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Southeast Alaska News
ANCHORAGE — A regional air carrier in Alaska is undergoing a name change.
Era Alaska says in a Thursday release that it will rename itself Ravn Alaska.
Other airlines in the company also will get new names. Era Aviation will become Corvus Airlines. Hageland Aviation and Frontier Flying Service will now be known as Ravn Connect.
The company says the change is to decrease confusion and distinguish the airline from others in the industry that also carry Era in their names.
The new names will be phased in over the next few months.
ANCHORAGE — Anchorage police have arrested a 23-year-old man after a pizza delivery driver said a man pointed a gun at him and issued threats early Thursday morning.
Police in a statement say Keng Lor is being held on two assault counts and a single charge of misconduct involving a weapon.
Authorities say the driver was able to leave the residence after the incident and reported it to police just before 6:30 a.m., prompting the investigation by officers.
ANCHORAGE — Scientists have increased the threat level of Alaska’s Cleveland Volcano from yellow to orange.
The Alaska Volcano Observatory says the volcano appears to have kicked up to an elevated unrest. In the past six days, three brief explosions from Cleveland Volcano were detected.
The color designation indicates that sudden explosions could send ash above 20,000 feet, threatening international air carriers.
FAIRBANKS — Fairbanks police say a small bag of heroin was found in the packaging of a local child’s toy.
The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner says police were called to a home on the 1200 block of McCarthy Avenue Sunday afternoon by the father of a young boy.
Police say the father found a baggie containing what turned out to be heroin with in a toy the boy’s mother sent home with him.
Lt. Matt Soden says the father is estranged from the mother.
Sowden says the package contained 0.16 grams of heroin, which he says is a relatively small amount indicating personal use.
FAIRBANKS — Fairbanks police are investigating the theft of about $1,800 in furs from a shed.
The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports that a black bear rug valued at $1,200 was the highest valued item taken. Also stolen were a wolverine pelt and Arctic fox pelts.
Police say the theft occurred sometime between early Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon. The owner reported the theft after returning home after a trip out of town and noticing someone had broken into his shed.
ANCHORAGE — Alaska State Troopers say 56 people were arrested for driving under the influence during concentrated enforcements over the holidays.
Troopers say of those, 51 were for misdemeanor DUI and the rest were felony arrests.
Troopers investigated two fatality crashes during the enhanced patrol, which ran from Dec. 13 to Jan. 1.
There were an additional 21 injury crashes, and 260 crashes that only involved damage to vehicles.
Troopers in a release also say 64 drivers were charged with driving with a suspended or revoked license.
Lichtenstein is the most senior reporter in CoastAlaska, and our regional expert on fisheries. He’s been at KFSK in Petersburg for 18 years, but on Tuesday he hung up his microphone and tape recorder and picked up his Grundens to join the SE commercial fishing fleet full time as a power troller.
Lichtenstein’s been a hand troller for six years. Last summer he bought the Aurora and power troll permit.
KCAW’s Robert Woolsey spoke with Lichtenstein about his change of careers.
Lichtenstein fished the Aurora in Cross Sound last summer, and is thinking about coming down to Sitka this summer. He’s invited Raven News to call him any time to ask how things are going out on the drag. But he says his answer will always be, “No comment”!
Matt Lichtenstein and his colleague in the KFSK newsroom, Joe Viechnicki have written and recorded a song about Lichtenstein’s foray into the world fishing. It’s called “Ode to a Lost Cannonball.”
KFSK has an open airwaves policy. We encourage the public to express opinions, ideas and creative works.
These pieces are available on our web site, kfsk.org, following the scheduled radio broadcast.
The views and opinions expressed are not necessarily those of KFSK.
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In late November, 11 senior administrators at Ketchikan Indian Community sent a letter of complaint to the KIC Tribal Council, alleging violations of tribal ordinances.
The letter claims that some members of the Tribal Council have interfered with personnel matters, including demanding access to confidential information and encouraging employees to circumvent the chain of command. It also alleges that some Tribal Council members have harassed KIC employees, interfered with the operation of KIC programs and issued directives to senior management that were outside of tribal law.
The letter doesn’t provide any details or examples of those alleged violations, but it demands that Tribal Council members adhere to all of KIC’s ordinances, uphold their oaths of office, and remove two Tribal Council members: Andre Lecornu and Norman Arriola. The letter claims that those two members have continually violated tribal regulations.
When reached by phone, Arriola declined to comment for this story. Lecornu did not return a message seeking comment.
