Alaskan Author Don Rearden will be visiting the Haines Public Library on Friday March 14th to...
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Southeast Alaska News
ANCHORAGE — A man who lobbied congressional members for Alaska statehood and served as one of the state’s last territorial governors has died.
Mike Stepovich died early Friday in a San Diego hospital at the age of 94, his daughter, Antonia Stepovich Gore, told The Associated Press. Services are pending.
“Our hearts are full,” she said.
She said the three things that were most important to him were “family, faith and Alaska, and that could be in any order on any given day.”
JUNEAU — The House Education Committee on Friday took up funding aspects of an education bill by Gov. Sean Parnell that would allow vocational credits to be counted as high school credits for participating students.
Under the bill, the 10 vocational schools involved must have such an agreement in place with high schools that send students into their program or face a 20 percent reduction in state funding.
Fittingly, the bill introduced Friday that would prohibit the University of Alaska Board of Regents from banning concealed weapons on campus actually is the result of campus discussions.
Intern Hans Rodvik approached Sen. John Coghill, R-North Pole, about the proposal earlier this session. The Senate majority leader agreed to carry SB176 under one condition — Rodvik would be in charge of seeing it through the legislative process.
ANCHORAGE — A federal appeals court on Thursday reinstated a shareholders lawsuit filed against BP Alaska in the wake of two oil spills in 2006 on the North Slope that exposed problems with the company’s pipeline maintenance program.
A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the U.S. District Court of Western Washington on several claims.
ANCHORAGE — Anchorage officials seeking a new north-south road through University of Alaska Anchorage property on the city’s east side have decided the most direct route is the best.
University, hospital and transportation officials on Thursday picked a direct link between Bragaw Street and Elmore Road for a solution to snarled traffic and access to UAA, Providence Hospital and medical facilities, the Anchorage Daily News reported.
The cost is estimated at $19.4 million. The new two-lane road would include three roundabouts and three pedestrian bridges.
JUNEAU — The U.S. State Department plans to create an Arctic representative position to highlight the growing importance of that region.
In letters sent to Alaska’s two U.S. senators, Mark Begich and Lisa Murkowski, Secretary of State John Kerry said he planned to name a “high-level individual of substantial stature and expertise” to serve as Special Representative for the Arctic Region. He said he hoped to get input from both of them in creating the post and finding the right person.
JUNEAU — Sen. Charlie Huggins is taking another shot at designating an official state firearm.
SB175 would make the pre-1964 Winchester Model 70 bolt-action rifle in a number of different calibers the official state bolt-action rifle.
The bill says that to be an Alaskan between 1930 and 1963 meant carrying the “rifleman’s rifle,” the Winchester pre-1964 Model 70. It says the rifle helped Alaskans “establish a firm foothold in the untamed and often wild Alaska wilderness.”
The bill is somewhat different from one introduced by Huggins in 2011 and later withdrawn.
Municipalities across the Alaska moved a little closer Friday to being able to ban all forms of cell phone use when drivers are on school property or in school zones.
The Senate voted 13-2 to approved SB123, sponsored by Anchorage Republican Sen. Kevin Meyer, and the bill now heads to the House of Representatives for consideration.
The proposal enables cities to pass ordinances that prohibit cell phone use on school property and in school zones, but it does not require such a rule.
FAIRBANKS — A fuel hauler says nearly 2,200 gallons of diesel fuel is estimated to have leaked from a tanker after a crash on the Dalton Highway.
The Eggor Enterprises truck rolled late Tuesday night at Mile 309.5 within the North Slope Borough.
The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports the truck veered off the road on its way from North Pole to Deadhorse.
The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation received a call on the crash eight hours after the incident.
HOUSTON, Texas — Oilfield services company Baker Hughes Inc. says the number of rigs exploring for oil and natural gas in the U.S. declined by seven this week to 1,764.
The Houston firm said in its weekly report Friday that 1,423 rigs were exploring for oil and 337 for gas. Four were listed as miscellaneous. A year ago there were 1,762 active rigs.
Of the major oil- and gas-producing states, California gained five rigs, New Mexico gained three and Kansas, Ohio and West Virginia each gained one.
ANCHORAGE — The state Supreme Court on Friday upheld the state’s issuance of a gas exploration license in the Healy Basin for Usibelli Coal Mine.
