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Southeast Alaska News

KFSK Spring Membership Drive – Thank You !!

Thu, 2014-04-03 10:16

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Immersing artists in the wild

Thu, 2014-04-03 10:11

Jennifer MacDonald, wilderness manager with the USFS, and Becky Latanich, chief interpreter with the National Park Service, discuss the Voices of the Wilderness exhibit on display now through April 8 at the Sitka NHP Visitor Center and at UAS. Learn more about the residency program online.

Thu Apr 3, 2014

Thu, 2014-04-03 10:04

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Pro-life group remains concerned over Planned Parenthood’s involvement in health education at Blatchley middle school. The Sitka Sac Roe Herring Fishery through the eyes of biologist Dave Gordon.

Wed Apr 2, 2014

Thu, 2014-04-03 10:00

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Alaska Native Languages bill moves to House floor for vote. Oregon environmental activist returns to Southeast as new SEACC director. Tsunami warning test a small component of large disaster exercise: Alaska Shield.

Commentary by Hagerman on Recycling – Thank you PIA

Thu, 2014-04-03 09:02

KFSK has an open airwaves policy. We encourage the public to express opinions, ideas and creative works. The views and opinions expressed are not necessarily those of KFSK.

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Pro-lifers oppose Planned Parenthood in Sitka’s middle school

Thu, 2014-04-03 07:00

A pro-life group remains concerned over Planned Parenthood’s involvement in health instruction at Blatchley Middle School last fall, even though the curriculum is no longer being taught.

The Sitka/Southeast Alaska Coalition for Life Tuesday night (4-1-14) presented the school board with a letter signed by 150 residents, expressing shock over the participation of Planned Parenthood, and recommending the postponement of instruction in human sexuality until a consensus can be reached on how best to teach it.

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Ed Gray was spokesman for the group. The topic was not on the agenda. The School Board took comments under persons to be heard.

“We were shocked to learn that Planned Parenthood was teaching a sex education class in the Sitka School District. Planned Parenthood is the largest abortion provider in the United States, and promotes a form of sex education which, among other things, considers the abortion pill and surgical abortion to be forms of birth control. As you’re aware, abortion destroys a human life.”

Yvonne Corduan had not signed the group letter, but submitted one of her own. She also objected to the involvement of Planned Parenthood, and favored an approach to sex education based on moral values.

“My generation, of which many of you are a part of also, is at fault for much of the social chaos we are experiencing today. Our generation decided that the moral values and expectations of our parents were a bit old-fashioned and stilted, so we tossed them out and entered the generation of free love, be true to yourself, do your own thing. What we did not realize is that freedom is not the liberty to do what we want.”

There was also testimony from two members of the public, Jeanine Brooks and Davy Lubin, in strong support of comprehensive health education. And testimony from one student, Michael Boos, who asked for more youth participation in developing policy on the subject.

The anti-Planned Parenthood sentiment was also evident at a Blatchley PAC meeting on the subject in February. Yet then — as now — Planned Parenthood did not develop or implement the Blatchley health curriculum.

Pacific High co-principal Sarah Ferrency is a board member of Planned Parenthood Northwest.

“That organization has been vilified in ways that are not accurate. I work tirelessly every day on behalf of our young people, and I work more with people who are facing these issues in a very head-on way than many people do. And I have strong experience to support the education that we are providing. I also see a lot of common ground. I don’t know how many of you are familiar with what’s being taught. I would encourage you to go talk with Mr. White and ask to see it. Because it’s doing what you’re asking it to do: All of these programs are abstinence-based.”

I spoke with Blatchley principal Ben White following the board meeting. He confirmed that the two programs, FLASH in the 6th grade and Wyman TOP in the 7th grade were taught in the fall. FLASH stands for Family Life and Sexual Health. The program was created by the King County Health Department in Seattle, and is used widely across Alaska. TOP stands for Teen Outreach Program. Wyman is a St. Louis-based non-profit whose program has been endorsed by the US Department of Health. I found detailed information about both in a three-minute search on the internet.

Both FLASH and TOP require a trained instructor. In Sitka, the only qualified instructor was Emily Reilly, who was also director of the local Planned Parenthood office.

Kristen Homer is a registered nurse and Blatchley parent who offered some short-term health instruction in the last school year. She told the board that TOP was more comprehensive.

“If you look at the curriculum in the TOPS program, what it went over was values clarification, relationships, communication, assertiveness, goal-setting, decision-making, and human development and sexuality. We all know that sex doesn’t happen in a vacuum. The more tools that individuals have to make good decisions, to communicate, to keep themselves out of bad decisions — the more likely they are to keep from getting pregnant.”

