Alaska State News http://feed.informer.com/digests/2J7FX0HOKY/feeder Alaska State News Respective post owners and feed distributors Sat, 12 Sep 2020 05:17:07 +0000 Feed Informer http://feed.informer.com/ After plummeting this spring, low oil prices show no signs of rising. What does that mean for Alaska? https://www.alaskapublic.org/2020/09/18/after-plummeting-this-spring-low-oil-prices-show-no-signs-of-rising-what-does-that-mean-for-alaska/ Alaska Public Media urn:uuid:cb8d1629-ffb7-7b15-1af7-f586c0a91c49 Fri, 18 Sep 2020 16:02:18 +0000 As impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic linger around the world, it's unclear if or when prices will be high again. <figure class="wp-block-image size-large is-resized"><img loading="lazy" src="https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Pipeline-low-res.jpg" alt="The Trans-Alaska Pipeline is seen running alongside the Dalton Highway, next to a small mountain." class="wp-image-278248" width="727" height="547" srcset="https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Pipeline-low-res.jpg 600w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Pipeline-low-res-300x226.jpg 300w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Pipeline-low-res-150x113.jpg 150w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Pipeline-low-res-80x60.jpg 80w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Pipeline-low-res-265x198.jpg 265w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Pipeline-low-res-559x420.jpg 559w" sizes="(max-width: 727px) 100vw, 727px" /><figcaption>The Trans-Alaksa Pipeline runs alongside the Dalton Highway, carrying oil from Prudhoe Bay to Valdez. (Abbey Collins/Alaska Public Media)</figcaption></figure> <p>In April, oil prices <a href="https://www.alaskapublic.org/2020/04/20/oil-prices-fell-to-a-historic-low-monday-heres-what-that-means-for-alaska/" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">fell</a> to historic lows, briefly dipping into the negatives for the first time ever. Since then, prices have stabilized, but remain modest, and they’ll likely stay that way for the foreseeable future.</p> <p>While Alaska&#8217;s economy is less dependent on oil prices than it once was, there is still a lot at stake for the state financially. And, as impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic linger around the world, it&#8217;s unclear if or when prices will be high again.</p> <p>In the spring, a few major things happened at the same time, causing oil prices to plummet. There was a price war, between Russia and OPEC. And, the COVID-19 pandemic fundamentally changed the way people around the world live their lives. People stopped traveling and spent less time driving.</p> <p>All of that led to really weak demand on a global scale. Suddenly, there was way too much oil and gas in the world, and producers had to adjust.</p> <p>&#8220;Basically oil producers have cut back on how much they’re producing,&#8221; said Clark Williams-Derry, an energy finance analyst at the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis. He says cutting production allowed oil prices to stabilize. But, they stalled out around $40 per barrel for much of the summer.</p> <p>“What the oil markets are facing is every time the oil prices creep up a little bit, more producers are able to come back into the market, bring back oil that had been taken offline, and keep prices back down,” said Williams-Derry. </p> <p>Williams-Derry says he hesitates to make predictions about what prices will look like in the future. But what we do know is that, even as pandemic disruptions let up some, demand for oil is returning very slowly.</p> <p>&#8220;This now filters into sort of a slow and sluggish economy, unemployment and some difficult times for the economy just picking up, not just in the U.S. but around the globe.&#8221; said Williams-Derry. &#8220;So there is a real risk that we’re going to be in a slow growth for oil demand scenario for the next good little while.&#8221;</p> <p>On the supply side, Williams-Derry says companies have curtailed production and cut back on or halted drilling.</p> <p>That includes companies on Alaska’s North Slope.</p> <p>Oil revenue is a critical part of Alaska&#8217;s economy and has big implications for the state&#8217;s budget. Though, Dan Stickel, the Chief Economist at the Alaska Department of Revenue, says the state is not as dependent as it once was.