Alaska News

Sen. Sullivan: Alaska one Family, Obama not its Friend

APRN Alaska News - Mon, 2015-03-23 16:35

U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan returned to Juneau and today gave his first speech as a senator to a joint session of the Alaska Legislature. The first-term Republican established an “us versus them” theme – a united Alaska up against the Obama administration.

Sullivan, who ousted a Democrat in a tough race, opened with unity. He says Alaskans are one big family who survive life’s ups and downs together.

“Births. Deaths. Marriages. Even elections,” he said.

Sullivan made a point of seeking out a Barrow Democrat who has recovered after he fell ill on the House floor last month.

“It’s great to see Rep. Ben Nageak, looking as healthy as ever. Where are you Benny?”

Someone told him Rep. Nageak was absent that day.

“Oh no! That was my first applause line!” Sullivan quipped.

He talked about his work on a veteran’s suicide bill, and going to the White House for the signing ceremony. He says Alaskans need to align interests with people of every political stripe.

“Certainly one that that I’ve already started is working with both sides of the aisle on critical issues to our country, critical issues to our state. It’s something that I do on a regular basis,” he said. “In fact, Sen. Murkowski, Rep. Young and I made a little news the other night. We had a potlatch dinner at the senator’s house with the entire Hawaiian delegation – all Democrats.”

But Sullivan was elected on a strong anti-Obama message, and he has stayed consistent. Sometimes, Sullivan says, interests can’t be aligned.

“On some of the most critical issues facing our state and country, the administration of Barack Obama does not have our interests at heart,” he said. “This is becoming increasingly clear.”

Sullivan says Alaskans want access to develop federal lands, big economic projects, and less regulation, while the administration, he says, wants the opposite.

“We want a strong secure Arctic teeming with opportunity for our citizens, and protected by a strong military presence in Alaska,” he said. “They’re looking at removing thousands of our Arctic-tough soldiers.”

(The Army plans to cut brigade combat teams, possibly from Alaska. The Army’s chief of staff says it’s due to the 2011 Budget Control Act, passed by Congress.)

Rep. Adam Wool, a Fairbanks Democrat, says this was the first time he’d heard Sullivan speak, other than in campaign ads.

“He said ‘My door is always open, I work with Democrats, Republicans, Independents, Socialists.’ But much of the speech … seemed kind of partisan,” Wool said.

Rep. David Guttenberg, another Fairbanks Democrat, says he hopes Sullivan can deploy a different skill set than the one that got him elected.

“To be a statesman, which is what we need to do in the U.S. Senate, is you need to build the bridges. You need to make people see that you’re relevant,” he said.

Guttenberg says he was delighted to hear about the dinner with the Hawaii delegation, which he says continues an important alliance forged by the late Sen. Ted Stevens. But Guttenberg says, he also heard a lot of blame, which he says isn’t constructive.

“Our guys need to be able to talk to the president no matter who he is. You need to be able to have that dialogue,” he said. “Alaska has interests that are so important, you need to not shut the door anywhere you turn. And blaming the president every time you turn around is just the nature of the very partisanship that’s gone on back there.”

Sen. Lisa Murkowski made her annual speech to the legislature last month. No date has been announced yet for Congressman Don Young.

 

Categories: Alaska News

Police Confident Remains Belong To Missing Kenai Family

APRN Alaska News - Mon, 2015-03-23 14:10

Kenai Police Lt. David Ross addresses the media at Kenai City Hall Monday afternoon. Police believe they have found the remains of Rebecca Adams, 22; Michelle Hundley, 5; Jaracca Hundley, 3; and Brandon Jividen, 37, all missing since May of 2014.

Police investigators in Kenai are confident they’ve found the remains of a family missing since last May.

A homicide investigation is underway for missing 22-year-old Rebecca Adams, her daughters, 5-year-old Michelle Hundley and 3-year-old Jaracca and Adams’ boyfriend, 37-year-old Brandon Jividen. The family left virtually no trace when they were last seen 10 months ago – until this weekend.

“Saturday evening, about 9:50, Kenai police received notification from a person traveling in the area that they saw a piece of clothing off the trail, they got out, and located what appeared to be human remains,” Kenai Police Lieutenant David Ross said.

