The U.S. Army Garrison, Fort Wainwright, Department of Public Works is holding a meeting of the...
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Southeast Alaska News
USCG hoists woman, 72, from cruise ship near Sitka. Courtright hopes to bring teacher’s perspective to school board. Southeast Conference wants to change Tongass management. Auditions tomorrow for musical in new Odess theater.
Way back in April, the City of Ketchikan hired the private nonprofit agency Historic Ketchikan to develop a master plan for the 1.3-mile downtown waterfront promenade.
“We feel like this stretch of public waterfront is extremely unique,” said Stephen Reeve, executive director of Historic Ketchikan. “We’ve visited a lot of other successful waterfront areas and ours is one of the best, I think, in the world, potentially.”
Reeve and Historic Ketchikan board member Terry Wanzer presented the study’s findings to the Ketchikan City Council. Reeve briefly described the process.
“We talked a lot with property owners, with interest groups, with individuals who are interested in the waterfront and we’ve kind of come up for the moment with a set of principles that are directing us in our work,” he said.
One of those principles is that, although the promenade originally was conceived as a way to help disperse summertime cruise ship visitors throughout the downtown area, it still should be useful for residents, throughout all the seasons.
“We need to make sure everyone in the community has access, people of all ages, we need to make it possible for older people, as well as families and younger people to enjoy it,” Reeve said. “And we need to recognize that we’re not going to do this overnight.”
Reeve said the plan is a vision that the community can strive toward through a series of projects over the next few decades. The vision includes using natural boardwalk, incorporating art, providing covered performance space, and installing informational signs about Ketchikan’s past and present.
STATE’S DESIGN COMMENTS DELAYED
Later in the meeting, the Council decided to delay action on a motion calling for the city to submit comments on a draft design for completion of the waterfront promenade. Council members directed city staff to forward the state’s plan to Historic Ketchikan’s board for input.
The promenade has been partially done for a few years, but the final section has been on hold. The Alaska Department of Transportation is now accepting comments on the design, and plans to bid the project this fall, with construction starting in winter or this coming spring.
One concern raised at the Council meeting was the Stedman Street bridge, which is part of the promenade’s route, and whether the design would provide better space for fishing, to reduce hazardous interactions between pedestrians and fishing hooks.
Mayor Lew Williams III and City Manager Karl Amylon talked a little about how to address that concern.
“The only way I could see it, other than if we could move them down to the dock on the right and the floats on the left out on Thomas Basin, or putting a fish cleaning thing in between the sidewalk and the bridge somehow,” Williams said.
Amylon agreed. He also noted that completion of the promenade likely will add to summertime congestion along Stedman Street, so the city might need to eventually add seasonal traffic control officers.
FIGHT CLUB GETS COUNCIL NOD
The Council on Thursday also voted 4-2 to approve a revised agreement with the Ketchikan Fight Club, allowing that organization to continue staging its events at the Ted Ferry Civic Center.
Council Members Dick Coose and Bob Sivertsen voted no, citing concern over allowing the nonprofit to sell alcohol with its own permit, rather than contracting that service.
CONSOLIDATION OR UNIFICATION?
The city’s sometimes contentious relationship with the Ketchikan Gateway Borough also came up during the Council comments portion of the meeting. Council Member DeAnn Karlson said the idea of combining the two has re-emerged.
“It’s verging on the point of being embarrassing for our community as a whole, the way the governments are not able to work in harmony,” she said. “So, it’s not consolidation, it’s unification.”
Mayor Williams reminded the Council that, whether it’s called unification or consolidation, Ketchikan voters have repeatedly rejected attempts to merge the city and borough governments.
The most recent attempt was rejected in 2006.
The joint Cooperative Relations Committee between the Ketchikan City Council and Borough Assembly heard extensive public comment at its regular meeting Friday. Much of that comment period related to the ongoing debate over how the Ketchikan Public Library is funded.
Lisa Pearson is the adult services librarian at that library.
“I cannot ask people when they walk in the door, ‘where do you live?’” Pearson told the Committee.
Pearson was one of many former and current library staff who spoke at a lunchtime meeting of the Cooperative Relations Committee in Borough Assembly chambers. She and others pushed back against an Assembly request to track where exactly visitors to the Ketchikan Public Library live, citing privacy and other ethical concerns.
So why does Assembly want to track those people? It all stems from the debate surrounding how the new Ketchikan Public Library on Copper Ridge receives funding from both the city and the borough.