</p> <p>&#8220;We’ve been using a portion of Permanent Fund earnings beginning with fiscal year 2019,&#8221; said Stickel. &#8220;And that’s actually the biggest source of unrestricted revenue now, which provides some stability.&#8221;</p> <p>Stickel says there are several unknowns that could impact what prices look like in the future. Right now, he notes that global oil demand has rebounded some as economies reopen.</p> <p>Even so, all of this is happening in an already struggling Alaska economy.</p> <p>Larry Persily is a long-time observer of the oil and gas industry. He says, the state was hurting before prices crashed this spring. And now prices are still really low.</p> <p>&#8220;It’s better in that it covers the cost of actually producing the oil,&#8221; said Persily. &#8220;But it doesn’t cover the investments you made in exploring and developing that field. It doesn’t produce enough cash flow for the companies to invest in next year’s oil, produce this year’s oil, pay dividends, pay down debt.&#8221;</p> <p>Persily says weak demand persists — that was apparent earlier this month, when prices fell below $40 per barrel for the first time in months.</p> <p>Persily says this high $30- to low $40-per-barrel range could be the new normal for some time. The world will always need oil, he says, but there are big questions about what the industry’s long-term future looks like.</p> <p>&#8220;Does it get back into the 50s or 60s where companies could start investing and looking at substantial new projects?&#8221; said Persily. &#8220;Does it do that? Or does demand never return to where it was in 2019? Are we seeing the start of the decline of oil consumption around the world?&#8221;</p> <p>As for the short-term outlook, industry observers are waiting to see when drilling will pick up, whether new projects will begin, and whether new investments will be made.</p> <p>And right now, amid a world of uncertainty and unpredictability, investors are still hesitant. Williams-Derry, in Seattle, says they’re standing by the sidelines, waiting for a clearer picture of the future.&nbsp;</p> Excitement and betrayal: families and teachers react to Anchorage plan to return to classrooms https://www.alaskapublic.org/2020/09/18/excitement-and-betrayal-families-and-teachers-react-to-anchorage-plan-to-return-to-classrooms/ Alaska Public Media urn:uuid:99335446-ef25-546a-2df2-519ad7068435 Fri, 18 Sep 2020 15:41:38 +0000 As families await more details from the district, they’re trying to figure out what this plan means for them. <figure class="wp-block-image size-large"><img loading="lazy" width="600" height="450" src="https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/IMG_20200820_083723-600x450.jpg" alt="A teacher sits at her desk in a classroom full of tables and chairs but no students" class="wp-image-275933" srcset="https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/IMG_20200820_083723-600x450.jpg 600w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/IMG_20200820_083723-300x225.jpg 300w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/IMG_20200820_083723-150x113.jpg 150w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/IMG_20200820_083723-768x576.jpg 768w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/IMG_20200820_083723-1536x1152.jpg 1536w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/IMG_20200820_083723-2048x1536.jpg 2048w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/IMG_20200820_083723-80x60.jpg 80w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/IMG_20200820_083723-265x198.jpg 265w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/IMG_20200820_083723-696x522.jpg 696w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/IMG_20200820_083723-1068x801.jpg 1068w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/IMG_20200820_083723-560x420.jpg 560w" sizes="(max-width: 600px) 100vw, 600px" /><figcaption>Anchorage teacher Kelly Shrein would normally have more decorations up in her classroom but this year, because students are starting the year online, she hasn&#8217;t put much up. August 20, 2020 (Mayowa Aina/Alaska Public Media)</figcaption></figure> <p>Last week, Karli Lopez had heard in a parenting group for special needs children that all special-ed students would be returning to classrooms October 19. After asking around she found that it was a goal that the district was working towards but it wasn’t official. She kept her fingers crossed. </p> <p>When she saw Wednesday’s news that the Anchorage School District would return to in-person learning next month, she was relieved. Anchorage&#8217;s schools have been shut down for over six months, since the pandemic landed in the city back in <a href="https://www.alaskapublic.org/2020/03/13/governor-says-all-k-12-students-in-alaska-to-attend-no-contact-school-until-march-30/" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">March</a>.