Lt. Governor Mead Treadwell rejected a proposed ballot initiative aimed at banning commercial setnetting throughout most of the state on Monday. The language in the initiative didn’t agree with a previous Alaska court ruling.
A newly refurbished Coast Guard icebreaker is en route to Antarctica to free two vessels stuck in ice.
The stuck ships are a Russian research vessel and a Chinese icebreaker, according to Allyson Conroy, the Coast Guard’s chief warrant officer for the Pacific Area. The Russian ship has been stranded since before Christmas. The Chinese vessel got stuck when it tried to help.
The Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star is being sent to the scene, he said. The heavy-duty icebreaker just finished undergoing a three-year, $90 million dollar overhaul.
The Polar Star set out from Sydney on Saturday.
Conroy said the Chinese ship’s helicopter has evacuated the passengers from the Russian ship, but the vessels’ crews are still on board.
Ahtna Traditional First Chief Ben Neeley passed away Saturday at his home in Gulkana. He was 99.
Ben Neeley was born in 1914 to Tom Neeley and Fanny Ewan at a time when the Ahtna people still practiced a primarily nomadic lifestyle, traveling throughout the Ahtna region following traditional food sources. As a child, Neeley did not attend school. Instead, he learned the traditional Ahtna way of life from people like his father . It wasn’t until much later in life that “Ben” was adopted as his English name.
In 1950, Neeley married Hazel Ewan, with whom he had 8 children. He worked on the Glenn Highway, the Tok cutoff, and the road from Ft. Richardson to Valdez. He was heavy equipment operator for the Alaska Department of Transportation before retiring in 1977.
In 2006, Ahtna Elders selected him as the new Ahtna Traditional Chief after the death of Chief Harry Johns, Sr.
As Chief, he represented the Ahtna way of life. His words are remembered for their honesty and wisdom. A humble and generous man, Neeley had a simple yet powerful message for his people: love one another, try your best to get along, and work together.
Neeley is survived by 16 grandchildren and 10 great grandchildren.
A December 23rd traffic accident claimed the life of Rick Leo of Trapper Creek. Leo was a well-known writer and advocate for environmental stewardship in the upper Mat-Su Valley.
A Sitka educator has won a Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science.
Rebecca Himschoot teaches Science at Keet Gooshi Heen Elementary. She’s one of two Alaskan teachers honored by the White House this year, and one of only 102 teachers nationwide who receive the recognition, which includes a $10,000 cash prize from the National Science Foundation.
Himschoot’s colleague from Alaska, sharing this year’s honor, is Amy Laufer, a math teacher at Kasuun Elementary in Anchorage.
Rebecca Himschoot is the Science teacher for 2nd through 5th grade. She says that she really doesn’t do anything extraordinary for her students, beyond what any good teacher tries to do.
It’s mainly about keeping kids engaged. The skies over Sitka are gray and rainy much of the time. Learning about planets and astronomy can be a tough sell. But Himschoot, through a grant from the local charitable trust, brings in a Starlab every year, and inflates it — sort of like a giant bouncy castle — inside the gym.
“If my teacher in elementary school had brought in a planetarium to the classroom, it probably would have caught my attention, and maybe even changed the direction I went with my education.”
Himschoot also takes advantage of opportunities for professional development that other teachers may not. In 2007 she traveled aboard a research vessel for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, as one of NOAA’s Teachers at Sea. It was a three-week cruise in the Bering Sea studying the pollock fishery.
But she also finds opportunities closer to home.
“I try to use local resources as much as I can to connect kids to science, so I bring in lots of Forest Service scientists. The Sitka Sound Science Center has brought some scientists to town who came into the classroom and helped kids connect more to science. So I think it’s those little extras that might catch attention.”
It was Forest Service biologist Rob Miller who nominated Himschoot for the award, which goes to only two teachers from each state. Himschoot entered the paperwork back in 2012, and had pretty much forgotten about it until she was notified this past December, just before school went out on winter break.
The national recognition — along with a lot of rest over vacation — has helped energize her getting back into the classroom.
“Though I had an excellent education, I was not turned on to Science. I feel I have an obligation — if I have the great gift to teach Science all day every day, that comes with the responsibility of helping kids connect more to Science and making it more real to them.”
Besides winning $10,000, which she can spend any way she likes, Himschoot will get an all-expense trip to Washington DC, and a chance to meet President Obama. The president’s schedule could upset that plan. More of a sure thing, though, is a behind-the-scenes tour of the Smithsonian Institution.
That’s cool, she’s pretty sure.
“Possibly geeky for other people, but for a teacher very, very exciting.”
Two other Sitka teachers are previous winners of the Presidential Award for Mathematics and Science: Cheryl Hedden and Barbara Renoux.
KCAW’s Melissa Marconi-Wentzel contributed to this story.
