2 water tanks for sale. $900 for a 900 gallon tank, $500 for a 480 gallon tank. Call for a...
Submit and View KHNS Postings
From Our Listeners
Thanks to our Generous Underwriters, Sponsors and Grantors
Southeast Alaska News
Listen to iFriendly audio.
Alaska’s congressional delegation introduces new Sealaska land-selection bills. 23-year-old to serve two years in prison for assault. Development expert says SE leaders on right track to improve regional economy. Controversial cruise ship wastewater bill held up for a week. Petersburg issues boil-water notice after E.Coli detected.
Bett Jakubek and Virginia Roginksi from Community Connections joined us to talk about their new facility and a call to artists to decorate it.
The Grand Opening of the new facility is on April 19th at 721 Stedman Street. Local artwork will be for sale and refreshments will be served.
A twenty-three year old Sitka man will spend nearly two years in prison, after pleading guilty to a pair of assault charges.
Jeffrey Bettencourt was sentenced by Sitka Superior Court judge David George on Tuesday (2-12-13).
In addition to prison time, Bettencourt was ordered to pay over $29,000 in restitution to the Violent Crimes Compensation Board.
According to court records, Bettencourt and his father, Christopher Bettencourt, went to a Wachusetts St. residence in December of 2010 to reclaim a gun that the younger Bettencourt had allegedly traded for heroin. They were accompanied at the time by 25-year old Lance Smith.
In the ensuing altercation, Smith shot one of the home’s occupants in the arm. Smith and the Bettencourts then fled the scene, and ran their vehicle over the curb in the 1100 block of Edgecumbe Drive. Police later apprehended the Bettencourts at their home.
Lance Smith was previously sentenced to 12 years in prison for his role in the assault, and also ordered to pay $29,000 in restitution.
45-year old Christopher Bettencourt’s case is still pending. His wife, Tina Bettencourt, was sentenced last week to serve 22 months in prison for misconduct in the third degree involving a controlled substance.
Days after House and Senate Democrats rolled out an “alternative” proposal to Republican Gov. Sean Parnell’s oil production tax reform bill, it remains unclear whether the Democrats’ bills will get hearings in the committees to which they were referred Monday.
A heavy polar icebreaker reactivated last December will be ready for service by summer, United States Coast Guard Rear Adm. Thomas Ostebo told members of the Alaska State Legislature’s joint Armed Services Committee during its first meeting of the year Thursday.
Ostebo, along with U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Stephen L. Hoog, commander of Alaskan Command, and U.S. Army Major Gen. Thomas Katkus, commissioner of the Alaska Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, testified before the committee on the status of the U.S. military in Alaska.
ANCHORAGE — Nome and nearby Port Clarence will get additional scrutiny as possible sites for a deep-water port for vessels in Arctic waters, according to a report by state and federal officials.
JUNEAU — Gov. Sean Parnell’s budget director says there’s a smaller-than-expected hole in this year’s budget.
Karen Rehfeld told the House Finance Committee on Thursday that about $323 million would have to be transferred from reserves, rather than $410 million. She said that is due, in part, to a lower-than-expected supplemental budget request.
Rehfeld presented the administration’s budget amendments for this year and next. The amendments boost the overall supplemental request from $24.5 million to $26.8 million.
JUNEAU — Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski said Thursday she is not convinced that Chuck Hagel is the right choice for U.S. secretary of defense.
Murkowski said in a statement she is not inclined to support Hagel’s nomination “because of his grasp and vision on the key questions of our time: Iran, complexities in the Middle East and the constant threat of terror networks.” However, she said she wants to hear from Alaskans, and get their thoughts, when she returns home on recess.
