The Dahl Memorial Clinic invites the public to their Yuletide Open House Wednesday December 11th...
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Southeast Alaska News
This candidate statement is a listener service of Raven Radio. It is not an endorsement of the candidate. All candidates for municipal office have been offered the same opportunity to broadcast and publish a statement.
My name is Stephen Courtright, candidate for Sitka School Board.
We are at a time of crisis in the history of public education in the United States. Numerous forces are conspiring to devalue the importance of professional educators, to defund our children’s learning, and to minimize the importance of community schools. At a time like this, our schools must be led by people with a deep understanding of policy at all levels and with the greatest possible knowledge of the priorities of life in the classroom.
Federal and state legislation has, for the past decade or so, dramatically minimized the role of the professional educator. Teachers and administrators are being handed mandates in the form of alphabet soup laws and decrees. These are, ostensibly, designed to help our children perform better. In reality, many of them merely result in the collection of data that is used improperly or in a statistically invalid manner, in turn reflecting negatively on our schools. What should be about helping students becomes a game of shifting numbers in order to keep from being labeled a failing school, with the stigma and consequences attached to that.
Our state legislature is failing our children. I cannot say it any more plainly than that. They have failed to raise the Base Student Allocation since 2011, while every school expense has increased in that time. Transportation costs and the heating and cooling of our buildings are continuing to climb. With the advent of new standards (nearly identical to Common Core, but not quite), we must undertake the rewriting of curriculum and the replacement of texts, which will be quite pricey. On top of all of this, the federal funding that Sitka School District has relied upon for years is not the stable source of cash that it once was. We ask the State and Assembly for extra money every year, but it is imperative that we face the hard truths now and begin to plan for a future in which our financial base looks quite different.
In such a time of crisis, the hand of an educator is needed at the tiller. A hospital in crisis would need competent administration, but it would also need the guidance of medical professionals to determine the needs of its constituent population. We have a school district that is approaching crisis, but there are no educational professionals sitting on the body that is charged with preventing that crisis. While it is great that there are members of the community who are aware that these community schools belong to us all and who have stepped forward to become knowledgeable about what it takes to preserve our schools, we simply do not have time anymore for learning about educational issues on the job. Who better to make decisions for our public schools than someone who reports to work every day at a public school and digests education policy not as a committed volunteer activity but as a professional responsibility?
I cannot solve every problem that exists systemically within our community nor every problem visited upon us by governmental bodies with poor priorities. I can promise, however, as a parent and an educator, to make decisions that are best for our children and for their growth as people.
To place a professional educator on your school board, please vote for Stephen Courtright on October 1.
The municipal election in Sitka is Tuesday, October 1, 2013.
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Assembly to consider administrator contract, across-the-board electrical rate hike, when it meets in regular session tonight. CoastAlaska health care series part 2: Aging facilities in SE may not meet the needs of today’s patients.
This Year’s Stardust Costume Ball is Saturday, October 26th featuring Seattle dance band Smoking Bill. Tickets are $35 and go on sale for “mug level” members of Raven Radio at 9am on Thursday, October 10th at Raven Radio. All remaining tickets will go on sale at 10am on Friday, October 11th at Old Harbor Books.
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Michelle Putz, with the Sitka Global Warming Group (and assembly member), and AC Lakeside manager Bob Burnett discuss the opening of Sitka’s two reusable bag “libraries” at Lakeside and Seamart.
Juneau’s new lobbyist for the upcoming legislative session knows his way around the Capitol, and he knows the people inside.
That’s why the Assembly voted 6-3 to hire Kevin Jardell after interviewing five finalists Saturday, Mayor Merrill Sanford said Tuesday.
“Different people have certain allegiances and trust with people,” Sanford said. “Those are things we want to pull out of Kevin’s past to benefit us.”
Candidates seeking a seat on the Ketchikan Gateway Borough School Board joined KRBD for a forum Monday to discuss issues facing the school district.
Relations between the School Board and other government bodies was a major topic of discussion for the candidates. David Timmerman, Trevor Shaw and Camille Booth all agree the School Board’s relationship with the Borough Assembly could be improved, though they differ on how exactly that could be done.
Incumbent School Board Member Dave Timmerman has the strongest words for the Assembly.
“I just think if an assembly member said every once in awhile ‘hey (Superintendent) Bob Boyle, you guys are doing a great job,’ instead of saying negative, negative, negative, I think even small things like that would go a long way to repairing things,” Timmerman says.
Shaw stresses the need for the community to use all resources at its disposal – from more borough involvement to local business participation – to fund schools. Booth notes that efforts by both the School Board and Borough Assembly to understand each other’s concerns would help ease possible tension.
