Eaglecrest cuts prices, ups incentives after worst season in 39 years

first_imgGovernment | Juneau | Local Government | Outdoors | SportsEaglecrest cuts prices, ups incentives after worst season in 39 yearsJuly 8, 2015 by Matt Miller, KTOO Share:Juneau Ski Club head coach Dan Ord flies through a gate at Eaglecrest’s 2014 Slush Cup (Photo by Mikko Wilson/KTOO)Eaglecrest Ski Area officials are discounting prices of season passes and offering other incentives for skiers and snowboarders still bummed by last winter’s low snowfall and limited opportunities to hit the slopes.“From a snow standpoint and an operating standpoint, it was our worst season ever at Eaglecrest,” says ski area general manager Matt Lillard. “We’re turning 40 years this year. But there’s never been a season with such little snow and such inability to open the upper mountain.The Eaglecrest Board of Directors approved the new 2015-2016 price schedule on Thursday.Early bird season pass prices will be $399, down from last season’s $469. Senior passes will be $369, teen passes will be $263, and youth passes will sell for $135. Lillard says those passes will be available as a Permanent Fund Dividend discount special until Oct. 11.“That’s the lowest it’s been since 2009,” Lillard says. “We’re happy to be able to offer as big of a discount as we can. We’re hoping it’s a way to entice people to come and join us this coming winter which we’re hoping and sure is going to be better than last winter.”Lack of snow forced Lillard to suspend operations on the lower mountain and only open portions of the upper mountain for a limited time last winter. The ski area eventually shut down in late March, about three weeks earlier than planned.Among other incentives approved by the board, season pass holders will also be able to attend three snowsports clinics a month at no charge.“We’re also adding three bring-a-friend free ticket days,” Lillard says. “If you purchase a pass, you’ll be able to get three free tickets on New Year’s Day, on Martin Luther King Day, and on Seward’s Day in March. If you were a pass holder last year and you weren’t just up to buying a pass this coming year, you would be able to ski for free on those three days as well.Last season’s unused multi-visit cards can also be used until next New Year’s Eve.The price of a locker rental will be $199 for an individual locker and $339 for a family locker. That’s a drop of $30 from last season’s prices. In addition, Lillard says they have nearly a hundred new lockers installed in the main lodge for those who have been on the waiting list.Lillard says they decided to stick to their policy of no season pass refunds after a poor ski and snowboard season. When refunds were handed out after the poor winter of 2002-2003, Lillard says the ski area ended up $800,000 in the red.This year, Lillard says they may only be drawing $10,000 out of their reserves.Share this story:last_img read more

Anchorage assembly member introduces LGBT discrimination bill, allows religious exemption

first_imgGovernment | Local Government | SouthcentralAnchorage assembly member introduces LGBT discrimination bill, allows religious exemptionAugust 13, 2015 by Anne Hillman, APRN Share:Anchorage. (Creative Commons photo by Frank K.)The Anchorage Assembly is trying again to add sexual orientation and gender identity to the city’s anti-discrimination ordinances. Assembly member Bill Evans filed the amendments Thursday. The ordinances prohibit discrimination by the municipality, employers, businesses and renters.The proposed ordinance includes exemptions for religious organizations and says that no person should be forced to participate in an event that conflicts with sincerely held religious beliefs.Another provision says that people will be required to use restrooms and locker rooms appropriate to their gender presentation regardless of their assigned sex at birth.In a press release, Evans wrote, “The ability of every person in society to be judged based upon their skill, accomplishments, and talents, and not because of some immutable characteristics, is a result we should encourage.”The Assembly will take public comments on the ordinances on September 15. Previous attempts to pass a similar ordinance were vetoed by former mayor Dan Sullivan and rejected by voters.Share this story:last_img read more

