Beverly, “Bev”, Dunham is a pioneer in Alaska journalism and a tireless community advocate. She is described as being ahead of her time and a strong role model to many women and young girls growing up in Alaska.Download Audio
Beverly, “Bev”, Dunham is a pioneer in Alaska journalism and a tireless community advocate. She is described as being ahead of her time and a strong role model to many women and young girls growing up in Alaska.Download Audio
The origami peacock for peace is made of more than 2,000 pieces of paper. It’s three feet wide and roughly two feet tall. (Photo by Lisa Phu, KTOO – Juneau)Middle East exchange student Haytham Mohanna and the Thunder Mountain High School Art Club presented an origami peacock of peace to the Alaska State Legislature on Monday. The peacock is made of more than 2,000 pieces of folded paper.Download AudioMohanna says the peacock represents the dreams of the people of Gaza, his home country.“I hope this peacock, which symbolizes the peace, go in each mind and each heart, and really rise our mind about the wars and conflicts,” Mohanna says.Mohanna is studying at Haines High School through an exchange program funded by the U.S. State Department.He learned how to make an origami peacock from a teacher in Gaza and taught the process to Thunder Mountain art club students while he was visiting Juneau. It took the club three months to fold more than 2,000 pieces of paper. The peacock is about three feet wide and two feet tall.Art club coordinator Heather Ridgway says she didn’t immediately know where the peacock should be displayed. She wanted it to be in a place where it could inspire people.“It was like, ‘Oh, of course, we’ll take it to the capitol. They are working on major issues that require everyone to commit time and attention and do a careful job and work together and be patient, just like making this peacock. Let’s give it to the legislature,’” Ridgway says.Juneau Sen. Dennis Egan calls Mohanna an artist and says the peacock will definitely inspire visitors to the capitol and lawmakers.“I can guarantee you that people will reflect on it and hopefully bring good things and remember that, you know, we’re all trying to come in peace,” Egan says.Until a permanent place can be found for the origami peacock, it’s temporarily displayed in the House Speaker’s Chambers.
Download AudioIt’s just in the planning stage, but the Yukon Kuskokwim Health Corporation is working towards a new $250-million health care center.They say the current facility, which serves people from 58 YK Delta communities, needs to be updated and needs more room to keep up with a growing population.
A diagram of the proposed upgrades includes wider crane rails (black dotted line), new piling and reshaping (blue shaded area) and larger vessels that might use the facility (outlined in water). (Courtesy: City of Unalaska)Unalaska is preparing to spend tens of millions of dollars to upgrade the aging Port of Dutch Harbor. The hope is to serve bigger ships and more of them — but the companies that use the dock right now aren’t so sure that big changes are needed.Download AudioOn Wednesday night, Unalaska’s city council chambers were full of the dock workers, fuelers and cargo companies that have worked in Dutch Harbor for 25 years, exporting seafood and importing freight.They were there to weigh in as the city gets ready to remodel the port for the future. The $44 million plan involves replacing rotten pilings under the dock that serves container ships, barges and catcher-processors — and adding anything new that those companies want to see.That might include a setup for a bigger cargo crane — one to reach further across wider ships. The current crane is on 50-gauge rails, meaning spaced 50 feet apart. Some ports, including Anchorage, have upped that to 100 feet.Marion Davis is a vice president for Horizon Lines, the main domestic shipper in Dutch Harbor. They own the current crane, and Davis called into Wednesday’s meeting to say the 50-foot spacing works just fine.“A lot of ports are huge ports. So they might have six, eight, ten lanes of trucks underneath the crane. Therefore, you need the room underneath the crane. Dutch will never have that,” he said. “So a 50-gage crane should be sufficient no matter what you do.”He did suggest bringing in a new 50-gage crane built for a wider reach. But that’s not part of the city’s project — any new cranes would have to come from the users, like Horizon.They were the city’s official shipping partner when the dock was first built. But that contract fell apart a few years ago. In March, the city council voted not to seek a new one — from Horizon, or anyone else.Horizon still gets a guaranteed spot for their weekly mail and grocery delivery, according to a recent letter from the city. But otherwise, the dock space is up for grabs.That means power is an open question, too. Right now, the port runs mostly on diesel — but Doug Leggett, the president of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union in Unalaska, asked if the city’s electrical grid could handle more ships or cranes plugging in.