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Alaska and Yukon Headlines

Leary Vies For Miss Indian World Crown

Wed, 2014-04-16 17:47

Bethel resident Megan Leary is heading to Albuquerque, New Mexico later this month to vie for the title of Miss Indian World. The former Miss Cama-I is preparing and raising money for her trip.

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Each contestant competes five areas: public speaking, personal interview, traditional presentation, dance and essay. Leary says she’s exited to represent Alaska.

“There will be girls from all across the nation and Canada and Mexico – different indigenous girls, young ladies my age that will be going and competing. They’ll be going and competing and showcasing their culture, their traditions and their background, where they’re from and their talent and just their knowledge of who we are as indigenous people.”

Leary grew up in Kalskag and Napaimute, and graduated from Bethel Regional High School. She was Miss Cama-i 2013 and went on to become Miss World Eskimo Indian Olympics, or Miss Weio. She says she’s putting the finishing touches on her regalia.

“I’m still beading and sewing some of the last of my regalia. You know I made myself an Athabascan dress. I beaded for that. I’m making a pair of Athabascan style mukluks, cause I’m Yup’ik and Athabascan and I have a lot of the Yup’ik regalia already cause growing up here on the Kuskowkwim and so there was a lot of the Athabaskan stuff that I had to make. So there’s a lot of that that I’m still doing and I’m polishing my talent.”

Leary’s talent is skin sewing. She’ll have three minutes to present it to judges.

“I’ll talk about he importance of it culturally, and why we do it and what it means, like your stiches. And the types of materials that you use and what it means to me to be passing this skill on and teaching other people to do it cause it’s something that’s dying out off now that we can just go to the store and buy snow pants or a warm jacket.”

Leary says she is raising money to fund her trip.

“You can go to go fund me dot com and type in my name, Megan Leary, in the search bar and it will pull up my little account and you can just click in there and donate money right there directly through your debit card or bank account.”

Leary will compete in the Miss Indian World Cultural Pageant April 22ndthrough the 26th at the annual Gathering of Nations Powwow in Albuquerque. She’s raising $3-thousand dollars to cover, airfare, lodging , transportation and other pageant expenses. She’s raised over 1-thousand dollars as of Monday April 14th.

Wrangell Hospital Renovations Don’t Preclude New Facility

Wed, 2014-04-16 17:47

Like many hospitals in Southeast Alaska, Wrangell Medical Center is starting to look its age. A brand new hospital is still the long-term plan, but for now, the building is getting a much-needed makeover.

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Institutional. That’s the word that best describes the old look of Wrangell Medical Center.

The walls are a generically dreary tan. The banisters are scratched. The floors show the wear and tear of a thousand muddy shoes scuffing up the walkway.

It looks…like a hospital.

“It’s utilitarian,” says hospital CEO Marla Sanger.

We’re in the basement of the medical center, walking down a hallway to a positively tiny room. It’s barely big enough to squeeze in some chairs and a desk and maybe a yoga mat.

“But this area in here was the space where most of the physical therapy activity occurred. It has one window that looks out at a wall where a little bit of indirect light gets in. But other than that it’s very much just the harsh lighting, it’s got a grey carpet. There still was very excellent care provided here but it is not an atmosphere that says welcome, come in, you’ve come to the right place,” says Sanger.

The hospital has struggled with its public image for the past couple of years. But it’s making some major changes in how it relates to its patients and the community.

That’s why Sanger says the time was right to freshen up the facility, too.

“It’s very treatment-like. I mean it feels, like you say, you feel like you’ve come here to have a treatment performed. Where, in the new physical therapy gym space, it feels to me much more like a health and wellness place- where people are coming in to achieve their optimal mobility and wellness,” says Sanger.

The new physical therapy space is upstairs. It’s a large room lined with mirrors. It’s filled with brightly colored therapy balls and lots of equipment and exercise machines.

The two rooms are like night and day.

And this change happened in less than a month. Earlier this year, the entire physical therapy program was overhauled. The department was given three weeks to strip it down to the basics, re-evaluate, and modernize.

