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Mentoring program for new gardeners

Southeast Alaska News - Tue, 2014-04-08 11:55

Listen to iFriendly audio.
Linda Wilson, with the Sitka Local Foods Network, discusses a mentoring program for first-time gardeners. For more information, visit the SLFN online.

Tue Apr 8, 2014

Southeast Alaska News - Tue, 2014-04-08 11:48

Listen to iFriendly audio.
Sitka Assembly to take final vote tightening anti-smoking ordinance. Senate Finance Committee releases budget; includes $3.3-million for Harrigan remodel. This is not your father’s shop class. Petersburg family takes the stage at Juneau FolkFest.

Assembly okays school budget

Southeast Alaska News - Tue, 2014-04-08 09:56

The Ketchikan Gateway Borough Assembly accepted the budget presented by the school board.  Fines for improper maintenance of sewer systems were also approved.  Assembly Member Glen Thompson gives details.  Assembly040814

State Senate boosts Southeast project funding

Southeast Alaska News - Tue, 2014-04-08 09:30

Southeast Alaska could get another $27 million from this year’s capital budget.

The Senate Finance Committee added the money to Gov. Sean Parnell’s spending plan, which was released in December.

Petersburg plans to combine its police station and borough offices. Lawmakers just added $1 million to the capital budget for the project. A conceptual model is shown above. (Petersburg Borough image)

Larger new projects include improvements to Juneau’s water system, Petersburg’s municipal building and Sitka’s visitor facilities.

The Petersburg Borough already has $4.1 million in state funding for a new or renovated police building.

The budget would also fund a new fuel tank farm in Kake, construction equipment for Craig, and biomass heating projects in Yakutat, Haines and Ketchikan.

The total value of Southeast projects in the budget is about $163 million. That’s about 9 percent of the statewide capital budget.

Further changes could be made as the Senate Finance Committee fine-tunes the spending plan. More additions, and some cuts, could happen in the House before it’s passed into law. The governor can also veto specific projects not to his liking.

The Senate panel increased funding for the State Library, Archives and Museum building, which is under construction in Juneau. The governor proposed $15 million and the committee increased it to $37.5 million.

Another big project, a road north out of the capital city, continues to be funded at $35 million. That’s a fraction of the total amount needed for construction.

The committee also considered a companion bill that doubled an earlier $500,000 appropriation to the Inter-Island Ferry Authority, which sails between Prince of Wales Island and Ketchikan. That proposal came from the governor.

Smaller community projects added by the Senate Finance Committee include:

  • Upgrading the Gustavus Volunteer Fire Department’s 911 Radio System, at about $65,000.
  • Ketchikan Shipyard improvements, at about $1.2 million.
  • Angoon sewer system upgrades, at about $700,000.
  • Repairing and upgrading Klawock’s garbage truck, at $154,000.
  • An ice machine for Pelican, at $300,000.

Where no shop class has gone before

Southeast Alaska News - Tue, 2014-04-08 07:31

Pat Kraft and John Neibergall. Kraft is holding a geodesic sphere — with seven concentric geodesic spheres inside it. “There’s no conventional tool that can make this,” he says. (KCAW photo/Robert Woolsey)

This is not your grandfather’s shop class.

Late last month a group of high school and college shop teachers and a few of their students gathered for a three-day workshop in Sitka’s state-of-the-art Design and Fabrication Lab.

The use of 3D printers and other computer-controlled equipment has revolutionized shop, and turned one of the most remote classrooms in the building into the coolest place in school.

Listen to iFriendly audio.

KCAW – Tell me your name, where you’re from, and what you’re doing here.
Neibergall – John Neibergall, Sherwood High School. I’m helping some teachers and students get into digital design and fabrication.

Sherwood High is outside of Portland, Oregon.

Neibergall – You got an idea, you want to make a model or an output of something in three dimensions — whether you build it in wood, metal, plastic, 3D print it. You have to visualize it, and then you get to print it. You have an output of a product in your hand. And that’s what get kids excited.

Read a story about a recent project created by shop students in the Sitka Design and Fabrication Lab.

Yes, digital fabrication gets kids excited. But in this workshop the teachers can barely contain their enthusiasm.

My name is Pat Kraft. I’m one of the instructors at Portland Community College, in Portland. I grew up in an era where Star Trek was, you know — Star Trek was young, I was young, and the thought of having a replicator, where you could put something in there and create something just like it.

And now they have the tools to create just about any kind of machine part. Even parts that are not for machines.

Kent Winship models a skull on CAD software, before printing in 3D. (KCAW photo/Robert Woolsey)

Winship — I’m Kent Winship with Bristol Bay/Dillingham campus, UAF
KCAW — What are you working on right now?
Winship — This is a scan. We’ve got a fetal orca whale that swam up the Freshwater River. Two parents, and one of them was pregnant. So we’ve got the fetus. It’s mostly cartilage. And we’re going to try to scan it, and then print it out in plastic before we lose those cartilage parts.
KCAW – Scan it how?
Winship – A laser scanner than can measure a surface at 20,000 points per square inch. It will record it and put it into a CAD — computer aided drafting program — and we can actually print it out in plastic. And were even talking about trying to mill it out of a CNC mill out of bone or something.

