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Southeast Alaska News
ANCHORAGE — Vandals have caused more than $10,000 damage to an Anchorage church, officials said.
The vandalism has occurred three times over the last two weeks at the Cloister, or the courtyard at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in east Anchorage, KTUU reported.
Deacon Felix Maguire says the vandals have climbed the roof, ripped off shingles and thrown them on busy Muldoon Road.
A mausoleum also has been defaced, and marble niches that hold ashes have been destroyed. Officials say no human remains have been disturbed.
The Sitka Assembly postponed action Tuesday on a plan to spend $72,000 on a geotechnical survey along Green Lake Road.
The request to hold off on a decision came from the organization that asked for the item to appear on the Assembly’s agenda: the Sitka Economic Development Association.
“We’d really like to have a full Assembly to be able to fully hear this and vet this process through, because it’s going to be controversial, and we understand that,” said Garry White, SEDA’s executive director.
White was addressing five of the seven Assembly members. Two were absent on Tuesday. That’s not terribly unusual in the summertime, but it is enough to mess with the margin of error. Passage at the Assembly requires at least four votes.
White’s organization proposed hiring Avalon Development of Fairbanks to study an area along Green Lake Road for minerals. Doing so could tell local officials whether Sitka is literally a gold mine.
But the possibility of the mine resulted in some public concern, and even with White’s suggestion that the item be postponed, Mayor Mim McConnell allowed members of the public to continue testifying for or against the study.
Larry Edwards was one of five people to speak against spending money on the study. He told the Assembly it amounted to “gambling with public funds.”
“Even if we were to win, so to speak, and if an exploitable deposit were found, I think we’re better off to leave well-enough alone and not do it,” he said.
Resident Paul Norwood said the mining industry can pay its own way.
“They don’t need my tax money to go out and find gold in Silver Bay,” he said. “They already have money. If there’s real interest there, they can go out and find it.”
The Chamber of Commerce, meanwhile, came to the meeting with a resolution in support of the project. Chamber President Ptarmica McConnell said her organization believes the project could eventually mean high-paying jobs for Sitka.
“We have to remember there are a lot of struggling families in Sitka, even if they’re one- or two-income families trying to make ends meet,” she said. “A potential economic driver, like mining, could help that.”
Ptarmica McConnell was one of three people to voice support for the project, the others being White, with SEDA, and Kenneth Cameron. He is president, CEO and chairman of the board for Shee Atika, Inc., the local Native corporation in Sitka. His company funded earlier studies by Avalon — both a public report prepared for SEDA and an unrelated private report prepared for Shee Atika.
He says he understands concerns about mining, including environmental ones.
“These things can be done right, they should be done right,” Cameron said. “The questions that I have are: Where are you going to find, in this community, jobs that pay $100,000 a year? What’s the average salary in this community? It’s less than $50,000 a year.”
Cameron said the impact of mining employment could bring big benefits to Sitka, but agreed with White’s request to postpone the issue. It will next appear before the Assembly when all members can be present, either in person or by phone.
A 22-year-old man spending his first summer in Ketchikan was badly injured the night of May 31st when he fell about 70 feet from a tree.
Sean Ruppee was attending a beach party with friends at Mountain Point. His close friend, Travis Carter, says a Western hemlock tree nearby was an easy one to climb, and Ruppee had been goofing off in the tree for a while.
Carter says Ruppee called out that he was coming down, and that’s when his friend fell, landing on the back of his head. Ruppee was taken to Ketchikan Medical Center, and then was medevac’d to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.
Ruppee is recovering. Carter says his friend is moving his limbs and talking, but still has significant physical therapy ahead.
Ruppee had been working as a guide at Alaska Canopy Adventures, a popular summertime zipline tour. Carter has worked there for the past three seasons.
Carter says it had rained the evening of the accident, so the tree likely was a little slippery. In addition, there had been some alcohol consumed before the accident.
ANCHORAGE — Denali National Park and Preserve officials are reminding the public about the approaching deadline to sign up for the Denali Road lottery.
Officials say people can enter the lottery until June 30.
People can no longer send lottery entries by mail. They may sign up online or by phone.
Lottery winners will be announced in mid-July.