The activities budget, which includes sports and certain academic programs, has been under discussion by the School Board recently. Due to changing Alaska Marine Highway ferry schedules, students have been relying more on air travel, which puts a strain on the district’s finances.
The 18-year old Trevor Shaw has some sharp words for state Representative Peggy Wilson on the issue.
“I have to put some shame on the people in Juneau who didn’t work with us enough,” Shaw says. “Peggy Wilson is the House Transportation Committee Chairwoman. She didn’t do her job. She didn’t help us as out near as much as she should have. And now the taxpayers have to pick up the bill. We have to pick up the bill.”
Shaw went on to say that the district should fully fund the activities budget when it can.
Booth, who has a background in education technology and data collection, looks at the activities budget from both sides; saying that while the change in ferry schedule absolutely presents difficulties to the school district, it may be time to look at participation levels and see where potential cuts lie.
“I know a lot of the conversation is ‘are there too many sports?’, ‘are there too many activities?’, ‘are we funding too many things?,” Booth says.
On the activities debate, Timmerman points to the positive effects of those programs on the student body. He urges that activities be funded to their fullest, and faults the borough for lowering taxes that had a negative impact on the school district budget.
The three candidates are generally in line on the debate surrounding Ketchikan’s library consortium. That agreement between the school district, city and university libraries to share certain services like online catalogs and book sharing, has an uncertain future. Superintendent Bob Boyle said recently that the district may pull out of that agreement due to cost concerns.
Shaw says that if a vote were held today to remain within the consortium, he would most likely vote against it. Timmerman agrees with Superintendent Boyle’s approach; in that while the consortium is valuable, with a tightening budget the school district is right to look into the wisdom of leaving the consortium.
Booth stressed her support for libraries in general. She says that efforts to track data in terms of usage are necessary to determine whether the current system is equitable.
“Supporting libraries in general is important because I’m a book person,” Booth says, “but at the same time does it make sense to the financial sense to the district? Is it balanced? What are the user rates? Those kinds of questions have to be answered too.”
Booth also stresses the importance of technology in the district, saying that extra training for teachers and parents is essential for both the safety and privacy of students who use district computers.
The election for the Ketchikan Gateway Borough School Board is on October 1.
A group hoping to incorporate the community of Edna Bay as a second-class city has filed a petition with the Alaska Local Boundary Commission.
The proposed new City of Edna Bay would include about 23 square miles of land, and about four-and-a-half square miles of tidelands and submerged land. That area includes state, federal and privately owned property on Kosciusko Island off northwest Prince of Wales.
The petitioners are Lee and Doris Greif, and they say incorporating will help their community move forward with needed infrastructure projects, and attract new residents. Right now, about 50 people live there year round.
Doris Greif said one big problem is with Edna Bay’s roads.
“When the state set up lots out here, they didn’t include the road, and so everybody that has a lot owns half the road,” she said.
Those roads are in need of repairs, but without a single entity in charge, that work can be difficult to arrange. As a city, Edna Bay would be able to take ownership of its roads and bridges, and make the needed improvements.
Greif said the community’s dock also is in disrepair, and the state was on the verge of condemning it. If Edna Bay incorporates, she said the state has offered to help with repairs.
“And then, we don’t have any fuel out here,” she added. “We have to go get it in 55-gallon drums. It’s very difficult, especially in the winter, sometimes you can’t go. We’re going to hopefully put in a tank farm for fuel, and make life a little easier out here.”
Edna Bay is about a half-hour boat ride from Naukati on Prince of Wales Island. Greif said the town has many older residents, and the school there is running low on students. Many of those who live there would like to attract more families with children, and she hopes that improvements to the community will help encourage more people to move there.
“We’re just a small community. We all get along pretty good,” she said. “We’re just looking for growth. There’s a lot of lots available out here available, and houses. We’d love to see more community.”
Greif said Edna Bay’s economy is primarily fishing and the island’s two sawmills. She said most residents support the idea of incorporating Edna Bay, but a few have objected to the notion of expanding.
“We’re having that meeting on the 10th here with the Local Boundary Commission so people can ask questions,” she said. “There’s been a lot of rumors going around, and hopefully we’ll get that all out in the open. We’re just all excited about it. Most of us.”
A public hearing on the Edna Bay incorporation petition is scheduled for 6 p.m. Oct. 10 at the Edna Bay School.
In addition to the public hearing, the Local Boundary Commission will accept written comments on the petition through Nov. 20.
