Alaska News

Gubernatorial Candidates Answer Student Questions

APRN Alaska News - Wed, 2014-04-30 17:30

2014 Gubernatorial candidates answer questions formulated by Anchorage middle schoolers on April 30, 2014. (Photo by Josh Edge, APRN – Anchorage)

Middle schoolers from across Anchorage had a chance to hear from Gubernatorial candidates on Wednesday about a variety of issues the state is facing.

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Over 100 students representing all of the Anchorage School District’s middle schools gathered in the lobby of the Loussac Library’s Wilda Marston Theatre.

While they were waiting for the forum to begin, students and teachers munched on Moose’s Tooth Pizza while mingling with Gubernatorial candidates Byron Mallott, Bill Walker, and current Governor Sean Parnell.

Once the pizza was finished, everyone filed into the auditorium to hear the candidates respond to a number of questions generated by students and teachers, who worked together to research topics they thought Alaska’s next governor needs to address.

Governor Sean Parnell, the Republican gubernatorial candidate, speaks with students prior to the AARP-sponsored candidate forum on April 30, 2014. (Photo by Josh Edge, APRN – Anchorage)

“Our question is, do you think Alaskans should be required to show a photo ID to vote? Why or why not?” Robert King, an 8th grader at Clark Middle School, said.

When the candidates addressed the question during the forum, they answered with a unanimous “no” – primarily because it would limit Alaskan’s ability to vote…especially in rural communities.

Corin Kotzke is an 8th grader at Romig Middle School. He was particularly interested in the candidates’ responses to education-related questions.

“I would like to see another increase in the base student allocation and more stability for the jobs of teacher so teachers don’t have to be worrying about retirement and class sizes will be reduced so there can be more 1-on-1 working with teachers and students,” Kotzke said.

All of the candidates said they are in favor of improving Alaska’s education system.

Republican candidate Governor Sean Parnell says education funding has increased substantially since he has been in office.

Independent candidate Bill Walker says the best way to increase education funding is for the state to generate more revenue with more resource development.

And Democratic candidate Byron Mallott says education must be funded fully… and create certainty for students, teachers and administrators.

But Romig 8th grader Aaron Jenkins wasn’t satisfied with those answers. He wanted more specifics from the candidates

“I was hoping to hear some of the 7th period that they are proposing for high schools next year,” Jenkins said. “Yeah, they did talk about their plans to increase the budget for schools, but not their plans for the schools themselves – which I would have liked to hear.”

Other topics ranged from the implementation of the Affordable Care Act and the expansion of Medicaid in Alaska, to the growth of Alaska’s economy, and how to strike a balance between new construction and maintaining existing infrastructure.

Byron Mallott – the Democratic candidate – was happy with the forum’s turnout. And he says it’s important that adults work to get young people interested and involved in the political process.

“In many ways, Alaska is a vast land, but it’s a small community,” Mallott said. “And children influence every aspect of our lives; they should be our highest priority.”

The forum was organized by AARP Alaska and moderated by Andrew Halcro, of the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce, and Jeannine English, the incoming AARP National President.

Categories: Alaska News

Crews Set Up Denali Base Camp

APRN Alaska News - Wed, 2014-04-30 17:29

Thursday marks the unofficial beginning of climbing season on Denali, when base camp gets set up for the thousand-plus climbers that will make an attempt to summit North America’s highest peak.

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For a few months each year, one of the busiest “airports” in Alaska isn’t technically an airport at all.  It’s Denali base camp on the Kahiltna Glacier.  The vast majority of climbers fly in from Talkeetna to the camp at just over 7,000 feet to start their trek.  On arrival, climbers are met by base camp manager Lisa Roderick.  She says her job on the mountain involves wearing multiple hats.  One of her regular tasks is calling the air services in town with current weather conditions in the Alaska Range.

“They love having a person up there that can tell them what the ever-changing conditions are doing.  As climbers fly in, I help unload the planes and just facilitate getting the planes moving and keeping things running smooth.  As the climbers are done climbing the mountain, I call there air service and get their flight out…”

Lisa Roderick doesn’t work for the National Park Service.  Instead, she works for the air services in Talkeetna whose job it is to ferry climbers back and forth to Denali.  She keeps cards for each climbing group that tells who they are, what air service they flew in with, and what languages they speak.  Many of those cards do not list “English,” so Lisa sometimes has to improvise her communication.

“There’s a lot of sign language with some of the climbers who don’t speak English.  It just works out, you point to an airplane and say, ‘Take your stuff over there.’  People want to get home so bad that they’re packed and ready and waiting for their plane ninety-percent of the time, so I don’t have to do too much.”

