Weather temporarily gives firefighters an edge in Aniak

first_imgPublic Safety | WesternWeather temporarily gives firefighters an edge in AniakJune 27, 2015 by Ben Matheson, KYUK Share:The Chuathbaluk fire was active Friday afternoon. (Photo by Patrica Yaska)Aniak and Chuathbaluk were receiving favorable winds Friday, cutting down on the smoke and fire danger. The fire across the river from Aniak has grown to 27,000 acres.  Bill Wilson is Aniak’s Mayor.“The fire is paralleling on the opposite side of the river of where the runway and town is here. It’s worked its way about halfway down the runway at this point.  You can see it, Most is further off the shore, it’s touched down in a few places at the shoreline. The smoke is thick; it’s blowing toward the Russian Mountains and towards the north more.Two crews are in Aniak to do point protection in the off chance that the fire moves across the river.“With the winds the way they are, there’s no chance of it jumping across unless we had another thunderstorm at this point.”Three flights of at-risk people were evacuated to Bethel Thursday to stay out of the thick smoke. Near Chuathbaluk, the approximately 5,000-acre Mission Creek Fire was 1.3 miles from the old airport and is visible from town. Two hotshot crews are also doing site protection in Chuathbaluk.   There had been discussion of moving a large amount of people to Aniak from Chuathbaluk, but Wilson says there’s no need to at the moment.“We’re still prepared; we have a plan ready, places for people to come. We have food and boats to run there.  Until there’s a more imminent threat, they’re going to stay put and hold their homes.”Francis Mitchell is with the state Division of Forestry. He says farther upriver, the Red Devil fire has been threatened the community.“Late yesterday, the fire got within 1,000 feet of the village; there were a couple air tanker drops of retardant drops in that knocked it down pretty well. There are fire fighters in there, two crews.”Forty-eight people are working to protect Red Devil.  Three crews’ members are in Crooked Creek, which has been prepared for site protection. Others crews are making a fire line around Lime Village.Closer to Bethel, a 1,000 acre fire is burning southeast of Kwethluk, but officials say nothing is at risk now.  This weekend, firefighters might get a little break from the weather.“At least swaths of rain, not big rain, not putting out fire rain, but dampening down fire type of rain, maybe in that lime village and middle Kuskokwim area. Rain will help in several places, but it’s probably not going to last long, as far as we’re being told.”More than 230,000 acres have burned in Southwest Alaska. There are 78 active fires in the region and 317 statewide.Share this story:last_img read more


