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Southeast Alaska News
ANCHORAGE — Alaska labor officials have dropped statewide preferential hiring of residents for public jobs, saying that including larger cities can no longer be justified because they have healthier economies than communities still eligible for employment preference.
Officials said 15 areas still qualify as “zones of underemployment” because their unemployment rates are at least 10 percent higher than the national rate.
Under state law implemented in mid-1980s, those zones qualify for at least 90 percent of state jobs in various trades.
KAKE — Gary Williams fears that the historic Keku Cannery in Kake might collapse at any time. An earthquake in January gave him cause for alarm. Fortunately, the dilapidated landmark survived. Two of the main cannery buildings have already come down because of natural events: one in 2007 because of heavy snow load and the other in 2011 because of high winds.
This report contains information provided to the Empire from law enforcement agencies. This report includes arrest and citation information, not conviction information. Anyone listed in this report is presumed innocent.
• At 3:46 a.m. Saturday, JPD continued an investigation into a reported burglary in the 100 block of Franklin Street.
• At 3:58 p.m. Friday, JPD continued an investigation into the report of counterfeit money in the 200 block of Main Street.
Bradshaw turned in his letter to the Sitka School Board at their regular meeting Thursday evening (8-15-13). His resignation will be effective at the end of the coming school year, on June 30, 2014.
Bradshaw has been superintendent in Sitka for 13 years. The average length of a superintendency in Alaska is 2.7 years.
Prior to becoming superintendent, Bradshaw was principal of Sitka High School for three years. He’s also worked many years in both Metlakatla and his home state of Montana.
Bradshaw says the key to his longevity in Sitka has been his bosses. He says he couldn’t have asked for better people on the school boards he’s worked for.
“I’ve seen a lot of boards in my 38 years now that get on there because they’ve got kind of an axe to grind. I haven’t seen that here in Sitka. It’s been about kids. It’s not that there haven’t been some who have gotten on because they think, That needs to change. For the most part, they get on and they stay on for a while.”
During his tenure, Bradshaw’s seen the overall size of the district shrink by around 400 students, but he says he’s also fortunate that state funding has gradually ticked upwards. Nevertheless, he feels there’s some work he’s leaving unfinished in Sitka.
“The dropout rate still bothers me. I don’t like to lose kids. I kind of take it personally sometimes. That’s a big issue.”
And the dropout rate, according to Bradshaw, is not an isolated problem. It’s linked to how prepared for school kids are. And that, he believes, is linked to economics.
“The number one factor is poverty. We see on television, hear on radio, read in the newspapers that the gap is widening. And I don’t think people really understand — last year we had 30 homeless students kids in this school district — in Sitka! 30 homeless children. I believe that in this country we’re losing our middle class. I’m not blaming anybody. I’m saying that’s the reality we’re faced with.”
Bradshaw also says he’s surprised by the diversity in the district, by the number of languages spoken — but immigration, though an overall positive for the community, comes with a downside.
“Parents are working two and three and four jobs just to survive. And so the time spent with children — it’s not like it was when I was a kid where mom stayed home with kids all the time. It’s just not that way anymore.”
Bradshaw has a combined 19 years in education Alaska, and 19 years at teaching or administrative jobs in Montana. He says he’s not retiring, but a new plan has not taken shape. He recently was one of eight semi-finalists for the job of Sitka municipal administrator. He didn’t get that job, but that doesn’t mean he won’t stop thinking about a new direction.
“I’m fascinated by the future. As has been pointed out to me many times, I’m pretty passionate about education, I just may look at it in a different role. I just know that it was time for me to do something different. I really have no plan set forward. I have a grandchild now in Juneau, so that may impact my wife’s and my decision. I think that whatever I do I’m hoping that it has something to do with helping kids in some fashion.”
Bradshaw’s wife Sandy is a teacher at Keet Gooshi Heen elementary school in Sitka. He says she’ll retire when he leaves the district. One thing is for sure, Bradshaw is not going to become a commercial fisherman. He says, “I’m about the worst boatsman out there!”
