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Food Tastes Better When It’s Shared

Alaska and Yukon Headlines - Fri, 2014-04-04 17:27

Chuck Miller(R) and son Jay harvest roe-on-hemlock. (KCAW photo/by Emily Forman).

It’s crisp, crunchy, and salty – and you’ll never find it in a bag in the grocery store. Dipped in seal oil or eulachon oil (hooligan), it is a traditional Southeast Alaskan delicacy that signals spring as surely as a warm, sunny day. But, gathering herring eggs-on-hemlock branches is about a lot more than food.

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ANB Harbor. Stall 10. Small boat on the left. That’s Chuck Miller’s response to anyone looking for herring eggs. Miller has the means to harvest this traditional food in the traditional way. So, sharing the resource is a no brainer. “Food tastes better when you share with people and that’s the way our Native people are,” says Miller.

Like many subsistence fisherman, Miller practices the roe-on-hemlock harvesting method. He invited me to join him and his son, Jay, on a recent harvesting trip.

Miller: We are ready to get some fuel.
EF: With the fuel and everything how much does a trip like this cost you?
Miller: Over 200 dollars easy but it’s worth it.

That includes engine repairs and two trips out to Middle Island. Miller says it’s worth it because he’ll end up feeding at least a dozen people. But within minutes, I learn that he has deeper reasons for the practice. Jay explains.

Jay: The first time I went out I was 6 years old.
EF: Do you remember what that was like?
Jay: Yeah, I went with my uncle Eli my Dad’s brother.

Miller: The yellow buoy that’s on there is my brother’s buoy and my brother’s been passed away now for ten years. He was 5 years older than me. We used to do this together. This is the last of the gear that he had that he used.

As we pull into a cove on the backside of Middle Island the water abruptly changes from deep blue to a milky aqua. That’s what happens when you add a whole lot of fish sperm — or milt — into the mix.

Jay Miller helps his dad harvest herring roe. (KCAW photo/ by Emily Forman)

Miller: So it is still spawning in here.

Plastic bottles and milk jugs speckle the shallow water – all tied to submerged hemlock branches. A handful of those have “Miller” written on them in bold black sharpie ink.

He says people have stolen his sets in the past – which isn’t unusual when branches are left unsupervised overnight to gather eggs. As a result he’s mildly apprehensive around other fisherman.

Miller: He’s probably just staring me down because he doesn’t know who I am. But I’m gonna let him get a good look at me because I lived here my whole life.

Miller has a way of diffusing the tension.

Miller: Hey are you taking my sets? Haha! You guys look like you got a good set in!
Miller: K it’s coming up on your side. Right there, right there, right there!

Jay grabs the milk jug attached to his Uncle Eli’s yellow buoy. He clutches the trailing thick rope. Using all of his body weight he wrestles the egg-laden branch to the surface.

Miller: Get it to where you got some leverage. is it moving? It’s probably super heavy?

When its ready to harvest, a branch can weigh well over 400 pounds.

Miller: What we do is clip off pieces of it to get it in the boat. Holy smokes! That’s a good one right there!

Miller hoists the dripping branch into the boat. It’s coated with eggs and looks like it was dipped in a vat of rubber cement.

Miller: See this is the thickness you want, some people get them a little thicker, but not much more than that.

It’s a bountiful harvest, which according to Miller is thanks to his brother’s buoy.

Miller: It’s my good luck buoy and usual that’s the one every year that produces quite a bit it’s like my brother is looking out for us.

He tosses the leftover branch overboard.

Miller:Gunalcheesh! Thank you! We used the tree to help us.

Take away the power boat, and plastic milk jug buoys, and it isn’t difficult to picture this practice taking place long before Western and Native cultures met.

Miller: If i don’t start sharing what I know right away… I might not be here tomorrow.

When we return to ANB harbor, and pull into Stall 10. I realize that gathering herring eggs on hemlock branches is an expression of gratitude. Gratitude for the the teachings of his ancestors, gratitude for food, and the chance to pass on this way of life.

