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Southeast Alaska News
ANCHORAGE — Another telecommunications provider has entered the Alaska market.
Verizon officially turned on its signal in Anchorage, Fairbanks, North Pole, Juneau and much of the Matanuska-Susitna Borough June 7.
Demian Voiles, vice president for Verizon Wireless Alaska, said launching the new network was very exciting for the company.
“A lot of work went into it,” he said.
The telecom spent about $100 million and two years on the network so far, with more planned, he said.
New Archangel Dancers Kris Wilcox and Cindy Gibson dance arm-in-arm in front of St. Michael’s Cathedral Wednesday in Sitka. Two blocks of central downtown were closed to vehicles from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. as part of an experiment to make the town more attractive and safer for cruise ship visitors. The closure allowed street vendors to fill the space and non-profits, such as the dancers, to perform.
ATLANTA — Far from reversing course, Senate Democrats who backed President Barack Obama’s health care law and now face re-election in GOP-leaning states are firming up their support for the overhaul even as Republican criticism intensifies.
FAIRBANKS — Just 25 yards stood between Nello Cooper and a cow elephant with two young elephants during an expedition to Zimbabwe in 2006.
Just moments before, two other big elephants had caught wind of him and went stampeding into the brush. Now he and his guide were staring down at the huge mother elephant.
“It was at that time I asked myself ‘How did I get myself in this position?’” he said while recounting the experience at his home in Fairbanks during the weekend.
KENAI — The two boys climbed out of their cockpits, onto a yellow wing and back onto the tarmac where the World War II era plane sat under a blue sky.
When the brothers grow up, if they chose a life in the sky, 8-year-old Devin Martin would like to fly barrel rolls and backflips; 9-year-old Tyler Treider would just like to fly a plane like the antique AT-6 Harvard warbird they had just climbed down from.
“When I was in the back you could see a lot of the controls,” Tyler said.
Devin said there were gauges and switches and dials.
Pablo Raster’s deserted island is a very groovy place. He has been immersed in reggae music since he first saw Reggae National Tickets perform live in Venice, Italy when he was nineteen years old. He has learned guitar, bass, singing, writing and producing reggae, dub and dub step and growing four feet dreadlocks in the process. Pablo is the songwriter and vocalist for Raster, a dub band based in Spoleto, Italy, with six albums and more than 700 performances to their credit. He selected ten songs that he would choose to have on a deserted island, plus one dessert. Here are the songs, the dessert and a recording of the program.
Reggae National Tickets – Suono
Almamegretta – Figli di annibale
Linton Kwesi Johnson – Sonny’s Lettah
Israel Vibration – Cool and Calm
Africa Unite – Ruggine
Mau Mau – Due Cuori
Madaski – Tonight
Delta V – Un’estate fa
Zion Train – Baby Father
Zomboy – Nuclear (Hands up)
Pablo’s dessert of choice is Tiramisu, an Italian favorite, click on the photo for the recipe.
The Sitka Ranger District of the US Forest Service issued a very rare fire warning for the region over the weekend.
Perry Edwards, ecosystem staff for the district, says Tongass fires are caused by humans.
Edwards says only a few people are “red-carded” for wildland fire fighting in Sitka. If a large fire were to start, the district would have to bring in support from Hoonah and Thorne Bay.
Representatives from both organizations met in a signing ceremony Friday afternoon (6-14-13) in Sitka.
Listen to iFriendly audio.
Redoubt Falls lies about 17 miles southeast of Sitka. It’s home to the largest subsistence dipnet salmon fishery in the area.
Sealaska selected the few acres around the falls 38 years ago, under rules spelled out in the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, or ANCSA.
Former state Sen. Albert Kookesh is chairman of the Sealaska board.
“This is a process set up by the United States government to allow us to get control of our sacred sites. It doesn’t work very well.”
Still, there has been some movement recently on the Redoubt selection. A Bureau of Land Management survey of the property was done in 2011. And the trustees of Sheldon Jackson College filed a color of title claim, saying some of the area had been deeded to the school, following the sale of Alaska from Russia to the United States.
Kookesh regarded the Sitka signing ceremony — which has no effect whatsoever unless the BLM conveys the land to Sealaska — as a demonstration of Sealaska’s intention to keep sacred tribal lands under the control of local tribes — if not in their ownership.
He told the small audience gathered in the Sitka Tribe conference room that corporate ownership was the only tool available to tribes to regain control over traditional lands.
“We really want to make sure that the Sitka Tribe, and other tribes, understand that we don’t want to own it. But by circumstances we have to own it — we’re the only train left at congress that management of sacred sites can come to.”
Corporate ownership of public lands — particularly at a major sockeye run — has been polarizing in Sitka.
Sealaska vice-chair Rosita Worl repeated a theme that the corporation has emphasized at public meetings on the issue: ANSCA guidelines on the use of sacred sites are clear.
