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Southeast Alaska News
The Tongass Futures Roundtable is shutting down. The organization tried to resolve Southeast Alaska forest-issue conflicts.
It formed about seven years ago.
Organizers hoped to bring together all parties involved in the forest to craft compromises on land-use issues, such as logging and habitat protection.
“The roundtable brought people together who had never had to sit across from each other at a table. The normal environment was a courtroom,” says Bruce Botelho, the group’s facilitator and moderator.
The former attorney general and Juneau mayor says roundtable members decided to end their work during a meeting earlier this month.
“One of the benefits for us to dissolve right now is to create the opportunity for people to come together and perhaps learn from our experience, but also build on it. And one would hope that any assembly of stakeholders would truly bring back the whole range of participants,” he says.
“We didn’t have enough movement in the direction we felt needed to occur,” says State Forester Chris Maisch, one of the original roundtable members.
“So the governor decided it would be best to put state energy and time and resources into a task force, which he established through an administration order,” he says.
Maisch chaired that task force, which released its final report a few months ago.
It recommended a number of actions meant to increase logging. One was expanding state forests. Another was revising state rules to help small timber operators.
Yet another called for the federal government to turn two million acres of the Tongass over to the state to be managed for harvest.
Maisch says the timber task force has since shut down.
Botelho says the roundtable eventually decided it couldn’t fully do its work without the groups that left. It will cease operations July 1st. But he says it achieved some of its goals.
“We devoted a great deal of time to examining the proposed mental health land exchange between the state and the trust and ended up endorsing a process, which is underway. And I think that, absent the support of the roundtable, would have been more difficult,” Botelho says.
He says some of the roundtable’s working groups will also continue meeting. One focuses on Alaska Native issues, another on sustainable forests.
The Tongass Futures Roundtable had about 35 members and tried to reach decisions by consensus. State Forester Maisch says that just didn’t work.
“It was a well-intentioned effort. And a lot of people spent a lot of time in trying to make that process work. And unfortunately, it just wasn’t the right time and the right place. So it’s too bad that it didn’t come to a better conclusion,” he says.
Roundtable Coordinator Norm Cohen says money was not the reason the group decided to dissolve.
The Ketchikan City Council talked about Fight Club Thursday, but deferred a motion to ban the popular event from a city-owned facility.
After an enlightening discussion about the potential danger of various body fluids, the Ketchikan City Council delayed voting on the proposal, which would ban boxing and mixed martial arts at the Ted Ferry Civic Center.
The delay was to allow Ketchikan Fight Club officials a chance to respond to the proposal. They were out of town this week and not able to comment.
Council Member Bob Sivertsen proposed the measure. He said the civic center, where weddings, music performances, etc., take place, is the wrong venue for events that regularly result in bloodshed.
“Blood-borne pathogens, the alcohol, problems in the bathrooms, most recently, I understand they used a moldy tarp, which after everybody walked on it and ground it in, it was also now a moldy carpet that took extensive cleaning,” he said.
Sivertsen said the center has plans to renovate, including new carpet, and he’d like the city to seriously consider ending the Fight Club’s use of the center.
Civic Center Manager Rhonda Bolling said she has no problem with the Fight Club or the organizers, but, “The things that come along with the fights, the blood, the vomit – you get hit in the spleen, you vomit – there’s a lot. It takes a full day after the event to air it out. It’s pretty messy.”
Bolling said she charged the Fight Club extra for cleaning after the most recent event, and organizers weren’t pleased. But, she said, she believes the approximately $200 extra charge was reasonable.
“I didn’t think that was excessive to charge for cleaning the whole gallery corridor, with beer just sopped into the carpets, because that part is not tarped,” she said.
Bolling adds that the Civic Center loses money, even with the extra charges, when the Fight Club holds its events there.
The Council discussion then delved into the proper procedures for cleaning body fluids.
“ Rhonda, how do you deal with the blood-borne pathogens and the vomit?” Sivertsen asked. “Is your staff trained to appropriately clean and disinfect that?”
“No,” Bolling answered. “I just learned after the last event, because the Fire Marshal asked me, ‘Did he wear glasses when he was cleaning that up?’ I’m looking at him: ‘He wore gloves.’”
Fire Chief Frank Share gave a few details on what’s required in state regulations when cleaning body fluids, which can transmit disease.
“For us at the fire department, we have to dispose of it properly,” he said. “I have an infection control officer I have to send in to training every year, you have to have a policy on hand, how you’re going to deal with it, how you’re going to clean it. One of the things it talks about, you can’t have any eating, drinking, cosmetics or smoking anywhere that you’re going to have blood-borne pathogens, which is exactly what this facility is used for.”
Mayor Lew Williams III suggested deferring the motion to give Fight Club organizers a chance to respond to the concerns raised. Sivertsen agreed that’s the “polite thing to do,” but he said he likely won’t change his mind.
In the meantime, the Council asked City Manager Karl Amylon to look into the issue, including calling other communities where boxing events take place, and finding a contractor for proper cleaning services.
