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Southeast Alaska News
Starting Wednesday, May 1, smoking is banned at the popular Sourdough Bar in downtown Ketchikan. It’s a big deal for this established business, and while many people are happy at the switch, there are a few quiet grumbles
I visited the bar on the last day that smoking was allowed, to talk with some longtime patrons who gather weekly for what they like to call the “board meeting.”http://www.krbd.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/01Sourdough.mp3
Andrea Murphy is a bartender at the Sourdough. She’s also likes to attend the bar’s twice-weekly board meetings, which is a formal term for a group of regulars that for years has gathered on Sunday and Wednesday afternoons to check in, have a couple drinks and – for some of them – smoke.
Now, though, the smokers will have to take it outside. Because the 50s-era Sourdough Bar is officially smoke-free. The owners decided a couple of weeks ago to make the switch, saying that they expect a proposed statewide ban on workplace smoking to pass in the next year or two, and they wanted to get in ahead of the ban.
They were even giving away the ashtrays.
“We have a lot that we have no need for anymore, so the boss has informed me, ‘Hey, take one on the way out,’” Murphy said.
Murphy smokes, so she’ll have to go outside now if she wants a cigarette. But, as an employee, she knows she’ll benefit.
“We’re all thinking this is great,” she said. “We want to breathe.”
On the other hand, though, “I’m definitely on the fence. I’m pro because of the health issue. But also, when people come up here, it’s the last frontier. It’s a time warp. I do get tourists that are like ‘Oh my goodness! Where am I? This is great.’”
She said the reaction from customers has been mixed.
Others, though, told her they’ll start coming to the Sourdough now that smoking is no longer allowed.
Jim Van Horn is another board meeting regular, he was sitting at the bar smoking a thin cigar.
“I haven’t smoked in 30 years, but I’m having a memorial cigar for the Sourdough Bar,” he said. “I’m a cancer survivor from smoking, but as a gesture to the Sourdough Bar for standing up and going non-smoking, I’m behind them 100 percent.”
Van Horn added, though, that he doesn’t want the government to dictate smoking rules – he thinks it should be up to business owners.
A few barstools down was another Sourdough customer, a beer in front of her, along with a pack of smokes on the bar and a lit cigarette in the ashtray.
“Everybody calls me Punky,” she said, adding that she approves of the Sourdough Bar’s decision to go smoke free.
“It’s not going to bother me at all because I enjoy coming in here,” she said.
Everyone I talked to in the bar acknowledged that times are changing. And maybe that’s OK.
“The bar, it’s like the living room,” said Murphy. “You come out and talk to people, enjoy the conversation. And you don’t have to get black lung while doing it now.”
Listen to iFriendly audio.
Jan Lovett and Sarah Jordan, with the Ocean Wave Quilters Guild, discuss their annual show, which runs May 5 – 17 at Harrigan Centennial Hall. The Guild has granted over $40,000 in scholarships as a result of its fund raising efforts in recent years.
Listen to iFriendly audio.
Troopers investigate the shooting of a bear in the Granite Creek neighborhood. Winter trolling closes with high numbers. Four shareholders form slate for Sealaska board election. Juneau officials consider opening 150 acres of public land for affordable housing.
The ceremony’s keynote speaker is Ketchikan artist Evon Zerbetz. She also will receive an honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts.
Also attending to help hand out degrees will be UAS Chancellor John Pugh, UAS Ketchikan Campus Director Priscilla Schulte, and a couple of University of Alaska Board of Regents members.
The ceremony starts at 3 p.m. Saturday at the Ted Ferry Civic Center, and is open to the public. A list of this spring’s 25 graduates is below.
Certificate – Accounting Technician
Carrie Van Sloun
Certificate – Computer Information & Office Systems
Certificate – Pre-Nursing
Associate of Arts
Associate of Applied Science – Business Administration
Associate of Applied Science – Power Technology
Bachelor of Business Administration
Bachelor of Elementary Education
Bachelor of Liberal Arts
Bachelor of Arts – Social Work (UAF)
Master – Counseling (UAF)
Master of Education – Special Education
Master of Public Administration
Sonia Christensen Henrick
The Kenai branch of Acuren USA has suspended operations after the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission found high radiation readings during a surprise inspection in early April.
The company is licensed to use radioactive materials when inspecting pipe welds. According to a confirmatory action letter issued by the regulatory commission to the company, inspectors walking around Acuren’s facility at 14896 Kenai Spur Highway found high readings in areas where the public could be exposed to high radiation levels.
ANCHORAGE — Anchorage has enjoyed a dry spring so far, but that same dryness is prompting fire concerns.
“You can step on the ground and get your foot wet, but what’s on top will still burn,” said Anchorage Fire Department forester John See.
Permitted burns have been suspended, and campfires and burn pits on the ground are not allowed, See said.