LGBT rights in Alaska

first_imgAudio Player Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.Anchorage activist MoHagani MagnetekAudio Player Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.Juneau Assemblyman Jesse Kiehl on LGBT protections in Juneau.Audio Player Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.Gov. Walker on handling LGBT rights during his tenure.Audio Player Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.Activist and Researcher Melissa Green.DocumentsThis list includes the official files from bills that have included sexual orientation or gender identity in drafts of legislation dating back to 1975. The grid also includes links to significant court cases and video focusing on LGBT rights.1975-1976 SB60 Bill HistorySenate Bill 60 Audio1983-1984 SB406 Bill File“One in Ten,” report published by Identity, Inc.Jay Brause & Gene Dugan v. Alaska Dept. of Health and Social ServicesU.S. EEOC, July 2015 ruling on sexual orientation discriminationAug. 12, 2005 interview with Gov. Bill Walker1983-1984 SB406 All Versions1983-1984 SB77 Bill File1983-1984 SB77 All VersionsThe Alaska Gay and Lesbian Community Center1998 Alaska Ballot Measure 2The Alaska Gay and Lesbian Community CenterIdentity, Inc.’s flag burns, article by Alaska Dispatch News2015 Anchorage Ordinance on city’s non-discrimination policy1985-1986 HB194 All Versions1987-1988 HB125 Full Text1987 HB 125 Judiciary Committee Minutes“Sexual Orientation Bias in Alaska,” published by Identity, Inc. Jerry Prevo,  June 6, 2009 sermon against Anchorage Ordinance 64Jerry Prevo, March 25, 2012 sermon against transgender rights and Prop. 5Share this story: Community | Government | History | PoliticsLGBT rights in AlaskaSeptember 13, 2015 by Lakeidra Chavis, KTOO Share:P R I D ELGBT Rights in Alaska: Past, Present, FutureLayout and Design: Lakeidra ChavisContent: Lakeidra ChavisEditing: Jennifer Canfield and Jeremy HsiehA lifetime of fighting: A history of Alaska LGBT rightsAlaskans voted in 1998 to define marriage in the state constitution as only between a man and a woman. Now that the U.S. Supreme Court has invalidated that definition, Alaska and the entire country has marriage equality.To some it may seem like things are changing fast, but Alaska’s fight for gay rights began half a lifetime ago.Q&A: Gov. Walker discusses LGBT rightsWalker has not given a direct answer when questioned about his position on LGBT rights. He’s only stated that he believes marriage is between a man and a woman. When questioned further in this interview about his stance on LGBT rights, he still did not provide a direct answer.Despite marriage equality ruling, LGBTQ Alaskans can still be discriminated against“They didn’t fire me,” says Rachel Pettijohn, “they just cut down my hours to where I wasn’t getting any hours.” LGBT discrimination claims still not valid in Alaska“Just imagine if you couldn’t call the fire department because you were LGBT. If you are LGBT you should be able to call any state agency and get the same service,” says attorney Caitlin Shortell. She represented the same-sex couples that sued the state for the right to marry. “This is an injustice that needs to be corrected.”Politicians and activists weigh inlast_img read more


Governor opens doors for annual holiday open house

first_imgArts & Culture | Community | Food | Juneau | Southeast | State GovernmentGovernor opens doors for annual holiday open houseDecember 9, 2015 by Elizabeth Jenkins Share:The governor and first lady pose for photos inside the mansion. (Photo by Elizabeth Jenkins/KTOO) Workers helped prep over 25,000 cookies. (Photo by Elizabeth Jenkins/KTOO) Lt. Governor Byron Mallott peers at gingerbread houses made by children. (Photo by Elizabeth Jenkins/KTOO) (Photo by Elizabeth Jenkins/KTOO) First lady Donna Walker shows her grandchildren the nativity set. (Photo by Elizabeth Jenkins/KTOO) (Photo by Elizabeth Jenkins/KTOO) A crowd waits outside for a peek inside the governor’s house. (Photo by Elizabeth Jenkins/KTOO) 1234567 read more


