Alaskan Author Don Rearden will be visiting the Haines Public Library on Friday March 14th to...
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Southeast Alaska News
ANCHORAGE — Six former police officers and three former Corrections Department employees have formally lost certification as law enforcement officers.
The Alaska Police Standards Council voted to revoke state certification for the nine at a Dec. 3 meeting in Anchorage, the Anchorage Daily News reported.
Four of the officers surrendered certification.
The Ketchikan City Council has a new member following Monday’s special meeting. In a 4-2 vote, the elected members appointed Russell Wodehouse to fill the Council’s seventh seat, recently vacated by Sam Bergeron.
Wodehouse grew up in Ketchikan and knows a lot of people here. He left town for a while, but maintained his local contacts. Now he’s moved back, and wants to get involved.
“I have friends and colleagues all over town and from every walk of life. I’m not here to represent any group or niche,” he said. “I hope if appointed to offer a voice of common sense, to ask tough questions and to weigh without any predisposition the myriad of difficulties that face this body, such as the budget shortfall, the challenges with infrastructure… power production and maintenance.”
Wodehouse said he wants to be part of overcoming those issues and planning Ketchikan’s future.
Wodehouse works at Salmon Etc., a downtown business that sells and ships seafood, particularly during the summertime. He also is a musician and graphic artist.
When asked by Council Member Bob Sivertsen about ideas for resolving fiscal challenges, Wodehouse suggested a balanced approach involving both budget cuts and revenue increases. He said a seasonal sales tax is one possibility.
Sivertsen also asked for Wodehouse’s interpretation of needs versus wants.
“Needs are things that we can’t live without; things we’re obligated to that we’ve already committed to,” Wodehouse answered. “Wants are things that would be nice if we could do this, or provide this. I think those are some of the challenges facing us right now, is looking at what wants are and distinguishing what those are, and comparing them to the needs and making some tough choices.”
Wodehouse was one of five people who applied for the job. The other candidates were former Council Member Dick Coose, who lost his bid for re-election in October; Ty Rettke, who works for the city and would have had to resign that job if selected; Mickey Robbins, who operates a bed-and-breakfast and a fishing charter business; and Jacquie Meck, who owns a local business and is involved in numerous civic organizations.
Before the candidates were interviewed by the Council, three members of the public addressed the topic. All spoke in favor of Coose.
Wodehouse was the last of the candidates to be questioned by the Council, and when he was done, Council Member Marty West quickly nominated him for the position.
“I’ve known Russell for a long time. I think he’s fair and he’ll do the work,” she said. “He’ll give everybody a fair shake. He’s smart, he listens. I don’t think he makes his mind up before he does the research on an issue.”
Council Member Matt Olsen, who seconded the motion, concurred. Also speaking in favor of Wodehouse was newly elected Council Member Judy Zenge.
The nomination passed 4-2 with Sivertsen and Council Member DeAnn Karlson voting no. City Clerk Katy Suiter immediately administered the oath of office.
After a brief break, Wodehouse took his seat for the rest of the special meeting, which was part of the Council’s ongoing 2014 budget review.
The Ketchikan City Council meets again in special session on Wednesday and Thursday, both starting at 7 p.m., and both focusing on the budget.
Petersburg wrestlers had three champions and took 2nd place overall behind host Mount Edgecumbe at Southeast Regionals over the weekend. Petersburg came within a dozen points of Edgecumbe but the Braves kept the lead and pulled ahead to finish first with 256 points over The Viking’s 200. Matt Lichtenstein checked in with Vikings Coach Ed May:
For mobile-friendly, downloadable audio, click here.
The State Wrestling Tournament starts Thursday at Anchorage’s Bartlett High School.
It looks like Petersburg’s commercial drive-down dock will be built by a local contractor for substantially less money than expected. Matt Lichtenstein attended Friday’s bid opening and has this report:
For mobile-friendly, downloadable audio, click here.
Debate coach Dan Ortiz and student Evan Wick speak about the upcoming Debate, Drama and Forensics meet at Kayhi. They are still looking for judges. Debate
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Librarian Sarah Bell and ‘super-friend’ Gus Adams discuss the $250,000 budget gap in the Kettleson Library project, and how to close it.
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Sitka Assembly to consider library design, budget when it meets in regular session tonight. A moorage rate hike is also on the agenda. Funeral procession and mass for Fr. James Blaney to take place at 11 AM today in Sitka. HIV/AIDS activist Joyce Kamwana speaks in Sitka about the role of the Global Fund.
ANCHORAGE — An 82-year-old man died Sunday in a crash on the Seward Highway south of Potter Marsh.
Anchorage police say Robert Brooks died in the crash north of McHugh Creek.
Police at 10:25 a.m. took calls reporting a crash between a pickup and a sport utility vehicle. Callers said one driver had been ejected.
FAIRBANKS — Four Alaska Air National Guardsmen have been awarded Bronze Star Medals for service on overseas missions.