The group Denali Citizens Council had challenged the process in which the state Department of Natural Resources had issued the license.
ANCHORAGE — Alaska State Troopers are investigating human remains found near Girdwood and say they may be from a Wasilla woman reported missing nearly four years ago.
KTUU-TV reports a hiker Sunday morning found a skull in a wooded area off Boretide Road in Indian.
Troopers say the remains are presumed to be the body of 26-year-old Nichole M. Millsaps.
She was reported missing in May 2010.
The state medical examiner has taken possession of the remains and is working on a positive identification. Troopers say Millsaps’ family was told of the discovery.
Sunday, February 16, 2014
Linemen cleared the toppled tree from the Green Lake transmission line, and had all of Sitka re-powered sometime after 10 PM last night.
Saturday, February 15, 2014
The Electric Department confirms that a fallen tree on the Green Lake transmission line is the source of tonight’s outage. Linemen are working on that issue, and checking the rest of the line for potential problems. About half of Sitka is currently being powered by the Jarvis St. Diesel plant. Operators are working to resolve a control panel issue at the Blue Lake, but should have that plant up and running — and the rest of Sitka powered — within a half-hour to forty-five minutes. Since we’re running on backup power, the Electric Department is urging Sitkans to conserve as much as possible, in order to provide power to the entire town.
Power has been restored downtown.
Power has been restored along parts of Sawmill Creek Road, in the Biorka St. area.
Sitka’s Electric Department is scrambling to fire up the Jarvis Street diesel generators, after all of Sitka lost power at approximately 8:10 this evening. Blue Lake plant operator Frank Rogers says that this afternoon’s heavy snowfall likely toppled a tree onto the main transmission line from the Green Lake powerhouse. Linemen are currently en route to investigate. Rogers says that crews observed several large trees down along the drive out to Blue Lake, leading to speculation that the cause of tonight’s troubles is a fallen tree. Right now, crews are spinning up the Jarvis St. diesel generators. Once they’re running, they’ll put Blue Lake back on line, and most of Sitka should have power.
What does it take to bring a Chinese New Year celebration to Sitka? A trip to Beijing to learn Tai Chi and fall in love with Summer. Or, at least that was Michael Mayo’s route. Michael and Summer met in Beijing in 2001. Summer has been a Sitka resident for the past four years, and is now a member of the Mayo family. She says she typically travels home to Beijing for the Chinese New Year, but this year she wanted to share the tradition with the community that she has grown to love.
Mayo family and friends dressed in black with red sashes waited for their musical cue to begin the dragon dance. Michael’s son Noah, says the point is to “make the dragon fly.”
Shannon Haugland arrived in 1990 to work at the Daily Sitka Sentinel and has lived here ever since. She enjoys movies, early jazz and and her family of friends here in town. Shannon was our guest castaway on Friday, January 14th and brought the ten songs that she would choose to have if stranded on an island, perhaps forever. She would also choose crepes as her one dessert since the island is, after all deserted. Shannon’s ten songs, a recording of the show and a link to her crepe recipe are below.
Nat King Cole – Stardust
Django Reinhardt – Smoke Rings
Evita – Requiem
Paolo Conte – Via Con Me
Rent – I’ll Cover You
Abba – Fernando in Swedish
Superman II – It would be good to play the Fanfare/overture
Benny Goodman/Helen Forrest – I’m Always Chasing Rainbows
La Boheme – Aria Moonstruck: O Soave Fanciulla 3:47 Giacomo Puccini, Luba Orgonasova, Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra & Will Humburg
Ace of Base – The Sign
Click here for the CREPE RECIPE. Shannon’s favorite filling is Nutella with whip cream.
A new trial date has been set for Joe Robidou, the former principal of Blatchley Middle School in Sitka accused of sexually assaulting three teachers.
Sitka Superior Court judge David George on Thursday (2-13-14) set Robidou’s trial date for the week of May 12, 2014.
Robidou was scheduled to go on trial the second week of February, but the case was delayed when his attorney appealed a procedural motion to the State Court of Appeals.
Robidou had asked the Superior Court to dismiss the six indictments against him, but Judge George agreed to dismiss only one. Robidou’s lawyer, Julie Willoughby, asked the higher court to review that decision.
Despite the pending appeal, the parties are moving forward, and now are preparing for a trial in May.