Barbecues and backyard portable fireplaces with screens at least a foot off the ground are allowed, the Anchorage Daily News reported.
ANCHORAGE — A contentious cable television reality show star will be among the highlighted acts at this year’s Alaska State Fair, officials announced Wednesday.
Phil Robertson and other members of the show “Duck Dynasty” will headline the concert venue Aug. 30, fair marketing director Dean Phipps said.
Set in Louisiana bayou country, A&E’s “Duck Dynasty” follows a family that manufactures duck calls and loves to go bird hunting.
ANCHORAGE — Statewide political candidates Wednesday got a chance to say how they would shape the future for Alaskans who won’t even be able to vote for at least four years.
Three candidates hoping to be elected governor in November and three Republicans hoping to unseat Democratic U.S. Sen. Mark Begich answered questions posed by students from 11 Anchorage middle schools in a forum sponsored by AARP Alaska at the Loussac Library.
SEATTLE — It didn’t take long for researchers examining the tiny sea snails to see something amiss.
The surface of some of their thin outer shells looked as if they had been etched by a solvent. Others were deeply pitted and pocked.
These translucent sea butterflies known as pteropods, which provide food for salmon, herring and other fish, hadn’t been burned in some horrific lab accident.
They were being eaten away by the Pacific Ocean.
A brown bear frequenting trash cans on Granite Creek was shot and killed Tuesday night (4-29-14).
According to police dispatch records, a call came in Tuesday evening reporting that someone in the Granite Creek area was shooting at a bear. Police referred the call to Alaska Fish & Wildlife troopers, who responded and found the bear dead in the woods not far from Granite Creek road.
The case remains open and under investigation. Troopers were unable to return calls by deadline for this story.
According to posts on the Facebook page “Sitka Bear Report,” bears have been active in the Granite Creek area since April 5. Posts from witnesses also suggest that a number of people were involved in the shooting.
Winter troll fishing wraps up tonight at midnight (4-30-14). Fishermen had one of their better recent winter seasons. As of mid-day today (Wednesday), trollers had landed 46,800 king salmon, far more than the 26,200 landed by this time last year, and well above the 5-year average.
Troll fish management biologist Patty Skannes says this year’s harvest is right on target. The guideline harvest level for winter kings is between 43,000 and 47,000 so-called “treaty kings,” or all fish NOT produced in Alaska hatcheries, and subject to the terms of the US treaty with Canada.
Skannes estimates that about 3,000 of this winter’s kings were produced in the state.
The Alaska Department of Fish & Game will have better numbers once all fish tickets are in from processors around the region.
Prices this winter peaked at over $11 per pound, but dropped as weather improved and more fishermen headed out to the grounds.
At one point in mid-April, some trollers were landing over 30 kings per day.
A slate of shareholders with business backgrounds is trying to unseat four incumbents on Sealaska’s board of directors.
Margaret Nelson, Carlton Smith, Ross Soboleff and Karen Taug announced their candidacies Wednesday, April 30.
They call their slate “4 Shareholders for Sealaska.”
Spokesman Randy Wanamaker says the candidates are worried about Sealaska’s poor performance.
“With the information that the last dividend was not really based on Sealaska’s earnings, perhaps it’s time for new ideas and new energy, new talent to provide their expertise to the company for the shareholders to consider to move the company toward profitability,” he says.http://www.kcaw.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/30CandPkg.mp3
Candidate Carton Smith serves on Juneau’s Assembly and runs a commercial real estate company. Karen Taug is controller for the South East Alaska Regional Health Consortium. Ross Soboleff is a former Sealaska spokesman. And Margaret Nelson is business development manager for a construction company.
Wanamaker says the slate supports term limits for Sealaska board members.
“It ensures that there’s always a continuous flow of new ideas into the company and new energy and we bring in new experience,” he says.
The slate also wants to link executive bonuses to business success. And it says it will pay more attention to shareholder suggestions.
Members are challenging four powerful incumbents on the regional Native corporation’s 13-member board.
Byron Mallott is a former Sealaska CEO who is running for governor. Rosita Worl heads up the corporation’s cultural institute. Ed Thomas spent nearly three decades as Tlingit-Haida Central Council president. Sidney Edenshaw is a director of the Haida Corporation.
Sealaska spokeswoman Nicole Hallingstad says corporate law keeps her from commenting on the board slate before ballots become available. But it’s well within tradition.
“This independent proxy is an example of shareholders who are exercising their rights as shareholders as set forth by the state of Alaska and Sealaska’s own bylaws,” she says.
Proxy ballots will go to the corporation’s almost 22,000 shareholders on May 15th.
Other independent candidates have indicated they will run. Incumbents are usually challenged, but few coordinate their campaigns or run as a slate.
Election results will be announced at Sealaska’s June 28 annual meeting in Seattle.
The scores against Sitka were: Thursday 2-0, Friday 10-7, Saturday 3-3.
