On Air

Happening Now..

KHNS Program Guide (link)

Job Opportunity

 Development Director Position

KHNS has an immediate full time opening for an energetic, committed, personable Development Director. Click on the link for complete job description of this excellent opportunity!

KHNS 2014 Survey Results 

Submit and View KHNS Postings

Please use the following links to submit or view on-air messages :

Submissions must be approved and may be edited for content before appearing on the website or  read on-air.  If you would like a confirmation, please email the station at khns@khns.org. LPs are processed as soon as possible, please allow 3-5 days for process of PSA's . If submitting after 5pm or over the weekend announcements will not be approved until the following weekday.  
 

From Our Listeners

Alaska and Yukon Headlines

Parnell should have sent state official to NCAI in his place

Mon, 2014-07-07 20:08
Parnell should have sent state official to NCAI in his place OPINION: If Gov. Sean Parnell couldn't attend the Anchorage meeting of the National Congress of American Indians in June, he should have cared enough to send a senior representative.July 7, 2014

Rising foster care numbers make it hard to help kids in need

Mon, 2014-07-07 19:31
Rising foster care numbers make it hard to help kids in need A program that provides laptops that foster kids can use to stay in touch with their families is struggling to keep pace with the increasing number of Alaska young people in out-of-home care. July 7, 2014

Matanuska River flooding near Butte prompts some residents to evacuate

Mon, 2014-07-07 19:31
Matanuska River flooding near Butte prompts some residents to evacuate Rising water from the Matanuska River began to seep into the yards of some homes in the Butte area Monday evening, prompting voluntary evacuations, according to the Matanuska-Susitna Borough. July 7, 2014

Begich campaign, Republican group spar over operative's ejection from Fairbanks event

Mon, 2014-07-07 19:16
Begich campaign, Republican group spar over operative's ejection from Fairbanks event A Republican group is complaining that one of its staff members was kicked out of a public campaign event held in Fairbanks on Saturday by Democratic Sen. Mark Begich.July 7, 2014

Opponents attack Sullivan on 'stand your ground' law

Mon, 2014-07-07 18:53
Opponents attack Sullivan on 'stand your ground' law Senate candidate Dan Sullivan’s GOP primary opponents are escalating their attacks on the state’s former attorney general over his stance on Alaska’s “stand your ground” law.July 7, 2014

Fishing crewman falls overboard, dies near King Cove

Mon, 2014-07-07 18:38
Fishing crewman falls overboard, dies near King Cove Rudy Duskin Jr., 53, was pulling up the anchor on the 32-foot vessel Matt-Michelle when a large swell slammed into its side and flung him into the water, troopers said.July 7, 2014

For Seattle Cops, Marijuana Biz Is Business As Usual

Mon, 2014-07-07 17:57

The first marijuana retail shops are opening up in Washington this week. It’s the last big piece of a citizens’ initiative passed in 2012 that regulates the drug like alcohol. With Alaska voters considering a similar ballot measure this fall, APRN’s Alexandra Gutierrez checks in with Seattle law enforcement to see how they’re dealing with the new policy.

Download Audio

Seattle Hempfest is like stoner Lollapalooza … if Lollapalooza weren’t already friendly to stoners. Every year, musicians, actors, activists, and a quarter-million attendees come out to express their support for legal marijuana.

(Alexandra Gutierrez/APRN)

Last summer was the first time attendees who had the drug on them weren’t necessarily breaking state law, and the Seattle police department was ready for it.

“We basically crashed that party,” says Sgt. Sean Whitcomb, with the Seattle Police Department. “We gave out a thousand bags of Doritos with little informational stickers on them.”

Whitcomb handles public affairs for the department, and he still has one of the baggies on his desk nearly a year later. He gets a kick out of the do’s and don’ts plastered on the chips.

WHITCOMB: Don’t give, sell, or shotgun weed to people under 21. Don’t use pot in public. You could be cited, but we’d rather give you a warning. Do’s: Do listen to ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ at a reasonable volume. Do enjoy Hempfest.

Since Washington voters passed a marijuana initiative, possession crimes are a thing of the past. If you’re an adult, you can buy, hold, and smoke marijuana without running afoul of the law.

In a lot of places, this would be revolutionary from a policing standpoint. But in Seattle, not so much. The city stopped prosecuting minor drug crimes a decade ago, and Whitcomb says the passage of the initiative wasn’t a drastic change for his department.

