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Southeast Alaska News

Thu Mar 27, 2014

Thu, 2014-03-27 09:02

Listen to iFriendly audio.
Third herring opener targets fish south of town. Herring Rock Ceremony honors the renewal of the seasons and the beginning of the subsistence harvest. Great Alaska Quake, Part 4: Sitkans react to tsunami surge.

Business owners testify against indoor smoke ban

Thu, 2014-03-27 00:16

JUNEAU — A bill that would ban smoking in indoor work places and public places in Alaska has drawn opposition from some business owners.

HB360, from Rep. Lindsey Holmes, R-Anchorage, would ban smoking in most commercial buildings, including businesses, restaurants and bars. She told the House Health and Social Services Committee on Tuesday that her goal with the bill is to protect workers from secondhand smoke.

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Anchorage inmate sues over treatment

Thu, 2014-03-27 00:16

ANCHORAGE — An Anchorage inmate has filed a lawsuit against the city, its police department and the state over his treatment after a self-induced drug coma during a 2012 arrest and subsequent jailhouse beating.

Clay Miears is seeking at least $1 million in the personal-injury lawsuit, the Anchorage Daily News reported.

The lawsuit names the city, a police officer and the state as defendants.

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House puts hold on education measure

Thu, 2014-03-27 00:15

JUNEAU — A measure intended to delay implementation of new education standards suffered a serious setback Wednesday when the House Education Committee held it with only a few weeks left in the session.

The sponsor of House Resolution 9, Rep. Tammie Wilson, R-North Pole, had wanted a third-party cost analysis of the new education standards to be conducted before the standards are put into place. The resolution also seeks to make sure the proper curriculum is in place for the new statewide assessment tests.

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Senate throws its support behind pair of Southeast mining projects

Thu, 2014-03-27 00:14

The Alaska Senate declared its support for a pair of Southeast Alaska mining ventures Wednesday with the unanimous passage of an Anchorage Republican’s bill.

Sen. Lesil McGuire, R-Anchorage and a lieutenant governor hopeful, is the primary sponsor of SB99, which allows the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority to dole out more money for new development, she said.

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Ceremony at Herring Rock honors seasonal renewal

Wed, 2014-03-26 21:39

Andrew Roberts pours water on the Herring Rock, during a ceremony in Sitka Tuesday morning. (KCAW photo/Emily Forman)

Beginning in mid-March in Sitka, there is no escaping the excitement surrounding the commercial sac roe herring fishery. Big seiners from around Southeast raft up in the harbors, waiting for the large masses of herring to school up near shore.

But the annual arrival of the herring marks the opening of another important — and just as exciting — season: subsistence. Tuesday morning (3-25-14), Native leaders and Tribal elders gathered to pour water on the Herring Rock in downtown Sitka, to honor the herring, and the renewal that their return symbolizes.

KCAW’s Robert Woolsey and Emily Forman prepared this audio postcard:

Listen to iFriendly audio.

Prayers, in Tlingit

The Herring Rock rests now in front of the Sheetka Kwan Nakahidi, but it used to be down in the Sitka Channel. By long tradition, herring were said to begin their spawn in this location.

Thank you for what we are about to celebrate, The Herring Rock. Given to us by you, and what it signifies: The beginning of our harvest season.

The small crowd gathered to bless the rock acknowledged the efforts of Duck Didrickson, who died over the winter, to relocate the rock to a place of honor. But the rest of the brief ceremony was dedicated to reaffirming the history of Herring Rock, and how it came to be.

We had two herring ladies, playing down by the rock. And they put their hair in the water. And the herring came and spawned on their hair. That’s how they became the Herring Rock Ladies.

The herring landed by commercial seiners haven’t spawned yet. Their eggs are stripped in Asia, and sold as a delicacy. In the subsistence harvest of herring eggs, fishermen sink hemlock branches into shallow water and wait for the fish to deposit thousands — millions — of eggs on the soft needles.

The tradition has been around as long as the Tlingit.