300 Villages: Moose Creek

Alaska and Yukon Headlines - Fri, 2014-04-04 17:26

This week, we’re heading to Moose Creek, a village of about 600 people in central Alaska. Jeff Jacobson is the chief of staff for the Fairbanks North Star Borough.

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AK: Book Club

Alaska and Yukon Headlines - Fri, 2014-04-04 17:25

Community outreach librarian Andrea Hirsh points something out to club member Mike Ricker. (Photo by Lisa Phu/KTOO)

Several people at Juneau’s downtown shelter and soup kitchen The Glory Hole are part of a new club. Every Tuesday, they come together on the second floor of the facility to discuss a different topic. The club is helping to build a different kind of community within the homeless shelter, a community not based on need, but on the exchange of ideas.

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Topics for The Glory Hole Book Club change every week. This session, the club discussed the space program. (Photo by Lisa Phu/KTOO)

It’s called The Glory Hole Book Club, but it’s really more of a discussion group. Instead of everyone reading the same book, community outreach librarian Andrea Hirsh says there’s a theme that everyone comes prepared to talk about each week.

“The first day, everybody who was here wrote down five ideas of stuff that they thought would be so neat to talk about and we threw them in a hat, and then we pulled it out. And it works really well because it makes it open for anybody who wants to come,” Hirsh says.

Topics range from philosophy to fantasy. Hirsh says book club members can relate the topic to an article they may have read or a movie they watched. Oftentimes, group discussions stem from personal experience.

“We pulled, like, agriculture once and I thought, ‘That one is going to be terrible.’ But we talked a lot about animal husbandry and, like, growing crops, and most of the people here have worked in agricultural fields. It was a great topic,” Hirsh says.

Sheila Higgins (left) has been to every session of The Glory Hole Book Club, which started in January. (Photo by Lisa Phu/KTOO)

Six people, who have come to this club session, sit in a circle of chairs. All eyes are on Hirsh as she holds up the book “Packing for Mars.”

She talks about a test performed on want-to-be astronauts:

“They have, like, eight candidates and they keep them all in one room and they’re monitored 24/7. They have no privacy and they can’t leave each other because they’re simulating, like, what’s going on in the international space station.”

The Glory Hole Book Club was a test as well when the shelter paired up with Juneau Public Libraries to try something new.

Steve Albright is a member of The Glory Hole Book Club. (Photo by Lisa Phu/TKOO)

“I did not think that The Glory Hole Book Club would be a very successful activity but I think it’s really wonderful for people to have an opportunity to not think about the fact that they’re homeless and that they’re struggling and they need to get out of the situation,” says shelter director Mariya Lovishchuk

Club member Sheila Higgins was a psychic for 25 years out of Fairbanks and Anchorage. She also spent some time working on the North Slope. When she moved to Juneau in 2012 for a different job, things didn’t work out. She’s lived at the Glory Hole for about a year.

Since the club started in January, Higgins has gone to every session. She says those that attend have become closer.

“I think we get to know each other on a different level. We don’t see ourselves as homeless people here. We just see each other as brother and sister.”

At the end of every club session, a member pulls out the topic for next week. (Photo by Lisa Phu/KTOO)

The book club also adds another dimension to The Gory Hole. Most of the action takes place in the day room on the first floor, where all the meals are served.

“That’s kind of their forum down there, the people who run the place. Up here it’s ours, OK? It’s ours. This is our club,” Higgins says.

Club members freely share their opinions and listen. After several weeks of this, Higgins says they’re grown to respect and support one another.

“Nobody’s here because they want to be, you know. We’d all rather be in our own homes living different lives, but as long as we’re here, we’re going do the best we can for each other,” she says.

For Kidd Perez, the book club is also just fun.

“It’s spontaneous for sure and it’s just a tight knit group. We all are acquainted well enough here to just let it go, let it ride. You can comment and say pretty much what you think. It gets kind of crazy sometimes, but that’s part of the fun,” Perez says.