Aleutian Islands’ Ancient Villages, Volcanoes Slowly Reveal Their Secrets

first_imgAleutians | Outdoors | Science & TechAleutian Islands’ Ancient Villages, Volcanoes Slowly Reveal Their SecretsSeptember 22, 2015 by John Ryan, KUCB Share:Whitman College geologists studying Mt. Carlisle. (Photo courtesy Kristen Nicolaysen.)Scientists flock to the Aleutians every summer to study the islands’ rich wildlife, long history and active volcanoes.For the past two summers, an interdisciplinary team has visited the Islands of the Four Mountains, in the central Aleutians, to study how resilient the earliest settlers had to be to live there thousands of years ago.Among many finds this summer, archeologists dug up two slate ulus on one of their digs on Chuginadak Island. They think the find means these ancient seafaring people were somehow trading or acquiring goods from as far as Kodiak, 700 miles away. There are no known sources of slate in the Aleutians.“We think the source of slate is from Kodiak,” archeologist Virginia Hatfield with the University of Kansas said. “We know people of Kodiak were using slate to make ulus.”With their steep shorelines, limited freshwater and rumbling volcanoes, the Islands of the Four Mountains can seem a harsh place for human habitation. But what seems harsh to modern humans—like cliff-lined shores where landing a boat would be difficult—could have provided an advantage in the distant past.Qawalangin Tribe of Unalaska president Tom Robinson. (Photo by KUCB/John Ryan)“You can stand on those high cliffs and you can survey for game. You can survey for other people,” University of Kansas archeologist Dixie West said. “It just depends on your point of view.”The earliest Unangan (or Aleut) people had to be resilient to survive volcanoes, tsunamis, fierce storms and a changing climate. Researchers are attempting to piece together how quickly people returned to villages once they were buried in volcanic ash.Qawalangin Tribe of Unalaska president Tom Robinson said his ancestors picked their village sites carefully, facing away from the open Pacific Ocean, to avoid at least one kind of threat.“If you notice, all of our village sites are predominantly on the Bering Sea side and, therefore, were protected from tsunamis,” he said.The Aleut RevoltArcheologists this summer also turned up likely evidence of one of the pivotal moments in Aleutian history: the Aleut revolt in the Fox Islands and the Islands of the Four Mountains and Russian fur traders’ brutal response.“The Russians came back in 1764 and, according to ethnohistory, they destroyed all of the villages in the Islands of the Four Mountains,” Dixie West said. “In one archeological site, we have found beads, we’ve found iron, and we’ve found a musket ball.”“We won the first round and they came back,” Tom Robinson said, “and that was the turning point of our history of what else happened to us along the way.”The Islands of the Four Mountains are uninhabited today, but they had been home to early Unangan people for at least 7,000 to 9,000 years. They remain sacred to people throughout the Aleutian chain.“It’s a regional spiritual area that we hold dear to our heart,” Robinson said.He said he had not heard about the researchers digging into his people’s past until asked about it for this story.“This is the first we heard about it,” Robinson said. “I checked with my staff, and we haven’t been consulted.”“If I was to dig up their ancestors, they’d probably have a problem with it,” he said.Virginia Hatfield with the University of Kansas said researchers got written permission from the landowner, the Aleut Corporation, and met with Ounalashka Corporation officials in Unalaska. She said they tried to contact the Qawalangin Tribe as well as people in Nikolski, the closest surviving village to the archeological sites, but received no response. Researchers also gave presentations at the Museum of the Aleutians in Unalaska before they started their work last year.Difficult FieldworkDoing archeology or geology is tough in the Islands of the Four Mountains—and not just because of the remoteness or the weather or the risk of a volcano exploding. You can’t use radiocarbon dating to pinpoint when something happened in the past if there’s no carbon-containing material around.“In the Aleutians, there are no trees, no shrubs in that area, so it’s very difficult for us to figure out when a particular volcanic eruption happened or when a particular tsunami happened,” geologist Kirsten Nicolaysen with Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington, said.University of Kansas archeologist Dixie West with Herbert and Cleveland volcanoes in the background. (Photo courtesy Kristen Nicolaysen)Nicolaysen said archeologists and geologists working together can answer those questions. They can find where ash covers an ancient village’s garbage pile—filled with organic material—and piece together enough carbon to date an eruption.The scientists have had to be a little resilient themselves. Cleveland Volcano on Chuginadak Island exploded while they were approaching it by boat. The big volcano kept rumbling while they were working in its shadow.“At night, when we were sleeping in our tents, we could hear that volcano moaning and groaning,” Dixie West said.She said it was unnerving, but there were no problems.“We’d been around volcanoes enough doing the research that we do to know when we should run or when we should hunker down,” West said.Once they were camped on the island, a big earthquake struck.“We’d just finished dinner, and suddenly this earthquake starts happening. It was incredibly exciting,” geologist Nicolaysen said.She said they very quickly turned their attention to the steam plume rising from Mt. Cleveland.“It was crucial for us to know, was that earthquake affecting the volcano or related to the volcano because if so, we needed to respond to that very quickly,” Nicolaysen said.Quick communication by satellite phone with the Alaska Volcano Observatory revealed that no evacuation was needed: The quake was driven by plate tectonics, not by the volcano they were having dinner on. Nor did it cause any ocean tsunamis.“It was very long lasting where we were and actually caused water in ponds and the fuel in the fuel drums to seiche back and forth, to shake back and forth, and we could hear this,” she said. “Little pond tsunamis.”Aftershocks kept giving them some trouble. Nicolaysen said the researchers couldn’t even feel some of them directly, but they’d get dizzy.“Sometimes when I was on quite steep cliffs, trying to obtain our geologic samples,” she said. “That was a little strange, writing in my notebook, “Very dizzy, feeling sick. Time to go.”Last year, members of the same research team helped AVO put the first seismic monitoring instruments on Cleveland Volcano. Now the region can have better warnings when that volcano explodes, as it did this summer.Still, very little is known about the volcanoes of the Aleutians. Mt Carlisle, Mt. Tana and Mt. Herbert—the other three main volcanoes of the Islands of the Four Mountains—had never been studied before the summer of 2014, when the interdisciplinary research team arrived there, according to Nicolaysen.“This is completely undiscovered territory and very exciting science to do,” she said.This summer, AVO scientists put a dozen new sensors on Cleveland Volcano and the first instruments ever on Herbert and Carlisle.The Qawalangin Tribe continues to aim for resilience in the face of environmental threats of uncertain severity. In September, the tribe advertised to hire a climate change planning coordinator. The goal: to help the tribe adapt to a climate that is changing much more rapidly than it did in prehistoric times.Share this story:last_img read more

