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Alaska and Yukon Headlines
A collection of 85,000 historic newsreels released last week on YouTube includes several films of Alaska aviation recorded during the mid-20th century.April 24, 2014
Less than two hours after the combative House and Senate seemed to reach a truce on education, a bill dealing with the proposed Knik Arm Bridge fell apart on the House floor.
The House rejected the Senate’s version by one vote on Wednesday night. Because 21 votes are required to pass legislation, the bill came up short when it got 20 yeas and 18 nays. Six Republicans broke ranks with their party to oppose the bill. They were Mike Hawker of Anchorage, Mia Costello of Anchorage, Lindsey Holmes of Anchorage, Kurt Olson of Kenai, Eric Feige of Chickaloon, and Paul Seaton of Homer. Two Republicans who were expected to support the bill were not present because of excused absences. Rep. Bob Lynn of Anchorage was excused for a family illness, while Rep. Lora Reinbold of Eagle River was absent because of a planned vacation.
While the bill originated in the House, it was dramatically changed in the Senate after an audit suggested that the project may be uneconomic. The new version sets up a financing plan for the billion-dollar bridge that involves a mix of federal highway grants, federal loans, and state bonds.
Because the House failed to concur, the bill may be sent to “free” conference committee with the power to rewrite it – just like was done with the education bill this week. That could extend a legislative session that has already gone three full days over its statutory deadline. While the Senate still needs to agree, the House has already named Kodiak Republican Alan Austerman, Chugiak Republican Bill Stoltze, and Anchorage Democrat Harriet Drummond.
The bridge bill is a major priority of Senate President Charlie Huggins, a Wasilla Republican.
It’s springtime in Alaska. A wondrous time of year, full of piles of brown snow on the sides of the highways, potholes the size of craters ready to take a bite out of your car’s undercarriage, and windshields full of rock chips from the copious amounts of gravel on road ways that have yet to be swept up and re-deposited for storage in anticipation of next year’s snowfall. Ah, a magical time of year indeed.
Springtime in Alaska is my least favorite time of the year. Which is why I’m getting the hell out of Dodge to a sunny destination.
Until then, I will endure the final stages of winter with the rest of my neighbors who are anxiously awaiting that first flicker of green on the trees. All the while knowing full well that Mother Nature’s wicked sense of humor likely means at least one more dumping of snow before the end of May.
I’ve been keeping my Alaskan Springtime blues at bay by cooking up a storm in my kitchen! Short ribs, pasta, spring salads, soups…anything to keep the dreary brown grass on my lawn out of sight and out of mind. Summer can’t come soon enough!
I devoured this lovely little lentil salad soon after I took these pictures. Perfectly light and healthy, yet hearty enough to fill me up, this dish makes a great weeknight meal after a busy day at work. Even better, the leftovers hold up well for lunch the next day. Which is exactly what I did with them.
For more recipes, check out the Chena Girl Cooks blog.
Lentils with Kale, Goat Cheese, and Walnuts
(Adapted from Laura Calder)
1 cup French green (du Puy) lentils
1 bay leaf
1 sprig of fresh thyme, or a pinch of dried
2 tablespoons (or more) olive oil
2 large shallots, diced (or one medium red onion, diced)
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups kale, roughly chopped
splash of balsamic vinegar
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
scant 1 cup of walnuts
4 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
(1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place walnuts on a sheet tray and bake for 10 minutes, or until golden and toasted. Do not burn! Once they cool, roughly chop into large pieces.
(2) Put the lentils in a saucepan with 1 1/3 cups of water, the bay leaf, and thyme sprig. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until the lentils are tender, about 25-30 minutes. If the liquid is not all absorbed, just drain off any excess.
(3) Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan or dutch oven. Saute the onion until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for about a minute, then add the kale and cook until it has wilted a bit, about 2-4 minutes. Add a little more olive oil if necessary to soften the kale. Season with kosher salt and several grinds of fresh ground pepper.
(4) Deglaze the pan with a healthy splash of balsamic vinegar, and stir to incorporate. Add the cooked lentils, taste and reseason with more salt and pepper, if necessary (I found mine needed quite a bit! Lentils are pretty bland otherwise). Add more balsamic vinegar if you like that sweet acidic roundness like I do.
(5) Place the lentil mixture in a large serving dish, and top with the crumbled goat cheese and chopped walnuts. Drizzle with a little more olive oil if you like (I enjoyed the way it made the final dish glisten a bit). Serve warm.
Negotiators from the State House and Senate have reached a deal on the governor’s education bill, and it includes a mix of permanent and one-time funding increases.
The compromise was announced on Wednesday night, three days after the Legislature had blown its adjournment deadline because of disagreement on the bill. The conference committee in charge of rewriting the legislation has decided to add $300 million to the education budget, spread out over three years.
Half of the money will come as one-time grants for education programs. The other half will come through the “base student allocation,” the amount of money a school gets for each child enrolled as part of the education funding formula. The new draft of the bill raises the BSA by $150 the first year, and by $50 in years two and three.
The new proposal is a blend of the House and Senate approaches to education funding. Even though both chambers are led by Republicans, the two bodies had different philosophies on education funding. Where the House wanted a slightly smaller amount that came through a more permanent source, the Senate was willing to spend more money but without putting it into the funding formula.
Sen. Kevin Meyer is an Anchorage Republican who is involved in the negotiations. He says that even if the compromise seems obvious now, it was not so clear on Sunday when the Legislature was facing its adjournment deadline.
“Well, you know, I think it took a couple days to realize that — that there’s an easy solution here,” says Meyer. “You know, we can meet halfway on the funding, that overall $100 million. And ultimately, we figured out, ‘Hey, we can meet half way on what’s in, what’s out, and we can be done and out of here.’ So, sometimes it just takes a couple days, and they you go, ‘Wow, Why didn’t we think of that?’”
The funding plan still does not meet the demands of education advocates, who pushed for a BSA increase of $400 this year alone. They argue that the state needs to give school district $450 million over the next three years, if teacher layoffs are to be avoided.
The conference committee also hammered out disagreements on more than a dozen other parts of the bill. They brought back Gov. Sean Parnell’s proposal to repeal the high school exit exam and require students to take the SAT, ACT, or WorkKeys test in its place. They also removed a section of the bill that would have required urban teachers to go through a longer probationary period before they get tenure.
The conference committee is expected to advance the bill on Thursday, the 94th day of the 90-day session.
Designed to give women and girls who experience disabilities a moment in the spotlight, Alaska's first Miss Amazing pageant aims to develop social interaction skills and boost self-confidence.April 23, 2014