I spoke with Coach Jim Engel about the details of those games.
The baseball team plays at home against Juneau in a double header Thursday at 1:30 p.m. and at 4 p.m., then again on Friday at 11:00 a.m.
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game decided NOT to wait for a two-hour notice at 8 p.m. to open the Seymour Canal gillnet herring sac roe fishery. It is now scheduled to open at 3 p.m. today.
The state department says they consulted with participating processors and fleet, and agreed that an earlier opening time is appropriate to maximize fishing opportunity.
Department staff will be on the grounds tonight to monitor progress of the fishery and all further announcements concerning this fishery will be made on the grounds from the R/V Medeia.
Listen to iFriendly audio.
Sitka High School’s final music concert is coming up. It’s the last one ever for graduating Senior Chaya Pike, as well as Music Director John Depalatis – he’s moving to Cairo, Egypt for a job teaching choir at the American International School. They discuss the upcoming concert.
Listen to iFriendly audio.
Alaska Airlines parent company expects good results for 2014, despite growing competition from Delta Airlines. Plans are moving ahead for a multi-purpose dock at Sawmill Cove Industrial Park. Skagway is still cut off from ferry service because it’s dock sank last week. An audio postcard from Sitka’s observance of Holocaust Remembrance Day.
The cruise season is upon us. Proof of that is two items in front of the Ketchikan City Council Thursday. The Council will discuss cruise berth assignments and a request to redistribute crossing guards.
The suggested reassignment of cruise berths is a response to a recent announcement by Carnival Cruise Lines that the Miracle needs maintenance work and has cancelled 15 scheduled port calls.
In a memo to the Council, Port and Harbors Director Steve Corporon writes that reassigning where ships dock on the days that the Miracle would have been here is an attempt to maintain an even distribution along Ketchikan’s downtown dock.
Competition for cruise passenger business is fierce, and shop owners pay close attention to how many of those tourists are parked close by, versus a few blocks away.
Another annual concern is where to place crossing guards to maintain safety for the thousands of cruise passengers that swarm downtown Ketchikan nearly every summer day. During its last meeting, the Council heard from the owner of a shop on Water Street, which next to the downtown dock but has no crossing guards. The shop owner was concerned for the safety of cruise passengers trying to cross the street from the dock to the stores.
Corporon wrote in another memo that it would cost about $10,000 for each additional crossing guard that the Council might want to add to the program. He also noted that port personnel monitor all the downtown crosswalks during summer, and while there are occasional “issues” on Water Street, the pedestrian volume there has not risen to the point of needing a crossing guard.
In addition, Corporon wrote that the Water Street crosswalks are configured in a way that make it safer for pedestrians than crosswalks in areas downtown where crossing guards have traditionally been stationed.
The Council also will discuss a couple of expensive projects. City Council members will vote on a motion to authorize up to $43 million in bonds for the Ketchikan Medical Center renovation project, and another motion authorizing up to $3 million in bonds for harbor improvements. Both bond packages were previously approved by city voters.
The Ketchikan City Council meeting starts at 7 p.m. Thursday in City Council chambers. Public comment will be heard at the start of the meeting.
Commercial fishing for herring could start soon in the Seymour Canal. The gillnet herring sac roe fishery will be placed on a two-hour notice starting at 8:00 p.m. tonight (Wed). This means that the Alaska Department of Fish and Game could open a fishery with a minimum of two hours-notice after that time.
The department is making its decision based on an increase in predators, sightings of schools of herring on the beach, and the forecast of warm sunny weather.
Fish and Game has been regularly surveying Seymour Canal and has seen a steady increase in predators. An industry boat on the grounds last night took a sample and found about 13 percent mature roe and 125 gram average fish.
Over the last 20 years, herring have spawned in Seymour Canal as early as April 19 and as late as May 21. The average date of the first documented spawn is April 29 and the average opening date for the commercial sac roe fishery is May 2.
The 2014 harvest quota for the fishery is 772 tons.
It is possible state staff will not be on the grounds prior to the fishery opening, so all permit holders who are planning to fish must register with the department to obtain buoy stickers before fishing. Buoy stickers are available in the Petersburg and Juneau area offices, and will be available aboard the R/V Medeia once it is on the grounds. Fish and Game biologists will be basing operations aboard the R/V Medeia until the close of the fishery.
The sunken ferry dock in Skagway has its head back above water.
Western Marine Construction Inc., a Juneau-based company, was contracted over the weekend to work on the dock’s infrastructure. The state Department of Transportation and Public Facilities announced the dock’s raising by Facebook on Tuesday afternoon.
But that doesn’t mean the Skagway Ferry Terminal is open. Inspections and repairs are under way, so the facility remains closed until further notice. All Alaska Marine Highway sailings to Skagway have been cancelled through May 9 at the earliest.