Perez is an auto mechanic. He says he goes where the money is. With summer approaching, he has hopes of moving out of the shelter.

“Could be sometime this month, because the season’s coming around and that means more work for a lot of people this time of year, so we’ll see what happens,” Perez says.

But as long as Perez is at The Glory Hole though, he’ll continue going to the club.

As the session on the space program wraps up, Hirsh holds out “The Book Club Hat.”

“Why don’t you pick out our topic for next week,” she says to club member Mark Trammell.

“Oh wow, psychology,” Trammell announces to the group.

Chatter and laughter break out among club members as they get up to leave, their minds already on next week’s club theme.

Alaska News Nightly: April 4, 2014

Alaska and Yukon Headlines - Fri, 2014-04-04 17:12

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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Parents Rally For Education Funding

Alexandra Gutierrez, APRN – Juneau

The Alaska State House has delayed its vote on an omnibus education bill to Monday, giving lawmakers more time to wrestle with questions over teacher retirement policy and treatment of rural schools. But even though debate on the bill was delayed, that did not stop a crowd of parents from gathering on the Capitol steps to rally for more education funding.

Minimum Wage Bill Introduced Amid Sponsor Outcry

Alexandra Gutierrez, APRN – Juneau

A bill that could supplant the minimum wage initiative has popped up in the Legislature. The House Rules Committee introduced the bill on Friday, and it’s modeled after a citizens’ initiative that’s slated to appear on the August primary ballot. It would raise the minimum wage up from $7.75 to $9.75 over the course of two years, and it would peg the minimum wage to inflation.

Lawmakers Shelve Controversial Permitting Bill

Alexandra Gutierrez, APRN – Juneau

A controversial permitting bill has been sentenced to die in committee. Senate Resources Chair Cathy Giessel sent out a press release yesterday announcing the resources committee will not hold any more hearings on HB77.

Deal Reached For Susitna-Watana Dam Land Access

Phillip Manning, KTNA – Talkeetna

A land access dispute that threatened to delay progress on the Susitna-Watana Hydroelectric Project has been resolved, though the agreement has come later than expected.

Alaska Shield Exercise Testing Military’s Emergency Readiness

Jolene Almendarez, APRN – Anchorage

More than 550 military personnel from around the country are gathered at the Port of Anchorage this week for an Alaska Shield exercise, meant to test the readiness of the military to provide emergency support to areas impacted by natural or human-caused disasters.

Senate Ratifies Treaties to Stop Fish Piracy

Liz Ruskin, APRN – Washington DC

The U.S. Senate yesterday ratified two international treaties that Alaska’s senators say will help crack down on illegal international fishing. One is an agreement to restrict ships from using ports if they engage in what’s known as IUU fishing.

State, Feds Wrestle Over Navigable Water Control

Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks

The State of Alaska is continuing to fight the federal government over control of navigable waters in two cases involving Interior rivers. The Alaska Department of Law has filed a friend of the court briefing in support of Central resident Jim Wilde’s latest appeal. Wilde is contesting the National Park Service’s authority to enforce regulations on the state owned Yukon River, inside the Yukon Charley Rivers National Preserve.

Food Tastes Better When It’s Shared

Emily Forman, KCAW – Sitka

It’s crisp, crunchy, and salty – and you’ll never find it in a bag in the grocery store. Dipped in seal oil or eulachon oil (hooligan), it is a traditional Southeast Alaskan delicacy that signals spring as surely as a warm, sunny day. But, gathering herring eggs-on-hemlock branches is about a lot more than food.

AK: Book Club

Lisa Phu, KTOO – Juneau

Several people at Juneau’s downtown shelter and soup kitchen The Glory Hole are part of a new club. Every Tuesday, they come together on the second floor of the facility to discuss a different topic. The club is helping to build a community within the homeless shelter, one not based on need, but on the exchange of ideas.