Some of you can remember when it covered the whole of Sitka Sound, from Biorka over to Cape Edgecumbe. And it was all inside waters, all full of herring. And it was beautiful! And all we had at the time was herring bait fishermen. And they would come in here and bring a load, and we thought it was so amazing that they could bring in a load of herring.

There is tension between subsistence harvesters and the commercial fishery — as there usually is when a limited resource is involved. But this year it looks like there will be plenty for all. And that is a blessing.

We are thankful that this tradition has been kept alive by our elders, and passed on to us. Gunalcheesh ho ho. Amen.

With the voices of Andrew Roberts, John Duncan, and Nels Lawson.

Radio on wheels!

Wed, 2014-03-26 18:57

Raven Radio’s PRSS satellite is transported to its current location, under the O’Connell Bridge.

Sometimes radio can seem like magic: you turn the dial (or press a button) and the sound streams in. But all that sound comes to us from somewhere, whether it’s “Fresh Air” broadcasting from Philadelphia, or “This American Life,” transmitting from Chicago, or “All Things Considered” from Washington, D.C. And it gets here via the Public Radio Satellite System — which includes this satellite dish, now nestled under the O’Connell Bridge.

Help us keep our nuts and bolts in good repair! Donate to our Spring Drive.

Your support is critical, and so appreciated! …

Wed, 2014-03-26 17:15

Your support is critical, and so appreciated! Click here to show your support:

Herring Update: Third opening lasts one hour, ten minutes

Wed, 2014-03-26 16:54

The seiner Infinite Grace pursing up during the third opening in the Sitka Sound sac roe herring fishery, on Wednesday, March 26, 2014 (KCAW photo/Rachel Waldholz)

The Sitka Sound sac roe herring fishery had its third opening today (Wed 3-26-14), concentrated in the waters just south of downtown.

The opening lasted one hour and ten minutes, starting at 2:30 p.m. and closing at 3:40 p.m. As of 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, the Department of Fish & Game had not yet issued an estimate of how much was caught.

The Alaska Department of Fish & Game released this map, showing where fishing is allowed in today’s herring opening. (Map courtesy of ADF&G)

The action took place close enough to shore that Sitkans could stroll to the water’s edge from downtown businesses to watch the fleet make sets. People lined the Sea Walk and stood under the O’Connell Bridge with binoculars and cameras, as spotter planes circled overhead. The location of Wednesday’s fishery was different from the prior two openings, which both took place north of town, in Starrigavan and Katlian Bays.

Fish & Game biologist Dave Gordon had set a goal of about 3,000 tons for this third opening. That was a smaller amount than the Department had initially hoped for. Gordon had said earlier in the week that he hoped to catch the remaining tonnage left in this year’s harvest limit in one opening. But as it became clear that the amount left would exceed 6,500 tons — and exceed processing capacity — Gordon decided to aim for two openings.

During his 11 a.m. update on Wednesday (3-26-14), he said that a large volume of herring had also moved into waters near town that are out-of-bounds to the commercial fishery to protect subsistence use. Instead, the fishery targeted smaller schools of herring scattered throughout the waters south of town, Gordon said.

Despite the smaller volumes, Gordon said this morning, “I feel compelled to provide this opportunity,” given the quality of fish seen in test samples.

ADF&G also revised their counts from the previous two openings, on Sunday and last Thursday. Fish & Game now estimates the fleet caught a total of about 9,800 tons of herring in those first two openings, out of a total harvest limit of over 16-thousand tons.

Gordon said that an aerial survey this morning found a few hundred yards of herring spawn on Middle Island; no other spawn was seen. In the sac roe fishery, the eggs are taken intact from the females. It’s critical to the success of the commercial harvest to land the fish prior to spawning.

Once the spawn begins, the focus in Sitka will switch to subsistence harvesting of roe on hemlock branches.


Court: Reinstate Tongass roadless rule exemption

Wed, 2014-03-26 16:42

The Tongass National Forest could resume allowing logging in roadless areas under a court ruling. But it won’t happen immediately — or at all. (U.S. Forest Service Image)

A federal appeals court issued an opinion Wednesday, March 26, saying the roadless rule should not apply to Alaska’s Tongass National Forest.