A positive test for E.coli bacteria prompted local officials to issue a boil water notice in Petersburg Thursday afternoon. According Borough Public Works Director Karl Hagerman, the results came from routine samples taken the day before from Petersburg’s water supply:
“We received word from Petersburg medical center that our routine water samples tested positive for total coliform bacteria and when that happens, the hospital does a further testing on the sample to determine whether E.coli is present and the sample also tested positive for E.coli”
So, the borough put out a notice telling all Petersburg residents to boil their tap water for two minutes. That includes water for drinking, brushing teeth, and food preparation. According to Hagerman, home water filters do not necessarily get rid of E.coli:
“When we issue a boil water notice, that’s what you should do. Do not rely on a home filter system to filter out any bacteria.”
Along with informing the public, Hagerman said the borough notified the state and took new samples to retest the water. He said the fact that the original sample came up positive for bacteria didn’t mean that the whole system was contaminated. He said there are many other ways a sample can be contaminated, which is why they are doing more testing on the water supply:
“It’s to verify that either the system is contaminated with some bacteria or not, that its safe for everybody to drink. And so when that retesting is done, we’ll have more information on the cleanliness, the safety of the system. I’m confident that this was a probably a sampling anomaly but the safe thing to do in these situations is to issue boil water notices and make sure that any water that’s ingested from the system is disinfected properly so that nobody gets sick.”
Hagerman expected it would take about a day to get results from the new tests. So, he was hopeful they would be available by Friday afternoon. He said the boil water notice would remain in effect at least until then.
Meanwhile, Both of Petersburg’s grocery stores ran out of bottled water Thursday and were ordering more. Petersburg schools are holding classes as usual Friday. They had planned to bring in filtered water from out the road but instead are providing bottled water to kids in the elementary school. The district asked middle and high school students to bring their own bottles of potable water to drink.
E.coli bacteria comes from human or animal waste. Some strains can cause serious illness, particularly among very young children and the elderly.
You can listen to the full interview with Karl Hagerman below:
For mobile-frindly audio, click here.
You can read the Borough’s boil water notice here.
There’s a longer version available here.
The Alaska Department of environmental Conservation also has this fact sheet on boil water notices.
Sustaining deer and salmon habitat was the top priority for several Petersburg residents who turned out to a local meeting with the U-S Forest service this week. The agency is holding a series of such gatherings around Southeast to record public comments on its overall management plan for the Tongass forest. The plan is undergoing a five-year review. Matt Lichtenstein has more on the Petersburg meeting:
For mobile-friendly audio, click here.
“The easiest way for me to explain a forest plan and the easiest way for me to think about it is just like a zoning map for your community,” said Petersburg District Ranger Jason Anderson, who gave a brief overview of the Tongass Land Management Plan, which was last overhauled in 2008.
“It lays out designations across the ground on what types of activities can occur and where. So, we refer to them often as land use designations. That’s how the plan refers to them. There are 19 and each one of them allows varying degrees of activities, all of which are trying to get to desired conditions which is what the forest plan really establishes. This is the desired condition for the 17 million acres of the tongass. Not all acres are treated equally. Again, you have things like wilderness and on the other extreme you have timber development LUDs where you’re actively seeking to develop the timber resource and there’s a whole host of things in between.”
Eight members of the public turned out to the Petersburg meeting. Those who spoke focused on the impact of timber harvests, particularly clear-cut logging, on deer and salmon habitat. In particular, several raised concerns over the loss of low-elevation high-volume old growth forest that deer depend on to survive in winter.
Lifelong Petersburg resident Eric Lee brought with him a couple large sets of antlers from deer shot by his father and grandfather on Petersburg’s home Island, Mitkof, around 1970. He said you don’t see horns like them anymore. Lee asserted that the Forest Service’s large timber sales have been contrary to the Tongass plan’s conservation strategy to maintain viable wildlife populations.
“You know we can look at our own island and see whats happened to the deer population since big time logging started. It has collapsed basically. There are no hunting opportunities that are meaningful on this island anymore. People go out but a lot of people don’t because the chances of getting a deer are so slim. Now the same thing is happening across the narrows on Lindenberg Peninsula. The deer population’s crashing yet there’s a huge sale going to go be started over there to cut the last of the winter range that’s left over there.”
