Alaskan Author Don Rearden will be visiting the Haines Public Library on Friday March 14th to...
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Southeast Alaska News
KETCHIKAN — More than 20 years ago, four women decided to get together once a month to sew quilts regardless if anyone else showed up. They advertised their new group in the newspaper, and nine women showed up to quilt with them.
The group is still going strong, with considerably more people in a different location, but continuing with the same passion for log cabins, pin wheels, stars and nine-patch patterns.
JUNEAU — The Senate Resources Committee on Friday unveiled a version of a gas pipeline bill that largely remained true to what Gov. Sean Parnell proposed, with some clarifications.
The draft said confidential information related to contract negotiations shall be shared with the Legislature in executive session or under confidentiality agreements. The original version said “may.” Chairwoman Cathy Giessel, R-Anchorage, said she wanted to make sure lawmakers were involved.
The Ketchikan City Council voted Thursday to finalize the months-long process leading to a year-round half-percent sales tax increase.
There had been discussion of a seasonal sales tax, to take advantage of the busy summer tourist season, but the majority of the Council eventually decided that would be challenging for business owners. Thursday’s vote established a new, full-time 4 percent sales tax, starting April 1.
The new sales tax will increase the city’s revenue this year by about $900,000.
Also Thursday, the Council finalized this year’s distribution of grant funding for local nonprofit agencies.
In the 2014 budget, the Council had set aside $358,000 for nonprofit grants, but the committee that distributes those funds came up with a recommended distribution that fell slightly short of that amount. During its Feb. 6 meeting, the City Council decided to fund all the agencies at the 2013 level, rather than accept the recommendation. But, they found out later that doing so would require about $2,000 more.
The Council chose a new path during Thursday’s meeting. Members decided to split the amount of money left from the original $358,000 appropriation between the homeless shelter and Southeast Senior Services, rather than add more to that part of the budget.
The next Ketchikan City Council meeting is March 6.
At the Chamber of Commerce Lunch on Wednesday, two educators from Community Connections talked about early childhood education in Ketchikan.
A few people at the Chamber Lunch shed some tears after Jessica Mills Clark and Adrienne O’Brien played a short video that encourages communities to invest in early childhood programs.
The video shows children who were in unstable homes and school environments unprepared for kindergarten. It ended with healthy and happy kids who were ready for school.
Clark said Ketchikan has many programs to help young children. One is the Alaska state initiative called Strengthening Families. It’s meant to prevent child abuse and neglect.
“This program is for everyone,” Clark said. “Because as a parent or as a family member, when haven’t you needed some support in the course of your life?”
She held up five fingers, each standing for one of the protective factors that are part of the initiative: parental resilience, social connections, concrete support, knowledge of childhood development, and social emotional development of young children.
“This is where these lifelong skills are developed – all under the age of 5,” Clark said.
Clark also discussed a new pilot program in Ketchikan called the Family, Infant, and Toddler Court Team. It connects organizations around Ketchikan with families that have kids in foster care.
The goal is to either try to bring the child back into their family’s home in a healthy and safe way, or to place them in a permanent foster home.
“One child that was in our program was 2 years old and she had already been in 6 foster homes,” Clark said. “And that’s a lot. That might be a lot more than the average, but I’m thinking the average is still pretty high. It’s about 4 placements for children under 3.”
O’Brien talked about the Best Beginnings program, which helps prepare young children for school.
The Ketchikan Passport for Kids [pictured] is included in that program. It’s a little turquoise booklet with boxes kids can stamp when they’ve traveled to exciting destinations like the Main Street Gallery or the doctor’s office.
“They’re meant to encourage families to get out with their kids and go to the rec center, to the library, to the swimming pool,” O’Brien said.
There is more information about early childhood programs at the Community Connections website, comconnections.org.
Republican Gov. Sean Parnell named Sam Kito III Friday to replace former Juneau Democratic Rep. Beth Kerttula for House District 32.
Kito’s appointment is pending a confirmation from a majority of the House Democrats who are planning to meet on the issue Monday evening, said Rep. Chris Tuck, D-Anchorage, and the minority leader.
Kito was one of three finalists Tongass Democrats forwarded to Parnell. Interviews of the finalists took place Thursday.
SEARHC outreach and enrollment manager Andrea Thomas shares tips for healthcare enrollment in advance of the Affordable Care Act mandated deadline, March 31.
Alaska Oil and Gas President spoke to the Sitka Chamber about the state of the oil and gas industry in Alaska. Alaska’s mayors and other local officials are worried about the cost of public employees’ retirement. Legislation to reauthorize 12 economic development organizations in Alaska stalled.
The Ketchikan City Council approved a half-cent sales tax increase on Thursday. The council also addressed community agency funding and authorized demolition of the Deer Mountain Hatchery. Council member Dick Coose gives details. Council022114
She started her talk by highlighting AOGA’s connection to the Permanent Fund Dividends Alaskans have received since 1982.
Moriarty: So, how many of you received every single permanent fund check since 1982? So, about half of the room. Quiz question, because I am a former school teacher that’s how I got to Alaska I should have said, so what’s the total number, in real dollars, how much have you received as an Alaskan since 1982?
Audience member: A little over 35,000.
Moriarty: You are right!
Audience member: I’m good, aren’t I?
Moriarty: Yes that is very good! So it’s 35,143 to be exact.
Moriarty explained how almost all oil and gas production occurs on state land, AOGA negotiates a royalty with the state on land leased for production. She says about 25% of those royalties that the state collects goes into the Permanent Fund.
Moriarty also spoke to the future of Alaska’s oil and gas industry. She says maintaining the current infrastructure, and keeping oil fields healthy is the key to making way for future development.