“I’ve spent plenty of time watching and breathing that exhaust, and I think most of us don’t realize how much pollution they pump into town when they’re sitting there,” he said. “The wind’s blowing, and you don’t see it, but it’s a lot.”Other dock workers brought up cosmetic issues — like bad drainage, bumpy concrete and safety issues that need repairing. And they talked about the best spot for a new warehouse that barges and seafood companies could share.All that helps the companies at the dock right now — but much of the plan still centers on the idea that more, bigger traffic is on the way. Longshoremen like Jeff Hancock were skeptical.“I mean, you’ve got an outline of a gigantic, large, 1,200-foot vessel there at the dock,” he said, indicating a concept drawing showing different sizes of ships. “In what realistic thinking would we ever have a vessel of that size here, that we needed … to work the number of containers that that would be? … In what reality would we ever need that much capacity at this port?”“No ice in the Arctic,” answered Dennis Robinson, a longshoreman and former city councilor.Robinson is talking about the biggest unknown in upgrading Dutch Harbor: Will melting Arctic ice — and more Arctic infrastructure — really create that much demand from new shipping companies?If it will, they didn’t show up on Wednesday to say so. But city ports director Peggy McLaughlin says she heard enough to move the designs forward — and to keep working on a funding plan. She needs to break ground by 2017 for permitting reasons.“We’re building and replacing a deteriorating facility for the current users,” she said after Wednesday’s meeting. “And there certainly are users that are being turned away because of timing issues and dock schedules that will be able to utilize this proposed design.”For now, the port’s oldest tenants will drive that design — and McLaughlin hopes it’ll leave room for those waiting in the wings.The city and PND Engineers are taking public comment on the preliminary designs through May 29, and will hold a follow-up public meeting later this summer. You can catch a rebroadcast of Wednesday’s planning meeting on Channel 8 this Sunday, May 3 at 5 p.m.
Donlin runway and camp site in summer 2014. Photo by Dean Swope / KYUK.Two federal agencies have come to different conclusions on the potential effects the proposed Donlin Creek mine could have on subsistence along the Kuskokwim River. The site sits 10 miles north of the village of Crooked Creek. Donlin estimates it could excavate 34 million ounces of gold over almost three decades.Download AudioThe Army Corps of Engineers predicts the mine would have a minor to moderate impact on subsistence practices and resources.“Minor are impacts that tend to be low intensity, temporary duration, and local in extent typically to common resources that may experience more intense longer-term impacts,” said Keith Gordon, Army Corps Project Manager for the Donlin project. Moderate impacts are just greater than minor, but can be of any intensity or duration. The rating scale runs across five categories from no effect to major impacts.On the other hand, Alan Bittner, field manager for the Bureau of Land Management, said the bureau has a different take.“When we looked at all three major components of the project, it seemed like there was significant potential for subsistence resources to be affected,” Bittner said.Those big components include the mine itself, barging on the Kuskokwim River, and a natural gas pipeline running over 300 miles from Cook Inlet to the mine site.“Simply put,” Bittner said, “this is a pretty big project. There’s big components to it, and our finding is that the possibility exists in any of those major components to affect subsistence resources.”The Army Corps contracted the environmental and engineering firm AECOM to create the mine’s draft environmental impact statement. The firm is operating under NEPA, the National Environmental Policy Act, while the BLM is working under ANILCA, the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act.Bittner said the agencies’ differing predictions come from different biologists working under different federal laws with different standards.“A biologists from AECOM may feel one way and is working under a certain law and certain guidance of that law. And then, there’s a professional biologist on the BLM side working under a different law and drawing their preliminary conclusions as well,” Bittner said.The Army Corp is the lead federal agency creating the EIS. The BLM is a cooperative agency, which got involved when Donlin applied for a right-of-way permit for a natural gas pipeline and a fiber optic cable stretching across BLM property. Now the BLM has to analyze the subsistence impact for the entire project, not just the pipeline path, and the bureau can declare one of two options.“Either that the project will not significantly affect subsistence resources, or that it may significantly affect subsistence resources,” Bittner said.What the BLM means by ‘significant’ is not well defined.“It becomes a professional judgment on professional biologists who are writing about subsistence impacts as to what ‘significant’ is,” Bittner said. “Again, this is a preliminary finding that that potential exists.”To make their final judgment, the BLM is predicting if subsistence resources themselves and access to those resources will be affected.To help the BLM make this analysis, Bittner said the bureau is collecting public testimony in communities where the BLM determines subsistence resources could be affected by the proposed mine.