“And their task was to redesign this space, to design new processes for physical therapy, design all their documentation tools, design the way patients would get registered, the scheduling, everything. They identified pieces of equipment that we didn’t have that they ordered and then, from the time that they arrived to three weeks later, we went from what you saw downstairs to this new space,” says Sanger.

The problem with re-doing one part of the hospital is that it underscores just how much the rest of the building needs a makeover too.

“And I would kind of liken it to when you fix up a room of your house and then the rest of your house suddenly doesn’t look so good. That feels kind of like what happened when we improved the physical therapy space and built the beautiful new gym. And then all of a sudden, we’re looking at everything a bit askance. And that’s why we’re doing this. It just needs to look better,” says Sanger.

Sanger says she was strict with budgeting the renovations and shopped around carefully to get the most bang for the hospital’s bucks.

The walls are getting a fresh coat of paint. Instead of the old peachy tan, they’re sunny yellow on top with rich green on the bottom. The old, worn banisters are getting re-finished. And new carpets line the hallways.

And, to further break from the old institutional feel, she involved hospital staff in parts of the decision-making process.

Kris Reed is a development assistant for the hospital. She’s also an artist with a flair for color. So, she helped choose the paint.

“I did a little bit of research online and found that greens and blues were colors that were recommended for places where people were being treated for a variety of different things. Just in looking at the colors available to us, it seemed like a good decision,” says Reed.

She chose some color options and posted samples around the building for staff to vote on. Once the feedback was in, the colors went up.

“Oh it makes a huge difference in how people feel in the space and to some degree, depending on the space, how productive you can be,” says Reed.

Reed says it makes it a more pleasant place for both patients and staff. It’s inviting. But that doesn’t mean the hospital stops here.

CEO Marla Sanger says that these renovations don’t replace plans for a brand new facility.

“Just because we’re doing these improvements right now doesn’t mean in any way that we’re not still very interested and very much wanting a new hospital. And we are going to be continuing to try for that. It might be a bit difficult but we are going to just try one step at a time to get back on track, get it going again,” says Sanger.

But in the meantime she says, the hospital can continue to care for the community in a freshened up space with a brand new outlook.

Origami Peace Peacock Finds Home In The State Capitol

Wed, 2014-04-16 17:46

The origami peacock for peace is made of more than 2,000 pieces of paper. It’s three feet wide and roughly two feet tall. (Photo by Lisa Phu, KTOO – Juneau)

Middle East exchange student Haytham Mohanna and the Thunder Mountain High School Art Club presented an origami peacock of peace to the Alaska State Legislature on Monday. The peacock is made of more than 2,000 pieces of folded paper.

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Mohanna says the peacock represents the dreams of the people of Gaza, his home country.

“I hope this peacock, which symbolizes the peace, go in each mind and each heart, and really rise our mind about the wars and conflicts,” Mohanna says.

Mohanna is studying at Haines High School through an exchange program funded by the U.S. State Department.

He learned how to make an origami peacock from a teacher in Gaza and taught the process to Thunder Mountain art club students while he was visiting Juneau. It took the club three months to fold more than 2,000 pieces of paper. The peacock is about three feet wide and two feet tall.

Art club coordinator Heather Ridgway says she didn’t immediately know where the peacock should be displayed. She wanted it to be in a place where it could inspire people.

“It was like, ‘Oh, of course, we’ll take it to the capitol. They are working on major issues that require everyone to commit time and attention and do a careful job and work together and be patient, just like making this peacock. Let’s give it to the legislature,’” Ridgway says.

Juneau Sen. Dennis Egan calls Mohanna an artist and says the peacock will definitely inspire visitors to the capitol and lawmakers.

“I can guarantee you that people will reflect on it and hopefully bring good things and remember that, you know, we’re all trying to come in peace,” Egan says.

Until a permanent place can be found for the origami peacock, it’s temporarily displayed in the House Speaker’s Chambers.

