Come November, gone will be the days of the three free totes filled with goodies from Anchorage.
PenAir, which for most of the year serves as the only commercial airline between Anchorage and several rural hubs in southwest Alaska, has announced new fees on baggage.
The airline says the first bag will still be checked free, but the second bag will now cost $25. Bags 3-5 will cost $50 each to check, and the fees go up from there.
Pen Air is also raising the ticket change and cancelation fee to $100.
The changes go into effect for tickets purchased on or after Oct. 30.
Employment is up, wages are up, and the private sector is growing. That’s according to the Juneau Economic Development Council’s latest economic indicators report, which paints a positive financial picture for the Capital City and the rest of Southeast Alaska.
Eva Bornstein, JEDC’s lead researcher on the report, peppered her presentation to the Juneau Chamber of Commerce Thursday with a series of pop quiz-style questions.
“Mining jobs pay the highest average wages in Juneau, which sector has the second highest average wages?” she asked.
The answer: The federal government.
While the Capital City’s economy continues to be heavily dependent on government jobs, Bornstein says the private sector is slowly taking on a bigger role. Last year, employment in Juneau was up 1.5 percent from 2011 with a total of more than 18,000 jobs. That’s despite local and federal government cuts, and essentially flat state employment.
“The private sector did a great job in jobs growth and has done so for three consecutive years,” Bornstein said. “We’ve been on an upswing. In 2012, three percent gain in jobs.”
Mining topped the list for job growth in all sectors, adding 171 jobs last year. Overall, the retail, health care, and tourism sectors are the top three private employers in Juneau.
Most areas of the economy saw wages grow in 2012, but once again mining led the way.
“Six-point-six percent increase in average wages in the past year. Professional and business services were second, also above six percent in gains,” she said. “Local government, state government were also above five percent.”
The median household income in the Capital City from 2009 to 2011 was more than $77,500. That’s about $10,000 higher than the rest of the state, and $26,000 higher than the median household income nationally.
Bornstein says that helps make up for the cost of living in Juneau, which is 30 percent higher than the national average.
“The highest costs are in our housing, our utilities and our health care,” she said.
Juneau’s population hit another all-time high last year, growing by more than 400 people to 32,832. And for the second year in a row, the city’s population got slightly younger. The median age of residents declined from 38 years old in 2011 to 37.8 in 2012.
Bornstein says most of the population growth has come from people moving to Juneau, which has strained the city’s already tight housing market. But relief may be coming soon. She says there were 71 new housing units permitted in 2012, and so far this year there have been more than 120.
“New housing units permitted, 2012 looked good, it was up,” Bornstein said. “But 2013 is looking spectacular.”
JEDC Executive Director Brian Holst says the annual economic indicators report fulfills the agency’s mission to help local business and government leaders make better, more informed decisions. He called the economic trends in the last year “very, very positive.”
“Employment is up in our region, all wages are up, our private sector is growing faster than our public sector, which in general is positive for our community,” Holst said. “The population is at an all-time high both in Juneau and in the region, and generally our industries are stable.”
The Chamber of Commerce crowd largely agreed with Holst.
Maryann Ray owns Pearson’s Pond, a luxury, boutique hotel in the Mendenhall Valley. She says business is back to where it was before bottoming out during the recession, and she only expects it to get better.
“This year we had the best July we’ve had since I purchased the inn, and people are starting to spend more on excursions,” Ray said. “I think the tourism industry is a trailing indicator of what’s going on. So, if we see things have gotten better this year overall, I think we’ll see tourism certainly improve next year as well.”
The economic indicators report is JEDC’s major annual publication. The entire report as well as past years’ economic indicators can be found at www.jedc.org.
This week we’re headed to Nanwalek, a small Russian orthodox community across Kachemak Bay from Homer. On maps, it’s often called English Bay. Nancy Yeaton works for the Nanwalek IRA Council.
The numbers of victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and human trafficking in Alaska continue to be some of the highest in the nation. Family violence impacts the emotional growth of children and affects entire communities. What can be done to reduce the harm?
HOST: Lori Townsend, Alaska Public Radio Network
- Sergeant Kathy Lacey, Anchorage Police Department
- Melissa Emmal, AWAIC
- 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, October 22, 2013 at 10:00 a.m. on APRN stations statewide.
For one month each fall, Interior residents wade into the crystal clear waters of the Chatanika River to catch whitefish.