&nbsp;</p> <p>Students <a href="https://www.alaskapublic.org/2020/08/20/well-figure-it-out-together-thousands-of-anchorage-teachers-and-students-log-on-for-the-first-day-of-school/" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">started</a> this school year on August 20th with online-learning only.&nbsp;</p> <p>“Myself, and a bunch of other parents of kids with special needs, have not known what to do during this time,” Lopez said.&nbsp;</p> <p>The plan calls for elementary classes and all special education classes to resume on October 19th. Middle school students are set to return in mid-November, and high school students are scheduled to go back on January 4th.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Related:</strong> <a href="https://www.alaskapublic.org/2020/09/16/anchorage-school-district-outlines-plans-for-students-returning-to-school-buildings/" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">Anchorage School District outlines plans for return to school buildings&nbsp;</a></p> <p>Lopez’ son, who has Down syndrome and autism, is in the third grade. Lopez said he hasn’t truly had the services the district is required to provide by law for weeks.</p> <p> “Not only is he not getting the normal experience period, he&#8217;s not getting any of the additional things he&#8217;s supposed to get to get an equitable education to his peers,” she said. </p> <p>There is no workable virtual learning alternative for speech therapy or occupational therapy, she said. </p> <p>Lopez said she feels confident in the safety protocols for special needs classrooms since they are already small and dynamic based on children’s behaviors. </p> <p>“This is going to be a challenge for us as a family as well as for everyone else,” she said. “I don&#8217;t know what the impact is going to be. But it&#8217;s sure time we tried it.”</p> <p>Joclyn Reilly also feels confident in the plan to return to school. Parents were able to ask questions of her school’s principal during a zoom meeting Wednesday night for families at Bowman Elementary. </p> <p>“Our principal was very confident, very positive, about going back to school in person,” she said. It was an attitude Reilly said was “contagious.” </p> <p>Reilly said she’s had to hire a babysitter to help her 3rd and 6th grade kids’ with their school work on days when she’s working. She trusts her school and the district to have a plan in place by the time in-person learning starts.&nbsp;</p> <p>Other parents met the district’s news with a lot more skepticism and fear. For Amie Collins, the district’s plan came as a shock. Collins’ 6-year-old son is in the first grade. </p> <p>“It was really destabilizing to hear that news,” she said. “It felt like we&#8217;ve thrown out the plan we all agreed to or accepted, and now we&#8217;re just making it up as we go. I felt really betrayed by that.”</p> <p>Collins said her family based their decisions about school enrollment on the plan the district had <a href="https://www.alaskapublic.org/2020/06/29/anchorage-school-district-reopening-plans-for-fall-start-to-come-into-focus/" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">already laid out</a>, choosing to stay in an optional program rather than homeschool. She said she feels “backed into a corner“ now because she doesn’t think it’s safe for her son to return to school.&nbsp;</p> <p>“We&#8217;ve kept our social bubble really small and now we don&#8217;t know how far we&#8217;re being asked to expand it by adding all of these other children into our circle,” she said. “We&#8217;re living in a culture where people are proud to be anti-mask, and they&#8217;re <a href="https://www.alaskapublic.org/2020/08/20/despite-continued-meetings-anchorage-hasnt-enforced-eo-15-on-churches/" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">blatantly defying</a> municipality mandates.”</p> <p>Being an elementary school student, her son would be one of the first to return to school buildings. </p> <p>“He gets to be the guinea pig,” she said. “Which just blows my mind that parents should be asked to do that.”