300 Villages: Moose Creek

This week, we’re heading to Moose Creek, a village of about 600 people in central Alaska. Jeff Jacobson is the chief of staff for the Fairbanks North Star Borough.

Chloramine petition review still under way

Southeast Alaska News - Fri, 2014-04-04 17:01

At deadline Friday, a petition to place the chloramine water treatment issue in front of City of Ketchikan voters still was undergoing a review by the city clerk and attorney.

Petition sponsors turned in the petition on Wednesday, and say they collected 622 signatures. They needed 356 signatures of registered city voters. As of Friday afternoon, the clerk was still reviewing the signatures to make sure they fell under those regulations.

Even if sponsors have enough valid signatures, the petition still must make it past a legal review, which likely won’t be completed for at least another week.

If it is approved, the city must schedule a vote on the initiative within two months. The ballot question would ask city voters whether to prohibit the city from using chloramine as a water disinfection treatment.

While the initiative process moves forward, the city continues with plans to start the chloramine system on Monday. The city has been moving toward that process for about 10 years.

A group called United Citizens for Better Water formed this winter to oppose the switch, primarily citing concerns over the possible health effects of chloramine. That group is spearheading the ballot initiative process.

Juneau appeals Petersburg boundary to state Supreme Court

Southeast Alaska News - Fri, 2014-04-04 15:33

The court challenge of Petersburg’s borough boundaries is not over yet.

The city and borough of Juneau has appealed to the state’s Supreme Court to reverse a decision by the Local Boundary Commission on the northern boundary of the Petersburg borough.

Juneau argues the LBC did not consider the Capital City’s competing claim to land in the northern part of Petersburg’s borough formed in 2013. A superior court judge in February affirmed the boundary approved by the LBC in 2012.

Petersburg mayor Mark Jensen said the latest appeal prolongs the process and will end up costing more money. “It’s unfortunate I think that they did,” Jensen said Friday. “I’m hoping the supreme court will go along with the local boundary commission and the superior court’s ruling. The last appeal to the superior court cost the Petersburg borough 30,000 dollars. So we can only recoup a third of that if you’re on the prevailing side, which we were. So in my mind it’s just a waste of money but I guess it’s just business but I can understand why Juneau would do it I suppose.”

Juneau officials submitted a petition to the boundary commission seeking to annex some of the same territory on the mainland between the two Southeast communities. The contested lands are on the mainland from the middle of Holkham Bay to Cape Fanshaw. Both sides made their case before the boundary commission in May and June of 2012, citing use of the land and water in the contested area by fishing fleets, tourism operators and residents.

Juneau’s appeal to Supreme Court argues the commission violated the state constitution by not considering a competing claim and not allowing evidence that Capital City attorneys planned to present in an annexation petition.

Defendants ‘fiercely contested’ charges, judge notes

Alaska and Yukon Headlines - Fri, 2014-04-04 15:02
After nearly 2 1/2 years of legal confrontation and human anguish, the case of tire technician Denis Chabot, crushed beneath the semi-truck he was servicing in 2011, ended this morning.

Art Inspired by the Wilderness

Alaska and Yukon Headlines - Fri, 2014-04-04 15:00

Alaska’s beauty inspires artists and sometimes overwhelms them. It’s hard to convey how you feel about our spectacular country. But its an important part of the wilderness experience. On the next Outdoor Explorer, we’re talking about wilderness art with artists who have made expeditions to pursue their work, sponsored by some of our public land agencies. Host Charles Wohlforth will be joined by a writer, photographer and a mural artist to talk about expression outdoors.

Artist Susan Watkins’ oil painting entitled “My View.”

