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Southeast Alaska News
In USA Today’s photo gallery of American school lunches, Pacific High’s teriyaki coho salmon skewers stand out. The pink salmon chunks with silver skin attached, garnished with scallions, resting on a bed of brown rice, alongside roasted potatoes looks pretty sophisticated. Sitka grown ingredients sit conspicuously on the plate, in no shape resembling a nugget, or a hot dog.
Three hours before lunch, Oleana Valley, a freshman at Pacific High, and two AmeriCorp volunteers start prepping enough cornmeal encrusted rockfish, cilantro tartar sauce, vegetable slaw, and chips and salsa to feed twenty students. They’re trying out a new meal.
Valley: You just gotta feel for the bone and then grab it and pull it out. It was harder when I used to do this when I was younger I didn’t get pliers.
Valley debones rockfish like a pro – from years of practice. She is part of a cooking class at Pacific High aimed at teaching tangible culinary skills and healthy eating. Students can get a food handlers card after taking the class – a small step leading to employment. A few of the seniors work at restaurants in town.
Long: Perfect, perfect. You’re doing great! And that’s how you separate and egg.
Abby Long, an AmeriCorp volunteer, leads the class and designs the menus.
“It almost seems like eating locally supports Alaskan culture. Some people want to eat locally to reduce carbon emissions, or to support local economy. It’s so much larger than that here,” says Long.
She tries to incorporate as many local ingredients as possible. In this case local means ingredients from the entire state of Alaska. She needs still needs to consider the cost of shipping.
For example, Long says she approaches growers with specific requests like, “hey, mind getting a flat rate box and seeing how many onions you can fit in it for me, and pricing it that way?”
But, for Pacific High Students it seems the most valuable lesson comes from gathering ingredients from Sitka, rather than a flat rate box.
Pacific High’s co-principal Sarah Ferrency says, “students really love to be able to teach something to their teachers.” She recounts a time when students helped AmeriCorp instructors process crab:
They’re like what do we do with this? And so, these kids they come out and they’re like you do this, and you throw the guts on the ground!
Ferrency says scenes like this validate her vision for a student run, locally sourced lunch program. She says that working with local ingredients gives students the opportunity to share skills from their upbringing. ”It validates students, it gives them a sense of self-worth, and it helps them be successful.”
Beyond cultivating confident students, Ferrency pictures the lunch program evolving to encompass much more. “It is about breaking the cycle of poverty. If our students know how to grow and prepare and preserve food then that is one of their basic needs that they’re able to meet through their own independent skills.”
Recognition from the Division of Agriculture is nice, but it’s not about the prize. It’s about what students gain in the process. The next step is to make the rockfish meal as sustainable and replicable, as it is photogenic and delicious.
Listen to iFriendly audio.
Pacific High’s lunch wins award for using locally-sourced foods. Forest Service to continue taking comment on proposed cabin closures. Geologists learn more about human habitation in Southeast through sea level changes.
HOUSTON — Oilfield services company Baker Hughes Inc. says the number of rigs exploring for oil and natural gas in the U.S. increased by seven this week to 1,782.
The Houston-based company said in its weekly report Friday that 1,411 rigs were exploring for oil and 369 for gas. Two were listed as miscellaneous. A year ago there were 1,799 active rigs.
KODIAK — Alutiiq history will be the focus of a new class to be offered at Kodiak College, starting in January.
The Kodiak Daily Mirror says the teacher of the class is Marnie Leist, curator of collections at the Alutiiq Museum in Kodiak.
The class is called “Arrows, Mauls, and Awls: Objects of Prehistoric Life On Kodiak.” The class will run between Jan. 16 and May 1.
PETERSBURG — Officials at Petersburg High School have been awarded a state grant for suicide prevention education and outreach efforts.
The district is contracting with Petersburg Mental Health Services to provide suicide prevention services. The four-year, $25,000 grant was provided by the state Department of Education, KFSK reported.
PETERSBURG — The U.S. Forest Service is taking public comment on its plan to close nine recreational cabins in the Tongass National Forest.
The agency also is proposing to convert three additional cabins to three-sided shelters in southeast Alaska.
The plan was first outlined last month. The agency estimates it would cost nearly $2 million to replace and convert the cabins.
ANCHORAGE — A winter storm has dumped about a foot of snowfall on the Anchorage area.
The National Weather Service reported Sunday that totals from the storm exceeded 12 inches in some areas. The Anchorage Daily News reports that it is the most snow the area has seen so far this season.
