Alaskan Author Don Rearden will be visiting the Haines Public Library on Friday March 14th to...
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Southeast Alaska News
ANCHORAGE — An Eagle River cupcake baker and her assistant are set to star in an episode of “Cupcake Wars” this weekend.
Cupcake-truck owner Kastle Sorensen and her assistant, Amy Grue, have studied the long-running show, analyzing past episodes for as many as 12 hours at a time, the Anchorage Daily News reported.
The episode featuring them is set to air at 4 p.m. Saturday on the Food Network. The episode has already been recorded, but Sorensen can’t say who won because of the network’s confidentiality agreement.
ANCHORAGE — A soldier based in Anchorage has been awarded the military’s highest honor for heroism in a non-war setting for saving a man from a burning car.
Sgt. 1st Class John Kerns of Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson was awarded the Soldier’s Medal on Thursday, Alaska Public Radio Network reported. The medal is awarded for saving a life without regard to losing one’s own.
Kerns is paratrooper with the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division.
HALIFAX, Nova Scotia — The U.S. will assert its sovereignty in the Arctic, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Friday, even as Russia, China and other nations stake claims and expand their use of the icy waters for military exercises and transit.
Speaking at a security forum, Hagel said energy exploration in the largely untapped Arctic region could heighten international tensions, but that countries must work together to avoid conflict,
JUNEAU — Insurance companies that sent cancellation notices for policies that won’t meet requirements of the federal health care law have until Dec. 31 to file and extend those policies in Alaska.
State insurance director Bret Kolb said Friday that if carriers opt to do this, coverage would be extended one year under the existing policies.
He said by email that the division is working with companies operating in Alaska but did not say if any indicated that they wanted to extend existing plans, recommending instead reaching out to the individual companies.
Editor’s note: This is the fourth part in the Morris Communications series, “The case for conserving Kenai king salmon.”
The Yukon River draws into its mouth the largest migration of chinook, chum, and coho salmon stocks in the world. For the chinook, or kings, the river offers passage from the Bering Sea to spawning streams across Alaska and Yukon Territory all the way to British Columbia. The iconic fish run is one of the longest freshwater fish migrations on earth.
The State of Alaska’s Department of Revenue is on a mission to educate Alaskans about Senate Bill 21, saying it’s “tax reform” and not a “tax break” for major oil companies. The effort to influence the public’s opinion on SB 21 comes ahead of an initiative on the 2014 primary ballot attempting to repeal the bill.
ANCHORAGE — A New York attorney is running against U.S. Sen. Mark Begich of Alaska in next year’s Democratic primary without leaving home.
William “Bill” Bryk wants Begich to have some competition, the Anchorage Daily News reported.
The Alaska Democratic party has already offered a rare, pre-primary endorsement of Begich, whose seat is coveted by Republicans looking to reclaim control of the Senate.
The Coast Guard is asking local boat owners to check their vessels after a spate of sinkings this fall. The F/V Skeeter was hauled out of the water this morning (FRI 11-22-13), after it sank at its mooring in Eliason Harbor in early November. It is one of five boats that have gone down in area harbors since August, according to Chief Warrant Officer Michael Wortman of the Coast Guard’s Marine Safety Detachment.
Wortman is worried that he’s seeing a trend.
“It seems to be higher than normal,” Wortman said. “The fleet is getting older, and people leave for long periods of time and don’t take care of the boats. And the people they’re hiring to watch the boat aren’t very well trained. So there’s things that we do need to address.”
The Coast Guard doesn’t yet know what caused the Skeeter to sink, but Wortman suspects that local boat owners are not maintaining their bilge systems, which pump water out of vessels.
“I definitely highly encourage all the owners in the area to check their bilge systems,” Wortman said. “Make sure the pumps are working properly, batteries are in good condition…because, with all the rain around here, your boat can go down pretty quickly.”
After it sank, the Skeeter was turned over to the harbormaster, who worked with the Coast Guard to tow the boat across Sitka Channel and haul it out of the water at Japonski Island for disposal.
Morning host extraordinaire Melissa Marconi-Wentzel returned to the KCAW fold this October, bringing her unique blend of poise and warmth to our early AM weekday sound. Melissa has served both as program director (2007-2008) at Raven Radio, and as reporter (2004-2007), before taking some time to raise her family. Melissa’s also wrapping up her degree in Communications at UAS, and plans to make broadcasting her career. “I knew I wanted to come back to Raven Radio,” she says. “But when I sat down in that chair (in the air room) I knew that this is who I am.” We never had any doubt!