They spawn in the fall, unlike other fish in Alaska.
The state limits both the number of permits and the harvest. This isn’t your typical fishery. Instead of rods and reels, or nets, fishermen use spears.
Whitefish are one of Alaska’s most common species.
“Oh! There’s one right in front of me. Come on Emily Schwing, get this one,” I said, as one came into view. “Oh! I missed him.”
I’m getting a lesson in spear fishing and so far, things aren’t going so well. Lifelong Fairbanksan Cory Kuryla gives me some pointers.
“You’re going to want to hold your spear under the water and you want to move as slowly as you can towards them and then give it a little pop,” Kuryla said.
We stand waist deep in the Chatanika River holding eight foot long spears. Kuryla has been catching whitefish this way all his life.
“I’ve had a lot of good times here, a lot of good times on this river,” he said.
He remembers when people would line their boats up along the riverbank to pull whitefish from the crystal clear waters.
Area Management Biologist Audra Brase says, in the 1980’s, the fishery was huge.
“It was unrestricted; they could just get as many fish as they wanted,” Brase said. “Then a cap was put on it – a 15 fish per day limit.”
“People were still harvesting I mean thousands and thousands of whitefish were pulled out. I wasn’t here at the time, but I understand people would take bushel baskets full of ‘em.”
But overfishing led to a population decline and the fishery closed in 1992. It reopened in 2007, and now it’s much more restricted, with a limited number of permits and a limited harvest. On top of that, Brase says whitefish are hard to catch.
“If you try to catch a fish on hook and line, it’s difficult. So doing a spear fishery is the only way to get them if you want to harvest whitefish to eat,” Brase said. “Another interesting thing about these whitefish is that they’re really old.”
They can live up to 15 years, and unlike other species, they spawn again and again every fall, but only at night. The darkness mixed with the brisk autumn temperatures may deter some fishermen, but not Cory Kuryla. His tried and true methods solve both problems.
He lights a Coleman lantern. It sits in a wooden box that’s open in front. The whole thing hangs from my neck. As we wade, waist deep into the cold river, the lanterns hiss.
Wearing this contraption comes with a warning from Kuryla and his best friend Dave Ensley.
Kuryla: “You’ve got to remember, do not get water on that glass. It can explode, because it’s so hot.”
Ensley: “You get excited and you’ll want to lunge full way forward and you’ll dip the lantern in the water trying to get that fish.”
Kuryla: “Don’t do that.”
The yellow light from the flame will help us see the fish. We can’t use LED headlamps because that white light doesn’t shine though the water the same way, but, there’s still one other challenge.
Schwing: “You have to train your eyes to look for them.”
Kuryla: “Oh you sure do. There’s one!”
Kuryla has years of experience, so the water doesn’t throw his depth perception off like mine. But finally…
Schwing: “Yes! I got him.”
Kuryla: “Ok, pick him up. Sweet!”
We pluck the silvery fish from my spear and drop in a burlap bag that hangs from my shoulder. After nearly two hours, we’re cold enough to call it a night. Kuryla says there’s only one more thing I need to know.
“We make rookies take a bit out of the first fish they catch!” Kuryla said.
Lucky for me, my one fish floated out of my burlap bag somewhere along the river.
Almost four months after it sank near Dillingham, the fishing tender Lone Star has been lifted off the bottom and is on its way to Unalaska.
Since June, Magone Marine’s made several attempts to get the vessel out of the Igushik River. Heavy mud, extreme tides, and regulatory limits all tripped up the salvage company.
Partway through the rescue operation, Dan Magone sold his Unalaska-based business to Resolve Marine Group of Florida. It was the newly-formed Resolve-Magone Marine Group that finished off the salvage this week, using a new rescue tug and other assets sent up from the Lower 48.
The Lone Star is currently being towed to Unalaska. Once it gets here, the Coast Guard says the tender’s owner will decide whether to fix it up or scrap it.
The seismic activity at the Veniaminof Volcano on the Alaska Peninsula has decreased over the past week resulting in lowering the volcano alert level.
The Alaska Volcano Observatory confirms that satellite observations show no evidence of eruptive activity.
The Volcano Alert Level has been downgraded from Watch to Advisory. AVO notes that it’s possible this is only a temporary pause of activity in the eruption that began in June, and that more vigorous activity could resume.
