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Alaska and Yukon Headlines
The Thanksgiving season is known in America for its big family meals. For many people in Southcentral, that meal is able to happen because of the generosity of a number of individuals and organizations.
“Green beans, apples, peas, corn, stuffing, butter, potatoes, apples, turkeys, and all kind of little homemade cakes and cookies…anything you’d need for a Thanksgiving dinner.”
That’s Food Pantry Director Shirley Lungaro describing what was on offer at the Upper Susitna Senior Center on Saturday afternoon. The Thanksgiving Blessing event is one of two major holiday food distributions. The second will happen next month in preparation for Christmas. Shirley Lungaro says that hundreds of people will have Thanksiving dinner thanks to the collaborative event.
“We’re expecting at least 150….That’s just us, here. I don’t know how many Trapper Creek is going to serve. I imagine fifty to a hundred up there.”
Distributing that many baskets means a lot of food. Volunteer Dave Ward talked turkey with me. He says that the Upper Susitna Food Pantry was distributing over two tons of food, about half of which was the traditional bird. In order to get that food to the families that needed it, over thirty volunteers turned out, including many students. In addition to volunteers who signed up, Shirley Lungaro said some arrived on the day, ready to help.
“We have been so blessed this year with volunteers. As a matter of fact, I sent some of them home, earlier, because we had so many here. They said they would come back this afternoon and help us break up.”
The Upper Susitna event was just one of half a dozen Thanksgiving Blessing distributions on Saturday. In all, the Food Bank of Alaska says that 1,963 baskets were given out in the Valley. Executive Director Mike Miller was at Talkeetna’s distribution, and says it’s good for him and his staff to attend the local events.
“On a day-to-day basis, we work with twenty-five partner agencies in the Valley, and soup kitchens and food pantries. We’re usually one step removed. we’re helping the people who are helping the people. This is an event where we get to go out and see things going on first-hand and work with the folks who are doing it. It’s really grounding, and it really brings it back to why we’re here; there are people in our communities that are dealing with hunger on a daily basis.”
The Anchorage Thanksgiving Blessing was held Monday, and Mike Miller says the number of families who received baskets is up from last year.
“For this year…we had a total of 8,038, which is right in the range we were expecting. That’s up from 7,497 from the year before, so about a seven percent increase.”
Assuming an average of a fifteen pound turkey per basket, that means over seventy-five tons in poultry alone. Mike Miller says a project of that scale requires a massive undertaking and a lot of help.
“It’s an amazing amount of effort for Food Bank staff, for literally hundreds of volunteers, dozens of agencies, dozens of businesses who donate money, turkey, time. It’s really a huge, community-wide event.”
Listing all of the partner groups would not fit into this story, since Mike Miller says there are over 300 of them. The volunteers both in the Valley and Anchorage are already gearing up for next month’s events.
Gathering ingredients for a Thanksgiving feast may seem simple to folks living along Kodiak’s road system – simply go to the grocery store. But things are not quite as easy if you’re living in Karluk, a village on the west side of Kodiak with less than 50 people.
Karluk has no local store, and all of the residents’ groceries have to be ordered from shops in Kodiak, and then flown in by small planes. This way of getting groceries proves to be more complicated, and a little more expensive around the holidays.
“The dried goods we have mailed out, so it’s just postal rates, but anything that’s cold or frozen we have to get shipped out at 90, I think it’s 92 cents a pound,” said Russ Scotter, a teacher at the Karluk School. He has been living in Karluk for seven years. Scotter celebrates Thanksgiving, and his traditional dinner includes a turkey, albeit an expensive one.
“We have to put in order in, to Safeway, and then they have to fly it out, and because it’s a frozen turkey, usually, it comes on the plane, and then we pay 90 some cents a pound, just to get it out here,” he said.
Ronnie Lind, a long time Karluk resident, also celebrates Thanksgiving with his family.
“The cost of the turkey is probably the price that everybody pays for it in Kodiak,” Lind said. “It’s no less than a total freight cost, it’s probably more than $100.”
