Alaska News

Survivors Reflect On 1964 Earthquake

APRN Alaska News - Mon, 2014-03-24 17:16

This is an important week for anniversaries of big disasters in Alaska history. Thursday marks the 50th anniversary of the 1964 Good Friday earthquake and tsunami. The 9.2 quake took lives and destroyed houses and infrastructure in Anchorage, Valdez, Seward and other communities.

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Categories: Alaska News

Rural Communities Get Help With Tax Prep

APRN Alaska News - Mon, 2014-03-24 17:15

The Alaska Business Development Center spent last week coordinating free tax assistance across the state. Teams of two and three volunteers travel to small bush communities to help residents prepare tax returns.

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Categories: Alaska News

Political Group Calls For Action Against Rep. Gattis

APRN Alaska News - Mon, 2014-03-24 17:15

A Washington, DC political group is calling for the state to take criminal action against Representative Lynn Gattis (R-Wasilla).

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Categories: Alaska News

Cama-i Festival Wraps Up In Bethel

APRN Alaska News - Mon, 2014-03-24 17:14

Photo from the Cama-i Dance Festival Facebook page.

The three day Cama-i festival wrapped up Sunday in Bethel. More than 20 dance groups from up and down the Yukon and Kuskowkin rivers and across north America came together to dance, celebrate, and this year, to heal.

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Categories: Alaska News

Alaska News Nightly: March 24, 2014

APRN Alaska News - Mon, 2014-03-24 17:00

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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Legislature Weighs ‘Erin’s Law’ 

Daysha Eaton, KYUK – Bethel

This week, Erin Merryn will be visiting Alaska to promote a law that provides age-appropriate sexual abuse education to children in public schools. Erin’s Law, named after the 29-year-old from Illinois, has passed in 11 states and is pending in 26 others, including Alaska. And we should warn listeners: this story talks frankly about sexual abuse and rape.

Congress Subpoenas EPA For Documents About The Pebble Mine

Mike Mason, KDLG – Dillingham

The Oversight and Government Reform Committee in the U.S. House of Representatives has subpoenaed the EPA for documents about the proposed Pebble Mine.

Ex-Secretary of State Endorses Sullivan in Tight U.S. Senate Race

Liz Ruskin, APRN – Washington DC

Political advertisements can get mean, but two new TV spots in the race for Mark Begich’s U.S. Senate seat are trying for that warm, fuzzy feeling.

Exxon Valdez Memories From Alaska’s Capitol Still Fresh 25 Years Later

Jeremy Hsieh, KTOO – Juneau

It’s been 25years since the Exxon Valdez tanker ran aground, spilling hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil in Prince William Sound.

Survivors Reflect On 1964 Earthquake

Brianna Gibbs, KMXT – Kodiak

This is an important week for anniversaries of big disasters in Alaska history. Thursday marks the 50th anniversary of the 1964 Good Friday earthquake and tsunami. The 9.2 quake took lives and destroyed houses and infrastructure in Anchorage, Valdez, Seward and other communities.

Rural Communities Get Help With Tax Prep

Zachariah Hughes, KNOM – Nome

The Alaska Business Development Center spent last week coordinating free tax assistance across the state. Teams of two and three volunteers travel to small bush communities to help residents prepare tax returns.

Cama-i Festival Wraps Up In Bethel

Ben Matheson, KNOM – Nome

The three day Cama-i festival wrapped up Sunday in Bethel. More than 20 dance groups from up and down the Yukon and Kuskowkin rivers and across north America came together to dance, celebrate, and this year, to heal.

Categories: Alaska News

Bill Would Help Fund Two Southeast Mines

APRN Alaska News - Mon, 2014-03-24 10:24

Two Southeast Alaska mines could get close to $300 million in state support under a bill moving through the Legislature.

Senate Bill 99 authorizes the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority to issue bonds for the projects. It moved out of the Senate Labor and Commerce Committee March 20 and awaits scheduling on the chamber’s floor.

One mine is the Niblack gold, silver, copper and zinc prospect. The other is the Bokan-Dotson Ridge rare-earth-element mine. Both are on Prince of Wales Island, southwest of Ketchikan.

The Niblack, shown above, and the Bokan-Dotson mines would get financing help from the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority under Senate Bill 99. (Heatherdale Resources image)

Ken Collison is chief operating officer for Ucore Rare Metals, Bokan’s developer. At an earlier hearing, he told the committee rare-earth metals are needed for strong batteries and high-tech devices.

