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Southeast Alaska News
ANCHORAGE — A 57-year-old Anchorage minister has been charged with possession and distribution of child pornography.
Ronald Paul Rathbun Sr. was arrested Nov. 26 at his home in east Anchorage. Police announced the arrest Monday.
The Anchorage Daily News (http://bit.ly/1bbO2bL) reports Rathbun is a pastor at Eternal Love Ministry, which is housed in a one-story building in Boniface Plaza.
FAIRBANKS — A Fairbanks man looking for a piece of pie the day after Thanksgiving has been charged with felony burglary and assault.
Fairbanks police say 26-year-old Kyle David Wilcox unsuccessfully tried to talk an east Fairbanks apartment neighbor into sharing an apple pie, and after a fight broke out, both received minor stab wounds.
The man with the pie told police that Wilcox appeared to be drunk as he sought a piece of the pie and forced his way into the apartment with another man.
ANCHORAGE — A strong sockeye salmon run is forecast for Upper Cook Inlet next year.
The 2014 forecast by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game expects 6.1 million sockeyes, or red salmon, according to the Alaska Journal of Commerce (http://is.gd/Ozcoky).
The forecast, released last month, also includes a predicted range of between 4.4 million to 7.8 million sockeyes.
At the 6.1 million level, Fish and Game calls for a total harvest of 4.3 million sockeyes and an escapement of 1.8 million fish to all rivers, mainly the Kenai River.
JUNEAU — Gov. Sean Parnell says he’d like to see state spending well below current levels for the upcoming fiscal year.
Parnell is expected to release his budget proposal next week.
He says revenues are expected to be lower because of lower oil prices and declining production. The Legislature earlier this year passed an oil tax cut aimed at spurring more production. Critics said the cut could put the state treasury at risk but Parnell says the revenue coming in under the new tax will be comparable to that of the old system at current prices.
Petersburg is starting the design process for major renovations at the police station and municipal building. The borough assembly on Monday decided to hire an architecture firm for the work. Matt Lichtenstein reports:
For mobile-friendly, downloadable audio, click here.
ANCHORAGE — A 55-year-old Ketchikan resident has been charged with assaulting a federal officer.
The U.S Attorney’s Office says John William Munhoven is charged with kicking a Coast Guard officer in the face.
He was arrested Saturday and arraigned Monday in Juneau.
Assistant U.S Attorney Jack S. Schmidt says the Coast Guard contacted Munhoven on Sept. 2 while responding to a disturbance on a private boat outside of Ketchikan.
Munhoven was placed on a patrol vessel and eventually into restraints.
Petersburg’s borough assembly this week ordered the owner of a dilapidated house that the borough has deemed “dangerous” make repairs or tear it down within a month. The decision came after a lengthy hearing on the issue as well as a closed-door executive session. Matt Lichtenstein reports:
For mobile-friendly, downloadable audio, click here.
FAIRBANKS — An Alaska woman who had threatened suicide was saved from death when firefighters in the bucket of a platform truck caught her as she dropped from an eighth-story window.
The drama occurred Monday morning outside the Northward Building in downtown Fairbanks.
Police and firefighters took a call at 9:15 a.m. that a woman was threatening to jump from an apartment, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported (http://bit.ly/1cSebvK).
The woman is in her mid-30s. She does not live in the building, police Lt. Matt Soden said.
What do the Space Needle, Sitka Sound Science Center, and Cafe Juanita in Kirkland, Washington have in common? They all carry artisanal salt made by Alaska Pure. The Sitka company’s sea salts are designed around flavors reminiscent of Southeast Alaska. In 2013 their wild blueberry sea salt captured a national taste-test award.
The Egyptians revered the pyramid shape in part because they believed it to be the shape of the primordial mound from which the Earth was created.
Jim: This is where the salt gets made. [ROLLING DOOR UP]
Jim and Darcy Michener love the pyramid because…
Darcy: When you bite into it, it kind of yields a fine crunch.
It refers to artisanal finishing salt – the kind that’s sprinkled on a dish right before it’s served. Their attention to detail won the Micheners a national taste-testing award from Cooking Light magazine. The editors wrote:
“It’s hard to know which is more divine; this salt’s texture or its vivid hue. The gorgeous flat flakes are delicate on the palate, shattering beautifully with the faintest pressure. It’s nice, clean salt flavor has just a hint of fruity acidity. Equally striking sprinkled on scallops, dusted on a cookie or clinging to the rim of a margarita glass.”
