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Southeast Alaska News
On April 11 at about 1 p.m., Klawock troopers received a call from an employee of the Klawock Department of Transportation reporting that they had found numerous road signs spray painted between Klawock and Hollis.
The cost to repair the signs is about $800. Anyone with information that would lead to a suspect is encouraged to call the Klawock State Troopers.
On Monday, at about 2 p.m., Troopers in Ketchikan were notified of a theft from a vehicle. The night before, someone reportedly stole a white iPhone from an unlocked vehicle parked at a residence in Saxman. The estimated loss is $100.
Troopers encourage citizens to not leave valuables inside their vehicles and also to lock their vehicles when left unattended. Anyone with information about the theft is asked to contact Alaska State Troopers in Ketchikan.
Final adoption of a nearly $30 million operating budget is the top item on the Ketchikan School Board meeting agenda Wednesday night.
A public hearing will kick off the meeting. It will be the second hearing on the budget, which is due by May 1 for the Ketchikan Gateway Borough Assembly to review.
The budget passed unanimously after its initial hearing on April 10.
Also Wednesday, the Board will consider a $63,000 purchase of laptops for elementary students. That motion had been delayed after board members asked for more information about why the district chooses Apple computers, which are more expensive.
Curriculum Director Linda Hardin writes in a memo that the district started with Apple many years ago, and has stayed with that brand because of software compatibility, and an easier training process.
She adds that Apple products are well made, and last a long time.
The Ketchikan School Board meeting starts at 6 p.m. in Assembly chambers at the White Cliff building. Public comment will be heard at the start and end of the meeting.
Students at Sitka’s alternative high school have decided to confront the methamphetamine problem head on, and they’re encouraging the rest of the community to join them at an event in early May.
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“When you go in to look at the stories of meth and everything, they didn’t know that their life would completely turn over, that they’d lose their job, lose their family, and everything that they had or cared about — within months, or a year.”
Pacific High is tackling the meth problem by throwing light on it — first in a science class taught by Eric Matthes, and then in a community engagement class taught by Mandy Summer.
James and another student became interested in exploring the upside of meth recovery early in the school year with an event of some kind. That student left Pacific High, and James has decided to continue her effort solo. She says talking about meth can be difficult , but the stakes are high.
“This whole class has actually been a Debbie Downer, but when it comes to the positive side, it becomes a passion for the teachers and myself because there are people that we care about who are affected directly by meth. And we want to get that message out before it affects all the people we care about, and the community.”
James and the other students in Pacific High’s Community Engagement class have organized an event in early May at Sitka’s Crescent Harbor. It’s called “Got Resiliency?” They’re planning a performance by the Gaja Heen Dancers, a film screening, and a concert by local musicians, including Silver Jackson.
Resiliency means that there is a way to resist meth, and support to find your way back.
“The biggest message that we want to get out there is that, We care, and that you have value. That things may be rough, but you can always bounce back. There’s always something you can do better for yourself and you don’t need to turn to drugs or alcohol because we have resources, and if you need them, we can help you find them.”
This entire Pacific High program — the science class, the community engagement class, and the “Got Resiliency?” event — are not a project of any government agency, nor are they the result of any grant funding. The initiative for the project came from within — from Pacific High’s students and faculty.
Hillary Seeland, another teacher at the school, says, “We’d identified that meth was becoming an issue, and decided to face it head on.”
Got Resiliency? will be held from 7-9 PM Saturday May 4 in the Crescent Harbor Shelter in Sitka.
KCAW’s Holly Keen contributed to this report.
Alaska News Nightly – Best Daily News Program in Alaska
Matt Lichtenstein, 2nd place, Best Reporting on Health or Science – Mammograms at PMC
Petersburg’s first borough budget is up for review. The assembly is meeting in a couple of work sessions this week to go over the draft spending plan for next year.The plan includes a balanced general fund for third year in a row. That’s part of the budget is mainly supported by property and sales tax. Enterprise funds, like the harbor, power and light, water, wastewater and sanitation, generate most of their income through usage fees. The General Fund covers borough departments that can’t generate bring in enough money to pay for themselves like emergency services, the library, school funding, parks and recreation and public works. General fund revenues and expenditures and revenues total just under nine-point-4 million dollars. That’s up a little over three percent from this year.
Borough Manager Steve Giesbrecht calls this a status quo budget with no cuts or additions to staff or service. Matt Lichtenstein spoke with Giesbrect and Finance Director Jody Tow on Friday:
For mobile-friendly, downloadable audio, click here.
The Petersburg Borough Assembly is holding two work sessions to review the draft budget in detail this week. One was Monday. The other will be at noon on Friday in the assembly chambers. It won’t come up for a vote at least until the assembly’s first regular meeting in May and passage will require three readings.
JUNEAU — The week after Alaska’s 90 day legislative session comes to a close, its capital seems to slow down and take a huge sigh of relief.
Juneau’s streets are quieter, its restaurants are emptier; hotels are ghost towns.
The city may seem like a sleepy town now, but in about a week or two, merchants will be accepting money from people wearing sandals and shorts instead of suits and wingtips.
KODIAK — The Alaska Legislature will cut the budget for the Alaska Aerospace Corp. by 25 percent if it doesn’t sign a long-term contract to launch rockets from its Kodiak Launch Complex.
The contract must be signed by March 31.
Lawmakers put this catch into the corporation’s funding during the last legislative session, the Kodiak Daily Mirror reported. That would be on top of a 1 percent funding cut, or $80,000, in this year’s budget.