The rule was enacted nationwide more than a decade ago. It prohibits logging and other industrial activity in national forest lands without roads.

The Tongass forest, the nation’s largest, was later granted an exemption. That was struck down three years ago in U.S. District Court and the rule was re-imposed.

The Forest Service did not appeal that decision, but the state of Alaska did. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals granted its request. (Read the decision.)

Tom Lenhart is the state attorney involved in the case.

“Removal of the roadless rule won’t in and of itself increase timber harvests or mining or anything like that. But it will take down the barriers that are preventing some things from happening,” he says.

The 9th Circuit Court’s decision does not immediately lift the rule. It sent the case back to the lower court to decide whether additional environmental review is needed.

Hear iFriendly audio

Buck Lindekugel is attorney for the Southeast Alaska Conservation Council. It’s one of a dozen groups that sued to bring back the roadless rule.

“The reality is the decision does not immediately reinstate the Tongass exemption. And the Forest Service’s actions have shown it has no desire to go back to the damage, expense and controversy associated with roadless area logging on the Tongass,” he says.

Forest Service officials referred calls about the ruling to the Department of Justice. The staffer handling the issue could not be reached for comment by this report’s deadline.

Plaintiff’s attorney Tom Waldo of Earthjustice says the decision won’t change much. That’s because the Forest Service is already moving away from the type of timber sales the roadless exemption allows.

“I think that’s where the future direction of the policy debate is going to lie, rather than trying to turn the clock back in time to fight the battle of the 1990s over whether we should be logging in roadless areas of old growth on the Tongass,” he says.

The state has a different view.

“We’re hoping the Forest Service will meet its obligations to seek to meet timber demand. And we feel that some sale from roadless areas is necessary to do that. I’m sure the state will continue to use every means available to encourage the Forest Service to take actions that will further a certain level of development,” says attorney Tom Lenhart.

The state, the timber industry and other development groups have been pressuring the Forest Service to allow more logging.

That includes a proposal for the federal government to turn over or sell some Tongass lands.

Tom Fowler remembers the 1964 earthquake

Wed, 2014-03-26 15:36

Thursday, March 27, is the 50th anniversary of the 1964 Good Friday Earthquake, the largest ever recorded in North America. Ketchikan is home to a few people who experienced the magnitude 9.2 temblor first-hand, including Tom Fowler. He was only 4 years old when it hit, but he remembers the event, and even what he was reading at the time. He sat down with KRBD’s Leila Kheiry to reminisce. Here’s a portion of their conversation.

That was Ketchikan’s Tom Fowler, talking with KRBD’s Leila Kheiry about his memories from the 1964 Good Friday Earthquake.

Appeals court sides with Alaska on roadless rule

Wed, 2014-03-26 13:30

JUNEAU — A divided federal appeals court panel has sided with the state of Alaska in reversing a decision that reinstated the roadless rule in the Tongass National Forest.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, in a 2-1 decision Wednesday, found that the U.S. Department of Agriculture had articulated “a number of legitimate grounds” in a 2003 decision to temporarily exempt the Tongass from the roadless rule.

A lower court judge, in 2011, had found the decision to be arbitrary and capricious.

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1964 earthquake devastated villages, Davis captured survivor stories

Wed, 2014-03-26 12:31

Nancy Yaw Davis and her husband Bill Davis survived the 1964 Great Alaska earthquake in Anchorage. (KCAW photo/Emily Forman)

March 27th marks the 50th anniversary of Alaska’s Good Friday Earthquake. Many Sitkans have stories from the epicenter. This is the third story in a four-part series.

Sitka residents Bill Davis and Nancy Yaw Davis lived in Anchorage in 1964. Bill was the chairman of the Alaska Mountain Rescue Group. He headed the civilian rescue effort at the center of the largest earthquake that North America has ever seen. But, he insists that Nancy’s story is more compelling. After the disaster, Nancy devoted many years to studying the aftermath – culminating in a doctoral dissertation. She remembers the survivors from the village of Kaguyak the most.

Listen to iFriendly audio.