“So our preliminary finding is that it may [be affected], and we need to hear from people about whether that’s true for them or not— the individuals who are actually in the communities and subsistence is a part of their life,” Bittner said.The Army Corps is also collecting input and has to respond to every comment relevant to NEPA. To make a comment relevant, Gordon said a responder has to go beyond saying whether or not they support the project to pointing out data gaps and presenting alternative solutions.“And if they can give us some of those reasons, give us some information about why we need to do more, that gives us something we can look back at and determine if the analysis needs to go to a deeper level or needs to be expanded,” Gordon said.The BLM will be holding a public hearing to collect such comments tonight in Bethel at 6 p.m. at the Cultural Center. More meetings are scheduled in Kuskokwim communities throughout the month. Comments can also be submitted online
It’s often called the most important meal of the day but sometimes kids don’t get the chance to eat breakfast before heading to class. Sitka School District wanted to change that this year and started offering breakfast for all students.Students and staff walk through the hallway at Keet Gooshi Heen Elementary School in Sitka. (Photo by Ed Ronco/KCAW) It’s parfait day at Sitka High School and dozens of students have showed up early to grab a bite to eat before the first bell.One is junior Niki Jeter.“It’s really good—yogurt berries, granola, yeah,” Jeter says.She says it’s nice to be able to have the option to get breakfast at school, and to have a quick meal in case she’s in a rush and doesn’t get to eat at home.“Instead of going to my class hungry and like waiting for lunch to come, and just thinking about when is lunch coming up, it’s nice.”And that’s the idea. This is the first year the high school has offered breakfast and that Sitka School District has offered it to students at all five of its schools.Cassee Olin is the district’s business manager. She says in the past few years the district office received requests from principals to provide breakfasts for kids.“There’s actually a saying in the Alaska School Nutrition Association,” Olin says. “It’s not nutrition unless they eat it and they need to have brain food at the beginning in order to do what they need to do. We try to make sure they’re fed in the mornings and at lunch and get a good balanced meal so they can perform to what they need to be good successful students.”With the precarious state of Alaska’s budget, food service is one line item Olin is not worried about. Both breakfast and lunch are funded by federal programs, which cover and subsidize food for low-income students. Olin says the district breaks even on the meals, which cost about half-a-million dollars.The programs at Baranof and Keet Gooshi Heen elementary schools are also funded by small grants from the White Elephant Thrift Shop, which pays for both the students who receive reduced-cost breakfasts, and also covers some expenses for all other other students.Over at Baranof, a gaggle of little girls and guys eat yogurt, cereal, and fruit cups in the school’s “breakfast club” classroom.“Okay, everybody here? One last bite. Good one. Chew that really good and you are ready for learning.”At Baranof, breakfast has been a long-running program, originally started by counselor Jeanine Brooks and teacher Jessica Christensen, then an AmeriCorps volunteer.“It was obvious because our school starts so early and some families don’t have the ability to pull off a whole breakfast and catch the bus that we needed to figure out something,” says Brooks.She says her breakfast club students are less cranky and more ready for school.Although it’s hectic fitting a meal in between bus drop off and the start of school, Brooks says, “Anecdotally there’s such a clear correlation between having breakfast and having a better day behaviorally, and social-emotionally and academically the kids who come to breakfast do so much better because they get nurturing and community and wake up time and then they have food in their stomachs. It’s the best thing that we do here because it has these nice direct results.”Back at Sitka High, Chef Jo Michalski is cleaning up from breakfast, which also included egg, cheese, and bacon breakfast burritos, cereal, muffins and fruit – all for $1.50 each. The new addition has been a hit, she says, with 30 to 50 kids eating before school each day. Parfait day is the most popular, though. The high school now allows students to bring their breakfasts to first-period classes.“They love it, grab a spoon and go.” says Michalski. “Everything’s there for you–you’ve got your grain, you’ve got your fruit, you’ve got your dairy all in a cup.”And with her parfait in hand and a chocolate muffin for later, Nicki Jeter heads to her American government class.“I like to have food with me while I’m learning,” says Jeter.About 100 students eat breakfast at the schools each day. The meal is open to everyone.