HOST: Charles Wohlforth


  • Amy Gulick, writer/photographer
  • Sara Boario, U.S. Forest Service
  • Susan Watkins, painter/muralist

PARTICIPATE: Facebook: Outdoor Explorer (comments may be read on-air)

BROADCAST: Thursday, April 10, 2014, 2:00 – 3:00 p.m. AKDT

REPEAT BROADCAST:  Thursday, April 10, 2014, 9:00 – 10:00 p.m. AKDT

SUBSCRIBE: Receive Outdoor Explorer automatically every week via


Audio to be posted following broadcast.


Judge adds some punch to three impaired drivers’ sentences

Alaska and Yukon Headlines - Fri, 2014-04-04 15:00
A Yukon Supreme Court judge has handed down stiffer penalties to three impaired drivers from Carcross who initially faced lighter punishment.

Ex-Yukoner helped avert potential tragedy

Alaska and Yukon Headlines - Fri, 2014-04-04 14:58
A former Whitehorse man is being hailed as a hero after helping the elderly victim of a car-jacking Tuesday in Calgary, where he has lived for several years.

Federal Judge Dismisses Suit Challenging Drone Strikes That Killed Americans

NPR News - Fri, 2014-04-04 14:41

Nasser Al-Awlaki sued U.S. officials over the killing of three Americans including his son in Yemen. The judge said the suit raises fundamental constitutional questions but there's no easy answer.

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Hospital expansion project enters Phase One

Southeast Alaska News - Fri, 2014-04-04 14:08

Ketchikan Medical Center was the central theme of Thursday’s Ketchikan City Council meeting, along with some public comment about the ongoing chloramine water disinfection controversy.

Phase one of the long-planned hospital remodel project is about to start, and as with every big construction project – especially those that will take place on the primary road in the middle of the busy summer tourism season — there have been concerns about the impact.

Jim Quick, project manager with Dawson Construction, talked to the Ketchikan City Council during public comment about how his company plans to minimize that impact. He said the only closures will be a parking lane and the sidewalk right next to the hospital.

“One thing I want to make sure everyone is aware of is the norm is that we are not going to be impacting traffic along Tongass Avenue at all,” he said. “All three lanes, both directions and turn lane, will not be impacted during normal operations of the project.”

Quick said there will be some moments during the project when vehicle traffic will be affected because of utility work, for example, but they will be of short duration.

“And we’ll be making every effort to time that on off hours, and periods of low traffic flow, and does not affect busy times of traffic,” he said.

Also related to the hospital expansion project is the relocation of the Ketchikan Alcohol Rehabilitation facility, also called KAR House. The facility is run by Akeela, Inc., a nonprofit that also operates the former city-run Gateway Center for Human Services.

The Ketchikan City Council unanimously approved an agreement with Akeela and PeaceHealth, which operates the city-owned hospital building. In that agreement, PeaceHealth will donate a Washington Street building for use as the rehab center, plus $100,000 to help with remodeling. The city will provide $300,000 toward remodeling the property, and – after an amendment suggested by Council Member Matt Olsen – will waive the usual permit processing fees.

Akeela will pay the balance of the estimated $750,000 remodel. The move is needed because the current KAR House is in the way of the planned hospital expansion.

Following an executive session to talk about title issues related to the hospital, the Council approved a motion to apply for a zoning permit to obtain clear title for part of the property that is in question. They also approved several contracts moving the hospital remodel project forward.

While the issue wasn’t on the agenda, three people spoke during public comment about the city’s plans to start chloramine water disinfection. Bill Hardy said he respects the Council’s commitment to the community, but he doesn’t think the city made the right choice.

“I have listened, researched, become informed, assessed the options and have arrived at my own informed decision on this issue,” he said. “This is my opinion, advice and counsel to you, the mayor, management and Council. I do not think that the city has made its case to introduce chloramine to treat our water.”

Sally Balch told the Council that she and her mother are both allergic to ammonia. And MJ Cadle expressed concern for how the switch will affect people, such as herself and her granddaughter, who are sensitive to chemicals.

Chloramine is a mixture of chlorine and a small amount of ammonia. The city uses chlorine as the primary disinfectant now, but because of high levels of regulated byproducts in Ketchikan’s water, the federal Environmental Protection Agency is requiring that the city make some kind of change.