Nancy: Wanna start with Bill?
Bill: Oh OK, I’m Bill Davis. We’ve been living here in Sitka for five years and this is Nancy.
Nancy: Hello.
Nancy: The trauma of the earthquake was something we shared in 1964 at 5:36. Bill where were we?
Bill: Well we lived in east Anchorage at that time.
Nancy: What do you remember about those first five minutes?
Bill: Well, as the bookcase started to walk across the floor was when I decided it was time to get out.
Nancy: I don’t know who left first but I went outside and I kind of held on to the little VW bug.
Bill: But what I remember most was the alders and the cottonwoods across the street, wild swinging back and forth.
Nancy: There was no question it was an earthquake but the seriousness of the earthquake did not register until later in the evening when I was in the car seven months pregnant at the corner of 36th and Lake Otis while Bill was out with… Did you have flash lights or flares?
Bill: Yeah, the standard stuff you know. Set up a grid and section it off and send people to it. There was nothing unusual about that. You’re the one that had more fun though.
Nancy: Well, yes. It gave me an opportunity to gather an incredible amount of data with the villagers of Old Harbor and Kaguyak who were evacuated to Airport Heights school. I met them in Anchorage and actually that’s where I recorded their original stories. That’s where I lugged around this big reel to reel tape recorder. I interviewed 16 of the 19 surviving adults between April 1st and April 10th of 1964. It was American Good Friday and they were just finishing this church that they had built with their own funds. About $1,600 of their own funds. They were able to establish right away who was lost and who was there.
Bill: Nancy was the only one who did any kind of systematic research with the small villages after the earthquake and particularly the follow-up stuff.

Nancy: Well the next year I went to Akhiok and I found the Kaguyak people were there. I think about five houses had been built by the BIA(Bureau of Indian Affairs). I think it was difficult politically for and for the lay leadership in the church. But those are things that would come whenever… and this is often the case as people just assume, you put villages together and it will merge without realizing the cultural richness of each separate village. I think they still mourn Kaguyak but it would’ve been harder to go back when the church was not there.
Nancy: When did I not think about disasters. There continue to be disasters one after another Haiti, Sumatra… Yes it’s embedded in my brain I guess whenever there’s a disaster I think well there’s going to be a convergence. The disaster syndrome will kick in again. There will be a convergence. Outside people trying to tell local people, local survivors how they should do things are there will be levels they’ll be people and goods and money and chaos.

Herring Update: Fishing at 2:30PM in Eastern Channel

Wed, 2014-03-26 12:19

The Alaska Department of Fish & Game released this map, showing where fishing is allowed in today’s herring opening. (Map courtesy of ADF&G)

There will be herring fishing today near the south end of Sitka’s road system.

The Alaska Department of Fish & Game has announced a third opening in the Sitka Sound sac roe herring fishery, to begin at 2:30 p.m. today, in Eastern Channel. The two previous openings, on Sunday and last Thursday, had taken place north of Sitka, in Starrigavan and Katlian bays.

Fish & Game biologist Dave Gordon said the fishery will aim to harvest about 3,000 tons. That’s a smaller opening than the Department had hoped for. Gordon had initially said he hoped to catch the final 6,500 tons left in this year’s harvest limit in one opening. But during his 11 a.m. update today, he said that a large volume of herring had moved into the closure area, a stretch of water near town that is out of bounds to the commercial fishery to protect subsistence use.

Instead, the fishery will target smaller schools of herring scattered throughout the waters south of town, Gordon said.

Despite the smaller volumes, “I feel compelled to provide this opportunity,” Gordon said, given the quality of fish seen in samples.

ADF&G also revised their counts from the previous two openings, on Sunday and last Thursday. Fish & Game now estimates the fleet has caught a total of about 9,800 tons of herring so far this year, out of a total harvest limit of 16,333 tons.

Gordon said that an aerial survey this morning found a few hundred yards of herring spawn on Middle Island; no other spawn was seen. In the sac roe fishery, the eggs are taken intact from the females. It’s critical to the success of the commercial harvest to land the fish prior to spawning.

Fish & Game will continue to issue updates over the radio, on VHF Channel 10.