Stories are posted on the APRN news page. You can subscribe to APRN’s newsfeeds via email, podcast and RSS. Follow us on Facebook at alaskapublic.org and on Twitter @aprnListen nowWith hedging statements, Alaska lawmakers say they’re close on oil and gas compromiseAndrew Kitchenman, KTOO – JuneauState lawmakers say they’re close to an agreement on a bill to end tax credits for oil and gas companies that can be traded for cash.Moody’s downgrades state’s credit ratingAnne Hillman, Alaska Public Media – AnchorageMoody’s has downgraded the state’s credit rating again and said the state has a negative outlook.Legislature’s capital budget impasse could delay Haines Highway projectEmily Files, KHNS – HainesA major Haines infrastructure project that is years in the making may have to wait a little longer.Newly found disease could threaten Southeast Alaska spruceEd Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska – JuneauA fungus that’s damaged trees in Southcentral and Interior Alaska has been discovered for the first time in Southeast. But there’s a chance its spread could be stopped.Klukwan’s Hotch will attend National Medal awards ceremony in Washington, D.C.Abbey Collins, KHNS – HainesThe Alaska State Museums are set to receive the National Medal for Museum and Library Service in Washington, D.C. next week. It’s the highest recognition of its kind. The director of a new cultural heritage center in Klukwan is part of the group receiving the award in the nation’s capital.Wrangell Borough, union reach amended contract agreementLeila Kheiry, KRBD – KetchikanThe Wrangell Borough Assembly approved an amended contract with union employees during a special meeting Thursday, ending what have been contentious negotiations with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.Where are Koliganek’s king salmon?Avery Lill, KDLG – DillinghamMore than 2.5 million sockeye have returned to spawn in the Nushagak River this year, one of the highest counts on record. They have filled pools and creeks, jumping and swimming their way to their spawning grounds.As low Nushagak River restricts barge travel, New Stuyahok limits heating fuelAvery Lill, KDLG – DillinghamKoliganek and New Stuyahok are still waiting on their first barge of the year. Heating fuel use for residents and businesses in New Stuyahok is limited.Update: Someone may be buying the ferry Taku, but it’s still on the marketEd Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska – JuneauStill thinking about buying the Ferry Taku? The state extended the bidding deadline for the 54-year-old ship again — until August 8th.AK: Mod Carousel brings boylesque world premiere to JuneauAnnie Bartholomew, KTOO – JuneauFor eight years Seattle-based boylesque collective Mod Carousel blurs gender expression in Alaska. It’s newest show, Gilded makes its world premiere in Alaska. Juneau residents will be treated to the world premiere of a dance production this weekend.49 Voices: Doreen Cooper of SkagwayRashah McChesney, Alaska’s Energy Desk – JuneauThis week we’re hearing from Doreen Cooper from Skagway. She’s working as a volunteer at the Arctic Inter-agency Visitor Center in Coldfoot.
An animal welfare official said claims that musher Dallas Seavey mistreats his sled-dogs are unfounded.Listen nowOn Wednesday, a spokesperson for the Matanuska-Susitna Borough said an Animal Care officer visited Seavey’s Willow kennel last weekend to investigate. According to the Borough, Officer Nick Uphus closed his investigation after failing to find any evidence of neglect or cruelty. In the release, Borough Mayor Vern Halter, himself a musher, called the claims “absolutely false.”The allegations from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA, surfaced last week after an Iditarod veteran wrote on her blog that she’d heard stories of mistreatment in Seavey’s kennel. The accusations came on the heels of news that four of Seavey’s dogs had tested positive for a banned painkiller after last year’s Iditarod. PETA quickly seized on both incidents as evidence of abusive practices in mushing, which the organization has long condemned. The group requested that the Alaska Department of Public Safety look into the abuse claims. DPS spokesperson Tim Despain said the State Troopers’ case into Seavey’s kennel practices is still open, but expected to be closed in the next couple days.Seavey did not return a message left seeking comment.In a statement, a PETA executive said the organization will submit a public records request to local officials to gather more information.
