Are you ready to be part of the Flash Mob performance during the first 2 Cruise Ship visits of...
Submit and View KHNS Postings
From Our Listeners
Thanks to our Generous Underwriters, Sponsors and Grantors
Southeast Alaska News
JUNEAU — An Alaska House committee on Tuesday advanced a bill that would allow the state Department of Motor Vehicles to issue short-term drivers licenses to temporary residents.
HB1, by Rep. Bob Lynn, R-Anchorage, would allow the department to issue licenses that expire as soon as a temporary resident’s authorization to live in the U.S. has finished.
First-time House Finance Committee member Rep. Cathy Muñoz, R-Juneau, led her first subcommittee meeting Tuesday afternoon, as the Finance subcommittee on the University of Alaska budget schedule met in the Alaska State Capitol.
UA President Patrick Gamble and Legislative Finance Division analyst David Teal gave presentations on the university system’s budget overview for fiscal year 2014, with Gamble making UA’s case for budget requests that were not included in Gov. Sean Parnell’s proposed operating and capital budgets last month.
Twelve people have applied to be Sitka’s next municipal attorney. Theresa Hillhouse is stepping down in March after more than seven years on the job. And members of the Sitka Assembly will meet Wednesday night to pick finalists to replace her.
The dozen applications include two from Sitka, four from elsewhere in Alaska, and six from out of state. Some have more than 30 years of experience, and a couple applicants aren’t attorneys at all.
“The job of the attorney for the City and Borough of Sitka is more difficult than it appears from the outside,” said Cliff Groh, who held the position from 2000 until 2005. “You don’t have colleagues directly. You can hire some outside counsel to help you some, but you have a budget and you have to watch that.”
The municipal attorney deals with contract law, commercial law, parliamentary procedure, ballot law, and even criminal law. In Sitka, they prosecute certain offenses, including traffic tickets and ordinance violations.
And then there are the finer points of the job, such as practicing discretion and confidentiality in a small town, where you’re as likely to run into an adversary in the produce section as you are in the courtroom.
“It’s sort of like being a doctor in a small town,” he said. “One doctor in Sitka told me that one of the blessings in his job was that he had a short memory, in terms of not remembering what certain people’s private parts look like later, when he ran into them on the street.”
Being municipal attorney might not be quite that sensitive, but there are a lot of legal waters to navigate, and a lot of political boulders to avoid along the way.
That’s why Groh says hiring the position is tricky. His advice?
“Look for somebody who wants the job for the right reasons,” he said.
Yeah, the person has to want to live in Sitka, and has to have the right qualifications, but also, Groh says it has to be someone who has what he calls “the requisite attitude and judgment.”
“Look for somebody who can work with an administrator,” he said. “They’re going to have to work closely with the administrator and work closely with other people – a variety of other people in the whole city and borough government, on a whole variety of aspects.”
Groh lives in Anchorage now. He’s not involved in the hiring process, and although he thought briefly about applying for his old Sitka job again, he says life is different now and he’s staying put. He practices law privately and does a little writing, too.
As for the hiring process: Assembly members will screen candidates on Wednesday, before deciding on finalists to invite to Sitka for an in-person interview.
A grand jury in Juneau issued one indictment on Friday.
Easton C. Hagwood, 21, of Haines, was indicted on one count of second-degree assault for allegedly causing serious physical injury to Harley Whittington on Nov. 13. That’s a class ‘B’ felony that can be punishable by up to 10 years in prison and/or a $100,000 fine.
Prosecutors say Hagwood punched Whittington in the face aboard the M/V Columbia as it was traveling from Haines to Juneau. An affidavit indicates the two knew each other.
The House and Senate Transportation committees, meeting for a joint session Tuesday afternoon, forwarded Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities Commissioner Pat Kemp’s name to the full Alaska State Legislature after a confirmation hearing.
The committee reports will be presented to the Legislature, which will consider Kemp for confirmation to his current position. Kemp was appointed last month by Republican Gov. Sean Parnell after serving as acting commissioner through the fall of 2012.
Following her daughter’s death in 2006, Bett Jakubek wanted to donate money in Milisa’s memory.
“I would have given the money to some kind of memorial fund had there been one in place,” she said. “And there was not, so what I did was, my husband and I decided that we would divide the money up that had been given in her name to the different organizations in town that she had been involved in.”
But, she said, it would have been better to keep the money in one big chunk, invested in a way that the interest could be used year after year for local needs. That sparked an interest in the concept of a community foundation. Jakubek returned to school after retiring, and earned a certificate in nonprofit management and development.
“ One of my questions in my learning was to learn about community foundations and their ability to impact small communities in particular, somewhere like Ketchikan, and assuming that the people in Ketchikan knew what their needs were better than people from afar, or government agencies,” she said.