Alaska Trails Conference Kicks Off Next Week

Wed, 2014-04-16 17:46

With all its public lands and scenic values, it’s no surprise that Alaska has an advocacy organization for trails – for walking, skiing, bicycling, off-road vehicle riding and trekking. Called “Alaska Trails,” the group has statewide conferences every couple of years, and the next one starts April 24th at Alaska Pacific University.

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You can start with this – there’s never enough money.

Participants in the Alaska Trails Conference will probably be greeted next week with the news that the $400,000 trail building and maintenance money they wanted in the capital budget did not survive this legislative session – once again. But trail advocates are used to that and this will be about how to build alliances to make things happen. For instance, in and around Park City, Utah, there is now a huge network of trails.

“We have really been lucky with that,” trail builder, designer and consultant Troy Duffin said. “We now brag about having almost four hundred miles of public trails here, and that’s in about in a hundred square mile area.”

Duffin has been involved in making much of that Park City trail network happen. Duffin has been a consultant on several Alaska jobs, including re-conditioning the trails in Anchorage’s Far North Bicentennial Park. He’ll be a keynote speaker at the conference at APU, discussing how to get local buy-in for trails, particularly property owners – nervous about plans for incoming trails:

“It can be a very tough nut to get somebody to understand that a trail in close proximity to their home is a benefit because if you’re not used to it, the first blush is – Well I’ve heard everything, burglary and fire and personal crimes and voyeurism and anything you can imagine that the fears go through a homeowner or a property owner’s mind right off the bat. But without fail, every time a trail has gone in that I am aware of, property owners have just settled in and all those fears have dissipated and, whether they use it or love it or not, they at least are no longer afraid of it and do see it as a benefit,” Duffin said.

Along with a healthy lifestyle the benefit includes real money, with increased property values, and a quality of life valued by a young, creative work-force, and hence the companies seeking to employ them. And a trail holds onto valued green space in a city. The city of Anchorage has already seen this. For Alaska Trails Executive Director Steve Cleary the next task is making the trails connect.

“That’s one of the most interesting questions for me as I look at the conference is that interface between what I’ll just for ease of syntax, say, urban and rural trails, or connecting cities to the trails or the trails back into the cities,” Cleary said.

That’s going in the right direction – right into the cities, says Troy Duffin.

“It’s a very challenging thing to do, but what we’ve found is that most users really appreciate the opportunity to not have to y’know put their bike or skis on or in the car, and to be able to access things directly from their homes, and while it can be very difficult to do in a lot of areas, it seems to be very worthwhile to put in that effort and to connect people that closely,” Duffin said.

But how do you do that with little or no money? Duffin says in Park City they figured out what the benefits of their trail network would be, then backed it up and went out and made their case to civic organizations and local governments to get behind it.

“We were able to work with them and help prove up the fact that tourists and other visitors to the area are more likely to get out and use the systems if there is a connecting trail close in,” Duffin said. “You know, they have to be able to see and touch and feel that. Then those groups, and I’m talking again about the Chamber, the Muni and others, were willing to get behind it with support and funding, and then that led to the ability to offer up things to the reluctant private owners, which is typically, money.”

The money can then be used to purchase easements or corridors to make those last connections between the routes – an issue they call the “last mile.” And it turns out that Alaska’s largest city does have some buy-in, in the form of a “Live-Work-Play” initiative that the civic groups have already signed on to.

The conference is open to public participation, and there’s a free public talk next Friday by Olympic skier Holly Brooks, right next to the trails she trains on.

Alaska News Nightly: April 16, 2014

Wed, 2014-04-16 17:23

Individual news stories are posted on the APRN news page. You can subscribe to APRN’s newsfeeds via emailpodcast and RSS. Follow us on Facebook at alaskapublic.org and on Twitter @aprn.

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House Speaker Adds Agrium to Refinery Assistance Bill

Liz Ruskin, APRN – Washington DC

Governor Sean Parnell’s $150 million bill to subsidize Alaska’s oil refineries grew to $200-million today, when House Speaker Mike Chenault expanded it to include the Agrium fertilizer plant in Nikiski.