St. Michael’s Cathedral (Robert Woolsey – KCAW)Though it was short, with no new business and only four items of unfinished business on the agenda, Tuesday’s Sitka Assembly meeting was still eventful, with assembly members continuing to debate if they should allocate funds for renovations to St. Michael’s Cathedral.Listen nowAfter deliberation that spanned several meetings, St. Michael’s Cathedral will not receive $5,000 dollars from the city for exterior work. At a short meeting on Tuesday, the Sitka Assembly voted 4-3 against donating the money for renovations to the historic building. The ordinance, originally presented to the assembly on November 7, continued to stir up debate over the separation of church and state. Assembly member Bob Potrzuski, who co-sponsored the ordinance with assembly member Steven Eisenbeisz, voiced his support.“It certainly does not promote any religious activity,” Potrzuski said. “There’s not any reason except to continue to have an iconic building that draws visitors by the thousands to our downtown to our community as a whole.”St. Michael’s is a replica of the Orthodox cathedral built by the Russians in the 19th Century. It has major structural problems like a leaking roof and a basement prone to flooding. The money would have come from the visitor’s enhancement fund and would only be used to help fund renovations to the exterior of the building. Assembly member Kevin Knox said he felt like it was a worthy cause.“You can’t pick up a piece of literature that supports our visitor industry and not see that picture, the face of that church,” Knox said.Mayor Matthew Hunter also voiced his support, and said that the visitor enhancement fund exists to fund such projects and the religious connection is immaterial.“We need this structure so that people can continue to come to Sitka and live the history that brings so many people here,” Hunter said.Assembly member Aaron Bean, who spoke against the measure when it was introduced on November 7, said even if the money was specifically allocated for exterior renovations, it still indirectly helps the church further its mission.“It’s pretty clear that by doing this you will be advancing the church’s goal,” Bean said. “Any money that they wouldn’t have to otherwise pay a contractor to do the work that they’ve been neglecting for years is going to end up furthering their agenda.”City Attorney Brian Hanson said while Bean’s argument made sense, it was a common one made in past cases that set legal precedent for separation of church and state, and doesn’t hold up in a court of law.Though Hunter voiced his support, he said he was concerned the city could be sued if they moved ahead.“I did have an interaction with a gentleman on the street who was very passionate about the issue and said ‘I will sue you if you support this,” Hunter said.Hanson said that though he believes the donation wouldn’t violate the first amendment and the city would be on solid legal ground, they may still be at risk of a lawsuit, which could be costly.“This is only a $5,000 donation. I would suggest if a lawsuit is filed, it’s no longer economically viable to do this, no matter if you win or not,” Hanson said.Ultimately, the measure failed 4-3, with Ben Miyasato, Bob Potrzuski and Richard Wein voting in favor, and Aaron Bean, Steven Eisenbeisz, Kevin Knox and Mayor Matt Hunter voting against.In other business, the assembly voted on second reading, to update the electronic health records system for Sitka Community Hospital. They also approved, on second reading, several requests from Gary Paxton Industrial Park.
Wonderful turnout from Alaskans at the @IndianCommittee nomination hearing for Tara Sweeney to serve as the Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs at the Department of the Interior. I’m bursting with pride. pic.twitter.com/8shauyxPcJ— Sen. Lisa Murkowski (@lisamurkowski) May 9, 2018“We need you busting down doors and saying ‘we need to talk,’” Murkowski said.President Trump picked Sweeney for the job in October, but the Office of Government Ethics, in the executive branch, held up the process out of concern over her shares in Alaska Native corporations, including ASRC.Sweeney says the ethics pledge she signed commits her to stay out of all matters involving ASRC.Democratic Sen. Tom Udall pressed her further:“And will you recuse yourself from any matter that may benefit ASRC, including oil and gas development in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge?” Udall asked.“My ethics pledge requires me to recuse myself from all matters pertaining to ASRC and I will adhere to that, yes,” Sweeney responded.There’s no word yet on when the Senate committee will move her confirmation to the full Senate for a vote. Alaskan Tara MacLean Sweeney faced no resistance at a U.S. Senate confirmation hearing today on her nomination to be assistant Interior secretary for Indian Affairs.Listen nowSweeney is now an executive vice president at Arctic Slope Regional Corporation. She would be the first Alaska Native woman to hold the federal position, which oversees the Bureau of Indian Affairs and helps manage federal relations with Native American tribes.Sweeney brought her family and lots of Arctic Slope leaders to the Senate Indian Affairs hearing.“You have a room full of Inupiat Eskimos,” Sweeney said at the start of her address to the senators. “And so I appreciate the staff keeping this room nice and cool, because it is very warm for for the rest of us.”Outside, the temperature was approaching 80 degrees.“I can tell you, this Eskimo is melting,” Sweeney said.One of Sweeney’s guests was ASRC founding director Oliver Leavitt, who she says inspired her career choice when she was 12. She remembers Leavitt came to her school in Barrow to talk about the opportunities of the new Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, the law that created ASRC and the other Alaska Native regional corporations.“And as he left the building,” Sweeney recalled, “I looked over to my friends, including his son, and said, ‘I want to work there. I want to work for him. I want to do what he is doing for our people.’”Several senators, including Lisa Murkowski, told Sweeney they want her to be tough, to take on problems at the BIA and make demands within the administration to help ease troubles afflicting many indigenous communities, like the high rates of domestic violence, substance abuse and unemployment.