“Yeah, not that big of a deal for us, because we already triage to go after those criminal events that are going to be jeopardizing people’s well-being.”

In the year since the initiative passed, Seattle’s violent crime rate has gone down two percent, while the total crime rate is up a single point. Whitcomb doesn’t say either of these shifts have anything to do with marijuana legalization. If anything, he thinks the lack of major movement on crime stats shows that Seattle hasn’t become a stoner paradise or gone to hell in a hemp-woven hand-basket.

“You are not going to be walking into a giant green haze of smoke. Seattle hasn’t really changed that much with the passage of I-502.”

But Whitcomb says that even if legalization opponents’ worst fears haven’t come to life, he gets where they were coming from.

“There was some reasonable fear that there might be increases in crime events. People had been concerned that there would be more underage use, people we concerned that there would be more dealing that had been driven underground. So, we wanted to make sure that we were letting people know what the changes were in law,” says Whitcomb. “And guess what: Kids have been smoking pot for years. They will continue to smoke pot for years. And it’s still a misdemeanor.”

Not every police officer within the Seattle PD is on board with the Department’s attitude, though. Last month, Seattle public radio station KUOW reported that two detectives left the media unit over disagreements involving marijuana legalization.

In Alaska, some law enforcement officials are also raising concerns. Last month, the Alaska Association of Chiefs of Police announced it would take $6 million to train officers to recognize marijuana crimes like driving under the influence. That number does not factor in money lost from drug forfeiture on the cost side of the balance sheet. But it also doesn’t take into account money not spent processing minor drug crimes or the potential of increased tax revenue for departments, savings touted by marijuana advocates.

AACOP Executive Director Kalie Klaysmat is generally wary of the measure, and of some of the positive news from Washington and Colorado.

“Anything that anyone is telling you there is purely anecdotal,” says Klaysmat. “It’s purely their sense of things, and that may or may not be accurate.”

Klaysmat’s preferred course of action would be to wait at least another election cycle to let the legalization experiment play out in other states.

“I mean it might not change the fact that we are going to have costs,” says Klaysmat. “But I think everybody would feel a lot better about it being able to have hard data from other states who have done it, rather than be in this world of speculation where one side is saying, ‘Oh, everything will be wonderful,” and the other side is saying ‘We’re not so sure.’”

Back in Seattle, the city’s former police chief thinks the experiment is playing out pretty well.

Norm Stamper meets me at a downtown coffee shop, and the only drug anyone seems to be consuming is caffeine. He served as a cop for 34 years, with six of those in charge of Seattle’s police department. Now, he’s involved with the group Law Enforcement Against Prohibition.

Stamper says he first started taking issue with anti-marijuana laws after getting a call where he had to kick a door in to arrest a high 19-year-old from his own home.

“That was my ‘a-ha’ moment,” says Stamper. “I would now spend three hours processing that arrest. I would have to inventory the soggy remains of his stash. I would have to write a case report, a narcotics impound report, and an arrest report. So, I was no longer available during those three hours to the men and women and children of my assigned area, my police beat.”

Stamper’s not surprised that some Alaska police chiefs are worried about training costs, and he even points out that a quarter of those surveyed don’t anticipate any problems. So far, he hasn’t really seen any in Seattle.

“The sky is still above us. You do not see crazed druggies accosting people on the streets or running naked down Fifth or Fourth Avenue,” says Stamper. “Life continues much as it has.”

Bears Maul Hiker Near Bird Ridge

Mon, 2014-07-07 17:47

A bear mauling in the Bird Creek area has sent one woman to an Anchorage hospital. At about 10:20 Monday morning, Alaska State Troopers got a call for help from a hiker on the Penguin Ridge trail.

Download Audio

Alaska State Trooper’s spokeswoman Megan Peters says  Troopers from Girdwood and emergency responders reached the scene, to find Suzanne Knudson, of Indian,  age 59, with serious injuries, after having been attacked by a bear sow with two cubs.

 ”Ms Knudson told us that while she was jogging she saw two brown bear cubs essentially come out of the brush onto the trail in front of her. One of the cubs started to come towards her, and while that was happening she said she was hit from the side of behind by the mother bear.”