</p> <p>Even though high school students will be the last to return, East High language arts teacher Derek Reed said the plan doesn’t seem feasible. </p> <p>“It feels rushed, and it feels like it&#8217;s not as well thought out as it&#8217;s being presented,” he said. </p> <p>Reed said he didn’t understand why the district would abandon the work and training that teachers have done up until this point to create a robust online experience. </p> <p>“Kids and parents and teachers just really got the hang, and in the groove, of how we&#8217;re doing online schooling, why are we making such a drastic switch?” </p> <p>Reed called the district’s shift in its decision-making process “disturbing.”&nbsp;</p> <p>But other teachers, like Kelly Shrein at Northwood Elementary, were thrilled at the news of returning to in-person learning. Shrien said she is ready to go back.&nbsp;</p> <p>“I&#8217;m much more excited about using my energy every day with my students teaching in person versus staring at a screen and creating videos and slides for hours.”</p> <p>While no plan will be perfect, she said, she trusts the district and the city to prioritize health and safety without neglecting the mental health and academic needs of students, needs that she said cannot be addressed through a screen.&nbsp;</p> <p>“Their education aids in their health and well-being,” Shrien said. “Considering they’ve been out of school since March and winter is right around the corner, I think the importance of having them back soon, can&#8217;t be understated.”</p> Shell files offshore drilling plans for Alaska’s North Slope https://www.alaskapublic.org/2020/09/18/shell-files-offshore-drilling-plans-for-alaskas-north-slope/ Alaska Public Media urn:uuid:01d9b887-cada-c31b-5513-5074830b20ac Fri, 18 Sep 2020 15:14:29 +0000 The company asked the state to validate its exploration plan for five years, which is expected to provide sufficient time for the company to secure a partner and analyze the area’s development potential. <figure class="wp-block-image size-large is-resized"><img loading="lazy" src="https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/151012_ShellPolarPioneer_Ryan_02-830x623-600x450.jpg" alt="A yellow rig leaves a harbor under snow-covered mountains" class="wp-image-210561" width="720" height="540" srcset="https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/151012_ShellPolarPioneer_Ryan_02-830x623-600x450.jpg 600w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/151012_ShellPolarPioneer_Ryan_02-830x623-300x225.jpg 300w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/151012_ShellPolarPioneer_Ryan_02-830x623-768x576.jpg 768w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/151012_ShellPolarPioneer_Ryan_02-830x623-80x60.jpg 80w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/151012_ShellPolarPioneer_Ryan_02-830x623-265x198.jpg 265w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/151012_ShellPolarPioneer_Ryan_02-830x623.jpg 830w" sizes="(max-width: 720px) 100vw, 720px" /><figcaption>Shell’s Polar Pioneer leaving Dutch Harbor on Oct. 12, 2015, heading for Washington state. (John Ryan/KUCB)</figcaption></figure> <p>ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Shell Offshore Inc. has submitted plans to plans to drill for oil in the waters along the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska in the coming years.</p> <p>The Dutch oil industry giant applied to form the West Harrison Bay Unit to explore in state waters off the North Slope region, The Alaska Journal of Commerce&nbsp;<a href="https://www.alaskajournal.com/2020-09-16/shell-files-plans-return-slope-conocophillips-awaits-initiative-outcome" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener" class="">reported&nbsp;</a>Wednesday.</p> <p>Documents submitted to the state Division of Oil &amp; Gas said Shell has attempted to find a partner to work on the West Harrison Bay leases for at least a year.</p> <p>Shell claimed to be making progress before the coronavirus pandemic. The company asked the state to validate its exploration plan for five years, which is expected to provide sufficient time for the company to secure a partner and analyze the area’s development potential.</p> <p><strong>RELATED: </strong><em><a href="https://www.alaskapublic.org/2016/05/10/shell-forfeits-arctic-leases-once-worth-2b/">Shell forfeits Arctic leases once worth $2 billion</a></em></p> <p>Shell holds a 100% working interest in 18 leases covering more than 122 square miles in the proposed unit.</p> <p>The wells would target the Nanushuk oil formation first pinpointed by the Repsol-Armstrong Energy partnership. The shallow Nanushuk formation also forms the basis of the ConocoPhillips Co. Willow oil prospect to the south of Harrison Bay.