Ross gave few details on what exactly was found, but did say a hand gun was also left at the scene, and that the remains match with what they had been searching for.

“The clothes are consistent, the size, the location,” Ross said. “We’re very confident it is, but obviously we’ll be looking for the medical examiners confirmation through DNA testing and so forth.”

Local police, the FBI and scores of other family members, friends and neighbors combed the area in North Kenai for months, but had turned up little. The remains were found in an area very near the missing family’s apartment, in a low-lying area, just off a trail that’s passable for vehicles.

“You know, I can only speculate how close searchers may have come and why that was difficult to find,” Ross said. “But searching for things or people in the Alaska wilderness is not an easy thing to find people.”

Ross read from a statement prepared on behalf of Rebecca Adams’ family. It said they are grateful for the continued support of the community as well as the time and effort put into this investigation by local, state and federal law enforcement agencies.

The family does not plan to give any interviews and asked for privacy as the investigation continues.

Categories: Alaska News

Cindy Abbott Claims 2015 Iditarod Red Lantern Award

APRN Alaska News - Mon, 2015-03-23 10:03

Cindy Abbott cruises through Anchorage during the 2015 Iditarod ceremonial start. (Photo by Josh Edge, APRN – Anchorage)

This year’s Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race has wrapped up, with the final musher arriving in Nome.

The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports that rookie musher Cindy Abbott, from Irvine, California, arrived in Nome seconds before 9:20 p.m. Sunday. Abbott wins the Red Lantern Award, given to the last team to arrive.

Abbott finished in 13 days, 11 hours, 19 minutes and 51 seconds. This year’s winner, Dallas Seavey, finished in eight days, 18 hours, 13 minutes, six seconds.

This was the 56-year-old Abbott’s third Iditarod attempt. She scratched due to injuries in prior attempts.

Seventy-eight teams started this year’s Iditarod; 66 teams finished.

Categories: Alaska News

Alaska Fish And Game Says It Could Absorb CFEC

APRN Alaska News - Mon, 2015-03-23 09:37

At a legislative committee Thursday, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game says it could absorb part of the responsibilities of the Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission if it was eliminated.

The House Fisheries Committee heard Kodiak Rep. Louise Stutes’ House Bill 112, which would transfer duties of the Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission to the Department of Fish and Game and the Office of Administrative Hearings. Twenty-five full time employees would move to Fish and Game.

Kevin Brooks is Fish and Game deputy commissioner.

“The department believes that we could make this work without service degradation to commercial fishermen. I think that’s important. Issuing permits, doing emergency transfers, those types of things,” Brooks says.

The CFEC is responsible for deciding what commercial fisheries to limit, who gets to participate in them and adjudicating appeal cases. It also issues permits and licenses, which bring in the majority of the agency’s revenue.

This is not the first time a lawmaker has tried to eliminate the CFEC. Homer Rep. Paul Seaton first introduced a similar bill at the end of the last legislative session and initiated a legislative audit.

Fish and Game conducted its own review that came out in February. It made several recommendations and highlighted some inefficiencies, like a backlog of 28 application cases more than 15 years old.

Sitka Rep. Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins sits on the fisheries committee.

“There seems to be some stubborn resistance getting to the number zero with that backlog. The backlog is low, but it doesn’t seem to be working its way down, at least quickly. And just put directly, why has the backlog not been worked through?” Kreiss-Tomkins asks.

CFEC Chair Bruce Twomley says he and the other two commissioners adjudicated 143 cases last year, mostly permit transfers. He says they are committed to finishing the backlogged cases in 2016.

Stutes’ bill would do away with the agency’s three heads and add an executive director, saving $424,000, according to a Fish and Game estimate.

The House Fisheries Committee will take public testimony on the bill to eliminate CFEC Thursday at 10 a.m. As of Friday, at least two letters of opposition have come from the fishing community, including the United Southeast Alaska Gillnetters Association.

Categories: Alaska News

Alaska Ferry Rates Rising For Commercial Customers

APRN Alaska News - Mon, 2015-03-23 09:35

Three ferries tied up at the Ketchikan Shipyard in the winter of 2012. Commercial users will likely pay higher rates beginning next winter. (Ed Schoenfeld/CoastAlaska News)

You’ve probably heard that state ferry fares are going up in May. The Alaska Marine Highway System also plans to increase commercial rates later this year.