Herring fishing possible today; no opening called yet

Wed, 2014-03-26 11:20

There might be fishing today (Wed 3-26-14) in the Sitka Sound sac roe herring fishery, but no opening has been called yet.

The Alaska Department of Fish & Game said in their 11 a.m. update that a significant volume of herring has moved into the closure area, a stretch of water near town that is out of bounds to the commercial fishery to protect subsistence use. Fish & Game biologist Dave Gordon said he wasn’t discounting the possibility of a fishery south of town, where large schools of fish were found yesterday, but he wanted to give it more time “to find a body of fish that might provide a better fishery for everybody.”

Fish & Game had hoped to target the final 6,000 tons left in this year’s harvest limit; so far, 10,300 tons of herring have been caught in two openings, on Sunday and last Thursday.

Gordon said that an aerial survey this morning found a few hundred yards of herring spawn on Middle Island; no other spawn was seen. In the sac roe fishery, the eggs are taken intact from the females. It’s critical to the success of the commercial harvest to land the fish prior to spawning.

Gordon said he would issue another update over the radio at 12 p.m.. Updates can he heard on VHF Channel 10.

New lease program allows charters to get more halibut

Wed, 2014-03-26 11:10

Charter halibut caught near Petersburg. Photo/Petersburg Fishing Adventures

Tourists coming to Southeast Alaska and going charter fishing this year could get more than the usual one halibut a day. But it will take charter businesses and commercial quota shareholders working together in a new program.

South East charter anglers used to be able to keep two halibut per day of any size. But in recent years, there have been increasing restrictions with more bag limits and size limits. The restrictions have been developed because the charter sector has continued to over fish their harvest level.

But Pete Troy, who owns Petersburg Fishing Adventures, says he’s lost business because of it.

“Incredible amounts of business I lose because of that,” Troy says. “I have lots of interested people and when I tell them what they’re going to be able to keep for fish they say, ‘No, we’ll pass’.”

This year, a new program could give charter businesses like Troy’s a little more leeway. It’s called GAF and stands for Guided Angler Fish. It’s a voluntary provision of the new halibut catch sharing plan and allows Halibut charters to lease commercial quota for more harvest opportunity. There is no size limit on the GAF fish.

Julie Scheurer is a Fishery Management Specialist with the National Marine Fisheries Service in Juneau. NMFS is overseeing the GAF program.

“Using GAF, charter anglers could potentially keep up to two fish of any size per day,” Scheurer says. “Under this new catch sharing plan what the guided angler fish provision allows is for quota share holders is to lease a limited amount of their IFQ to a charter halibut permit holder to be harvested in the charter fishery.”

Charters guides can use GAF in different ways. They could use their charter limit of one fish which has size restrictions and then use one GAF for a fish of any size. Another option would be to use two GAFs for two fish of any size.

The idea for the transfer program came from the Charter Halibut Stakeholder Committee. The North Pacific Fishery Management Council approved the program.

“It’s a razzle dazzle deal they came up with,” Troy says. He says it was very hard to understand at first but now he says he gets it.“It means that when I get a customer on a boat that catches a fish, he’s able to pay an extra hundred and fifty dollars approximately and keep that fish, allowing him to keep two fish a day instead of just one little ping pong paddle,” Troy says.

Troy would like to give GAF a try but he hasn’t found a commercial fishermen who would sell their quota share for a reasonable price. And it will be up to the fishermen like Troy to make the transfer deals. Scheurer says NMFS won’t get involved in pricing what quota shares are worth. She says it could go through brokers like other IFQ sales or fishermen could do it on their own.

“Information is available from NMFS about who holds IFQ and so an interested charter halibut permit holder could get that list from us if they wanted to contact some of these people,” Scheurer says. “I don’t know, I imagine maybe they’ll advertise in the local newspaper or Craigslist or something like that as well.”

Perhaps the easiest scenario is fishermen who have both–charter permits and quota shares. There are 19 of those fishermen in Southeast’s Area 2C.

“They can just transfer some of their own quota to themselves if they’re operating in both fisheries,” Scheurer says.

