Ruth Moody will be giving a free vocal workshop this Sunday at the AB Hall in Skagway. This...
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The Alaska State Troopers’ largest patrol vessel is back in service after an engine upgrade in its home port of Dutch Harbor. The patrol vessel Stimson was out of commission for 10 days earlier this month during the overhaul.
Skipper Troy Magnusen says the patrol vessel’s engines were well past their prime.
“One of our engines was about 800 hours over rebuild time, and the other was about 1800 hours over,” he says.
So Magnusen says the engines were upgraded piece-by-piece while the vessel was in port. The project cost about $175,000.
There were no impacts to patrols, though the maintenance work did keep the troopers from helping respond to a maritime disaster — the grounding of the fishing vessel Arctic Hunter on November 1st.
Now that they’re up and running, Magnusen says the Stimson has one patrol left this year — though he couldn’t say when or where to avoid tipping off fishermen who might be breaking regulations.
“We do a lot of the Bering Sea patrols, for the king crab, opilio,” he says.
Next year, they’ll be back on their other beats.
“We do the Bristol Bay red salmon season in the summertime. We enforce the … Sand Point/False Pass area, for cod and salmon,” Magnusen says. “We run out to Adak a couple of times a year to do cod out that direction and also for the caribou season, the hunting season that they have out there, [and] search and rescues if needed.”
Even though there’s plenty of work for the Stimson in Western Alaska, the engine maintenance project reignited rumors that the troopers wanted to move the vessel elsewhere.
Operations commander Burke Waldron says it’s staying put for now. But he says there is some truth to those rumors.
“We are constantly evaluating where our boats, both large and small, airplanes and people are stationed, and if we can be more efficient or better serve the state by moving those assets or resources around,” Waldron says.
Kodiak is the homeport for the P/V Woldstad. Together, the Woldstad and Stimson cover Western Alaska.
Waldron says it makes sense to keep the Stimson where it is — so it can focus on the Chain.
“Right now it’s suited well for the Aleutian chain and Bristol Bay and Arctic fisheries patrols. [It] also, you know, provides public safety services to the Aleutian chain,” he says. “Obviously if we move the boat away from that region, that would have additional costs for us, and travel time, to get to some of those patrols.”
With money tight in the state right now, that’s something the troopers are trying to avoid. With their latest investment in the Stimson, Waldron says the troopers should be able to get a lot more work out of the vessel.
Lower Kuskokwim school officials say it was a 2nd grade student with a lighter that caused the fire in a detached building’s bathroom.
The school will be disciplining the 2nd grade student according to the district’s policies.
“Typically that would be a suspension and the days would be the determining factor, it could go up to an include expulsion, but that would really depend on the age of the student and the conditions surrounding the event,” Jacob Jensen, the Lower Kuskokwim School District Superintendent, said.
No flames left the bathroom, according to the fire department, but the classroom suffered serious damage.
“There was quite extensive damage to the building, so we’re investigating what repairs might be necessary to bring it up to code, or if that building is even worth repairing or not,” Jensen said.
Jensen says that the teacher, Jill Hoffman, did an exemplary job of evacuating students and keeping everyone safe and calm. He says the response was textbook and the fire department put out the fire before it could spread beyond the bathroom. Jensen says incidents like this are something that the district is working to prevent.
“Obviously we’re not going to frisk every student that comes in the door. We’ve go to take into account that kids do things and don’t think about them. We’re going to be looking at protocols and policies and procures to see if there is something we can do in the future to prevent something like this,” Jensen said. ”But a lot of it has to do with awareness and talking to the kids and having the fire department is in there talking abut fire safety. And that we’re taking those lessons and making kids understand that fire is dangerous.”
The 2nd grade class is a bit in limbo at the moment, as students are spread amongst other classrooms while the school works to find a permanent solution.
Together For a Meth-Free Sitka, an initiative chosen at this year’s Sitka Health Summit, met for only the second time Tuesday night (11-12-13), and has already won state support.
