Ruth Moody will be giving a free vocal workshop this Sunday at the AB Hall in Skagway. This...
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Southeast Alaska News
Several Ketchikan residents and businesses were without power Sunday night through Monday afternoon after a transformer blew in the Hopkins Alley area. The outage occurred sometime after 5:30 pm last night. Andy Donato is Ketchikan Public Utilities’ acting electric division manager. He says, due to weight limits on the Hopkins Alley trestle, KPU crews were not able to access the failed transformer last night.
“We thought those load limits were in the area of 5000 to 6000 pounds. I’ve got a GMC Yukon, that’s 8000 pounds, so I couldn’t even drive that on there. There would be no way we could get our bucket trucks there to do the line work. We resolved we were going to see about availability of a man lift that could make the weight restrictions and get on to that today, so that’s what we’re waiting on. Then we’ll disconnect the transformer and then reconnect to an alternate source and power up those buildings.”
Donato says 19 customers, both homes and businesses, were affected. He says crews were able to restore power to a few customers by Sunday night, but most remained without power overnight. Donato says power was restored to the entire area a little after noon on Monday.
Donato says KPU was busy with other calls over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. On Thanksgiving morning, power was down in a portion south of town when an eagle struck a power line.
“And that didn’t cause too much trouble or disruption. Probably most noteworthy was Trident Foods. They were out of service. We got them reconnected, and we also recovered the eagle. We keep those birds and send them in with reports. We try to find those locations on the lines where these happen frequently and use some sort of avian deterrent.”
He says there are several methods of deterring birds from flying into lines or resting and perching on them. He says he is reviewing new methods that might work best in this area.
There was also an outage 14 miles north that crews were still working on Monday. The outage was reported Sunday morning. Donato says that problem is due to snow-covered tree boughs.
In the event of an outage, KPU asks customers to contact the Bailey Power Plant at 225-4011. If no one answers, it is likely crews are busy working to restore power.
The Ketchikan Community Foundation recently received $50,000 from the Rasmuson Foundation. Board Chair Tom Schulz says the Ketchikan foundation was able to receive the matching grant after raising $25,000 locally.
“We had a founding donors program this year which will end on December 31st. We will have raised more than $25,000 by the end of the year, but will have a different program next year. We’ll be reaching out to different people and different organizations to help us build that endowment fund.”
Schulz says donations so far have come from a variety of individuals and businesses with amounts ranging from $50 to $5000. Now that the organization has more than $75,000, Schulz says funds should soon be available to assist other Ketchikan non-profits.
“The money that’s raised is deposited in an investment account that is managed by the Alaska Community Foundation. Each year we get the income from that account. We get 4 percent that we can award to non-profits in Ketchikan to help them out with whatever projects we approve.”
He says the foundation hopes to continue to raise more local funds.
“The Ketchikan Community Foundation, one of its main tasks, as I see it, is to grow that account every year. We try to add to that every month. We try to raise money that gets deposited in that account. That money is invested and the principal just stays there and grows. We don’t spend the principal. We award a percentage of the profits and that money comes back to Ketchikan.”
Schulz says a process for distributing funds to local non-profits has not yet been established, but is under development.
In addition to the matching grant, Rasmuson also gave the local foundation $5,000 that can be used immediately. Schulz says, based on comments received during a meeting in September, the money will likely be used for board training.
“There were a number of non-profits represented there and one of the things that we heard over and over was a desire to have board training available to new board members, and also to help them work on a project that they are having trouble putting together. Right now we’re in the process of getting proposals from several facilitators for board training. We’re going to try to do that in January, but there are a lot of details to be worked out yet.”
The Ketchikan Community Foundation was established less than a year ago and is an affiliate of the Alaska Community Foundation. Its mission is to raise donations to support a long-term philanthropic fund for Ketchikan.
Update: The ferry LeConte is ready to carry paying passengers again.
State transportation officials say the Juneau-based ship will leave Friday, Dec. 6, for Haines and Skagway. It will return to its home port later that day.
They say repairs on the ship’s bow thruster are complete. The LeConte went into drydock in Ketchikan for repairs.
The vessel has been off its schedule since the day before Thanksgiving.
Sailings go to Angoon and Tenakee on Saturday. Sunday is another Haines-Skagway run. And its Monday sailing is to Gustavus and Hoonah.
The bow thruster is scheduled to be replaced next winter.
Earlier update: The ferry LeConte will return to service at least a day later than expected.
Alaska Marine Highway officials say Thursday sailings have been canceled due to ongoing bow-thruster repairs. That was the day it was expected to sail again.
The LeConte is scheduled to complete sea trials late Wednesday, Dec. 4.
If it passes, the ferry will then head back to Juneau, where it’s based.
Officials say service could begin Friday.
The vessel has been off its schedule since the day before Thanksgiving.