Interest in the new program is still unknown but Heath Hilyard bets it’s not going to be very popular. He is the Executive Director of South East Alaska Guides Organization or SEAGO.

“I still only heard of about…I don’t know….less than 20 percent of South East operators who have any plan or intention or desire to lease in the guided angler lease provision,” Hilyard says.

While Hilyard understands the need for restrictions he doesn’t think this is the answer.

“We’ve said the whole time that while we appreciate the council’s intent to provide a reallocation compensation mechanism, we don’t think this is really the best approach,” Hilyard says.

He says some fishermen might use GAF this year but not next year when the program will change the conversion formula—or what the amount is for the Individual Fishing Quota to one GAF fish. Currently, it uses about 26 pounds for one fish. But next year, they’ll use an average from GAF fish caught just this season. And Hilyard says that will raise the cost to fishermen.

“So, rather than just assuming 25 pounds or less, it’s going to be, ‘Well, we know the average fish size for the guided angler fish from 2014 was 40 pounds’ and so all of a sudden the respective costs is going to go up dramatically in 2015,” Hilyard says.

GAF catches will count towards the commercial catch limit and not the charters’. The charter limit this year is about 761,000 pounds down about 17,000 from last year.

There are additional reporting requirements for charter guides using GAF. They’ll have to submit an electronic report to NMFS through their website.

And while the new transfer system is voluntary, it’s also permanent in nature. GAF will remain in federal regulations until it is changed through the regulatory process.

James A. Cole pens maritime history

Wed, 2014-03-26 10:29

Author Jim Cole will be in Ketchikan April 2nd to present his book, “Drawing on our History: Fishing Vessels of the Pacific Northwest and Alaska.”  Cole provides a narrative history and penned most of the drawings.

MEHS Lady Braves runners-up at state

Wed, 2014-03-26 08:30

Listen to iFriendly audio.
Mt. Edgecumbe girls’ Basketball coach Dane Vincent, and players Joallyn Johnson (Jr-Kotlik) and Renatta Olson (Jr-Golovin) share their thoughts following their loss to ACS in the finals of the state 3A tournament last weekend.

Lady Braves fall just short state basketball title

Wed, 2014-03-26 08:29

Renatta Olson, Joallyn Johnson, and Mt. Edgecumbe girls basketball coach Dane Vincent. (KCAW photo/Robert Woolsey)

The Mt. Edgecumbe Lady Braves came within striking distance of the state 3A basketball championship last weekend, but did not quite get there.

The Lady Braves lost in the finals to the ACS Lady Lions by four points, 45 – 49.

Mt. Edgecumbe coach Dane Vincent and two of his players dropped by our studios and talked about the tournament with KCAW’s Robert Woolsey.

Listen to iFriendly audio.

Listen to an extended interview with Mt. Edgecumbe coach Dane Vincent and his players on the Morning Interview. (Available after 8:30 AM Wed Mar 26.)

For juniors Joallyn Johnson and Renatta Olson, going to the state tournament in Anchorage is not just about basketball. It’s about having a chance to reconnect with family members whom you’ve been apart from since the holidays.

Many of Johnson’s family traveled from Kotlik, on the Yukon River, to see her play. Olson’s mother traveled from her hometown of Golovin, just outside of Nome.

Seeing familiar faces in the stands of the Sullivan Arena was a big deal for these girls.

“Being here at Edgecumbe it’s hard not having family — like everyone else — to support you during the season. And it meant a lot, for those who had supporters, to go and watch us play.

The Lady Braves were consistent and strong throughout the regular season. With Sitka hampered by injuries, Mt. Edgecumbe was the favorite at the regional tournament.

At state, it was a different matter. The first problem was Nikiski. A big team, and the number 2-ranked school in the Southcentral region.

Olson says Nikiski tried to neutralize the Lady Braves’ low post, Taryn White. But it backfired.

“Nikiski’s team is all really tall compared to our team. Right off the bat they were double-teaming her (Taryn White), and it was hard for us to get it into her. So we started doing a high screen up top, and that opened it up a lot. And we attacked the basket and drew fouls, and that’s what worked for us.”