Some ATV riders found Knudson moments after the attack, and when Troopers arrived, an ATV driver  gave the responding Trooper an ATV and guided him to Knudson. She was later medevaced to Anchorage.

Peters says the woman was jogging alone about a mile up the trailhead from a popular campground when she encountered the bears. Knudson suffered puncture wounds to her neck and back injuries, but her injuries are not life threatening.

Troopers say the woman was wearing headphones at the time of the attack and was not carrying bear deterant.

Alaska Fish and Game has closed the trail due to bear activity.

 

Juneau Police Arrest Suspect in Gold Street Racial Incident; May Also be Suspect in Celebration Case

Mon, 2014-07-07 17:46

Alexander Logan Libbrecht is currently being held at Lemon Creek Correctional Center on a $25,000 bond. (Photo courtesy Alaska Department of Corrections)

Juneau police believe they have a suspect in connection with a racial incident that marred the parade at the end of last month’s Celebration.

The Michigan man also is being investigated by the Secret Service and is wanted in Hawaii for threatening people.

Download Audio

Alexander Logan Libbrecht, 32, is being held on $25,000 bail in Lemon Creek Correctional Center on charges of fourth-degree assault.

Juneau Police Lt. Kris Sell says Libbrecht yelled racist slurs and threatened a black woman last week on Gold Street.

“He didn’t access a weapon or touch her, she was in fear based on the fact that he was calling her the ‘N’ word and saying he was going to bash her head in, and he’s in a rage walking up and down the street,” Sell says. “She was very frightened.”

Libbrecht’s behavior was similar to that of a man who allegedly yelled racist slurs during the June 14 Celebration parade, grabbed an American flag carried by an Alaska Native veteran, then ran, shoving people in his way, even knocking a woman down.

“We are working with some photo line ups with witnesses to that. Also his behavior is very consistent with what happened at Celebration,” she says.

Police believe he was the same man that knocked over Main Street traffic barricades just before the flag incident.

It’s not clear how long Libbrecht has been in Juneau, or why he came here. On June 26th, the U.S. Secret Service asked JPD for assistance in contacting him for an interview regarding threats he made against President Barack Obama as well as a New Jersey attorney. Lt. Sell says the threats were left in voice mails during telephone calls made from Juneau to the New Jersey attorney.

“Mr. Libbrecht was interviewed about a couple of things – first his threats against the president of the United States and also his threats to kill an attorney in New Jersey, who had previously represented Libbrecht in a different case. He threatened to stab and kill that attorney along with the attorney’s wife,” she says.

Libbrecht was arraigned in Juneau Superior Court late last week for the Gold Street incident.

“The Secret Service agent testified telephonically in court that the first interview was with Mr. Libbrecht in 2010. There was a subsequent interview, I believe, in 2012, then this most recent interview,” Sell says.

She says police have no indication that Libbrecht has ever gotten close to the president.

Libbrecht also is wanted in Hawaii on charges of terroristic threatening.

“The charges in Hawaii stem from an incident where he threw large rocks at people on a beach, ultimately clearing that beach of people who were recreating there,” she says.

JPD investigators knew about the Hawaii charges when they started investigating  Libbrecht for the Celebration incident.

Hawaii court records indicate Libbrecht was arrested last October, held on $9,000 bail then released when bail was paid by a family member. The court ordered a mental evaluation, the results of which were not part of the accessible record.

According to court records, the prosecutor in that case had to get a stalking protective order against Libbrecht, because he threatened her.

After he failed to appear for a hearing in March, a judge issued a $100,000 bench warrant, meaning if he were to be arrested again in Hawaii, bail would be set at $100,000.

JPD Lt. Sell says she believes Libbrecht is dangerous. In addition to $25,000 bail set in the Juneau case, he can be released only to a third-party custodian.

Alaska Highway Projects Likely Safe Despite Federal Shortfalls

Mon, 2014-07-07 17:45

News that the Federal Highway Trust Fund is running out of money is worrying a lot of states, but not Alaska. 

Download Audio

 In a letter to transportation departments all over the country earlier this month, the federal Department of Transportation announced that if Congress did not take immediate action, the trust fund would be depleted in a matter of weeks, forcing federal highway officials to institute cash management procedures in August. At that time, federal officials will use a formula established by law to determine how much money each state will receive.