Wings of Alaska changes hands this weekend

first_imgBusiness | Southeast | TransportationWings of Alaska changes hands this weekendOctober 16, 2015 by Jillian Rogers, KHNS – Haines Share:Wings of Alaska air cargo building. (Photo by David Purdy/KTOO)Wings of Alaska will shut its doors after the last scheduled flight lands in Juneau on Friday, with Gustavus-based Fjord Flying Services taking over Saturday.SeaPort employees here in Southeast were offered the opportunity to apply for jobs in the Lower 48, or try to stay in Southeast and apply at Fjord.The sale was finalized on Oct. 10. Wings’ parent company, Portland-based SeaPort Airlines, said in a press release it sold Wings to “help facilitate expansion by Fjord in many Wings of Alaska markets.”Fjord owner Richard Cole said that while there may be a few hiccups for a few weeks, but service between Haines, Skagway and Juneau will not be interrupted. He said the deal has been in the works for a few months.“There might be a brief reduction in service, but it’s our expectation that that will be very short term. We expect to have roughly the same seating capacity as Wings within a short period of time,” Cole said Wednesday.He said that a Piper Chieftain with Instrument Flight Rules, or IFR, is on the way so Fjord can better serve commuters in less-than-ideal weather.Cole was born and raised in Southeast and said he understands the needs of locals more than a larger airline.“When you’re operating in these small communities where you are literally bringing them their bread, or their medicine or taking them to a sporting event, whatever it may be, you are an actually part of their life,” he said.The release said Wings is contacting customers booked for travel after Oct. 16 and providing full refunds and help with alternative travel. Cargo for transportation will not be accepted after Wednesday. Customers must pick up unclaimed cargo by 5 p.m. Friday.SeaPort Airlines CEO and President Robert McKinney said in the statement the decision wasn’t easy, considering Wings has been a vital part of Southeast lives for three decades.Air service to rural Alaska communities has many unique challenges and aspects to it that contrast significantly with our Lower 48 operations. We believe that a company, such as Fjord Flying Service, that exclusively serves Southeast Alaska will be able to better meet the needs of the communities and customers,” he said.He said now SeaPort can focus on improving their service in the Lower 48.According to SeaPort, the transaction with Fjord includes buildings, equipment, computers, vehicles at various Wings stations throughout Southeast. The deal also included the “Wings of Alaska” brand. The cargo facility and hangar in Juneau was not included, but Fjord will lease those on its own.Last month, Sitka-based Harris Air started offering morning flights between Haines and Juneau.Cole said Fjord Flying Service has a good relationship with Harris, and that competition is good for everyone.“I think that the additional service provided is only going to improve quality of life for these communities, especially as we’re looking at state shortfalls that are going to affect ferry service,” said Cole.Share this story:last_img read more