“For things like electric cards, hybrid cars, it’s critical. Because you have much smaller components, much lighter components. Same thing with military tech. It goes into aviation engines,” he said.

The metals are in short supply and federal officials are encouraging mine development.

The bill authorizes the authority to raise up to $145 million for Bokan through bonds. Another $125 million could go toward the Niblack mine and its ore-processing facility near Ketchikan.

Collison said mines need state support.

“The financial markets are such right now for the mining industry that it’s very tough. And this is going to show huge support from the state of Alaska. It’s going to make the financial markets and the rest of the mining community realize the state is open for business. This would be a big help for us in developing this project,” he said.

Bob Claus, who works for the Southeast Alaska Conservation Council, said the shortage of private financing should be a warning.

“The proponents of the project have not established that the potential mine is in any way a viable project, have not been able to attract private investment to their proposal and have not demonstrated that the mine, if developed, would benefit the communities on Prince of Wales,” he said in a letter to the Senate committee, addressing the Bokan mine.

“This bonding authority is a misuse of state funds to support a purely speculative and controversial project,” he wrote.

The funds were added to a larger bill making changes to an energy fund that’s also managed by the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority.

Anchorage Senator Lesil McGuire sponsored the measure. She supported amendments drafted by Sitka Senator Bert Stedman adding the Southeast mines.

The bill must pass the full Senate, as well as the House, before it’s sent to the governor.

Categories: Alaska News

Calista Announces Record Dividend

APRN Alaska News - Mon, 2014-03-24 10:20

The Calista Corporation is giving out the largest shareholder dividend in corporate history. The Board of Directors approved a dividend distribution totaling $4.65 million.

This distribution equates to $3.50 per share, an eight percent increase over last year. Checks are expected to be mailed out by the close of business on April 15.

Chariman Willie Kasayulie says the business has succeeded by diversifying operations and making acquisitions.

In April 2013, Calista provided a shareholder dividend totaling $4.3 million. In December 2013 Calista also provided a distribution of more than $590,000 through the Shareholder-supported Elders’ Benefit. The corporation has distributed nearly $25 million in dividends since incorporation.

Categories: Alaska News

Congress Subpoenas EPA For Documents About The Pebble Mine

APRN Alaska News - Mon, 2014-03-24 10:19

Representative Darrell Issa issued subpoenas to the EPA for documents about the EPA’s 404-C decision regarding the proposed Pebble Mine Photo from Darrell Issa.

The Oversight and Government Reform Committee in the U.S. House of Representatives has subpoenaed the EPA for documents about the proposed Pebble Mine.

The subpoenas were issued by committee chairman Darrell Issa from California.

He’s asking for documents and communications relating to the EPA’s permit review, including any action under section 404-C of the Clean Water Act. The subpoenas come on the heels of a letter sent to the EPA Inspector General requesting an investigation into the EPA’s decision to use its authority under the Clean Water Act to stop the issuance of permits that would be needed for the Pebble Mine project to move forward.

The letter was signed by Representatives Issa, James Lankford from Oklahoma and Jim Jordan from Ohio.

Categories: Alaska News

Board of Fish Approves Kuskokwim Dipnets, 25 Fathom Net Restrictions

APRN Alaska News - Mon, 2014-03-24 10:12

Kuskowkim fisherman will have the option to use dipnets this summer to target other salmon during periods of king salmon closures.

The Board of Fish unanimously approved the emergency petition Friday morning. They also found an emergency warranted in a petition to reduce the length of driftnets by half, from 300 feet to 150 feet.

That’s a conservation method that would allow more flexibility in management and allow fish to go further upriver. The two petitions came from the Kuskokwim River Salmon Management Working Group.

Fishers will face unprecedented restrictions on subsistence salmon fishing this summer as managers attempt to bring more kings to the spawning grounds. With the dipnets, any king salmon caught must be released back to the river alive.

Area Management Biologist Travis Ellison told the board that there will be severe subsistence restrictions.

“To the point where subsistence harvest opportunity for chum and sockeye salmon could be reduced and impacted in a negative way,” Ellison said. “Having the ability to allow the use of dipnets for harvest of chum and sockeye salmon while live releasing king salmon, we’d have the ability to allow additional opportunity to harvest more of those chum and sockeyes without impacting the king salmon.”