But the shortfall in federal funds is not likely to disturb Alaska’s highway projects.  Jeremy Woodrow, a spokesman for the state Department of Transportation, says that Alaska has cash management tools that other states don’t have.

“We’ve been working with the department of revenue to ensure that we will be able to fund current projects that are under construction. The state of Alaska is in a good position because our projects are funded out of the general fund.”

Woodrow says Alaska has a financial buffer zone that allows its transportation department to continue, mainly because of the state’s savings account. Alaska pays contractors out of state funds, then bills the Federal Highway Administration for reimbursement. Woodrow says there may be a slowdown in reimbursements at worst. He also says it is not likely that any large Alaska projects will be affected long term.

“Well, large projects such as Juneau Access or the Knik Arm Crossing may be affected in the short term, but if the federal government doesn’t find a solution for a long term, it might affect those projects or the funding of those projects moving forward. But in the near term it shouldn’t affect them too much, because what we are looking at is just a temporary portion of time where we won’t be receiving reimbursements.”

US Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx expressed confidence that Congress would act to avoid the shorfall in his July 1 letter to the states. If Congress does not act, federal transportation officials will have to adopt similar restrictions in mass transit reimbursements to the states by fall of this year.

The federal highway trust fund was established in 1956 to finance the country’s highway system. It was expanded in 1982 to include mass transit systems.

 

 

Local business benefits from employing refugees

Mon, 2014-07-07 17:44

Businesses in Anchorage have a tough time finding entry level employees. For some employers, the solution is hiring refugees — individuals who fled violence or persecution in their home countries and are trying to enter into life in the United States. Catholic Social Services uses money from the Office of Refugee Resettlement to help run programs that connect refugees with employers. However, Congress has voted to redirect $94 million from that program to help unaccompanied children who are arriving in the United States. President Obama will decide whether or not the money should be taken from the program soon. It could impact CSS’s activities.  The non-profit recently gave an award to P&M Gardens for their willingness to employ refugees.

Diwt Gerewakl plucks leaves off tomato plants  

Download Audio
Diwt Gerewakl is a short, slight man with a faint beard and springy black curls. He walks between the massive greenhouses of P&M Gardens in Eagle River, where he’s worked for two years.

“Morning first, I finish that house,” he explains in broken English, pointing at a greenhouse where he trains pickler vines to go up plastic mesh.  ”Then I come into here….”

He enters a greenhouse filled with rows of tomato plants and begins pulling off the extra large leaves. ”You need every day check check. Maybe it comes in big — like that — then you come in…see.” He plucks off leaves with expert hands.

Gerewakl has never raised vegetables before or even farmed. Now he’s responsible for tending 40,000 geraniums, 4,000 plant baskets, and 1,500 tomato plants in cages.

He was born in Ethiopia but spent most of his life traveling from country to country in northern Africa. He’s not allowed into Eritrea, where his family is, because of political reasons. So two years ago, when he was 21, he was relocated as a refugee to Alaska and got a job with the gardening company.

He works alongside Issa Ali Abdul, who comes from the Sudan.

Abdul farmed before fleeing his home in Darfur. Through his co-worker, who also speaks Arabic, he explains that in the hot, mountainous area they grew fields of sesame seeds and other foods. He says it’s nothing like working in the greenhouses here, where trays teaming with bright purple pansies grow in plastic houses.

Issa Ali Abdul with his friend and translator

“He says this is Alaska,” translates Simone. “You just have snow. You don’t have nothing.”

But Abdul says he does enjoy his work.

“He’s saying ‘I like working shipping because I bring flower, I put it in truck. and then I sometimes go with truck. I help him go over there and I come back.’”

P&M manager Debbie Bacho, says they both learned the new skills very quickly and now work for her year round, even though she and Abdul have to speak through a translator. She says this year she employed about 20 refugee workers during the growing season. She taught them a few necessary words, like “same,” for matching labels to plants.

“And then a lot of it is just visual. Showing them what needed to be done. I was totally amazed at how fast they could get it done.”

Bacho says she spends time with the refugees helping them with things like getting bank accounts and drivers licenses and applying for PFDs. ”Those are the things that you help them do. And in turn they are committed to you to do a good job for their pay. And that’s hard to find in the seasonal world any more. It really is.”

According to CSS, which helps refugees settle into Alaska, on average more than 85 percent of refugees are employed within six months of arriving in the state. Karen Ferguson is the State Refugee Coordinator for the organization. She says her agency works with refugees to help find them jobs.

