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Southeast Alaska News
It all started last November when Jill “Tundra Thighs” Walker, Malika “Mafreaka” Brunette and Stephanie Sanguinetti went to one of the weekly Saturday open skates at the Ketchikan Recreation Center. They had talked about roller derby, and wondered whether they could get something like it started in Alaska’s First City.
They tried a few roller derby moves, decided they liked it and so started Rainforest Rollergirls, an all-woman flat-track league.
One of their more enthusiastic recruits, Dawn “Sea Wolf” Rauwolf, said, “It’s so much fun, it’s really good exercise and the kind of chicks who come out to play are like, they see the poster and they’re like, ‘Yeah, I want to be there!’ That’s exactly how I was. I was like, ‘OK they’re starting roller derby? I’m there.’”
Roller derby has been around for a while, and got a little boost in the 1970s when Raquel Welch starred in the cult classic “Kansas City Bomber.”
The sport is picking up again, perhaps in part due to the more recent movie, “Whip It,” with Drew Barrymore. Ketchikan is the latest community to join a growing system of Alaska roller derby leagues. The AK Roller Derby website lists 14 active leagues, not including Ketchikan, with two in Juneau and one each in Sitka, Petersburg and Wrangell.
Some of Ketchikan’s fresh meat – the term for new roller derby recruits – participated in boot camps with a Wasilla roller derby veteran. Walker said they have mini practices mid-week and full practices on Saturday afternoons.
So what’s the appeal? Why roller derby?
Part of the unique fun of roller derby is coming up with a special name. Walker laughed as she explained the origin of hers.
“My friend and I were joking around about being strippers in the North Pole, and I was like, ‘If I’m a stripper in the North Pole, my name is going to be Tundra Thighs,’ and it just translated very well into derby,” she said.
About 40 women have signed on to the league, but about half that number show up at practices. It’s a full-contact sport, so injuries do happen. There already have been some sprains and breaks, but the league is trying to keep those to a minimum.
“We have a scholarship set of gear. We’re trying to push everyone getting gear who is serious about it,” said Jennifer Hamilton. “Otherwise, you’re going to have a broken wrist when you fall down. For a rookie package, which includes all pads, skates and a mouth guard, it’s usually $350. We’ve been buying it from Shocker Khan up in the Anchorage area.”
And Jennifer’s roller derby name is: “Chupaflor Lotus. Chupaflor is hummingbird in Spanish, and hummingbirds are really fast.”
So, for those who aren’t familiar with the rules of flat-track roller derby, here’s a quick, basic tutorial: It’s an oval track, and two teams send out five women per bout. Four of those are in the pack, and one is the jammer. The jammer scores a point for each woman from the opposing team that she passes.
That means the jammer should be pretty fast and agile. Pack members block the other team’s jammer while trying to open up space for their own team member to score.
Walker predicted that she’s not going to be a jammer.
“I’m not extraordinarily fast, and not amazingly agile either, so pack is kinda where I feel I belong,” she said. “I could take up some space and booty check. That’s been one thing with these derby practices is my booty has taken on a life of its own. It’s amazing the muscles that you feel growing. You’re just like, ‘Oh my God. My legs are intense.’”
A real competition is far on the horizon for Rainforest Rollergirls. Walker guesses next fall or early winter.
Rainforest Rollergirls has an active Facebook group where organizers post information about upcoming practices and events.
A Ketchikan City Council member wants the city to establish a seasonally adjusted sales tax to take advantage of the influx of summer visitors. The Council will consider Matt Olsen’s suggestion during Thursday’s regular meeting.
The city now has a year-round sales tax of 3.5 percent. The proposal calls for abolishing that, and replacing it with a summer tax of 4 percent and a winter tax of 3 percent.
The summer tax would be April through September, effective this year.
Finance Director Bob Newell says that if such a proposal had been in place last year, the city would have collected nearly $500,000 more.
Making the new tax effective this April could be challenging for merchants. Newell suggests that if the Council wants to make the change this year, it consider an alternate July 1st start date.