The board utilized a state definition that allows for 5-foot circular dipnets. Board member Orville Huntington from Huslia spoke in support of dipnets.

“It’s obviously very hard times out there, regulations are confusing enough and I think it’s needed, it will conserve kings salmon and allow some very important catch during a time of year when it’s good to put fish away,” Huntington said.

The board moved to allow the fish and game commissioner to make the dipnet gear a permanent regulation. Otherwise there would be a 120 day window, placing the end of the emergency on July 21 if implemented immediately.

For the drift net restrictions, the idea is that nets half the normal length would be half as efficient. Ellison says that’s important considering the river’s fishing power.

“And when you have 50 fathom gillnets and several hundred boats at a time, could be potentially over 1000 boats at a time if we have short periods and there’s been long closures,” Ellison said.

The department sees more flexibility to allow more fishing time and potentially earlier fishing. It could also better distribute the harvest along the river, according to Dan Bergstrom from the Department of Fish and Game.

“It does provide a tool that could help spread out the harvest, because you have less efficient gear and more control on harvest instead of putting out the whole normal fishing gear that would go out there,” Bergstrom said.

The Kuskokwim working group will meet the first week in April and, with managers, attempt to finalize the schedule for summer subsistence salmon fishing.

Categories: Alaska News

As Public Testimony Floods In, Permitting Bill’s Future Uncertain

APRN Alaska News - Fri, 2014-03-21 19:46

With less than a month of session to go, the Parnell administration is in a similar spot with HB77 as it was last year: Opposition came out strong and fast, key senators are on the fence, and movement on the controversial permitting bill has stalled.

You know a bill is in a tricky spot when even the lead advocate for compromise jokes about the legislation being cursed. Sen. Peter Micciche, a Republican from Soldotna, likened HB77 to a thirteenth floor on Wednesday.

“Perhaps in the future, we’ll retire the number HB77 and just skip from 76 to 78. I think in some ways the number is somewhat damned,” Micciche told reporters.

Gov. Sean Parnell’s bill was pitched as a way to make the permitting process more efficient, and it initially raced through the Legislature last spring. But tribal groups, fishing organizations, and environmental outfits came out hard against the bill, arguing it gave too much power to the Natural Resources commissioner and limited public involvement in the permitting process.

So, the legislation was effectively put in time-out. It got locked up in a procedural committee, while public hearings were held and a compromise was brokered. Administration officials and Micciche – whose vote is needed for the bill to pass – set out to forge a new draft without some of the more contentious elements. And they hoped public sentiment might cool down in the meantime.

That didn’t happen.

“I didn’t expect cheers. I didn’t expect people to be thrilled with the outcome of the bill. I mean the bill is the bill,” says Micciche. “But what I did expect is a fair shake.”

Since the new version of the bill was released two weeks ago, the Legislature has been inundated with phone calls, e-mails, letters, and petitions on HB77 from both sides. When all that testimony is printed out, you get a stack of papers six inches high – two inches in favor, and four against.

With the bill being such a charged issue and with a few weeks left of session, the bill has stopped moving. Public testimony was extended, and hearings for amendments keep getting delayed.

Some opponents think it’s past the point of compromise. Sen. Hollis French, an Anchorage Democrat who serves on the Resources Committee, recently announced he would not be offering any amendments to the bill. He thinks it’s “too flawed to fix.”

“I would like a great big stake driven into the heart of this bill,” French told reporters.

Rick Halford, a former lawmaker who has come out as a prominent critic of the bill, says he too still has problems with the bill. He thinks some of the changes to the bill were “more in drafting style than substance.” He doesn’t see how the bill can be rewritten in the next month to satisfy his concerns.

“When one of the topics of the bill is how to limit public participation at the administrative level, that makes it a pretty difficult bill to sell,” says Halford.

And some of the interest groups on the fence see the bill facing an uphill battle.

Jerry McCune is the president of United Fishermen of Alaska, a seafood industry group that has concerns with the bill. He says UFA is committed to working with the Legislature and the administration on the bill, but they’re not there yet.

“In the short amount of time we have left, to digest any other particular changes and get it all figured out, I would say our membership probably wouldn’t support it at this time,” says McCune.