“What they most desire is to be independent, to be able to take care of their family, to be able to pay the bills. And they are ready to work. They have often been not allowed to work. So it is a very eager workforce. And they most of the time do understand that they are going to start as a dishwasher, or they’re going to start in janitorial, cleaning a hotel room.”

Ferguson says they have a network of businesses who are willing to work through the initial communication struggles to find good employees.

Diwt Gerewakl and Debbie Bacho in a P&M Gardens greenhouse.

“It’s so exciting when we get that next call that says ‘Okay, we’ll take some more of your refugee candidates.’”

That’s what Bacho did. She’s been employing refugees for four years. She says it’s not always easy to overcome some of the cross-cultural differences and some of her customers make disparaging comments about employing refugees. But she says she doesn’t let it bother her as she’s watching her business grow.

Nonprofit Touts Alaska Dental Therapists As Oral Health Pioneers

Mon, 2014-07-07 17:43

Bobby Curtis is a Dental Health Aide Therapist in Shishmaref. (Photo by Matthew F. Smith, KNOM – Nome)

Dental health aide therapists have been providing mid-level dental care in the Norton Sound region for about a decade. Now a report from the Pew Charitable Trusts highlights Norton Sound Health Corporation’s dental therapist program as one of the leading efforts in the nation for increasing access to dental care.

Download Audio

Bobby Curtis has been a dental therapist for more than 15 years—and for the past five years has worked to emphasize preventative dental care to kids in Shishmaref.

“In Shishmaref, what we do is during the school year we do a school program,” Curtis said. “We get the kids in, we do the exams and cleanings, and we do a weekly fluoride rinse program out there. So that they’re not just seeing us in the clinic, they’re seeing us outside the clinic also, at the school.”

The Pew report notes that dental therapists have been operating in dozens of other countries before coming to the U.S., but their success in Alaska has led to them being trained and certified in Minnesota and, recently, dental therapists have been approved in Maine. As many as 15 other states are looking to license their own dental therapists.

The Silver Screen Comes Back To Bethel

Mon, 2014-07-07 17:42

The customer line snaked its way from the entrance to the concession stand. (Photo by Charles Enoch, KYUK – Bethel)

The new movie theater in Bethel lit up its screens last week on Independence Day. It was the grand opening for Suurvik Cinema, the only theatre for hundreds of miles in a vast stretch of Alaska.

Download Audio

A long line of excited moviegoers are ready for the first big screen viewings in Bethel for over thirty years. Bethel resident Ronald Jennings Jr. says it’s a big deal for him.

“It’s like one of the first movies that I get to watch in a movie theater. I only did it a couple of other times and that was in Juneau so I’m pretty excited for it being here in Bethel, and that they had the courtesy to bring anything like this to a rural area,” say’s Jennings.

The theater is a part of the Kipusvik Complex, which is owned by the Bethel Native Corporation. President and CEO Ana Hoffman opened the theater with a ribbon cutting ceremony, she presented BNC board members who used traditional ul’uaqs to cut the ribbon.

After buying their tickets customers move into one of the two theaters with their snacks. Most adults and couples choose the comedy “22 Jump Street”, but Alexis Kinegak chose the children’s adventure: “How To Train Your dragon 2, it was fun and little bit sad,” Says Alexis.

Alexis’s mom is Yvonne Kinegak says she was an employee at the last movie theater in Bethel; the Swanson’s Theatre, which closed in the early 80s.

“It feels really good to be in Bethel and watch a movie. I used to run the movies at the old theater, so it feels really good to have a theater back here, a place to hang out for the kids and it’s just exciting so I’m very happy,” says Kinegak.

Suurvik is the Yup’ik translation for “movie theater.” Suurvik Cinema will be open weekdays in the evenings, and begin operations early afternoon on weekends.

Alaska Dispatch News debuts Tuesday

Mon, 2014-07-07 17:41

The Anchorage Daily News is slated to become the Alaska Dispatch News tomorrow (Tuesday), according to a story published over the weekend on the organization’s website.

Download Audio

If you’re going to miss calling the city paper the Anchorage Daily News, tonight might be the night to save a couple of screen shots and hold a little funeral.

Starting Tuesday, the Anchorage Daily News is slated to become the Alaska Dispatch News, according to a story published Sunday on adn.com.

