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Half-staff announced for former Alaska lawmaker

Southeast Alaska News - Thu, 2014-01-02 13:46

Gov. Sean Parnell has ordered all state flags to be lowered to half-staff on Friday in memory of former Rep. John M. Sweet.

Sweet died on Sept. 11 in Boulder, Colorado. He was 88.

Born in Parker, Pennsylvania, Sweet served in the U.S. Marine Corps during World War II. He was a geologist with Atlantic Richfield Company, and worked in Prudhoe Bay. He represented Anchorage in the state House from 1969 to 1970.

Sweet is survived by his wife, Mirabel, of Boulder, and six children.

Mild winter puts bird migration on hold in Finland

Alaska and Yukon Headlines - Thu, 2014-01-02 13:38
Mild winter puts bird migration on hold in Finland The fall migration is delayed, and some birds are singing the songs normally heard in spring. January 2, 2014

Mixed martial arts champ from Eagle River still waiting for UFC invitation

Alaska and Yukon Headlines - Thu, 2014-01-02 13:37
Mixed martial arts champ from Eagle River still waiting for UFC invitation Undefeated mixed martial arts fighter Lauren Murphy of Eagle River is used to winningJanuary 2, 2014

Lure Of China's Gray Economy Reaches Rich And Poor

NPR News - Thu, 2014-01-02 13:35

The proceeds from corruption, and legal and ethical gray areas, are a daily fact of life in China. The practice of gray income, which shows no sign of abating, may make political reforms more difficult.

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Obamacare Brings Medicaid To Skid Row's 'Ugly Reality'

NPR News - Thu, 2014-01-02 13:16

Among those who stand to benefit the most from the expansion of Medicaid are homeless adults. Many of these men and women are mentally ill or addicted to drugs and alcohol. Enrolling them can be difficult, but the benefits should be substantial.

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Berlin Clinic Aims To Make Genital Cutting Survivors Feel Whole

NPR News - Thu, 2014-01-02 13:11

The new Desert Flower Center offers treatment for the physical and psychological effects of female genital mutilation. But fear of alienation from their families and communities may keep some victims, mainly immigrants from Africa, from taking advantage of the center.

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Cork Versus Screw Cap: Don't Judge A Wine By How It's Sealed

NPR News - Thu, 2014-01-02 12:49

Remember screw caps on jugs of wine? These days, many winemakers have wholeheartedly embraced the screw tops — not just for their ease of use, but for the way they seal the wine's taste. Now many consumers are learning to look past the caps' former downmarket reputation.

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More changes for Sealaska leadership.

Facebook Feed - Thu, 2014-01-02 12:30
More changes for Sealaska leadership.

Kookesh to step down as Sealaska board chair
The company also announced the deadline to apply for its president and CEO position, as Chris McNeil prepares to retire.

Alaska's 2014 mushing race season revs up this weekend in Knik

Alaska and Yukon Headlines - Thu, 2014-01-02 12:26
Alaska's 2014 mushing race season revs up this weekend in Knik With several season-opening races canceled, the beginning of 2014 also means the unofficial start of the sled dog racing season in Southcentral Alaska.January 2, 2014

Petersburg committee considers borough land selection

Southeast Alaska News - Thu, 2014-01-02 11:32

The Petersburg borough is one year old this month (January) and is still going through the process of transitioning to an expanded municipality. Besides creating new borough ordinances and assessing the value of land within Petersburg’s boundaries , local officials are also considering which state land will be claimed by the new local government. A committee making recommendations on land selection started going over maps of the available parcels earlier this week.

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Selection of state land is one of the incentives for forming a new borough. Not all of the state’s holdings are available to the new municipality; in fact, it’s just a small portion. The lands are called vacant, unappropriated and unreserved or VUU land and it’s acreage that has not already been selected for grants to the university, Alaska Mental Health trust, Southeast state forest or other state uses. State law says the new borough is entitled to no less than 10 percent of the VUU land within its boundaries.

A December 6th letter from the Department of Natural Resources says 10 percent of the available land is 18-hundred acres. However the DNR says that amount will be reduced by 457 acres, because of a prior municipal entitlement already given to the old city of Petersburg. That leaves a selection of over 13-hundred acres, 1,374 to be exact.

Committee members thought the borough should be seeking more than that. However, chair Rick Braun wanted to go ahead with the selection process. “I would suggest out of the VUU that we have been given, that we select the 13-hundred something acres and get what we can now and proceed with a legislative appropriation or some other way to get the additional land instead of holding up the whole process,” Braun said.