Each day from Sept. 13 to Sept. 16, some 400 vehicles will be allowed to travel the road with day-long permits.
Officials say if weather permits, the road will be open for the entire 92-mile length.
K-Town Street Beat is a weekly segment, featuring KRBD news intern Marco Torres talking to community members. This week, Marco chatted with audience members following last weekend’s First City Player’s production of Shakespeare’s “The Tempest.”
William Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” is one of the famous playwright’s most adapted plays to date. Theater companies have taken “The Tempest” and reworked its setting, focus, characters and more. Here in Ketchikan, First City Players is one such theater company. And director Ty Hewitt’s production – an Alaskan take on Shakespeare – appears to have pleased his home town.
Hewitt cut the script – normally a two and a half hour play – down to 90-minutes. He also reworked words of the script to match its Alaska setting. The characters, dressed like imperialist Russians, are stranded nobles on the island of Revillagigedo during the time of Russian exploration in Alaska.
This week on K-Town Street Beat, I caught four audience members after Saturday’s show at Totem Bight State Park. This week’s Street Beat question: “Did the Ketchikan adaptation of The Tempest make the play more accessible to you?”
“Oh I think it did,” said Rebecca Valentine. “This was an incredible job tonight. I was blown away. I am a huge Shakespeare fan, but this adaption was incredible. The acting was wonderful, and this setting just was awesome.”
Elizabeth Bolling said the venue added to the atmosphere of the play, which was performed at the Totem Bight clan house.
“Yes! It did. And to be honest, I think it was more interesting than the original. And I’ve seen the original in a production in Europe, and this was better.”
“What about this play made it better?”
“The first thing was that I knew the people in the play. The second was that there was an atmosphere in the story telling that was so much more magical – probably because it was in the clan house.”
Micah Long agreed that Ty Hewitt’s changes to aspects such as setting helped the production.
“I loved that it was in a different venue than usual. I think that that really added to the play and made the change in the play that much more interesting and effective.”
Inge Kummant also enjoyed the changes. She noted a change in character focus, and also praised the visuals of the production.
“I absolutely loved this production. I saw a production a few years ago and I’m sorry to say it dragged a bit. This play really focused on Prospero. It was visually fantastic and the setting was awesome for it.”
All in all, the audience members seem to love not just the play itself, but the unique Alaska take of this Shakespeare classic.
Full disclosure: news intern Marco Torres plays the role of Ferdinand in Ty Hewitt’s production.
The Tempest will run a second weekend, with sold-out shows Friday and Saturday, the 14th and 15th, at the Totem Bight State Park clan house. Those still interested in possibly seeing the show can wait stand-by at Totem Bight at 6:30 p.m. House opens at 7 p.m. Show begins at 7:30 p.m.
Technology is on the Ketchikan Gateway Borough School Board’s agenda Wednesday night, with a proposal to buy about $90,000 worth of Apple computers for Schoenbar Middle School.
The Macbook Air laptops will continue the school district’s one-to-one program, which aims to provide a laptop computer for every student.
On a related note, a memo in the board’s packet from district technology supervisor Jurgen Johannsen talks about potential filtration software to keep students from using their school-issued computers inappropriately.
The memo stems in part from an incident at Schoenbar when some students hacked into the school’s computer system. Board members wanted information about potentially adding security software to the laptops.
In his memo, Johannsen recommends against purchasing additional filters. He writes that after examining all the student laptops at Schoenbar, it’s clear that the vast majority of students use the computers only for schoolwork. Security software would hinder their ability to do that work, he adds, so the benefits would not outweigh the negative impact.
Also Wednesday, the School Board will consider four teaching contracts and one administrative contract, and a motion to accept BAM Construction’s approximately $500,000 bid to build changing rooms at the Fawn Mountain athletic field.
The School Board meeting begins at 6 p.m. Wednesday in Borough Assembly chambers at the White Cliff building. Public comment will be heard at the start of the meeting.
PeaceHealth Medical Center in Ketchikan is about to lose its CEO. Patrick Branco has resigned the position he’s held for about 10 years, and is headed south.
According to a news release from PeaceHealth, Branco will stay in Ketchikan through mid-August. After that, he’ll be the CEO of community hospitals for Essentia Health System in Duluth, Minnesota.