Some tour operators might have a problem with implementing a new tax this year, he adds, because they already have priced their tour packages based on the 3.5 percent sales tax.
City Manager Karl Amylon suggests that if the Council adopts the proposal, additional revenue collected be dedicated to the Ketchikan Medical Center renovation project.
Also Thursday, the Council has an executive session at the end of the meeting, to discuss a lawsuit filed by Miller Construction Co. over the city’s termination of the Jackson and Monroe reconstruction project.
Thursday’s meeting starts at 7 p.m. in City Council chambers. Public comment will be heard at the start of the meeting.
Gov. Sean Parnell has ordered state flags lowered to half-staff on Thursday in honor of former State Rep. Martin “Marty” Farrell, who died at age 82 on Jan. 25 in Portland, Ore.
Parnell says that Farrell was a fair person who will be remembered for his public service.
Farrell served as a U.S. Marine during the Korean War. He moved to Alaska in 1959 to practice law. He served one term in the state House of Representatives from 1971 to 1972.
Farrell was chairman of the House Resources Committee in 1972, when the Legislature took up the first major overhaul of state regulatory and right-of-way laws following the announcement that the Trans-Alaska Pipeline would be built.
An enlisted man at Coast Guard Air Station Sitka faces charges of possessing child pornography. The Coast Guard convened a hearing in Sitka on Wednesday to hear evidence in the case.
The charges against Petty Officer Second Class James Grover include possessing child pornography and making false statements to special agents.
On Wednesday, the Coast Guard convened what’s called an Article 32 hearing. It’s similar to a grand jury in civilian court. An investigating officer, in this case Cmdr. Michael Fazio from Newport, Rhode Island, hears evidence while attorneys for the government and defense question witnesses.
Wednesday’s witnesses included the Coast Guard special agent who investigated the case, a computer forensics expert who examined Grover’s laptop computer, a doctor who determined whether the images were of underage girls, and Grover’s estranged wife.
The government says it found about 90 images or videos on Grover’s computer that raised questions. The government also says Grover was receiving money from the Coast Guard at a rate set for married members, but not sending that extra money to his estranged wife and his daughter in Florida.
Grover is represented by a military attorney and private civilian counsel. They had questions about how the evidence was handled, and the investigator’s experience dealing with child pornography cases.
After both sides call witnesses, Fazio, the investigating officer, will make a recommendation on how to handle the case to Air Station Sitka Cmdr. Ward Sandlin. It’s up to Sandlin to decide if the matter is dropped, handled administratively, or if Grover proceeds to a court martial – the military equivalent of a trial.
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ADF&G cautions against feeding swans improper foods. Lead poisoning blamed in eagle death at ARRC. Inside JazzFest, part 3: Bob Athayde says practice trumps talent. Wrangell scouts give presentation in Anchorage on invasive species eradication effort.
Alaska State Troopers are in Kake investigating a suspicious death. According to State Troopers, they received a report that a body had been discovered shortly before midnight on Tuesday.
Spokeswoman Megan Peters said Wednesday morning that the body was found in the community, but has not provided further information on the case.
According to Peters, the local EMS responded and confirmed that the individual was deceased. Peters said the Alaska State Troopers from Juneau and the Alaska Bureau of Investigation from Anchorage, along with a crime scene response team from the State Crime Detection Laboratory, responded to Kake to investigate.
She said the individual had not yet been positively identified.
There is no police department or village public safety officer in Kake, which is a remote community of about 600 people on the northwest coast of Kupreanof Island.
UPDATE: As of 5:30pm today (Wednesday, 2/6/2013), the Alaska State Troopers had not released any more information. KCAW News will continue to update this story as more information becomes available.
Alaska State Troopers are heading to Kake to investigate a death in the small, Southeast village. They received the report just after 11:30 Tuesday night. As of mid-morning (Wednesday), Troopers had not yet arrived on the scene. Spokesperson Megan Peters confirmed that a body had been found in the community but could not yet provide much information on the case.