KAKE — Officials say 7,000 gallons of gasoline have spilled into a harbor in southeastern Alaska.
The U.S. Coast Guard said it is coordinating response efforts for Saturday’s spill near at the city of Kake. So far, the response has included the removal of all vessels from the harbor and the use of vapor mist to aid in clean up and to push away fumes.
KWETHLUK — The mere presence of Santa and Mrs. Claus put broad smiles on the faces of many children in an Alaska Yup’ik Eskimo community this week, and it wasn’t just because they were about to receive gifts.
For some of the children, this was the first time they had laid eyes on the man with a white beard in the red suit, the mythical character they have heard so much about over the years.
The experience with Santa even reduced a few toddlers to tears.
ConocoPhillips is ramping up its Alaska investments sharply.
The company increased its 2014 Alaska capital budget by more than 50 percent, to $1.7 billion, and will drill two new exploration wells this winter in the National Petroleum Reserve–Alaska, company spokeswoman Natalie Loman said Dec. 9.
Spending next year will be in projects that are expected to add about 54,000 barrels per day in new North Slope production by late 2017.
ANCHORAGE — After a long journey by plane, two young bald eagles whose feathers were charred by a trash dump fire are recovering in Anchorage.
The two eagles were likely seeking food in a trash dump on Adak Island. Like other rural Alaska communities, the city of Adak burns its trash in a pit before taking it to a landfill. In a recent burn, the flames badly singed the flight and tail feathers of two juvenile bald eagles, the Anchorage Daily News reported Saturday.
KENAI — Every school day, elementary students across the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District shimmy on snow pants, glide on gloves and put on hats to brave the elements during recess.
Be it snow, sleet or below zero temperatures, students go out to play. While many often come prepared, sometimes students are missing a glove or hat — which makes outside pay nearly impossible in the cold.
SEATTLE — China has suspended imports of shellfish from the U.S. West Coast, cutting off one of the biggest export markets for Northwest companies and prompting fears of a months-long shutdown.
The Chinese government imposed the ban after discovering that recent shipments of geoduck clams from Northwest waters had high levels of arsenic and a toxin that causes paralytic shellfish poisoning, KUOW public radio reported.
SITKA — The expansion of the public library in Sitka will enable the building to accommodate the changing role of libraries in the 21st century.
The city assembly has approved the design for Kettleson Memorial Library after hearing from library director Sarah Bell and Paul Voelckers of MRV Architects in Juneau, KCAW reported.
“I think what libraries are evolving to is somewhat of a community center,” Bell said. “It’s a place where people can come and share what they consider important.”
JUNEAU — House Democratic lawmakers announced plans Friday to introduce legislation that would reject proposed pay raises for Alaska’s governor and other top state officials.
Reps. Les Gara and Scott Kawasaki said it would be wrong to allow the raises at the same time other areas of the budget are being cut and Gov. Sean Parnell is calling for spending restraint amid a sharp drop in expected revenues.
Editor’s note: This is the seventh in the Morris Communications series, “The case for conserving the Kenai king salmon.”
It’s a lesson every elected official in Alaska learns firsthand sooner or later, and Gov. Sean Parnell got a fresh reminder this past April in the waning days of the legislative session when his nomination of Vince Webster to a second term on the Board of Fisheries was rejected by a 30-29 vote.
FAIRBANKS — Thanks to one of the warmest Octobers in 100 years in Fairbanks, ice on local lakes and rivers is thinner than normal at this time of year.
The National Weather Service typically takes its first ice measurements during the first week of November but the ice was still too thin to do that this year. Instead, the weather service took its first ice measurements on local water bodies last week and found that ice on rivers and lakes around Fairbanks is thinner than normal.
ANCHORAGE — A federal agency is asking Royal Dutch Shell PLC for more details about possible plans to drill in the Chukchi Sea next year.
The application to drill will not be complete until the oil giant provides additional information in its 2014 Chukchi Exploration Plan, Alaska Public Radio Network reported.
The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management wants questions answered on Shell ships, the Noble Discoverer and the Polar Pioneer, said David Johnston, regional supervisor for the Office of Leasing and Plans. The agency also has air quality questions.
KENAI — ConocoPhillips has filed for a permit to resume liquefied natural gas exports from its facility on Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula, a move urged by the state.
Earlier this year, the company announced it would not seek an extension of a license that expired March 31 but would consider a new license if the needs of the local market were met and there was sufficient gas for export.
The application was filed Wednesday, said ConocoPhillips Alaska spokeswoman Natalie Lowman.