Seattle’s Ride The Ducks tours to remain suspended

first_imgTourism | TransportationSeattle’s Ride The Ducks tours to remain suspendedNovember 3, 2015 by Tom Banse – Northwest News Network Share:”Ride the Ducks” amphibious tours in Seattle will remain suspended until at least January 2016. (Creative Commons photo by Joe Mabel)Ride the Ducks amphibious tours in Seattle will remain suspended until at least January. That was the bottom line from an update about the ongoing investigation of the tour company involved in a deadly crash on Seattle’s Aurora Bridge.The Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission is one of multiple agencies scrutinizing the Ride the Ducks operation. In a briefing to the commission Tuesday, the state’s lead investigator said his team is still analyzing maintenance records and has another round of physical inspections to do before delivering a report next month.An attorney for Ride the Ducks said they are fully cooperating and have no complaints about the progress of the probe. But attorney Pat Buchanan also wanted to convey to the state panel a sense of “urgency” about allowing inspected vehicles back on the road.“We have 130 employees,” Buchanan said. “For the benefit of getting those 130 employees back to work again, urgency and time is just of the essence.”Buchanan said whenever Duck tours resume in Seattle, the jobs of driver and tour guide will become two separate positions. The company is also redesigning its tour routes to avoid the Aurora Bridge.WUTC Assistant Director of Transportation Safety Dave Pratt declined to go into any specifics about what the state investigation has uncovered or whether new safety measures might be imposed on Ride the Ducks. The tour operator will have an opportunity to contest any adverse findings.In late September, Washington state regulators took emergency action to suspend Ride the Ducks’ operating permit in Seattle. This happened in the wake of the Sept. 24 collision in which a World War II-era Duck vehicle slammed into a charter bus carrying international students from North Seattle College to an orientation. Five students were killed and dozens of people in both vehicles suffered injuries.Clipper Navigation, another Seattle-based passenger ferry and tourism company, recently wrote Washington Gov. Jay Inslee in support of rapid re-opening of the Ride the Ducks operation. Clipper Navigation’s CEO Merideth Tall said her company refers thousands of customers to Ride the Ducks.“Every day Ride the Ducks is forced to close operations, it is increasing the likelihood that they may never reopen their doors again, due to loss of trained staff and revenue,” Tall wrote while acknowledging “the need to inspect the vehicles, its operation and the route.”“Alaska Airlines, our ‘hometown’ airline, has suffered accidents in the past, even in spite of an extraordinary culture of safety,” she continued. “But they were allowed to continue operating.”Coincidentally, the National Transportation Safety Board issued a preliminary report Tuesday about September’s deadly crash. The NTSB report summarizes an account of the accident given by the driver of the duck vehicle. The 54-year-old driver told investigators he heard “a loud ‘bang’ as his vehicle experienced a mechanical failure at the left front axle assembly, causing him to lose control.”The NTSB report said metallurgical examination of the axle components along with other potential causal factors is ongoing. Both the state and federal probes are focusing on whether or how Ride the Ducks of Seattle completed an axle housing modification recommended by the manufacturer.Share this story:last_img read more