Through her studies, she talked with officials at the Rasmuson Foundation, Alaska’s largest charitable organization; and the Alaska Community Foundation, the umbrella group for numerous state funds and endowments. They asked her to see whether a community foundation would work for Ketchikan.
“After quite a bit of research, and an opportunity for four of us to go up to Anchorage and learn about community foundations in general, and specifically about the workings of the Alaska Community Foundation, we realized that it was a great opportunity,” she said.
The statewide organizations take care of investing donated funds, as well as legal and financial issues for the affiliates. The local boards decide what the community’s needs are, and distribute funds once the endowment starts earning interest. As a new affiliate, the Ketchikan Community Foundation has a big incentive to raise money.
“If we are able to raise $25,000 locally of unrestricted monies, then Ed Rasmuson and his foundation say that they will give us $50,000, and in addition to that another $5,000 that we can grant back to the community to charitable works,” she said. “And he will do the same thing in 2014.”
That’s a hundred thousand dollars in the first two years, a pretty nice kickstart for the local group. And Brooklyn Baggett of the Alaska Community Foundation said more is possible.
“We have five current affiliates that the Rasmuson Foundation has been offering match grants to every year since they started, so it’s definitely an ongoing opportunity,” she said. “I think that they like to give a bigger one at the start to try and help really grow the initial endowment for the community.”
Baggett said the affiliate model provides local control and oversight for grant funds.
“The local people obviously know tremendously more than we could ever know because they’re there every day and they can see the needs of the community and try to figure out grant opportunities that will help support the community,” she said.
The next step for the Ketchikan Community Foundation is to form an advisory board. Jakubek and the other organizers, George Shaffer, Dawn Allen-Herron, Agnes Moran, Tom Shultz and Sue Pickrell have heard from many people who are interested in supporting the foundation. From that pool, the six organizers hope to select between nine and 13 advisory board members.
Jakubek said one big goal will be to gain widespread support, rather than just one or two people donating large chunks of money. She would prefer smaller donations from many residents.
“People who have a heart for Ketchikan, who feel this has been a good place to raise their families, who have maybe made their livelihoods here and want to give back,” she said. “Thinking in the long view, like this is building an endowment, kind of like a permanent fund. We get out dividends back every year personally, this will be a way for Ketchikan as a community to get a dividend back every year that can be spent for whatever our needs are.”
In addition to Ketchikan, new affiliates have been formed in Sitka, Kodiak and Fairbanks. Other affiliates have been operating in the Mat-Su, Chilkat Valley, Kenai Peninsula, Seward and Petersburg.
Recommendations from the Indian Policy and Procedures Committee will be a discussion topic at the Ketchikan School Board meeting Wednesday.
The recommendations were submitted in mid-January, and were developed by the committee with input from members of the public. The recommendations call for the superintendent and other district staff to meet quarterly with local Native officials to assess education opportunities for Native students. They also call for an increase in the amount of Alaska Native culture taught in the schools.
Additional recommendations include cultural training for school staff, regular discussion of Native education by the School Board, and research into different instruction methods for Native children.
Also Wednesday, the School Board has an executive session scheduled at the end of the meeting to discuss the evaluation of Superintendent Robert Boyle.
The meeting starts at 6 p.m. in Borough Assembly chambers at the White Cliff Building. Public comment will be heard at the start of the meeting. A half-hour work session with the Tongass School of Arts and Sciences will precede tomorrow’s regular meeting.
The University of Alaska Southeast Ketchikan Campus director search committee has narrowed the list of candidates down to three finalists. The university has invited each to visit Ketchikan.
While here, the finalists will give public presentations, and people attending the events will be invited to offer opinions and recommendations to the search committee. Each candidate will discuss a current topic in higher education and answer questions. The presentations will allow audience members to meet and interact with each candidate.
On Feb. 14, Cathy Anderson will give her presentation. She previously served as vice president of academic affairs at Western Dakota Technical Institute.
On Feb. 28, Voytek Panas is scheduled to speak. He is campus director at the Pima Medical Institute in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
On March 7, the final candidate, John Garmon, will give his presentation. He is the editor and education consultant for Native West Press in Prescott, Arizona. He formerly served as Deputy Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs for Dhofar University in the Sultanate of Oman.
Each presentation starts at noon at the UAS Campus Library.
Southeast gillnetters will be able to fish for just over a thousand tons of herring in Seymour Canal off Admiralty Island this spring. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game has announced a guideline harvest level of 1014 tons in the sac roe fishery, which is somewhat above average for the past half-decade. Gillnetters had GHL of just under 1300 tons last year, but they never got to fish it. That’s because the herring never congregated in large enough schools to have an opening.
While the fishery was a bust last year, the herring population itself is in good shape, according to Juneau Area Management Biologist Dave Harris:
“The return of herring to the area and the spawn was just fine as a matter of fact. The fish didn’t present themselves last year in a way that would lead to a viable commercial fishery. Although we waited on the grounds for, gosh, almost three weeks, it was all agreed between the department, fishermen, and processors present that there was never really an option for a fishery,” Harris said.