“It can’t be for any kind of commercial development. It can continue to be used for a subsistence fishery. And we know that the site is really important not only to tribal members, but to the public at large. This agreement recognizes that the public will continue to have access to that site for a subsistence fishery.”
The four-page memorandum of agreement was signed by former Sen. Kookesh on behalf of Sealaska, and by Tribal Council chairman Mike Baines.
Afterwards, Worl discussed why Redoubt was sacred. She said she’d been down to visit the falls.
“I could feel the essence of that site. I could imagine the long use of it by our ancestors. I’m also aware that it was a site used by the Russians, and so there is that part of history that is there. Although that doesn’t have the kind of sacred dimensions, we do recognize the significance of the Russian occupancy.”
Sitka Tribal chairman Mike Baines said his organization had no immediate plans for Redoubt, if Sealaska were to finally receive the land. But he acknowledged that there were possibilities for cultural education in the area.
For him, signing the management agreement was about fulfilling the mission of his office.
“When we say our oath of office on the council, one of the most important things is that we’ll work to protect the traditional resources of the Tlingit in the area. And Redoubt is one of those resources — so that’s what we plan to do.”
The management agreement will not affect the Forest Service, and the $100,000 taxpayer funded lake fertilization program. Sealaska’s Worl said she hoped the federal government continued to pay for the program.
Separate Sealaska land selection legislation, affecting nearly 70,000 acres of timberlands on the Tongass, and another 80 sacred sites, is currently before Congress.
ANCHORAGE — Alaska will be the next battleground in the effort to legalize marijuana.
Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell, whose office oversees elections, on Friday certified a ballot initiative application that would make it legal for adults to possess up to one ounce of marijuana.
Supporters will have one year to collect 30,169 signatures from qualified voters across the state to get the question on the ballot. They want to get it done by January and have it on next year’s primary ballot, said petition sponsor Tim Hinterberger.
In a release Friday afternoon, officials with the U.S. Forest Service on the Tongass National Forest are urging Southeast residents and visitors to use caution with fire this weekend.
The National Weather Service is predicting hot and dry conditions in Southeast Alaska through Saturday and Sunday. According to the release, temperatures could be 15 to 20 degrees above normal. Depending on local weather conditions, red flag warnings and fire weather watches may be issued.
While thousands of cruise ship passengers visited Ketchikan Wednesday, a small group of Ketchikan residents turned the tables, and visited a cruise ship.
Nearly every summer, at least one cruise ship makes an inaugural port call in Ketchikan, which means some of us get to go on board, drink a mimosa, eat a pastry, meet the captain and take a tour.
The visit to the Grand Princess starts with a strict security check. They took our IDs and kept them while we were on the ship, and took a picture of each of us, so they’d know exactly what we looked like in case we failed to disembark.
Then we walked through scanners, similar to those at airports, a frustrating experience for someone carrying a load of recording equipment.
Once on, though, it was much more relaxing, with kind greetings from all the crew members, including the captain Tony Herriott.
The brief ceremony took place in the Wheelhouse lounge, practically empty at 10 a.m., especially with most of the passengers on shore taking advantage of a nice day. Well, nice for Southeast Alaska, which means not raining.
City Mayor Lew Williams III was on hand for the plaque exchange.
“In honor of you guys showing up this year, we do have something for you,” he said, adding that tourism is extremely important to Ketchikan’s economy.
The ship captain accepted the framed piece, and then handed over one for the City of Ketchikan.
Drinks and pastries followed, and some interesting factoids were revealed. For example, did you know that every cruise ship has a godmother? The godmother of the Grand Princess is… well, they didn’t know off the top of their heads, so they sent someone to go look. He reported back quickly.
“Olivia DeHavilland,” he said, and the captain added that she’s “A very famous actress.”
Andreas Pitch, the hotel manager, added another tidbit of cruise trivia.
“The largest ship in the world is the Allure of the Seas, and the godmother is Princess Fiona from ‘Shrek,’” he said.
Assistant Cruise Director Kelly Miller then herded the visitors out for a tour of the ship. Miller took us to the Vista Lounge, where they offer live shows and screen movies.
“We have a movie theater outside, but in Alaska, we’re not allowed to make noise outside, so we can’t show movies on our big movie screen unless they’re silent content,” she said.
Then, on to the OneFive club, which is a cleverly named bar on deck 15. Get it? One-five? 15?
Anyway, it leads directly outside to a pool area. Down a short flight of stairs is a wedding chapel, where the captain will officiate, and then there’s food.
“I’m going to take you downstairs now to the most popular place on the ship – the buffet,”
Miller said, laughing.
The buffet led straight through to the conservatory, which is a warm covered pool area. There’s also a 700–seat theater, a gym, where passengers can burn some of their buffet calories, more restaurants to add the calories back again, and a full-service spa.