The borough has traditionally contributed to the operating budget of the library, which includes the day to day operations of that facility. When the City Council passed a resolution earlier this year requesting $420,000 from the borough, the Assembly pushed back. The borough government requested that the library track just who uses the facility; in the spirit of fairness, the Assembly says, the amounts paid by both governments should reflect the respective usage by their citizens.
Agnes Moran, who serves on the Borough Assembly but spoke at the committee meeting as a citizen, defended borough residents who live outside of city limits.
“As a borough resident I’m pretty tired of being told that I’m not paying my fair share for services,” Moran said. “I really feel, and I’ve talked to my neighbors, that it’s time for that to stop. We do pay our fair share.”
Moran cites both the sales tax and non-areawide service fee as evidence.
Citizen comments took up the majority of the hour-long meeting. Borough Manager Dan Bockhorst urged that citizens and politicians keep the debate over the library civil, as harsh words only make the problem worse.
The Committee took no formal action during the meeting, though Bockhorst and City Manager Karl Amylon agreed to speak on the matter. Discussion of the issue was moved to the next meeting of the Cooperative Relations Committee on October 11 in City Council Chambers.
Amylon did warn the body, though, that if an agreement on funding could not be made soon, there would be consequences.
“The bottom line is that if we can’t give the borough the information that it desires, and the borough withholds operating assistance, services at the library are going to be reduced for the community as a whole,” he said.
Amylon told the committee that he will begin working on the city budget for 2014 in the next few weeks.
Room for actual discussion between the committee members was constrained because of the extensive comments made by the public on the issue. One issue raised by committee members, which seemed to receive broad support, was consolidation of the borough and city governments.
Here’s Assembly Member Todd Philips.
“If we had one government, none of this would be happening,” Philips said. “We’d have no finger pointing or anything. I think maybe down the road this is maybe something we need to look at. Because the amount of staff hours, time and finger pointing is basically a waste of time and nothing is getting done.”
The issue of consolidating the city and borough has come before voters numerous times over the past few years. And each time it was rejected.
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Ellen Daly and Penny Lehmann outline the schedule for Health Summit Week. A Health Fair will kick off the week this Saturday morning (8:30-12:30 Sat Sep 21). Anyone interested in a full blood test should fast 10-12 hours prior to attending the fair. Breakfast will be available afterwards. See the complete schedule for the week at the Sitka Health Summit website.
A Coast Guard crew evacuated a 72-year-old woman from the cruise ship Diamond Princess on Thursday.
A helicopter from Air Station Sitka met up with the 952-foot vessel in Icy Strait. According to Coast Guard video, the incident happened around 6:45 p.m.
The crew of the ship reported the woman was experiencing convulsions. She was hoisted aboard an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter and flown to Sitka. EMS transported her to Sitka Community Hospital for further care.
Seas were calm at the time of the medevac, with 12 mph winds and 6-mile visibility. Icy Strait is about 100 miles north of Sitka.
A 43-year-old Ketchikan man was injured Thursday afternoon when he allegedly jumped out of a second-story window in an attempt to elude police.
According to the Ketchikan Police Department, officers were sent to a Fairview Avenue home after a report of an assault. During the investigation, officers determined that Jamison Ramsey had allegedly violated a court order that he avoid drinking alcohol.
According to police, Ramsey then jumped out the window, and was injured, possibly breaking an ankle. Police accompanied Ramsey to Ketchikan Medical Center for treatment. He also was cited for violating his conditions of release.
It looks like Southeast Gillnetters will not be watched by marine mammal observers next year. That’s because there’s no more funding for the National Marine Fisheries Service program, which gathers data on interactions between the animals and the fishing fleet.
NMFS contractors just wrapped-up a two-year observer effort in districts six and eight near Petersburg and Wrangell. The agency had planned to continue with other gillnet areas next year but that’s been put on hold indefinitely, according to Assistant Regional Administrator for Protected Resources John Kurland.
“At this point, we do not have funding to implement the program next year. It’s been kind of a tenuous situation for a while and as, I’m sure you’re aware, federal agencies all over are facing cuts and making difficult decisions. So, we still very much want to have observer effort to try and document the interactions between the gillnet fisheries in Southeast and marine mammals but it’s not looking like we’re going to be able to implement the program next year and beyond that I don’t know. We’re going to have to see how the budget situation unfolds,” he said.
The observer program around Petersburg and Wrangell cost roughly 1.5 million dollars a year according to the agency.
The periodic monitoring is required for fisheries across the nation as part of the Marine Mammal Protection Act. Without more funding, according to Kurland, NMFS will have to work with the limited data it has so far in Southeast.
