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Southeast Alaska News
FAIRBANKS — Col. Sidney Zemp has taken over as commander at Fort Wainwright, Interior Alaska’s largest military installation.
The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports that Zemp is new to Alaska and this will be his first time serving as a garrison commander. His duties include overseeing the services and training space used by 14,000 soldiers, civilians and military families.
ANCHORAGE — Alaska state flags are set to be lowered next week in memory of former Fairbanks state Rep. Niilo Koponen, who died Tuesday at the Fairbanks Pioneers Home.
Koponen was 85 years old.
Gov. Sean Parnell issued the order for state flags to be lowered Wednesday in Koponen’s memory.
FAIRBANKS — Several state and federal grants that pay for 10 percent of Fairbanks police force are set to expire in 2014.
The News-Miner reports that for three of the jobs — two traffic officers and a drug investigator — there’s a “very high chance” that funding will be renewed next year.
FAIRBANKS — The University of Alaska Fairbanks’ ice climbing tower opened for its second winter this week and the ice-making operation has gone smoother this year than it did last, both in terms of quality of ice and the production process.
“The ice has formed up to resemble more what a real waterfall would be; it’s more vertical this year,” Sam Braband, outdoor facilities manager for UAF’s Department of Recreation, Adventure and Wellness, said earlier this week.
Climbers got their first whack at this year’s ice when part of the wall opened on Wednesday.
FAIRBANKS — An autopsy of an 18-month-old North Pole boy concludes that he suffered burns to his body but not frostbite, as his mother claimed.
Amber Lynn Aubrey Swanson, 24, is charged with first-degree murder in the death of her son, Julian Swanson-Byrd. She told staff at Fairbanks Memorial Hospital that the toddler had fallen from a car window into snow the day before he died, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported.
Swanson was arraigned Thursday. She remains jailed at Fairbanks Correctional Center.
FAIRBANKS — The Perry kids have gone from the Last Frontier to the Final Frontier in the past week.
The North Pole residents — Daniel Perry, 10, Derik Perry, 9, Riley Perry, 9, and Kailey Perry, 5 — have their names orbiting more than 400 miles above the Earth today, aboard a tiny “micro satellite” as it drifts through space.
ANCHORAGE — With school board approval, a new charter school devoted to using Southcentral Alaska as a laboratory to teach middle-schoolers through outdoor expeditions is one step closer to opening its doors.
But the fledgling STREAM Academy — the name stands for science, technology, research, engineering, art and math — has some major hurdles to clear before it becomes the Anchorage School District’s first dedicated charter middle school.
The first and biggest challenge may be finding a place to call home.
JUNEAU — A Bethel state representative has been fined $5,000 for violating ethics rules.
An ethics panel announced Friday that it found Democratic Rep. Bob Herron failed to disclose a state contract with the Lower Kuskokwim School District for three years, failed to disclose board memberships for entities in which he was a part owner, and failed to provide sufficient detail on joint business ventures with another legislator. Ethics committee administrator Joyce Anderson said Herron could face additional fines if he doesn’t submit detailed disclosures by Dec. 20.
ANCHORAGE — The chairman of the U.S. Indian Law & Order Commission is sharply criticizing the state’s treatment of native Alaskans, saying the colonial model is “alive and well in Alaska,” and calling the public safety in rural Alaska a national disgrace.
Troy Eid was in Anchorage this week to present a recent report that addresses the successes and failures of reservation justice programs, and makes recommendations on new laws and policies.
FAIRBANKS — Ketchikan officials, planning a major lawsuit over state funding of schools, argued their case for buy-in before the Fairbanks North Star Borough Assembly.
JUNEAU — Alaska is renewing an effort to secure a massive stockpile of emergency food supplies to be ready in case a major disaster cuts the state off from supply lines.
Gov. Sean Parnell has promoted emergency preparations — including urging individuals and families to make plans of their own — as part of a larger push to improve disaster readiness across Alaska.
The state ultimately hopes to secure enough food to feed 40,000 people three meals a day for seven days.
ANCHORAGE — This year on the Kenai Peninsula, hunters killed a record 46 brown bears— more than five times the average — under dramatically liberalized state hunting rules, and federal wildlife managers became so concerned they took the unprecedented step of temporarily shutting down the sport hunt on the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge.
Editor’s note: this is the sixth story in the Morris Communications series “The case for conserving the Kenai king salmon.”
In the continuing saga of Kenai River king salmon management during the current period of low abundance, counting the number of fish coming into the river with enough accuracy to satisfy competing users has been a difficult task for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.