The Nov. 22 letter also states that if action was not taken by the Tribal Council, those who signed it would make public their accusations.
The letter was sent anonymously to KRBD, postmarked Dec. 30. It’s signed by Camille Booth, director of KIC’s Southern Southeast Alaska Technical Education Center; Education Director John Brown; Interim Health Administrator Steve Hudson; Housing Authority Director Bonnie Newman; Social Services Director Sue Pickrell; IT Director Rod Short; Medical Director Rachel Cuevas; Youth Coordinator Sonya Skan; and Nursing Director Joan Strutz-Ozan.
The letter also was signed by the former Human Resources Director Colleen Scanlon; and former KIC interim Tribal Administrator Arlene Dilts-Jackson. Scanlon is no longer a KIC employee, and in early December, Dilts-Jackson was replaced by Charles Edwardson.
Dilts-Jackson returned to her job as the KIC transportation director.
Scanlon declined to comment for this story. Dilts-Jackson did not return messages seeking comment. Neither did other administrators who had signed the letter nor Tribal Council President Irene Dundas.
Edwardson initially agreed to speak on the record for this story. However, he did not show up for a scheduled interview Thursday afternoon.
The KIC Tribal Council has eight members. The annual election is this month. Four seats are up for election, and are currently held by Lecornu, Delores Churchill, Donna Frank and Rob Sanderson.
KIC is a federally recognized tribe. It was incorporated in 1940, and runs numerous local programs, primarily serving Alaska Native residents. Its largest programs are the health clinic, vocational training center and housing authority.
Gov. Sean Parnell has ordered all state flags to be lowered to half-staff on Friday in memory of former Rep. John M. Sweet.
Sweet died on Sept. 11 in Boulder, Colorado. He was 88.
Born in Parker, Pennsylvania, Sweet served in the U.S. Marine Corps during World War II. He was a geologist with Atlantic Richfield Company, and worked in Prudhoe Bay. He represented Anchorage in the state House from 1969 to 1970.
Sweet is survived by his wife, Mirabel, of Boulder, and six children.
The Petersburg borough is one year old this month (January) and is still going through the process of transitioning to an expanded municipality. Besides creating new borough ordinances and assessing the value of land within Petersburg’s boundaries , local officials are also considering which state land will be claimed by the new local government. A committee making recommendations on land selection started going over maps of the available parcels earlier this week.
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Selection of state land is one of the incentives for forming a new borough. Not all of the state’s holdings are available to the new municipality; in fact, it’s just a small portion. The lands are called vacant, unappropriated and unreserved or VUU land and it’s acreage that has not already been selected for grants to the university, Alaska Mental Health trust, Southeast state forest or other state uses. State law says the new borough is entitled to no less than 10 percent of the VUU land within its boundaries.
A December 6th letter from the Department of Natural Resources says 10 percent of the available land is 18-hundred acres. However the DNR says that amount will be reduced by 457 acres, because of a prior municipal entitlement already given to the old city of Petersburg. That leaves a selection of over 13-hundred acres, 1,374 to be exact.
Committee members thought the borough should be seeking more than that. However, chair Rick Braun wanted to go ahead with the selection process. “I would suggest out of the VUU that we have been given, that we select the 13-hundred something acres and get what we can now and proceed with a legislative appropriation or some other way to get the additional land instead of holding up the whole process,” Braun said.
Wrangell Republican Peggy Wilson got a bill passed in 2010 increasing the land given to the Wrangell and Haines boroughs. Under that bill Wrangell was entitled to just over nine thousand acres and Haines over 31-hundred acres. Committee member Ron Buschmann thought the borough could convince legislators that the Mental Health Trust and University have already selected the most valuable state land in the area and Petersburg should be granted more of what’s left.
Dave Kensinger thought the borough could make an argument for 10 percent of what’s been granted to the Alaska Mental Health Trust in the area. “If mental health got a hundred acres we should be able to get another 10 acres in unreserved state land. So it should increase our allotment,” Kensinger said. “Cause the state’s given up a lot of land to non-tax-paying entities in the borough, with mental health land and university land.”
The land available for selection have been further reduced by the creation of a Southeast state forest, with acreage that could be used for future timber sales.
The committee voted unanimously to recommend the borough seek legislative help to increase its land selection. That was the only recommendation made by the committee during its second meeting. However, the group started looking through maps supplied by DNR of the available lands.
Committee members discussed for what purpose the borough should be selecting . Responses ranged from rock pits, to drinking water protection to general economic development.