The Veniaminof Volcano is located on the Alaska Peninsula and it’s one of the largest and most active volcanoes in Alaska.
Activists fighting a proposed coal mine on the west side of Cook Inlet have won a victory in court.
Earlier this week, a state Superior Court judge ruled that the state was in error when it failed to process the Chuitna Citizens Coalition application for water rights to a tributary of the Chuitna River.
The Coalition filed an application for in-stream flow reservations in 2009, in order to protect the salmon stream, which it said was threatened by the coal mine, but the state Department of Natural Resources failed to process the application, and the Coalition sued.
Judge Mark Rindner ruled on Monday that the state’s refusal to process the application amounts to an unreasonable delay, while it violated Alaskan’s constitutional right to due process.
With the control of Congress in balance, the Alaska Senate race is expected to be one of the more high profile races in the country.
The Republican National Committee has gotten involved, and veterans of the Romney and McCain presidential campaigns are already working to unseat Democrat Mark Begich, but what about the House race?
The odds may be long, but two Democrats are already competing for the chance to take on Don Young.
Don Young has held the title of “Congressman for All Alaska” for 40 years. There’s a reason he’s earned the nickname “Teflon Don” – gaffes, changing political tides, federal investigations: Nothing sticks.
In the past two decades, Ethan Berkowitz is the candidate who has come closest to beating him in the general election. He had the support of the national Democratic Party back in 2008, and Berkowitz still lost by 5 points.
“Well, he’s the uncle who’ll say the outrageous things, and you’re like, ‘There goes Uncle Don again.’ But it’s Uncle Don.”
The past two elections, Young won by more than 30 points, and both of his opponents filed for office pretty late in the game, but this go round there’s not one but two Democrats who have already filed and are starting to fundraise on the normal election calendar. Forrest Dunbar is one of them.
”There’s been a couple of cycles where the Democrats were perceived as putting up sacrificial lambs, but when you want to run a serious campaign today, especially a statewide campaign in a place like Alaska, you have to start early,” Dunbar said.
Dunbar is 29-years-old and this is his first time running for office. He split his childhood between Eagle and Cordova, and he came back to Alaska after spending some time in the Peace Corps, in law school, and on Capitol Hill. Part of the reason he’s running now is because of frustration with a highly polarized Congress.
Dunbar says he knows it’s an uphill battle. He’s only raised about $20,000 so far. Young has more than half a million dollars in his campaign account, and he represents the dominant party in the state, but Dunbar thinks that with all the attention on the Senate race, there might be space to experiment with his campaign strategy and make inroads that way.
“Some of the more traditional forms of media, which are traditionally where you spend a lot of that money, are going to be purchased up by the Senate campaigns. So, $600,000 sounds like a lot, but it’s going to pale in comparison to the $20 or $30 million that are going to be spent on either side of the Senate campaign. And I think that sort of creates an opportunity to run a more grassroots campaign, to run a more social-media-oriented campaign, to connect with voters in different ways,” he said.
Matt Moore is the other Democrat to file. He actually tried to get his party’s nomination in 2012, but he started his campaign late and lost out to state legislator Sharon Cissna. When it comes to strategy, his angle is similar to Dunbar’s.
“The idea is – truly is – to work on building up the grassroots effort a lot earlier,” Moore said. “So, I’m starting now instead of a couple months before the primary.”
Moore is 53 and works as a health care administrator. He’s critical of Young’s leadership abilities and his attendance, and he’s hoping low approval of Congress works in his favor.
Moore says even though he lost the primary last time, he learned a few lessons about running a campaign. He’s scheduling fundraisers right now, and he’s got half a dozen staff and volunteers helping out with his campaign now. Their big goal at the moment is simply introducing Moore to voters.
“We’re working on the deficit of name recognition,” he said. “I don’t think you can do that in a real short period of time in a state this large.”
As a veteran candidate, Berkowitz says that both Dunbar and Moore have their work cut out for them. He says the U.S. Senate race, “is going to bury everything here,” in terms of money, attention, and press coverage, and that, “having run three Democratic primaries, primaries suck.”
Berkowitz says that having a contested primary means spending money fighting someone who’s effectively on your team and opening yourself to serious attacks before the real campaign has even started. He doesn’t think having a real competition will have some secret benefit of bringing attention to the House race.