Lee pointed out that Mitkof Island and nearby Kupreanoff Island’s Lindenberg peninsula had once been Petersburg’s breadbasket for deer. Because of low deer numbers, Mitkof Island has long been limited to a two week hunt with a one buck bag limit. This year, State Board of Game put the same restrictions in place for Lindenberg. The Department of Fish and Game’s Wildlife Division is worried about deer numbers there because of wolf predation, severe winters and the loss of habitat from logging.
The lack of nearby hunting opportunity has driven some locals to travel further to find deer in potentially dangerous fall and winter weather. Another longtime resident, Dave Beebe blamed the Forest Service for what he called “a failed management strategy in a biological sense and a failed subsistence responsibility to assure huntable populations of deer”
“And I cannot overemphasize the importance of Lindenberg Peninsula as it relates to Mitkof Island and as that whole scenario relates to the ability for hunters to access deer without taking their lives in their own hands. Winter mortality works not only on deer but on deer hunters,” Beebe said.
Petersburg’s Dave Randrup said he had seen the changes since his family bought their land on the Lindenberg peninsula in 1956. He emphasized that the old-growth deer habitat lost to logging over the years could not be replaced.
“There’s supposed to be a tradeoff between timber harvesting and deer habitat. I think we’ve tipped the scales already. I think we’re well past the balance point. It seems to me if your taking one resource and putting the other in the tank, like our deer habitat, I don’t know how you can justify that.”
The concerns were not limited to timber harvest, Petersburg’s Karen McCullough pointed out that there are currently two separate environmental studies underway for a road and electric intertie across Kupreanoff between Petersburg and Kake. McCullough suggested the Forest Service should be taking another look at its broader Tongass plan first.
“I’m very confused, as we go through all these public process which are disconnected yet connected and this seems to be the one that’s at the top which sets guidelines for the Tongass. So, I guess part of me would really like to see us take a really hard look at the Tongass and then come into these other areas which might mean slowing things down a little which doesn’t sound like what people want to do but in the long run, I think might get to what Dave’s talking about is how do we protect this area for the sustainability of fish and wildlife.”
The Forest Service’s Tongass webpage has a link to the five-year review. The public comment period is open through the end of March. U-S Senators Lisa Murkowski and Mark Begich have requested the agency extend the comment deadline.
A team of Petersburg High School Students took third place in a statewide ocean sciences competition last weekend. The Omnipotent Octopi was one of two PHS teams that took part in the Alaska Tsunami Bowl. The other local team had the even more tongue-twisting title The Opulent Opisthoproctidae. Opisthoproctidae, by the way, is the scientific name for the Barreleye fish, a strange-looking creature with big eyes enclosed in its large, transparent skull.
The Petersburg teams competed against 23 more from 14 other high schools around the state. Each team had to prepare a 20 page research paper ahead of time, give an oral presentation, and compete in a timed ocean sciences quiz. The Omnipotent Octopi took first place for their paper which counted towards half their score. Teams from Juneau-Douglass High and Mat Su Career and Technical High took first and second place overall.
Matt Lichtenstein spoke with members of both Petersburg teams and their coaches Joni Johnson and Sunny Rice after they returned from Seward this week:
For mobile-friendly audio, click here.
Alaska’s congressional delegation today introduced new Sealaska land-selection bills.
Both would turn about 70,000 acres of the Tongass National Forest over to Sealaska, the regional Native corporation for Southeast Alaska.
Murkowski’s version includes numerous changes meant to reduce opposition from environmental groups, tourism businesses and small communities.
She says it would still complete a promise made 40 years ago by the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act.
“In terms of what we set out to do, which is to provide completion to Sealaska in terms of allowing them to select their lands that were committed, this will help finalize that selection and really work to balance the interests of all of those in the region,” she says.
Both bills transfer about 68,000 acres to Sealaska for timber harvest and development. They remove about 26,000 controversial acres on or near northern Prince of Wales Island and replace them with other parcels.
