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Southeast Alaska News
FAIRBANKS — Student mentors in Lathrop High School’s Ignition program this year have an advantage over all the mentors who have gone before them — they’ve been there before.
Every high school senior knows what it’s like to be a freshman, but this year’s senior class of mentors is the first to have had mentors of their own.
Lathrop High School began its Ignition program three years ago as a way to give incoming freshmen a short adjustment period to acclimate to the pace of the high school experience.
FAIRBANKS — When Head Start programs start this fall, 139 children in Alaska — 30 of those in Fairbanks — will lose access to the early education assistance.
The statewide drop is part of a larger loss of positions for 57,000 Head Start students nationwide because of the across-the-board federal budget cuts known as the sequester.
ANCHORAGE — Implementation of Alaska’s new oil tax law is getting complaints from the people it was designed to help.
Oil industry officials say proposed new rules are confusing and may not be practical to implement.
The Anchorage Daily News reports some of the difficulty is deciding what will be considered “new oil” that gives petroleum companies the biggest tax breaks.
A new 4,500 square foot facility will soon make treatment a little bit easier for Southeast residents who’ve been diagnosed with cancer.
Dr. John Halligan came to Alaska about six years ago after serving in the Army. He’s currently the medical director for radiation oncology at the Providence Cancer Center in Anchorage. While completing medical school at the University of Washington, Halligan said he’d occasionally see patients from places like Sitka or Petersburg.
When a new cruise ship arrives in port, there are some traditional formalities. Local officials and media are invited onboard, there are snacks and speeches, plaques are exchanged, hands are shook, and then there’s a tour.
Usually, most of these things happen in a near-empty lounge while a ship’s thousands of cruise passengers are busy with their own tours of Ketchikan. But, when the small “Uncruise Adventures” ship, SS Legacy, tied up at the dock, its approximately 90 passengers were included in the ceremony.
Also attending the event was the company’s owner, Dan Blanchard.
“We are really glad to be bringing the SS Legacy back to Ketchikan,” he said when welcoming the visitors on board.
That’s right, it’s not actually the first time the Legacy has visited Ketchikan, but it is the first time in several years, and the first visit since the ship was refurbished.
In honor of that, the ship’s captain, Daniel Quinn, and Ketchikan Gateway Borough Mayor Dave Kiffer did the plaque-exchange, speeches and hand-shaking.
Saxman Mayor Joe Williams also was on board for the event, and explains that his Killer
Whale Clan recently adopted Blanchard. It turned into a learning moment for audience members, who repeated after Williams as he demonstrated some Tlingit words.
Williams, who was about to take a group of passengers on one of his popular walking tours, then sang a couple songs. The first was a Tlingit welcome song.
Traditionally, the song would continue for a couple of hours, he explains, because the singer is wearing a feather headdress, and dances as he sings. The intent is for the singer to continue until a feather has landed on everyone in the room. The second song is meant to stir up all those feathers once again.
The audience then listened to a different kind of singing, when an acapella group that had been traveling with the cruise — called Letters From Home –presented “America.”
The Legacy starts its seven-day cruises in Ketchikan, and runs to Wrangell, Petersburg, Sitka, Fredrick Sound, Glacier Bay, Haines, Skagway and Juneau. It has a Gold Rush theme, and many of the crew dress in period costumes.
One of them is Arika Gloud. She led visitors on a tour through lounges, the outdoor deck and the “owner’s suite,” which is a special large cabin on the top deck.
Two Uncruise Adventures vessels are based out of Ketchikan now, and the Legacy will join them in 2014.
“It’s not just people coming on a boat and leaving, but there’s actually income – money that gets expended at the hotels and such,” Blanchard said. “That’s a really big thing for us as a company, and I know it’s important for Ketchikan.”
Uncruise Adventures, formerly called InnerSea Discoveries, operates seven small vessels in Southeast this season. They range in capacity from 22 guests on the Safari Quest to 152 on the Wilderness Discoverer.
The Legacy’s first stop in Ketchikan was the launch of its only cruise this season, but Southeast Alaska will see the ship weekly for three months starting next June.
A candidate has thrown his name into the hat for a seat on the Ketchikan School Board and … it’s a high school senior.
Eighteen-year-old Trevor Shaw is home-schooled through the district’s Fast Track correspondence program. He also is the president of both the Ketchikan Youth Court and the United Youth Courts of Alaska.
“I keep up with current affairs. I’m very involved in local government, I attend a lot of the Borough Assembly meetings, keep up with what’s going on and education is definitely a big issue,” he said. “I just want to be involved in the decision making process for the school district.”