State officials say it costs too much to run the system.

Rising expenses and decreasing state revenues are leading to a 4.5 percent fare increase that will hit most travelers in May. Legislative budget-writers boosted it to 9 percent, though the extra charges will happen later.

Department of Transportation officials are now considering larger increases for commercial customers, those moving trucks and container vans via ferry.

Commissioner Marc Luiken cites a new analysis of charges.

“The study made it very apparent that the commercial rates aboard the marine highway system are considerably lower than comparable ferry systems around the United States and the world. The role of government is not to compete with private industry, but to support it,” he says.

The study, by Anchorage-based Northern Economics, says other ferry systems charge commercial vehicles 60 to 120 percent more than passenger rates. It recommends the ferry system do the same, though not all at once.

Officials say the increases will help, but not solve, the marine highway’s budget problems.

“I think the system needs to raise rates. Nobody likes to pay more. But I’d just be happy if I could use the ferry,” says Petersburg’s Dave Kensinger, co-owner of Chelan Produce.

The company sells Pacific Northwest fruit and vegetables in Southeast communities out of a truck. He’s also represented commercial users on the state’s Marine Transportation Advisory Board.

He says the issue isn’t cost, it’s the schedule.

“Twenty years ago, in the course of our business between my wife and I, we got on the ferry 100 times a year. This year, with what I believe are the proposed cuts to ferry service, I think I’m going to get on the ferry twice,” he says.

Calls to barge companies serving ferry port communities were not immediately returned.

Transportation Commissioner Luiken, speaking to the Southeast Conference, says increases will be considered as part of next winter’s ferry schedule.

He says higher ferry rates are part of a larger look at his agency’s regional costs.

“I can tell you the long-term transportation outlook for Southeast Alaska is going to be impacted by what can be responsibly done and what is sustainable over time,” he says.

The legislatively mandated fare increase must still make it through the state Senate and the governor’s office. If it does, it’s expected to be in place for the winter season.

Categories: Alaska News

Arctic Ice Melt Sees Early Start

APRN Alaska News - Mon, 2015-03-23 09:28

The maximum extent of Arctic ice on Feb. 25 was the lowest on record. The orange line shows the median extent for that day from 1981 to 2010. (Credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center)

The Arctic’s summer ice melt has begun — earlier than ever.

The National Snow and Ice Data Center reported Friday that Arctic sea ice reached its maximum extent on Feb. 25.

That extent covered about half a million square miles less than average — and it maxed out two weeks sooner than normal.

The Data Center says ice is still growing in parts of the Bering Sea — and there could be some spikes later in the season. But they don’t think the overall extent will see a major increase again this season, especially further north.

The Arctic saw lower than average ice conditions across the board this year, except in the Labrador and Davis straits.

Categories: Alaska News

Human Remains Found on Kenai Trail May Link to Missing Family

APRN Alaska News - Mon, 2015-03-23 09:26

According to a release on Sunday, Kenai police were notified by a motorist Saturday evening of human remains and clothing found on a local trail.

The remains were found in west Kenai near Borgen Avenue and Alpine Drive.

That’s just a few miles from the apartment of a family that’s been missing for 10 months.

Thirty-seven-year-old Brandon Jividen, his girlfriend, 22-year-old Rebecca Adams, and her two daughters, 6-year-old Michelle and 3-year-old Jaracca, disappeared in late May 2014. They were reported missing in early June.

At the time, their apartment was found locked with no signs of forced entry. The family’s camping gear and two cars were left at the apartment, along with the children’s car seats and many of their clothes and possessions. However, there were some personal effects reported missing.

Items found with the human remains over the weekend do appear to match those missing from the apartment.

Police, State Troopers, the FBI, Fish and Game and volunteers conducted extensive searches near the apartment last summer, including the Borgen Avenue area. The structured sweeps were called off after several weeks of turning up few leads, though family and friends continued the search through late last year.

The remains will be analyzed and the police are investigating. An FBI team from Anchorage has been dispatched to assist.

Police are not releasing any additional information until a media briefing midday Monday.