House Finance Committee Considers UAF Power Plant Project

Alexandra Gutierrez, APRN – Juneau

At $245 million, the biggest item in the capital budget before the Legislature is a power plant for the University of Alaska Fairbanks campus. The project is now before the House Finance Committee for review, and lawmakers are less surprised by the price tag than how the funding package works in the first place.

USDA Files Complaint Against UAF

The Associated Press

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has accused the University of Alaska Fairbanks of possible Animal Welfare Act violations in the starvation deaths of 12 musk oxen at its large-animal research station.

USDA spokeswoman Tanya Espinosa said today an administrative judge will decide whether the university will face fines an animal rights group hopes total $10,000 for each animal.

University spokeswoman Marmian Grimes says the school is working on a response to the complaint.

The USDA says the university failed to provide adequate veterinary care, identify that the musk oxen were losing weight or enlist veterinary treatment. The animals died or were euthanized in 2010 and 2011.

The complaint filed in late March follows a request by the group Stop Animal Exploitation Now to investigate the school.

Bill Arming VPSOs Goes To Governor’s Desk

Zachariah Hughes, KNOM – Nome

Village Public Safety Officers will soon be able to carry fire arms if Governor Sean Parnell signs a measure approved this morning in the Senate.

State House Approves Alaska Native Language Bill

Casey Kelly, KTOO – Juneau

The Alaska House of Representatives approved a bill on Wednesday that would symbolically recognize 20 Alaska Native languages as official state languages. House Bill 216 passed on a 38-0 vote.

With less than a week to go in this year’s legislative session, the Senate State Affairs Committee will hear the bill tomorrow.

Leary Vies For Miss Indian World Crown

Daysha Eaton, KYUK – Bethel

Bethel resident Megan Leary is heading to Albuquerque, New Mexico later this month to vie for the title of Miss Indian World. The former Miss Cama-I is preparing and raising money for her trip.

Origami Peace Peacock Finds Home In The State Capitol

Lisa Phu,  KTOO – Juneau

Middle East exchange student Haytham Mohanna and Juneau’s Thunder Mountain High School Art Club presented an origami peacock of peace to the Alaska State Legislature on Monday. The peacock is made of more than 2,000 pieces of folded paper.

Wrangell Hospital Renovations Don’t Preclude New Facility

Shady Grove Oliver, KSTK – Wrangell

Like many hospitals in Southeast Alaska, Wrangell Medical Center is starting to look its age. A brand new hospital is still the long-term plan, but for now, the building is getting a much-needed makeover.

Alaska Trails Conference Kicks Off Next Week

Steve Heimel, APRN – Anchorage

With all its public lands and scenic values, it’s no surprise that Alaska has an advocacy organization for trails – for walking, skiing, bicycling, off-road vehicle riding and trekking.  Called “Alaska Trails,” the group has statewide conferences every couple of years, and the next one starts April 24th at Alaska Pacific University.

Anchorage makes plans to use 2013 budget surplus

Wed, 2014-04-16 16:12
Anchorage makes plans to use 2013 budget surplus With $15 million in savings and increased revenue from last year, Anchorage leaders are considering ways to put the extra money to good use -- while keeping an eye on the reality that state money may be harder to come by in the years ahead.April 16, 2014

Hunters, viewers politely exchange firm stances

Wed, 2014-04-16 14:43
The division between avid bear hunters and those who want to ban roadside hunting continued Tuesday night, just as it has for more than a decade.

Choices at the ready for roadside hunting issue

Wed, 2014-04-16 14:40
A number of options exist in considering the issue of roadside hunting for bears versus wildlife viewing opportunities, an official with Environment Yukon told a public meeting Tuesday night.

Mayor argues against sale of Wann Road property

Wed, 2014-04-16 14:36
Mayor Dan Curtis isn’t ruling out the possibility of land on Wann Road being sold in the future, but he says now is not the right time.

In My Family: What is your name?

Wed, 2014-04-16 14:20


Dewey Hoffman teaches Raven how to ask, What is your name? in his Native Alaskan language, Denaakk’e – Koyukon Athabascan.