Is ANSEP good for Mt. Edgecumbe? Students aren’t so sure

first_imgAlaska Native Government & Policy | Education | Southeast | State GovernmentIs ANSEP good for Mt. Edgecumbe? Students aren’t so sureFebruary 8, 2016 by Emily Kwong, KCAW – Sitka Share:Erica Willis and Xochitl Martinez have spoken critically about ANSEP’s proposal to turn Mt. Edgecumbe into an accelerated high school. (Photo by Emily Kwong/KCAW)The past three weeks have been turbulent at Mt. Edgecumbe High School in Sitka. The Alaska Native Science and Engineering Program, or ANSEP, has proposed turning the 70-year-old boarding school into an accelerated high school, with an emphasis on science and engineering.It all began when ANSEP founder Herb Schroeder presented his idea to lawmakers in January, as a draft piece of legislation.Now, Edgecumbe students and teachers are asking questions about ANSEP’s motivations and whether the plan would even work.Erica Willis and Xochitl Martinez are in Mt. Edgecumbe’s radio club. They broadcast every other week.“The past week or two have left our school in a bit of a tizzy due to a situation that’s come up,” Martinez said during a broadcast.For anyone listening to their program, you can tell these two students are not pleased.“Though our school and ANSEP have had good relations and a strong partnership in the past, this was brought before the legislature without consulting any of the people who actually run Edgecumbe,” Willis said in the broadcast.Nor did ANSEP secure the approval of the state Department of Education and Early Development, the Board of Regents or the University of Alaska, who would absorb any retained Edgecumbe staff should the plan roll through.Martinez said she is confused as to why Schroeder, ANSEP’s founder, wanted to take over instead of collaborate.“Why didn’t he come talk to Edgecumbe about inputting more STEM classes or integrating a program that would fast-track kids through three years, but at the same time they would keep the old program?” she asked. “I don’t see why that couldn’t work and why he would just go straight to legislature. I mean, dude.”Historically, the institutions have been friendly, if casual, partners. ANSEP has trained Edgecumbe teachers. Edgecumbe kids have flown up to Anchorage taken part in ANSEP’s summer programs.Martinez said one of her friends still has a desktop computer ANSEP gave her. The Gustavus-born senior was living in Oregon when she decided to apply to Edgecumbe. And she added, that while an ANSEP boarding school sounds appealing, it would not have been a good match for her.“I don’t have the scores for something that would be fast-tracked. I’m not good at classes that are going to be sped up or anything,” Martinez explained. “So, I’d be concerned about my own education and probably would have stayed in Oregon.”In a press release issued Jan. 30, ANSEP stated that students at its school would earn dozens of credits towards a bachelor’s of engineering, science, psychology or education and graduate college in three years.For Willis, also a senior, her big bone to pick is that ANSEP feeds the University of Alaska only.“I have applied to UAF, just in case, but it’s not my first choice,” she said. “I’d rather go to school out of state.”Willis is from Central, a tiny community near Fairbanks. She considers ANSEP a fantastic program for rural Alaskans like herself. But she was adamant that if ANSEP wants to fix education in the state, they’re better off leaving Edgecumbe alone and putting their energies towards other problems.“There’s other proposals going through legislature to raise the number of minimum students to keep a school open. In the next few years, there’s a really good possibility that there’s going to be schools closing. So there’s going to be that many more kids without schools to attend,” Willis said. “And if they don’t have as many options for other places to go … I can’t predict the future, but that doesn’t seem like a great combination of factors.”Teacher Dionne Brady-Howard worries about this too.Teacher Dionne Brady-Howard. (Photo by Emily Kwong/KCAW)“The fact is that, in going from a four year to a three year program with narrower focus, things will be lost,” she said.If Edgecumbe had a school spirit parade, Brady-Howard would be marching in front with a cardinal and gold baton. She graduated in 1991, has taught social studies since 2000, and sent both her daughters through the school.And Brady-Howard is worried that young Alaskans wouldn’t be ready to sign on to the kind of school ANSEP has in mind by the eighth grade. In their press release, ANSEP claims it will have its graduates career ready by age 20.“There are so many of us who go out in the world and can barely declare a major by the time we’re 20, let alone know that we’re already certified as an engineer or a scientist and be work ready,” Brady-Howard said. “To expect 13-year-olds applying to the ANSEP Mt. Edgecumbe accelerated high school that they’re proposing is a bit daunting.”Months away from graduation, Willis also has the next generation on her mind.Willis said she’s a little heartbroken over the idea of Mt. Edgecumbe closing.“It just feels like everybody, as well as Alaska, would kind of be losing something. It’s 70 years of tradition here. And it’s not just the history, it’s the future. OK, I know kids in seventh and eighth grade who want to come here and there are kids in freshman and sophomore year who want to graduate from here. If that were to go away, it  just seems like it would be tragic.Though very little is on paper, Martinez said that ANSEP has come to represent a bogeyman for Edgecumbe students. And a punchline.“Something breaks, we’ll say, ‘Oh it’s ANSEP’s fault.’ Something happens, ‘Oh it’s ANSEP. This is totally a conspiracy by ANSEP.’ A bunch of running jokes,” Martinez said. “I think that’s how Edgecumbe deals with things. Bad humor for sure.”Bad humor maybe, and a lot of Edgecumbe pride for sure.Share this story:last_img read more


