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Southeast Alaska News
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.
One of them is to help start the station and then serve on the board of directors for more than 30 years! Thanks to Stef Steffen for his tireless and generous support of Raven Radio since before Raven Radio was on the air! Stef stepped down from the board this fall, but you can bet his membership is already renewed! Is yours?
This Edgecumbe sunset from almost a decade ago rivals some of the beautiful evenings we’ve had in Sitka recently. While our surroundings are gorgeous, most of us agree that it is our community that really makes this a special place. Raven Radio helps sustain that community, and we rely on you to help sustain Raven Radio. Please help us towards our Spring Drive goal of $85,000 by making your contribution now! Thank you!
Steve Kinney from the Ketchikan Community Chorus gives details about the “Gershwin Portrait” performance on April 25 and 26.
Popeye and Olive Oyl hosted of the 2007 Stardust Ball, during which Popeye eats spinach, gaining strength to climb and light the band’s trumpet afire. Please eat your spinach for the strength to join us now!
A study released last week by the University of Wisconsin concluded that Sitka is the second-healthiest community in the state of Alaska — behind Juneau.
Researchers looked at smoking rates, access to exercise, and education levels, among other factors.
The results of the study were a shot in the arm to Juneau which, frankly, seems a little more sedentary and bureaucratic than Sitka. However, local health professionals are now more motivated than ever to improve our fitness.
KCAW’s Robert Woolsey spoke with Cindy Edwards, director of the Hames Center, to learn what can be done to put Sitka on top.
Today is the anniversary what many consider to be one of the greatest April Fool’s pranks ever: The Eruption of the Mt. Edgecumbe Volcano. Sitka legend Porky Bickar masterminded that event, which took place on a sunny morning exactly 40 years ago.
JUNEAU — The Senate Education Committee on Monday took testimony on a bill that would increase the number of years a teacher would have to be in the classroom to reach tenure.
HB162 would keep the tenure track for rural educators at three years but would increase that requirement to five years for a teacher in an urban school.
ANCHORAGE — Heavy Web traffic and software glitches prevented some Alaskans from obtaining health insurance from the online federal marketplace Monday, the last day to sign up for coverage under President Barack Obama’s health care law.
ANCHORAGE — A new grassroots group is launching a campaign to get Alaska political leaders and candidates to sign a pledge declaring that only people have rights, and not corporations and unions.
The We the People Alaska coalition was beginning its effort Monday in 11 communities, including Anchorage, Fairbanks, Juneau and Kenai, Anchorage Daily News reported.
“It’s really about influence,” said Gershon Cohen, who backed a successful ballot initiative in Haines last year that took a stand against “corporate personhood.”
FAIRBANKS — A Boston-based company was preparing to test a flying wind turbine that it hopes could lower power costs to Alaska villages and other remote locations.
Altaeros Energies said the Buoyant Airborne Turbine aims to take advantage of high-altitude winds that are stronger and more consistent than those at lower levels.
JUNEAU — House Speaker Mike Chenault on Monday said he plans to propose allowing out-of-state residents to serve on the board of directors of a corporation that could play a key role in a major liquefied natural gas project in Alaska.