McCune says part of the problem is that the bill is so complex, people have not had time to figure out if any of the tweaks to the bill are meaningful.
Where the old version removed the right of individuals and groups to apply for water reservations to protect fish habitat, the new version does not exclude them but it does allow others to get “temporary use” access to a given stream until an application is approved. While 35 such applications are currently pending, the Department of Natural Resources has never granted a water reservation to an independent entity.

The new version also sets up a mechanism whereby the Natural Resources commissioner can issue general permits for activities that would not cause “significant or irreparable harm to state land.” Those permits would allow users who want to engage in that activity to do so without submitting their own paperwork. While the previous version of the bill did not require public notice of those permits, the new version has a provision for a 30-day comment period.

Much of the administrative language that existed in the previous bill exists in the current one.

“People are just so mixed up and confused now and trying to keep up with all this that they could probably write it on one page, and some people are not going to support it at this point.”

Even the administration officials pushing for the permitting overhaul see the massive scope as an obstacle at this point. Ed Fogels is a deputy commissioner with the Department of Natural Resources, and he was involved in drafting the bill.

“One of the issues that’s going on here is this bill is very big and attempts to fix a lot of small problems within DNR statutes,” says Fogels. “So when you look at the bill in its entirety, it gets confusing. You can’t really understand it without sitting down with the bill, with the statute book, and reading through it.”

Fogels thinks the new bill is responsive to the criticism DNR heard last year.

“I do think the changes that were made were good, solid changes that address the majority of all the issues that we heard,” says Fogels.

For his part, Micciche says some of the controversy may have been avoided if a different approach had been taken with the bill.

“Pull it back, change the number, break it up, deal with one issue at a time. It’s not where we are today, but I think people have become so focused on the number, and they’ve been so stirred up by people that I don’t believe are looking at the issue rationally that’s it’s difficult for them to see the bill for what it is.”

Micciche wants to see a few more changes to the bill before he’ll vote for it. But he thinks a lot of progress has been made, and he says he’s been getting as many e-mails in favor of the bill as he is getting against it. He’s also surprised by some of public outrage over the new version. Micciche says he’s been reaching out to some of the opponents who have sent him letters. He remembers one woman from Talkeetna.

“She sent me one of those, ‘Nothing has changed; I still hate you’ e-mails,” says Micciche. “We talked through the bill and found a lot of common ground. And by the time we were through, and she saw the changes, and we talked about it, explained how code works and things that had been there since statehood, and things that were essentially codifying practices that had been done in the past. We had a pretty good conversation.”

Micciche wishes he could have conversations like that with every opponent in the state. But there’s no way he can personally call thousands of people and walk them through the legislation. And with just a month left of session, a looming deadline only adds to an impossible task.

Categories: Alaska News

Alaska Highway Money Not an Easy Sell to Congress

APRN Alaska News - Fri, 2014-03-21 16:29

The government of Canada’s Yukon Territory is asking Congress to pay for reconstruction of the Alaska Highway. Premier Darrell Pasloski  was in Washington last week to make the case. The United States and Canada agreed in 1977 to work together to improve the northern section of the Highway, as well as the spur from Haines Junction to the border near Haines. The U.S. agreed to pay for construction and Canada would pay maintenance and operation. Premier Pasloski says  the funding should continue.

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“This has been a great deal for the U.S. Taxpayers because the U.S. Congress has put up approx 25 percent of the money into this highway, however, about 85% of the traffic is U.S. traffic,” he said.

The U.S. paid more than $400 million before Congress stopped funding in 2012. Part of the Haines road still needs resurfacing, but the bigger challenge is a long section further north, where the road is on unstable permafrost.

Matt Shuckerow , a spokesman for Alaska Congressman Don Young, says the road is a vital link between Southeast and the Interior. But the U.S. Highway Trust Fund is stretched thin, so Shuckerow says  it’s not an easy sell in Washington.

“Members here in Congress have very little appetite to send money to places like Canada when in fact we lack funds to take care of our highway issues here in the United States,” he said.

Shuckerow says Young believes the U.S. should live up to its obligation to pay for the highway, but it will take sustained pressure from Canada, the state of Alaska and the Alaska congressional delegation.

Categories: Alaska News

Treadwell Announces Campaign Changes

APRN Alaska News - Fri, 2014-03-21 16:28

Republican U.S. Senate hopeful Mead Treadwell has parted ways with his campaign manager.

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Spokesman Fred Brown says it “frees up a lot of room” for Treadwell to focus on other areas and frees up the campaign’s finances.