Other villages on Kodiak also get turkeys sent out for Thanksgiving. April Carlough, the assistant manager at Island Air, said there are more flights for people going to visit their families for the holiday, and she sees a rise in grocery orders around this time of year. Carlough also said because the turkeys are frozen, the shipping prices would be a little higher than regular prices.
“It just depends you know. If it was just one turkey, then it would be, like $24, to any one of the villages.”
Kodiak Area Native Association, or KANA, used to run a program to send turkeys out to the village elders during Thanksgiving, and Island Air brought them out. The program is not running this year, but a KANA spokesperson said that they hope to bring it back in the future.
Sharon Andrews used to be the Postmaster in Emmonak. Between 2010 and 2012 she stole several registered mail packages that each contained large amounts of cash inside.
In May of 2010, she took three packages that contained $44,000. In September that year, she took another package that included $25,000, and in October of 2012, she took five additional packages, which contained $93,100 inside.
All of the packages were supposed to be forwarded on to the AC Store in the nearby village of Kotlik.
Andrews, 54, pled guilty to four felony charges that she stole mail as an officer or employee of the U.S. Postal Service. Chief U.S. District Court Judge Ralph Beistline sentenced her to four months in prison and three years of supervised release.
She also has to pay most of the money back—$164,700 dollars. She had already paid back the difference, from some of the stolen money that she had kept.
She told the court that she burned most of the money out of anger from people in the village using it on drugs and alcohol. She admitted to spending a little of it on a used car and other items.
Registered mail is tracked and insured. Assistant U.S. Attorney Bryan Schroder says while it wasn’t obvious who had stolen the money there were receipts showing a limited number of people who would have handled the mail.
December Schedule Highlights
Alaska Public Media is proud to bring you the finest public television available. For December, we’ve got a few new programs as well as some favorite chestnuts.
Return to Downton Abbey
Thursday, December 5 at 7pm.
How Sherlock Changed The World
The fictional Sherlock Holmes was a scientist who used chemistry, bloodstains and minute traces of evidence to catch criminals. In an era when eyewitness reports and “smoking gun” evidence were needed to convict criminals, Sherlock Holmes’ crime-scene methods were revolutionary. Forensic scientists, crime historians and Sherlockian experts reveal for the first time the astonishing impact Arthur Conan Doyle’s creation had on the development of real-life criminal investigation and forensic techniques. With a mix of interviews, dramatic reconstruction and archives, the program tells the story of the impact and legacy of the most famous crime fighter in history.
Sunday, December 17 at 8pm
The Ends of the Earth
Explore the cload-cloaked landscape of Alaska’s wild peninsula where bears outnumber humans. This nature documentary takes us to some of the least visited places on the planet, including Katmai National Park.
Wednesday, December 4 at 7pm
Our Complete December Schedules:
Billy Strickland of Bethel has been chosen to run the Alaska School Activities Association. He’ll be starting the job as Executive Director next summer. Strickland has been working in the Bethel area for 25 years.
“What I think it gives me is a lot of insight in terms of some of the challenges for running programs in Rural Alaska,” Strickland says.
His Southern drawl is deceiving. He moved to Bethel when he was just 14 and he’s been here ever since except for when he left for college. Upon returning to the area he immediately got involved in coaching. It started with Native Youth Olympics for five years but he says he probably knows basketball better than anything other sport because he’s had a hand in coaching that on and off for 22 years.
“It’s a bug,” Strickland said. “When you coach you coach because you can’t not coach, almost. It’s a mission.”
For the past 12 years Strickland has also been the Dean of Students and Activities Director for Bethel Regional High School. Before that he taught high school social studies and accounting.
As ASAA executive director, he will manage seven staff and be responsible for authorizing 33 activities across Alaska.
Gary Matthews is retiring as ASAA’s director after 21 years.
“I think it’s the best job in the state,” Matthews said..
Matthews said the organization is often linked with sports and for good reason. It sponsors all high school championships throughout the state except for NYO. They certify coaches and license about 1,000 sport officials a year but Matthews said they do a lot more than that.
“We sponsor and oversee the student government association, we have two statewide music festivals,” Matthews said. “We have a debate, drama, and forensics state championship. We have a rural language declamation or people used to call [it] foreign language, which is a contest where kids recite poetry in certain languages and answer questions. We also have the only on-line all-state art competition in the country.”