“The local EMS responded and confirmed that an individual was deceased,” according to Peters, “Alaska State Troopers from Juneau and the Alaska Bureau of Investigation from Anchorage, along with a crime scene response team from the State Crime Detection Laboratory, are responding to Kake to investigate. The individual has not yet been positively identified. Updated information will be made available when additional information is obtained by Troopers.”
There is no police department in Kake, which is a remote community of about 600 people on the northwest coast of Kupreanof Island.
UPDATE: Peters says a trooper from Juneau has now arrived in Kake and ABI is en route.
Trish Hoover and Aftan Lynch from the Ketchikan Wellness Coalition joined us to talk about their 2012 Community Assessment Report.
Petersburg Indian Association’s tribal council welcomed administrator Bruce Jones back to the job Monday, after rehiring the former manager of the city of Petersburg and the Inter-Island Ferry Authority. The council also heard about plans for the local celebration of Elizabeth Peratrovich Day and endorsed a grant application for archiving and sharing of Tlingit culture in the community.
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Jones was fired by the tribal council in October and rehired late last month. His first full day back on the job was Monday, and he took part in Monday’s meeting of the tribal council.
“First of all Mr. Bruce Jones I would like to welcome you to PIA,” said council chair Tina Sakamoto, as council members clapped.
Jones gave a brief report and said he would start advertising this week for applicants for two jobs at the PIA. Jones said the grant writer’s job would be changed to a grants compliance officer, “Whose duties will be to research, apply for, attain grants, and once we have new grants that person will also make sure we are in compliance with them, making sure the reports are in on time, the money’s used properly and all that kind of work. So it’s gone from a 20 hour a week to a 40 hour a week job.”
The council decided to fire the organization’s grant writer at the same time it re-hired Jones. The tribal administrator also plans to seek a full-time on-site financial officer and human resources manager. This person will replace a chief financial officer who worked for the PIA from Anchorage. Jones told the council he will have people working on an interim basis in both those positions until he hires someone permanently.
In other updates, the council heard about Tlingit cultural grant programs involving the PIA and the Petersburg Public Library. A $150,000 grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services has funded a project locally called “Many Voices, One Community,” with cultural education for library programs and the schools along with community dialogue. Library employee Jessica Ieremia is the grant’s cultural and education coordinator. She sought PIA support to apply for another $150,000 grant from the same source to continue the programs funded in the first grant. Ieremia said the new project would be called “Rekindling Our Heritage, Awakening Our Future” and will focus on three different areas identified by tribal members.
“One of them is to develop and launch a digital archive for all, for the public, for everybody to access. We would like to put photographs, video, audio, information on there,” Ieremia said. “To do this would be able to allow anybody to have access to tribal information. Everybody we talked to said this was incredibly important.”
Ieremia said the other areas of focus identified by tribal members are cultural programming, or sharing Tlingit cultural knowledge and experience. The third area is rediscovery of the Tlingit culture and roots in the community.
Tribal council member Jeannette Ness commended Ieremia and the library staff for their work on the current grant. “It’s great that the whole community has an opportunity to learn about the Tlingit culture and you made efforts to sort of go outside the box and to include projects that might not have been done before,” Ness said. “So I really appreciate what you guys are doing. And I hope you’re able to continue all of those.”
The council unanimously approved a resolution supporting the new grant application in partnership with the public library. Council members Chris Lopez and Mary Ann Rainey were not at the meeting.
In other business, the council members also heard about plans for the upcoming celebration of Elizabeth Peratrovich Day, February 16. Dancers from Kake will be visiting and taking part, according to organizer Brenda Louise. “This year we hope to have you know instead of marching from Trading Union to Scandia House singing “Onward Christian Solders” we’re gonna interrupt it and have the Kake Tribal dancers perform in the center and actually kinda draw more attention” Louise said. “But we really would like to get much more communication out to our tribal members to bring regalia and bring hats and coogeinas and participate and really make this an even bigger celebration than last year.”
The parade is planned for Saturday, February 16 at 4 p.m. A potluck will follow at 5:30 at the ANB/ANS Hall.