“If we are not able to do the observer program in the other areas of southeast, I think the best available information is going to be to take the data that we have from district six and eight and apply that to the other districts in southeast and that may or may not be a good fit. You know, frankly, we’d rather collect the data in those particular areas because its possible there are differences, that there are more or less interactions in some of those areas as compared to the Wrangell Petersburg area,” he said.
NMFS uses observer data to help with marine mammal stock assessments and to classify fisheries in terms interactions with the animals. Southeast salmon gillnetting is currently classified as a category two fishery which means it has had occasional interactions that have led to the death or injury of marine mammals.
Stephen Courtright teaches music at the state-run boarding school. He says helping make policy for local schools is a way to contribute to the community, and bring in a teacher’s perspective.
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School Board – Wednesday, September 25, 2013
Assembly – Thursday, September 26, 2013.
No one twisted Stephen Courtright’s arm to make him run for school board. And it’s not about grinding an axe over one school policy or another.
“This is mostly a matter of walking the talk.”
Like many candidates, the 31-year-old teacher and part-time bartender simply decided to turn thought into action.
“I’m one of those people who frequently says, Somebody should be doing this. I think somebody should be representing this, or speaking out about these issues. And there came a point when I realized that somebody might be me.”
That Courtright teaches at Mt. Edgecumbe adds another dimension to his campaign. The boarding school is run by the state Department of Education, and not the local school board. He jokes that he has many friends who work for Sitka’s public schools, and that he wouldn’t mind setting policy for them. But those policies would not apply to him.
Courtright says it’s his work — rather than his workplace — that voters should consider.
“There are things that I would like to see happen at Mt. Edgecumbe, that I don’t have the power to make happen. But that’s neither here nor there when it comes to the Sitka School District. I believe that it’s every member of the community’s responsibility to ensure that the public schools stay at the highest caliber possible. And I do believe that, as a professional educator — someone who’s trained to know what’s happening in the classroom — I have a unique perspective that currently isn’t represented on the board.”
Courtright has two young children, ages 4 and 7, just beginning their school careers. As all parents of children farther along in the system know, a free public education begins to cost more and more, as students become involved in activities.
The policy in Sitka has been to educate the whole child. Even faced with declining enrollment and shrinking budget, Sitka Schools have parted with few activities programs — and even added some. Courtright questions this approach.
“It seems to me that if you’ve got difficulty making ends meet, spreading thinner isn’t always the best solution.”
Two of the most recent programs adopted by the district are high school soccer and football. Courtright calls them “high ticket” but doesn’t single them out as being the only expensive activities. He’s worried that a tiered system is evolving in the schools, that allows only the better-off students access to some programs.
“I think we should ensure that every student should have an opportunity. We shouldn’t be making it so that only students who can afford to, will be able to participate in varsity sports. I don’t think pay-to-play sports are the way to go. If we can’t afford for every student to participate and travel, maybe we shouldn’t have that team.”
Or, Courtright says, the schools should create a mechanism for less affluent students to participate. Possibly a funding pool, similar to the free and reduced school lunch program. His preference, though, is for full funding of whatever activities the district does offer.
And funding remains one of the district’s biggest challenges. Some key legislative assignments last year went to freshmen representatives who have questioned the public education model. Courtright says the schools still have important friends, like Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins and Bert Stedman who have helped organize regional political coalitions. He says Sitka’s school board should step to the plate.
“We do need to be able to play political hardball. We’re the little guys and the big guys are all coming from the railbelt now. It’s not an easy situation for us, being on an island that nobody likes to think about. The majority of them see us as this little blue outpost of cruise ship dollars, and they don’t really think of us as in need of money and help, but here we are and yes we are.”
Courtright is challenging a two-term incumbent for a seat on the board. But he’s quick to say that this election is not about removing Lon Garrison. The two are close on things like the role of public schools and educating the whole child. Their differences, so far, have to do with the role of the superintendent, and technology in schools. On this latter issue, Courtright favors more targeted purchases — like iPads — for the classrooms and teachers who want them.
The district’s recent history, though, has been to make sweeping technology purchases like Promethean Boards, and hope teachers adopt them. Courtright believes this is a symptom of top-down decision-making, and candidate like him is the cure.
“I think the biggest issue in general is that there’s too much policy being made at every level without the involvement of the people who are in the classroom.”
The municipal election is Tuesday, October 1.
ANCHORAGE — Same-sex partners of state employees will be considered as immediate family under action taken Thursday by the Alaska State Personnel Board.