Jim: If you look closely enough you can see little inverted pyramids floating on the surface. And they start out as a minuscule speck and they grow, and grow, and grow. When they get large enough and heavy enough they sink down to the bottom.
EF: And this is your day job? This is your everything right now?Jim: This is our everything.
Jim: So once the salt is made and we harvest, it drains.
Jim: And it just looks like freshly fallen snow.
EF: It looks like the kind of snow that if you were to visit Santa at the mall…
Jim: Yes, we think it would be great for movie sets.
The love affair with salt production started as a happy accident on their honeymoon. They left salt water evaporating on a wood stove too long and crystals formed. From then on it was long, slow, not always scientific process. Back breaking at times. For the first six years they lugged five gallon jugs of water from the harbor…
Jim: Ten five gallon jugs in the morning, ten five gallon jugs in the evening.
Everyday. The hard part was nailing down all the variables, and figuring out how to replicate the experiment for quality and consistency.
Jim: I would say its 70% science and 30% art. I mean it really is an art to learning what your salt is doing. Like a living thing, and nurturing it, making sure the conditions are right.
The Micheners described their first night after they made the leap to the large scale production facility that they operate now. They couldn’t make a single grain of salt. They say that night really tested their marriage
EF: I’m curious too in what ways this has shaped your relationship?
[SILENCE FOLLOWED BY LAUGHTER]
Jim: Uhh, good communication is key.
Jim and Darcy seem to have found the right balance – both with salt production and their partnership.
Jim handles the mechanics and Darcy handles taste – for instance how the blueberry salt finishes on your palate.
EF: Does the blueberry taste like blueberry?
Darcy: It does, if you don’t have a real discerning palate some people can’t pick that up. A lot of people will taste salt and say oh it tastes like salt. Well of course it tastes like salt first, you’re going to get salt first. But if you let it sit for a minute you will get a real bright acidity to it and a real berry flavor. It’s undeniable in my opinion.
What some might consider just flavored salt flakes, the Micheners believe are tiny monuments to the natural environment of Southeast Alaska. Pyramids for the Last Frontier.
We were able to fix computer and equipment problems that began in the early morning hours. KRBD is back on the air. Thank you for your patience.
JUNEAU — The state has finalized rules to help determine what oil qualifies for special tax breaks under Alaska’s new oil tax law.
The law championed by Gov. Sean Parnell and passed by the Legislature earlier this year is aimed at spurring more production. Alaska relies heavily on oil revenues to run state government, but oil production has long been on a downward trend.
ANCHORAGE — One-fourth of the students in the Anchorage School District changes schools every year and the disruption creates ongoing problems for teachers and pupils, according to administrators.
The rate at some schools is 50 percent in neighborhoods where a hike in rent might mean uprooting a family. Transiency has become one of the district’s most pervasive problems, the Anchorage Daily News reported.
“It affects everything,” said Daniel Barker, principal of Fairview Elementary, where transiency exceeded 30 percent in the latest available numbers.
KODIAK — A Kodiak woman who had not seen her daughter in almost a year and a half surprised the sophomore basketball player at her game in Minnesota for an emotional reunion.
Sina Timu surprised her daughter, Puni, an hour before tipoff at Minnesota State University, Moorhead, on Nov. 21. Puni attends the University of Jamestown in North Dakota.
“For me, it was like, ‘Oh, my God. I can’t believe she is here. I don’t think this is real,’” Puni said.
ANCHORAGE — Federal responders said Monday it was too early to know what caused a commuter plane to crash in remote southwest Alaska, killing four people and injuring another six on board.
The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the crash Friday of the Hageland Aviation Cessna 208 turboprop a mile southeast of the village of Saint Marys.
WASHINGTON — Democrats running for re-election in Arkansas, Louisiana and other Republican-leaning states faced enough problems before President Barack Obama’s popularity swooned in November. Now they are awkwardly distancing themselves from him a year before the election, seeking the right balance between independence and betrayal.
A popular president can help his party’s candidates for Congress and governor candidates in mid-term elections. But Democrats increasingly worry they could suffer losses, much as they did in 2010, Obama’s first mid-term elections.
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.