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Southeast Alaska News
At about 10:30 p.m. Sunday, Ketchikan Troopers received a 911 call from a 35-year-old Georgia man, reporting that he and his 14-year-old son were stranded near the Harris River Drainage near Hollis on Prince of Wales Island.
The two were members of a five-person black bear hunting party, all from the Lower 48. The other three hunters had dropped them off, and then taken the skiff to the head of 12 Mile Arm to hunt, and were two hours overdue to pick up the man and his son. Weather conditions were deteriorating, and the man said nobody in the group had gear to spend the night outdoors.
Klawock Troopers went to Hollis and borrowed a boat for a hasty search. At about 12:15 a.m., the man and his son were found and picked up. Troopers continued toward the head of 12 Mile Arm, where they found the other three hunters.
Investigation shows that the outgoing tide had stranded the skiff on the beach, and by the time the tide had come up enough to refloat the vessel, it was too dark for the three hunters to navigate back.
All members of the hunting group were safely escorted to Hollis, and no injuries were reported.
Participants in Rotary’s Group Study Exchange speak on Morning Edition. The group from Brazil are in Alaska to learn and share knowledge about water research and sanitation. RotaryGSE
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game on Monday announced the lingcod sportfishing season for southern Southeast Alaska starts May 16 and lasts through November 30th.
According to Fish and Game, the bag limit for residents is one daily, two in possession, with no size limit.
Nonresidents can catch one daily, one in possession, and an annual limit of two fish.
There is a size limit for nonresidents of 30 inches or longer, but less than 45 inches; or 55 inches or longer. For the annual limit of two fish, one must be 30 to 45 inches long, and the other longer than 55 inches.
Nonresidents also must record all lingcod harvested on the back of their sportfishing license, or on a nontransferable harvest record.
For more information, contact the nearest ADF&G office or visit: www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=fishingSportFishingInfo.eonr
JUNEAU — An historic house in downtown Juneau that has undergone more than $500,000 in recent renovations could one day serve as a home-away-from-home for Alaska’s lieutenant governor.
Lawmakers added language to the state operating budget saying they want the Department of Natural Resources to negotiate with the governor’s office to establish the House of Wickersham State Historic Site as lodging for the lieutenant governor when he or she is in the capital city. The department manages the site.
KENAI — Harriet Moravec retired in 1985. But it didn’t last forever.
Her retirement fund shriveled up, “and then in 2008 the government had fun with what was left,” Moravec said.
So what else could she do? About nine months ago, after more than 25 years out of the workforce, the 90-year-old Kenai resident got a job.
And she’s quite happy.
“It’s great. I don’t care. I could care less. As long as I can keep my body in great shape,” she said.
ANCHORAGE — Nurses Monica Negaard and Linda Hackenbruch can be found together on Alaska Regional Hospital’s critical care unit much of the time these days, their Dansko clogs clopping on the floor in unison as they visit patients.
Normally a new nursing school graduate like Negaard wouldn’t start her career by caring for some of the hospital’s most acutely ill patients. But Negaard has been paired with Hackenbruch, who has been a nurse for 30 years and in the critical care unit for 15, as part of Alaska Regional Hospital’s first registered nurse residency.
FAIRBANKS — The long search is over. After 56 years, the grave of the late Fort Yukon Chief Esias Loola has been located in Washington state and plans are in the making to return his remains to the Yukon River village to be buried next to his wife, Katherine, and his stepson, John Stevens.
Loola was a beloved chief, well known and respected for his generosity, hard work and humanitarianism.
Loola and his wife, Katherine, took in many orphan children during their lifetime when death from flu, measles or tuberculosis, was commonplace.
A Southeast village Native corporation wants to export its cultural tourism expertise. It’s opened a consulting business to build on more than a dozen years in the business.
Huna Totem Corporation has more than 1,300 shareholders with ties to the Tlingit village of Hoonah, about 40 miles west of Juneau.