The board adopted new wording in regulations that allows state employees to take leave due to a serious health condition involving a same-sex partner and include same-sex partners in the definition of immediate family for that purpose.
FLAGSTAFF — Native American women seeking emergency contraception at Indian Health Services facilities managed by the federal government now can get it without a consultation or prescription.
Beavers and jet skis surprised four adventurers on their recent attempt to row through the Northwest Passage. Vancouver, British Columbia residents Kevin Vallely, Paul Gleeson, Frank Wolf and Denis Barnett are now back home after the team stopped short of its goal of gliding through the northern waterway on muscle power.
The State of Alaska should concentrate its efforts on a liquefied natural gas line through Southcentral and it shouldn’t involve TransCanada, former Alaska Governor Frank Murkowski said during a Juneau Chamber of Commerce luncheon Thursday.
TransCanada is working with ExxonMobil, BP and ConocoPhillips on the large capacity gas line project created under the Alaska Gasline Inducement Act. TransCanada and ExxonMobil were the original partners under AGIA, which included $500 million in state funding to advance the pipeline originally planned to reach Alberta.
The Southeast Conference wants to change the way the Tongass National Forest is managed.
The regional development-advocacy organization is developing a strategy to grow the timber industry and create jobs, while maintaining environmental protections. It announced the plans at its annual meeting Sept. 17-18 in Sitka.
Conference leaders say the U.S. Forest Service is failing to do its job.
That, in the organization’s view, is to sell enough timber to support a strong, regional, wood-products industry.
“We’re trying to open up the landscape to a management strategy that is changing over time,” says Shelly Wright, executive director of the Southeast Conference, which is made up of business, government and tribal leaders, as well as interested individuals.
“Rather than set aside a big chunk for logging and a big chunk for no logging, open up all of the regulated set-asides and use it as a flexible forest,” she says.
National monuments, designated wilderness and some other protected areas would stay the same. Buffer zones would still be required near beaches, streams and rivers.
But Wright says many other parts of the Tongass would be open for multiple – and sometimes changing – uses.
“A stand of trees doesn’t have to be 150 years old to be habitat. Different habitat is good for different times of year and different kinds of animals. So we want them to … actively manage and monitor all parts of the forest for habitat and economic development,” she says.
“I think they’re looking backwards to recreate the glory days of timber on the Tongass, which unfortunately are over,” says Andrew Thoms, executive director of the Sitka Conservation Society, which has been part of the forest management debate.
“The Tongass produced a record number of salmon this past year that created a ton of jobs and a ton of economic activity from the fisheries. I think that the Southeast Conference wants to ignore the fact that all these salmon come from the forest and that they’re produced because of the protections that we have on the salmon streams,” he says.
And, by the way, he says the forest does take 150 years – or longer – to fully mature.
The existing Tongass management plan has been developed over years of public debate. It’s attracted attention from national environmental organizations and has been driven in part by policy calls from Washington D.C.
So what does the Forest Service think about the conference’s idea?
“I believe that it’s a legitimate proposal,” says Tongass Forest Supervisor Forrest Cole.
He hasn’t seen the conference’s strategy, though he’s talked to its authors. He says it could be considered if it’s submitted during the process of reconsidering Tongass policies.
“I believe over the life of the current forest plan we’ve looked at 30 or 40 different alternatives. And I’m guessing if that if we get into a modifying of the plan in the near future, we’ll look at a wide variety again. So having a recommendation from Southeast Conference for looking at alternatives is a welcome proposal for us,” Cole says.
Canadian timber consultant Don Reimer provided the research to back up the conference’s approach.
He says it could increase timber jobs from about 500 to more than 2,000 over a number of years. And he says it would save taxpayers’ money.
“We think that it would be able to eliminate most of the cash drain that you have on the Tongass, because you’d now have an active timber program like you used to have in the past that should pay for the restoration work and some of that stuff that needs to be done instead of having a drain on the treasury,” he says.
Southeast Conference leaders acknowledge their approach could be a hard sell.
That’s why they hired Willis Lyford of Anchorage-based Porcaro Communications to spread their message.
“We need to change the debate and the discussion about the timber industry in Alaska. And that takes a lot of hard work and research and a lot of study and people who are experts,” he says.
The company recently polled Southeast and other Alaskans to gage their views of the industry.
He shared results indicating strong support for logging, including its expansion. But it also showed concerns about environmental damage and other impacts.
Staley and Campbell have maintained a long friendship ever since. Over the next several weeks, the pair will collaborate on art and poetry in a new residency program developed by Sitka’s Island Institute.