“There is no benefit at all to the Democrats having a primary. I mean, it’s good in terms of being able to develop a coherent democratic philosophy. But in terms of keeping an eye on the final prize of winning against Don Young, I don’t see how this serves that purpose,” Berkowitz said.
Still, he’s glad to see people in this race already – that’s the point of democracy after all. Plus, strange things can happen in politics, especially if you have an operation in place to leverage it.
”Winning means being opportunistic for these guys, and they’ve got to put all of the mechanisms in place so that if an opportunity does materialize, they can take advantage of it,” Berkowitz said.
And as for Don Young’s thoughts on all this, his campaign did not respond to a request for comment
The Cold Climate Housing Research Center in Fairbanks moved ahead Wednesday on a project that will demonstrate how solar energy can be collected year-round and used to heat a commercial building without fossil fuels, like heating oil. The project is being funded by one of the world’s biggest fossil-fuel companies.
Workers sprayed foam insulation onto a cylindrical steel tank the size of school bus that’s dangling from a big crane just outside the Cold Climate Housing Research Center’s office on Fairbanks’ west side.
A few minutes later, the crane operator swung the 40-foot-long tank into its final resting place – a big trench that was excavated Tuesday on the west side of the building.
It’s all part of a project that center research engineer Bruno Grunau says will demonstrate how solar energy can be collected and stored year-round in these northerly latitudes and used to heat a commercial-size structure – in this case, the center’s just-completed 8,000-square-foot addition.
“With this building addition, our goal was to run it completely without fossil fuels,” said Grunau, who’s heading up the project. “And so our approach in doing that was, one, using a pellet boiler, and two, supplementing that heat with this solar-thermal system.”
The big tank – which was donated by Fairbanks entrepreneur Bernie Karl – is coated with 6 inches of polyurethane foam and will be covered with about three feet of soil, then filled with 25,000 gallons of water.
Next spring, it’ll be hooked up to an automated solar-thermal system that’s been installed in the addition.
Grunau says the system will circulate fluid that’s been warmed in an array of 16 solar-heating panels on the building’s rooftop to the tank, and the water will store the heat collected from the panels – heat that can be later used to warm the building.
“We can manage that heat,” he said. “We can either send the heat to the building, directly, or we can send it to that tank. And when the time comes when the sun’s not putting so much heat out, we can pull the heat from the tank and put it right back into our building.”
It’s an impressive system, but the technology has been around for a while. But what distinguishes this demonstration project is that the system will be fully “instrumented,” meaning sensors have been placed throughout to monitor how it’s functioning. Grunau says that’ll help center staff determine how the technology is working – and it’ll provide real-time data that the center will share online.
“We’re going to be able to put it up on the website,” he said, “so that anyone anywhere around the world can pull it up and look at our system and say ‘Hey, this is what they’re doing today. This is what the energy flow did. This is how much heat they made, this is how many BTUs they made this year, this month.’ ”
Center Director Jack Hebert says this project is another effort by the center to research ways that Alaskans can heat their homes in an economical, and renewable, way.
“Of course as the state of Alaska’s housing research center, it’s really our responsibility to explore anything that’s available that may help decrease the energy cost for people in the state,” Hebert said. “And the sun of course is a potential resource.”
Hebert says it’s noteworthy that this $65,000 renewable-energy project was funded through a grant from one of the world’s biggest fossil-fuel producers – BP Alaska.
“I think that it’s very encouraging to see BP, a company that’s normally associated with the drilling and sale of fossil fuels, to support renewable energy,” he said. “And we hope this will be an example of a sustainable approach to a building that uses no fossil fuels at all.”
You can find out more about the project at the center’s website, cchrc.org.
Nearly 50,000 Alaskans registered for an earthquake preparedness event today called the Great Alaskan ShakeOut.
The state’s spokesman for the division of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, Jeremy Zidek says it’s good that a large number of Alaskans registered to practice the drill.
People who signed up were instructed to practice the drill at exactly 10:17 this morning. Sort of like a flash mob for disaster preparedness, millions of people registered for similar events today across the world.
Zidek says because Alaska has experienced three of the six largest earthquakes ever recorded, it’s good for Alaskans to be ready for the next major event.
He says another shakeout drill is scheduled for the 50th anniversary of the 9.2 Good Friday earthquake that shook for nearly five minutes on March 27, 1964.
“Often when we talk to 1964 earthquake survivors, it’s a real changing point in their lives,” Zidek said. “We’re very susceptible to earthquakes here, it’s good for people to prepare and know what to do when they hit.”