It places cultural interpreters onboard cruise ships sailing the ancestral homeland of Glacier Bay. It also presents educational programs at the national park’s lodge, the jumping-off point for many visitors.
Now, those efforts have a different name and goals.
“Alaska Native Voices is going to be an expansion of what we are currently working on,” says Mark McKernan, who heads up what Huna Totem used to call its Interpretive Services Department.
“We’re going to now provide consulting services for other cultural interests, Native groups, small communities and what have you. We’ll provide these services to them to help them answer the big questions of how do they start, where do they start and what goals should they be aiming for,” he says.
A number of other Alaska Native corporations and tribal entities use cultural tourism to make money and employ shareholders or members. (Scroll down for links to some other cultural tours.)
But McKernan says others are looking for help.
“What we have learned and what we can pass on is just as relevant in Southeast Alaska as it would be in Costa Rica or somewhere on the East Coast or the Midwest,” he says.
Alaska Native Voices began operations early this month.
McKernan says it has no formalized consulting agreements. But several groups have expressed interest and are discussing options.
Rosita Worl, president of the Juneau-based Sealaska Heritage Institute, says Hoonah Totem is well-equipped for the business.
“I think they have the experience. They’ve got the professional background and business experience in it. And I think they’ve done a great job in terms of trying to educate people about their culture and their history and meanwhile making a profit,” Worl says.
Huna Totem’s heritage guides are scheduled to be on about 200 cruise ships this year. That includes the Holland America Line, which sails large ships, and Alaskan Dream and Lindblad Expeditions, which operate much smaller vessels.
McKernan says cultural tourism programs need to tap traditional knowledge — and not just be another stop on the road.
“We do consult regularly with elders and others in the community and develop resources for these cultural guides to be able to grow and expand their knowledge base,” he says.
Huna Totem operates its own attraction, Icy Strait Point, which expects about 135,000 cruise passengers this year. Traditional culture is part of most of its excursions and programs.
McKernan says Icy Strait managers could also consult with other businesses interested in similar developments.
Learn about some other Alaska Native cultural tourism programs:
- Goldbelt Corporation, Juneau.
- Cape Fox Corporation, Saxman, near Ketchikan.
- Sitka Tribe of Alaska.
- Alaska Native Heritage Center, Anchorage.
- Chilkat Indian Village, near Haines.
- Wrangell Tours.
Do you want your local cultural tour listed here? Email the website link to email@example.com.
Sealaska is making more money.
Southeast Alaska’s regional Native corporation says it brought in almost $312 million during 2012.
That’s close to 20 percent more than the previous year — and the largest amount from the past five years.
The numbers are for total income, also called gross revenues.
Sealaska’s profits, or net revenue, are $11.3 million for 2012.
That’s 40 percent more than 2011. But it’s lower than the previous two years.
The numbers are in Sealaska’s 2012 annual report, which was released Friday. The Juneau-based corporation has about 21,000 shareholders. Corporate officials were not immediately available for comment.
More than half Sealaska’s 2012 gross revenues were in the service sector, including environmental contracting and security.
About a quarter came from manufacturing, mainly plastics factories in the Lower 48 and Mexico.
A little less than a fifth of the overall earnings came from natural resources, including timber and gravel operations. The rest was from investments.
The manufacturing, service and investments had higher profits than the previous year. But natural resource profits dropped. We’ll take a closer look at some of those business sectors in a future report.
Sealaska Corp. saw both its gross revenues and net income rise considerably in 2012 from the previous year, according to an annual report released to Sealaska shareholders Thursday.
According to the 2012 annual report, Sealaska’s consolidated gross revenues went from $263.7 million in 2011 to $311.6 million in 2012, while its net income almost doubled, going from $6.7 million in 2011 to $11.3 million in 2012.
The data comes from an independent audit of Sealaska’s finances conducted by KPMG LLP, a Seattle-based firm.
ANCHORAGE — Dallas Seavey knows what it’s like to mush across the wilds of Alaska. Now it remains to be seen how he survives being dropped off in the middle of that wilderness and navigates his way out without the help of a dog team.