Anchorage man in custody for Fort Lauderdale airport shooting

first_imgNation & World | Public Safety | SouthcentralAnchorage man in custody for Fort Lauderdale airport shootingJanuary 6, 2017 by Wesley Early, Alaska Public Media Share:The FBI said an Anchorage man opened fire at the Fort Lauderdale, Florida, airport this morning. The Broward County Sheriff’s office said Esteban Santiago, 26, killed five people and wounded eight others.Santiago was taken into custody at the airport, allegedly after he ran out of ammunition.Santiago served in the Puerto Rico Army National Guard, Army Reserves and Alaska Army National Guard.Spokeswoman Candis Olmstead said he received a general discharge from the Alaska Army National Guard last year for unsatisfactory performance.The Associated Press reports that Santiago’s brother, Bryan, said Esteban received psychological treatment while in Alaska.Bryan Esteban also said that his brother had served in Iraq in 2010.Local FBI spokeswoman Stacy Feger-Pellessier did not answer questions about reports from the AP that in November, Santiago told the Anchorage FBI office the government was controlling his mind and forcing him to watch ISIS videos.In a Facebook post, Broward County commissioner Chip Lamarca said Santiago was a passenger on a Canadian flight with a checked gun.However, the Canadian Embassy said he did not arrive from Canada and was not on an Air Canada flight, but instead appeared to have flown from Anchorage, Alaska.We confirm we have no record of a passenger by the name Esteban Santiago, or checked guns, on any of our flights to Fort Lauderdale #FLL 5/5— Air Canada (@AirCanada) January 6, 2017Jesse Davis is chief of police at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport.He told The Associated Press that Santiago flew out of Anchorage, Alaska, on a 9:52 p.m. Delta flight Thursday, and that a firearm was his only piece of checked luggage.Davis said Santiago flew from Anchorage to Minneapolis-St. Paul and on to Fort Lauderdale.Davis said Santiago didn’t call attention to himself and “as far as we can tell” traveled alone, but he said the investigation is ongoing.Authorities are trying to track Santiago’s movements through Alaska’s largest commercial airport using video footage.Davis noted that it’s not usual for travelers at the Alaska airport to check firearms because many people hunt.Lamarca said once Santiago claimed his bag, he went to a restroom to load the gun and then fired on people at the airport, according to Broward County officials.Mark Lea, a passenger who was inside the baggage terminal, told the Associated Press that, the shooter went through about three magazines before throwing the gun onto the floor and lying spread-eagle until officers arrested him.This story contained contributions from Sean Doogan, Zachariah Hughes, and Anne Hillman. Share this story:last_img read more