During Council comments at the end of the meeting, Council Member Marty West addressed the issue. She said she’s concerned that people are so fearful about the switch, and she wants them to know that the Council made the best choice available, based on science.

“I want people to know that we have been listening to their concerns about the chloramine situation,” she said. “We did a lot of work when we were preparing to decide what method to do, because we had to do something according to a federal mandate. We looked at a lot of different options, and this one was the best. It’s proven science. We haven’t taken a cavalier approach to this.”

The Council has been working toward the switch to chloramine for about 10 years.

NORAD launches training exercise in Canada’s North

Alaska and Yukon Headlines - Fri, 2014-04-04 13:49
NORAD launches training exercise in Canada’s North Operation Spring Forward is underway and will run for two weeks in Nunavut, the Northwest Territories and other far-north Canadian regions.April 4, 2014

Common Core Turns Business Leaders Against Oklahoma GOP

NPR News - Fri, 2014-04-04 13:49

Officials here adopted the education standards early and could make Oklahoma the second state to repeal them. The battle pits allies against each other: Conservative Republicans and business leaders.

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You Could Be A 'New Republican' If You Agree With This Ad

NPR News - Fri, 2014-04-04 13:34

A new ad featuring Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is part of an effort to rebrand the Republican Party — and end its reputation as "the party of no."

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Assembly to consider schools spending increase

Southeast Alaska News - Fri, 2014-04-04 13:28

On Monday, the Ketchikan Gateway Borough Assembly will again consider a motion to increase this year’s spending authority for the school district by about $2.4 million.

The motion has been postponed twice because of disagreement over a list of questions submitted by the Assembly. According to a memo from Borough Manager Dan Bockhorst, the questions still haven’t been fully answered, but he recommends approving the request rather than disrupting the school district’s ability to operate.

The main unresolved question centers on an apparent $437,652 disparity between what the district plans to spend and what it expects to receive. In a March 27 written response to the list of questions, school district officials say there isn’t a disparity, if the district’s reserves – unspent funds – are taken into account. The letter also notes that other portions of the budget were not fully spent.

While the School Board is in charge of drafting the school district budget, the Assembly must approve that spending plan.

As with every Assembly meeting, there is time on the agenda for a Board of Education report. The issue likely will come up at that time, as well as during Assembly discussion of the ordinance.

If approved, the school district’s budget for this year will total $44.47 million.

Also Monday, the Assembly will consider a resolution supporting Senate Bill 99. That legislation would authorize bonds to help pay for development costs at the Bokan and Niblack mines, both located on Prince of Wales Island. The Ketchikan City Council recently adopted a similar resolution.

The Borough Assembly meeting starts at 5:30 p.m. in Assembly chambers at the White Cliff building. Public comment will be heard at the start of the meeting.

Today’s the day!

Southeast Alaska News - Fri, 2014-04-04 13:26

Today is our One Day Drive! The station is bursting with music and voices, as we welcome volunteers, guests, musicians, and you! We’ve reached $52,856 in contributions so far – help us meet our Spring Goal of $85,000! Don’t wait - donate now! And THANK YOU to everyone who has contributed so far!

McDonald's Shuts Its Restaurants In Crimea

NPR News - Fri, 2014-04-04 13:26

The fast food chain cited the "evolving situation" for a decision to close its restaurants in Simferopol, Sevastopol and Yalta.

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Jets repeat as rec hockey champs

Alaska and Yukon Headlines - Fri, 2014-04-04 13:04
Fresh off their run at the Coy Cup last month, Evan Campbell and Kane Dawe returned to Whitehorse to lead the Air North Jets to their second straight A Division recreational hockey title last night.

Schedule announced for world championship

Alaska and Yukon Headlines - Fri, 2014-04-04 13:03
The schedule is set for the 2014 ISF Junior Men’s World Softball Championship in Whitehorse.

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