On Wednesday, Lisa Roderick was busy arranging gear and consulting her checklist.  Unlike climbers, whose supplies are centered around getting up and down the mountain, her gear involves communications equipment and long-term shelter, which comes with a lot of baggage.

“Basically, it’s just making sure I have all the equipment I need up there.  I have solar panels that charge four marine batteries, so [I] make sure I have all the equipment in tip-top shape.  I have a bunch of radios that I use up there–just putting everything into a big pile to be loaded into airplanes for tomorrow.”

While some climbers have begun their treks already, twelve as of Wednesday, most won’t arrive until mid-May or later.  The heart of climbing season in May and June is when base camp earns the nickname, “Kahiltna International Airport.”  For nearly all of those climbers, one of the first and last faces they see on their Denali expedition will be Lisa Roderick’s.

Categories: Alaska News

‘Arctic Sun: Fulfilling The Dream’ Chronicles Family’s Wilderness Adventures

APRN Alaska News - Wed, 2014-04-30 17:28

A documentary showing statewide on 360 North this evening, chronicles the wilderness adventures of Jean Aspen and Tom Irons.

Arctic Son: Fulfilling the Dream is the story of Jean, her husband Tom and their son Luke as they spend a year in the Brooks Range, out of contact and building their own cabin. When she was in her 20s, Jean went into the arctic with her first husband, living off the land for four years.

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Categories: Alaska News

UAA Students Cope With Finals Week

APRN Alaska News - Wed, 2014-04-30 17:27

It’s finals week at the University of Alaska Anchorage, and that means many students are crunching a very large amount of work into a very short amount of time. An Anchorage woman has found a creative way to help students beat the stress of the week.

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Categories: Alaska News

Alaska News Nightly: April 30, 2014

APRN Alaska News - Wed, 2014-04-30 17:07

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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Proposed Rule Change Could Allow Alaska Tribal Land Trusts

Liz Ruskin, APRN – Washington DC

The U.S. Department of Interior has proposed a rule change that would allow Alaska tribes to ask the federal government to take their lands into trust. The request isn’t always granted, but Wednesday’s announcement is a legal turn that could vastly expand the recognition and authority of tribal sovereignty in Alaska.

Sikuliaq Research Vessel Nears Completion

Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks

The National Science Foundation’s new Arctic research vessel Sikuliaq is nearing completion. The $200 million project has experienced delays, but final work is taking place at a Wisconsin shipyard.

13,000 Alaskans Enrolled With Healthcare.gov

Annie Feidt, APRN – Anchorage

About 13,000 Alaskans signed up for health insurance on healthcare.gov during the open enrollment period that closed March 31. The two insurers offering plans on the exchange in Alaska shared their enrollment figures today with APRN. Moda Health says it has about 7,700 healthcare.gov enrollees in Alaska and the company is still processing some additional sign ups.

Skagway Ferry Dock Is Floating Again

Margaret Friedenauer, KHNS – Haines

The Skagway ferry dock is floating again after a contractor hired by the state brought the sunken dock to the surface. But it’s still not ready to host Alaska Marine Highway ferries.

Sexual Abuse Prevention Bill Falls Through The Cracks

Lisa Phu, KTOO – Juneau

A bill requiring school districts to implement sexual abuse education seemed poised to become law during the recent Alaska legislative session. Governor Sean Parnell supported Erin’s Law, the Senate passed it, and the House version had 21 co-sponsors. But, House Bill 233 got stuck in Finance.

Gubernatorial Candidates Answer Student Questions

Josh Edge, APRN – Anchorage

Middle schoolers from across Anchorage had a chance to hear from Gubernatorial candidates on Wednesday about a variety of issues the state is facing.

Crews Set Up Denali Base Camp

Phillip Manning, KTNA – Talkeetna

Thursday marks the unofficial beginning of climbing season on Denali, when base camp gets set up for the thousand-plus climbers that will make an attempt to summit North America’s highest peak.

‘Arctic Sun: Fulfilling The Dream’ Chronicles Family’s Wilderness Adventures

Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage

A documentary showing statewide on 360 North this evening, chronicles the wilderness adventures of Jean Aspen and Tom Irons.

Arctic Son: Fulfilling the Dream is the story of Jean, her husband Tom and their son Luke as they spend a year in the Brooks Range, out of contact and building their own cabin. When she was in her 20s, Jean went into the arctic with her first husband, living off the land for four years.

UAA Students Cope With Finals Week

Jolene Almendarez, APRN – Anchorage

It’s finals week at the University of Alaska Anchorage, and that means many students are crunching a very large amount of work into a very short amount of time. An Anchorage woman has found a creative way to help students beat the stress of the week.

Categories: Alaska News
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