In addition to parting ways with Adam Jones, Treadwell also said one of his spokesmen, Rick Gorka, is also leaving.

Brown says Treadwell has a strong campaign structure. But he says Treadwell wants Alaska donors, and going that route, there’s a limit to what you can raise.

Treadwell said long-time friend Peter Christensen would take over day-to-day leadership of the campaign until a new manager is named.

Categories: Alaska News

Board of Fish Approves Kuskokwim Dipnetting

APRN Alaska News - Fri, 2014-03-21 16:27

Kuskowkim fisherman will be able to use dipnets this summer to target other species of salmon during periods of king salmon closures. The Board of Fish approved the emergency petition this morning.

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Categories: Alaska News

Anchorage And Alaska Railroad Celebrating 100th Birthday

APRN Alaska News - Fri, 2014-03-21 16:26

Along with the centennial celebration for Alaska’s largest city, the Alaska Railroad is celebrating its 100th birthday. Anchorage historian and author Charles Wohlforth is writing the history of Anchorage for the centennial. Part of that work will include why and how the federal government got in to the railroad business in Alaska. The idea was to wrestle control of resources away from the “Alaska syndicate,” a private railroad and coal monopoly run by the wealthy Guggenheim and Morgan families.

Wohlforth told APRN’s Lori Townsend it was a political dust up that started in the Roosevelt administration and continued on through Taft and Woodrow Wilson.

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Categories: Alaska News

Valdez Museum Prepares Commemorates 1964 Quake

APRN Alaska News - Fri, 2014-03-21 16:25

The Valdez Museum is commemorating next week’s 50th anniversary of the 1964 Earthquake with the launch of two exhibits.

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Categories: Alaska News

300 Villages: Tenakee Springs

APRN Alaska News - Fri, 2014-03-21 16:23

This week, we’re heading to the southeastern village of Tenakee Springs, a snowbird community, stretched along the beach of Tenakee Inlet. Don Pegues is mayor of Tenakee Springs.

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Categories: Alaska News

Alaska News Nightly: March 21, 2014

APRN Alaska News - Fri, 2014-03-21 16:22

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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HB77 Stalls In Legislature

Alexandra Gutierrez, APRN – Juneau

With less than a month to go in the session, the Parnell administration is in a similar spot with HB77 as it was last year: The opposition is vocal, key senators are on the fence, and movement on the controversial permitting bill has stalled.

Canada Asks U.S. To Pay For Alaska Highway Reconstruction

Liz Ruskin, APRN – Washington DC

The government of Canada’s Yukon Territory is asking Congress to pay for reconstruction of the Alaska Highway. Premier Darrell Pasloski  was in Washington, DC, recently to make the case. The United States and Canada agreed in 1977 to work together to improve the northern section of the Highway, as well as the spur from Haines Junction to the border near Haines. The U.S. agreed to pay for construction and Canada would pay maintenance and operation.

Treadwell Announces Campaign Changes

The Associated Press

Republican U.S. Senate hopeful Mead Treadwell has parted ways with his campaign manager.

Spokesman Fred Brown says it “frees up a lot of room” for Treadwell to focus on other areas and frees up the campaign’s finances.

In addition to parting ways with Adam Jones, Treadwell also said one of his spokesmen, Rick Gorka, is also leaving.

Brown says Treadwell has a strong campaign structure. But he says Treadwell wants Alaska donors, and going that route, there’s a limit to what you can raise.

Treadwell said long-time friend Peter Christensen would take over day-to-day leadership of the campaign until a new manager is named.

Board of Fish Approves Kuskokwim Dipnetting

Ben Matheson, KYUK – Bethel

Kuskowkim fisherman will be able to use dipnets this summer to target other species of salmon during periods of king salmon closures. The Board of Fish approved the emergency petition this morning.

Alaska Railroad Celebrating 100th Birthday

Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage

The Alaska Railroad is celebrating its 100th birthday. Anchorage historian and author Charles Wohlforth is writing the history of why and how the federal government got in to the railroad business in Alaska. The idea was to wrestle control of resources away from the “Alaska syndicate,” a private railroad and coal monopoly run by the wealthy Guggenheim and Morgan families.

Wohlforth told APRN’s Lori Townsend it was a political dust up that started in the Roosevelt administration and continued on through Taft and Woodrow Wilson.