Joallyn Johnson scored 7 points in that game, as the Lady Braves beat Nikiski 49 – 39 from the outside.

“I was kind of nervous, but I was ready to play them. We had to get through them to get to the semi-finals.”

After Nikiski, the Lady Braves took on Barrow, the top-seeded team from the Western Region. Mt. Edgecumbe had beaten the Lady Whalers by a large margin early in the season. Both teams improved, but the Lady Braves kept Barrow off the basket and won 42-29, drawing only three personal fouls the entire game.

That put the Lady Braves in the finals, against the Anchorage Christian School, the number-1 seed in Southcentral.

ACS had earned their way into the championship with the press — applying full-court pressure to teams for most of a game, forcing turnovers, and then running in easy baskets.

Against the Lady Braves, however, coach Dane Vincent says ACS abandoned the press almost entirely.

“I take it as a compliment that a strong team, who has banked on it all year long, backed out of it and went to a half-court.”

By keeping the Lady Braves off the basket, ACS was able to open up a large lead at times, but they could not shut down Mt. Edgecumbe’s Taryn White, who would go on to score 23 points. With just a few minutes to play, the Lady Braves executed a key three-point play, forced a turnover, and Renatta Olson put in a layup to bring the Lady Braves within two.

Even though they didn’t make it, coach Dane Vincent smiles as he recalls the game. He’s been coaching ten years — but this is his first season at Mt. Edgecumbe.

“Any new coach can tell you going into a program: If the students and the athletes don’t buy into what you have to sell, it won’t fly. But these guys have bought into my offense, bought into this new defense that we’ve put in. And I got a lot of support from them. Renatta’s done an excellent job being a court general. You can tell her what to do, and even if she thinks it’s wrong she’s going to do it. And if it doesn’t maintain, we don’t have to stick to anything. They’ve done a really good job of buying into things, and I appreciate that as a coach.”

The Lady Braves will lose only one senior off this year’s team, Brittany Akaran. Both Joallyn Johnson and Renatta Olson will be back, and looking forward to doing even better next year.

“We went from last year being the runner-up at regions to being the runner-up at state. So I think that it should make us work that much harder. It’s going to be a lot of fun. I’m already excited.”

At assembly, haircuts and huzzahs

Wed, 2014-03-26 06:00

A well-documented haircut: high school students Salma Zakiyah and Rosie Palof had their heads shaved as part of a fundraiser for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, at Tuesday night’s meeting of the Sitka Assembly. (KCAW photo/Rachel Waldholz)

The Sitka Assembly took some time out from their usual business on Tuesday night (3-25-14) to recognize local volunteers –and fit in a couple quick haircuts.

Listen to iFriendly audio.

The assembly opened its meeting with a pair of proclamations. Mayor Mim McConnell declared Friday, March 28th, St. Baldrick’s Foundation Day, in honor of the charity, which raises money for research into childhood cancers.

“Worldwide more than 175,000 children are diagnosed with cancer each year, and childhood cancer is the number one cause of death by disease of children in the United States,” McConnell read from the city proclamation.

Salma Zakiyah and Rosie Palof submitted to a very public shearing to benefit the St. Baldrick’s Foundation. (KCAW photo/Rachel Waldholz)

The official St. Baldrick’s event will take place on Friday.  More than forty Sitkans have volunteered to have their heads shaved as part of the fundraiser.

But two high school students stepped up for an early – and very public — shearing.

Sitka High School senior Rosie Palof, and Salma Zakiyah, an exchange student from Indonesia, settled into chairs set up before the assembly and audience, and had their heads shaved, to cheers and applause.

Mayor McConnell also declared April 1st to be Americorps Day, in recognition of the volunteers with that national service organization who are serving in Sitka and around Alaska.

Over a dozen Americorps volunteers were on hand to be recognized as the mayor read off a list of their accomplishments, including 24,000 hours of community service provided by the fourteen Sitka program members this last year, over 100 young people recruited for community service serving Sitka senior citizens, and forty Sitka youth recruited and trained in juvenile justice.

The Americorps volunteers left with an official proclamation – but with their hair intact.

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