Aging Southeast: Bunking with the family in Petersburg

first_imgAging Southeast | Family | Health | Southeast | SyndicatedAging Southeast: Bunking with the family in PetersburgFebruary 26, 2016 by Angela Denning, KFSK Share:Elizabeth Tyner, 92, lives with her granddaughter Melinda Cook, left, and great-granddaughter Shawnee Cook, right. Tyner is among Southeast seniors aging at home. (Photo by Angela Denning/KFSK)Some Southeast Alaska families have stayed with the tradition of helping loved ones age in place. Elders live at home, with children and grandchildren, instead of moving into assisted living or a nursing home. It’s a friendlier and lower-cost option for older residents of the region, whose numbers are growing faster than the state as a whole.As part of CoastAlaska’s Aging Southeast series, we talk to one Petersburg family with four generations living under the same roof.Audio Playerhttps://media.ktoo.org/2016/02/17multigen-L.mp300:0000:0000:00Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.Elizabeth Tyner sits at the kitchen table in a red striped shirt, blue jeans and blue Crocs sandals.“I’m 91 years old. I’ll be 92 in a week or so.”Her short white hair curled, her hands clasp a tissue because she has a cold. She readily talks about her life. Over the decades, she’s sold auto parts and worked at a thermometer factory.“What it was doing was putting the ink in there,” Tyner said. “It really wasn’t ink it was …”“Mercury,” her granddaughter prompted.“Yeah, Mercury,” Tyner said. “You shook the stuff down where it went up and down in there so you could tell the temperature. It was real interesting, it really was.”Her granddaughter, Melinda Cook, is ready to fill in the details. Cook knows her grandmother well. She has lived with Tyner for nearly two years and spent a lot of time with her growing up.“She migrated here because we migrated here,” Cook said. “Because none of us stayed where we were from. She’s originally from New York and ended up in Florida and we’re all from Florida and ended up in Alaska. ”“And as she got older it just seemed like the natural progression for her come be with us.”Cook uses the word “natural” a lot. She sees aging as a natural process and family helping as part of that. For Tyner, she likes the busy house of four generations.“I got all these kids around me here (laughs) it’s wonderful … it’s wonderful!” she said. “They play on the floor and I get down on the floor and play with them and do whatever is necessary. We have a good time.”When Tyner first moved to Petersburg in 2011, she lived in independent housing for seniors. She shared a two-bedroom apartment with a friend for $1,400 a month. Cook said that worked well for several years until the day her grandmother fell.“She didn’t pull the alarm. She laid on the floor for four hours,” Cook said.The Petersburg Medical Center includes long-term care for older residents, among others. (Photo by KFSK)Tyner eventually called the family, which contacted 911. There were other signs that decision-making was becoming difficult.But switching to assisted living, including daily food service and as-needed care, would have cost about $6,000 a month. Petersburg’s facility takes Medicaid waivers but residents can have no more than $2,000 in the bank and no assets.That’s not Tyner’s case. She’s worked hard to build up a nest egg. But even that savings would only last a few years. So, she moved in with her family and now pays $500 a month for three caregivers, five days a week.“Just making sure she’s drinking water, getting meals, because we started finding that that was necessary,” Cook said.For Cook, having Tyner at home is the right thing to do. Her family has taken care of their elderly for generations.“I mean, we all kind of have our assignments in this generation,” she said. “My cousins have their parents. I mean literally, every one of us in my generation has an elder living with them at this time.”Like most of Southeast, Petersburg’s population is aging faster than Alaska as a whole. A recent borough study shows that in about 15 years, senior numbers will double to 28 percent.In the village of Kake, on the next island over, there are 80 to 90 elders out of a population of about 600. Most are Alaska Natives.The village has no assisted living or nursing homes. Families take care of their elders at home until they need medical help and have to go off-island. Many families rely on in-home caregivers.“I think living at home is what they want the most. They don’t want to leave their homes and go to assisted-living places,” said Juanita James, site manager and cook at Kake’s senior center, which provides lunch and rides around town.“They’d rather have their loved ones close by that don’t have much more time to live and stuff and their relatives are used to making their cultural food for them and taking them to like when they’re having Indian dance at the community doings and stuff.”“They thrive better at home,” said Keith Smith, who works for Southeast Alaska Independent Living’s Ketchikan office.“I think that people live longer, their minds stay healthier when they are able to stay in the midst of their life like that,” Smith said.SAIL is a non-profit resource center that helps seniors and others with disabilities live at home and maintain independence. It has offices in Southeast’s larger communities and also serves more remote towns. SAIL helps clients problem-solve.Smith said oftentimes, that means giving advice on structural or architectural changes to a house, getting the right home health-care provider or even just knowing about the right tools.“One of the gentlemen I’m working with is just like overwhelmingly happy when he discovered the device … since he can’t bend over anymore. So there’s a special device that from 3 feet away you can clip your own toenails. That is huge for him,” Smith said.For Cook’s family, it meant moving to a house with an open floor plan and remodeling a bathroom. Although Tyner is mobile right now, there is plenty of room for a walker or wheelchair if it’s ever needed.The door opens and Cook’s 18-year-old daughter Shawnee arrives home from an evening workshop at school on financial aid for college. The teen’s 1-year-old is already asleep. Shawnee said it’s great her son can live with his great-great grandmother.“He knows that she’s the person to go to when he wants something to eat,” she said.“Yeah, yeah. He will,” Tyner agreed. “I’m trying to teach him a little bit about dancing. I’ve got him shaking his shoulders, you know, and moving his butt, you know, and going up and down.”It’s not always easy. Tyner’s dementia crops up every now and again, like the time she accused one of her great-grandsons of taking a box of hers. But, at least for now, the family agrees it’s better for everyone to be sharing life under the same roof.Also sharing space is Cook’s partner and her two sons—ages 14 and 20. That’s four generations in the same home.“We’ve had a good time with it,” Tyner said. “I wouldn’t trade it. Would you Melinda?”Cook answers: “No”Hear and read all our Aging Southeast reports. Share this story:last_img read more