Kate Burkhart, the executive director of the Alaska Advisory Board on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, attended the meeting.
So I’m here tonight, just to kind of be a resource. And as you continue your process, if there are ways that the board or department can support your process, and help you achieve whatever goals you set. That’s what I’m here for.
The task force is still in its organizational stage. Four subgroups have been created: law enforcement, prevention, education, and media. Prior to Tuesday’s meeting, groups met separately to outline concrete steps the community could take to address methamphetamine addiction.
Ray Majeski was the spokesperson for the law enforcement group.
“We have four fewer people today on the police department than we had 28 years ago and the problems in Sitka have not diminished in 28 years. If anything they’ve been magnified somewhat,” said Majeski.
Donna Callistini spoke on behalf of the prevention group, whose top goal is to develop a detox facility in Sitka. Her concerns were shared by task force member Eileen Gallagher, who has a masters degree in trauma and addiction.
Gallagher said, “that’s one of the things about methamphetamine. It demands, not requires, it demands that any treatment has to be very structured and it has to be long. One of the things that Sitka doesn’t have is an intensive outpatient program.”
The task force briefly considered changing its name, but no further action was taken on the issue. To learn more about the meetings and activities of what — for the time being — remains “Together for a Meth-Free Sitka,” visit facebook.com/methfreesitka.
Alaska’s congressional delegation is pushing for disaster funds related to 2012’s low Chinook runs on the Yukon and Kuskokwim rivers. Twenty-two new lawmakers are now included on a letter of support for $150 million in relief to be spread across other national fishery disasters.
The group now includes prominent East Coast senators like Charles Schumer and Marco Rubio. A total of 38 senators and house members are listed.
The $150 million have been included in a 2014 appropriations bill, but it has not been passed. The lawmakers say the money could be used in a variety of ways, including direct assistance to residents and scientific studies.
The funding would also covers disasters related to Cook Inlet salmon, plus Florida oysters, Mississippi blue crab, and lost fishing from Hurricane Sandy.
Bethel’s rural status is not immediately at risk. But once the population hits 7,000, it will be presumed to be non-rural unless it proves to have rural characteristics.
The federal subsistence board is in a multi-year process of reviewing how it decides which communities have the critical rural priority for accessing resources on federal lands as described under ANILCA.
That process was the subject of a meeting in Bethel Wednesday, but most people gave their thoughts on Bethel.
Alan Joseph said that the population thresholds are somewhat arbitrary.
“Say if the community became non-rural at 7,000 it would be like telling Yup’iks in Bethel that at 12 o’clock that that stop being Yup’iks,” Joseph said. ”You have to look at the way the people live and decide to keep it that way.”
There are communities above 7,000 people still considered rural, like Sitka and Kodiak. To remain rural, they have to show rural characteristics. Mary Gregory made the case that subsistence is at the core of many people’s lives.
“If you come to my house right now you will find 10 pikes hanging in my kitchen trying to dry out and a string of tomcods that are also hanging and my house smells like fish because I’m a 99.9 percent subsistence food user,” Gregory said. ”A lot of people are like that, especially the elderly people who live here.”
Ignacious Louie Andrew recognized that change has accelerated in recent years, but the basic native values are still strong:
“We have gone through a tremendous changes, but as we continue to change, subsistence traditional native practices and values will provide a continuity to the past,” Andrew said..
Bethel specifically sees a lot of turnover, according to Roberta Chavez.
“People come and go to bethel all the time you see them moving here, leaving here,” Chavez said. ”The people that remain have been here since time immemorial and they have the right to continue to live that way.”
There are a total of 10 meetings happening all around the state. Comments will be analyzed and brought to the Federal Subsistence Board. Steve Kessler works as the Forest Service’s subsistence program leader and says the comments are important to the process.
“Are these thresholds guidelines the correct ones to use, or should we be using something else,” Kessler said. “Should we be aggregating communities in some other way?”
“What does the public think the federal subsistence board and the secretaries of interior and agriculture ought to be using to determine which communities are rural?”