The Ketchikan City Council now has two candidates for the two open seats.
Incumbent Dick Coose filed for re-election as soon as the filing period opened on Aug. 1, and political newcomer Judy Zenge filed on Friday.
Coose, who is completing his sixth year on the Council, said he wants to continue keeping city costs under control while improving operations.
“We need to watch raising rates on everything, especially property taxes and the possibility of sales taxes,” he said. “It’s a matter of looking after the city budget and keeping it lean.”
Zenge, who is the president of the Greater Ketchikan Chamber of Commerce and a former First City Players board member, said she’s passionate about Ketchikan, and gaining a seat on the Council would be a way for her to participate.
“I enjoy living in our community, and I think that I have something to offer,” she said.
Both Coose and Zenge mentioned the planned Ketchikan Medical Center renovation as a priority project for the city in the coming year.
There are two three-year terms open on each the Assembly, School Board and City Council. On the Assembly, those seats are held by Alan Bailey, who has filed for re-election, and Bill Rotecki, who has not yet filed.
On the School Board, the open seats are held by Ginny Clay, who has said she will not seek re-election, and Dave Timmerman, who has not yet filed.
On the Council, the seats are held by Coose and Matt Olsen, who has not yet filed.
The filing period for candidates seeking those seats ends August 25. In Saxman, the filing period for that City Council ends at noon on Aug. 26. The Saxman Council has three three-year seats open, and one two-year seat.
The local election is October 1.
A project that would expand the community’s hydroelectric capacity is the City of Ketchikan’s top priority for state funding following Thursday night’s City Council meeting. The Council also heard some concerns from Manager Karl Amylon about the city’s sometimes contentious relationship with the Ketchikan Gateway Borough.
The No. 1 project on the city’s legislative priority list is a $12 million expansion of the Swan Lake reservoir, with hopes that such an expansion would reduce the amount of diesel burned when lake levels are low.
Trey Acteson, CEO of the Southeast Alaska Power Agency – which owns the Swan Lake facility – spoke in favor of the project. He said that once completed, it would offset up to 500,000 gallons of diesel generation, and the average diesel use in Ketchikan for the past few years has been about 400,000 gallons.
“Twenty-five percent greater storage at Swan Lake compliments the Whitman project,” he said. “Whitman doesn’t have much storage, so while it’s running, we’ll be able to bank water at Swan and then utilize that in the winter.”
Acteson said the savings on diesel generation could be more than $1.5 million annually.
Other projects on the city’s list are replacement of the viaduct at Sayles and Gorge streets; various water, sewer and storm drain replacements; and completion of the downtown promenade.
Council Member Dick Coose asked why the city’s list didn’t include the planned hospital improvement project, or funding for the shipyard. City Manager Karl Amylon said the shipyard is on the Ketchikan Gateway Borough’s list, and the city should wait until Phase 2 of the hospital project before asking for more money.
The state approved $15 million for Phase 1 of the hospital renovation, and city residents will vote Oct. 1st on a $42 million bond proposition to pay for that project.
The community’s priority list is put together by a Lobbying Executive Committee that includes representatives from the City of Ketchikan, the City of Saxman and the borough. The committee’s first meeting is scheduled for Aug. 30th.
Amylon ended the meeting by reading a list of concerns he has about Borough Manager Dan Bockhorst’s written report, released recently as part of the Borough Assembly’s upcoming meeting packet.
Amylon said he asked that a couple of items be placed on the agenda for the next meeting of the Cooperative Relations Committee, an advisory group that meets to discuss issues of mutual concern to the city and borough.
The first item was water consumption at the borough-run airport,
“For some time, city staff has had concerns that the borough is consuming excessive water at the airport, perhaps as much as 750,000 gallons per month, to achieve minimum standards for treatment of its wastewater at city facilities,” he explained to the Council.
