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Southeast Alaska News
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.
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.
Ketchikan school board member Michelle O’Brien gives an update on the August 14th meeting. SB081513
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“Deadliest Catch” skipper rescues crew of stricken seiner off coast of Prince of Wales Island. Assembly allows South Benchlands sale to move forward, trusts developer to create affordability. Trees and trails prompt assembly questions.
Alaska’s Little Norway has just been named the friendliest community for young families in the state. It’s a designation made by a San Francisco-based consumer-advocacy website. And while there are tons of “best-of” lists out there, this one might mean something.
Not long ago, Sally Dwyer was checking her email at the Petersburg Chamber of Commerce. She found an intriguing message.
It said the Southeast city had been selected as the best town in Alaska for young families.
“When I opened it, I went, ‘How’d they find out that we’re one of the best-keep secrets in Alaska?’ And then I realized they did their homework and discovered it on their own,” Dwyer says.
The recognition comes from a California website company called NerdWallet.
It’s one of those high-tech research firms that gives its employees catered lunches, happy hours and company trips to cool places like Lake Tahoe.
But mostly, it bills itself as a consumer website, providing independent comparisons of credit card charges, banking costs, hospital ratings and so on.
“We kind of go into all the major financial decisions you have to make and we provide information that helps consumers make better informed decisions,” says Divya Raghavan, a NerdWallet analyst.
She says Petersburg hit No. 1 for its ratings on three key factors. (Read more about the rankings.)
One is schools, with the town hitting nine out of 10 items on NerdWallet’s educational checklist. Another is growth, including population and economy.
The third just might surprise you, if you’ve been to the grocery store lately.
“So we looked at the medium home costs and the monthly ownership costs and Petersburg is one of the most affordable for young families in Alaska,” she says.
After Petersburg, nine other Alaska cities – none of them big – were rated the most livable for young families.
Raghavan says the ratings are based on a data model, using U.S. Census Bureau information. But there’s a human hand in there too.
NerdWallet does other lists, such as the best cities for working women, the best credit cards for traveling, the best cities for recent college grads – you get the picture.
It’s still a business. It researches and publicizes these lists to bring traffic to its website.
But Raghavan says they’re based on real information.
“These definitely aren’t due to chance. They’re due to very conscious decisions that the residents of these cities and their governments make,” she says.
Sally Dwyer, of Petersburg’s Chamber of Commerce, hopes that’s true.
She’s going to bring the best-of rating up with her board, but she already has plans.
“I’m hoping we can use it with our marketing tolls when people want relocation information. We can send them this clip and say this is what a lot of people think about our town,” Dwyer says.
Young Alaska families isn’t the only list Alaska’s Little Norway tops.
Petersburg is the highest vote-getter in a Yachting Magazine Facebook poll. It’s asking which is the top yachting town in America. And right now, it’s outpolling nine other cities, including Seattle, New Orleans and San Francisco.
Dweyer hopes you’ll go to the magazine’s page and vote for the city of your choice – as long as it’s Petersburg.
ANCHORAGE — A remote Alaska volcano is again oozing lava into its ice-filled caldera, but the activity is no cause for alarm for nearby villagers, scientists said Wednesday.
Seismic activity and satellite imagery indicated Veniaminof Volcano began emitting a low-level lava flow Sunday, after about a week of quiet behavior, said Game McGimsey, a volcanologist with the Alaska Volcano Observatory in Anchorage.
The Sitka assembly is moving ahead with the sale of about 20 acres of Benchlands property to a local developer — but what is ultimately built on the land will depend on market forces, rather than on an affordable housing plan.
The assembly agreed to proceed with drawing up an agreement with Sound Development, LLC, after a lengthy discussion about whether city hall should try include language requiring that the result be affordable.
Sound Development is the name of a relatively new business created by Sitkans Todd Fleming and Jeremy Twaddle. Back in April, the pair submitted a 44-page proposal outlining their idea for developing the Benchlands.
Twaddle is a professional builder who’s put in years of service on Sitka’s Planning and Zoning Commission. He summed up Sitka’s basic problem as follows:
In this town there doesn’t seem to be a shortage of houses or builders, or individuals or entities qualified to build buildings. There’s just a serious shortage of land to do that. Sitka’s been burdened with these challenges for years, and it’s getting to a critical point again where people look online or in the newspaper, and there’s a very limited amount of vacant land — raw land available to build on that’s fully served by utilities and roads and the appropriate infrastructure. And of those lots that are available, many of them are what you might call higher end — ocean view lots, oceanfront lots. So there’s nothing on the lower end, and nothing in the mid-range that’s out there on the market right now. It creates a void, and it stagnates new development if there’s nowhere to build. Building construction can’t continue. Outside, or inside people can’t continue to grow their families here within Sitka. We’re just trying to attack it at the very foundation, the very base level of trying to provide the land.
Twaddle and Fleming submitted their plan in response to a Request for Proposals — or RFP — for the development of about 20 acres of property called the South Benchlands. This is the area along Kramer Drive as you turn up the road from Sandy Beach. There are four large parcels in the proposed sale, on both sides of the road.
The language of the RFP followed language in the Sitka Comprehensive Plan, and although it doesn’t require an affordable housing program, it points in that direction by asking developers to “encourage diverse housing types and densities in order to assure decent housing for all persons in all income groups.”