In the news release, he says it will be difficult to leave the local hospital, and he cherishes the relationships he’s made through his work.
Branco arrived in Ketchikan in 2002. In addition to his work at the local hospital, he has held state positions, including a seat on the Alaska Health Care Commission.
Branco was not available for comment by deadline Tuesday.
Petersburg’s police department welcomed its newest officer to the force this week. Jim Kerr hails from Kingman, Arizona, a city of over 28-thousand people in the northwestern part of that state. He has nine years of experience in law enforcement with the Mohave County sheriff’s office and the Kingman police department. Joe Viechnicki spoke with Kerr and police captain John Hamilton about his background and first week on the job.
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WASHINGTON — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says an outbreak of hepatitis A linked to a frozen berry mix sold at Costco has grown to 87 people with illnesses in eight states.
The frozen berry mix was sold at the Juneau store, up until last week.
The CDC said Tuesday that illnesses have been reported in Arizona, California Colorado, Hawaii, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Washington.
BETHEL — A brown bear cub that was recently found near the western Alaska village of Platinum was euthanized because no permanent home was available, a state biologist said.
The young male cub weighed nine pounds when it was found by Jay Bitney, who was in the area for work crushing gravel, according to KYUK (http://is.gd/Xk0zCD).
The cub reportedly was being chased by dogs, so Bitney picked him up to keep him safe. The whereabouts of the cub’s mother are unknown.
KETCHIKAN — A Ketchikan jury has convicted a 30-year-old Metlakatla man of first-degree murder in the death of his 67-year-old aunt.
Prosecutors say William Buxton after an argument stabbed Leona Meely six times and slashed her throat.
The Ketchikan Daily News (http://bit.ly/12jwqZG) reports Buxton did not react Monday when the verdict was read.
A weeklong trial preceded deliberations. Buxton’s mother testified that her son and her sister argued over cigarettes, and then hours later, over a flashlight.
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Race organizers Murray Lawson and Carolyn Heuer discuss plans for this Saturday’s (6-15-13) Medvejie Solstice Run. Due to construction, the half-marathon, 10K, and 5K will all start at Herring Cove. The route will follow Green Lake Road. Preregistration is 4-8 PM Fri Jun 14 at Sitka High, or at 8:15 AM on race day.
Listen to iFriendly audio.
SEDA to ask Assembly to spend $72K on mining survey in Silver Bay. Rep. Young takes smaller Sealaska bill off table to focus on larger selection. Polar explorers prep in Petersburg for Arctic voyage.
ANCHORAGE — A floatplane crashed and flipped on Willow Lake in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough but the pilot was not injured.
Alaska State Troopers say the crash occurred just after 3:17 p.m. Monday on the lake near Mile 70 Parks Highway. Spokeswoman Megan Peters says troopers are not sure whether the crash occurred upon takeoff or landing.
JUNEAU — The Gulf of Alaska trawl fleet faces new restrictions, as fisheries managers seek to limit the number of chinook salmon it unintentionally takes.
The North Pacific Fishery Management Council passed a policy over the weekend that lowers its cap on bycatch of the fish. It’s expected to take a year and a half before the federal government formally adopts the policy, APRN reported.
The trawl fleet comprises about 50 vessels, fishing for things like cod and rockfish, and bringing their catch to seafood processing plants in communities like Kodiak.
Library Director Linda Lyshol gives an update on fun activities and events planned for June at the Ketchikan Public Library. Library061113
The opinions expressed in commentaries on Raven Radio are those of the author, and are not necessarily shared by the station’s board, staff, or volunteers.
Ryan Wallace is a medical student at the University of Washington who spent six weeks working in Sitka this spring. He urges listeners to check with the Centers for Disease Control for guidelines on the HPV vaccine, which is now recommended for both girls and boys at around 11-12 years of age.
The Human Papillomavirus Vaccine
Hi, my name is Ryan Wallace. I’m a medical student from the University of Washington and I’ve been in Sitka for the past six weeks at SEARHC studying family practice medicine. I’d like to take a few minutes to discuss an issue that has been a recurring theme in the medical community over the past seven years: HPV vaccination. As a future physician I believe that vaccinating all children against HPV, boys and girls, will improve the overall health of our society, reduce the prevalence of cancer, and consequently reduce healthcare costs.