Melissa will be our primary local voice on Morning Edition, with backup from the capable (and early-rising) Peter Apathy. Welcome baaaaack, Melissa!
Alaska fishermen want to broaden the experimental use of cameras and other monitoring devices in the federal government’s fishery observer program. Under the recently-revamped program, many more vessels, including smaller boats, can now be required to carry an observer at times. A new industry proposal is aimed at making electronic monitoring available as an alternative to carrying that extra person on the boat. Matt Lichtenstein reports:
For mobile-friendly, downloadable audio, click here.
The federal government expanded its fishery observer program this past year. For the first time, that meant halibut boats and smaller vessels, 40 to 60 feet long, could be selected to carry an observer. But according to Alaska Longline Fisherman’s Association Director Linda Behnken, that’s not feasible for many, “There’s a lot of the small boat fleet that simply cannot accommodate another person. They don’t have a bunk. They don’t have the safety equipment. They just don’t have space for that. So, we saw a number of people apply for a release to observer coverage on those grounds. Actually 65 percent of the boats selected in the first three quarters of the year, which is the data I’ve seen so far, those 65 percent of the boats that were selected applied for a release and were granted a release.”
Behnken credits Alaska Department of Fish and Game Commissioner and North Pacific Fishery Management Council member Cora Campbell for helping to make sure that relief was available. Behnken thinks the releases were needed to lessen the burden of the expanded program.
However, she says it also meant that the National Marine Fisheries Service fell short of its goals for observer coverage, “So, to our mind, you’re not getting representative data if you’re not hitting those target coverage levels which can mean some problems with extrapolating that data to the remainder of the fleet.”
Behnken says the situation shifted more of the observer burden to boats that were able to accommodate them. Also, she says some fishermen chose not to use their own small boats and instead opted to fish with other skippers who had bigger vessels. She says a few others chose to sell their fishing quotas because of the new regulations.
So, Behnken says ALFA is working with other fishing groups to pursue electronic monitoring or EM as an alternative to carrying observers on small boats. In October, they applied for a federal permit to broaden the experimental use of cameras and other electronic monitoring equipment.
“We all recognize there will continue to be a need for some….for observers on the water but that there are places, there are times, there is a significant portion of the fleet that is better served by having electronic monitoring to insure you get representative data and you get it in a cost effective way. So, we’re looking to integrate EM, to use it where you can get the data that managers need, and to use it in a way that’s less intrusive and less costly than deploying human observers,” Behnken says.
Federal fishery managers are taking a slower approach to the issue than the industry would like. NMFS has a small-scale EM pilot program that involved just a handful of participants this past year. ALFA wants to incorporate that into the broader, industry-backed project to test technology on more boats. 60 vessels would be the goal for the first year of a five-year effort.
NMFS has been considering the proposal according to Martin Loefflad who is director of the agency’s Fisheries Monitoring and Analysis Division. While he won’t comment on the industry application while it’s still under review, Loefflad says NMFS is also trying to advance EM, “What we’re trying to do is improve the quality of imagery we are getting from vessels. There’s a lot of hype on this EM stuff going on worldwide right now and what we’ve seen is that a lot of work has been done all over the world that has been duplicating the same sorts of things. We want to get out of duplication and actually move this stuff forward. I personally think EM has massive potential and could revolutionize the way we sample, if we do it right.”
Observers record catch data and other information for use in fishery management and research. Loefflad says electronic monitoring will never do exactly what a person does, “People can do a variety of things. EM can do some things very, very well and we want to figure out what things it does well and then so we can use that potentially as a tool to supplement those areas where putting a person on a boat is not a feasible process.”
Loefflad says together, NMFS and the industry may be able to make some progress on moving electronic monitoring forward.
The agency has told the North Pacific Council that it will have the capacity to deploy EM equipment on 14 vessels in its pilot project next year. As an incentive for participation, NMFS proposed that volunteers would avoid the possibility of being selected to carry an observer. That would also be the case for the industry proposal.
National Marine Fisheries Service Staff will be in Petersburg to hold an informational meeting about the fishery observer program in general on Tuesday, December 3rd from 4 to 6 pm in the new Library’s large conference room.
Petersburg’s mayor is pleased with this weeks court decision in favor of the state’s latest redistricting plan. The legislative boundary map will put Petersburg in a district with Sitka and 22 other small Southeast communities, including Kupreanof, Kake, Angoon, Craig, Coffman Cove, Port Protection and Point Baker. Petersburg is in a district with Juneau under the interim plan that’s currently in place.