FLASH and TOP were discontinued at Blatchley when Emily Reilly became unavailable to teach them, and principal Ben White could find no qualified replacement. Instead, he sent his two physical education teachers to Anchorage for a 2-day training in a program called Fourth R. The “R” stands for Relationships. The program was developed in Canada and has been adopted by the Alaska Department of Education.

White says Blatchley 8th-graders have been receiving Fourth R instruction every Thursday since January from either his PE instructors or Elena Gustafson, a staff member at the SAFV shelter.

In persons-to-be-heard, the school board can not act on, or reply to, comments made by the public. Some members instead responded during their reports.

Tonia Rioux said she respected the views of the parents who spoke on both sides of the issue, but she stood behind the programs. Twenty-three years ago, Rioux herself was in middle school in Sitka.

“In my two years at Blatchley I saw no less than four girls get pregnant. The majority of them were from people who were over 21. That’s a problem. Those girls needed to know healthy relationships. They needed something more than someone popping in for a week teaching about sex education. And to me, what was exciting about the program was that was what it was offering. More than just how to prevent STD’s, or Here’s how to prevent getting pregnant. It was Here’s how to have healthy relationships, Here’re tools for healthy communication.”

Board member Cass Pook echoed some of Rioux’s remarks, but said that people all held different core beliefs. She felt that as a member of the faith community it was possible to move forward and find something that everyone could agree on.

Superintendent Steve Bradshaw, however, did not want to build up expectations around full agreement. He had recently had a 90-minute meeting with the Sitka Coalition for Life.

“I’m hoping that we can do what everybody’s asking for and get together and find a solution that will meet the needs of the community. I hesitate to use the word ‘consensus,’ because I’m not sure that in today’s society that we’re going to be able to get there.”

Bradshaw said that honest conversation about what was best for kids was what “education is all about.” The board offered to schedule more time in the future to discuss the issue further.

House changes little as state education bill advances

Thu, 2014-04-03 00:29

House Finance Committee members needed six hours Wednesday to work through 17 proposed changes to the revised omnibus education bill.

Republican Gov. Sean Parnell proposed the bill, HB278, and it has remained lawmakers’ focus since Parnell dubbed 2014 the “Education Session” earlier this year.

School districts across the state already receive $5,680 for each student counted in the fall. The bill sought to increase that base student allocation (BSA) by $85 this year and by $58 in each of the two following years to follow rising costs.

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Parnell seeks tax credits for state refineries

Thu, 2014-04-03 00:28

JUNEAU — Gov. Sean Parnell has put forth a proposal that may assist the state’s three refineries in providing cheaper fuel to in-state customers.

Parnell’s proposal is a new tax credit that the three state refineries may use for infrastructure upgrades and investments for the purpose of increased production, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported Tuesday.

The proposed tax credit may also be used in developing low-sulfur fuels as well as expanding storage capacity.

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Sitka school district tries to attract teachers

Thu, 2014-04-03 00:25

SITKA — Three administrators in the Sitka School District went shopping for teachers recently, attending job fairs in the Seattle area in an effort to entice teachers north to Alaska.

There are 14 positions open in Sitka, including four at the elementary school, Casey Demmert, principal of Keet Gooshi Heen Elementary, told KCAW -FM.

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Panel moves bill honoring Alaska Native languages

Thu, 2014-04-03 00:24

JUNEAU — Surrounded by a cheering crowd, some wearing Alaska Native traditional clothing, the House State Affairs committee on Tuesday moved a bill symbolically adding 20 native languages to the list of official languages of the state.

The bill moved with surprising ease after the last meeting, where some committee members expressed doubt over the bill’s intent and one sponsor said she was frustrated by opposition to the bill.

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Photo: Kayakers! Seals! Whales! Oh my!

Thu, 2014-04-03 00:24

A pair of kayakers paddles between a humpback whale and a harem of sealions as herring spawn in Sitka Sound Sunday in Sitka, Alaska.

Coast Guardsmen testify about shooting response

Thu, 2014-04-03 00:22

ANCHORAGE — A Coast Guardsman who found the bodies of two murdered co-workers thought at first they were pranking him.

Petty Officer Cody Beaufort said Wednesday he was preparing for a transfer on April 12, 2012, and could not believe what he saw when he reported for work at about 7:30 a.m. at the Coast Guard’s Kodiak Communication Station.

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Barrow investigates missing money, drugs

Thu, 2014-04-03 00:21

An investigation surrounding missing evidence from the North Slope Borough Police Department is underway in Barrow after money and drugs disappeared at the department more than a year ago. As of Tuesday, the borough is in the process of hiring an investigator to look into the allegations.

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Alaska Senate forum turns to subsistence

Thu, 2014-04-03 00:20

ANCHORAGE — Two Republicans running against Democratic U.S. Sen. Mark Begich told a crowd of Alaska Native leaders at a candidates forum that they value subsistence, but they stopped short of answering a question about the U.S. Supreme Court’s refusal to review the state’s appeal of a lower court’s ruling on rural fishing and hunting rights.

Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell and former state natural resources commissioner Dan Sullivan spoke Tuesday at the Alaska Native Village CEO Association conference, the Anchorage Daily News reported.

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Alaska DNA reveals polar bear evolution

Thu, 2014-04-03 00:19

ANCHORAGE — Genetic variation in more than 300 polar bears from Alaska was analyzed in a recent study that looked at genetic elements not used in earlier studies.

The study was conducted by University of Alaska Fairbanks Professor Matthew Cronin, who worked with colleagues at the University of California Davis and Montclair State University in New Jersey, the Anchorage Daily News reported this week.

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Pearls of Pauline

Wed, 2014-04-02 18:00

Next-door-neighbors for 27 years: KCAW News Director Robert Woolsey and Pauline Fredrickson. (KCAW photo/Rachel Waldholz)

Pauline Fredrickson was born in Cordova, Alaska, in 1929 and relocated as a child first to Chichagof Island and then to Sitka, where she has remained to raise her family, and lead us all with her wise, generous spirit. She dropped by Raven Radio to record a tribute to the station called Build on the Good, which you can listen to here. On her way out she insisted on a photo-op with KCAW News Director Robert Woolsey, her next-door neighbor for 27 years!

During her recording session, Pauline offered many thoughts and observations about her nearly-85 years as an Alaskan, which we will share from time to time on our airwaves and on our Facebook page.

Ukuleles Live!

Wed, 2014-04-02 14:51

Riddle: How many Ukuleleists can you fit into the KCAW Air Room?

Answer: At least 11!

We were lucky enough to have 11 members of “The Hundred” in today during Hometown Brew to help celebrate Raven Radio leading up to our One-Day Spring Drive this Friday, April 4th.

We’ve raised about $30,000 on our way to our goal of $85,000. If you enjoy the diverse music and talents that Raven Radio brings to our community, please consider making a donation online now!

Petersburg budget cutting effort falls short

Wed, 2014-04-02 14:17

Members of Petersburg’s borough assembly Tuesday tried to cut funding for community service grants and borough departments but did not have enough votes to approve those reductions. That was after local organizations that rely on borough grants made their case for continued support.

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Representatives from the school district, Petersburg mental health services, KFSK, the Clausen museum, and Mt View Manor food service turned out to answer questions about how grants and payments to the various organizations are used. That’s after borough assembly members last week questioned some of the payments and mentioned making reductions.

Overall, the items in the borough community services budget total nearly two million dollars, with $1.8 million of that going to the local school district.

School superintendent Rob Thomason urged the borough to maintain that contribution. He said the district anticipated a drop in state funding of 300,000 dollars or more and said they’ve been reducing its staff to make up for that funding loss. “In the 2014-15 school year there’ll be three fewer teachers in the district and one less classified or instructional assistant. Those teachers are an English teacher, an elementary teacher and a special education teacher plus the one classified person. These reductions are the result of one retirement, two resignations and one, our first in many many years, reduction in force, where we actually told someone I’m sorry we do not have a job for you.”

Thomason noted the district has been reducing staff in each of the last five years. Petersburg Mental Health Services director Susan Ohmer said the 85,000 dollars in borough grants to her organization have allowed mental health to employ another clinician. Ohmer said that local funding also helped mental health secure other state and federal grant money. “Without local funding it hamstrings us in so many different ways in terms of leveraging grants and being able to see the type of clients that we see and being able to provide the level of response that we provide for the police and the hospital and other agencies that ask us for help.” Ohmer said loss of the local grant money would mean her agency would have to refer clients elsewhere.

Other grantees also made their case for continued grant funding. A draft budget prepared by borough staff includes the same level of funding for community services as last year. That draft budget is balanced in the general fund and even anticipates setting aside 437-thousand dollars for future purchases or projects in the borough’s property development fund.

Assembly member John Havrilek wanted to cut borough spending. “The people in the community that are working at Hammers, TU, they’re not making anywhere near what the people in this room are making, nowhere near. That’s why I have a hard time supporting more funding or even the same funding when I know people are out there that are struggling to feed themselves and their kids. Much worse shape than most of us. Cant afford it. So we need to cut back,” Havrilek said.

Havrilek suggested an amendment to cut the borough budget across the board one percent, reduce the school appropriation by 200,000 dollars and eliminate the mental health grants.

Assembly member Jeigh Stanton Gregor noted his ownership of a private mental health counseling business. Others on the assembly were split on whether he stood to get more business by reducing a borough payment to the other mental health provider in town. Nancy Strand thought he did. “It looks to me like you could stand to gain monetarily which is the question behind recusing,” Strand said.