If you get sick – really sick – there’s a good chance you’ll end up on a flight out of town. Medical evacuations, called “medevacs,” are taking more and more Alaskans to in-state and Lower 48 critical-care facilities. But the medevac system is undergoing changes, with new aircraft, more competition and a shift in patients’ needs.
The Department of Justice last week filed criminal charges against a Haines heli-skiing company for repeatedly operating tours on federal land without a permit. The violations came to light because of a fatal accident within the off-limits area in March of last year.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is expected to release a feasibility study on an Arctic port in early March, according to Corps spokeswoman Lorraine Cordova.
With 2014 underway, we now entered an election year. Alaskans will be choosing a governor, a lieutenant governor and as always, deciding whether to re-elect Alaska Congressman Don Young. But national attention, and money, is already focused on the U.S. Senate race.
The Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development predicts that the state’s economy will grow only a little this year, with just 1,500 jobs added.
In the last two months, the Center for Disease Control has seen a rising trend in reports of acute respiratory illness in young and middle-age patients across the country. In Alaska, hundreds of cases of flu have been reported and the state is urging residents to get the flu vaccine, continuing their fee waiver to entice more participation.
This weekend wraps up the 114th Christmas Bird Count. Around 50 communities in Alaska participated in the annual event, adding to decades of data collection. Nome completed its count at sundown on New Year’s Eve.
The bird count in the Aleutians was also aided by mild weather.
Winter is running late in Unalaska this year – and that was good news for those helping with the annual count last Saturday. Such mild weather meant the counters were able to tally the island’s birds in places they usually can’t get to.
In December, Juneau writer and English professor, Ernestine Hayes, released her new book Juneau from Arcadia Publishing. The book tells the history of the capitol city through pictures with elaborate captions. It’s a departure from her usual writing style. But the book builds on her effort to clarify the history of Native people.
This week, we’re heading to the community of Tununak, on Nelson Island. James James is the tribal administrator for the Native Villages of Tununak.
The living systems of the earth recycle waste, supply water, control pests, pollution, and disease, and much more, but these capacities can be depleted. The question is how to allow the economic system to take this into account?
HOST: Steve Heimel, Alaska Public Radio Network
- Tony Juniper, author, “What has Nature Ever Done for Us: How Money Really Does Grow on Trees”
- Callers Statewide
- 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, January 7, 2014 at 10:00 a.m. on APRN stations statewide.
A regional air carrier in Alaska is undergoing a name change.
Era Alaska says in a Thursday release that it will rename itself Ravn Alaska.
Other airlines in the company also will get new names. Era Aviation will become Corvus Airlines. Hageland Aviation and Frontier Flying Service will now be known as Ravn Connect.
The company says the change is to decrease confusion and distinguish the airline from others in the industry that also carry Era in their names.
The new names will be phased in over the next few months.
The company says it provides daily passenger and cargo flights to nearly 100 Alaska communities.
Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell rejects the Izembek Road – again. The primary election is eight months away but the advertising has begun. The Anchorage School District may have to cut 200 teachers, 400 support staff. The Legislature faces big issues in ’14. State lawmakers are getting and expanded home in downtown Anchorage – and criticism comes with it. Alaska law enforcement gets tough on the drug spice. Gov. Sean Parnell talks about addressing energy concerns in southeast Alaska. Gov. Parnell says it is time to changing the funding plan for the Knik Arm Crossing.
HOST: Michael Carey
KSKA (FM 91.1) BROADCAST: Friday, January 3 at 2:00 p.m. and Saturday, January 4 at 6:00 p.m.
Alaska Public Television BROADCAST: Friday, January 3 at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, January 4 at 4:30 PM.
Exxon and Chevron have made major contributions to a campaign that wants to preserve a controversial oil tax law that passed this year, according to recent filings with the Alaska Public Offices Commission.
Exxon gave $350,000 to the group “Vote No On One” in December, matching contributions previously made by fellow North Slope producers BP and ConocoPhillips. Chevron, which has a smaller footprint in Alaska, gave $150,000.
“Vote No On One” was created in October. Their goal is to defeat a referendum that would repeal Gov. Sean Parnell’s signature oil tax system, which caps the rate at 35 percent per barrel and amounts to a tax cut when oil prices are high. The law’s supporters argue it will spur production on the North Slope, while critics have characterized it as a “giveaway” to industry.
So far, the oil industry has put $1.6 million toward fighting the tax referendum, and most of that money has been spent on advertising. Only one group from outside the oil industry has contributed to “Vote No on One” — the Greater Fairbanks Chamber of Commerce gave $10,000 to their campaign on December 20.
Referendum sponsors have not had the same financial success. “Vote Yes! Repeal the Giveaway” has taken $90,000 from small donors, and they spent most of their funds on their signature-gathering campaign.
The referendum is scheduled to appear on the August primary ballot.
In Washington, at both the White House and in Congress, 2014 brings changes to the politics of energy that are likely to affect Alaska.