Mayor Mark Jensen said this week the new map makes more sense. “I just think we’re more alike than we are with downtown Juneau,” Jensen said. “I think we’re more of a working town, fishing town and they’re more of a government type run city. So I think there’s differences. Not that I have any bad things to say about the representation we had after redistricting happened from Dennis Egan and Beth Kerttula. I just think we’re more on the even grounds having the smaller communities in with us.”
The Alaska Redistricting Board’s latest plan got approval from Superior Court Judge Michael McConahy this week. The Associated Press reports that two of the plaintiffs who challenged that map do not plan to appeal the decision.
The Petersburg borough assembly this summer voted to back the new configuration which was the result of a Supreme Court ruling. That’s after the municipality joined the lawsuit against the interim plan which put Petersburg with Juneau.
That interim map will still be in place for the upcoming legislative session – meaning Petersburg will continue to be represented by Juneau democrats Beth Kerttula in the house and Dennis Egan in the Senate.
Ultimately, Jensen thinks the new district gives Petersburg a better chance of securing state funding for projects. “Instead of trying to get funding competing with the bigger municipalities. But as all of us know that the funding is going to be harder to come by anyway just the state of the, well the conditions of the state’s finances.”
Assuming no other parties to the redistricting lawsuit appeal the judge’s decision, Petersburg and Kupreanof voters will be deciding on representation for the new district for the state primary next August. Sitka democratic state representative Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins plans to run for the new Sitka-Petersburg house district. Petersburg resident and republican Stephen Samuelson plans to challenge him for that seat.
Petersburg’s new house district is 35. Its paired with the Ketchikan-Wrangell house district to make up Senate district “R.” Sitka Republican Bert Stedman does not have to run for re-election in 2014 and will represent the new Southeast Senate district including Petersburg in 2015.
People impacted by suicide gather around the globe tomorrow (Saturday) November 23rd to share their loss and seek healing. Here in Petersburg, a video viewing and discussion will be at the fire hall conference room Saturday, November 23rd, from 2-4 p.m. for International Survivors of Suicide Day. Joe Viechnicki spoke with two organizers of the event.
For mobile-friendly audio, click here:
The Ketchikan City Council voted in favor of negotiating a sale with SEAPA for the Whitman Lake hydro power project. Mayor Lew Williams III reports on the most recent meeting. Council112213
Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) participating in the Alaska Resource Development Council's 34th Annual Conference via video conference. Murkowski and Wyden are the top Republican and Democrat on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
Family of man shot by Anchorage police sues
ANCHORAGE — The family of man fatally shot by Anchorage police is suing the police department, officers and the city, claiming reckless, excessive force was used.
Anchorage attorney Philip Weidner is representing the family of Shane Tasi, who was fatally shot June 2012.
WASHINGTON — By limiting the ability of Republicans to block President Barack Obama’s nominees, Senate Democrats sought to placate the party’s core liberal activists dispirited by the troubled rollout of the health care overhaul and government snooping ahead of midterm elections in which a president’s party typically loses seats in Congress.
JUNEAU — State Senate and House lawmakers voted Thursday to end the practice of administering their own office spending accounts, which had allowed them to keep whatever cash was leftover at the end of the year.
The Legislative Council, which handles administrative issues for lawmakers, voted to move all 60 lawmakers to a plan in which the Legislative Affairs Agency administers the accounts.
ANCHORAGE — Sarah Palin’s Alaska hometown is auctioning an SUV she drove when she was mayor, years before she skyrocketed to fame.
The small town of Wasilla listed the 1999 Ford Expedition with 74,188 miles on eBay Monday with a minimum bid of $10,000. The listing’s photo shows the tan SUV with a cardboard cutout of Palin in the driver’s seat.
ANCHORAGE — Bret Kolb, the director of the Alaska Division of Insurance, has announced he is resigning next month.
Kolb is leaving to take a position as the director of business development for Palmer-based Victory Ministries of Alaska, according to the Anchorage Daily News.
Kolb’s resignation letter says his last day with the state position will be Dec. 19. He said he is leaving the government and insurance industry altogether.
Victory executive director Brian Headdings said Kolb will start his new job in January.
The Department of Natural Resources announced that Bob Swenson, the leader of the Division of Geological and Geophysical Surveys for nearly a decade, will serve as its deputy commissioner.
He is replacing the vacancy left when Joe Balash was appointed commissioner on Nov. 13.
“Bob’s significant leadership experience and his breadth of knowledge of Alaska energy and geology-related issues make him an excellent fit for this important post at DNR,” Balash said in a statement.