Sealaska Vice President and General Counsel Jaeleen Araujo says the new acreage is near some previously-logged areas.
“There was some infrastructure already in place on north Prince of Wales, so we had to find other alternatives that would have proximity to infrastructure that would be helpful in timber development,” Araujo says.
She says Sealaska supports the new measures.
The Southeast Alaska Conservation Council, an umbrella environmental group, has been one of the groups critical of the legislation.
SEACC Attorney Buck Lindekugel says he hasn’t seen Young’s bill and is still looking through Murkowski’s measure. But he sees some significant improvements.
“Senator Murkowski has shown some solid leadership and tried to address some thorny issues that were raised by Southeast Alaskans. There is a lot of bittersweet stuff here, particularly with some of the timber lands. Nobody’s going to be happy with all of them. But both Sealaska and Senator Murkowski helped avoid some real controversial places,” Lindekugel says.
He says his group will run the measures by its membership before taking a formal position.
The Alaska Forest Association backs the measures.
Executive Director Owen Graham says Murkowski’s version makes too many concessions. But he says they’re needed to keep the logging industry alive.
“We’re holding our nose on the conservation areas. We don’t think there’s anything special about them. They’re certainly not needed because there are other protections for the land. But we’re willing to accept those conservation areas in order to get this bill done quickly,” Graham says.
Both bills also cut the number of small parcels set aside for tourism, energy or other economic development. They also reduce the acreage to be selected as sacred or cultural sites.
Murkowski’s version increases the required stream-buffer zone from 66 to 100 feet to protect three salmon spawning areas. It also balances Sealaska’s timber selections with 150,000 acres of conservation areas.
Don Young spokesman Michael Anderson says that’s where his version differs.
“The House bill doesn’t contain any conservation set-asides. Though the two bills convey the same overall acreage to Sealaska, the House bill includes a few more small parcels. The House bill does not include any buffer requirements beyond what is required in the Alaska Forest Practices Act,” Anderson says.
Similar legislation was introduced in previous Congresses.
Young’s version passed out of the House as part of a larger lands package last year. Murkowski’s bill did not make it to the Senate floor.
She says it will have a better chance this year. That’s because Senator Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, took over chairmanship of the chamber’s Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
“He has pointed out to me numerous times that he’s very pleased with the fact that we have engaged in this level of sit-down and dialog with everyone from the administration to the energy committee staff, to those within all aspects of industry, whether they’re fishermen, environmental groups, tourism. I think he’s impressed by the process that he’s seen,” Murkowski says.
She says Wyden has agreed to move several land bills out of the Natural Resources Committee. Sealaska would not be part of the first package, which will only include measure that already cleared the committee. But she says it could be in a later version.
Federal budget cuts likely will mean less money for the Ketchikan Gateway Borough, which in turn likely will mean less money for the Ketchikan School District. That problem was a big topic of conversation at Wednesday’s Ketchikan School Board meeting.
The borough anticipates that the federal government will discontinue its Secure Rural Schools funding program — also called timber receipts — which provides federal funds to small communities next to national forest land. The program was to expire last year, but Congress extended payments through 2012.
The biggest borough expense is education, and the school district has been told to expect a cut to local school funding of about $600,000. That would bring the borough contribution down to $7.7 million.
The district’s total budget for this year was about $36 million, with about $8.3 million in local funds.
Superintendent Robert Boyle told the School Board that a $600,000 hit would lead to significant program cuts. Some of those could be elementary music, middle school art, high school foreign language or vocational classes, and building maintenance.
“$7.7 (million) is disconcerting, and it looks like it could be very troublesome for us,” he said.
Board members expressed concern, and say they hope to rally community support for a larger local contribution. Colleen Scanlon said she wants to call parents, and encourage them to speak to the Assembly.