The department tries to open herring fisheries just before the major spawn, when the females are the ripest with eggs and large schools of fish mass near the beach. Fishermen target the herring for their roe. Older, bigger fish generally have more roe and according to Harris, the forecast for this spring looks good on that front.
“Predominantly, a good portion of the fish are the eight-plus, the older fish. About 30 percent of the return is forecast to be those sizes,” Harris explained, “The fish generally start recruiting into the fishery at age three and then age 4 is about another 30 percent or so of the return is anticipated there, with kind of the remaining ages of three to seven sort of about the same but spread out in there. So, it will be pretty-much larger fish the gillnet fleet will be targeting this year.”
Seymour is the only herring fishery scheduled to open for Southeast Gillnetters. It typically takes off in late April.
A smoldering electrical fire gutted the interior of a 41-foot pleasure boat in Petersburg’s South Harbor in the late Friday night. No one was aboard the motor vessel Sea Haven, which was moored at B float. Assistant Fire Chief Dave Berg says the department was called out just before eleven that night.
“The boat, when we got to it, didn’t look like it was on fire or even had really flashed over but there was a significant level of heat damage inside the vessel that caused a great deal of interior damage basically from the ceiling to the floor,” he said.
Berg said the department was still investigating the cause, but it looked like it involved a bad outlet and extension cord connected to a heater.
“You know this time of year, people are using all kinds of heat sources on boats and they are real suspect, especially if you are not watching them, or maintaining them. Anytime you’ve got a cord that’s running a heater or kind of a high amperage load on it, the cord can overheat very easily and even cords that appear to be not very warm, or hot to the touch, can significantly degrade over time in our weather. Salt air and other moisture causes a lot of trouble with extension cords. When you don’t have a good connection the heat builds up in the connection. You may pull them apart and see black tongs on the plugs or excess heat building up. So, that’s really something to watch out for when you are using alternative heat sources on boats.”
According to Berg, the boat was shut up tight enough that the lack of oxygen kept it from spreading to the exterior. However, harbor staff moved a neighboring boat just in case.
Listen to iFriendly audio.
Sitka Jazz Festival directors John DePalatis and Mike Kernin talk about this year’s festival lineup, which includes Jeff Collela, Barbara Morrison, and — for the first time — dancer Katherine Kramer. The festival opens noon on Thu Jan 31 with a brown bag concert at Harrigan Centennial Hall. The main concerts are 6 PM Fri and Sat, Feb 1 & 2, at the Sitka Performing Arts Center. This year, an all-Festival pass admits the public to clinics and concerts. For complete information, visit the Sitka Jazz Festival online.
Listen to iFriendly audio.
Public, scientists disagree on cruise ship wastewater during Senate Resources Committee hearing. SE halibut fishermen to see small increase in 2013 catch limit, following IPHC winter meeting. McDonald’s to adopt sustainably-harvested fish in all restaurants.
JUNEAU — House Democratic leader Beth Kerttula says she's hopeful that legislation will be introduced this year to re-establish a coastal management program.
Kerttula says she's heard that something is being worked on. Last week, Rep. Bryce Edgmon, chairman of the House Bush Caucus, said he expected a coastal management bill to be introduced but didn't know who would do it or what it would look like.
Alaska's senior senator has once again introduced legislation to rename Mount McKinley as Denali.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski says Denali might not be the name that people in the Midwest recognize. But she says it has long been the name in Alaska, the state where North America's highest peak is located.
Denali is an Athabascan word meaning "the high one."
JUNEAU — A vice president for BP Alaska has been promoted to president.
The company announced Tuesday that Janet Weiss (WEESS) will succeed John Minge, who was appointed chairman and president of BP America Inc.
Weiss' appointment will take effect Feb. 15.
Weiss currently serves as vice president of resources for BP Alaska. In her new role, the company says she will be responsible for BP's oil and gas exploration, development and production activities in Alaska, plus BP's interests in the trans-Alaska oil pipeline.
JUNEAU — An Anchorage senator has proposed legislation aimed at greater accountability for the way state legislators spend money for their offices.
SB34, from Democratic Sen. Berta Gardner, would require that all office expenses be accounted for and that any unspent funds revert to the state general fund.
ANCHORAGE — Alaska prisons officials refuse to say how confessed serial killer Israel Keyes obtained a razor before his jail-cell suicide.
The state Department of Corrections denied a public records request from The Associated Press that seeks to determine why Keyes was able have a razor in his Anchorage cell. Keyes slit his wrist in December with the blade of a disposal razor that was imbedded in a pencil. He also strangled himself with a bedsheet.
JUNEAU — The state has paid nearly $8.7 million in student scholarships under a program championed by Gov. Sean Parnell as a way to transform Alaska’s education system.