In addition to appealing Judge George’s refusal to dismiss the original indictments, Robidou’s defense is introducing another tactic: On January 15, Willoughby filed a motion asking for permission to depose the three victims of Robidou’s alleged assaults. All three testified before a Sitka Grand Jury in January, 2013, but Willoughby argues that none disclosed to jurors the full extent of their prior “physical and sexual” relationship with Robidou.
Assistant district attorney Jean Seaton filed an opposition to Robidou’s request to depose the victims. She wrote, “victims of sexual assault are not required to provide interviews with the defense.” Seaton went on to cite Article 1, Section 24 of the Alaska Constitution, which provides that victims have the right “to be treated with dignity, respect, and fairness during all phases of the criminal … justice process.”
Seaton argued that the victims were interviewed on multiple occasions — and all interviews were provided to the defense, along with their sworn testimony before the Grand Jury.
Joe Robidou now stands charged with five felony counts of sexual assault for alleged encounters with three of his female staff members in late 2012 and early 2013. He resigned from the Sitka School District on March 1, 2013, the same day he was indicted by the Grand Jury.
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Brenda Campen wrote the viewers’ guide, just released, for the 2009 film “For the Rights of All: Ending Jim Crow in Alaska.” The film tells the story of the effort to end legal discrimination against Alaska Natives, which culminated in the Alaska Anti-Discrimination Act — and preceded more widely-known national civil rights legislation.
School board chooses Mary Wegner as Sitka’s next schools superintendent. ANB asked to lead the charge on voting rights legislation. Green Dot violence prevention campaign comes to Wrangell.
Because of the Presidents’ Day holiday, the Ketchikan Gateway Borough Assembly will meet Tuesday night rather than Monday.
On Tuesday night’s agenda, the Assembly will consider approving a letter to Governor Sean Parnell regarding Parnell’s recent remarks about the Borough’s education funding lawsuit against the state. The letter was drafted by assembly members Agnes Moran and Glen Thompson.
On February 6th, Governor Parnell told Ketchikan reporters that the lawsuit filed in January could jade his and other lawmakers’ perspectives toward Ketchikan funding. The letter from the mayor and assembly states, “Not only was your warning an expression of the views of the Parnell Administration, you spoke unconditionally on behalf of a separate branch of State government – the Alaska Legislature – asserting that legislators hold the identical prejudicial view toward Ketchikan.”
In a February 7th Fairbanks Daily News-Minor article, Parnell indicated that neither he nor his administration will use the pending lawsuit to punish or single out a specific community or region. The Borough questions why that statement was not made to Ketchikan officials directly. The letter goes on to state that the Governor’s actions have “greatly diminished (the Borough’s) trust in the state”, and that the effect on State and local relations could last for years.
It also states that the Borough is now compelled to closely monitor appropriations, and will not hesitate to pursue legal remedies under the Alaska Constitution if circumstances indicate the Ketchikan Gateway Borough is treated unfairly.
The Governor is also asked to distinguish between the City and Borough governments, noting the Borough, not the City of Ketchikan, was forced to form and is constitutionally required to backfill State underfunding of Basic Need for schools.
In the conclusion, the Borough expresses regrets over the effect the Governor’s remarks have on State and local relations. The Governor is invited to Ketchikan if he is willing to address the Borough’s concerns and to engage in a meaningful and constructive dialogue.
If authorized by the assembly, the letter will be signed by Mayor Dave Kiffer and submitted to the governor.
Also Tuesday night, the Assembly will consider cancelling the February 25th-26th Community of Ketchikan legislative fly in. Reasons for the proposed cancellation include: the Governor’s recent comments about the education funding lawsuit, removal of financial support from the City of Ketchikan, and lack of support from the City of Saxman to endorse the Community of Ketchikan Priority Project List.
A fly-in event is still possible, but would consist of delegates with opposing recommendations. The Borough may consider sending a smaller delegation to meet with Legislators for Borough and community priorities.
The Assembly will also consider adopting a resolution in support of House Bill 75 repealing certain audit requirements for non-profits receiving contributions through the Permanent Fund Dividend Pick.Click.Give. program. Currently only organizations that have annual audits may participate. This prevents most small non-profits from benefiting from Pick.Click.Give.
The meeting begins at 5:30 pm in Borough Assembly Chambers. There will be time for public comment at the beginning of the meeting.