Campbell has lived and painted in Sitka for decades. Staley, who now lives in Corvalis, Oregon, has just arrived here. She stopped by recently to talk about how a poet and a painter collaborate. She spoke with KCAW’s Robert Woolsey.
Staley and Campbell will share some of their work 5 PM this Sunday, September 22, at Kettleson Library.
The Sitka Fine Arts Camp has launched a new program called the “Young Performer’s Theater.” Auditions will be held tomorrow (Sat 9-21-13) for the company’s first show: “The Adventures of Beatrix Potter and Her Friends.”
Elsbeth Poe is the director of the company and the show. She says there’s a lot more to it than a well-known big-band number performed by Peter Rabbit.
“Jemima Puddleduck is another popular one. Jeremy Fisher. We’re doing the Two Bad Mice, and also the Tailor of Gloucester.”
Poe will cast between 12 and 50 actors. Performers between the ages of 7 and 18 are eligible to try out. Find complete audition information here.
Poe herself comes from a theater family. She’s a graduate of the Southern Oregon University theater program in Ashland.
She says there are rewards to being in theater that many don’t realize.
“It’s a wonderful community-building exercise for our youth, because you are a family. You become this group. You have to put on a production together. Every single member of that team is important.”
Sitka Fine Arts Camp director Roger Schmidt says he’s been thinking about an after-school theater program for a long time — maybe since childhood, when he watched shows on the old Allen Hall stage at Sheldon Jackson.
“Jan Craddick and her daughter, Elaine, did theater there for years and years, and kept this spirit of theater going. So it’s definitely in the back of my mind: I remember as a kid seeing their productions, and having friends who were part of their productions, and the idea of Allen being a place of theater. So anything our organization can do to re-spirit the space with theater is important to me.”
KCAW’s Peter Apathy contributed to this story.
Garrison hopes for third term on Sitka school board. TV show will give makeover to Alaska’s oldest hotel. Feds take wait-and-see stance on Petersburg’s aggressive sea lions.
Chris Dimond remembers spending his childhood playing at Sandy Beach with the Treadwell pump house always just offshore, and, as he grew, the iconic landmark continued to be part of his life.
First, it served as the backdrop for many of his wedding pictures. Later it became the focus of his home’s art collection.
Thursday it became part of his job.
Dimond is one of two foremen from North Pacific Erectors working to replace the deteriorating roof on the old pump house.
Completion of the long-planned waterfront promenade and a new agreement with Ketchikan Fight Club are on Thursday’s Ketchikan City Council agenda.
The promenade has been mostly done for a few years, but the final section has been on hold. The state Department of Transportation recently told the city it plans to bid the project this fall, with construction starting in winter or this coming spring.
According to the city, the intention is to have construction done before the 2014 tourist season.
With that in mind, the Council tonight will review a proposed design, and will hear a report from Historic Ketchikan, which was hired by the city to help with design planning on that project.
Also Thursday, the Council will consider a newly negotiated agreement allowing Ketchikan Fight Club to continue using the Ted Ferry Civic Center for its events. The agreement calls for new rules for alcohol sales, including an 11 p.m. cutoff; and blood-borne pathogen training for Fight Club personnel.
The Council meeting starts at 7 p.m. in City Council chambers. Public comment will be heard at the start of the meeting.
The Permanent Fund Dividend amount has been announced for 2013, and Alaskans each will get their share either deposited directly into their bank accounts or mailed to them starting Oct. 3rd.
Some Alaskans won’t get the full $900, though. About 5 percent of those receiving a PFD this year have chosen to give a portion of their annual check to state nonprofit agencies through the Pick.Click.Give. program.
According to the program’s website, Alaskans have pledged about $2.4 million of their PFDs for state organizations, with shelters for people and animals, and public broadcasting at the top of the list.
In Ketchikan, 13 nonprofit agencies received about $25,000 through the program. Women in Safe Homes received the most donations, followed by First City Players and the Ketchikan Humane Society.
Below is a list of each local nonprofit agency that received pledges, and the amount each will get:
- Community Connections: $1,225
- First City Council on Cancer: $2,025
- First City Homeless Services: $2,350
- First City Players: $4,850
- Friends Of The Ketchikan Public Library: $750
- Ketchikan Humane Society: $3,725
- Ketchikan Pioneers Home Foundation: $2,150
- Ketchikan Youth Initiatives: $550
- Love INC Gateway Affiliate: $775
- PeaceHealth Ketchikan General Hospital: $550
- Rainbird Community Broadcasting CoastAlaska: $1,100
- Women in Safe Homes: $5,350