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Southeast Alaska News
The Department of Fish and Game announced that fresh bear cub tracks were found near the Indian River in Sitka. Residents reported hearing the bear early this morning (3-05-14).
Fish and Game biologist Phil Mooney says its best to avoid the area and let the cub find its way back to the den. They don’t want to risk waking a sleeping sow.
Mooney also says that despite low temperatures its not too cold for a bear. He says longer days and the location of the den site might have caused the cub to roam.
“The hibernation thing is more triggered by light than by anything, and this particular site is not what we would call one of our typical den sites for our alpha bears its definitely down in the valley here,” says Mooney. “So, it’s most likely a younger bear with her first set of cubs and she just picked a spot where she was probably out of the way from some bigger bears.”
Since natural food sources are scarce this early in the season, Mooney says the bears will turn to whatever’s available. He warns residents to secure garbage cans, outdoor grills, bird feeders, pet food – anything that could attract a bear. Also bears could start showing up on the trails. Early morning and evenings are the most active.
If you see a bear call the Sitka Police Department (747-3245) or ADF&G (747-5449).
The boys’ and girls’ basketball teams from both Sitka and Mt. Edgecumbe High Schools are competing in the regional tournament in Juneau this week. Last year, the tournament was here in Sitka. This year all that noise and energy has been transported north. In case you’re missing it, Jo Zaczkowski of the Mt. Edgecumbe High School Radio Club, and fellow student Chance Kammeyer, sent us this audio postcard:
See the complete tournament schedule, or view the tournament live stream from JDHS.
The Mt. Edgecumbe boys posted a big win over 3A rivals Petersburg, in round 1 of the regional tournament in Juneau.
The Braves downed the Vikings 51-29.
Daily Sitka Sentinel sports editor Tom Hesse is covering the games. He spoke with KCAW’s Robert Woolsey about the Braves’ tactics against the bigger Petersburg team.
KCAW – How were they able to close down Petersburg’s big men?
Hesse – They played an interesting defensive set. It was still the 2-3 zone, but a lot more player movement. The zones shifted around the floor a little bit, they followed their players out farther than you normally would in a 2-3 zone, and cut off the three-point shooting, which Petersburg usually stretches the floor a little bit with. But they still had the zone quality that let them collapse down on the big men. Another thing that changed the game was foul trouble. Colby Bell, who is one of Petersburg’s 6’-6” big men — very tall, great room protector — fouled out in this game. He had three fouls by halftime. It kept him on the bench most of the game, which kind of opened things up a bit for Mt. Edgecumbe at the other end of the floor.
The Mt. Edgecumbe Braves will take on the Sitka Wolves at 1:15 PM Thursday. The Wolves received a first-round bye.
Hesse believes Sitka’s early-season wins over the Braves reveal absolutely nothing about this next matchup.
“This is a team that’s built to peak at the regional tournament. And a lot of that has to do with the fact that these kids haven’t played together all through middle school, the way the Sitka kids have. Because it’s the state-run boarding school, Archie Young only gets so much time with them. And it takes time for a basketball team to learn things you don’t necessarily think about: Where to get the ball, and in what position, what shooter likes to be where. And now that they’re hammering those things out, this team is really coming on.”
The regional tournament is double-elimination. The Petersburg boys will play the loser of tomorrow’s Mt. Edgecumbe-Sitka contest. The championship game of this three-team tournament will be held at 5 PM on Friday.
On the girls’ side, the Sitka Lady Wolves lost a close contest to Petersburg, 34 – 38.
The Sitka girls now move into the loser’s bracket. But — like the Petersburg boys — Hesse says they can claw their way back to a championship.
“Which is a tall order, but something that can certainly happen. This is a team that is still trying to find itself, now that it’s got its creator back in Sid Riggs. Because the offense was always designed around Megan Reid as low post scorer, and Sid Riggs as creator, with a bunch of shooters around them. So they’re still trying to work that back in.”
With Sid Riggs out most of the season with a broken wrist, the Lady Wolves’ center, Megan Reid, has anchored the Sitka offense. Hesse says Petersburg double- and sometimes triple-teamed Reid to keep her off the ball.
Beating Mt. Edgecumbe — for either team — will be a challenge. Hesse says the Lady Braves dominated the regular season, beating Petersburg three times. The Lady Braves received a first-round bye. They’ll take on the Lady Vikings in second round action 11:30 AM Thursday.
Daily Sitka Sentinel sports editor Tom Hesse is calling the regional tournament games live over KIFW-AM 1230 in Sitka.
Fisca Walden – Witness
Danika Weaver – witness/attorney
Will Pate – Attorney
Salma Zakiyah – Witness
Alora Zellhuber – Witness/Attorney
Melea Roman – Attorney
Daliya Tazeyeva – Witness
Jude Pate – Coach
Way to rock the Mock!
Five administrators with Ketchikan Indian Community’s Southern Southeast Alaska Technical Education Center resigned Wednesday afternoon, citing a lack of policy and process in the tribe’s leadership.