Juneau pair arrested, charged for downtown shooting

first_imgCrime & CourtsJuneau pair arrested, charged for downtown shootingFebruary 29, 2016 by Matt Miller, KTOO Share:Jose Antonio Delgado and Sky Linn Stubblefield. (Photo courtesy Juneau Police Department)Juneau Police say they have taken into custody a second person believed to have been involved in a shooting downtown Wednesday morning.Jose Antonio Delgado, 47, was arrested Friday afternoon at a residence on Salmon Creek Lane.Sky Linn Stubblefield, 25, was arrested Thursday morning at a residence on North Douglas Highway.Stubblefield made two court appearances Friday. The first in the morning was for issues related to allegedly refusing to comply with orders in previous cases. The second was a first felony appearance in Juneau District Court on charges related to the shooting.Bail for Stubblefield was set at $10,000. Stubblefield was ordered not to have contact with Delgado. If she makes bail, she must stay away from drugs, alcohol and firearms. She is also not allowed to drive any vehicles.Both Delgado and Stubblefield were charged by prosecutors on Friday.Delgado was charged with two counts of felony misconduct involving weapons and three counts of assault.Stubblefield was charged with aiding and abetting misconduct involving weapons, failure to stop for a police officer and contempt of court.According to charging documents, Delgado allegedly fired a weapon from a moving vehicle and later tried to grind off the firearm’s serial number. He also placed three people in fear of serious physical injury by firing the weapon. Stubblefield allegedly drove the vehicle and failed to stop for an officer conducting a traffic stop. The contempt of court charge stems from not reporting to Lemon Creek Correctional Center for a prior conviction of drug possession.Police say the incident started early Wednesday morning when Delgado confronted another person about a dog that he thought belonged to him. Stubblefield allegedly drove the vehicle from the scene as Delgado fired a shot at the victim. The round went through the window of a nearby house at 401 Harris Street, and reportedly spraying glass fragments on another victim and missing his head by  8 inches.The gun was later found discarded on Seward Street by a woman who was walking her child to a nearby child care facility.Prosecutors say Delgado has 21 prior criminal convictions for charges including assault and drug possession while Stubblefield has a prior conviction for felony drug possession and five misdemeanor convictions for violations conditions of release or failing to appear in court.(Editor’s note: Corrected reference to charging documents instead of a grand jury indictment.)Share this story:last_img read more

Researchers capture bear-salmon interactions on camera

first_imgFisheries | Outdoors | Southeast | WildlifeResearchers capture bear-salmon interactions on cameraAugust 3, 2016 by Molly Dischner, KDLG-Dillingham Share:Motion-activated cameras set up by researchers working with the University of Washington’s Alaska Salmon Program catch bears in action on Lake Aleknagik streams. (Molly Dischner/KDLG)Researcher Anne Hilborn removes a memory card from a motion-activated camera set up at Happy Creek on July 17, 2016.(Molly Dischner/KDLG)Alaska Salmon Program researchers remove bear hair caught on a barbed-wire and put it into an envelope to send in for genetic testing as part of an effort to study how many bears are on Lake Aleknagik streams, how they move around during salmon season, and what exactly they do when humans aren’t watching. (Molly Dischner/KDLG)Motion-activated cameras set up by researchers working with the University of Washington’s Alaska Salmon Program catch bears in action on Lake Aleknagik streams. (Molly Dischner/KDLG)1234 read more