“It’s amazing what they do on ships now that they didn’t used to,” Miller said in the spa area. “We have acupuncturists, we have Botox. But then, there’s the popular hot stone massages, as well.”
While some of the crew is able to use the gym, most are not. But there is a crew recreation area in another part of the ship, which sounds like a fun place, at least some of the time.
“Last night was Philippines independence day,” Miller said. “It was huge. It was just insanity in the recreation area. I’m looking forward to two months from now, when we have Indian and Indonesian independence days, because then we always have food. It’s a massive buffet of ethnic foods. It’s amazing. I love it.”
It takes about 1,000 people to run the ship, and Miller – who is from British Columbia – said she loves learning about other cultures through her coworkers.
“The executive chef is from Mauritius,” she said. “I didn’t even know where it was until I met him – islands off the coast of Africa. You get people from all over the world on board, which is my favorite part of working on a cruise ship. It used to be the travel, now it’s the people.”
The Grand Princess was inaugurated almost exactly 15 years ago. It has a capacity of 2,600 passengers.
An approximately $340,000 grant to OceansAlaska is on the Ketchikan Gateway Borough Assembly agenda Monday, along with a proposal for the borough to seek state and federal funding to help build a shellfish hatchery that would be operated by that organization.
OceansAlaska grows badly needed oyster and geoduck seed for shellfish farmers throughout Alaska. It is operating at a loss, though, and has asked the borough and city for financial help to get through the next couple of years.
According to borough information, the seed produced at the hatchery this year will lead to sales of up to $5 million for Alaska shellfish farmers.
The larger 10,000-square-foot building that OceansAlaska plans would be more efficient, and the organization anticipates it would be able to operate such a facility without government help.
Also Monday, the Assembly will consider a resolution accepting ownership of the Southern Southeast Emergency Training Center, which has not been completed. According to the resolution, the training center organization started the project, but has run out of funds and doesn’t anticipate getting more anytime soon.
The Assembly meeting starts at 5:30 p.m. in Borough Assembly chambers. Public comment will be heard at the start of the meeting.
The Ketchikan City Council on Thursday heard the results of a study that the city commissioned to determine what, if anything, could be done to improve energy efficiency in city-owned buildings.
CLEARresult conducted the study, and there were some suggestions offered during the special meeting. Council Member Matt Olsen gave a brief summary.
“Change lighting, change use policies, some things that were pretty easy to accomplish and have some quick payouts for us,” he said in a Morning Edition interview with KRBD. “They had some other things, such as changing out some motors in the sewage system, and changing heat systems from using oil to trying to reclaim the oil that was deposited in the harbor waste bins, and using that to heat buildings, as well.”
The study also looked into ways to encourage city residents to use less electricity. Available hydroelectric power is getting used up at a much faster rate than predicted, and the city is concerned about using its backup diesel generators too often. Diesel power costs significantly more, and Ketchikan Public Utilities customers pay a surcharge whenever the city needs to use it.
Olsen said that one suggestion in the study was a tiered rate structure, so that customers are charged more when they use more.
“For the average user, it wouldn’t cost them anything more, but if you’re using electric heat to heat your home, it would cost you more to do that,” he explained. “That led to quite a bit of discussion on the Council. No direction was given, but it’s something that, during budget time, we’ll look at.”
Other suggestions from the study also will be considered during the city’s annual budget process, which generally starts in late fall.
The Ketchikan City Council met in special session to hear results from an energy efficiency and conservation report prepared by CLEAResult. Council member Matt Olsen gives details. Energy061413
Blue skies bring more than sunshine and light breezes to Sitka. Morning fog is common as the air warms up slightly. Last Sunday morning (6-9-13) photographer Owen Kindig saw a cloud bank roiling over Kruzof Island, and set up his camera near Eliason Harbor to capture this time lapse video. We think poet Carl Sandburg may have come up with a different metaphor if he had seen Sitka fog roll in: We get the little feet, and the rest of the cat too!
Listen to iFriendly audio.
School districts contemplate legal action to fund intensive-needs students. NTSB releases preliminary report on Petersburg float plane crash. Alaska Public Offices Commission relaxes rules on initiative expenditures.
Victoria Merritt with the Craig Parks and Recreation report for June 14. CraigPR061413
ANCHORAGE — Scientists have raised the alert level for a volcano in the Alaska Peninsula.
The Alaska Earthquake Observatory said in a release that elevated surface temperatures recorded Thursday morning at Veniaminof Volcano indicate an eruption is likely underway at the intracaldera cone.
No ash plumes were observed Thursday, but clouds have obscured views from a Web camera aimed at the summit. However, scientists said seismic tremors continue, which is an indication of low-level effusive activity and small explosions.