Buschmann wanted to target acreage that could be developed. “You know economic development lands but also like some waterfront land that we could sell at some point. I mean the mental health has made a tremendous amount of money off the lands they sold, between the city, the old city limits and Papkes Landing, and use that to fund some of things we’re gonna have problems funding, like rebuilding the Papkes dock and some of that stuff.”
Papkes Landing is 10 miles south of downtown Petersburg and the borough may take over a state owned dock and boat ramp there, separate from the borough land selection process. There’s no available state land to select at Papke’s – but a parcel not too far away at Falls Creek drew some interest from the committee. There was also support for land on the Kupreanof Island shoreline just north of Sasby Island. That’s along one possible road route connecting to the nearby community of Kake.
Several other possibilities also had interest from committee members. One was a waterfront parcel on Southern Mitkof that holds a mothballed parking and ferry terminal, once used for a ferry connection to Prince of Wales Island.
That area also includes a shoreline log facility where logs can be transferred into the water and rafted to away to a sawmill.
The committee also discussed the possibilities for potential rock pits for generating revenue in the new borough. Ultimately they made no recommendations yet to the borough assembly on specific parcels. They plan to meet again in January. The borough land selection and conveyance process could take a total of three to five years.
Jeff Budd with Greater Sitka Arts Council discusses this year’s wearable arts show, and a new iconography workshop.
KCAW’s CoastAlaska sister stations recap their top stories of 2013.
New election boundaries move Haines to a downtown-Juneau-Douglas-Skagway district. A magnitude 7.5 earthquake shook Southeast Alaska on January 5th damaging fiber optic cables on the sea floor. Juneau got its first new mayor in nine years. An entomology student at the University of Alaska Fairbanks found a new species on insect on Prince of Wales. Petersburg’s large fleet of purse-seiners had a huge year targeting an all-time record return of pink salmon.
ANCHORAGE — A Haines helicopter ski operation has agreed to plead guilty to unauthorized use of federal land.
The U.S. attorney’s office, in a bill of information filed Monday, said Southeast Backcountry Adventures used land it knew was closed to commercial activity for a March helicopter ski trip. Prosecutors said the company operated in the closed area for much of its 2012 and 2013 seasons.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrea Steward told the Anchorage Daily News the case came to light after the death of a skier on March 3.
BETHEL — A safe place in Bethel for intoxicated people to sleep off a night of drinking has grown into a round-the-clock operation that wants to better serve those who need help.
The Sobering Center was initially open four nights a week but has expanded its hours over its four winters in operation. It provided 1,860 bed nights in 2012 and served about 970 unique individuals, KYUK reported this week.
ANCHORAGE — Police believe alcohol was a factor in a shooting incident at a south Anchorage home early Wednesday.
Authorities say 23-year-old Chad Andrew Vansickle was arrested on assault and weapons misconduct charges. Police, in a statement, said they responded to a report of an accidental shooting. They say the male victim was taken to a hospital and was in serious but stable condition.
Police spokeswoman Jennifer Castro tells KTUU said it sounded like the victim and Vansickle “were playing with a gun and it discharged.”
KODIAK — A federal agency is planning to measure the economic impact of fishing businesses.
Notices posted in the Federal Register show the National Marine Fisheries Service plans to survey U.S. seafood processors and bait-and-tackle shops during 2014. The Kodiak Daily Mirror reports survey data will be incorporated into impact statements produced by the federal government before an action is taken.
Tackle business owners will be asked to characterize and quantify their operational costs and sales revenue and describe their clientele.
ANCHORAGE — Alaskans could see a greater share of the state’s oil wealth when dividends are distributed this year.
Permanent Fund Dividend Division director, Dan DeBartolo, tells the Anchorage Daily News that after several years of declining dividends, 2014’s payment “will likely go into the four-figure territory once again.”
ANCHORAGE — State health officials say they’ll waive the administrative fee for the flu vaccine for certain Alaskans in an effort to get more people immunized.
The health department, in a release, says state-supplied flu vaccine is available for free for those under the age of three. Older individuals can qualify, too, if they meet certain requirements, such as having no insurance or having an insurance plan that doesn’t cover vaccines.
The Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute is holding a Facebook photo contest to bring Alaska to the world.
ASMI wants Alaskans to submit photos showcasing “the best of what Alaska has to offer: our people, our beautiful scenery, and our seafood!”
Submitted photos will be uploaded to ASMI’s Facebook page where fans can vote for their favorite shots. The overall grand prize for the most-liked photo is a trip for two on Alaska Airlines.