Wrangell Republican Peggy Wilson got a bill passed in 2010 increasing the land given to the Wrangell and Haines boroughs. Under that bill Wrangell was entitled to just over nine thousand acres and Haines over 31-hundred acres. Committee member Ron Buschmann thought the borough could convince legislators that the Mental Health Trust and University have already selected the most valuable state land in the area and Petersburg should be granted more of what’s left.

Dave Kensinger thought the borough could make an argument for 10 percent of what’s been granted to the Alaska Mental Health Trust in the area. “If mental health got a hundred acres we should be able to get another 10 acres in unreserved state land. So it should increase our allotment,” Kensinger said. “Cause the state’s given up a lot of land to non-tax-paying entities in the borough, with mental health land and university land.”

The land available for selection have been further reduced by the creation of a Southeast state forest, with acreage that could be used for future timber sales.

The committee voted unanimously to recommend the borough seek legislative help to increase its land selection. That was the only recommendation made by the committee during its second meeting. However, the group started looking through maps supplied by DNR of the available lands.

Committee members discussed for what purpose the borough should be selecting . Responses ranged from rock pits, to drinking water protection to general economic development.

Buschmann wanted to target acreage that could be developed. “You know economic development lands but also like some waterfront land that we could sell at some point. I mean the mental health has made a tremendous amount of money off the lands they sold, between the city, the old city limits and Papkes Landing, and use that to fund some of things we’re gonna have problems funding, like rebuilding the Papkes dock and some of that stuff.”

Papkes Landing is 10 miles south of downtown Petersburg and the borough may take over a state owned dock and boat ramp there, separate from the borough land selection process. There’s no available state land to select at Papke’s – but a parcel not too far away at Falls Creek drew some interest from the committee. There was also support for land on the Kupreanof Island shoreline just north of Sasby Island. That’s along one possible road route connecting to the nearby community of Kake.

Several other possibilities also had interest from committee members. One was a waterfront parcel on Southern Mitkof that holds a mothballed parking and ferry terminal, once used for a ferry connection to Prince of Wales Island.
That area also includes a shoreline log facility where logs can be transferred into the water and rafted to away to a sawmill.

The committee also discussed the possibilities for potential rock pits for generating revenue in the new borough. Ultimately they made no recommendations yet to the borough assembly on specific parcels. They plan to meet again in January. The borough land selection and conveyance process could take a total of three to five years.

How Language Seems To Shape One's View Of The World

NPR News - Thu, 2014-01-02 11:32

Research suggests that speaking another language fluently changes what you pay attention to and how you remember events. But some say the idea that language can make you see and think differently is overblown.

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How Language Seems To Shape One's View Of The World

NPR News - Thu, 2014-01-02 11:32

Research suggest that speaking another language fluently changes what you pay attention to and how you remember events. But some say the idea that language can make you see and think differently is overblown.

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California High Court OKs Law License For Undocumented Immigrant

NPR News - Thu, 2014-01-02 11:26

The state's Supreme Court rules that Sergio Garcia, who has lived and attended university in the U.S., can become a member of the state bar.

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Juneau Dogs Suffer From Kennel Cough

Alaska and Yukon Headlines - Thu, 2014-01-02 11:23

(Photo by Martin Cathrae/Flickr Creative Commons)

Suspected cases of kennel cough in dogs have recently spiked in Juneau. An animal shelter has cancelled its daily dog daycare and is quarantining its kennel.

“Just like the flu is going around Juneau now or colds go around Juneau, in this case, it’s kennel cough. It’s definitely disconcerting for veterinary clinics, for kennels, for the humane society. It can be upsetting,” says Chava Lee, Executive Director of Gastineau Humane Society.

Lee says cases of kennel cough started showing up at the animal shelter within the past two weeks. She says the staff immediately took precautions:

“Our whole kennel is in quarantine, so that means that we’ve shut down all those programs where dogs come in and every dog kennel, regardless of whether there’s a dog in it, is cleaned every single day. And when I mean cleaned, I mean they are bleached down, bleach is left to stand, so that we kill any germs that have gotten into our system.”

Lee says the quarantine will last three weeks. Meanwhile, the humane society has cancelled doggy daycare and informs people wanting to board dogs about the recent cases of kennel cough. Lee says it’s been at least two years since kennel cough has been at the shelter.

State veterinarian Bob Gerlach says kennel cough is very contagious:

“Kennel cough is very, very similar to the human flu in the fact that kennel cough can be caused by both a virus or a bacteria – the parainfluenza virus or the Bordetella bacteria – and it’s spread by the aerosol from the dog, so when the dog sneezes or coughs, the virus could be spread that way.”

Gerlach says kennel cough is passed between dogs through direct contact, as well as licking or playing with the same toys, or using the same water or food bowl. Dogs with kennel cough should stay away from other dogs.