The board will meet in April and could propose changes to pass up to the Secretaries of Interior and Agriculture, who ultimately make the call. You can give comments by emailing email@example.com. The deadline for comments is Dec. 2.
Tribal citizens returned Benjamin Miyasato, Lawrence “Woody” Widmark, and Harvey Kitka to the Sitka Tribal Council, in elections held Tuesday (11-13-13). Former council member Thomas Gamble also won a seat. He last served in 2008.
Louise Brady and Stephanie Edenshaw were the runners-up, falling short by just a few votes. Despite having open voting at the Sheetka Kwan Community House for two weeks prior to election day, turnout was disappointingly low. While around 1,900 people in Sitka are eligible to vote in the council elections, Tribal officials estimate that only 140 people cast ballots to fill the four open seats.
Ben Miyasato, who will reclaim his seat as vice-chairman, received the most votes, with 107.
Miyasato says, “what surprised me was that the turnout was extremely low but at the same time that is sending a message that they’re not happy with their tribal government which is understandable given the financial difficulty they’re under. We hear your message.”
Also noting the low turnout, Gamble has this message for tribal citizens. “…I guess just this message to the tribal citizens that in order for positive change to happen their involvement is going to be requested continuously.”
The election results will be certified at the next council meeting on November 20th. The new terms for elected officials will begin December 1.
More than seven years since their previous releases, Sony and Microsoft are debuting new versions of their popular game consoles — PlayStation and Xbox. Hard-core gamers are excited, but once that initial rush is over, Sony and Microsoft will have to work a lot harder to expand beyond that market.
Anchorage has become embroiled in an appropriations debate. Legislative money for tennis courts – or ice rinks. Some assembly members want to crack down on towing firms. The municipality is exploring a plan to unify the fire and police dispatch. The Anchorage Assembly has been working on Title 11, regulating taxis. Alaska Airlines says it will allow passengers to use more electronic devices. Food trucks have become popular in many American cities. Anchorage is seeing them too – but there are questions about these mobile kitchens as Sean details.
HOST: Michael Carey
- Paul Jenkins, Anchorage Daily Planet
- Daysha Eaton, KSKA
- Sean Doogan, Alaska Dispatch
KSKA (FM 91.1) BROADCAST: Friday, November 15 2013 at 2:00 p.m. and Saturday, November 16, 2013 at 6:00 p.m.
Alaska Public Television BROADCAST: Friday, November 15 2013 at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday November 16 , 2013 at 4:30 p.m.
"When we pull back the curtain now, the mess is disturbing," says House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich., of the latest revelations. These documents call into question whether contractors can fix the website as promised by the end of November.
Sea cucumber fishing is winding down for commercial divers in Southeast Alaska. There is another opening Monday but the fleet is very close to reaching its overall quota and boats have begun calling it quits. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game is reporting a catch of just over one-million, four-hundred and sixty-four thousand pounds to date.
“We have about a million and a half pounds harvested. That includes some areas that went over their GHL’s a little bit so there’s still approximately 70 thousand pounds in the Ketchikan area to be harvested and a little bit left in the Juneau area,” says Justin Breese, Assistant Area Management Biologist in Ketchikan.
Divers get short, weekly openings to target cucumbers. Each fishing area is closed once the fleet reaches the guideline harvest level or GHL there. The first opening was October 7th.
Breese say this year’s cucumber price has averaged around five dollars a pound, “Which is pretty good and it drew quite a few people out and that’s one of the reasons a lot of some of the smaller areas got more effort than they were anticipating in several different smaller areas.”
Nearly 200 divers have participated in this year’s sea cucumber fishery.
President Obama admitting to fumbling the ball on the healthcare website. But is 'sorry' enough - or does someone have to be sidelined? Host Michel Martin talks to the Barbershop guys about the week's news. Writer Jimi Izrael, Corey Dade of The Root, law professor Paul Butler and healthcare consultant Neil Minkoff weigh in.