Study looks at climate change’s effects on Kodiak berries, wildlife

first_imgClimate Change | Environment | Food | Science & Tech | Southwest | Weather | WildlifeStudy looks at climate change’s effects on Kodiak berries, wildlifeJune 6, 2017 by Kayla Desroches, KMXT-Kodiak Share:It’s been a great season for salmon and other berries in Southeast Alaska. (Photo by Aaron Bolton/KSTK News)A scientist predicts climate change could have far-reaching effects on the growth of certain berries on Kodiak Island.Bill Pyle,  supervisory wildlife biologist with Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge, just wrapped up a two-year pilot study on the Island. The study helps cement the monitoring methods they’ll use to study berry growth in the future.In this case, that includes using time-lapse cameras.In the short term, berries may have success one year and be less fruitful the next, he explained. He also talked about climate change’s unintended consequences: for instance, how warmer winters could affect the deer population, and in turn, their consumption of certain berries.Audio Player Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.Salmonberries may be limited or nonexistent this year.Winter conditions play a part, Pyle said. This year was unusually dry, and there was little snow pack to insulate the plants.The temperature from November through March for the last two years was 6 degrees above normal. This year, Kodiak was 1.5 degrees below normal.“We really don’t know when the problem started and whether it was a long-term situation this winter, but the bottom line is that it appears that salmonberry and blueberry were affected by the amount of cold and the depth of cold that we had that killed the winter buds and killed the above-ground stems of those plants.”Elderberries fared better. Cold temperatures didn’t hack away at them, Pyle said. It was the Sitka black-tailed deer.Danny Hernandez and Danielle Butts, who are working on the study, stand in a bush of elderberries. (Photo courtesy of the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge)“You have the deer stripping the bark, which that girdling action kills the above ground growth,” he said. “Fortunately, for the species that we’re looking at, they all are very vigorous resprouters. They regrow from the base of the plant, and so it’s not like the plants were outright killed.”This year saw a deer die-off later in winter, January through March, Pyle said.He said while the spruce forests offer some protection for the introduced species, Kodiak’s more exposed terrain could have contributed to the deaths. And he says throughout that time, the deer were surviving off elderberries.“It really has a lot to do with the fat that they bring into the winter, and (that) determines how long they can last in conjunction with how cold it gets,” Pyle said. “They probably had a good year last year with fat supplies, but it was enough to really knock them out. I mean, the elderberry just wasn’t enough to do it for ‘em and to facilitate the survival of most of those deer.”Pyle said the deer could kill off the entire plant species if they continue to munch on the berries year after year.He said normally every three to eight years a harsh Kodiak winter would sweep through the deer population and keep it at bay.Without that, they’re free to continue eating the elderberries and other species that bears also survive on, such as blueberries.  He says because this winter was so dry and lacked significant snow pack, deer had easier access to the areas where those berries grow.In the short term, it looks like the shortage of berries over the summer may not bode well for brown bears. A mixture of food sources like berries and meat help maintain the bears’ nutritional balance, Pyle said.Throwing off that balance means that more bears may look to human activity for a food source.“If they encounter a person with, say, they’ve got a deer down, there’s gonna be more circumstances where the bears pursue that shot animal, and once the bear has access to human food, say it’s in a town situation, then usually that’s what they will consider to seek and usually end up in trouble because of that.”Bears that develop a reliance on scavenging human trash have a tendency to return to town again and again.Share this story:last_img read more


Boom in gun sales sends $33 million in taxes to Alaska for wildlife conservation

first_imgEnvironment | Federal Government | Outdoors | State Government | WildlifeBoom in gun sales sends $33 million in taxes to Alaska for wildlife conservationMarch 20, 2018 by Liz Ruskin, Alaska Public Media Share:A hunter on Adak Island on Jan. 3, 2015. (Creative Commons photo by Paxson Woelber)Americans have spent a lot of money on guns and ammunition in recent years, and that has sent revenues pouring into Alaska’s budget for wildlife conservation. The 1937 Pittman-Robertson Act taxes firearms and sends the money to the states for wildlife projects.Tuesday, the U.S. Interior Department announced Alaska’s share of the tax revenues is $33 million, more than double what the state got just six years ago.The allocation formula takes geographic size into account, so Alaska is getting more from the fund than any state besides Texas.“Pittman-Robertson funds account for the majority of our funding, of our division’s funding,” said Maria Gladziszewski, deputy director of Alaska’s Division of Wildlife Conservation. “It is the core funding for wildlife conservation, and it has been for decades.”Maria GladziszewskiGladziszewski said the revenues have gone up so steeply that it’s hard to make full use of them. The state has had to give back about $3 million since 2016. Pittman-Robertson money can only be used on certain types of projects, and there’s a two-year deadline. Gladziszewski said Alaska has spent some of its money on things like road pullouts and trails, to give hunters better access.“We are doing our best to obligate all those funds and do good projects for Alaskans and Alaska wildlife,” Gladziszewski said.Also, it’s been a challenge for the state to come up with the required 25 percent matching funds. Last year the Alaska Legislature boosted state revenues by increasing the cost of hunting and fishing licenses, with instructions not to leave federal money on the table.Gladziszewski credits hunters and fishermen for supporting the bill.“It’s because hunters and anglers care about wildlife conservation,” Gladziszewski said. “They are the only constituency that has stepped up to say, ‘We value this service. We want to pay more money.’”Nationally, gun sales shot up during the years Barack Obama was president. Some indicators show they dropped sharply in the months after President Donald Trump took office.Share this story:last_img read more