The unemployment rate in Alaska continued to fall last month, according to the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development, which announced that the seasonally adjusted rate of unemployment declined two-tenths of a percentage point to 6 percent.
The City and Borough of Juneau is tied for the lowest unemployment rate in the state. Before seasonal adjustment, which compensates for the general trend toward the economy having more jobs in summer and fewer in winter, Juneau’s unemployment rate is 4.4 percent, as is the rate for the North Slope Borough.
Girl Scout Troop 4075 handed over a hand-painted garbage container Thursday at the regular Ketchikan City Council meeting.
The Scouts were working on their Bronze Award, and they took turns at the lectern explaining the process during the public comment of the Council meeting.
Above is an excerpt from Thursday’s Ketchikan City Council meeting, when members of Girl Scout Troop 4075 gave a decorated garbage can to the city for use at one of the new bus shelters.
The school district budget is on the Ketchikan Gateway Borough Assembly agenda again Monday, this time for adoption following a public hearing.
The nearly $42 million district budget would include $7.75 million from the borough. That’s about $3.5 million more than the minimum required by state regulations.
The School Board had requested $7.6 million in local funding. However, that didn’t include expenses that the district has paid for in the past, such as building insurance, snow removal and contracted services.
The ordinance in front of the Assembly on Monday includes a stipulation that any local contribution above the minimum required by state law depends on the district paying for the contractual and in-kind services. The ordinance passed in first reading during the Assembly’s last regular meeting.
The Assembly’s Monday meeting starts at 5:30 p.m. in Assembly chambers at the White Cliff building. Public comment will be heard at the start of the meeting.
The Alaska Department of Transportation will be inspecting bridges in Ketchikan and Prince of Wales Island next week.
According to DOT, travelers in the area might experience intermittent lane closures on various bridges. The inspections start Tuesday and last through May 27.
Routine bridge inspections help DOT plan future bridge replacement, repairs and maintenance activities, and help the agency identify immediate safety concerns.
Petersburg’s Mayfest art offerings include a show of nearly 20 new works by local painter Pia Reilly. Reilly’s known for her bold watercolors which often portray dreamlike scenes of flowers and trees. Sometimes her subjects are found in a more natural setting and sometimes they’re framed by windows and flanked by objects of everyday life. Reilly’s been working on her new exhibit since early this year. Matt Lichtenstein recently stopped by her studio to talk about it:
For mobile-friendly audio, click here.
Pia Reilly’s newest works go on display with an artist’s reception from 5 to 7 pm Friday at Miele Gallery in Petersburg.
Among the traditional offerings at this year’s Mayfest celebration is the Little Norway Art Show. Local painters, sculptors, carvers, photographers and other artists contributed over 60 pieces for display at the Clausen Memorial Museum. Matt Lichtenstein stopped by for a preview earlier this week with Museum Director Sue McCallum:
For mobile-friendly audio, click here.
The Little Norway art show can be viewed at the Clausen Museum from 9:30 to 5 Friday and Saturday and then 10 to 2 on Sunday. Admission is free.
Downtown Petersburg busy with its annual celebration of Norwegian culture and local color as the 55th Little Norway Festival continues. There’s plenty of art, music, dancing, food and drink. This weekend promises plenty more.I spoke with the festival committee’s Holli Flint and Katie Eddy about Saturday and Sunday’s Mayfest schedule, starting with the annual Lop the Loop run/walk which begins at eight in the morning on Saturday:
For mobile-friendly audio, click here
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Dave Neutzel and Nick Ponzetti with Southeast Alaska Independent Living (SAIL) discuss plans for tomorrow’s Annual Wildlife Cruise (1:30 – 4:30 PM Sat May 18, advance tickets $45 at Old Harbor Books). Also, the Red Dirt BBQ (6-10 PM Tue May 21, Bayview Pub, advance tickets $15 Old Harbor Books/$20 at the door), benefits Autism Speaks.
Join us for a conversation on “Square Foot Gardening” on Morning Edition, Monday, May 20th, beginning at 8:20 am. Kalvin Traudt of the Tongass Community Foods Alliance will be on hand to answer your questions, and KRBD’s Deb Turnbull will speak about KRBD’s square foot garden experiment. We’ll discuss what square foot gardening is, things to consider when setting up your garden, and how this method allows you to grow more food in less space.
This is a call-in show, so if you have stories to share or questions about square foot gardening, we’d love to hear from you that morning. 225-9655 or 1-800-557-5723.
This will be the first in a series of call-in shows focusing on locally grown, sustainable produce and animal husbandry.
Victoria Merritt with the Craig Parks and Recreation report for May 17. CraigPR051713
Up a staircase, through a bedroom, and there it is: a room lit by skylights and tall windows. The studio, where Teri Rofkar weaves her work.
Rofkar was named the 2013 Rasmuson Distinguished Artist on Wednesday. The annual award is given by the Rasmuson Foundation to an Alaska artist with a history of accomplishment. It brings with it a $40,000 prize.
It is in this studio that Rofkar has shelves of books, on subjects ranging from Russians in Alaska to Tlingit ethnobotany. Bins on a low shelf hold wool.