The tribal council plans to hold future monthly meetings on the first Monday of the month at 6 p.m. in the conference room at the Hallingstad-Peratrovich building.
ANCHORAGE — The federal government said Tuesday it rejected a plan to build a road through a wildlife refuge that would have given a small Aleut village in Alaska better access to medical care.
Villagers in remote King Cove had sought the one-lane gravel road for transporting emergency medical patients to an all-weather airport in Cold Bay, but the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said it will choose the “no action” alternative to a proposed land swap for a road corridor bisecting Izembek National Wildlife Refuge.
JUNEAU — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency plans to issue a final report this year on the impacts of large-scale mining in the Bristol Bay region, regional director Dennis McLerran said.
McLerran, in prepared remarks set to be delivered Tuesday to the Alaska Forum on the Environment, said the EPA plans to release a revised draft report this spring for public comment and additional peer review. The EPA said it will consider the additional input as it prepares its final report.
JUNEAU — Gov. Sean Parnell’s plan to overhaul Alaska’s oil tax structure is a positive step toward improving the state’s business climate but there’s room for improvement, one of the North Slope’s major players says.
Labor and Workforce Development Commissioner Dianne Blumer approved NMS for the Alaska Occupational Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program renewal as a result of outstanding employee safety and health programs at the Juneau Pioneer Home.
Anchorage-based NMS provides services for the Juneau Pioneer Home, a state-run senior center, and other pioneer homes around the state.
A patient at the Alaska Raptor Rehabilitation Center in Sitka died last month, in the facility’s first-ever loss to lead poisoning.Listen to iFriendly audio.
Jen Cedarleaf is the center’s avian rehabilitation coordinator. She says the bald eagle was found ailing in Ketchikan on January 14, and delivered to Sitka for treatment the next day.
“He could not stand. He was sitting on his hocks, you might call them. He had some mucus discharge from his mouth, and he sounded very congested when he would breathe. He had a hard time keeping any fluids down that we tubed into him. And he was standing with his wings out, so that he looked like a triangle.”
Cedarleaf says this is probably what eagles to do maintain their balance when stressed.
Cedarleaf says the Raptor Center’s veterinarian, Vicky Vosburg, made her initial diagnosis based on the symptoms, and an x-ray confirmed it.
“Well he had three little pieces of lead in his stomach when we first x-rayed him. When we x-rayed him the next day, two of the pieces had passed, and he had only one left.”
Cedarleaf says it’s impossible to know how much lead the eagle originally ingested – or where the lead came from. The pieces were too small to be identified as fragments of a bullet, fishing lure, or something else entirely. She says that just because lead poisoning in eagles is rarely seen in Alaska, it doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily rare everywhere. The raptor center in Minnesota, she says, sees several cases each winter.
“I think the reason we don’t see them is because we live in such a huge state. There’s so much wilderness. The birds could ingest the lead, fly off, and it doesn’t affect them for maybe a week.”
There are drug therapies for lead poisoning, but the Raptor Center had none because cases are so few and far between. It probably would not have mattered. Cedarleaf says surgery also wasn’t an option, since the bird was too far gone. It died on January 17, two days after arrival.
“If I never see another eagle die from lead poisoning again it will be too soon, because it was just not a fun thing to watch this poor bird suffer, knowing that there’s nothing you can do.”
Area management biologist Phil Mooney says the department regularly hears from people wondering if it’s all right to feed the swans that stop in at Swan Lake downtown. Mooney says the department officially discourages the feeding of any wild animal, but he understands that people are drawn to the huge trumpeters, and the birds – though wild – have also adapted to being fed.
The swans that visit Sitka are wild, and can fend for themselves. For a beautiful look at the swans in the Starrigavan Valley, check out this film from Sitkan Adam Andis.
The problem? The swans are receiving too much food that is not compatible with their wild diets. Bread, chips, cakes, cookies, and other processed foods are all tasty to people, but swans – especially juveniles – cannot tolerate sugar, starches, and fats in these forms.