</p> <p>A U.S. representative for Shell did not immediately respond to questions.</p> <p></p> <p></p> Neighbors in Hyder, Alaska and British Columbia ask Canada to ease COVID-19 border restrictions https://www.alaskapublic.org/2020/09/18/neighbors-in-hyder-alaska-and-british-columbia-ask-canada-to-ease-covid-19-border-restrictions/ Alaska Public Media urn:uuid:3b81623b-1502-eb84-3fa5-9268ee4f5a77 Fri, 18 Sep 2020 15:10:44 +0000 The town of 65 is stuck on the American side of the border with nearly impassable travel restrictions. <figure class="wp-block-image size-large is-resized"><img loading="lazy" src="https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/hyder-st-IMG_2406-1080x718-1-600x399.jpeg" alt="A stop sign on a small road with wooden buildings and rain on the " class="wp-image-278329" width="731" height="487" srcset="https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/hyder-st-IMG_2406-1080x718-1-600x399.jpeg 600w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/hyder-st-IMG_2406-1080x718-1-300x199.jpeg 300w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/hyder-st-IMG_2406-1080x718-1-150x100.jpeg 150w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/hyder-st-IMG_2406-1080x718-1-768x511.jpeg 768w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/hyder-st-IMG_2406-1080x718-1-696x463.jpeg 696w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/hyder-st-IMG_2406-1080x718-1-1068x710.jpeg 1068w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/hyder-st-IMG_2406-1080x718-1-632x420.jpeg 632w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/hyder-st-IMG_2406-1080x718-1.jpeg 1080w" sizes="(max-width: 731px) 100vw, 731px" /><figcaption>There is no U.S. customs presence at the entrance to Hyder, Alaska as seen in this August 4, 2020 photo. (Photo by Jennifer Bunn/Hyder AK &amp; Stewart BC COVID-19 Action Committee). </figcaption></figure> <p>At the southeastern tip of Alaska’s panhandle lies the curious town of Hyder. It’s grown naturally alongside its Canadian neighbor of Stewart, B.C.</p> <p><audio controls="controls"><source src="http://media.aprn.org/2020/17HYDERBORDER-L.mp3" type="audio/mpeg"></audio></p> <p>It has a 250 area code, electricity from B.C. Hydro and its only road access is through Canada’s highway system. It’s separated by 7,000-foot snow-capped peaks from the rest of the state. So its connection with the rest of Alaska is limited.</p> <p>“There’s about 65 of us here, the only way we get supplies is through a mail plane that comes in from Ketchikan twice a week …weather permitting,” said Wes Loe, president of the Hyder Community Association.</p> <p>Most residents buy groceries and fuel and other supplies in Stewart, B.C. which is just over the border. For more than a century that was a mere formality as Canadian border guards would often wave people through.</p> <p><strong>RELATED: </strong><em><a href="https://www.alaskapublic.org/2020/09/17/west-coast-wildfires-bring-smoky-haze-to-southern-southeast/">West Coast wildfires bring smoky haze to southern Southeast</a></em></p> <p>But then came COVID-19 and with it&nbsp;<a href="https://www.alaskapublic.org/2020/03/19/alaskans-seek-answers-as-canada-closes-border-to-non-essential-travel/" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">blanket restrictions on cross-border travel</a>.</p> <p>“Since March, we can only go to Stewart once every seven days for three hours — to get whatever we need,” Loe said by telephone.</p> <p>About 400 people live in Stewart, B.C. and they largely consider Hyder’s Alaskans a part of their greater community. A cross-border committee has been working to ease travel restrictions. It’s&nbsp;<a href="https://krbd.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/MinBlair-9-9-20.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">written letters to Canadian officials</a>&nbsp;asking to relax the rules because of Hyder’s unique situation.</p> <p>Jennifer Jean is Hyder’s co-chair of the Hyder, Alaska and Stewart B.C. COVID-19 Action Committee.</p> <p>“We have no amenities in Hyder,” she said. “We have no gas stations, no grocery stores. There’s no medical facilities.”</p> <p><strong>RELATED: </strong><em><a href="https://www.alaskapublic.org/2020/08/11/border-woes-when-canada-says-no/">Border woes: When Canada says no</a></em></p> <p>There’s no school, either. Enrollment dropped below 10 students this year, leading the Southeast Island School District to shutter Hyder’s one-building schoolhouse.