Seavey, 26, who became the youngest Iditarod champion ever when he won the 1,000-mile sled dog race across Alaska last year, is among eight mushers or outdoor adventurers featured in the latest reality show set in Alaska.
“Ultimate Survival Alaska” premieres Sunday (10 p.m. EST) on the National Geographic Channel.
ANCHORAGE— Two names have been added to the Alaska Police Memorial: Manokotak Village public safety officer Thomas Madole and Alaska State Trooper Tage Toll.
At a ceremony at the state’s new crime lab in Anchorage on Friday, 64 names were read, joined by the ringing of a bell to mark each one, in honor of Alaska Police Memorial Day, KTUU-TV reported.
Troopers say Madole was fatally shot by Leroy B. Dick Jr. during a March 19 confrontation, when Madole responded to reports that Dick was suicidal. Dick has been charged with first-degree murder.
KENAI — It was President’s Day last year, and the 60-year-old was walking along the Kenai River’s south beach in a gale, snow and sand particles whipping against his body.
The sky was overcast and the sea was white-capped, and it broke on the shore as the tide rolled in.
He wanted to sit somewhere to watch the weather. As a fisherman, he said, he liked the energy in a gale.
As he walked, he noticed a large block of shore ice sitting below the tide line. He figured the river had carried it down. It was about the size of a single-car garage, he said.
KETCHIKAN — A Houghtaling Elementary School student is sitting pretty thanks to Ketchikan High School junior Cameron Showalter and Kayhi shop teacher Steve Thomas.
Marggie Sweetman, a physical therapist at Kayhi, said that the child’s feet didn’t reach the floor — as ideally they should for good posture — when she was sitting at the same level as her peers.
Finding specialized equipment for the classroom can be a difficult task, and Sweetman was unable to find a quick solution for the child, who she said she could not identify.
Individuals from across the state, including a 92-year-old Juneau woman who recently retired from more than two decades of regular volunteering at Johnson Youth Center, were guests of honor at the Governor’s Mansion Friday, where they were honored by Alaska’s first lady as “Volunteers of the Year.”
Earline Smith and six others, including a volunteer firefighter and an Alaska State Trooper who provides clothing to homeless children, had a luncheon in their honor and were recognized at a small ceremony in the ballroom of the gubernatorial residence in downtown Juneau.
HOMER — Small businesses and small, as in “young,” business owners are the driving force behind Lemonade Day, a national event that occurred Saturday. Joining the million kids in 100 cities across the nation, Homer’s participants are not only smart-minded when it comes to developing their businesses, but are warmhearted when it comes to their earnings.
The Sitka Assembly has taken its last informal look at the 2014 budget, and is ready to move on to a vote.
The assembly met in a third-and-final work session Thursday night (5-9-13) to go over the $25-million General Fund — the account that pays for all city services that don’t charge their own fees, like utilities.
The balanced budget with a $38 surplus is gone, but so is its author, former city administrator Jim Dinley.
Under the guidance of interim city administrator Jay Sweeney — who is also Sitka’s finance director — the assembly gave that balanced budget a reality test, with mixed results.
Before moving to the General Fund, the assembly gave the hospital budget a quick check-up. Admissions are up 18-percent, outpatient procedures up 42-percent, emergency room visits up 13-percent, and 21 babies delivered so far this year, with 23 more on the way.
Hospital CEO Hugh Hallgren worked hard to temper his enthusiasm.
“We don’t want to confuse the illness of the community with the success in the hospitals. Believe me, that’s not the way we think. What we’re thinking is that we’re providing services that mean people don’t have to leave Sitka to get their health care somewhere else.”
This is a significant contrast from the not-too-distant past. Assembly member Mike Reif remembered.
“It wasn’t too many years ago the community was questioning whether it was a viable institution to retain. It was a burden to the city. Under your leadership and the team you’ve put together, there are a lot of compliments coming from me, and from what I hear.”