The LeConte is the only ferry serving Gustavus, Hoonah, Tenakee Springs and Angoon. It sails to Haines and Skagway, which are also served by the ferry Taku.
Earlier report: The small ferry LeConte will remain out of service until Thursday.
The Alaska Marine Highway vessel has not sailed passenger runs since the day before Thanksgiving. The problem is a broken bow thruster, which maneuvers the front of the vessel during dockings.
Alaska Transportation Department spokesman Jeremy Woodrow says the LeConte is in drydock at the Ketchikan Shipyard.
“The repair plan is a little more extensive than maybe they originally thought before putting it in drydock. They realized there are some issues where they’re trying to solve the roots of the problem so this doesn’t recur before replacing the entire bow-thruster system,” he says.
Similar breakdowns last summer cancelled several days of sailings. The full thruster replacement is scheduled for the winter of 2014-2015.
The LeConte is the only vessel running to Gustavus, Hoonah, Tenakee Springs and Angoon. The Juneau-based ferry also sails to Haines and Skagway. The ferry Taku serves those communities too and added runs to help fill in the gaps.
An updated schedule is online at FerryAlaska.com. There’s a link on our website.
Woodrow says it’s no surprise the unit is having problems.
“The bow thruster is original to the ferry. And so it is an old part, or old unit,” he says.
The LeConte is nearly 40 years old. It can carry up to 35 vehicles and 300 passengers.
Steve Kinney of the Ketchikan Community Chorus speaks with Gregg Poppen on KRBD’s Morning Edition about the “American Christmas” concert December 7th and 8th. 02chorus
KODIAK — A Kodiak woman carried out a well-kept secret by showing up unannounced in Minnesota for a reunion with her daughter, a sophomore at the University of Jamestown in North Dakota.
Sina Timu surprised her daughter, Puni, an hour before the tipoff of her junior varsity women’s basketball game at Minnesota State University-Moorhead. The Nov. 21 reunion was the first time mother and daughter had seen each other in almost a year and a half.
PALMER — A Palmer man suspected of driving drunk with a gun and children in his pickup has been charged with felony driving under the influence.
Alaska State Troopers say 33-year-old Joseph Cleaver was also charged with weapons misconduct and child endangerment.
Troopers say a passenger, 30-year-old Darren Hildebrand of Anchorage, was also intoxicated. He was charged with weapons misconduct and endangering the welfare of a child.
A caller at 10 p.m. Sunday reported seeing a truck weaving near Palmer.
ANCHORAGE — Anchorage School District officials say nearly one-fourth of the student population changes school locations annually.
The Anchorage Daily News (http://bit.ly/1htbWEO) reports switching schools often happens when parents move to different homes because rent has increased or other reasons connected to poverty.
Some schools have a turnover rate of 50 percent.
A committee reviewing Petersburg’s sales tax law was not too interested last week in raising the 12-hundred dollar tax cap for local purchases. That committee is trying to come up with recommendations for increasing or keeping stable sales tax revenue for the borough. A discussion in January could generate a little more debate, as that group plans to review the local exemption for senior citizens. Joe Viechnicki reports.
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Petersburg’s sales tax cap is 12-hundred dollars. Customers pay a six percent sales tax on purchases up to, but not beyond, that amount. That means for large purchases, the most the borough collects is 72 dollars.
It’s the same cap for Wrangell. Sitka’s is $1,500 while Ketchikan is at $1,000 and Juneau is at $7,500.
At a meeting last Tuesday, Committee member Nancy Strand was interested in an increase. “I say let’s raise it, let’s recommend raising it,” Strand said. When asked what the cap should be, she replied that $7,500 sounded good. Others on the committee were opposed to that increase and thought it would be passed by local voters.
A ballot question to raise the cap from $1,200 to $1,700 failed last year but the margin was only six votes. Voters agreed to raise the cap in 2002 from $1,000 to the current level of $1,200.
Committee member Fran Jones wanted to leave the cap where it is. “We’re more competitive with these other small communities if we just stay where we’re at. I feel like if we raise it we’re gonna shoot ourselves in the foot.”
Others on the committee agreed with Jones and did not want to recommend a cap increase. Finance director Jody Tow pointed out some looming impacts to borough finances. One was a plan to move more of the state raw fish tax revenue from the borough’s general fund to the harbor department. Another was the increasing portion of Petersburg’s population over the age of 65, that will qualify for a sales tax exemption. “Well and I just wanna point out too that the seniors are getting older so there’s going to be more exemptions,” Tow said. “Those are gonna increase. And the point of the sales tax committee is to keep sales tax level. So what are you proposing to do to even that out?