Interior race between political veterans could shape Alaska Senate

first_imgAlaska’s Energy Desk | Interior | Politics | State GovernmentInterior race between political veterans could shape Alaska SenateNovember 3, 2016 by Rachel Waldholz, Alaska’s Energy Desk Share:Sen. John Coghill, R-North Pole. (Photo by Skip Gray/360 North)One of the most watched races in the state is happening in and around Fairbanks, where two longtime politicians are running in a matchup that could help decide control of the Alaska Senate.The incumbent, North Pole Republican John Coghill, faces a challenge from Luke Hopkins, a Democrat and former mayor of the Fairbanks North Star Borough. The race hinges on how each candidate would approach the state’s budget crisis.Democrat Luke Hopkins got into the race with a splash last May, releasing a letter in which he wrote that the legislature had “utterly failed Alaskans.”Hopkins said lawmakers ducked their responsibility when they left Juneau without passing a long-term plan to deal with the budget shortfall.“I got really concerned that there wasn’t a sustainable fiscal plan, and I thought that’s what the state really needs, and I still believe in that very strongly,” he said in a phone interview this week.Former Fairbanks North Star Borough Mayor Luke Hopkins, in his brief time on the board of the Alaska Gasline Development Corp. (Photo by Rachel Waldholz/Alaska’s Energy Desk)Hopkins said incumbent John Coghill, who served as the Republican majority leader, bears responsibility for that.It’s a line of attack Hopkins’ allies have driven home. The outside group Together for Alaska, which favors higher oil taxes and is largely funded by labor groups and the oil and gas attorney Robin Brena, has run ads criticizing Coghill as a “do-nothing legislator.”Coghill said that’s simply not true.“The accusation, ‘do-nothing,’ is because somebody wanted one particular thing and didn’t get it,” he said with a laugh.He ticked off a list of the legislature’s accomplishments in the last session: budget cuts, Medicaid reform, criminal justice reform. The Republicans in the Senate even passed a bill to restructure the Permanent Fund and use the earnings to pay for part of the budget, though that idea died in the House.The problem is, the things they got done aren’t all that popular. The Permanent Fund restructuring, for instance, would have cut the PFD in half — something Gov. Bill Walker later did himself.But Coghill said they were necessary.He’s particularly proud of the criminal justice reform bill, which he sponsored with Anchorage Democrat Johnny Ellis.“The thing that, I think, got my attention more than anything is that two-thirds of the people coming out of prison were going back within three years,” he said. “And that’s just not an acceptable rate of criminal justice return.”He said a major goal is to cut the prison population and direct more people into behavioral health programs, cutting down on recidivism and saving money at the same time. The final bill included a wide range of reforms and won bipartisan support.Coghill said the legislature should take that approach and apply it to two of the biggest areas of state spending: education and health and social services.“And this is where Luke and I would probably disagree immensely,” he said. “We have 130,000 students and our outcomes are not that good, but our costs are way high. I’d be willing to look at, can we do it better, can we do it more frugally?”That might mean distance education or consolidation, he said.Coghill is open to a statewide sales or income tax — he said he’d prefer a sales tax — or even revisiting oil taxes. But only as a last resort.Like Hopkins, Coghill has received significant support from outside groups. One is The Accountability Project, which has received contributions from business, industry and Republican sources. They helped pay for an ad attacking Hopkins, and saying he’s for “higher taxes, more spending, bigger government.”But Hopkins said lawmakers kicked the can down the road when they didn’t pass new revenue measures in the last session.“We have to come up with a sustainable fiscal plan, and there’s huge holes in it,” he said. “And I don’t think – and I agree with the governor’s assessment, and the administration’s – that we can’t cut our way out of this.”He opposes any new cuts to the University of Alaska, and wants to preserve education funding.And he said Coghill and Republicans were too quick to cut the Permanent Fund dividend and dip into savings.While those actions are probably necessary in the end, Hopkins said, he wouldn’t support them until every sector of the Alaska economy is paying its “fair share.” That means revisiting oil taxes and doing away with certain tax credits on the North Slope. It also means an income or sales tax. (He said an income tax would be more fair). And it means looking at the whole slew of new taxes proposed by the governor last year, from motor fuels to mining and fishing.“Be the statespeople that you’ve been elected to be,” he said. “Look at these, compromise as necessary, and vote them up or down. But the issue is, what do we want our state to look like in one year, two years, five years from now? We see that the oil revenue is probably not going to be coming back, so that’s what we have to prepare for. What state do we want to see?”How the district’s voters answer that question could have ripple effects across the state. Political observers say the race is one of two that could flip control of the Senate, along with the Anchorage match-up between Republican Cathy Giessel and labor leader Vince Beltrami.Share this story:last_img read more