The Human Papillomavirus, or HPV, is a very common virus. It is readily spread through sexual contact and is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States. Twenty-seven percent of sexually active men and women have the virus at any given time, though many don’t know it. There are many forms of the virus, over 40 of which can lead to genital infections. HPV is commonly known to cause genital warts but it is also associated with numerous cancers. Each year as a result of HPV infection, there are over 18,000 cases of cancer diagnosed in women, most commonly cervical cancer, and over 8,000 cases of cancer diagnosed in men, most commonly penile and oropharyngeal cancers.
Fortunately, in 2006, a vaccine named Gardasil was recommended for use in girls by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to protect against the most common and high-risk forms of HPV. More recently, the CDC expanded their recommendations to include boys as well. The hope was that with widespread vaccination, the prevalence of HPV and consequently the morbidity, mortality and costs associated with HPV infection and its sequelae would be reduced.
Unfortunately, there has been strong resistance to this vaccine and only approximately 35% of girls and less than 1% of boys between 13-17 years of age have been vaccinated. Generally speaking, there are two reasons why people oppose HPV vaccination. First, many Americans are untrusting of vaccinations in general. Much of this distrust originated in a study that alleged an association between a single vaccination (the MMR vaccine) and autism. While the link between autism and vaccination has since been discredited and the study retracted, the general distrust for all vaccinations arising from that flawed study has been perpetuated by numerous celebrities. Most notably Jenny McCarthy, Hugh Hefner, Britney Spears, and Charlie Sheen have all come forward to support the anti-vaccination movement.
Furthermore, political figures, most notably Michelle Bachmann, have brought the safety of vaccinations into question on a national level.
Consequently, there is a real trend in this country to not vaccinate our children, putting our children at increased risk for preventable diseases, as evidenced by the recent Pertussis (whooping cough) outbreak.
The second major reason people oppose HPV vaccination is because it concerns sex in adolescence. Some people say that by vaccinating a child it implies that parents are okay with their children being sexually active. Of course, HPV is a sexually transmitted infection and to protect against it is to acknowledge or admit our children are having sex. This is something that is not easy to do. Not only is it difficult for parents, it may be difficult for healthcare providers to discuss this subject. Similarly, as the incidence of HPV is higher among men who have sex with men, there are some that oppose the vaccine due to attitudes or beliefs regarding homosexuality.
Vaccinating our children against HPV isn’t about condoning sex in teenagers or approving a particular sexual orientation – vaccination is about utilizing an easy tool to decrease cancer and save lives and money. The CDC currently recommends vaccinating all boys and girls against HPV, ideally at 11 or 12 years of age.
I would encourage parents to think about vaccinating their children against HPV if they haven’t done so already. Over 26,000 cases of cancer are potentially preventable. It should be a priority for parents, healthcare professionals, and society as a whole not to miss this opportunity. If you have questions about the HPV vaccine or vaccines in general you can ask your healthcare provider or check out the CDC website.
The opinions expressed in commentaries on Raven Radio are those of the author, and are not necessarily shared by the station’s board, staff, or volunteers.
The North Pacific Fishery Management Council moved forward Monday with what it called a “progressive step” in the issue of preserving the Bering Sea Canyons.
The council heard public testimony that ended with a motion to further research steps to conserve the Bering Sea and its canyons, a motion most advocates for preservation called “kicking the can” forward.
JUNEAU — More than 200 scientists have signed onto a letter asking Congress to enact legislation protecting 1.9 million acres of salmon habitat in this country’s largest national forest.
KODIAK — A new commander is in charge of the Coast Guard cutter Alex Haley.
Cmdr. Stephen White took over during a change-of-command ceremony Friday, the Kodiak Daily Mirror reported.
White previously served as the chief of international planning at the Coast Guard’s Atlantic Area Commend in Portsmouth, Va.
He replaces Cmdr. Kevin Riddle, who is headed to the Joint Advanced Warfighting School at the Joint Forces Staff College in Norfolk, Va., for additional training. He plans to study multinational planning and warfighting.