Valdez Museum Prepares Commemorates 1964 Quake

Tony Gorman, KCHU – Valdez

The Valdez Museum is commemorating next week’s 50th anniversary of the 1964 Earthquake with the launch of two exhibits.

AK: Didgeridoo

Emily Files, APRN – Ketchikan

You might not expect an ancient Aboriginal instrument from Australia to find its way to Alaska. But walk around downtown Ketchikan on a warm day and you may hear 15-year-old Kinani Halvorsen playing her didgeridoo. She’s played the unusual instrument for three years. And she hopes to bring the didgeridoo into mainstream band practice.

300 Villages: Tenakee Springs

This week, we’re heading to the southeastern village of Tenakee Springs, a snowbird community, stretched along the beach of Tenakee Inlet. Don Pegues is mayor of Tenakee Springs.

Categories: Alaska News

The Graphic Novels of J Torres

APRN Alaska News - Fri, 2014-03-21 12:00

J. Torres speaking in Unalaska on March 3. Photo by Luc Sevilla.

You may never have heard of “Teen Titans Go,” but that may be because you’re just too old to appreciate comic books.  Young readers across the state will be connecting with comic author and blogger J Torres, on the annual “Alaska Spirit of Reading” book club edition of  Talk of Alaska.

HOST: Steve HeimelAlaska Public Radio Network

GUESTS:

  • J Torres, author
  • Callers Statewide

PARTICIPATE:

  • Post your comment before, during or after the live broadcast (comments may be read on air).
  • Send e-mail to talk [at] alaskapublic [dot] org (comments may be read on air)
  • Call 550-8422 in Anchorage or 1-800-478-8255 if you’re outside Anchorage during the live broadcast

LIVE Broadcast: Tuesday, March 25, 2014 at 10:00 a.m. on APRN stations statewide.

SUBSCRIBE: Get Talk of Alaska updates automatically by e-mailRSS or podcast.

TALK OF ALASKA ARCHIVE

Categories: Alaska News

AK: Didgeridoo

APRN Alaska News - Fri, 2014-03-21 11:54

Photo by Emily Files, KRBD – Ketchikan.

You might not expect an ancient Aboriginal instrument from Australia to find its way to Alaska. But walk around downtown Ketchikan on a warm day and you may hear 15-year-old Kinani Halvorsen playing her didgeridoo. She’s played the unusual instrument for three years. And she hopes to bring the didgeridoo into the mainstream band practice.

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Here’s the response Kinani Halvorsen got from a boy in her 7th grade band when she played the didgeridoo a couple years ago.

“What the heck is that? And his jaw literally dropped. ‘Cause you wouldn’t expect that sound to come out of a little tube thing like this.”

The tube thing is actually not so little. Kinani is a tall girl, and the didgeridoo is a tall instrument. It comes up to her shoulders, at about 5 feet.

You can’t exactly play any Katy Perry or Macklemore on something like this. So why is a high schooler here in Ketchikan playing this ancient Aboriginal instrument? It all started with an Australian substitute teacher in Kinani’s fourth grade class at Houghtaling Elementary School.

“He brought in his didgeridoo and I thought, ‘Wow! That is coolest thing I’ve ever seen,’” she said.

Fast forward a few years. It’s 6th grade, and Kinani has been playing the trombone for a year.  She walks into McPherson’s, a local music store, and there on the shelf, is a didgeridoo.

“It’s really interesting to hear and see someone play such an intriguing thing like the didgeridoo,” Kinani said. “And it’s a memory that really sticks in your head. So when you see one, and you’re like hey, maybe I could play that, it’s a want you really get.

“I said no, no, no,” Krissy Halvorsen, Kinani’s mom, said. “Because she likes to pick up things like that and of course, they end up in the closet or elsewhere.”

Kinani swore to her mom that she wouldn’t throw the instrument in the closet. She brought it home and started practicing. Her older brother, Keelan, was upstairs.

Keelan: “I rushed downstairs because I thought it was a wild animal. Saw her with a long tube and was even more confused.”

Emily: “And then after you found out what it was and what was happening what did you think?”

Keelan: “I was entirely amazed. It was a beautilfulish sound coming from a stick, and I didn’t know how it worked so I asked a lot of questions.”

Kinani has been playing her didgeridoo for three years now. She’s had to teach herself, because there isn’t anyone else she know in Ketchikan who plays the didgeridoo. Her brother is impressed.