Amylon said city staff believes that excessive consumption is the fault of a nonfunctional valve. Because the city is looking into a new metered rate structure that would affect the airport’s water bill, Amylon said he advised the borough of this, so officials could fix the valve.
“I was somewhat concerned to see the borough manager represent my comments as a veiled threat of a rate increase, possibly as high as 500 percent,” he said. “That was not my intent.”
Amylon added that the likely rate increase to the airport would be closer to 11 percent.
The second item of concern was discussion by the committee of the borough helping to pay the debt service for the new library.
Amylon said the borough manager wanted to expand that discussion to include operational expenses, to which the borough traditionally has contributed. The City Council recently approved an agreement calling for the borough to pay about $420,000 for library operations, but the borough has not yet signed on to that agreement.
Amylon said the borough wants the city to track library use, but he’s not sure whether the city has the ability to do that.
In his report to the Assembly, Bockhorst writes that, unless the Assembly directs him otherwise, borough funding for library operations will require tracking.
Sitka Mountain Rescue led a pair of fog-bound hikers off of Lucky Chance Ridge early Friday morning (8-16-13).
Erik Neumann and Lacey Carnahan had spent Wednesday night at Salmon Lake Cabin, about 10 miles south of Sitka, and were planning to hike all day Thursday over the Lucky Chance Ridge to a kayak they had left in Silver Bay near the Green Lake powerhouse.
Neumann spent ten weeks in Sitka this summer as the KCAW news intern. He’s originally from Seattle, and both he and Carnahan were well-prepared for an extended hike in the alpine.
But they did not count on the thick fog that rolled in on Thursday afternoon. As they made their way down the ridge, the pair became disoriented in the fog. When he realized that they had lost the route, Neumann notified the Coast Guard on VHF radio that he was fogged-in, and would be overdue returning to Sitka.
The Coast Guard, in turn, notified Sitka Mountain Rescue of the pair’s situation. Mountain Rescue captain Don Kluting was able to communicate with Neumann via cell phone from the firehall briefly, before the batteries in Neumann’s phone gave out. They arranged to make radio contact later in the evening, if the fog had not lifted.
Kluting says that Neumann and Carnahan were well-equipped to spend the night on the ridge, with food, raingear, and sleeping bags — but no tent. He encouraged them to put on their raingear, find a relatively sheltered spot, and to wait out the night in their sleeping bags.
With heavy fog still present the following morning, Sitka Mountain Rescue sent a team up the ridge at the end of Silver Bay at about 5 AM. By 7:30 they made contact with the pair, signalling with air horns. Neumann and Carnahan were escorted down the ridge, and given a lift back to Sitka.
Kluting says he appreciated how well-prepared the pair were, and he commended them for bringing a radio, and knowing when to use it.
Neumann told KCAW that he and Carnahan stayed fairly dry, and that it was extremely reassuring to make contact with Kluting on the radio Thursday evening. He added that the route down the ridge was fairly easy to follow, until the fog rolled in, then “all bets were off.”
Neumann and Carnahan flew out of Sitka Friday afternoon. Neumann is a second-year student at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism.
You can see a picture of Neumann and Carnahan posing with the Sitka Mountain Rescue team who assisted them here. You’ll also find links to several news stories by Neumann, rather than about him.
A Petersburg man recently returned from a regional conference of the Bahá’í faith.
The religion was founded about 150 years ago by the middle eastern prophet Bahá’u’lláh. Bahá’ís believe he built on the work of earlier prophets, including Jesus Christ, Buddha, Moses and Muhammad.
Galen Reed was one of about three dozen Alaskans traveling to Vancouver, British Columbia, for the youth conference. They joined 750 or so Western Canadians at the event, held earlier this month.
Reed is a Forest Service engineer, though he’d headed to graduate school. He’s originally from Wrangell.
He spoke about the conference experience and his faith.
Bahá’í officials say the conference was one of 114 coordinated events worldwide that attracted about 50,000 young people.