The five who resigned are Tribal Education Director John Brown, SSEATEC Director Camille Booth, SSEATEC Program Coordinator Pete Jensen, Success Pathways Coordinator Cameron Sivertsen and Tribal Education Department Office Manager Judy Leask Guthrie.
In a joint letter to KIC Tribal Council President Irene Dundas, the five say that QUOTE “While we feel strongly that the programs we represent serve our tribal members well, we cannot continue our employment while impacted by the lack of respect and appreciation for hard-working, committed employees demonstrated over the last two months.”
The letter goes on to say that the current SSEATEC programs likely will not be able to continue with these key positions vacant. They write that QUOTE “We certainly hope that programming more in line with tribal capacity will soon replace the high quality programming previously operating at KIC.”
In addition to the joint letter, each submitted individual resignation letters.
Irene Dundas did not return a telephone call seeking comment by deadline Wednesday.
The City of Thorne Bay experienced a day-long wireless Internet and cell service outage last week. Apparently, that’s not a rare event in that small Prince of Wales Island community.
Residents of Thorne Bay are getting a little tired of frequent cell phone and Internet outages that they say are caused by aging equipment.
“Cellular service in Thorne Bay is basically limited to ACS. ACS shares a tower in Thorne Bay with AP&T. And for some reason in the last several years, the equipment continues to fail in this tower,” said Wayne Brenner, the city administrator for Thorne Bay. “The result is, the citizens of Thorne Bay basically have no cell service or Internet service if you are on wireless. In this day and age, that’s a good share of the people, including the city’s emergency services.”
Brenner said the outages are not only frequent; they last a long time – from 24 hours up to three days.
“It’s getting people here very, very upset that the old, obsolete equipment that’s here, both AP&T and ACS just continue to let it just deteriorate, and the people here in town get penalized for it,” he said.
Heather Cavanaugh, an ACS spokeswoman, did not respond to requests for a telephone interview on the topic by deadline Wednesday. In an email, she wrote that a recent outage on Feb. 28 was due to microwave errors with a third-party vendor. The company restored service after just shy of 24 hours.
In her email, Cavanaugh writes that Alaska Communications Systems is committed to providing the highest level of service to Alaskans, and the company thanks the citizens of Thorne Bay for their patience.
Patience might not be the right word, though.
“We are very, very frustrated,” said Brenner. “It’s a huge impact to our economic development. People here need to have cell service. Need to do business, need to be able to do it with phones. Everybody knows land lines are kind of a dinosaur, becoming obsolete. For us to keep up with everybody else in the country, we need to be able to have good, wireless communication, not only speaking on the phone but Internet service.”
Brenner said Thorne Bay officials and the Prince of Wales Island Community Advisory Committee are talking with state lawmakers about the issue, focusing on public safety through adequate communication for emergency response services.
He added that Southeast Conference also is addressing the issue.
“All we want is service,” Brenner said. “That’s all we’re after. We’re not trying to point fingers at anybody; we’re not trying to cause any problems. We just want to be able to have service. We understand things go up and down, but we need to have good Internet service. Back in the old logging days, that was fine, but this is a different world today.”
Alaska Power and Telephone’s Director of Internet Services Bryant Smith said he has talked with ACS representatives, and knows they take the service issue in Thorne Bay seriously.
Smith noted that ACS’s merger with GCI to form the Alaska Wireless Network means the business is changing. He believes it’s possible that new equipment needed to solve this issue will be available sometime in the near future.
Thorne Bay is home to about 600 residents.
The Ketchikan City Council meets Thursday in regular session, and among the items on the agenda is a resolution to move forward with recovering the costs of demolishing a Water Street building that had been damaged in a fire.
The old Alaska Duty Free building was alongside the downtown tunnel, and burned in September of 2011. After asking the owner, Joseph Machini, to take care of the structure, the city eventually opted in September of 2012 to hire a local contractor to demolish it.
City code allows the city to try and recover the approximately $125,000 in costs, which includes asbestos removal. Thursday’s resolution starts that process by scheduling a public hearing on the issue. If approved, the hearing would start 7 p.m. April 17th in City Council chambers. That coincides with the Council’s second regular meeting of that month.
Also Thursday, the Council will talk about long-term plans for the city-owned Centennial Building, which houses the Tongass Historical Museum. In a memo to the Council, City Manager Karl Amylon asks for specific direction on whether the city should continue to operate the museum. If the answer is yes, Amylon would like to be told whether to build a new museum in a new location or fix the Centennial Building.
Upgrades to the Centennial Building have been estimated at up to $8 million, with a new building costing about $9.5 million.
The Council meeting starts at 7 p.m. in City Council chambers. Public comment will be heard at the start of the meeting.
The Ketchikan School District is taking the first step toward considering a four-day school week for the high school and middle school. In January, the School Board gave the district the green light to look into possible benefits of a Monday through Thursday week. The school district calendar committee met this Tuesday evening to talk about the idea.
One of the main reasons a four-day week is even a consideration is because of all of the school days students miss when they travel to compete in sports or other activities. In fact, while the calendar committee was meeting, the Kayhi basketball teams were getting ready for a Wednesday-Saturday tournament in Juneau.