“Mountain goat, merino, alpaca and bison, because I did use the buffalo wool for that robe for the park service, and dog,” she says. “I’m working on a dog robe.”
There’s a spinning wheel in the middle of the room and a weaving frame, on which hangs the beginning of her next project. And over on one of the shelves, right next to an elegant blue vase, is a small frame, holding the picture of a shirtless, chiseled man, smoldering at the camera lens.
“Oh, he’s just purely inspiration,” Rofkar says. “I’ve probably had him for 30 years. And he’s still inspiring. I think that’s the one thing I’ve had to frisk out of gals’ hands. Like, ‘You put that right back!’”
Of course, Rofkar’s real inspirations for her work come from all around her. Maybe it’s a story told by a family member. Or the 1964 Alaska earthquake. She calls herself a basket weaver, but much of her work is traditional Tlingit robes. Baskets, she says, big baskets that hold people.
She’s been weaving for years. Her work is often surprising — incorporating an unusual color, or a new feature, like DNA symbols woven into a recent robe she did about goats. She says finding new ways to appreciate the art is important.
Rofkar: That’s where the rubber meets the road. Are you still doing it? Does it still inspire you? Are you still excited to get in there and do the dirty work? Absolutely.
Rofkar: There’s so many more discoveries. It’s like the ocean we haven’t explored.
KCAW: I remember interviewing you a few years back for a robe you were working on for the national park. And what I remember about that interview is you opened a door the robe was sitting in before it was unveiled and you spoke TO the robe.
KCAW: I hear a lot of personification in the way you talk about your art.
Rofkar: It embodies the place, right? Maybe in that case it was a reflection of the history of the park and the place of the park. This robe over here that’s about the mountain goat on Baranof Island has the double-helix and DNA stranding. The science I’ve embedded in it — the double helix — is accurate. They are an entity, just as the materials that I harvest, the tree people and the ferns. The place that we’re at, we live here, but there are others who have been living here for many more thousands of years than us. It’s relationships.
Rofkar received her award from the Rasmuson Foundation at an event in Anchorage. She says the money will help her take some time to focus on art for the sake of art, rather than worrying about weaving things that will earn money.
“Rasmuson has such a leap of faith to support all these artists, and they’re calling it a vision,” Rofkar said. “But for us, it’s our journey. They’re making our journey possible.”
What Rofkar does is rare, but she’s working to share her artform. She’s demonstrated and taught all over the country. When she started, she says she felt like her artform was on the verge of going away.
“It seemed like such a fragile art form,” Rofkar said. “There’s very few baskets. I think Tlingit basketry was declared lost in the (19)50s. I felt like I was single handedly holding it up. The robes: there are so few of them. There’s getting to be more. But here I was feeling like the carrier of the culture. And I realize now, whoops, this basketry, this weaving, it’s been going on for thousands and thousands of years. I’m the one that’s fragile. The art will continue on.”
On the way out the door, Rofkar sits me down in front of her computer, and plays a video produced for the Rasmuson Foundation. On the screen, she’s sitting at the spinning wheel in her studio.
And as she finishes introducing herself, heavy metal music begins to play and her name zooms onto the screen in big letters. It’s a startling contrast, but as it turns out, the perfect choice by the filmmaker.
KCAW: This is not music somebody would normally associate with…
Rofkar: Spinning and weaving. I love heavy metal.
KCAW: Do you?
Rofkar: I do.
KCAW: Like who?
Rofkar: Oh, Primus…
Another surprise, from Teri Rofkar.
ANCHORAGE — The National Marine Fisheries Service announced Thursday it will consider listing a population of harbor seals that live in a freshwater Alaska lake as a threatened or endangered species, a decision that could affect the massive Pebble Mine development project.
The agency said it has accepted a petition filed in November by the Center for Biological Diversity, kicking off a status review of the seals that live in Iliamna Lake 200 miles southwest of Anchorage.
KODIAK — The Alaska Marine Highway System is considering raising its rates for traveling aboard the state’s ferries in order to deal with a pared down operating budget approved by lawmakers this spring.
Officials informed the state’s public advisory board this week that the ferry system will end its discount program, according to a story in Thursday’s Kodiak Daily Mirror (http://is.gd/Egq0ZM ).
ANCHORAGE — A remote Alaska volcano continues to erupt, spewing lava and ash clouds.
The Alaska Volcano Observatory said Thursday a continuous cloud of ash, steam and gas from Pavlof Volcano has been seen 20,000 feet above sea level. The cloud was moving to the southeast Thursday.
John Power, the U.S. Geological Survey scientist in charge at the observatory, estimates the lava fountain rose several hundred feet into the air.
The new Juneau Forestry Sciences Laboratory, adjacent to the University of Alaska Southeast’s Auke Lake campus, is set for a dedication ceremony Saturday.
The building is a facility of the United States Forest Service’s Portland, Ore.-based Pacific Northwest Research Station, which has been occupying rented space in the old National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration building in the Mendenhall Valley.
Construction finished earlier this spring, and Forest Service staff have been moving into the new building over the past few weeks.