Categories: Alaska News

AK: Hip-Hop Message Encouraging Drug-Free Lifestyle Resonating With Dillingham Youth

APRN Alaska News - Fri, 2015-03-20 18:20

(Courtesy Samuel Johns)

Samuel Johns grew up in the community of Copper Center surrounded by drugs and alcohol. After years of struggling with alcoholism, he is now sober and trying to make it as a musician who blends Athabascan culture with modern hip hop.

Johns is traveling to villages across the state to perform and talk about living a drug free life. And it’s a message that seems to be resonating with kids in Dillingham.

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Students in Dillingham are squeezed into the plastic blenches in the high school gym on a recent Thursday afternoon as Samuel Johns plays his skin drum. He warns the students that he can get pretty loud singing traditional songs but its all part of the show.

“When I preform for some of the kids they look scared, especially some of the white kids, I’ll just be like, aahhh, and they’re like is he going on a war path right now? What is he doing?” he said.

Johns is trying to inspire kids to preserve traditional culture. But also close to his heart is a mission to convince rural kids to avoid addiction and curb domestic violence.

(Courtesy Samuel Johns)

Johns spent years drinking, growing up in the Copper Center. He says he regrets the time he lost just parting away his days. He never graduated from high school.

“That’s what I am trying to talk to the kids about, not wasting that time and get going right now,” Johns said.

He speaks to the students about his personal experience with substance abuse and drug dealing.

“I am ashamed of selling weed because I could have lost my daughter. I could have lost my home,” Johns said. “Luckily, that never happened with me. And I feel like now I have the platform to tell my story, to tell people, hey this is what I went through.”

The kids are intrigued by the traditional singing but as soon as Johns begins to rap they get out their phones to record and take photos.

“That’s the first time I’ve ever heard of a rapping native,” Sophomore Dorothy Bavilla said. “It’s very surprising and very cool and I think he really got the message out there.”

(Courtesy Samuel Johns)

Johns’ message also resonated with 8th grader Kate Gomez.

“Him rapping about culture and domestic violence, just standing up for things really inspires me to help other people,” she said.

Johns frequently raps about his native heritage. He sees himself as a link to where the kids are today and where the elders used to be.

“When I talk about traditional music, I try to tell them, this right here, our traditional culture, our traditional values, it’s survived for thousands of years for a reason, not for it to end right now,” Johns said. “And now, I feel like I am in a position to build that bridge to have our kids see that our culture is cool.”

Johns sees the problem of addiction as a threat to native culture. He says his ancestors used to be like superman, they were strong and pure.

“But alcohol, drugs, food, unhealthy food. It’s crippling our way of life. It’s crippling what our ancestors past down for so many years,” Johns said. “Alcoholism, drug addiction, any type of addiction is really our kryptonite for the way we used to be.”

Johns hopes his music, in at least some small way, will help to change that.

Johns doesn’t want kids to simply become a fan of his music, he hopes to inspire them to become leaders in their own communities. Johns believes his music allows him to connect with Alaska students in a meaningful way.

“I see the kid with hides on,” he said. “Who else has hides on? Just you? Alright, he knows style.”

Categories: Alaska News

49 Voices: Grace Bolling of Craig

APRN Alaska News - Fri, 2015-03-20 18:19

This week we’ll hear from a high school student from Craig. Grace Bolling is from Craig, Alaska.

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Categories: Alaska News

Alaska News Nightly: March 20, 2015

APRN Alaska News - Fri, 2015-03-20 18:12

 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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Big Thorne Timber Sale Lawsuit Dismissed

Leila Kheiry, KRBD-Ketchikan
The Big Thorne Timber Sale lawsuit has been dismissed by a federal judge in Anchorage. Alaska U.S. District Court Judge Ralph Beistline granted summary judgment on Friday in favor of the defendants and rejected every argument brought forward by the plaintiffs.

Young Introduces Bill to Reauthorize Magnuson-Stevens Act

Liz Ruskin, APRN-Washington, DC

Alaska Congressman Don Young has introduced a bill to reauthorize the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the nation’s primary law governing fishing in federal waters. It leaves fisheries managers some controversial wiggle room.

Soldiers to Train Near Bethel

Ben Matheson, KYUK – Bethel
More than 100 soldiers will train in the Bethel area over the next week and a half to build arctic operational expertise and cultivate the next generation of National Guard soldiers. Members of the Alaska Army National Guard’s 297th Battlefield Surveillance Brigade are descending on the YK Delta to polish their arctic skills.

