Alaskan Author Don Rearden will be visiting the Haines Public Library on Friday March 14th to...
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Southeast Alaska News
SITKA — Two longtime Sitka retailers are going out of business, citing fewer tourists and increased Internet sales.
Colliver Shoes and Bear Country Gifts, along with the furniture and housewares store Home Plus, are closing.
Mary Lou Colliver told the Daily Sitka Sentinel her business in the community of about 9,000 on Baranof Island couldn’t handle another year of decreased tourism and waning local sales.
Delta Air Lines is resuming its long-dormant Seattle-Juneau flights.
But they’ll only happen once a day — and only during the summer.
The airline’s website shows bookings are now available from May 29 to Aug. 31, 2014.
Southbound flights will leave Juneau at 6:30 a.m. and arrive in Seattle at 9:40 a.m. Northbound flights leave Seattle at 6:45 p.m. and arrive in Juneau at 8:10 p.m.
The Delta website quotes roundtrip prices at around $500. That’s about $70 less than Alaska Airlines charges for similar flights.
Delta officials could not be reached for immediate comment. But a corporate communications staffer said an announcement could be released soon.
In a prepared statement, Alaska Airlines spokeswoman Bobbie Egan said her company has made a decades-long commitment to the community.
She said technology tested in Juneau means it has often been, quote, “the only airline to access the state’s capital when no other commercial airline could.”
Delta and Alaska are mileage and flight-sharing partners, listing some of each other’s flights under their own brand.
But they’ve become increasingly competitive. Delta has been expanding flights to and from the Sea-Tac Airport, where Alaska is the largest tenant. Some of those flights directly compete with Alaska.
Atlanta-based Delta used to fly to the capital city. Juneau airport officials say that ended in 1996.
A Sitka woman is safe after being located by Sitka Mountain Rescue on Harbor Mountain last Friday evening (12-13-13). Rescuers found 21-year old Ashley Horner-Raffaele after a four-hour search through darkness, torrential rain, high winds, and an encounter with a charging brown bear.
Alaska State Troopers report that Horner-Raffaele was found 600 feet up Harbor Mountain, above Kramer Avenue, also known as the Benchlands road. She had lost her way on an afternoon hike.
Search and Rescue Captain Don Kluting says a friend of Horner-Raffaele called Sitka Mountain Rescue at 3:40pm after receiving a text that she was in trouble.
“We got out to the field and one of the first things we identified was the winds were blowing high enough that we had trees falling, it certainly added a dynamic and a twist we don’t often face,” says Kluting.
Other factors also made it an especially-difficult search.
Kluting says, “The thickness of the terrain and everything was just so difficult and the wind certainly complicated things. We weren’t able to get sound attraction. She wasn’t able to hear us at long distance. The wind was carrying her voice.”
Although Horner-Raffaele did not have a flashlight, or proper overnight gear, she was able to text her rescuers and let them know she could hear their voices. But after nearly two frustrating hours without finding her, Kluting says the situation became even more challenging.
“And then right on top of everything else, at 6:15 we had resources in the field and one of our teams ended up contacting a brown bear. We had a bear charge our team,” says Kluting.
Rescuers were on the Benchlands road when they encountered the bear. They stood their ground before the huffing bear, until another rescue vehicle was able to reach them and safely pick them up.
With help from an Air Station Sitka helicopter, searchers located Horner-Raffaelli shortly after 8 PM. Because of the difficult conditions, it took over two hours to carry her out on a litter. She was transported by an EMS crew to a hospital to be evaluated.
As for the bear, Kluting says immediately after the encounter, he contacted state biologist Phil Mooney to report the situation. Mooney suspected that the bear either had a food cache it was defending, or a den site.
Mooney searched the area Saturday and found tracks, but not the bear, den, or food supply.
Mooney says, “You know I don’t know if its unusual. If you go back through our records we’ve had bear out every month of the year. It varies. This is likely some adult that’s still looking for a good den site.”
Mooney advises Sitkans that bears remain active, and people should still be careful when hunting deer, or storing trash.
Sitka Search and Rescue captain Don Kluting is relieved that everyone is safe. ”When we look back on that mission there are just some interesting dynamics that we don’t normally have to contend with.”
Kluting says total of 24 rescuers, four dogs, and a Coast Guard helicopter were used during the search.
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Officials say an estimated 55-hundred gallons of unleaded gasoline spilled into the water Saturday in the small Southeast community of Kake.
Kake Tribal Fuel reported the spill around 11 o’clock Saturday morning. “Kake Tribal Fuel noticed on Saturday when they went to open up their facility that there was a strong smell of gasoline and it led them to discover there had been a ruptured fuel line underneath their floating dock,” said Sarah Moore, the state’s on-scene coordinator with the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation in Juneau.
Moore said the initial amount reported spilled was 7,000 gallons, however, the corporation estimates its probably closer to 5,500 gallons. “Saturday morning when they first called it in they were saying there was a rainbow sheen of 100 yards and along the protected areas right around the fuel dock you could see free product,” Moore said.
The Coast Guard reported all vessels were removed from the harbor and police secured the area. Coast Guard petty officer Jeffry Crews said first responders in Kake initially put out containment booms around the spilled gas. “But unfortunately that’s not very safe to do with gasoline,” Crews said. “It’s a very volatile oil and very dangerous to try and contain. So the state and the US Coast Guard advised them to remove the boom and keep any vehicles or anything that could potentially ignite a spark away from the gasoline. And then we had them lay down fire suppressant fog with fire hoses on the big clumps of gasoline to try and break it up and keep the fumes down.”
Crews said it’s possible the flexible fuel line broke because of high wind and wave in the area but the cause of the leak is under investigation. He said the bad weather also disbursed the spilled fuel. “The tide and the wind and the currents all conspired to carry pretty much everything out to sea. So we didn’t have much to collect anyway. Because the weather conditions which were pretty bad on Saturday did a really good job of evaporating the product or taking it out to open water where it was gonna evaporate faster.”
The Coast Guard plans to respond to Kake to investigate.
A phone call to an official with Kake Tribal’s fuel operation was not returned. DEC is recommending that no one in Kake collect shellfish from the area immediately around the fuel dock.
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.
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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.”