Youth Fishing Day will be Saturday April 26 at the 21 Mile pull-out on Haines Highway. There...
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Southeast Alaska News
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Former Sen. Albert Kookesh steps down as Sealaska board chairman, will retain seat as board member. US Coast Guard and Sitka Mountain Rescue advise residents to take simple precautions against weather and darkness when heading outdoors for recreation. Petersburg launches rebate program for air-source heat pumps. KFSK’s Matt Lichtenstein leaves radio after 18 years to become a power troller.
BETHEL — A man from the southwest Alaska village of Saint Mary’s is one step closer to saving his remote cabin, thanks to a recent action by a U.S. Senate committee.
William Alstrom’s cabin is about 31 miles northwest of his village. The federal Bureau of Land Management said the cabin had to go because it is illegally located on the Andreafsky Wilderness in the Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge.
Just over nine months ago, Army National Guard Sgt. James Bearup put a shotgun into his mouth and blew away memories of his military service in Afghanistan, an inability to find consistent work to support his wife, growing family and the pressure of coping with day-to-day life with post-traumatic stress disorder.
The 29-year-old left eight siblings, a wife and two children, 30 nieces and nephews and two parents shocked with the loss, suddenness and permanence of his departure.
CH2M Hill has been selected by the Municipality of Anchorage to manage the design, engineering and reconstruction for the troubled Port of Anchorage expansion project, Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan announced Thursday.
The company will take over management responsibility from MARAD, a federal agency that previously managed the project, and will help the municipality develop a Request For Proposals for design and engineering services, select a firm to provide the services, and then manage the construction, Sullivan said.
Employment in Alaska is expected to grow by 0.4 percent in 2014, according to the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development. Southeast Alaska should also see a slight increase of jobs at 0.3 percent, despite a decline in government jobs.
The department released the economic forecasts Thursday as part of its monthly Alaska Economic Trends publication.
While 2014 is expected to be the fifth straight year of increased employment statewide, this year’s growth is lower than the state’s 10-year average, state economist Caroline Schultz noted in the forecast.
What’s in store for Alaska’s oil and gas industry in 2014? There are more questions than answers at this point with three major uncertainties.
First, will North Slope producers and TransCanada finally reach a commercial alignment to proceed with the big North Slope gas pipeline and LNG project? That was unresolved as 2013 ended.
ANCHORAGE — A man on a bicycle was struck and killed in a crash with a car Thursday in midtown Anchorage.
Anchorage police say dispatchers took a call on the crash at 2:45 p.m.
Police and medics found the bicyclist unconscious on Northern Lights Boulevard near Minnesota Drive. The injured man was rushed to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Police say the biker was traveling south across Northern Light Boulevard when he was struck in the middle lane by the westbound car.
The name of the biker was not immediately released.
JUNEAU — Juneau’s first baby of the new year appears to be Jeshua Raymond Moreno, born on Thursday morning.
KTOO reports Jeshua was born at 8:20 a.m. at Bartlett Regional Hospital. He weighed 9 pounds, 1 1/2 ounces and was 21 3/4 inches long.
He’s the third child — and second boy — for Elizabeth and John Moreno.
John Moreno says, “It’s good to be a father again.”
ANCHORAGE — A regional air carrier in Alaska is undergoing a name change.
Era Alaska says in a Thursday release that it will rename itself Ravn Alaska.
Other airlines in the company also will get new names. Era Aviation will become Corvus Airlines. Hageland Aviation and Frontier Flying Service will now be known as Ravn Connect.
The company says the change is to decrease confusion and distinguish the airline from others in the industry that also carry Era in their names.
The new names will be phased in over the next few months.
ANCHORAGE — Anchorage police have arrested a 23-year-old man after a pizza delivery driver said a man pointed a gun at him and issued threats early Thursday morning.
Police in a statement say Keng Lor is being held on two assault counts and a single charge of misconduct involving a weapon.
Authorities say the driver was able to leave the residence after the incident and reported it to police just before 6:30 a.m., prompting the investigation by officers.
ANCHORAGE — Scientists have increased the threat level of Alaska’s Cleveland Volcano from yellow to orange.
The Alaska Volcano Observatory says the volcano appears to have kicked up to an elevated unrest. In the past six days, three brief explosions from Cleveland Volcano were detected.
The color designation indicates that sudden explosions could send ash above 20,000 feet, threatening international air carriers.
FAIRBANKS — Fairbanks police say a small bag of heroin was found in the packaging of a local child’s toy.