Shaw said he has a unique perspective to offer the School Board, which would help the board make better decisions. He said he’s looking forward to the experience.
Shaw said that if elected, he will commit to the full three-year term. After he graduates in 2014, he plans to take classes through the local University of Alaska Southeast campus.
Some issues Shaw mentioned include providing creativity, variety and opportunity to students, and securing the resources needed to fund those opportunities. He adds that he and other students are the future.
“In running, I hope to encourage other young adults, people my age, to get involved in the government process,” he said. “I am currently the youngest candidate for elected office in the state, and I think more of us need to be involved.”
As of deadline Friday, Shaw is the only candidate to file for one of the two open School Board seats. Those seats now are held by Dave Timmerman and Ginny Clay. Shaw said that Clay, who has announced she will not seek re-election, will be his campaign manager.
The deadline to file for local office is noon on Monday.
Area schools are doing… OK. Most of them fall somewhere in the middle or better-than-average range of the state’s new school evaluation system. Some schools received the top rating for this year, but a few are at the bottom.
“Those schools aren’t being crushed by some state-imposed consequences,” says Eric Fry, a spokesman for the Alaska Department of Early Education and Development. “But we couldn’t, we weren’t allowed, to create a new system for them.”
Fry says that some alternative schools, like the Ketchikan Regional Youth Facility or the Craig Alternative School that received one out of a possible five stars under the new system, were bound to receive the ratings they did because of the nature of their school population.
The spokesman told KRBD that ASPI is still constrained by federal regulations under the No Child Left Behind act, despite the state’s effort to build a different system. DEED would like to have a separate evaluation program for alternative schools, which take in students who don’t fit in with traditional institutions, but the federal government allows only one rating system for all schools.
Despite that, Fry says local populations should understand that an alternative school receiving one star doesn’t necessarily reflect on the quality of the institution.
“If the public is educated about the nature of the school, the local public should not look down on those schools, which deal with some of the most struggling students,” he says.
ASPI differs from No Child Left Behind in that it uses a variety of factors to grade schools on a scale, rather than on a simple pass/fail basis. Taking into account graduation and attendance rates, test scores and the rate of improvement, schools are given a rating from 0 – 100. That number can then be translated into one to five stars, with five as the best.
Those with three stars or fewer are required to devise an improvement plan. A number of schools in the area fall into that category, for example: Metlakatla High School, Ketchikan Charter School and Klawock City School.
Craig School District Superintendent Jack Walsh says a system that rates schools in this way is unwise. In the instance of the Craig Alternative School, which received one star, he believes it will unfairly stigmatize the institution.
“Many of these kids might have been dropouts, and now we’re asking them to go to a school with a one-star rating,” Walsh says. “And it’s just like hotels or anything else, rarely do people want to go search out places that have one star and think it’s the best place to be.”
Schools with three or fewer stars under the new system will be assigned a liaison from the state to monitor improvement. In some cases, a “coach” hired as a contractor by the state will be sent to schools with lower ratings. Those coaches work with school administrators and teachers for a week, devising strategies to improve performance.
DEED Deputy Commissioner Les Morse notes that the new system isn’t devised to punish schools with lower ratings. The objective is to locate and diagnose problems, and then devise a specific plan for individual schools that need support.
“Rather than having a blanket set of consequences that may or may not work, the consequences actually apply to where the weaknesses are after the problem is truly diagnosed,” Morse says. “It’s not that we’ve let go of consequences, we just realized that there isn’t a one-sized fits all approach.”
The new ratings system was devised because Alaska’s application for exemption from the No Child Left Behind Act was approved.
Former Mayor and namesake of Sitka’s airport, Rocky Gutierrez discusses his approach to life and politics in this 1984 interview conducted one week after he left the position of City Administrator. If you missed the Sunday broadcast, the half-hour interview is posted here, as is “Dr. White E” and an original radio play written by Sitka Soupster Will Swagel. Download here: Rocky Gutierrez Interview 1984
The second annual WardStock music festival is from noon to 9:30 pm Saturday, August 24th, at Ward Lake. Eleven local bands are scheduled to play, and bus and shuttle service will be available. WardStock organizer Bill Meck gives the details. WardStock
Next year is the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act, and to mark the occasion, the Sitka Conservation Society is putting together a film project on the wilderness. Filmmaker Ben Hamilton and Adam Andis, of SCS, explain what they’re working on.
