over management responsibility from MARAD, a federal agency that previously managed the project, and will help the municipality develop a Request For Proposals for design and engineering services, select a firm to provide the services, and then manage the construction, Sullivan said.

read more

State releases economic forecast

Fri, 2014-01-03 01:07

Employment in Alaska is expected to grow by 0.4 percent in 2014, according to the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development. Southeast Alaska should also see a slight increase of jobs at 0.3 percent, despite a decline in government jobs.

The department released the economic forecasts Thursday as part of its monthly Alaska Economic Trends publication.

While 2014 is expected to be the fifth straight year of increased employment statewide, this year’s growth is lower than the state’s 10-year average, state economist Caroline Schultz noted in the forecast.

read more

More questions than answers for oil and gas in new year

Fri, 2014-01-03 01:06

What’s in store for Alaska’s oil and gas industry in 2014? There are more questions than answers at this point with three major uncertainties.

First, will North Slope producers and TransCanada finally reach a commercial alignment to proceed with the big North Slope gas pipeline and LNG project? That was unresolved as 2013 ended.

read more

Car strikes, kills man on bicycle in Anchorage

Fri, 2014-01-03 01:04

ANCHORAGE — A man on a bicycle was struck and killed in a crash with a car Thursday in midtown Anchorage.

Anchorage police say dispatchers took a call on the crash at 2:45 p.m.

Police and medics found the bicyclist unconscious on Northern Lights Boulevard near Minnesota Drive. The injured man was rushed to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Police say the biker was traveling south across Northern Light Boulevard when he was struck in the middle lane by the westbound car.

The name of the biker was not immediately released.

Juneau's first baby born on Thursday

Fri, 2014-01-03 01:04

JUNEAU — Juneau’s first baby of the new year appears to be Jeshua Raymond Moreno, born on Thursday morning.

KTOO reports Jeshua was born at 8:20 a.m. at Bartlett Regional Hospital. He weighed 9 pounds, 1 1/2 ounces and was 21 3/4 inches long.

He’s the third child — and second boy — for Elizabeth and John Moreno.

John Moreno says, “It’s good to be a father again.”

Era Alaska renames itself Ravn Alaska

Fri, 2014-01-03 01:04

ANCHORAGE — A regional air carrier in Alaska is undergoing a name change.

Era Alaska says in a Thursday release that it will rename itself Ravn Alaska.

Other airlines in the company also will get new names. Era Aviation will become Corvus Airlines. Hageland Aviation and Frontier Flying Service will now be known as Ravn Connect.

The company says the change is to decrease confusion and distinguish the airline from others in the industry that also carry Era in their names.

The new names will be phased in over the next few months.

read more

Man arrested in pizza delivery driver threat

Fri, 2014-01-03 01:04

ANCHORAGE — Anchorage police have arrested a 23-year-old man after a pizza delivery driver said a man pointed a gun at him and issued threats early Thursday morning.

Police in a statement say Keng Lor is being held on two assault counts and a single charge of misconduct involving a weapon.

Authorities say the driver was able to leave the residence after the incident and reported it to police just before 6:30 a.m., prompting the investigation by officers.

Threat level of Alaska volcano upgraded

Fri, 2014-01-03 01:03

ANCHORAGE — Scientists have increased the threat level of Alaska’s Cleveland Volcano from yellow to orange.

The Alaska Volcano Observatory says the volcano appears to have kicked up to an elevated unrest. In the past six days, three brief explosions from Cleveland Volcano were detected.

The color designation indicates that sudden explosions could send ash above 20,000 feet, threatening international air carriers.

read more

Heroin found in Fairbanks child's toy packaging

Fri, 2014-01-03 01:03

FAIRBANKS — Fairbanks police say a small bag of heroin was found in the packaging of a local child’s toy.

The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner says police were called to a home on the 1200 block of McCarthy Avenue Sunday afternoon by the father of a young boy.

Police say the father found a baggie containing what turned out to be heroin with in a toy the boy’s mother sent home with him.

Lt. Matt Soden says the father is estranged from the mother.

Sowden says the package contained 0.16 grams of heroin, which he says is a relatively small amount indicating personal use.

read more

Black bear rug, other pelts stolen in Fairbanks

Fri, 2014-01-03 01:03

FAIRBANKS — Fairbanks police are investigating the theft of about $1,800 in furs from a shed.

The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports that a black bear rug valued at $1,200 was the highest valued item taken. Also stolen were a wolverine pelt and Arctic fox pelts.

Police say the theft occurred sometime between early Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon. The owner reported the theft after returning home after a trip out of town and noticing someone had broken into his shed.

read more

Troopers make 56 DUI arrests during holidays

Fri, 2014-01-03 01:03

ANCHORAGE — Alaska State Troopers say 56 people were arrested for driving under the influence during concentrated enforcements over the holidays.

Troopers say of those, 51 were for misdemeanor DUI and the rest were felony arrests.

Troopers investigated two fatality crashes during the enhanced patrol, which ran from Dec. 13 to Jan. 1.

There were an additional 21 injury crashes, and 260 crashes that only involved damage to vehicles.

Troopers in a release also say 64 drivers were charged with driving with a suspended or revoked license.

read more

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