Comments can be sent to:
Mail: Local Boundary Commission staff, 550 West Seventh Avenue, Suite 1640, Anchorage AK 99501-3510
The search for a Craig man missing in the Behm Canal area continued Tuesday, the third day of searching for the hunter.
According to U.S. Coast Guard spokesman Ryan Erickson, Garrett Hagen, who is in his mid-20s, has been missing for more than a week.
The search began after the Coast Guard received a call from the crew of the small cruise ship Wilderness Adventure on Sunday morning reporting they had found the 44-foot Abundance adrift with no one aboard in the vicinity of Saks Cove.
Rescuers found Hagen’s hunting partner, Adrian Knopps of Michigan, in the forest suffering from hypothermia. Knopps was brought to Ketchikan for treatment, but Hagen remains missing.
Anyone with information regarding the hunters is asked to call the Coast Guard’s Sector Juneau command center. The local Ketchikan Volunteer Rescue Squad also is helping with search efforts.
Volunteers are needed to help look for marine invasive species. Linda McCann of the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center and Gary Freitag of the Sea Grant Marine Advisory Program explain. Meet at the lower UAS campus, 600 Stedman Street on Saturday (9/28) at 9:00 am. BioBlitz
Sue Perles of the Girl Scouts of Alaska talks about the organization and how you and your youngster can get involved. GirlScouts
The Southeast Alaska Discovery Center winter hours start this weekend, and, citing a need to reduce expenses, the exhibits area will be closed Sunday through April 18.
This Saturday, the Discovery Center’s celebration of National Public Lands Day will be the last opportunity this season to view the exhibits. The center will be open from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. In addition to exhibits, a volunteer work project is set for 10 a.m. to noon.
Volunteers are encouraged to bring gloves and wear weather-appropriate clothing to help remove litter and weeds from gardens surrounding the center. A free barbeque and other activities are planned for the afternoon.
Starting October 4, the center will be open Fridays starting at noon, with movies at 3 p.m. The popular Friday Night Insight evening programs will start November 1.
Work on a new drive-down dock could begin this winter in Petersburg. The Harbor Advisory board this month recommended moving forward with the final design and bid preparation for the 10.8 million dollar project, which is being funded through state grants. Located next to South Harbor, The facility will provide a vehicle-accessible ramp and float for boats to load and unload.
Meanwhile, contractors with the US Army Corps of Engineers have been dredging the North Harbor basin for the past week. That 3.5 million dollar, federal project paves the way for installation of the new pilings, float system and ramp which are scheduled to be complete in time for Mayfest.
Matt Lichtenstein asked Harbormaster Glo Wollen for an update on both projects, beginning with North Harbor:
For mobile-friendly, downloadable audio, click here.
Harbormaster Glo Wollen says the drive down dock is scheduled to be complete before Christmas, of next year.
ANCHORAGE — A federal judge has dismissed Alaska’s effort to block enforcement of stringent rules meant to limit pollution from large ships.
U.S. District Judge Sharon Gleason threw out the lawsuit last week for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.
The state filed its lawsuit in July 2012, a month before new rules went into effect requiring that cargo carriers and cruise ships use a low-sulfur fuel within 200 miles of U.S. and Canadian shores.
Observer program suspended as funds run out. Dead whale near Kake might have died from ship strike. Health Care in Southeast, Part 1: Insurance options limited for self employed, including commercial fishermen.
The Holland America ships Westerdam and Oosterdam will bypass Sitka on Wednesday and Thursday September 25 & 26.
Fred Reeder, port director for the Cruise Line Agencies of Alaska, says continued inclement weather off the coast forced the ships to cancel.
The weather forecast for those days calls for south winds gusting to 30 knots, and seas of 5 to 6 feet. Reeder says these conditions don’t present a problem for the ships or passengers, but it does make it difficult to get the ships’ pilots on and off. He says the ships have to divert to Ketchikan to transfer pilots when the weather is bad, throwing off their itineraries.
The Westerdam and Oosterdam each carry nearly 2,000 passengers. The ships cancelled their visits to Sitka last week as well, for the same reasons.
Reeder says Sitka’s next cruise ship call will be the Westerdam on Wednesday, May 7, 2014.
Our Online Drive is chugging right along! If we haven’t heard from you please join your friends and neighbors right now! It takes support from everybody to keep Raven Radio going!
Raven Radio will host live on-air forums with the candidates for municipal office this week.
Sitka School Board – Wednesday, May 25, 6:35 p.m.
Candidates: Stephen Courtright and Lon Garrison
Sitka Assembly - Thursday, May 26, 6:35 p.m.