</p> <p>But there was a workaround: Hyder’s five school kids would be enrolled in Bear Valley School in Stewart.</p> <p>Hyder resident Nick Korpela works across the border on a Canadian work permit. But he says his daughters haven’t been able to cross to see their friends since March.</p> <p>“We promised them that they’re going to get to go to school and see their friends,” he said. “And two days before school started we got a call from the CBSA — Canadian customs — and they said that they were not going to allow the children through the border.”</p> <figure class="wp-block-image size-large is-resized"><img loading="lazy" src="https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/blair_IMG_3043-1080x810-1-600x450.jpg" alt="Schoolchildren sit ask a desk in the middle of the road behind a banner that reads &quot;Ms Blair, please let us go to school&quot;. Mountains and trees are in the background. " class="wp-image-278330" width="719" height="539" srcset="https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/blair_IMG_3043-1080x810-1-600x450.jpg 600w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/blair_IMG_3043-1080x810-1-300x225.jpg 300w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/blair_IMG_3043-1080x810-1-150x113.jpg 150w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/blair_IMG_3043-1080x810-1-768x576.jpg 768w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/blair_IMG_3043-1080x810-1-80x60.jpg 80w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/blair_IMG_3043-1080x810-1-265x198.jpg 265w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/blair_IMG_3043-1080x810-1-696x522.jpg 696w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/blair_IMG_3043-1080x810-1-1068x801.jpg 1068w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/blair_IMG_3043-1080x810-1-560x420.jpg 560w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/blair_IMG_3043-1080x810-1.jpg 1080w" sizes="(max-width: 719px) 100vw, 719px" /><figcaption>Hyders five school-aged children sit at desks at the Hyder/Stewart border on September 10, 2020 — the day school starts in Stewart, B.C. — which they can’t attend because of current border restrictions. Their banner appeals to Bill Blair, Canada’s minister for public safety who oversees the Canada Border Services Agency. (Photo by Carly Ackerman/Hyder AK &amp; Stewart BC COVID-19 Action Committee). </figcaption></figure> <p>His daughters haven’t left Hyder since spring — except for a single afternoon on a float plane to Ketchikan. They’d been looking forward to a change in scenery.</p> <p><strong>“</strong>I was kind of sad,” 10-year-old Hilma Korpela said. “I was like, ‘Oh great, one more thing to not be able to do.&#8217;”</p> <p>She’s starting the fifth grade. Now, her mother is preparing homeschool with her 8-year-old sister. But she says it’s not the same.</p> <p><strong>“</strong>I like hanging out with my friends … Hyder gets a bit lonely,” she said.</p> <p>Jennifer Jean also has two school-aged children.</p> <p><strong>“</strong>It’s really really hard on them,” she says, fighting back the emotion in her voice. “That was the light at the end of the tunnel for them was to be able to see their friends again. Have a little bit of normalcy in their lives.”</p> <p>The committee has redoubled its efforts to reopen the border with a recent rally on remote international frontier.</p> <p><strong>“</strong>They were at desks at the border the morning that school should have started and our Stewart friends and family came to their support the following day,” she recalled.</p> <p>B.C.’s provincial officials are sympathetic but say their hands are tied as the border is controlled by the federal government in Ottawa.</p> <p>Dr. Bonnie Henry — the top official leading the province’s pandemic response —&nbsp;<a href="https://vancouversun.com/news/local-news/remote-neighbours-stewart-and-hyder-ask-for-border-rules-to-be-relaxed" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">told reporters last month she thinks it’d be reasonable to loosen border restrictions for Alaskans living in Hyder</a>.</p> <p>“My only concern, of course, is that we’ve started to see&nbsp;<a href="https://www.alaskapublic.org/2020/07/13/alaskas-number-of-active-covid-19-infections-tops-900-as-case-count-again-grows-by-dozens/" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">dramatic increases in cases in the last month in Alaska</a>,” she said August 5. “And I know that that’s been&nbsp;<a href="https://www.alaskapublic.org/2020/04/26/from-her-home-office-yurt-alaskas-chief-medical-officer-navigates-uncharted-territory/" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">a challenge for my counterpart</a>, who I talk to regularly from Alaska.”