Online visitors can still access the paper’s content using adn.com and alaskadispatch.com, but the two websites are expected to redirect to a single site, according to the article. So how will Alaskans cope with the change?

At a Fred Meyer in town, Yvonne Brown says she’s not in favor of scrapping the paper’s name.

“I think they should leave it. I like Anchorage Daily News better, because it’s been that way since day one,” Brown says.

For Sara Reubenowitz, the blending of names is emblematic of blending the two media organizations.

“I like the Dispatch. I’ve liked it a lot. And I think it’ll add a good addition to the Daily News.”

The change comes nearly three months after newspaper’s publisher announced the $34 million sale of the Anchorage Daily News to a local online startup, the Alaska Dispatch.

Editor Tony Hopfinger declined a request for an interview about the change until Tuesday.

Alaska News Nightly: July 7, 2014

Mon, 2014-07-07 17:07

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.

Download Audio

Bears Maul Hiker Near Bird Ridge

Ellen Lockyer, KSKA – Anchorage

A bear mauling in the Bird Creek area has sent one woman to an Anchorage hospital.  At about 10:20 Monday morning, Alaska State Troopers got a call for help from a hiker on the Penguin Ridge trail.

First Marijuana Shops Open In Washington

Alexandra Gutierrez, APRN – Juneau

The first marijuana retail shops are opening up in Washington this week. It’s the last big piece of a citizens’ initiative passed in 2012 that regulates the drug like alcohol. With Alaska voters considering a similar ballot measure this fall, APRN’s Alexandra Gutierrez checks in with Seattle law enforcement to see how they’re dealing with the new policy.

Juneau Police Arrest Suspect in Gold Street Racial Incident; May Also be Suspect in Celebration Case

Rosemarie Alexander, KTOO – Juneau

Juneau police believe they have a suspect in connection with a racial incident that marred the parade at the end of last month’s Celebration.

The Michigan man also is being investigated by the Secret Service and is wanted in Hawaii for threatening people.

Alaska Highway Projects Likely Safe Despite Federal Shortfalls

Ellen Lockyer, KSKA – Anchorage

News that the Federal Highway Trust Fund is running out of money is worrying a lot of states, but not Alaska.   In a letter to transportation departments all over the country earlier this month, the federal Department of Transportation  announced that if Congress did not take immediate action, the trust fund would be depleted in a matter of weeks, forcing federal highway officials to institute cash management procedures in August.  At that time, federal officials will use a formula established by law to determine how much money each state will receive.

Refugees Finding Employment Opportunities In Anchorage

Anne Hillman, KSKA – Anchorage

Businesses in Anchorage have a tough time finding entry level employees. For some employers, the solution is hiring refugees – individuals who fled violence or persecution in their home countries and are trying to enter into life in the United States. Catholic Social Services recently gave an award to P&M Gardens for their willingness to employ refugees.

Nonprofit Touts Alaska Dental Therapists As Oral Health Pioneers

Matthew Smith, KNOM – Nome

Dental health aide therapists have been providing midlevel dental care in the Norton Sound region for about a decade. Now a report from the Pew Charitable Trusts highlights Norton Sound Health Corporation’s dental therapist program as one of the leading efforts in the nation for increasing access to dental care.

The Silver Screen Comes Back To Bethel

Charles Enoch, KYUK – Bethel

The new movie theater in Bethel lit up its screens last week on Independence Day.  It was the grand opening for Suurvik Cinema, the only theatre for hundreds of miles in a vast stretch of Alaska.

Alaska Dispatch News Debuts Tuesday

Monica Gokey, KSKA – Anchorage

The Anchorage Daily News is slated to become the Alaska Dispatch News on Tuesday, according to a story published over the weekend on the organization’s website.