FAIRBANKS — A Fairbanks mountain climber was rescued from a mountain north of Nome on Saturday after breaking both legs in a fall the day earlier.
Andy Sterns, 46, at about 3:30 p.m. Friday was climbing the northeast face of 4,714-foot Mount Osborn about 40 miles north of Nome when a large rock that his climbing partner estimated at 100 pounds fell on the rope that was connecting the two climbers and triggered a small avalanche.
ANCHORAGE — An ongoing investigation of trafficking in the North Slope Borough has led to the seizure of multiple shipments of alcohol and illegal drugs, police said Monday.
The six separate cases are expected to be forwarded to prosecutors. Authorities said such seizures are just a small take of a problem that affects a region affected by rampant substance abuse, so it’s crucial to get the word out that law enforcement officers are watching.
“It deters the conduct,” said Brian Sullivan, an assistant district attorney based in Anchorage.
FAIRBANKS — A family credited two cats for alerting them to a fire on the outside of their home before the felines died in the flames.
Jeff and Cheryl Meierotto and their 5-year-old daughter were sleeping early Saturday when their cats, Stripe and Rocky, began to make a ruckus, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported.
“I believe if the cats hadn’t woken us up we wouldn’t be here,” Cheryl Meierotto told the newspaper. “The smoke alarm didn’t go off because there was nothing burning in the house ... there was no smoke in house.”
BETHEL — An old National Guard armory building in Bethel is being turned over to the Lower Kuskokwim School District, and the district might also soon have rights to the land beneath it.
The city owns the land, but the building is owned by the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. The district uses the armory as a gym for two schools, and it’s one of the only gyms in Bethel.
Council members will craft an ordinance about either selling or leasing the land to the school district, and a public hearing will be scheduled, KYUK reported.
A Sitka woman is feeling lucky today, after escaping a fire at her apartment over the weekend. No one was injured in the blaze, which happened around 10 a.m. Saturday in the 400 block of Hemlock Street.
Elena Gustafson had been housesitting on Friday night, at a home with two small dogs.
“They didn’t like letting me sleep in late, which is fine, they’re great dogs. But I came back to my place to take a nap,” she said. “I was woken up by a pounding on my door, and my neighbors shouting ‘Wake up, your house is on fire!’”
One of the neighbors was returning home and noticed crackling sounds. The other was walking to the mailbox and happened to smell smoke.
“It’s pretty surreal to wake up to the actual sentence, ‘Wake up, your house is on fire,” she said.
Gustafson grabbed a jacket, some shoes, her wallet, and her computer, which happened to be nearby, left the house, and waited for the fire department to show up.
Eighteen firefighters responded and took two-and-a-half hours to put out the flames. Gustafson knew most of them — she’s a volunteer EMT for the fire department.
“I know I might be a little biased because I volunteer for them, but watching them respond to a fire was pretty amazing,” she said. “Terrifying at the same time, because it was my house. I kept bouncing between being completely freaked out and crying hysterically to watching this response in awe, kind of.”
Gustafson joined the fire department in 2012. As an EMT, she’s taken plenty of calls, but never to the scene of a major fire.
“They haven’t had a big one recently,” she said. “At least I gave them some practice, or the house gave them some practice.”
The fire at 410 Hemlock Street was the first time the city’s new ladder truck was used to put out a blaze. Assistant Fire Chief Al Stevens called the fire “stubborn,” and says the cause was “the careless extinguishment of a cigarette” on the back deck of the apartment below Gustafson’s.
After the fire department responded to the actual fire, they turned their attention to Gustafson — one of their own. Firefighters solicited donations and help for her. So did the neighbors.
“I don’t have family here — direct relatives — but this experience has made me realize just what a family-like community Sitka is,” Gustafson said. “I feel so taken care of by so many people. It’s been overwhelming in a lot of ways, just how much support I’ve gotten. It’s been amazing.”
Gustafson lost a lot of her stuff in the fire, and had more damaged. Her passport, for example, has curly pages from hose water, and still reeks of smoke. But she says there’s a silver lining, too: At the time of the fire she’d just signed a lease for a new apartment. She’s scheduled to move in by the end of the month.
The house itself is owned by Bonnie Harris, who is reportedly traveling back to Sitka.
Police are looking into the cause of death for a Sitka man whose body was found early Monday morning.
Jason Shaffer, 39, died sometime between 11 p.m. Sunday and 7 a.m. Monday, when his body was discovered inside the family home in the 2200 block of Sawmill Creek Road. Sitka police Lt. Barry Allen says there were NO signs of injury or foul play.
Shaffer had last been seen by his sister around 11 p.m. Sunday. They had been having a barbecue with friends.
His body is being sent to the state medical examiner’s office in Anchorage for further investigation.
Shaffer was a 1992 graduate of Sitka High School, and worked at Baranof Realty as a broker.
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Paulette James, from Pacific High School, describes a community engagement class where students learn about the resources available to help people resist or recover from meth. A Got Resiliency event is planned for Saturday, May 4, 7-9 PM at Crescent Harbor shelter featuring the Gaja Heen Dancers, a film screening, Silver Jackson, and other local performers.
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Librarian Sarah Bell outlines plans for crepe and pancake feed at the library in celebration of National Library Week (10 AM Sat 4-20-13). Patrons will brainstorm “Anythink” ideas, and a major donor toward library expansion will be announced.
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Trish White, with the Sitka Sound Science Center, and Jeff Budd, with the Sitka Summer Music Festival, discuss the Black & White event planned for this Saturday evening (5 PM 4-20-13) when a baby whale skeleton will be unveiled, followed by “classic” performances benefitting the music festival.