If you hear that Alaska is running out of oil, I’m just here to tell you that it is not true. The good news is Alaska is very rich in resources and again a lot of it is a long ways away from here and some of it is a long ways away from Anchorage where I currently live. We think there is just around 600 million barrels left in Cook Inlet, about five billion barrels in the known fields. Prudhoe and Kuparuk, we think there’s a lot of heavy and viscous oil. But, if you look at that all together, and not including heavy and viscous where we don’t have the technology today to produce that oil, we have about 45-50 billion barrels of potential. And if you compare that to what we produced to date since the 70s, we produced just over 17 billion. So we have several generations of oil and gas left if we have the ability to produce it. We can control our competitiveness here. The major prize is the Chukchi Sea off the west coast of the North Slope… It’s a about 50-60 miles offshore. We think there’s about 27 billion barrels of oil potential out there, and remember I said we produced how many to date? 17 to date. So for me this is the next generation of oil and gas.
Moriarty says that production in this region is still 12-15 years away when factoring in the time it takes to test what’s there, clear legal hurdles, and secure development permits.
At the end of her presentation, Moriarty said she would be remiss if she did not mention AOGA’s opposition to Ballot Proposition 1 repealing Senate Bill 21. The Republican majority in 2013 passed a measure known as SB21, restructuring Alaska’s system of taxing oil profits. She echoed the points raised by First Bank mortgage manager Rocky Elerding when he addressed Sitka’s Chamber last month (January).
ANCHORAGE — A petroleum company will apply for state Cook Inlet drilling credits to offset its expense in drilling a natural gas well near Homer that came up dry.
Buccaneer Alaska LLC will plug and abandon West Eagle No. 1 well 20 miles northeast of Homer, part of a drilling program that cost more than $9 million, the Anchorage Daily News .
Drilling was stopped at 3,700 feet in an area that had shown promising seismic data.
ANCHORAGE — The Alaska Supreme Court is looking at the state’s legally challenged abortion notification law that applies to minors.
The law, passed in a ballot initiative in 2010, requires health care providers to notify the parents of a pregnant minor before she can undergo an abortion. Exceptions allow minors to get abortions if they go before a judge or get a notarized statement saying they were abused.
The state’s high court heard oral arguments Wednesday on the issue, the Anchorage Daily News reported.
Lawmakers on Government Hill have slogged through the first month of the 2014 Legislature, but the debate over how to adequately fund education rages on.
The Republican majority in both houses has spent the first 30 days of the Legislative session methodically working through about 60 education bills covering 30 different subjects, but progress is slow.
JUNEAU — Minority Democrats on Thursday pitched an education package that includes an increase in the per-pupil funding formula and allows charter schools to be located within neighborhood schools when space is available.
The bills include a proposed increase in the per-pupil formula, known as the base student allocation, of $404 per student, a one-time grant of $500 for charter schools to assist with startup costs, and a requirement for traffic control at and around school zones.
JUNEAU — Gov. Sean Parnell has proposed an additional $32.7 million for the proposed Susitna-Watana hydro project, but that is contingent upon the Alaska Energy Authority securing land access permits required for field studies and other work.
AEA is the group pursuing the massive project between Anchorage and Fairbanks.
JUNEAU — House majority members on Thursday were asked about the potential tax revenues for the state should voters approve an initiative this summer legalizing the recreational use of marijuana.
Rep. Dan Saddler, R-Eagle River, acknowledged the potential for revenues. But he said legalizing pot could open the door to unintended consequences.
“I would encourage people to consider the social cost of allowing recreational marijuana use,” said Saddler, the only one of the four members at the news conference to respond to the question.
FAIRBANKS — The body of former Alaska territorial Gov. Mike Stepovich has been returned to Fairbanks ahead of next week’s services.
The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported family members, Alaska State Troopers, airport police and a representative of the Army were on hand to greet the flag-draped coffin as it arrived late Wednesday afternoon.
The 94-year-old former governor died last Friday at a San Diego hospital. He was appointed by President Eisenhower as governor in 1957, a position he held for a year before resigning.
ANCHORAGE — The good news in a crime report just released by the FBI is that violent crime was down in the first half of 2013 for Anchorage. The bad news for Anchorage was that property crimes spiked during the same period of time.
The Anchorage Daily News said the report shows violent crimes in the categories of murder, robbery and aggravated assault declined by 1.4 percent during the first 6 months of 2013.
ANCHORAGE — A 17-year-old boy has died in a car crash in Anchorage that injured two other teens, one of them critically.
KTUU said the single-vehicle rollover occurred shortly before 3:30 a.m. Thursday at O’Malley Road and Commodore Drive in south Anchorage.
Police said the driver of the SUV lost control of the vehicle, which rolled and came to stop in the yard of a condominium complex.
The 17-year-old and an 18-year-old man were ejected from the SUV, and a 16-year-old girl was able to get out of the vehicle.
ANCHORAGE — A 58-year-old Palmer man is accused of making multiple obscene and harassing phone calls to 911.
Alaska State Troopers said Jordan Greer was arrested on a charge of harassment.
Troopers said they were notified Wednesday night that Greer had been making the calls.
It’s unclear if Greer has an attorney.
ANCHORAGE — North Slope Borough police said a man was been arrested following a home search that found drugs in Barrow.
KTUU-TV reported police served a search warrant at a home Tuesday and arrested 62-year-old Zoran Antoski.
Police said they found 3.8 ounces of cocaine, drug paraphernalia and more than $16,600 in cash at the home.
Police estimate the seized cocaine has a street value of $50,430.
Antoski was taken into custody for violating conditions of probation. Police said additional charges could be filed.