Legislative priorities are on the Ketchikan Gateway Borough Assembly agenda for its regular meeting on Monday, and management has suggested some projects for the Assembly to consider.
The borough’s list of projects is not in any recommended order, so the Assembly will have to rank them if it decides to accept the list.
The first is a little more than $7 million in improvements at Ketchikan Shipyard, including electrical upgrades and a ship transfer system. Next up is nearly $14 million for the planned Ward Cove ferry terminal and layup facility project, which the borough is working on with the state Department of Transportation.
Also on the list is funding for improvements at Ketchikan International Airport, the Ketchikan Medical Center’s planned renovation project, construction of the OceansAlaska hatchery, and increasing capacity at Swan Lake hydroelectric dam.
The community’s priority list is used for lobbying the governor and Legislature each year. It is put together by a Lobbying Executive Committee that includes representatives from the City of Ketchikan, the City of Saxman and the Ketchikan Gateway Borough. That committee’s first meeting is Aug. 30th.
Monday’s Assembly meeting starts at 5:30 p.m. in Borough Assembly chambers at the White Cliff building. Public comment will be heard at the start of the meeting.
An unbelievable streak of beautiful summer weather came to an abrupt end Thursday evening (8-15-13) as heavy clouds and fog rolled in. KCAW summer news intern Erik Neumann — on his very last day in Sitka — was descending Lucky Chance ridge from Pinta Lake with a visiting friend, Lacey Carnahan, when they were enveloped in fog and lost their bearings. It’s the story of the Rescue Where Everything Went Right: Neumann and Carnahan had a VHF radio and notified the Coast Guard that they were going to be delayed, they had camping gear (but no tent!), and food and a stove. After discussing their situation with Sitka Mountain Rescue over the radio, they decided to wait out a soggy, foggy night on the ridge. Sitka Mountain Rescue mobilized at 4:30 AM this morning (8-16-13), climbed up the ridge from Silver Bay, and led the pair down.
Luckily, Neumann produced more news than he made during his ten weeks as a reporter for KCAW. Here’s some of his work:
Erik Neumann is headed back to the Bay Area for his second year in the Graduate School of Journalism at UC Berkeley, where he’ll have fresh perspective on the role of storyteller and subject. Thanks for an awesome summer, Erik!
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Coast Guard detects oil leak from sunken tender southwest of Petersburg. Playwright “pulls back curtain” on Alaska public radio. A pair of Ketchikan bald eagles recovering in Sitka from mystery ailment. ADF&G asks Fairbanks bird hunters to hold off for two weeks.
KFSK has an Open Airwaves Policy. We encourage the public to express opinions, ideas and creative works. Views and opinions expressed are not necessarily those of KFSK.
At the approach of a canoe, the wolverine tears into the woods, its claws spitting mud. Seconds later, ravens explode from what resembles two branches reaching from a driftwood log.
After the animals flee the Fortymile River gravel bar, the driftwood turns into chewed velvet antlers the size of a folding chair. A fleshy backbone ropes from a skull, extending to rib fragments and a blade of hipbone, its sockets empty. A few tufts of hide lay amid rocks, but the rest of the caribou — so fresh it barely smells — has vanished.
Sarah DeLappe is melding the experiences of her sister at KNOM in Nome, with interviews at KCAW in Sitka, to write a play about a public radio station in Alaska.
DeLappe is one of seven Sitka Fellows — a residency program based at the Sitka Fine Arts Camp. Sitka Fellows are under 30, and all have launched promising careers as “intellectual entrepreneurs.” Actor: Winter. A radio station at the End of the World. Squint through the seventeen words for snow and you’ll see them—a hodgepodge of wide-eyed volunteers, Alaskan natives, and grizzly homesteaders sounding their voices across the tundra and the frozen sea.
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Actor: Winter. A radio station at the End of the World. Squint through the seventeen words for snow and you’ll see them—a hodgepodge of wide-eyed volunteers, Alaskan natives, and grizzly homesteaders sounding their voices across the tundra and the frozen sea.