“The Borough Assembly is elected to do their job, but I feel they have been micromanaging this board and questioning our decisions for far too long,” she said. “There’s a time for a change. I don’t know how to do it, but I’m willing to do whatever I got to do to get that message across so that we get the funding that we need to give these kids the best possible opportunities to set them up for success when they leave our schools.”
Board Member Dave Timmerman stepped down to speak from the lectern as a citizen rather than as an elected board member. He said he wrote a letter about school funding that was published on the online site, Sitnews. Timmerman said he received some advice in a response from one Assembly member.
That member told him they needed different supporters showing up at Assembly meetings, not just teachers and parents.
“I would encourage all board members and anybody else listening to this right now to pound the pavement and get anyone in industry: Large taxpaying people, like – who knows, people who own big businesses and have big taxes with the government – those are the people that certain members of the Assembly are going to need to hear from before they’re gonna budge off their numbers stance,” he said.
Board Member Misty Archibald said she believes the proposed cut is an attempt by the Assembly to send a message to the state. For the past five years, the borough has challenged what it calls state underfunding of basic needs for schools. The borough contends that the state funding formula is unfair, especially toward organized boroughs, and violates the state constitution.
In late January, the Assembly unanimously approved a resolution to continue its challenge of state education funding.
Archibald said that cutting local funding as a political statement would be a mistake.
“I’m appalled. I really am. I’m upset as a parent, I’m livid as a board member,” she said. “Our children are the ones who are going to suffer, and our community in the future will be the ones who suffer. This is going to have an impact for years to come, and it shouldn’t happen.”
The School Board is in the middle of drafting the district’s upcoming budget. Board members encourage the public to attend and offer input. The next two budget meetings are scheduled for March 28 and 30. The time and location will be announced later.
Mt. Edgecumbe High School’s Radio Club has been named one of this year’s Spirit of Youth award winners. The Anchorage-based organization annually recognizes about twenty youth age 12-19 for improving the quality of life in their communities or solving social problems. Spirit of Youth had this to say about the Radio Club: “Mt. Edgecumbe Radio Club hosts a youth-led, hour-long monthly radio show on the local public radio station. The show connects the Sitka community to the student community, breaking down youth stereotypes.” You can hear the club at a new time beginning this weekend, 4PM on the Sunday Potluck. The club takes the slot every-other-Sunday, and offers a mixture of commentary, and live and recorded music.
The annual Girl Scouts and Girl Guides World Thinking Day is Saturday, Feb. 16, and Ketchikan Girl Scouts plan to participate.
The theme for this year’s international event is child mortality and maternal health. Participants will learn about the issues, and participate in related activities. Previous years’ themes have been combating HIV and AIDS; ending poverty and hunger; empowering girls and women; and ensuring environmental sustainability.
Girl Scouts are encouraged to focus their World Thinking Day activities on specific countries. This year’s countries are Ireland, Jordan, Malawi, Pakistan and Venezuela.
Girl Scout Troop 4071 is organizing the event for all local Girl Scouts to attend. It starts at 2 p.m. Saturday at the Holy Name Catholic Church parish hall. Participants can earn their World Thinking Day badges.
Board Member Misty Archibald joined us to talk about the Ketchikan Gateway School Board meeting for February 14, 2013. Ketchikan School Board Update 2142013
ANCHORAGE — Exxon Mobil Corp. and Russian partner Rosneft have signed an agreement that will give the U.S. company exploration access to an additional 234,000 square miles in the Russian Arctic.
A separate agreement will give Rosneft the opportunity to acquire a 25 percent interest in the Point Thompson unit on Alaska’s North Slope.
The companies also said Wednesday they will study a potential liquid natural gas project in the Russian Far East.
ANCHORAGE — Confessed serial killer Israel Keyes was mistakenly issued a razor before he committed suicide, according to a report released Wednesday by the Alaska Department of Corrections that also said “it appears that razor was not retrieved.”
The security lapse occurred when Keyes was the focus of heightened security after earlier being found with a makeshift handcuff key, the report states. He also was segregated from other inmates.