Streff Takes Command of National Guard

The Associated Press
A new Alaska Army National Guard commander is taking the helm in the weekend ceremony at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson. Col. Joseph Streff will take over from Brig. Gen. Mike Bridges at a ceremony beginning at 2 p.m. Sunday.

Army Confirms Investigation of Racism in Stryker Brigade

Tim Elllis, KUAC-Fairbanks
Army investigators have confirmed they’ve launched a formal investigation into a Stryker Brigade soldier’s allegations of racist behavior by some members of his unit. The action follows an earlier informal inquiry into allegations- first outlined in a story published Wednesday by the Army Times.

Bill Filed To Promote Language Immersion

Alexandra Gutierrez, APRN-Juneau

At least 20 distinct Native languages are spoken in Alaska, and every year, the population of speakers gets a little smaller. A Golovin senator now wants to reverse that trend by encouraging immersion language charter schools in the state.

SE Tribal Organization Gets Feds Backing for Energy Upgrades

By Casey Kelly, KTOO-Juneau
Southeast Alaska’s largest tribal organization is getting $500,000 from the federal government to make energy efficiency upgrades to its Juneau headquarters.

BC Adds New Requirements for Proposed Mines

Katarina Sostaric, KSTK-Wrangell
The British Columbia Environmental Assessment Office announced on Thursday it’s adding new requirements for proposed mines undergoing environmental review. The changes are part of an effort to make mine tailings facilities safer in response to last year’s tailings dam collapse at the Mount Polley mine. KSTK’s Katarina Sostaric reports.

Fish Board Takes No Action on Limiting Clams on Cook Inlet Beach
The Associated Press
The Alaska Board of Fisheries has decided to take no action on a proposal that would have set limits on clams on a remote beach on the west side of Cook Inlet.

AK: The Hip Hop of Samuel Johns
Samuel Johns grew up in the community of Copper Center surrounded by drugs and alcohol. After years of struggling with alcoholism, he is now sober and trying to make it as a musician who blends Athabascan culture with modern hip hop. Johns is traveling to villages across the state to perform and talk about living a drug free life. And it’s a message that seems to be resonating with kids in Dillingham.

49 Voices: Grace Bolling

This week we’ll hear from a high school student from Craig. Grace Bolling is from Craig, Alaska.

 

 

Categories: Alaska News

Big Thorne Timber Sale Lawsuit Dismissed

APRN Alaska News - Fri, 2015-03-20 17:40

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The Big Thorne Timber Sale lawsuit has been dismissed by a federal judge in Anchorage.

Alaska U.S. District Court Judge Ralph Beistline granted summary judgment on Friday in favor of the defendants, and rejected every argument brought forward by the plaintiffs.

The lawsuit isn’t necessarily over, however. The plaintiffs could appeal the decision to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and seek an injunction pending the outcome. The lawsuit was filed last summer shortly after the U.S. Forest Service made a final decision to move forward with the timber sale on Prince of Wales Island.

The proposed timber harvest would include about 6,000 acres of old-growth rainforest. Environmental organizations say that acreage is critical habitat for deer and wolf populations.
The Forest Service is moving away from old-growth logging, but the switch to second-growth will take time.

Federal officials and pro-logging groups say old-growth harvests will need to continue during that transition for mills to survive.

In his decision today, Beistline ruled that the plaintiffs failed to show that the Forest Service didn’t follow proper procedure before making its final decision.

Categories: Alaska News

Soldiers to Train Near Bethel

APRN Alaska News - Fri, 2015-03-20 17:25

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More than 100 soldiers will train in the Bethel area over the next week and a half to build arctic operational expertise and cultivate the next generation of National Guard soldiers. Members of the Alaska Army National Guard’s 297th Battlefield Surveillance Brigade are descending on the YK Delta to polish their arctic skills.

Categories: Alaska News

Army Confirms Investigation of Racism in Stryker Brigade

APRN Alaska News - Fri, 2015-03-20 17:14

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Army investigators have confirmed they’ve launched a formal investigation into a Stryker Brigade soldier’s allegations of racist behavior by some members of his unit. The action follows an earlier informal inquiry into allegations- first outlined in a story published Wednesday by the Army Times.