Strickland was chosen by the organization’s board of directors and Matthews thinks they made the right choice. He says Strickland’s Rural Alaska background will be an asset.
“And the statewide perspective, that’s a big thing,” Matthews said. “Having a broad perspective and an appreciation for what goes on all over the state is very important. I think Billy brings that to the job.”
It won’t be easy for Strickland to leave Bethel. He says he’s leaving behind a job that he loves.
“I’d always kind of envisioned when I retired that I would be the blubbering idiot on the back of the plane leaving Bethel not knowing when I would be coming back,” Strickland said jokingly.
He does know, at least for the next school year, he will be visiting because his daughter and wife will stay here through his daughter’s senior year. He also knows that he will be seeing many local students when they make their way to statewide competitions in Anchorage.
Juneau’s Enroll Alaska agent Mike Clark has so far seen about 24 people, and appointments continue to come in.
After a delayed launch in Juneau, Clark started helping people sign up for health insurance at Bartlett Regional Hospital last week. “We have a backlog of about 75 people that have been wanting to get enrolled and I just see that increasing as we get closer to the December 15th cut off for January 1 starts,” he said.
Clark has seen individuals, families, and a couple small businesses owners – people from across the income spectrum.
“There are people that are eligible for subsidies, there are people that aren’t eligible for subsidies, there are people that are eligible for Medicaid, there are people that are just researching if they can get a better policy than their employer offers – a lot of shopping going on right now,” he said.
Clark said his normal schedule at Bartlett will be Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday afternoons, 1 to 5 .pm. With the holiday this week, Clark will be available for appointments on Friday afternoon.
Enroll Alaska’s Chief Operating Officer Tyann Boling said a second Juneau agent will be located at Walmart, hopefully, within the next two weeks, “Next week is the week that the website is supposed to be functioning better and we are going to be making a trip to Juneau and getting one of our other gents up and on board and then he will be working at the Walmart.”
Boling said healthcare.gov is still experiencing problems, making it difficult to sign people up for an insurance plan.
Clark said he’s had some positive experiences with the website but hasn’t completed an enrollment in Juneau yet.
Ah, Thanksgiving. A time for friends and family to gather around the table in love and friendship, so that we may all sit down, say grace, and stuff our faces full of delicious foods drenched in butter and cream.
Thanksgiving: the greatest holiday of them all.
At this point, what I really should tell you about is this delectable little recipe I am sharing with you for your holiday table. Perfect for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or any time during this chilly winter season. Acorn squash and sweet potatoes mingle together with maple syrup and a hint of rosemary for a fantastic, comforting side dish.
But what I really want to tell you about is how I’m getting a turkey on a plane for Thanksgiving.
You see, I’m not one for simple, pain-free holidays. They’re just too easy. I like complex, anxiety-inducing holidays that require multiple phone calls, web searches, a Facebook blast, and pleading for favors from family and friends. This all started because my bleeding, YUP-i-fied heart has watched far too many documentaries and read far too many books about the horrors of commercial poultry factories. To ease the burden on my conscience, I thought I would simply buy a local turkey for the Big Day. Easy-peasy, right?
WRONG, PEOPLE. Soooo wrong. Buying a local turkey in Alaska is about as easy as ordering ice cream in the middle of the desert. Local turkey purveyors Triple D Farms, made (in)famous in this fantastic gem of a video by a certain former Governor, closed down in 2011. A fairly extensive search on the web and several phone calls around the Anchorage/Mat-Su Valley area turned up ZERO turkeys for my table.
I told myself, “Heidi, suck it up. Just be like everyone else and go to the store and buy a damn turkey.” I mean, they’re perfectly decent turkeys! I grew up with them, and loved my turkey dinner at every Thanksgiving table. So I went to my favorite wholesale store (need a turkey and a generator and your tires rotated?), picked up an “organic” turkey, placed it in my cart and felt a little better. As I made my way to the front of the store, however, panic overcame me.