CNC stands for computer numerical control. Besides a pair of 3D printers, this lab has a CNC vinyl cutter, and a laser engraver. What’s got these guys most excited is not necessarily the ability to make a whale fetus, it’s about trying to make that fetus, and failing.

Neibergall and Kraft are pioneering the integration of technology into shop class. They say repetition is education.

Neibergall — Kids are afraid to fail, and this forces them to fail — or fail forward, if you will. If it doesn’t work, you can tweak it…
Kraft — Failure’s okay. Because that’s part of the improvement process.
Neibergall — Because that’s what industry wants: People who aren’t afraid to fail forward. Reinvent. Remodify. And make it right. And it might take four or five iterations. But we can do it quickly.

“I failed…”

Randy Hughey is the recently-retired wood shop teacher at Sitka High. He wrote the grants for Sitka’s Fab Lab and helped a local grant writer, Lily Herwald, develop the proposal for this workshop.

Hughey has microwaved some chocolate chips, with unfortunate results.

“Well, I was just trying to melt chocolate to put into this mold that John has made.”

Metlakatla Science teacher Jason Pipkin watches as the printer creates metric screws for a quadcopter his students are building. (KCAW photo/Robert Woolsey)

Digitally fabricated custom candy bar molds. This technology gives kids the ability to aim for the stars, but a prom date is not a bad start.

Neibergall — What my kids did is made prom invitations for the young ladies, wrapped it up in chocolate, and it said Prom? on it.
KCAW — Wow!

For a moment, it sounds like the shop class I remember. But it’s not. John Neibergall assures me that I’m looking at a different sort of future for technical education.

KCAW — Shop used to be the dark space at the end of the hall.
Neibergall — Dumping grounds? That’s the term we tend to say. But now the creative piece that is driving the economic recovery is manufacturing. And if we can get young people excited about that and see the career potential, that’s what’s going to help us get out of our slump, if you will.
KCAW — It comes back to Star Trek, eventually.
Neibergall and Kraft — Right!

$1.9B capital budget unveiled

Southeast Alaska News - Tue, 2014-04-08 00:06

JUNEAU — The Senate Finance Committee unveiled a $1.9 billion capital budget Monday, which co-chair Kevin Meyer said was in keeping with the goal of a smaller state infrastructure budget.

One of Meyer’s other goals was to have the state finish projects it has started and to maintain Alaska’s existing infrastructure. To that end, the bill includes $37.5 million to finish the state library, archives and museum building in downtown Juneau and $45.6 million to complete the engineering building at the University of Alaska Anchorage campus.

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SLAM, Juneau Access road top city's capital budget funding

Southeast Alaska News - Tue, 2014-04-08 00:06

Juneau’s delegation accomplished one of its top priority for this legislative session by securing the funds needed to ensure the State Library and Museum Project is completed.

The state’s capital improvements budget released Monday includes $37.5 million for the SLAM project, along with millions more for improving Glacier Highway and Egan Drive, and funding for the hotly debated Juneau Access Project.

read more

TRS pulled from education bill in House

Southeast Alaska News - Tue, 2014-04-08 00:05

JUNEAU — The Alaska House voted to remove a plan to address the teachers’ retirement system from a broad-ranging education bill it began debating late Monday afternoon.

The House, on a 27-13 vote, also added $30 million in one-time funding for school districts on top of a proposed increase in the per-pupil funding formula known as the base student allocation.

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Alaska officials revise oil production estimates

Southeast Alaska News - Tue, 2014-04-08 00:05

JUNEAU — The state Revenue Department is forecasting higher oil production than previously expected, though the overall, long-term trend is still one of decline.

North Slope production for this year is now forecast at 521,800 barrels per day, up from the 508,200 barrels per day forecast in December, which Deputy Revenue Commissioner Bruce Tangeman called a “banner headline.”

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Sealaska Spring Dividends Reflect Zero Corporate Earnings

Alaska and Yukon Headlines - Mon, 2014-04-07 23:48

Sealaska Corp. does not appear to be making much – if any – money. The regional Native corporation’s spring distribution to shareholders, which is basically a dividend, includes no corporate revenues.

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That’s according to an April 3 statement to shareholders.

Sealaska distributes payments to its almost 21,600 shareholders twice a year. In recent years, they’ve ranged from about $400 to around $1,100.

The money usually comes from three sources. The largest is a pool of all 12 regional Native corporations’ resource earnings. Another is Sealaska’s permanent fund. The third is profits from the corporation’s businesses.