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SCS staffers Ray Friedlander and Mary Wood, and board members Judy Lehmann and Richard Nelson, talk about this Sunday’s (5-8:30 PM Sun Dec 8, Sweetland Hall) Wild Foods Potluck. The program will feature short films and presentations. Learn more about the Sitka Conservation Society.
The opinions expressed in commentaries on Raven Radio are those of the author, and are not necessarily shared by the station’s board, staff, or volunteers.
Last week Sen. Lisa Murkowski issued a statement that the recent change in the senate filibuster rules was “a power grab, plain and simple.” She then went on to say how it saddened her and how the Senate was designed to “guard the views and voices of the minority” and the Democrats had “shattered” that guardianship.
It’s interesting how time affects some people’s memories.
I guess she’s forgotten that in May 2005 she made a speech that was also posted as an editorial where she said: “Let me make it clear that I support an up-or-down vote on all nominations brought to the Senate floor, regardless of the president nominating them or which party controls the Senate. These nominees deserve to be considered based on their merits. Under the “advice and consent” process, every senator has the right to vote against a nominee if he/she does not believe the nominee is qualified for the position, but it is not fair to the nominees to have their lives placed on hold, sometimes in excess of two years. Nor is it right to perpetuate the many vacancies in our courts, particularly when we are seeing the caseload exceed the capacity of the sitting judges.” (Juneau Empire, 5/9/05)
I guess she’s also forgot that in September of 2010 she told the Juneau Bar Association that “the Senate rules should be changed to allow the names of judicial nominees to more quickly be moved to a vote” and that the legislative branch is to a degree holding the judiciary hostage.” (Fairbanks Daily News Miner, 9/24/10)
And in December of 2011 “I stated during the Bush Administration that judicial nominations deserved an up or down vote, except in ‘extraordinary circumstances’ and my position has not changed simply because there is a different president making the nominations.” (12/06/11 Sen. Murkowski’s press release)
That’s why I’m absolutely astonished that she thinks changing the rules so as to actually allow the names of judicial nominees to proceed “more quickly” to an “up or down vote” is now somehow dangerous and unpatriotic.
All I can say is that it’s a sad day when someone you know begins to show sign of memory loss – especially when it’s my own senator. It’s either that, or Senator Murkowski thinks her constituency is comprised of amnesiacs and we’ll forget her partisan flip-flopping.
Now, which of these two possible scenarios is worse I can’t say, but neither bodes well for her trustworthiness.
I’m Keith Nyitray and please don’t forge that the price of freedom is eternal vigilance.
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School district officials subdued, despite $1-million boost to budget. School board revises cyberbullying policy. MEHS Braves host Region V Wrestling tourney. Teen panel says youth leadership programs are making a difference for kids.
The Ketchikan City Council Thursday night voted to terminate funding for a controversial, decorative rain gauge. The council previously approved up to $100,000 for the project. The planned source of funding has been a topic of debate. Some believed it would come from Cruise Passenger Vessel taxes. City Port and Harbors Director Steve Corporon, at an earlier meeting, stated the money would come from the Port Enterprise Fund.
Public testimony lasted more than an hour with most commenting on the rain gauge.
Artist Dave Rubin says he benefitted through the same selection process when given CPV grant funding for his piece “The Rock.” Rubin served on the committee that chose the rain gauge design.
“It’s not what we all pictured as art. I stood before you and said, ‘Look. My idea is art. It’s conservative, conventional, old-time art.’ And this isn’t. But then when I understood it, I realized that could be really cool.”
Rubin requested that the council postpone the decision until January so people can understand how the selection was made.
Ketchikan resident Dick Allen says he opposes the design, comparing it to a Ford Edsel. He says the design should have been presented to the public much earlier.
“The people that I’ve talked to have said ‘what’s wrong with the one we’ve got.’ …I can’t see $100,000, wherever it comes from. I hope next time that you have something like this that you put it out to the public so they can see and be able to talk with their council members.”
Allen says it may not have been intentional, but the process seemed secretive.
Ketchikan Arts Council Director Kathleen Light says in addition to “The Rock”, the same process was used to select art for the library and the salmon sculpture on Ketchikan Creek.
Light also asked the council to postpone a decision until after a proposed open house regarding the project.
“We would love if you would suspend your decision until January, like you said you would, and let us have this meeting on December 12th so that we can answer questions like Mr. Allen’s and this other gentleman’s, and we can clear up any misunderstandings that they may have about this piece of artwork.”
Because of some confusion, Light asked that the funding source be clarified so all can provide accurate information to the public.