Alaska chief justice calls for computer security upgrade

first_imgCrime & Courts | Southcentral | Southeast | State GovernmentAlaska chief justice calls for computer security upgradeFebruary 20, 2019 by Andrew Kitchenman, KTOO and Alaska Public Media Share:Joel Bolger, chief justice of the Alaska Supreme Court, delivers the annual State of the Judiciary address to the Alaska Legislature, Feb. 20, 2019. (Photo by Skip Gray/360 North)Alaska Supreme Court Chief Justice Joel Bolger said the state court system must upgrade computer security after the court in Nome lost computer access for days due to a virus. Bolger made this comment during the annual State of the Judiciary address to the Alaska Legislature on Wednesday.Bolger said the incident in Nome shows the state needs to do more to prevent privacy breaches.“Our staff was able to contain the problem quickly, and we narrowly avoided huge statewide losses,” he said.Bolger also said he has a goal of making changes to shorten the time it takes for cases to be resolved.“It will take some time to change current systems and habits, but I’m encouraged that we’re taking this on, and I’m hopeful that we will ultimately shorten these pretrial delays,” Bolger said.Bolger said the courts are important in many ways, including for businesses.“In a free market economy, it is important for businesses to be able to consistently forecast their risks in order to make reasonable investment decisions,” he said. “This means that statutes and regulations have to be interpreted reasonably.”The chief justice affirmed the courts’ role in protecting rights.“In a democracy that’s based on majority rule, it’s important that laws be interpreted fairly and reasonably,” he said. “The disadvantaged may need protection from the powerful. Those in a temporary minority may need protection from ideas that seize momentary popularity.”The judiciary’s request for state funding increased by $3.5 million, to $105 million for the fiscal year that begins in July.Bolger says the courts originally planned to only ask for more money this year to cover areas where costs increased. The judiciary added a funding request based on Gov. Michael Dunleavy’s public support to have courts reopen on Friday afternoons.The court system also is requesting that two courts with only one judge should have their positions upgraded from District Court judges to Superior Court judges, who can handle higher-level cases. The District Court judges are retiring in Valdez and Homer, and Bolger says now is a good time to make the changes.Watch the latest legislative coverage from Gavel Alaska: Share this story:last_img read more


Red Carpet Concert: Burnt Down House, ‘Weary Bones’

first_imgArts & Culture | Folk Fest | KRNN | KRNN Tune IN | SouthcentralRed Carpet Concert: Burnt Down House, ‘Weary Bones’June 4, 2019 by Annie Bartholomew, KTOO Share:The Homer bluegrass band Burnt Down House stopped by KTOO to perform “Weary Bones” as part of KTOO’s Red Carpet Concert series. The song was written by bass player and lead vocalist Angela Brock. The six-piece acoustic band describes themselves as “True County” and features Katie Klann on fiddle, Josh Kennedy on banjo, Geddy Miller on mandolin and Dylan Weiser on guitar.Created in collaboration with Justin Smith of Rusty Recordings in Gustavus, this video is part of our Red Carpet Concert series, an ongoing music video project by KTOO Public Media. Watch this video and other Red Carpet Concerts, including Nicole Church, at Share this story:last_img read more


Homer city manager to be Juneau’s new public works and engineering director

first_imgJuneau | Local GovernmentHomer city manager to be Juneau’s new public works and engineering directorDecember 9, 2019 by Adelyn Baxter, KTOO Share:A group walks in front of Juneau City Hall on May 10, 2016, in Juneau. (Photo by Rashah McChesney/KTOO)The City and Borough of Juneau is getting a new director of public works and engineering soon, by way of Homer.Former Director Mike Vigue retired earlier this month. The city named Katie Koester as his replacement in an announcement Monday.Koester has been the city manager of Homer since 2015, overseeing daily and long-term operations of all of the city’s departments.Vigue took over the Public Works Department less than two years ago. His last day was on Friday.Koester’s start date has not yet been determined. Share this story:last_img read more