Twaddle and Fleming propose creating diversity by developing lots in a way that could allow for the construction of Planned Unit Developments — PUD’s — or cluster homes, and some other higher density possibilities. The rest would be up to the market.
This is where the assembly bogged down. Should the sales agreement for the land somehow be written to enforce the spirit of the RFP, or would the market alone be enough?
Some on the assembly thought this was going too far. Among them, Pete Esquiro.
“I’d like to see the whole kit and kaboodle up there sold to a private developer, and let’s get out of the real estate business altogether. Well here’s one step toward getting out of the real estate business, and you’ve got to take the first stroke on this swim sometime”
And Thor Christianson.
“You know we first started talking, saying We’re going to try and figure out a way to do it with the RFP. I’m coming back to, I just want to sell it. The land is restricted by its zoning, by the development process. We know what their plan is. I don’t have a problem just selling it.”
But that opened a legal can of worms. Acting administrator Mike Harmon and municipal attorney Robin Koutchak were concerned about just dropping the terms of the RFP, especially when Twaddle and Fleming had gone to such lengths to respond to it. An outright sale, Koutchak said, may require putting the land back out on the open market. She thought the assembly was straying from its objective.
“There was talk at the last meeting on the 23rd from the assembly — the talk was quite different. The talk then was about affordable housing and what would be built there. And the RFP was geared towards affordable housing. And now what I’m hearing from the assembly is a completely different tone saying, We want out of the real estate business. And you’re saying you don’t care what they build up there because the market’s going to dictate it.”
Koutchak was encouraging the assembly to be specific in the sales agreement, if it desired a specific outcome from the sale.
In the end, it may have been a couple of factors — fear of micro-managing, as Matt Hunter put it — and an overall trust in Twaddle and Fleming to stick to their plan, that led the assembly to allow the interim administration and Sound Development to move ahead on a sales agreement based on the RFP.
Mayor Mim McConnell said all the pieces were there.
“The RFP and Sound Development’s proposal does address affordable housing. So I feel they’re being responsive to the RFP in that regard.”
The assembly’s vote was 7-0. The sales agreement will go back to the assembly for final approval at a future meeting.
ANCHORAGE — A Coast Guard report on the grounding of a Royal Dutch Shell PLC drill vessel likely will not be made public until early 2014, according to a spokesman for the agency.
The Coast Guard in May conducted nine days of hearings in Anchorage that reviewed the grounding of the Kulluk off a small Alaska island. Representatives of Shell, rig operator Noble Corp., and tow vessel operator Edison Chouest Offshore were among the witnesses.
ANCHORAGE — An Alaska serial killer buried three victims in the state of Washington and submerged two others in a lake there but refused to provide many more details about their whereabouts, according to interviews released Tuesday by the FBI.
The FBI posted more than six hours of videotaped interviews on the Internet that agents, Anchorage police and federal prosecutors conducted with Israel Keyes in the months before his suicide in an Anchorage jail.
JUNEAU VOCATIONAL SCHOOL EXPANDS
By JENNIFER CANFIELD
Classes at the Vocational Training and Resource Center are now open to the public thanks to accreditation from the Alaska Commission on Postsecondary Education. The vocational school, which is operated by the Tlingit-Haida Central Council, was previously open to only tribal members. The school’s manager, Laird Jones, said the accreditation is good for the council and for the community.
View Sinkings in a larger map
A world-famous crabber rescued five people from a sinking seiner near Prince of Wales Island early Wednesday morning.
The Homer-based fishing vessel Time Bandit is known for its role in the “Deadliest Catch” reality TV series, which focuses on Bering Sea fisheries.
But right now, it’s in southern Southeast fishing for salmon, a vessel crewmember said via Facebook.
The Time Bandit was near Dall Island, on the outer coast of southern Prince of Wales island, about 4:30 this morning. That’s when the 56-foot seiner Coral Sea ran aground.
It picked up the skipper and four crewmembers, who had gotten into a life raft.
At last report, the Coral Sea was partially underwater. The Coast Guard says it’s owned by a Sitka fisherman.
In a separate incident, the Pacific Queen sunk around midnight Tuesday near Lung Island, southwest of Petersburg and west of Wrangell.
Coast Guard spokesman Jonathan Klingenberg says the 75-foot tender’s crew asked for help after it began taking on water.
“That vessel is sunk in about 40 fathoms of water and the cause of the sinking is still under investigation,” Klingenberg says.
He says the skipper and crewmembers abandoned ship and escaped in a life raft.
The Coast Guard dispatched a helicopter from Sitka. But the three on board were picked by the fishing vessel Windham Bay and taken into Petersburg.
“This crew that was forced to abandon ship, they were prepared for a worse case scenario. They had a life raft that they could get on to and they had an EPIRB (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon), which allowed them to be located in a timely manner,” he says.
The Pacific Queen was tendering for SeaLevel Seafoods, based in Wrangell. The company says it will not comment on the sinking at this time.
Klingenberg says the Pacific Queen had about 1,000 gallons of diesel on board. The Coral Sea had about 500.
A Coast Guard helicopter is flying over the sites of two sinkings today (Wednesday) to check for any pollution. So far, none has been spotted.