Ray Troll wanted to share the viewpoint from an artist. He presented a document signed by other local artists in support of the rain gauge.
“We’re all in favor of the new rain gauge and the talented duo of Dutch artists that have been chosen by the citizen selection committee. We’ve reviewed their other works carefully, that means we’ve all looked at their websites and the artwork they do. As professional artists, we can feel confident that they will deliver a remarkable and professionally crafted piece of art that we can all be proud of.”
The piece is designed by two artists from Amsterdam. Troll believes it is already a successful piece because of the discussion it is generating. He noted that some Ketchikan artists have work displayed throughout the world.
Bianca Jurczak, who submitted a proposal for the rain gauge design, says she is not against the concept of getting a new gauge or the funding. She says she has legal and technical concerns.
“I don’t think that the bid procedure was actually put out properly. With something of such a high value, I think it’s why the KPAW structure maybe didn’t work so well or why it’s such a big thing. Also the fact that, they’re not from this country. That stings. That really hurts. I didn’t expect my piece to get picked, but I didn’t expect something that looked like that or that came from another country to be chosen over me.”
Jurczak says work visas would be required, and tax laws and additional costs have not been considered. She added not picking a local artist is a slap in the face. Jurczak says she would file an appeal if the project is approved.
About a dozen people spoke to the council about the rain gauge. About half in support of it and half against.
Part of the purpose of the design was to cover a gas vent adjacent to the Ketchikan Visitors Center building. There was some debate as to whether or not that criteria was met.
Council member Bob Sivertsen introduced the motion to eliminate funding for the rain gauge. He says the proposal does not address the objective of covering the vent pipe. Sivertsen feels the money should be directed elsewhere.
“The rain gauge is a want. It’s not part of one-percent-for-art, or any of those types of things. The city has more than its share of needs at this time. I think this money can be better spent.”
Sivertsen added that he has heard overwhelming negative input on the project.
Council member DeAnn Karlson says she supports art because it enhances the community. She too does not feel the selection process was adhered to.
“If they want us to back the process and support the process, I think there has to be a consistency to what that is. And if it’s not being supported in the RFP and their decisions, it makes it difficult for me to support it in terms of this particular project.”
Council member Marty West offered a motion to postpone the decision until January, saying emotions are very high.
“I think the timing was bad to have this during the same time we’re doing the budget. They are separate issues. I do think that we need time to let the Arts Council explain, and let people explore the project and they won’t find it quite as horrifying as they seem to feel that it is now.”
After further discussion votes were taken.
Wests motion to postpone failed 2 to 4 with West and Olsen voting in favor of postponement.
The vote to terminate the project passed 4-2 with West and Olsen voting against.
After the vote, the council briefly adjourned. A visibly upset Ray Troll approached Sivertsen at the council table. The discussion was not recorded or on record, but according the the Ketchikanb Daily News, Troll told Sivertsen, (quote) “This really makes us look bad, not only locally but globally.” Troll added that “he would remember this.”
The council is scheduled to meet Monday (December 9th) to continue budget discussions and select a replacement for Sam Bergeron who resigned from the council last month. The meeting begins at 7:00 pm in City Council Chambers. There will be time for public comment at the start of the meeting.
The Ketchikan City Council removed funding for a controversial rain gauge project. The council also voted in favor of emergency repairs for the Centennial building. Council member Bob Sivertsen gives and update. 06city
Petersburg’s borough assembly gave final approval to an expanded recycling program this week with the third reading of a new sanitation ordinance. The assembly also got a look at the borough’s first annual audit, which gave Petersburg’s financial records a clean bill of health. In other news from this week’s regular meeting, an ordinance to retain the Parks and Recreation advisory board failed on a three-two assembly vote. Two more measures retaining the harbor and public safety boards passed their second readings. Also Monday, the assembly picked a deputy mayor and agreed to sign-on to a letter of concern to the federal government over British Columbia mining developments that could affect Alaska salmon.
For mobile-friendly, downloadable audio, click here.
A dedicated group of local third, fourth and fifth graders will run and walk five kilometers tomorrow in Petersburg and the community is encouraged to come out, run or walk with the group and support them. The event is part of Girls on the Run, a national after school program that promotes emotional, social, mental and physical development through games, running and other activities.
Joe Viechnicki spoke with some of the participants at their practice this week.
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The five kilometer run is Saturday at 10 a.m. at the elementary school. To take part, register before hand in the Stedman cafeteria from 8:45-9:45 a.m. or at Lees Clothing.