Instead of focusing on the overall $1,200 cap, Jones was more interested in looking at a different exemption in the code. That sets a $1,200 cap for items purchased in one store over a 24-hour period. “Instead of holding a slip for a 24-hour period for all the crew to come in at different times of the day and buy gear and boots and rain gear, whatever, and then just keep adding it on, have the businesses ring it through as they purchase and collect the sales tax on it,” Jones said. “That was one of the things I never did like and that was created because they were getting around it by holding the slip , the charge slip.”
Committee chair Sue Flint responded that businesses could only hold a charge slip for 24-hours. Committee members wanted to hear more input about removing that exemption and held off on making a recommendation.
The committee will tackle the senior tax exemption at a meeting in early January. That meeting is planned for January 3rd in borough assembly chambers.
FAIRBANKS — Rural Fairbanks power customers will be receiving good news on their December electric bills.
Golden Valley Electric Association projects a $4 decrease in bills for an average customer because of lower fuel expenses.
The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner (http://bit.ly/1eIVrAL) reports fuel and the cooperative’s purchase power charge have dropped by 24 percent in two years.
Wind power, declining oil prices and cheaper natural gas power purchased from Anchorage’s Chugach Electric have helped lower expenses.
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Tlingit action-figure workshop attracts interested kids. Over 70 concerned seniors listen to proposed changes to Social Security in Ketchikan. World Aids Day 2013: How is Alaska doing?
KENAI — As the bell rings at Kenai Middle School, the students in Tyler Schlung’s Northern Lights class file into their seats. Their task for the day is to watch their most recent show production and critique it.
KODIAK — For the past 20 years, Marsha Galloway has been trying to create a memorial to her father.
On Dec. 13, the state of Alaska will decide whether or not to name an unlabeled creek near Chiniak School in honor of Richard Weisser. If approved, Weisser Creek would immortalize the name of a 32-year Kodiak Island resident who fought to open Chiniak land to settlement.
KENAI — The Sterling Highway, which serves as the southern Kenai Peninsula’s road connection to the rest of the state, is inching closer to the edge of the bluff as soil falls away at a rate of about 1 foot annually.
While Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities spokesperson Jill Reese said the erosion at Milepost 153.3, between Happy Valley and Anchor Point, doesn’t pose as an immediate threat, DOT&PF plans to begin construction as early as spring 2014 keep the highway out of jeopardy.
ANCHORAGE — Replacing the troubled Tustumena ferry, which was out of commission for nearly a year, is the top priority of the Marine Transportation Advisory Board, the group’s chairman says.
Chairman Bob Venables, of Sitka, said at a recent board meeting that the Tustumena is important to the transportation infrastructure of Western Alaska. The vessel returned to service last month, six months later than expected.
ANCHORAGE — Federal investigators on Sunday started documenting the wreckage of a plane crash in remote southwest Alaska that killed four people and injured six Friday night.
A break in weather conditions allowed two investigators — from the National Transportation Safety Board and the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration — on Sunday to reach the scene where a single-engine aircraft went down near the village of Saint Marys, said Clint Johnson, the chief of the NTSB’s Alaska regional office.
ANCHORAGE — An Anchorage home-health business has been stripped of its billing privileges as some of its caregivers are suspected of Medicaid fraud.
Thirty-nine caregivers with Good Faith Services are charged with counts including medical assistance fraud, the Anchorage Daily News reported.
John Skidmore, director of the criminal division with the state Department of law, said 10 people have been convicted and sentenced, 23 are still going through the court system and six have not yet appeared before a judge.
ANCHORAGE — A long-awaited snowmaking system covering cross-country ski trails at Kincaid Park is now functioning, but at much less than its planned capacity.
The system only can support about one-third of its 17 snow guns at one time, according to Dick Mize, a board member of the nonprofit responsible for the project’s construction. And it’s still not ready to hand it off to the Nordic Skiing Association of Anchorage, which will ultimately maintain and operate the system.
KENAI — A staffing shortage has prompted the state disaster office to push back the start date for October Kenai flooding victims to register for individual grant assistance.
The Alaska Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management said Tuesday they now plan to open disaster assistance centers, as well as online and telephone registration during the week of Dec. 8, the Peninsula Clarion reported. Officials had initially planned to do so the week of Dec. 2.
A new ballot group has been created to defend Senate Bill 21 against repeal efforts. The Make Alaska Competitive Coalition — which has advocated for changes to Alaska’s oil tax structure since 2011 — announced Wednesday the creation of Keep Alaska Competitive — Vote No on 1 group.
House democrats are hoping for a more thorough and public conversation about education funding in the upcoming session.
Rep. Harriet Drummond — a Democrat from Anchorage — said she’d like to see the issue of education funding, particularly a bill aimed at increasing the base student allocation (BSA), be dealt with during the first two weeks of the session.
“I’d call attention to it and get people to sit up and take notice,” Drummond said. “I can see that we waited too long last year.”