ATV driver found dead near Seward after failed traffic stop by troopers

Mon, 2014-07-07 15:31
ATV driver found dead near Seward after failed traffic stop by troopers A 29-year-old Mat-Su man was found dead Saturday night at the bottom of a cliff near Seward following a failed traffic stop, said Alaska State Troopers.  July 7, 2014

No world record, but 482-pound halibut caught in Southeast Alaska is a jaw-dropper

Mon, 2014-07-07 14:44
No world record, but 482-pound halibut caught in Southeast Alaska is a jaw-dropper A 77-year-old angler from California lost the opportunity for the sportfishing record book when his 482-pound halibut was shot and then harpooned before it was pulled aboard the charter boat Icy Rose out of Gustavus in Southeast Alaska.July 7, 2014

A Fresh Take on Community Gardening

Mon, 2014-07-07 14:21

Click for the full audio story:

http://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/yard-final.mp3

Today we’re exploring a new kind of community gardening. GeorgeAnne Sprinkle works for the Alaska Community Action on Toxics, and she heads the group’s Organic Outreach Program. She recently started a community garden project called “Yarducopia,” and her reason was simple.

“A lot of times the anti-toxic and anti-chemical message is really negative, and we come off as a bunch of naysayers. So this program is a way to give back to the community that gives people something positive to do,” Sprinkle says.

The Yarducopia program works like this: A homeowner that wants fresh organic produce pairs up with a volunteer that wants to garden them. The homeowner provides the space and the garden materials, while the volunteer does all of the actual gardening. Afterwards each party splits the produce. Throughout the year, Sprinkle also consults with gardeners to give them growing tips. She says it’s like the Muni’s community garden program, but better.

“The Muni just kind of said ‘here, have a garden.’ And there was nothing to go along with that. So it was important to me there was an education component, and not just facilitating the meet up,” Sprinkle says.

The Yarducopia program also donates 10 percent of its harvest to charity. Sprinkle says that’s because she believes everyone should have access to organic food.

“What bothers me a lot about organic food movements is how it’s segmented to people of privilege, and they’re the ones who can afford to eat organically. I just wanted to be able to run this program, and if more people of privilege were a part of it, then make sure to be responsible and give something back to the community,” Sprinkle says.

For a firsthand look at one of these gardens I meet up with Alexa Mortensen, who is a volunteer. She lives just up the street from her garden, but she says her yard isn’t big enough for a setup like this.

“It’s just not really a possibility for me, which is why getting involved is great. Because if you don’t’ have space for a garden you can just garden someone else’s yard and reap the benefits,” says Mortensen.

Mortensen is here today to check the moisture on her garden, which she does a few times a week.

“You dig down about an inch and just grab a clump. Then you mash it between your fingers. You don’t want it bone-dry, but you don’t want it soaking wet either,” Mortensen says.

As far as the bounty goes, the produce is an Alaskan-proof variety. You won’t find any tomatoes or peppers here.

“There’s kale, Swiss chard, lettuce, potatoes, arugula, radishes, chives, and some pansies,” Mortensen says.

Mortensen describes herself as a novice gardener at best, and while she does love eating the produce the real draw of the Yarducopia program for her was the guidance and knowledge that is offered.

“We meet once a week at the garden and we get a little lesson and go over how the plants are doing. If we find aphids or slugs, we get advice on how to fix it,” Mortensen says.

This is Mortensen’s second year in the program, and she says it’s a perfect fit for now. But she has bigger future plans.

“Long term goals? I’d like to have a garden of my own on a larger scale so I can be eating my garden all winter long,” Mortensen says.

In the meantime Mortensen will absorb as much gardening knowledge as she can, and split half of her harvest with her homeowner counterpart, Jack. When I catch a glimpse of Jack I’m interested by the stark age difference between him and Mortensen, at least 30 years. And that is one GeorgeAnne Sprinkle’s favorite things about her Yarducopia project.

“We have one 89-year-old gentleman who’s hosting a garden, and we have 20-year-old counter-culture volunteers and we have UAA professors. So it’s a really diverse group of people that are interested in participating. It’s really….really great. I don’t know how else to say it,” Sprinkle says.

Floodgates lifted on temporary lake near Fairbanks after rain eases

Mon, 2014-07-07 13:19
Floodgates lifted on temporary lake near Fairbanks after rain eases The Army Corps of Engineers opened the floodgates on the Chena River on Monday morning, starting to drain a temporary lake that grew to more than 4,000 acres during the five days the 30-ton steel gates restricted the flow in the river.July 7, 2014

Woman suffers serious injuries in bear mauling near Anchorage

Mon, 2014-07-07 12:07
Woman suffers serious injuries in bear mauling near Anchorage The second grizzly bear mauling in less than two months on the outskirts of Anchorage has sent another runner to the hospital with serious injuries.July 7, 2014