“She’s definitely improved a lot,” Keelan said. “It went from a semi obnoxious noise, to be honest, to something we all enjoy hearing.”

Photo by Emily Files, KRBD – Ketchikan.

The didgeridoo is over 1,000 years old. It’s still used to accompany song and dance in the Arnhem Land region of Australia.

“What really motivates me to keep playing is it’s such a unique instrument, unless you’re in Australia, you really don’t get a chance to see, hear, or play something like this,” Kinani said.

Kinani is in four bands. Three at Ketchikan High School, and one other outside school, called Sound Waves. She’s been on a mission to incorporate the digeridoo’s sound into more traditional music.

“We haven’t had occasion or any particular reason to hear her play it in here, because this is a big band that is mostly saxophones, trumpets, trombones, rhythm section,” Roy McPherson,  director of the Sound Waves band where Kinani plays trombone, said.

The didgeridoo is nowhere to be seen at a recent practice here.

But in a couple weeks, that’s going to change. Kinani has a didgeridoo solo in the band’s upcoming show, during “I Wanna Be Like You” from The Jungle Book.

And she’s going to keep trying to play her didgeridoo in different settings. She’s attending the Sitka Fine Arts Camp this summer.

“And so I’ll bring it and I’ll talk to whoever’s running the class and I’ll say, ‘Hey I have a didgeridoo, is there anything I should bring it in for?’” Kinani said.

And If Kinani keeps spreading the sound of the unique instrument, maybe she’ll get fewer “What the heck is that?” responses, and more people saying, “Oh, that’s a didgeridoo.”

Categories: Alaska News

Seiners Land 4K Tons In Herring Season Opener

APRN Alaska News - Fri, 2014-03-21 11:11

Seiners in Starrigavan Bay during the first opening of Sitka’s 2014 sac roe herring fishery. (Photo by Rachel Waldholz/KCAW)

The Sitka herring fishery had its first opening yesterday afternoon.

The Alaska Department of Fish & Game declared the Sitka Sound sac roe herring fishery open at 1:45 p.m. The fishing area covered much of Starrigavan and Katlian bays, north of Sitka.

The opening lasted two hours and thirty-five minutes, closing at 4:20 p.m. The Department estimated that the fleet caught at least 4,000 tons of herring, and announced that there will be no fishing Friday (3-21-14), to allow processors to work through the catch.

If sold at last year’s price, today’s catch would be worth about $2.4-million to fishermen at the docks. This year’s price, however, remains unclear.

The total harvest level for this year is over 16,000 tons. Speaking with KCAW earlier this week, Fish & Game biologist Dave Gordon estimated that it would take about four separate openings to reach the limit.

Officials gave the fleet two hours’ notice of the opening at 11:45 a.m. (Thu 3-20-14), after samples of fish tested in the morning found well over 10-percent mature roe, or eggs, in the herring.  10-percent mature roe is the Department’s threshold for a fishery. The most recent two samples came back with 12.5-percent and 13.1-percent mature roe, which is high even for the high-quality Sitka fishery.

The opening kicked off with a voice countdown from Gordon, on board the state’s research vessel, the Kestrel:

Ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one, OPEN! The Sitka Sound sac roe fishery is now open. The Sitka Sound sac roe fishery is now open. This is the Department of Fish & Game standing by, Channel 10.

There are forty-eight permit-holders in the lucrative seine fishery. On Thursday afternoon, most of those boats were concentrated in Starrigavan Bay, within sight of Sitka’s road system. People lined Halibut Point Road near Sitka’s ferry terminal, watching through binoculars and cameras as the fishery unfolded in front of them and spotter planes circled overhead.

Among the spectators were two women who identified themselves as Karen and Leanne.

Leanne: You’ve got your pilots flying, and you’ve got spotters actually looking down talking to boats, so you’ve got several people in the planes. And they just have to be very, very careful. They get special permission to work in this kind of airspace.  Normally you’re not supposed to fly that close to each other.”

Karen: It’s very exciting of  course when they do the count down and you see all the boats jockeying for position. And seeing what they catch — it’s actually amazing to see how many herring are in a net.

The Department of Fish & Game plans aerial and vessel surveys throughout the day on Friday (3-21-14), and will be issuing informational updates over the radio at 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. Those can be heard on VHF marine radio, on Channel 10.

Emily Forman contributed to this report.

Categories: Alaska News

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