Git Hayetsk uses dance to revise indigenous history

first_imgAlaska Native Arts & Culture | Arts & Culture | History | Southeast | University of AlaskaGit Hayetsk uses dance to revise indigenous historyApril 4, 2017 by Caroline Halter, KTOO Share:Git Hayetsk dancers perform their chief’s headdress dance honoring Smgyigyet (chiefs) and Sigidmhana̱’a̱x (matriarchs) on  March 25 at University of Alaska Southeast in Juneau. (Photo by Caroline Halter/KTOO)If you’re a longtime resident of Southeast Alaska, you may have heard the story of the founding of Metlakatla, a community in the Annette Islands Reserve, Alaska’s only reservation.It’s usually told like this: in the wake of a growing rift with the Anglican Church, missionary William Duncan led more than 800 Tsimshian people on a canoe voyage from British Columbia to establish their own devout community in Alaska.University of Alaska assistant professor Mique’l Dangeli tells a very different version of that history.Audio Playerhttps://media.ktoo.org/2017/04/03GITHAYETSK.mp300:0000:0000:00Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.The dancers of Git Hayetsk share a common ancestry to the Sm’algyak speaking peoples of the Nisga’a, Tsimshian, and Gitxsan nations.The dancers recently traveled from British Columbia to perform at University of Alaska’s Juneau campus. It’s a journey similar to one their ancestors made in the late 1800s.Dangeli leads the group with her husband, Mike, and uses the performance to tell the version of Metlakatla’s founding told to her by prominent oral historians in the Tsimshian community.Dangeli put it bluntly: “We didn’t follow William Duncan, William Duncan followed us.”“It was our people’s decision to come back to Alaska and to argue for land rights with the U.S. government,” she continued. “We’d been denied by the Canadian government (and) it led to our decision to move.”The song that tells the story is called “Paddle to Metlakatla.” It describes a particular moment on the canoe journey when one woman stood to rally the group who was grieving the choice to leave home.“The words in that song are ‘Wha! T’iina tleexgn!” which is one way of saying ‘stop crying,’” Dangeli said.From there, the dynamic of the dance changes.The drum starts beating faster.The dancers look up, and they start paddling harder.“They let go of their fear of starting all over again,” Dangeli said.As for William Duncan, well, Dangeli said he wasn’t even present on that journey.“We celebrate our founder’s day in Metlakatla on August 7th. Our people started coming over in March, so the day that we celebrate as our founders day is the day that William Duncan finally arrived,” Dangeli said. “He came on a steamer.”That’s one piece of what Dangeli calls a counter narrative, in contrast to the story that has come to represent the Tsimshian, even within parts of their own community.“William Duncan, he’s always portrayed as this pied piper and we were just these rats scurrying along behind him,” she said. “Unfortunately, some of our people have internalized this colonial narrative.”Git Hayetsk invited audience members to participate. (Photo by Caroline Halter/KTOO)According to Dangeli, the idea that the Tsimshian people completely converted to Christianity, abandoning their own customs, also is false.She explained that while most history books focus on the Tsimshian’s conversion to Christianity, her people continued their cultural practices “under the guise of Christian practices like Christmas parties and Easter parties.”Some of those cultural practices have been absorbed into Tsimshian culture, but Dangeli said the cultural survival story was strategically hidden by Duncan.He tightly controlled the flow of information in and out of Metlakatla to preserve his reputation as a missionary that had complete control over the community. He even went so far as to burn books that documented their ongoing cultural practices.Toward the end of the Git Hayetsk performance, the group performs a victory song belonging to Dangeli’s husband.“After war, they would line the beach and they would laugh and taunt their enemies because they had survived,” she said. “Now we use that song to talk about survival … in a much larger way.”Share this story:last_img read more