Halgren called the hospital’s a “Good News Budget.”
Over the next four hours, the news was not quite as good, as the assembly began to dissect a budget that had been balanced to $38 on the day former administrator Jim Dinley left his post last month (April 2013).
First problem: Hiring a new administrator is expensive: $30,000 to recruit and interview candidates, and fly the finalists and spouses to Sitka. Throw in $25,000 for moving expenses, and the budget is in now showing a deficit of $50,000 just to replace the person who wrote it.
Second problem: The school district submitted a budget $67,000 in the red, hoping the assembly might cover it on the better-than-likely chance that Secure Rural Schools funding will be reauthorized in Congress.
There was consensus on the assembly to cover the shortfall in the schools.
But these increases, in a budget of over $25-million, don’t really matter that much. In the words of assembly member Thor Christianson, statistically speaking, “the budget is still balanced.”
Dig a little deeper, and there are bigger concerns. For instance, public works director Michael Harmon has only $200,000 next year to repair and maintain Sitka’s roads. He’s got $313,000 to totally replace two streets. The grand total for roads is half of what Harmon already considers insufficient.
“We’re usually around $1-million. This year combine the two together, we’re at $513,000.”
Harmon said the actual figure to sustain Sitka’ existing street program was more in the neighborhood of $3-million.
The budget was starting to look a lot less balanced to Mike Reif.
“I think we as an assembly have to start asking the serious questions. There are lots of needs. The school is a big need, a very important need. Do we want to go back to gravel? Do we want to tell our citizens? That’s the question we have to ask. We have to be honest with them. We just can’t keep inadequately funding our infrastructure and say we’re balancing our budget. We’re not. We’re fooling ourselves.”
The gap between need and budgeted amount was not limited to roads. Phyllis Hackett was upset that the Community Development fund — the money distributed to local non-profits — was only $120,000. She thought the amount was embarrassing considering the size of the social service network the city relies on.
Jennifer Robinson, executive director of the Sitka Chamber of Commerce, felt the same way about the Sitka Convention and Visitors’ Bureau. She read a resolution asking to boost that organization’s funding to $350,000.
The assembly also identified unmet needs in the Police Department, and some accounting that didn’t seem to add up in Search and Rescue — a $9,700 charge to the internal service fund for information technology services. Basically, a computer network.
Assembly members Phyllis Hackett and Thor Christianson objected.
Hackett – And it doesn’t even seem like they have a place to have that infrastructure physically.
Christianson – They’ve got one laptop, and it isn’t even connected to a network.
Hackett – I think that’s something that’s really misrepresented.
By the time the assembly had reached consensus on adjustments to the budget that they felt were critical, Mike Reif pointed out that they were now in a $500,000 deficit.
Despite four hours of work, members seemed resolved to be more straightforward about the realities of the problems facing Sitka.
“We need to be a lot more creative in either funding, or finding ways to save. Whether that’s combining our maintenance with the schools, combining administration — something. We’re going to have to figure it out, because we’re going to continually get these requests from the schools, the Historical Society, the SCVB, everybody. We’re not getting better. We seem to continually take the dive down. We’re not going to get there this year. We have to be a lot more strategic, and a lot more bold.”
And this is Matt Hunter:
“Our budget is unsustainable. I agree. We can make ends meet next year, but it’s at the expense of future years. I think any leftover money we have beyond these necessities we’re talking about we need to save. Infrastructure sinking funds are a good idea; reserves are a good idea. But this summer and next year I really hope we can have another visioning session. It’s the only time we’ve looked at the future. Because all of us are so busy. Our meetings take four or five hours, and we just don’t have time structured currently to deal with these long-term issues. Maybe we need a long-term planning commission? That’s off the point — I’m just saying we need to change how we operate to face these problems.”
Interim administrator Jay Sweeney called the work session a “first long pass” through the General Fund. He said the Finance Department would try to incorporate some of the assembly’s suggested changes, and present a budget for action at the group’s next regular meeting on Tuesday May 14.
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