With Stanton Gregor sitting out the vote, the amendment failed 2-2 with Havrilek and Bob Lynn in favor and Strand and acting mayor Cindi Lagoudakis voting against it.

A motion to approve the draft budget as proposed by staff also failed with three “no” votes, Stanton Gregor, Lynn and Havrilek. Those three also voted for a two percent across the board reduction to the borough budget not including community payments. With Strand and Lagoudakis voting no, that proposal also fell short.

Yet another vote was on a one percent cut across the board. Since that included the mental health grants, Stanton Gregor sat out that vote, and it failed 3-1 with only Strand voting no.

With no proposals getting a four-vote majority, assembly member Bob Lynn made his case for cutting borough spending. “I hear out there almost everybody I talk to says we wanna tax this, we wanna tax that, we want more, we want more and we haven’t looked at cutting anything,” Lynn said. “I’ve got a concern with that, I’ve got a real concern. We know the national budget’s affected. We’ve heard everybody here saying their budgets are going down because the grants aren’t there and everything else. We’ve got some of the same problems. The other one is we have buildings around town that need help and some place along the line we’re gonna have to take care of ourselves I believe and we gotta start saving for it.”

However, Nancy Strand questioned the impact of across the board cuts. “We just spent several hours in meetings with or work sessions with our department heads and I of the impression they’ve cut pretty much as much as they can without really reducing services. So I wonder where these additional one percent or two percent cuts are gonna come from?”

School superintendent Thomason answered that question, noting the school district has already contracted with its staff for next year and any cuts would have to fall on five percent of the district’s budget. “The only place we can go to reduce the number you’re talking about, that magical five percent is sports, activities, music, art, professional development, vocational education, technology and teaching supplies. We cannot, by law, retract contracts. So if you’re gonna make this decision for the school district, be it one percent, be it two percent, be it 200-thousand dollars, there will be a significant community impact.”

Meanwhile, assembly member Havrilek still wanted to find ways to cut borough spending.
:33 “I know we went through these meetings and talked to people but I still think the bottom line is at this spending rate we’re being irresponsible. And unless we create our own reserves if we do have problems or emergencies we’re asking for a disaster. I don’t think its too late, I think we need to start planning now. But you know I don’t know what else to offer.”

Since none of the assembly’s amendments or motions passed, that leaves staff with its original draft budget. That will be up for a public hearing along with three votes, and more potential amendments, during assembly meetings in May and June.

ADFG announces king salmon sportfishing regs

Wed, 2014-04-02 14:08

Alaska Department of Fish and Game photo.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game has announced this year’s sport fishing regulations for king salmon fishing in Southeast Alaska and Yakutat.

The regulations took effect Wednesday, and will remain through next year.

According to the department, the resident bag and possession limit is three king salmon at least 28 inches long.

The nonresident bag and possession limit for most of the year is one king salmon at least 28 inches long. During May and June, the possession and bag limit increases to two kings.

Additional information can be found online. A link is posted with this report on the KRBD website.

Anti-chloramine petition turned in at City Hall

Wed, 2014-04-02 13:48

Ketchikan is seen from the water on a beautiful sunny day.

A petition to place the chloramine water treatment issue in front of city voters was turned in at Ketchikan City Hall Wednesday.

If all of the estimated 622 signatures belong to registered city voters, that’s well above the required 356 needed for the petition to pass the first hurdle.

City Clerk Katy Suiter says it will take at least a couple of days to verify the signatures. If there are enough valid signatures, the city attorney then will review it to make sure the proposed ballot initiative language passes legal muster.

If it survives both reviews, the city must put the initiative before voters within two months. The initiative would ask city voters to prohibit Ketchikan Public Utilities from using chloramine – a mixture of chlorine and ammonia – as part of its water treatment system.

The city has been moving toward a chloramine treatment system for about 10 years. A group called United Citizens for Better Water formed this winter to oppose the switch.

While the initiative process continues, the city is moving ahead with plans to start that new treatment next week. In a memo to the Ketchikan City Council, Water Division Manager John Kleinegger writes that the process will take about five days. It involves testing the equipment and flushing pipes as the new disinfection mixture is distributed throughout Ketchikan’s water system.

Kleinegger’s memo was part of the Ketchikan City Council meeting agenda, although there is no action item on the agenda related to chloramine.

During that meeting, the Council will consider an agreement with Akeela, Inc., to help relocate the Ketchikan Alcohol Rehabilitation House to property on Washington Street donated by PeaceHealth for that purpose.

PeaceHealth also would provide $100,000 to help with the move, according to the agreement. The city would provide $300,000. The estimated cost to renovate the donated building is $747,500.

The Council meeting starts at 7 p.m. Thursday in City Council chambers. Public comment will be heard at the start of the meeting.

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