“Usually there are. This year there isn’t any operating revenue included in the formula,” says Chris McNeil Jr., president and CEO of the Juneau-headquartered corporation.

That can mean little or no revenues are available for distribution. McNeil won’t say why Sealaska has no revenues to contribute. But he says the information will be in the corporation’s annual report, due out in May.

Read last year’s annual report

“I can’t really provide any details on it until we publish. And we’ve done that traditionally to make sure there is no miscommunication about what is being transmitted to shareholders,” he says.

“Sealaska is so opaque. They don’t really share much about their finances,” says Brad Fluetsch, a shareholder who runs a Facebook page highly critical of Sealaska. He’s also founder and managing director of Juneau-based Fortress Investment Management LLC.

He says even the annual reports lack detail. Earnings and losses are reported in sectors, so the reader often can’t tell which individual businesses are making or losing cash.

Still, Fluetsch says Sealaska’s board was honest when it approved a distribution without corporate revenues.

“I’ll give them kudos for that because that did take some effort on their part. Now what they need to do is hire a management team that can make that zero go away and actually turn it into a positive number,” he says.

McNeil says the biggest contributor to the pooled resource earnings is the owner of Northwest Alaska’s Red Dog Mine.

“At this point, NANA is the principal distributor. But cumulatively, Arctic Slope has distributed more revenue than any other corporation,” McNeil says.

Sealaska was a major contributor before its timber subsidiary starting running out of trees.

McNeil is retiring this summer and the search for a replacement is underway.

This spring distribution totals about $12 million. It gives most shareholders $721 per 100 shares. Other shareholder classes receive only $57 per 100 shares. Most shareholders own 100 shares, though it varies because of gifting or inheritance.

How Mouse Studies Lead Medical Research Down Dead Ends

NPR News - Mon, 2014-04-07 23:44

New drugs are usually tested in animals before they're tested in humans. But many of those studies aren't done carefully enough, analysts say. So time and money is wasted, and treatments delayed.

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Just How New Is The 'New' GM?

NPR News - Mon, 2014-04-07 23:42

During her grilling before Congress, CEO Mary Barra insisted the new GM is different and better than the old GM. But are the company and its cars really new and improved? The answer is complicated.

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Why Women Don't Ask For More Money

NPR News - Mon, 2014-04-07 23:40

A study shows that women can be great negotiators, just not when they're asking for themselves. When women negotiate pay on behalf of a friend, they bargain just as hard as the guys.

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End Of Windows XP Support Spells Trouble For Some

NPR News - Mon, 2014-04-07 22:06

Microsoft will end support for the persistently popular Windows XP on Tuesday. The move could put everything from the operations of heavy industry to the identities of everyday people in danger.

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And in our neck of the woods...

Facebook Feed - Mon, 2014-04-07 22:00
And in our neck of the woods...

Timeline Photos
Active weather pattern in store for Southeast Alaska on Monday. Wind gusts to 40 mph will develop over the southern Panhandle this morning and spread north throughout the day. Up to 3 inches of rainfall is expected through tonight, with the highest rainfall amounts over the southern Panhandle. Heavy wet snow will develop this morning and continue through tonight along the Klondike Highway with several inches of snow expected. For the latest weather forecasts, please go to weather.gov/juneau

La. Congressman Asks For Forgiveness After Compromising Video

NPR News - Mon, 2014-04-07 21:47

A newspaper in West Monroe, La., published a video of freshman U.S. Rep. Vance McAllister kissing a woman who wasn't his wife.

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Finland: Saimaa Canal reopens

Alaska and Yukon Headlines - Mon, 2014-04-07 21:39
Finland: Saimaa Canal reopens Unusually thin ice would have allowed for an earlier seasonal opening of the Finland-to-Russia canal, but renovation work precluded that option. April 7, 2014

Senate OKs Jobless Bill; House Prospects Slimmer

NPR News - Mon, 2014-04-07 21:38

The Senate voted 59-38 Monday to resurrect federal jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed. Republican supporters appealed to Speaker Boehner to permit election-year action in the House too.

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Wind turbine nightmare at remote Alaska refuge may cost millions

Alaska and Yukon Headlines - Mon, 2014-04-07 21:00
Wind turbine nightmare at remote Alaska refuge may cost millions An alternative energy project receiving $3.4 million in federal economic stimulus funds is in shambles.  Bird-friendly wind turbines that were to power the offices of the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge in Western Alaska are sitting in a pile on the ground.April 7, 2014

Alaska's capital megaprojects don’t add up

Alaska and Yukon Headlines - Mon, 2014-04-07 20:42
Alaska's capital megaprojects don’t add up OPINION: It’s clear that Alaska doesn't have enough money for all of its pie-in-the-sky megaprojects. We Alaskans need to ask why our legislators are spending millions on projects that won't be happening.April 7, 2014

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