The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner says police were called to a home on the 1200 block of McCarthy Avenue Sunday afternoon by the father of a young boy.
Police say the father found a baggie containing what turned out to be heroin with in a toy the boy’s mother sent home with him.
Lt. Matt Soden says the father is estranged from the mother.
Sowden says the package contained 0.16 grams of heroin, which he says is a relatively small amount indicating personal use.
FAIRBANKS — Fairbanks police are investigating the theft of about $1,800 in furs from a shed.
The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports that a black bear rug valued at $1,200 was the highest valued item taken. Also stolen were a wolverine pelt and Arctic fox pelts.
Police say the theft occurred sometime between early Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon. The owner reported the theft after returning home after a trip out of town and noticing someone had broken into his shed.
ANCHORAGE — Alaska State Troopers say 56 people were arrested for driving under the influence during concentrated enforcements over the holidays.
Troopers say of those, 51 were for misdemeanor DUI and the rest were felony arrests.
Troopers investigated two fatality crashes during the enhanced patrol, which ran from Dec. 13 to Jan. 1.
There were an additional 21 injury crashes, and 260 crashes that only involved damage to vehicles.
Troopers in a release also say 64 drivers were charged with driving with a suspended or revoked license.
Lichtenstein is the most senior reporter in CoastAlaska, and our regional expert on fisheries. He’s been at KFSK in Petersburg for 18 years, but on Tuesday he hung up his microphone and tape recorder and picked up his Grundens to join the SE commercial fishing fleet full time as a power troller.
Lichtenstein’s been a hand troller for six years. Last summer he bought the Aurora and power troll permit.
KCAW’s Robert Woolsey spoke with Lichtenstein about his change of careers.
Lichtenstein fished the Aurora in Cross Sound last summer, and is thinking about coming down to Sitka this summer. He’s invited Raven News to call him any time to ask how things are going out on the drag. But he says his answer will always be, “No comment”!
Matt Lichtenstein and his colleague in the KFSK newsroom, Joe Viechnicki have written and recorded a song about Lichtenstein’s foray into the world fishing. It’s called “Ode to a Lost Cannonball.”
KFSK has an open airwaves policy. We encourage the public to express opinions, ideas and creative works.
These pieces are available on our web site, kfsk.org, following the scheduled radio broadcast.
The views and opinions expressed are not necessarily those of KFSK.
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In late November, 11 senior administrators at Ketchikan Indian Community sent a letter of complaint to the KIC Tribal Council, alleging violations of tribal ordinances.
The letter claims that some members of the Tribal Council have interfered with personnel matters, including demanding access to confidential information and encouraging employees to circumvent the chain of command. It also alleges that some Tribal Council members have harassed KIC employees, interfered with the operation of KIC programs and issued directives to senior management that were outside of tribal law.
The letter doesn’t provide any details or examples of those alleged violations, but it demands that Tribal Council members adhere to all of KIC’s ordinances, uphold their oaths of office, and remove two Tribal Council members: Andre Lecornu and Norman Arriola. The letter claims that those two members have continually violated tribal regulations.
When reached by phone, Arriola declined to comment for this story. Lecornu did not return a message seeking comment.
The Nov. 22 letter also states that if action was not taken by the Tribal Council, those who signed it would make public their accusations.
The letter was sent anonymously to KRBD, postmarked Dec. 30. It’s signed by Camille Booth, director of KIC’s Southern Southeast Alaska Technical Education Center; Education Director John Brown; Interim Health Administrator Steve Hudson; Housing Authority Director Bonnie Newman; Social Services Director Sue Pickrell; IT Director Rod Short; Medical Director Rachel Cuevas; Youth Coordinator Sonya Skan; and Nursing Director Joan Strutz-Ozan.
The letter also was signed by the former Human Resources Director Colleen Scanlon; and former KIC interim Tribal Administrator Arlene Dilts-Jackson. Scanlon is no longer a KIC employee, and in early December, Dilts-Jackson was replaced by Charles Edwardson.
Dilts-Jackson returned to her job as the KIC transportation director.
Scanlon declined to comment for this story. Dilts-Jackson did not return messages seeking comment. Neither did other administrators who had signed the letter nor Tribal Council President Irene Dundas.
Edwardson initially agreed to speak on the record for this story. However, he did not show up for a scheduled interview Thursday afternoon.
The KIC Tribal Council has eight members. The annual election is this month. Four seats are up for election, and are currently held by Lecornu, Delores Churchill, Donna Frank and Rob Sanderson.