Friends seek help for service dog’s medical bills. Pink catch rapidly nearing record. Disagreements over Parnell’s vision for Tongass. Rope jumper tries to break three records in Juneau.
Austin-based filmmaker Ben Hamilton has a knack for capturing the appeal of visiting — and living in — Southeast Alaska. The films he’s made for the Sitka Convention and Visitor’s Bureau are stunning to be sure, but often contain small, subtle portraits — of us. He made this short film for the Sitka Conservation Society. His next project: A feature-length documentary commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the 1964 Wilderness Act.
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Ben Seretan is an electric guitarist. He’s interested in what he calls “Long Music” that exists outside the limitations imposed by physical media like CD’s and records. He plays now up to 3 hours at a time in the “smokestack building” on the Sheldon Jackson Campus. He’s one of this year’s Sitka Fellows, who will be on campus through the end of the month. An “Open Studio” is scheduled for Friday evening Aug 30 for the public to view the Fellows’ work.
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Court ruling raises new questions about laws governing city land sales in Sitka. Asphalt plant fire will not delay Sitka’s street repair projects. Ketchikan police called in to quell possible riot aboard cruise ship Millenium. Glacier Bay Lodge will remain open for at least two years. State, federal officials update Petersburg assembly on transportation and power issues.
Willow, a 6-month-old golden retriever, helps a Sitka boy with his seizures and also works for Sitka Mountain Rescue as a search dog. Now, she needs help of her own.
The dog injured her shoulder, and supporters are hoping to raise $3,000 for surgery to fix the damage.
Karen Kluting trains search dogs for Sitka Mountain Rescue. She’s also the mother of 14-year-old Trevor, who experiences seizures on a regular basis. Kluting says her son and Willow have formed a strong bond.
“His seizure disorder is so rare,” Kluting said. “There are only 1,000 in the world. They’re very painful for him. Imagine your body goes paralyzed suddenly on one or both sides. It’s very stressful. She’s a calm dog in that situation and lays next to him and has, on her own, trained herself … the last partial motor seizure he had she slept with him the entire night. Just on her own, self taught.”
Kluting has organized an online fundraiser for Willow’s medical bills, and has already raised nearly half the $3,000 necessary for the dog to get surgery. She’s also holding a bake sale on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. at Wells Fargo.
She says anything raised beyond the $3,000 goal will be put into the Mountain Rescue canine program.
Incumbent Ketchikan City Council Member Matt Olsen filed for re-election Wednesday afternoon, which means there will be actual competition for the City of Ketchikan’s elected body.
There are two three-year seats open on the City Council. Olsen joins incumbent Dick Coose, who filed on Aug. 1, and Ketchikan Chamber of Commerce President Judy Zenge, who filed last week.
Olsen has been on the Council about four years. He initially was appointed to a vacant seat, then was elected to complete that term. Following that one-year stint, he ran for re-election and now is completing his first full three-year term on the Ketchikan City Council.
Olsen, an elementary school teacher, says he wants to remain on the Council because he enjoys the work.
“I’ve said it in the past, it’s kind of a selfish reason,” he said. “It helps me feel much more connected to the community that I grew up in and that I’ve lived in most of my life. I enjoy listening to folks, listening to all the options and helping with the future of the community that I grew up in and that my children are going to grow up in.”
Olsen mentioned ongoing plans to renovate Ketchikan Medical Center as one of the top projects that the City Council will have to deal with in the next few years, along with other infrastructure needs. The completed fire station and library projects are two Council accomplishments he says he’s proud of.
The Ketchikan Gateway Borough Assembly and School Board also each have two three-year terms open for the Oct. 1 election. On the Assembly, those seats are held by Alan Bailey and Bill Rotecki, and both have filed for re-election. So far, there is no competition for the Assembly seats.
As of deadline Thursday, nobody has filed for the two open School Board seats, which are now held by Ginny Clay and Dave Timmerman. Clay has announced she will not seek re-election.
The Saxman City Council has three three-year seats open, held by Joe Williams Jr., Richard Makua and Woodrow Watson. One two-year seat also is on the Saxman ballot, held by Sylvia Banie.
The deadline for candidates to file for local office is noon on Monday.
Eight Petersburg artists have been chosen to create new works for the community’s nearly-completed public library. We recently toured the facility and found out more about what’s planned.
What’s going to be on the walls — and windows and fireplace — at the Petersburg Public Library?
Borough Librarian Tara Alcock, staffer Barb Steltz and board member Anne Hurt start the tour off at the circulation desk.