Zidek says developing a family plan for how to handle a seismic disaster and the aftermath is important.
There was a big turnout in North Pole on Wednesday night for a Department of Environmental Conservation open house on proposed fine particulate pollution regulations. Opinions are mixed on whether they do too much, or not enough.
Out of every 100 adult women you see walking around in Ketchikan, 33 have been raped, and 43 have been slapped, hit or worse by an intimate partner. When you combine those numbers, that means 50 of those 100 people we see every day has experienced one or both of those types of violence.
Those aren’t good numbers, but what’s really sad is that they are conservative estimates, and the real numbers likely are even worse.
About 650 Ketchikan women took the phone survey, and the lead researcher, Andre Rosay of the University of Alaska Anchorage Justice Center, made a point of thanking them as he presented the findings.
“Sadly, we made too many of them re-live horrendous experiences, experiences that none of us should be subjected to, so that we could all understand the magnitude of the problem in this community,” he said.
Also traveling to Ketchikan for the presentation were Loree Morton of the state Council on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, and Katie TePas, who coordinates the governor’s domestic violence and sexual assault initiative.
Morton said there have been many different kinds of surveys over the years.
“You hear a lot of different numbers that come from maybe law enforcement reports, or maybe victim service providers, or maybe health and human services,” she said. But “this survey allows us to hear from the women themselves.”
The first survey was three years ago, and it was statewide. Morton said it confirmed Alaska’s high rates of domestic violence and sexual assault. The results show close to 60 percent of women in Alaska has experienced one or the other.
After that survey came out, Morton said people wanted to know about their regions, in particular. So, organizers adapted the survey process for smaller sections of the state, and have been taking on about three per year.
With that, the communities “have an opportunity to know about the numbers in your region, and you can use that, hopefully in five years from now when another survey is done, to gauge whether or not the strategies in which you’re working, have made a difference,” Morton said.
The plan is to return to each region about five years after their initial survey, to see whether rates of violence have changed.
Rosay cautioned those in the audience that the survey has some limitations. For example, it indicates the number of women who have experienced violence, but not how many times. It also surveyed only adult, English-speaking women with access to a telephone, and who were not living in shelters or incarcerated.
Rosay said the results are weighted to consider those limitations.
“We know that the rates of victimization are much higher among the people we excluded from the survey,” he said. “So that’s one of the reasons why all of the estimates are very conservative.”
The survey’s results also are limited because many women who have experienced violence are not willing to talk about it, especially to a stranger on the phone.
Rosay stressed that while the results are not positive, he hopes Ketchikan officials will use the information and move forward with prevention strategies. Morton repeated that hope, and said there already are some proven programs in place, offered locally by Women in Safe Homes and Ketchikan Indian Community.
After the presentation, one of the audience members asked how Ketchikan compares to other regions that have been surveyed. Rosay said there’s no way to accurately make such a comparison, because of the limitations inherent to the survey.
“They’re all very, very close,” he said. “I think the safe conclusion is that the levels of violence are unacceptably high in every single region of Alaska. We have not yet found a region where we have low rates of violence.”
Rosay said the goal is to get the numbers down to zero, and while he believes that is a goal that can be accomplished, it likely won’t happen in his lifetime.
Similar surveys have been conducted already in Anchorage, Fairbanks, the North Star Borough, Juneau, Dillingham, the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, Sitka, Kodiak, the Mat-Su and the Kenai Peninsua.
Regions that will be surveyed in the coming year are the North Slope, Northwest Alaska and the Aleutian Islands.
For information about local violence prevention programs, visit the Women in Safe Homes website at www.wishak.org.
The state’s first Women’s Summit started in Anchorage on Thursday at Alaska Pacific University.
The two-day event is directed at examining strategies to improve the lives of Alaska’s women.
Invited speakers include First Lady Sandy Parnell, U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski and business leaders.
In her remarks, Sandy Parnell called women “the state’s underdeveloped natural resource.”
“We are in the land of opportunity with a solid economic foundation and state initiatives promoting jobs and strong families,” Parnell said. “So, here’s the paradox, while women are making great strides in a great land, many more struggle, their potential unrealized.
“And for my part I want to speak about a particular area of devastating impact in the lives of women and girls – it’s domestic violence, sexual assault and child sexual abuse; I believe these are the greatest barriers to Alaska women achieving their potential.”