The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports Maj. Matthew Komatsu, Chief Master Sgt. Paul Barendregt, Master Sgt. Kyle Minshew were honored for efforts Sept. 14, 2012.
ANCHORAGE — A 48-year-old Anchorage man will be sentenced April 4 following his conviction on sexual assault charges.
State prosecutors say Ronald McIntosh was convicted Friday of raping and assaulting a woman in April.
The trial lasted three weeks.
SUTTON — A 61-year-old Sutton man sought on a warrant for leaving the scene of an accident has been charged with felony assault and driving under the influence of alcohol following a weekend crash.
Alaska State Troopers say 61-year-old Peter E. Wilson is being held without bail at Mat-Su Pretrial Facility.
Troopers just after 11 p.m. Friday responded to a crash near Mile 53 Glenn Highway.
JUNEAU — ConocoPhillips is budgeting $1.7 billion for 2014 capital costs in Alaska, twice what it says it spent in 2012 and $600 million more than was budgeted for 2013.
The company in a release says the larger budget reflects increased spending on the long-planned CD-5 development within the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska and increased activity due to the oil tax cut passed by the Legislature earlier this year.
ANCHORAGE — Separate power outages turned out the lights for about 8,000 customers in Alaska’s two largest cities.
By late Monday morning, power had been restored to South Anchorage and the Fairbanks area, officials said.
The outage in Anchorage affected about 6,300 customers, Chugach Electric told the Anchorage Daily News.
FAIRBANKS — The Alaska Supreme Court has ruled that Alaskans must live in the state for six straight months to qualify for allowable absences to receive the annual oil dividend payments given to permanent residents.
The court, in a 3-2 decision Friday, sided with the state in a case brought by 172nd Stryker Brigade serviceman Richard Heller.
JUNEAU — Some Bristol Bay fishermen sued Monday over the sinking last June and subsequent salvage of the Lone Star, which they say leaked fuel into the water and brought salmon fishing to an early halt.
The fishermen, in a lawsuit filed in state court in Dillingham, claim future fishing seasons are likely to be hurt as well. They also allege negligence in the salvage of the vessel, which they say resulted in salmon waste being spilled into the water and washed ashore, attracting bears that broke into and damaged cabins owned by the fishermen.
The international health community is celebrating the recent announcement by the United States and others to commit $12-billion to the Global Fund.
Since its inception in 2002, the Global Fund has raised billions to treat three major killers in the developing world: HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria. Any one of these diseases is a huge problem on its own. But because HIV/AIDS weakens the immune system, many people often get all three — at the same time.
KCAW’s Robert Woolsey recently met one such person, who traveled 12 time zones to share her story.
“My name is Joyce Kamwana. I come from Malawi, which is in the sub-Saharan region of Africa.”
Joyce Kamwana is an ambassador. But she’s not the kind of ambassador who rides around in a limo with flags on the fender.
“The reason I’m here is to basically give a face and a voice to HIV/AIDS.”
Joyce traveled to Sitka to speak our local RESULTS group in support of the Global Fund. The anti-retroviral therapy she received — that saved her life — was paid for through one of the first grants to Malawi by the Global Fund.
Joyce doesn’t want to impose her religious beliefs on anyone, but she feels God has given her a second lease on life — and she’s not going to waste the opportunity, even if it means bundling up like the “Michelin woman” and speaking to a reporter in another hemisphere of this planet, who may as well live on another planet.
“I look at this as my ministry. At the same time I look at what I went through: I was someone who had gone to college. I had a well-paying job in a managerial position as a bottom-line manager at a central bank. I went through thick and thin. I went through hell.”
Joyce learned she was HIV-positive in 1988 when she was 25 years old. She had two children, and the one still breast feeding also tested positive. So did her husband. In Malawi, Joyce says, people were quick to judge.
“If somebody was HIV-positive people tend to think that you are someone of loose morals. You got it because you were promiscuous and what have you. But when I got it, I was married. I was infected on my marital bed.”
Three years later her husband developed full-blown AIDS and died.
Joyce says he died in ignorance. She does not know where he contracted the virus, but she believes that — had he known he was exposing his family to the disease through his behavior — he would have taken measures.
“And that has taught me to forgive. Not to hold a grudge against him. He died in 1991 and I’m still here to share this story.”
Her story is painful to recount. Although her husband’s behavior infected her, she was stigmatized. She lost her job at the bank. Her immune system deteriorated, and she contracted tuberculosis. Malaria, which she had fought continuously since childhood, got the upper hand.
“I literally stared death in the eye. I got very sick to the point that I would fear I was dying. I remember on several occasions when I was whisked to hospital I would hug my children and start crying, Lord, I don’t want to die because I don’t want to leave my children very young. I still have responsibilities to look after them because their father was already gone.”