This is not Sarah DeLappe. This is an actor reading an excerpt from Sarah DeLappe’ application to the Sitka Fellows program where she describes how her play might begin.
There’s a bit more of Nome than Sitka in that opening, but DeLappe will be here through the end of the month, long enough for the rainforest to exert some pull.
DeLappe is young, but her credentials are solid. She’s been the artistic director of Yale’s experimental theater company, and she studied under Pulitzer-prize winner Paula Vogel.
DeLappe is drawn to language. Not just the patterns and cadences of speech, but what we say — and don’t say.
“One of the most interesting exercises is to record a conversation and then write it out verbatim. And it’s incredible how many things we don’t say — or assume we say — and just go unspoken. We have very fragmented conversations, which I find fascinating.”
DeLappe reads a lot of plays. It’s her job as the Literary Resident at Playwrights Horizons, an off-broadway theater in New York. She had a play produced her senior year in college, but she says writing is just the first step. You have to send your play around to theaters, to festivals, and hope someone picks it up and reads it. With luck, you’ll get to the next step.
“So a theater will invite you in and set you up with a director and a cast, and then they’ll read your play sitting around a table, and maybe invite other people to come see it. And hopefully — eventually — somebody decides to produce it. But it’s a long, long road to the stage.”
DeLappe’s first produced play was dark — a drama about three sisters who reunite to witness their father’s execution. She intended it to be a dark comedy, but she says, “the comedy never really came out.”
DeLappe became interested in the theater in the usual way — in grade school. She remembers being in the Little Mermaid. She continued acting through school, but then a switch went on, and she felt compelled to create rather than to perform.
Now she’s steeped by the craft of playwriting — down to the smallest detail of producing a play.
“I think as an actor, I’ve felt that egotism of the actor. It’s all about me, I can change this line if I want to, I can improve and ad lib a little bit. Now I find that atrocious, a sin, you can’t do that. The same goes for stage directions. Some directors will go through and cross out all of the stage directions before directing a play and I find that’s anathema — you just can’t do that. It’s the heart and backbone of a play to me.”
Sitka Fellows spend seven weeks in the community, living on the Sheldon Jackson Campus, rubbing elbows with peers who may share some interests in common, but who really are there because they also are young, and are also engaged in creating something.
DeLappe’s idea for her play took root long before she came to Sitka.
“My twin sister, Eva, has for the last year been working at a radio station in Nome, KNOM. And through talking to her, visiting her, spending a little time with her, and just thinking about the radio, I decided to write a play about an Alaskan radio station.”
Radio is auditory; plays are visual. DeLappe doesn’t consider it a stretch to develop a play about people who sit around talking. She considers it just the opposite.
“That’s rich. There’s always a lot going on there. It’s always exciting to pull back the curtain and see the other side, see what people who are always scripted, or who go between scripted and live mediums do when they’re not on a microphone. I think there’s a lot of overlap between radio and theater in that way, between what is on the page, and what actually happens when you’re live.”
DeLappe has met with staff at KCAW for their insight into the world of Alaska public radio. And like her play about the three sisters, she’s tilting toward comedy.
Let’s hope she gets there.
“There will be no executions. At least I don’t think so!”
Actor: Theirs is a story of pilgrims, rabid wildlife, manifest destiny, and above all, words. Today words stretch across vastness. But in that valiant struggle to connect, to actually make contact, lies the human urge for intimacy.
DeLappe hopes to recruit local actors for a reading her work-in-progress at the conclusion of the fellowship this month.
KCAW’s Holly Keen contributed to this story.
The Coast Guard responded to calls from two grounded fishing vessels in Southeast early Wednesday morning.
Just after midnight on Wednesday, the crew of the Pacific Queen contacted the U.S. Coast Guard to report that they’d run aground near Long Island — south of Petersburg — and were experiencing uncontrollable flooding. The crew abandoned the 71-foot vessel and was later rescued by the crew of the Windham Bay. The three rescued crewmembers did not require medical attention.