The story is based on statements by a staff sergeant with 2nd Platoon, C Company, 3rd Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment, a unit under the 25th Infantry Division’s 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team at Fort Wainwright.

The staff sergeant has served for a decade and asked not to be identified. He told the Army Times that soldiers with the platoon created a weekly opportunity to racially slur fellow soldiers known as “Racial Thursdays.”

U.S. Army Alaska spokesman Lt Colonel Alan Brown this morning confirmed that officials with the command had completed an initial informal inquiry into the allegations and have now launched a formal investigation. 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team Commander Col. Donn Hill appointed an investigating officer on Thursday to look into the matter.

Brown says he can’t estimate how long it’ll take to complete the investigation. He emphasized that “The allegations are just that – allegations,” until evidence is found to support them.

Categories: Alaska News

Young Introduces Bill to Reauthorize Magnuson-Stevens Act

APRN Alaska News - Fri, 2015-03-20 17:02

Alaska Congressman Don Young has introduced a bill to reauthorize the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the nation’s primary law governing fishing in federal waters. It leaves fisheries managers some
controversial wiggle room.

Previous versions of the law established eight regional councils and required them to set harvest limits based on science to end overfishing. The mechanism is known as the “Alaska Model” of fisheries management.

Young’s bill, though, introduces some flexibility for fisheries managers. Among other changes, it would allow councils to consider a community’s economic need when setting an annual catch limit, and it would allow a more elastic timeline for rebuilding depleted stocks. Spokesman Matt Shuckerow says the provision is intended for regions elsewhere in the country that don’t have enough scientific data.

“We don’t anticipate that changes will be made for the North Pacific Council,” Shuckerow said. “The North Pacific Council is still considered to be the premiere model of fisheries management and it has generally worked very well”

Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida is among those pressing for greater flexibility, saying it’s in his state’s interest.

The bill would also require Alaska’s governor to consult subsistence stakeholders before nominating people to the council, and it says subsistence expertise can qualify a person as a nominee. But it does not add a subsistence seat to the North Pacific Council, as some Alaska tribes requested. Shuckerow says Young hasn’t ruled out the idea, but if Alaska adds a subsistence seat, Washington State will want to add to its
delegation on the council also.

“That’s something, like I said, we’re weighing heavily,” Shuckerow said. “And also, this is a starting point. The bill is not set in stone.”

Linda Behnken, executive director of Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association, says she appreciates Young’s work on the bill, but she’s troubled by the flexibility provisions.

“We can’t support the bill as he’s introduced it,” she said. “Mostly because the bill weakens protections for fish. We think at this point it’s incredibly  important to hold on to the progress that’s been made from the past reauthorization to end over-fishing.”

Behnken says Alaska’s commitment to science-based fisheries management is strong, so she doesn’t see the North Pacific Council changing its approach. But her group has been working in a coalition with small-boat commercial fisherman from New England and the Southeast, and they don’t see flexibility as a benefit to their fishing communities. Besides, Behnken says, over-fishing in waters off the Lower 48 can hurt Alaska, too.

“Anything that happens in this country that undermines that success, yeah, I think it hurts all the fisheries of this country, hurts the marketability of our fish in the global market that increasingly cares about sustainably harvesting resources.” Behnken said.

Young is in charge of House version of the fisheries bill, which will be marked up in the House Natural Resources Committee.

Categories: Alaska News

Bill Filed To Promote Language Immersion

APRN Alaska News - Fri, 2015-03-20 16:27

At least 20 distinct Native languages are spoken in Alaska, and every year, the population of speakers gets a little smaller. A Golovin senator now wants to reverse that trend by encouraging immersion language charter schools in the state.

Democrat Donny Olson introduced a bill on Friday that would create a special certification process for instructors of Native languages, so that it would be easier for them to teach in schools. He’s hoping to build on the success of legislation recognizing Alaska’s Native languages as official languages in their own right.

“There is a continued interest, a continued momentum of issues like this that are coming to the forefront,” says Olson.

While the bill would make it easier to set up immersion programs for any language, it makes specific reference to revitalizing endangered languages and providing an education consistent with indigenous cultures. The idea behind an immersion program is that students would be able to take all kinds of courses — like math and science — in a language other than English to help their fluency.