How exactly were these turkeys raised? Did they live a good life, running around with their brothers and sisters, left to roam free on grassy fields? A Google search of the company brand turned up exactly what I suspected: it was wholly-owned by one of the big, bad corporate poultry factories. My heart began to bleed again. I turned my cart around, traveled back to the cooler, and placed the frozen bird back into its resting place.
Having already given up on my local turkey, I called a locally-owned market that sells farm-raised turkeys for $85,700.00/pound. From the way they pitch it, these pasture-raised, spa-treated, college educated birds had a life in California better than most of us ever dreamed of. I swallowed the price tag and placed my order.
AND THEN IT HAPPENED.
My friend Renee texted me later that same day to tell me a friend of hers raises turkeys in Kenai for his family. And he had a SPARE he was willing to sell me. I was elated! The only hitch?
It’s in Kenai. And I’m in Anchorage. A 150 mile problem.
A few texts, a Facebook blast, and a couple phone calls later, I learn that my friend Mike is flying home from Kenai TODAY. I called him and simply asked if he’d do me a favor.
Mike: “Sure. What’s up?”
Me: “Uh. This might sound a little weird. Can you bring something home for me on the plane?”
Mike: “I think so, if it fits in my carry-on. What is it?”
Me: “A frozen, 20-pound turkey.”
Mike: “A FROZEN TWENTY POUND TURKEY?!?!?!”
When he said it like that, it really did sound a little crazy.
Luckily, Mike loves me. And my crazy antics.
So in about two hours, Mike is going to board a plane with a frozen 20-pound, Alaska-raised turkey. YIPEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
How in the world am I going to top this next year? :)
See more recipes at chenagirlcooks.blogspot.com
Maple and Rosemary Roasted Sweet Potatoes & Squash
1 acorn squash, halved and seeds scooped, and sliced into 10-12 wedges (leaving the skin on- it’s edible!)
1 sweet potato, sliced crosswise and into 8-10 wedges
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
Several grinds of fresh pepper
2 tablespoons real maple syrup
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
2 tablespoons butter
(1) Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
(2) Place the squash and potatoes on a shallow baking sheet. Toss with the olive oil, salt, pepper, syrup, and rosemary. Arrange in a single layer.
(3) Dollop the veggies with the butter (either by breaking it up with your fingers or sliced into small cubes with a knife).
(4) Bake for 35-40 minutes, flipping once halfway through, until golden brown.
Forty minutes wasn’t enough time to decide Tuesday’s game between the University of Alaska Anchorage and UC Riverside.
With the score remaining locked at the end of regulation and after the first 5 minutes of overtime, the UAA Seawolves pulled ahead and held on to win 83-75.
After a slow start, where the Seawolves shot 8-38 from the field, and only 2-12 from beyond the three-point line, the Seawolves trailed by 14 points at the halfway point.
UAA Head Coach Ryan McCarthy said going into the second half, the team was focused on remaining positive.
“We locked down defensively, and we just talked about controlling the things that we could control, which are defense and rebounds,” McCarthy said. “Ultimately, that led to fast-break baskets.”
“The game picked up in a faster pace, which is more our style, and that definitely went in our favor to bring the game into overtime.”
UC Riverside Head Coach John Margaritis gave credit to the Seawolves, saying his team was outplayed.
“If you weren’t ready to play, you paid,” he said. “They crashed the boards – they had 21 offensive rebounds; they beat us from point A to point B; they hit threes.”
UC Riverside didn’t make a single three-pointer, which Margaritis says was in large part to a stingy defense from UAA.
UAA junior guard Alli Madison, who finished the game with 17 points and 12 rebounds, said their defense was a major factor in the outcome of the game.
“That’s a lot of game plan,” she said. “We ran a zone that we’re zone that we’re pretty talented at when work hard, and in that second half we were a little motivated to get out and pressure and I think that’s really want did it in for them.”
UAA will face Georgetown University at 5:00 p.m. Wednesday night for the Great Alaska Shootout Championship.
The Seawolf men’s team will open up their tournament against Texas Christian at 10:00 p.m. Wednesday.
Artist Joel Isaak has spent the last few years working with an unusual material: fish skin leather. At a recent fashion show in Anchorage, he showed off some of his latest garments, and collected an award for his contribution to preserving a traditional Alaska Native process.November 26, 2013