She had two bouts with tuberculosis and malaria. Each would leave her seriously weakened, and unable to walk more than a few steps without resting. A simple task like lifting a pail of water was impossible — for months at a time.
Despite the social stigma, Joyce decided to be open about HIV, and joined a support group. There she learned about anti-retroviral therapy, and programs offered in Malawi sponsored by the Global Fund.
When she recovered, Joyce met friends — even family members — who told her they were sure that they would hear news of her demise any day. Joyce says that was not an uncommon attitude in Malawi: HIV is a death sentence, and you probably are getting what you deserve.
That angered her a little, because she believes death is God’s call, and no one else’s.
“That probably drove me into doing what I do now. Because I feel there are people who also need support. Somebody to talk to. Somebody to encourage them. To say, You know what? Testing HIV-positive is not the end of life. It’s actually the beginning of a new life. And I do that quite a lot: Giving hope to others.”
Joyce Kamwana is fifty years old, and happy. What I can see of her face beneath the wool scarves and hat seems to radiate joy at the prospect of giving yet another interview about her nightmare of HIV. When I ask her why, she says, “I never thought I would live this long.”
Father James Blaney, who had served as a pastor in Catholic Churches throughout Southeast Alaska for over twenty-five years, died last Wednesday, December 4, in Sitka. He was 76. The cause of death was cancer, according to family members.
Blaney had served as the pastor of St. Gregory’s Catholic Church in Sitka since 2011. Before that, he served in virtually every parish and mission in Southeast Alaska, including 12 years as the pastor of St. John’s-by-the-Sea Parish in Klawock, on Prince of Wales Island; and time in Haines, Skagway, Hoonah, Petersburg, and Wrangell.
Blaney was described by friends and family as a life-long outdoorsman who loved Alaska.
“When he came to Alaska, he said, you know, I’ve come to heaven without having to die first,” said his younger sister, Mary Johnson, of Port Orchard, Washington. “He just loved it here. Always wanted to be in Alaska.”
Father Peter Gorges of Sitka and Father Pat Casey of Juneau remembered a man who could – and would – talk to anyone.
“He was always good company,” Gorges said. “He would talk to anything that moved.”
“I think one of the unique things about him as a missionary Oblate, is that he was able to reach and talk to the most marginalized people,” Casey said.
Blaney made a point of joining the volunteer fire departments in the communities where he served, Gorges said. In Sitka, he was a part of the Coast Guard auxiliary. When a local food pantry was overwhelmed, he started a Saturday lunch for Sitka’s homeless in the church basement.
“He called them, ‘my guys,’” Gorges said.
A procession to the funeral mass was to be held on Tuesday, December 10, in Sitka, weather permitting, from St. Gregory’s Church to Harrigan Centennial Hall. Blaney will be buried on Thursday at the home of his order, the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, in Tewkesbury, Massachusetts.
Some Ketchikan residents were without water service until Monday afternoon following a water main break at the intersection of Baranof Avenue and Hill Road.
A segment of Baranof between Tower and Buren was closed while crews worked to fix the line.
Cast iron has been used for water pipes for hundreds of years, and it’s pretty durable. According to Ketchikan Public Utilities Water Division Manager John Kleinegger, if it’s properly installed and supported, it has an indefinite life span.
“There’s some cast iron in service in France that’s over 300 years old, (but) if it’s not properly supported, and through the years if the supporting material around the pipe settles in one place but doesn’t in another, that puts extra strain on the pipe,” he said. “When it gets to a certain point, it just snaps.”
That’s what happened on Baranof. The ground supporting that cast iron water main settled unevenly over the past 50 years, pressure built up, and it broke.
If all this sounds a little familiar, it’s because this issue has been in the news before.
“We probably have this discussion at least once or twice a year,” Kleinegger said.
And it will be in the news again in the future.
“Unfortunately, we probably have close to six miles of cast iron pipe still in service,” he said. “Ultimately, there will be future failures until we get rid of all of it.”
So far, Baranof isn’t at the top of the list for replacement, but Kleinegger said it might jump ahead of other projects if more failures take place.
While the broken section of pipe on Baranof has been replaced, and water is flowing to homes, there’s still a big hole in the street.
As crews finished up work on the pipe replacement, KPU Water Division Foreman David Johnston pointed out one end of the hole, which tunnels under the street. Daylight is visible from the other end.
“This whole thing was undermined,” he said, and the city had to block traffic.
Simply stated, water gushing from the broken pipe washed away all of the fill from under the street, leaving a potentially dangerous gap beneath the seemingly sturdy pavement.
It might take a couple of days before the street is again safe for vehicles.
And that replacement section of pipe is made of ductile iron, which Kleinegger said will not break.
We asked, and 101 of you answered.
Between November 25th and December 9th, we have collected responses to our Programming Survey. Please find the results below, and if you haven’t contributed to the survey yet, you can still find it here.
Thank you to everyone who participated!