Gerlach says dogs that are very old, very young, or going through other stressful situations, like traveling, are susceptible to picking up the infection, even if they’ve been vaccinated, “No vaccine is going to give you a hundred percent protection,” he explains. “Oftentimes they protect on a mass basis so that a large percentage of dogs that receive the vaccines will be protected but there’s always going to be some that may not be of the greatest health or maybe that they are under some other stresses that they may not get full protection, and so they still could come down with the disease, but generally they are not going to get it as severely as if they didn’t get vaccinated.”

If you suspect kennel cough, Gerlach recommends taking your dog to a veterinarian. To reduce exposure to other dogs, vets often don’t allow the infected dog into the general waiting area.

Symptoms include dry, harsh coughing, retching, snorting, gagging, and sneezing, but Gerlach says if there is a secondary infection, other problems could arise:

“In most cases, it’s restricted to the upper airways and the cough can persist for several days and longer depending on the extent on the irritation and damage. If there is a secondary infection, then obviously there could be some pretty severe consequences with progression to pneumonia.”

Gerlach says he doesn’t know of other communities in Alaska currently experiencing kennel cough but says it’s not an uncommon time of year for the infection to occur.

US Senate Is Close To Saving A St. Mary’s Man Cabin

Alaska and Yukon Headlines - Thu, 2014-01-02 11:19

A St. Mary’s man is one step closer to saving his cabin. William Alstrom’s small cabin is located on the Andreafsky Wilderness in the Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge, about 31 miles northwest of St. Mary’s.

According to the BLM, that’s illegal and the government said the cabin needed to go.

The struggle over the small cabin has found its way to the US Senate, where an exception to save the cabin recently passed out of the energy committee with a push by Senator Lisa Murkowski.

“Basically it’s the government’s failure, it’s the government’s mistake and they’ve acknowledged that. But basically the only solution they had was to tell this Alaskan family from St. Mary’s that you’re going to either have to demolish the cabin or you’re going to have to move it,” said Murkowski.

The agency didn’t know about the wilderness that when they granted the allotment in 2008. They came back in 2011 to say that the plot was cancelled. By that time, Alstrom had built a small subsistence cabin and appealed the decision. Alstrom got in contact with Murkowski last month and began working for a legislative solution. She drafted an amendment, which passed the committee. Murkowski thanked the lawmakers for being willing to make an exception for Alstrom.

“Very small deal, but for one family, they know the government is actually working with them rather than acknowledging they made a mistake and saying well, sorry there’s not much we can do. I just appreciate the willingness of colleagues at these smaller issues we deal with,” said Murkowski.

Alstrom served in the Air Force in Vietnam. He applied for the allotment as Alaska Native veterans’ allotment. He said he does not want to comment until the issue is finalized.

The amendment was attached to the Green Mountain Lookout Act, originally introduced by Washington State senators for a similar exemption. The bill heads to the full Senate floor for consideration.

Kookesh To Step Down As Sealaska Board Chair

Alaska and Yukon Headlines - Thu, 2014-01-02 11:16

Albert Kookesh is stepping down as chairman of the board of directors for Sealaska, the regional Native Corporation for Southeast Alaska.

The company also announced the deadline to apply for its president and CEO position, as Chris McNeil prepares to retire.

Albert Kookesh

Kookesh, a former state lawmaker from Angoon, has been Sealaska chairman for 14 years. He plans to remain on the board, but says he wants to cut back on work and commitments.

Kookesh suffered a heart attack last March. In a message posted to Sealaska’s website Tuesday, he said he’s back to 100 percent, but the incident put a scare in him and his family.

“I want to be here to see my grandchildren grow up,” Kookesh said in the statement.

He said he was honored to have served longer than any other board chair in Sealaska history, and wants to continue to use his relationships in the Native and non-Native communities for the benefit of Sealaska and its shareholders.

Kookesh also decided not to run for reelection as co-chair of the Alaska Federation of Natives last year, another position he had held for 14 years.

McNeil announced his planned retirement in October after 12 years at the helm. At the time he said he hoped to have a successor named by March and that the actual transition would be made at the corporation’s annual meeting in June.

Sealaska is accepting applications for its next president and CEO through February 28th. The company’s board of directors has hired San Francisco-based recruiting firm Egon Zehnder to help with the search.

According to another statement on Sealaska’s website, the successful candidate will be a company shareholder and reside in Juneau, where Sealaska is headquartered. McNeil lives in Washington state and works in corporate offices in Bellevue.

Wear a cardboard pirate boat, your imagination is the limit

Southeast Alaska News - Thu, 2014-01-02 11:09

Listen to iFriendly audio.

Jeff Budd with Greater Sitka Arts Council discusses this year’s wearable arts show, and a new iconography workshop.



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