KIC is a federally recognized tribe. It was incorporated in 1940, and runs numerous local programs, primarily serving Alaska Native residents. Its largest programs are the health clinic, vocational training center and housing authority.
Gov. Sean Parnell has ordered all state flags to be lowered to half-staff on Friday in memory of former Rep. John M. Sweet.
Sweet died on Sept. 11 in Boulder, Colorado. He was 88.
Born in Parker, Pennsylvania, Sweet served in the U.S. Marine Corps during World War II. He was a geologist with Atlantic Richfield Company, and worked in Prudhoe Bay. He represented Anchorage in the state House from 1969 to 1970.
Sweet is survived by his wife, Mirabel, of Boulder, and six children.
The Petersburg borough is one year old this month (January) and is still going through the process of transitioning to an expanded municipality. Besides creating new borough ordinances and assessing the value of land within Petersburg’s boundaries , local officials are also considering which state land will be claimed by the new local government. A committee making recommendations on land selection started going over maps of the available parcels earlier this week.
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Selection of state land is one of the incentives for forming a new borough. Not all of the state’s holdings are available to the new municipality; in fact, it’s just a small portion. The lands are called vacant, unappropriated and unreserved or VUU land and it’s acreage that has not already been selected for grants to the university, Alaska Mental Health trust, Southeast state forest or other state uses. State law says the new borough is entitled to no less than 10 percent of the VUU land within its boundaries.
A December 6th letter from the Department of Natural Resources says 10 percent of the available land is 18-hundred acres. However the DNR says that amount will be reduced by 457 acres, because of a prior municipal entitlement already given to the old city of Petersburg. That leaves a selection of over 13-hundred acres, 1,374 to be exact.
Committee members thought the borough should be seeking more than that. However, chair Rick Braun wanted to go ahead with the selection process. “I would suggest out of the VUU that we have been given, that we select the 13-hundred something acres and get what we can now and proceed with a legislative appropriation or some other way to get the additional land instead of holding up the whole process,” Braun said.
Wrangell Republican Peggy Wilson got a bill passed in 2010 increasing the land given to the Wrangell and Haines boroughs. Under that bill Wrangell was entitled to just over nine thousand acres and Haines over 31-hundred acres. Committee member Ron Buschmann thought the borough could convince legislators that the Mental Health Trust and University have already selected the most valuable state land in the area and Petersburg should be granted more of what’s left.
Dave Kensinger thought the borough could make an argument for 10 percent of what’s been granted to the Alaska Mental Health Trust in the area. “If mental health got a hundred acres we should be able to get another 10 acres in unreserved state land. So it should increase our allotment,” Kensinger said. “Cause the state’s given up a lot of land to non-tax-paying entities in the borough, with mental health land and university land.”
The land available for selection have been further reduced by the creation of a Southeast state forest, with acreage that could be used for future timber sales.
The committee voted unanimously to recommend the borough seek legislative help to increase its land selection. That was the only recommendation made by the committee during its second meeting. However, the group started looking through maps supplied by DNR of the available lands.
Committee members discussed for what purpose the borough should be selecting . Responses ranged from rock pits, to drinking water protection to general economic development.
Buschmann wanted to target acreage that could be developed. “You know economic development lands but also like some waterfront land that we could sell at some point. I mean the mental health has made a tremendous amount of money off the lands they sold, between the city, the old city limits and Papkes Landing, and use that to fund some of things we’re gonna have problems funding, like rebuilding the Papkes dock and some of that stuff.”
Papkes Landing is 10 miles south of downtown Petersburg and the borough may take over a state owned dock and boat ramp there, separate from the borough land selection process. There’s no available state land to select at Papke’s – but a parcel not too far away at Falls Creek drew some interest from the committee. There was also support for land on the Kupreanof Island shoreline just north of Sasby Island. That’s along one possible road route connecting to the nearby community of Kake.
Several other possibilities also had interest from committee members. One was a waterfront parcel on Southern Mitkof that holds a mothballed parking and ferry terminal, once used for a ferry connection to Prince of Wales Island.
That area also includes a shoreline log facility where logs can be transferred into the water and rafted to away to a sawmill.
The committee also discussed the possibilities for potential rock pits for generating revenue in the new borough. Ultimately they made no recommendations yet to the borough assembly on specific parcels. They plan to meet again in January. The borough land selection and conveyance process could take a total of three to five years.
Jeff Budd with Greater Sitka Arts Council discusses this year’s wearable arts show, and a new iconography workshop.