Candidates: Steven Eisenbeisz, Ben Miyasato and Aaron Swanson
Here are three ways to ask them a question:
1. By e-mail, to email@example.com, now or during the show.
2. Through a comment, which you can leave at the bottom of this story, now or during the show.
3. On the air, by calling in during the program. We’ll give out the number once we’re on the air.
Please let us know which group you’re asking (Assembly or School Board).
On Wednesday and Thursday, you can stream the show live on this website. Look for the “Listen Live” button up at the top right.
Short of the Surgeon General, there’s almost no one in government more interested — or more influential — in helping create a culture of health in the US.
As part of CoastAlaska’s ongoing series on Health, KCAW’s Robert Woolsey met with Bauer to learn how we’re making ourselves unwell, and what to do about it.
Ursula Bauer is head of the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention, at the US Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, Georgia. She was in Sitka recently to visit CDC-funded prevention programs at SEARHC like Women’s Health, cancer screening, tobacco cessation, and diabetes prevention. The Centers for Disease Control has spent about $2.4 million trying to keep Southeast Alaskans well.
Bauer is frustrated that we’ve come to define ourselves as a set risk factors — diseases waiting to happen. She’d like to frame the conversation about health around people, rather than around disease.
“People want to be in control of their health. They might not talk about health specifically, but they want a quality of life. They want to live to see their grandchildren grow up. They want to be productive members of their community. The don’t think about that in terms of diabetes or tobacco use or nutrition, but those things — or avoiding those things — are going to get them the quality of life that they want.”
Bauer is not a medical doctor. She has a Ph.D. in Epidemiology from Yale, as well as a Master’s Degree in Public Health. She says that the public health system in the US has had some amazing successes in the past — potable water, sanitation, pasteurization, and food safety — which have given us more control of our lives. But lately, just as medicine has become more specialized, tackling public health issues has also become more fragmented.
Bauer says it’s time again to step back and look at problems holistically.
“What we see is that in so many places, our communities are designed for disease.”
She means education, transportation, housing, agriculture, the justice system, clinical medicine — you name it — they’ve all evolved in ways that do not support the well being of individuals and their communities.
When Bauer makes her case for the idea that we’re our own worst enemies, she doesn’t have to go far for evidence.
“I like to say that if a space alien came down to any place in our country, it would think that we support obesity as our highest value. The ready availability of fast foods, the soda pop within an arm’s reach of every American, the driving culture, the lack of opportunity for physical activity.”
Bauer says the obesity epidemic didn’t happen overnight — it’s been in the works for about 30 years. But just as we created the problem, we can end it. This is where Bauer and the CDC are putting some money and effort at the moment: Community Transformation grants, in Southeast and around the country. Small amounts of funding — from $5,000 – 25,000 — to promote PE programs in school, or to steer us toward better eating, or to promote any number of ways to help us live better together.
“And I think more and more communities are kind of stopping and saying, Wait a minute — who decided that there should be a fast food restaurant within 4-minutes of every American home? Is that a value that my community wants, or do we want a different kind of value?”
The CDC’s Community Transformation grants are a five-year program, expected to reach 120 million Americans. About one in every three of us.
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Kerry MacLane is organizing the 19th Annual Running of the Boots, 10AM Saturday, September 28. The event will start from a tent at St. Peter’s-by-the-Sea. Lunch will be provided at noon. Live music. It’s a benefit for the Local Foods Network.
The Ketchikan Gateway Borough Board of Ethics meets Thursday to establish the process for investigating two ethics complaints filed against Assembly Member Alan Bailey, who is running for re-election.
The complaints were filed by two other Assembly members, Mike Painter and Agnes Moran. The first complaint claims that Bailey failed to disclose a potential conflict of interest regarding the issue of borough funding for City of Ketchikan dispatch services.
The issue of funding has been resolved, but before that the borough and city were debating how much the borough should contribute to that service. Bailey’s son is a dispatcher for the city. However, city dispatchers are represented by a union, and their salaries are negotiated between union and city officials.
The second complaint claims that Bailey failed to disclose that he was not representing the Assembly when he recently spoke during the public comment portion of a Ketchikan City Council meeting.
When reached by telephone Monday, Bailey declined to comment on the allegations. He says he doesn’t want to escalate this debate before the local election. Bailey says he will give his side of the story at the proper time during the Board of Ethics investigation process.
According to the borough clerk, the Board of Ethics on Thursday will discuss the procedure and will set a date for an investigative meeting. That meeting will take place no earlier than 10 days after Thursday’s meeting. That means the issue will not be resolved before the local election, which is Oct. 1.
The Board of Ethics meets at noon on Thursday in Borough Assembly chambers.