Here, a curved overhead wall will be home to a work called “Tidal River,” by Susan Christensen.
“It’s a 3-D piece of fabric. So, it will have movement. And I think it hangs about 18 inches from the wall.”
So air flow, wind or people opening the door could set it into movement.
Another stop on the tour is a small conference room, with a high ceiling and a view to the outside. It will be home to a painting by Pia Reilly.
Steltz says the library’s art committee is still figuring out details.
“We’re working with Pia as to the location. We’ve got some constraints in this room. She had one idea and the art committee loved that but also had another idea. So we’re still working on that with her as where it will go and its size. And also the composition as well,” she says.
“What we liked about this wall is that it will be able to be seen with these big, beautiful windows opposite. And then it’ll be more of a piece of public art.”
The eight artworks were chosen from among 20 proposals, including some from Anchorage and Washington state.
Library board member Anne Hurt says the selection panel had a number of criteria.
“We were looking for pieces that represented Petersburg and the spaces. And of course, price is always a consideration, because we had a limited budget to work with. The budget was $50,000 for the artwork, for the whole place,” she says.
Many public construction projects require a certain amount of money to be set aside for art or architectural highlights.
Borough Librarian Tara Alcock says that wasn’t the case here.
“It comes from local donors. So there’s no percent-for-art program here. Our funding sources did not mandate the 1 percent for art,” she says.
“Ever since we began planning the library, that’s been clearly a priority of the folks who have been at the table every time we talked about it. So it was important to follow through with that,” she says.
One of the selected artists is Ross Nannauck III. He’s making a pair of Tlingit war canoe paddles.
“One will have a salmon on it. And one will have a wolf. One will be in red cedar and one will be in yellow cedar. They’ll be full-sized paddles that could be used — if anyone wanted to,” he says.
They’ll be hand-carved, using traditional Tlingit tools. Copper and abalone are part of the plan.
“They’re all my own design. Anything I do, I do original design work of my own. I try not to copy anybody and just work with whatever I feel comes to be at the time,” he says.
The paddles will be hung in a lounge area with comfortable seats, flanking a propane fireplace.
Alcock says a print of a Tlingit war canoe will be placed in the same area.
“It’s a piece that hung in the old library, in the children’s area forever. So people might remember seeing it. We’re having it cleaned up a little and framed,” she says.
A piece with a different tradition will hang nearby – a large Norwegian, rosemaled plate by Polly Koeneman.
Steltz says the children’s room, on the other side of the library, will have two paintings, one by Doris Olsen.
“In the section that’s kind of sectioned off for the older elementary (students), above the shelving there’s about a two-and-a-half foot wall space up high. And Doris is going to paint a large squid with a very big eye, because we loved how the squids have the biggest eye of any creature. And so, we thought, being for the little-bit-older kids, that they would really love something big like that,” she says.
Another work selected for the library is a triptych, or three-panel-painting, by Beth Flor. Yet another is a stained-glass work by Polly Lee and Debi McMahon. And there’s also a large, painted mural by Joe Viechnicki – yes, our Joe Viechnicki.
It’ll take a while for all to be completed and installed. But you can see them in place later this year.
The Petersburg Library Art Committee selected the following eight local artists for awards:
- Beth Flor. Triptych with the three separate panels. Location: on the curving wall near the entrance to the Large Meeting Room.
- Polly Koeneman. Rosemaled plate. Location: TBD.
- Joe Viechnicki. Mural. Location: Curved wall leading to the Small Conference Room.
- Susan Christensen. “Tidal River” fabric art. Location: Over front desk
- Ross Nannauck III. Carved paddles. Location: Adjacent to fireplace.
- Doris Olsen. Paintings. Location: Children’s area
- Polly Lee and Debi McMahon. Stained glass. Location: Entryway to Community Room (location tentative).
- Pia Reilly. Painting. Location: Small Conference Room.
JUNEAU — The Celebrity Cruises ship that returned to Ketchikan, Alaska, after experiencing mechanical issues last weekend will remain there at least until Thursday, a spokeswoman said Wednesday.
KETCHIKAN — Mitt Romney spent some time in Southeast Alaska fishing for trout and chatting up his fishing guide.
The Ketchikan Daily News reports the 2012 Republican presidential nominee didn’t catch any fish. But his fishing guide, Tom Skultka, says Romney had a good time and “was pretty talkative.”
Skultka says he picked up Romney, four friends and a bodyguard from a yacht outside the town of Petersburg last week.