‘No limitation’ for Texas-bound Tait

Wed, 2014-04-16 14:02
Whitehorse wheelchair athlete Darryl Tait has refused to let his injury keep him down.

International friendly

Wed, 2014-04-16 14:00
Juneau striker Marlena Romanoff (8) puts a shot past Whitehorse goalie Alice Frost-Hanberg during a U-14 soccer game Saturday at the Canada Games Centre. Juneau would win 2-1.

Roadhouse sweeps up victory in year-end broomball event

Wed, 2014-04-16 13:58
Roadhouse overcame the league champion Spectrum Security Bears to win the annual Function in the Junction broomball tournament last weekend.

Anchorage physician charged with more than $300,000 in Medicaid fraud

Wed, 2014-04-16 13:28
Anchorage physician charged with more than $300,000 in Medicaid fraud Dr. Shubhranjan Ghosh and his office manager allegedly falsified Medicaid records whenever company finances were down, sometimes picking patients at random and billing the office manager's seven children for services that were never performed.April 16, 2014

Teams of Southeast Alaska divers count herring, urchins, geoducks to manage fisheries

Wed, 2014-04-16 13:06
Teams of Southeast Alaska divers count herring, urchins, geoducks to manage fisheries The Southeast Alaska dive team consists of 24 divers, a mix of commercial fisheries area management biologists, assistant area biologists, herring and shellfish research biologists, and a few biologists from other divisions.April 16, 2014

Canada boycotts Moscow Arctic Council meeting over Ukraine

Wed, 2014-04-16 13:06
Canada boycotts Moscow Arctic Council meeting over Ukraine Canada's commitment to the Arctic Council remains strong, but representatives skipped the meeting to make a statement about Russia's actions in Crimea and elsewhere, officials said..April 16, 2014

Bald eagles' return is sign of spring, birthing season at wildlife center

Wed, 2014-04-16 13:02
Bald eagles' return is sign of spring, birthing season at wildlife center As roughly a dozen eagles make their way back to the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center in Southcentral Alaska, officials prepare for the center's birthing season.April 16, 2014

In 6-minute hearing, House panel extends refinery subsidy to Agrium in Nikiski

Wed, 2014-04-16 11:36
In 6-minute hearing, House panel extends refinery subsidy to Agrium in Nikiski A bill to subsidize in-state refineries Alaska refineries expanded Tuesday with the addition of the shuttered Agrium fertilizer plant. The $10 million amendment, introduced by House Speaker Mike Chenault, was introduced at 9:25 a.m. and adopted two minutes later, with one minute for public testimony in between. April 16, 2014

Huggins: Late Saturday Target To Finish Work

Wed, 2014-04-16 09:54

Senate President Charlie Huggins says lawmakers are aiming to complete their work by Saturday night.

Sunday is the scheduled end of the 90-day session, but that’s Easter. Legislative leaders have said they’d like to complete their work before then, if possible.

There are several major pieces in play, including the budgets and bills dealing with education, the state’s unfunded pension obligation and setting the state’s participation rate in a major liquefied natural gas project.

Also pending is a bill to raise Alaska’s minimum wage. The House narrowly passed such legislation Sunday, amid questions of lawmakers’ motives. Voters are scheduled to vote on a similar measure later this year.

Huggins says the bill would need to have the votes to reach the Senate floor. He said that could be a challenge.

Saint Marys Man Dead In ATV Accident

Wed, 2014-04-16 09:48

A Saint Marys man has died in a one-vehicle crash involving an all-terrain vehicle.

Alaska State Troopers say in a web posting that 27-year-old Joe Bryan Joe died at the scene of the accident, near the confluence of the Andreafsky and Yukon rivers.

Troopers were notified of the death about 5 a.m. Tuesday.

Joe’s next-of-kin have been notified, and the body will be sent to Anchorage for an autopsy.

A passenger on the ATV received minor injuries, and was treated at a local clinic.

Troopers say alcohol and poor weather are believed to have played a role in the accident.

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