The summit was organized in part by Senator Lesil McGuire who, last year, commissioned a report on the status of women in Alaska with regard to housing, wages, mental health, domestic violence and health care.
The report revealed that on average, Alaskan women are paid less than women in the rest of the U.S., imprisoned at higher rates, and have a suicide rate that is twice the national average.
But there is good news too. The summit is also meant to highlight women’s achievements, and their success in the world of business.
Karen Hagedorn, is a production manager with Exxon Mobil. She described how her company partners with the UN Foundation to sponsor research to find out what are the most important ways to improve women’s economic productivity in different areas of the globe.
“We know that a woman’s economic status is one of the best indicators of whether her children will complete their education and will enjoy healthy, poverty-free lives,” Hagedorn said. “We know that when women are economically empowered, entire communities benefit.”
“Jobs increase women’s earnings, boost their self esteem, improve their bargaining power at home – which is very important in many cultures – and also delay early marriage and pregnancy.”
The Women’s Summit continues through Friday at Alaska Pacific University.
Ketchikan has broken its previous record for the highest number of cruise ship visitors.
According to the City of Ketchikan, preliminary counts show 960,262 passengers visited the community via cruise ship in 2013. That’s an increase of 8.4 percent over last year, and handily beat the 2008 record.
That previous record, which was set just before the effects of the economic meltdown, was 930,958 passengers.
The annual run of summer tourists visiting Ketchikan means revenue for local businesses and government. And so far, the City of Ketchikan’s sales tax collection is slightly higher than projected.
According to the reported results, which run through July, the total collected for this year is $6.35 million. That’s about $36,000 more than anticipated through that month.
The city’s budget projects total sales tax revenue of about $10.3 million for all of 2013. Whether the city hits that goal won’t be known until the start of next year.
The Juneau School Board says a community committee can review its ban on middle school travel for athletes, but it’s not likely anyone from the board will participate.
During the fifth hour of the board’s regular monthly meeting Tuesday night, long after the public had left, members agreed with Juneau parent Jon Kurland, who recommended the new approach.
At the beginning of the meeting, about 6:30 p.m., Kurland said a community task force, comprised of parents, district officials, teachers and coaches, would use a better and more transparent process to come up with an alternative to the ban imposed for the 2014 school year.
Kurland earlier this month sent a letter to the board, criticizing members for the way they reached their decision on the policy, with discussions held in the summer when many families were unaware a change was afoot.
Dzantik’i Heeni Middle School restricts sports teams from traveling to other communities for competition. The board on Sept. 10th extended the restriction to Floyd Dryden Middle School teams.
Kurland believes a task force could come up with a more reasoned policy.
“I heard board members express a variety of policy concerns related to this issue, related to budget expenditures, related to the cost of substitute teachers, other ancillary costs, ensuring an equitable process between the schools. I think you could charge a stakeholder committee with addressing all of those things,” Kurland told the board.
Public opposition to the policy has been growing, including among students at DZ, where principal Molly Yerkes limited travel this year.
DZ seventh grader Connor Norman presented the board with a petition signed by DZ students.
“My sister and I collected 146 signatures from students at our school who believe that you should consider changing your mind about banning middle school sports travel,” he said, several hours before the board finally took up the request.
Connor said it was unfair for the school board to take away students’ sports travel, or the fundraising they must do for the travel.
At 11 p.m., during the Board Member Comments section of the agenda, the board took up Kurland’s idea.
Members said if a revised policy is drafted and presented to the board by March, they would agree to consider it at the April and/or May meetings, for possible adoption at the start of next school year.
The middle school travel ban affects only athletics and does not extend to other activities student groups might travel to; it is set to go into effect on July 1, 2014.
On Wednesday, board president Sally Saddler said neither the board nor the administration would be involved in the community committee.
A Sitka veterinarian is warning pet-owners away from a part of town where two dogs were poisoned this week.
Pet’s Choice Veterinary Hospital owner Victoria Vosburg says the dogs ingested the poison somewhere in the vicinity of the Sea Mountain Golf Course. It’s about 5 miles northwest of downtown Sitka.
She says the dogs had different owners, and were not in the area at the same time.
“Both dogs were not exhibiting the typical signs seen with any known poisoning. By the end, we were fairly sure that at least a component was antifreeze. But because the signs weren’t classic, we’re not really sure what was going on,” she said.