“Would [a Monday through Thursday week] improve student learning and instructional time?” School District Human Resources Director Rick Rafter asked at the calender committee meeting.
Rafter emphasized that no decision has been made yet. A decision like this is going to take a lot of thought and discussion.
“If it’s something that would be so unpopular and have so many problems in making it work, there’s no sense spinning your wheels on it,” he said.
But like the School Board, the rest of the calendar committee members seemed interested in what benefits a four-day week might bring. Rafter said Kayhi Principal Sam Nelson told him the absence of traveling students affects the rest of the class.
“When they’re gone, it also disrupts the days for everybody else. Especially in a lot of classes that are driven by instruction more than by project,” Rafter said.
The calendar committee talked about some of the critical questions the district would have to explore in terms of a four-day week: How many students participate in activities that travel to compete? How would this affect students who work after school? How would it effect the class schedule? What about after school activities?
The educators on the calendar committee already have heard a lot of negative feedback from people they’ve talked to about the four-day week.
But there are possible benefits that make them want to seriously consider this idea.
Bob McClory, a guidance counselor at Kayhi and member of the calendar committee, says it might help with teacher absences.
“I’ve started doing an analysis of staff absentees, and Fridays are by far the largest number of absentees among staff members, consistently throughout the week,” he said.
He said maybe a four day week could improve education by having more qualified teachers in the classroom on a more consistent basis.
The committee plans to bring up the four-day week idea at a school district staff meeting in April or May. Then, in September, committees made specifically to explore this idea will be put together. One at the high school and one at the middle school. If a four-day week were to be implemented, the earliest start date would be fall of 2015.
In mid-February, Sen. Bert Stedman presented an amendment to Senate Bill 99 that would allow the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority to issue long-term bonds for infrastructure and construction costs at the Bokan-Dotson Ridge rare earth mining project.
Canada-based Ucore Rare Metals Inc., which has been developing the Bokan project, estimates those costs to be $145 million.
Stedman’s amendment was introduced at a Feb. 18th Senate Labor and Commerce Committee hearing. The entire bill had been set for further consideration before the committee on Feb. 27th, but that committee meeting was canceled and has not yet been rescheduled.
The Bokan project is on Prince of Wales Island about 40 air miles southwest of Ketchikan.
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A fire destroyed over a million king and coho eggs at Crystal Lake Hatchery south of Petersburg. Oceanographers will visit Sitka to give a presentation on radiation from the Fukushima disaster. Congressman Darrell Issa launches another attack on Alaska’s Bypass Mail system. The House Finance Committee approved a bill allowing village public safety officers to carry a firearm while on duty.
Listen to iFriendly audio.
Emma Bruhl, a senior member of the Fireweed Dance Theatre, discusses the company’s performance this Saturday, March 8 (7PM, Sitka Performing Arts Center, $15/10 available from dancers or at the door).
Nancy Tietje and Liberty Johnson of the Ketchikan Wellness Coalition speak about efforts to help people quit smoking, and prevent youth from starting. Wellness030514
Wendy Miles says the spring semester is halfway complete and it’s time to plan for the summer and fall. UAS030514
One of the proposals to repeal Alaska’s high school exit exam is stuck in a House committee drawer while the financial implications of the bill are worked out.
The House finance committee considered HB220 Tuesday, but did not advance the bill despite widespread support for the concept. Members said details about the state’s contract with its test provider were unclear.
“This test did not do it’s job,” Rep. Tammie Wilson, R-North Pole, said. “I want to make sure people out there don’t think we’re doing away with something that worked.”
Penn Lamb is doing pretty well for a 19-year-old living on her own while finishing high school. In addition to paying rent, she pays the rest of her bills and owns a car.
But things haven’t always been this way for the Yaakoosgé Daakahídi High School senior.
Lamb left home at 17 to get away from her abusive father who had a drug problem. For about a year-and-a-half, she slept over with friends or spent her nights on Juneau’s streets.
That changed about two months ago thanks to a state-funded grant program slated to be cut from next year’s budget.
JUNEAU — President Barack Obama has proposed cutting the funding for the federal coordinator’s office for Alaska gas line projects.
JUNEAU — The death of a newborn has sparked an advertising campaign by the state to make the public aware of a new law allowing mothers to safely relinquish their babies without fear of prosecution.
The state of Alaska is launching a $50,000 campaign in raising awareness on the Safe Surrender for Infants Act passed in 2008, the Anchorage Daily News reported Tuesday.
The effort comes four months after a 26-year-old married Army specialist and mother of a toddler was charged with allegedly leaving her infant to die in an Eagle River Park.
JUNEAU — The House Finance Committee on Tuesday advanced a bill that would allow for village public safety officers to carry a firearm while on duty.
The bill, sponsored by Rep. Bryce Edgmon, D-Dillingham, was in response to the shooting death of village public safety officer Thomas Madole at Manotak last year. It had been the first killing of a village public safety officer since Ronald Zimin in South Naknek in 1986.