The charter schools could be set up using already existing resources, serving as alternative curricula in brick-and-mortar schools that are already up and running. Olson hopes that such schools could be established in rural areas, like the one he represents. His own parents spoke Inupiaq to him when he was a child, and he would like his children to have a chance to learn the language as well.

“The idea that they could do something like that — I think it could make the daddy proud,” says Olson.

Bethel already operates a Yup’ik immersion school. Two foreign language programs exist in Southcentral — a German program in Anchorage and a Spanish program in Wasilla.

Categories: Alaska News

Judge OKs Lawsuit on Shell’s Plans for Seattle Port

APRN Alaska News - Fri, 2015-03-20 14:01

A Washington state judge says a lawsuit challenging the Port of Seattle’s decision to lease one of its terminals as a homeport for an Arctic oil-drilling fleet can go forward.

Environmental groups say the port broke state law in February when it signed a two-year lease with Foss Maritime Co. to rent 50 acres near downtown Seattle. Foss’ client is Royal Dutch Shell PLC, which plans to base its Arctic fleet there.

The groups said the port should have conducted an environmental review before granting the lease.

King County Superior Court Judge Mariane Spearman issued a decision Friday allowing the case to proceed. She agreed with a key argument made by the environmental groups, that basing a drilling fleet at the terminal is different from its prior use as a cargo terminal.

Categories: Alaska News

SE Tribal Organization Gets Feds Backing for Energy Upgrades

APRN Alaska News - Fri, 2015-03-20 13:57

Southeast Alaska’s largest tribal organization is getting $500,000 from the federal government to make energy efficiency upgrades to its Juneau headquarters.

The Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska hopes to reduce energy use by 30 percent and save about $15,000 a year with the improvements to the Andrew Hope Building.

The tribe will match the federal government’s half-million dollar investment in the project, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. The agency this week announced $6 million will go to 11 organizations nationwide through its Tribal Energy Program.

The Andrew Hope Building is about 41,000 square feet and was built in 1983.

The Central Council is the tribal government for more than 29,000 Tlingit and Haida Indians worldwide.

Tribal officials could not be reached for comment.

Categories: Alaska News

Streff Takes Command of National Guard

APRN Alaska News - Fri, 2015-03-20 13:53

A new Alaska Army National Guard commander is taking the helm in the weekend ceremony at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.

Col. Joseph Streff will take over from Brig. Gen. Mike Bridges at a ceremony beginning at 2 p.m. Sunday.

Officials say Streff has been with the Guard for more than 27 years.

Streff is the first new commander under the administration of Alaska Gov. Bill Walker.

The Guard is emerging from an investigation of alleged sexual misconduct among its ranks. The issue played a high-profile role in the 2014 gubernatorial race, which was under way during the release of a scathing federal report of sexual misconduct and fraud within the Guard.

Categories: Alaska News

Medicaid Expansion And The State Budget

APRN Alaska News - Fri, 2015-03-20 13:00

State leaders need to cut the budget without hurting the economy and find new sources of revenue. In a time of fiscal deficit, what do lawmakers think of Medicaid expansion and other ideas that impact the budget?  What will it take to stabilize Alaska’s financial future?

HOST: Lori Townsend

GUESTS:

  • Senator Berta Gardner, minority leader
  • Representative Steve Thompson, House finance co-chair
  • 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 24, 2015 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

Diversity In Anchorage

APRN Alaska News - Fri, 2015-03-20 09:00

(Photo by Josh Edge, APRN – Anchorage)

Today’s topic is diversity in Anchorage. We’ll start with how the community and the state became home to so many people from different cultures then dive into what that means for Anchorage today – how do we maintain our cultural diversity while also building a healthy, unified community.

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HOST: Anne Hillman

GUESTS:

  • EJ David, Associate Professor of Psychology, UAA
  • Vivian Melde, Cultural Divers

KSKA (FM 91.1) BROADCAST: Friday, March 20 at 2:00 p.m. and Saturday, March 21 at 6:00 p.m.

Alaska Public Television BROADCAST: Friday, March 20 at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, March 21 at 4:30 p.m.

Categories: Alaska News

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