Vosburg says the dogs ingested the poison Monday evening and woke up Tuesday with severe vomiting. Both died of kidney failure.
She says she’s not blaming golf course operators – or anyone else.
“We don’t know how they got the poison. We don’t know where they got the poison. We do know both dogs were in the area of the golf course. So the message I want to get out to people is do not walk your pets in that area, just in case there is more poison out there,” she said.
Vosburg consulted with the ASPCA’s poison hotline during her efforts to save the dogs.
A man in Mountain Village has been arrested for allegedly stabbing his brother. On Wednesday evening, Alaska State Troopers arrested 37-year-old Luther Aguchak who they say stabbed his 38-year-old brother with a knife.
The victim was stabbed one time in the stomach. He was flown to Bethel for treatment of the wound which was not life threatening.
Troopers say that the brothers lived together and the stabbing was unprovoked. They say alcohol was not a factor.
Troopers arrested Aguchak for assault in the first degree and transported him to the Yukon Kuskokwim Correctional Center in Bethel.
The Sitka Tribe of Alaska’s general manager is leaving for a similar job in Washington state.
Ted Wright announced his resignation in a press release.
Wright has been general manager of Sitka’s tribal government for about two years. He held the same position from 1992 to 1995
He says he loves the community, but it’s time to move on. And he says he’s leaving for personal reasons, not pressure from inside the organization.
“A close friend passed away recently and several others have over the years. My grandmother and mother both passed away years ago. I have close friends here, but I feel like I can visit them. Other than that, (in) Sitka, I don’t feel happy in the ways I need to in the next part of my life,” he says.
Wright’s last day on the job is Nov. 4th.
He starts later that month as general manager of the Stillaguamish Tribe in Arlington, Washington, about 50 miles north of Seattle.
The Sitka tribe has had financial problems in recent years.
“There’s some debt that’s accumulated. It’s rolled over from one year into the next. And it was really hard to see that because of the financial accounting software and the reports we were getting from that,” he says.
Wright says spending cutbacks and a new accounting system have put the tribe on the road to paying off its debts.
“The good news is we know what the problem is. We’re fixing it. We’re keeping everyone employed for the most part and we’ll going on a much more solid foundation,” he says.
The tribe announced this (last) week that the debt, federal cutbacks and the government shutdown have led to a spending freeze in some areas.
He also says some tribal employees may have to be furloughed.
Tribal Council Chairman Michael Baines says Wright came on board “at a very challenging time and had many difficult situations to resolve.”
In a press release, Baines says Wright began the process leading to construction of new tribal office space. He also oversaw refurbishment of the Sheet’ka Kwáan Naa Kahídi Community House and redesigned its goals.
Baines says Wright also developed new leadership within the STA, and leaves behind “a capable management team with new directors in almost every department.”
The 16-day federal government shutdown appears to be nearing an end, and Alaska’s Republican Senator, Lisa Murkowski, is getting a good deal of the credit.
She was one of the first to join a group of senators who began crafting an agreement that led to the measure the Senate passed tonight and the House is expected to approve.
The agreement temporarily reopens the government and lifts the debt ceiling while making only a minor change to the Affordable Care Act.
Murkowski says she’s still against the President’s health reform law, as are the majority of constituents who’ve called her office, but she says the effort to defund the law by shutting down the government was doomed from the start.
“If there’s anything we’ve learned over the past couple months is that we need to make sure that the expectations that we set are somewhat achievable,” Murkowski said. “I think it’s important that we do what we can to reign in aspects of this law that I don’t think are workable.
Three of the Senate’s female Republicans, led by Susan Collins of Maine, started working on solutions the first weekend of the shutdown. Ultimately they grew to a group of 14, six of them women.
Murkowski says she’s not sure their gender played a role, but suggests maybe they had a lower tolerance for nonsense, or they just had cooler heads.
“At one point I said OK, everybody put your coffee down because everyone was just a little too high strung and tempers were flaring,” Murkowski said. “And I think there was a calming effort that some of the women brought which I think allowed us to continue.”
Murkowski says the right-wing may try to make her pay for her moderation come election time, but she says she can’t let fear of a future attack ad keep her up at night.
The agreement only extends government spending until mid-January and the debt ceiling until early February.
Murkowski says the real work begins now to reach agreements on spending bills and avoid a replay of the standoff.