Juvenile swans start out feeding on macro-invertebrates, and then graduate to aquatic plants. Mooney says that late-hatching swans may not have fully adapted to this change by the time they arrive on the lake. Giving them the wrong food at this point may be harmful.
Mooney advises people who want to feed the swans to think about dark lettuces, spinach, and alfalfa sprouts. Chopped celery, carrots, or potatoes are fine, as are grains like whole oats, brown rice, lentils, split peas, and cracked corn – which is available at the local pet store.
And while it’s not illegal to feed the swans, it is against the law to harass them or the other waterfowl on the lake. That means keeping dogs out of the immediate area. Mooney also recommends giving the swans room to feed without stress. He says if you want a good closeup photo, use a telephoto lens.
The chancellor and provost of the University of Alaska Southeast appeared Tuesday to make presentations on their school before a subcommittee led by Rep. Cathy Muñoz, R-Juneau, that is tasked with looking at the University of Alaska budget schedule.
Last week, the Sitka Jazz Festival brought students and professional jazz musicians together for workshops and concerts. In a series of audio postcards, KCAW gives you a behind-the-scenes look at the event.
Bob Athayde is the music director at Stanley Middle School in Lafayette, California and the recipient of numerous awards for outstanding teaching. He led a workshop at Sitka High, where students from across Southeast Alaska learned about the art of improvisation.
In this audio postcard, Athyade talks about the importance of practice and how he hopes to inspire students to pursue music.
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Last week, the 2013 Sitka Jazz Festival brought students and professional jazz musicians together for workshops and concerts. In a series of audio postcards, KCAW takes you behind the scenes to show you what was happening when audience wasn’t there.
Today, renowned jazz singer Barbara Morrison talks about her favorite song, “Never Let Me Go,” written by Ray Evans, and tells us what the love ballad means to her.
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Petersburg’s assembly is asking the Southeast Alaska Power Agency to follow the state’s open records and meetings laws, like the municipalities that created the organization. Petersburg assemblyman John Hoag brought the issue up during a regular assembly meeting this week:
“I am quite concerned about what I have read and been told about SEAPA not recognizing that it is a public agency and should be conforming to both the public meetings and public records law. I mean this is an agency that has been created by other public agencies for the sole purpose and very critical purpose of looking at coordination of power issues throughout Southeast.”
SEAPA’s bylaws require adherence to the state’s open meetings act and SEAPA meetings are advertised and open to the public. However, the bylaws do not address public records. In response to media requests for documents last month, SEAPA staff members asserted that under state statute’s, SEAPA is not actually a public agency, so it does not have to make its records public. The agency did release its bylaws and a variety of other documents after KFSK public radio and The Wrangell Sentinel expressed concern to the SEAPA board.
During Monday’s assembly meeting in Petersburg, Hoag said public disclosure was a state requirement and should not be a matter of discretion on SEAPA’s part. For Hoag, who is an attorney, the issue was particularly important as the region looks to develop new power projects.
“Expansion of Southeast Alaska’s hydro capabilities is probably the most crucial long-term economic development item we have with the ferries coming in perhaps a close second. And for an agency that is an intergovernmental agency in essence to say that they are not subject to public records and public meetings law, to me, flies in the face of Alaska law and common sense,” Hoag said.
Mayor Mark Jensen agreed and noted that Petersburg was not the only SEAPA community with these concerns. SEAPA owns the two, main hydro-electric plants and lines that power Petersburg, Wrangell, and Ketchikan.
The board is made up of representatives from each town. Some board members have also spoken in support of transparency and have called for more discussion on the issue. SEAPA is considered a Joint Action Agency under state law. Such agencies have the powers of a public utility. They can finance, build and operate power plants and transmission lines but, according to statute, they have a separate and independent legal existence from the public utilities they serve.
At Hoag’s request, the assembly unanimously agreed to have the Mayor send a letter to SEAPA, asking that the agency abide by the state’s open meetings and open records laws. SEAPA CEO Trey Acteson was not available for an interview for this story on Tuesday.