During a helicopter flyover later that day, the Coast Guard spotted an oily sheen near the mouth of Duncan Canal. That’s where the Pacific Queen sank.
State officials monitoring the situation say a small amount of diesel escaped from the vessel. But they say fuel vents were secured before it sank, limiting the potential for a larger spill.
The Coast Guard says the Pacific Queen had the capacity to carry 3,000 gallons of diesel. But the skipper told officials the tanks held only 1,000 gallons.
A Department of Environmental Conservation situation report says the tender hit a rock before sinking. The skipper and two crewmembers were picked up by another fishing boat and taken to Petersburg.
An oil spill response vessel from Juneau is on the scene. DEC says it’s carrying 2,500 feet of containment boom, plus oil-skimming equipment.
The ship sank near Lung Island, about two miles east of Kah Sheets Bay, recognized as a sensitive environmental area. Officials say they’re planning for a possible larger spill.
The Coast Guard said the tender sunk in 40 fathoms of water. But state officials say the depth is unknown.
The state lists Joseph Lykken of Wrangell as the Pacific Queen’s owner. It was tendering for SeaLevel Seafoods, based in Wrangell. The company won’t comment on the sinking.
Construction workers are expected to start pouring concrete next week for the new 31,000 square foot freshman residence hall at the University of Alaska Southeast. The new student housing will be located near Auke Lake, across from the Noyes Pavilion. The $14 million project is funded with $8 million from the Legislature. Proceeds from the eventual sale of the Bill Ray Center will also go toward the project, Chancellor John Pugh said.
The Ketchikan School District is appealing a couple of decisions by the state Department of Education that, if the appeals are denied, could cut into the district’s finances.
Earlier this summer, the state rejected funding requests for two intensive-needs special education students, claiming that the IEPs – individual education plans – did not qualify.
The district has appealed. Superintendent Robert Boyle gave an update on that during last night’s Ketchikan School Board meeting.
“There are two different IEPs. One of them, we’ve introduced evidence of identical IEPs in terms of structure were introduced previous years and been approved, (with) no changes in regulations, yet this one has been rejected,” he said. “We can’t figure out why.”
The district has an Aug. 20th meeting scheduled with Department of Education officials regarding that appeal.
Also on appeal is the state’s rejection of a proposal to reorganize Revilla Alternative School into a K-12 blended program, which would have increased the student count for that school. If Revilla could show it has a certain number of students, it would count as a separate school under the state funding formula, which means it would receive significantly more money per-student.
As it is, Revilla students are counted for funding purposes as part of Ketchikan High School.
In an interview with KRBD Thursday morning, School Board Member Michelle O’Brien provided some details on the issue.
“Under DEED regulations, an alternative school serves certain grade levels and a certain type of student in a face-to-face situation,” she said. “That’s why that was not approved. The idea for the school district was to combine our Fast-Track program, which is a virtual learning opportunity … to blend those models together to create one school that would serve students K through 12. Therein lies the rub: the face time.”
The district has not yet received a response from the state regarding that appeal.
Also Wednesday, Board President Ginny Clay announced that she will not seek re-election.
“As of right now, I will not be filing to be on the School Board again,” she said. “There are some other things that are about to happen in my life, so I’m going to be moving on.”
Clay and Board Member Dave Timmerman are completing their terms this year. Timmerman gave a somewhat enigmatic hint of his plans.
“There’s a 90 percent chance that I’ll file, but there’s only a 42 percent chance of that,” he said.
The filing period for the School Board, as well as the Borough Assembly, and the Ketchikan and Saxman city councils, is open through Aug. 25.
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Brooklyn-based Jarrett Moran is the editor-in-chief of Artlog, and a rising art critic in a profession dominated by typically older practitioners. He’s interested in the connection between philosophy, politics, and art. He’s one of seven residents in this year’s Sitka Fellows program. Moran is breaking new ground this summer, producing a video essay. With KCAW’s Holly Keen.