</p> <p>U.S. and Canada COVID-19 numbers are starkly different. Canada has had almost 9,200 reported deaths. Compare that to the U.S. nearing the 200,000 mark.</p> <p>B.C. has about 1,000 more COVID-19 cases than Alaska. But the province has more than seven times Alaska’s population.</p> <p>There have been no reported cases of COVID-19 in either town. But with no medical clinic in Hyder, there hasn’t been any testing, either.</p> <p>“The larger border situation remains very worrisome for many Canadians,” said MP Taylor Bachrach Stewart’s elected representative in the Canadian parliament, “and there’s strong support for keeping the Canada-U.S. border closed as long as we need to, given the the stark difference in the situation on either side of the border.”</p> <p>He’s thrown his weight behind his constituents who want the border opened to their neighbors in Hyder.</p> <p>“I spoke with Bill Blair, the public safety minister for Canada, on the phone and communicated to him the urgency of the situation,” Bachrach said in an interview.</p> <p>Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy has&nbsp;<a href="https://krbd.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Dunleavy-to-Blair.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">penned an August 27 letter appealing to Canada’s federal government in Ottawa</a>.</p> <p>“Winter is coming and we know this pandemic will continue for a while,” Dunleavy wrote. “Allowing these communities to integrate will ease feelings of isolation among Hyder residents.”</p> <p>Dunleavy’s office declined to comment for this story.</p> <p>Bachrach says there’s been broad consensus from from elected officials in both Alaska and B.C. to work something out.</p> <p>“At this point, it feels like there’s pretty strong support for some sort of solution,” Bachrach said. “So I’m curious why it’s taking so long to put something in place.”</p> <p>But so far federal officials in Ottawa show no sign they’re willing to make exceptions.</p> <p>A spokesperson for Canada’s Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair told CoastAlaska that as of August 7, school kids living in the U.S. are prohibited from attending school in Canada as they are subject to a mandatory 14-day quarantine.</p> <p>“We brought forward significant restrictions at our borders to flatten the curve and prevent the spread of COVID-19 in Canada,” the ministry spokesperson wrote on Thursday. “These decisions have not been taken lightly, but we know that they are necessary to keep Canadians safe.”</p> <p>It says the restrictions on school children crossing daily is in order to “prevent the importation of cases of COVID-19 to Canada and increased community transmission.”</p> <p id="caption-attachment-129515"></p> <p>Residents in Hyder and Stewart haven’t given up.They’re advocating for what they’re calling the&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/bearbubble?src=hashtag_click" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">#BearBubble</a>&nbsp;that would create a shared space for residents in both communities and exempt them from the quarantine rules.</p> <figure class="wp-block-image size-large is-resized"><img loading="lazy" src="https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/hyder-rally-IMG_2406-scaled-e1600389107690-600x333.jpeg" alt="Residdents wave signs of differnt colors while standing on a two-lane road. " class="wp-image-278331" width="705" height="391" srcset="https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/hyder-rally-IMG_2406-scaled-e1600389107690-600x333.jpeg 600w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/hyder-rally-IMG_2406-scaled-e1600389107690-300x166.jpeg 300w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/hyder-rally-IMG_2406-scaled-e1600389107690-150x83.jpeg 150w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/hyder-rally-IMG_2406-scaled-e1600389107690-768x426.jpeg 768w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/hyder-rally-IMG_2406-scaled-e1600389107690-696x385.jpeg 696w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/hyder-rally-IMG_2406-scaled-e1600389107690-1068x592.jpeg 1068w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/hyder-rally-IMG_2406-scaled-e1600389107690-758x420.jpeg 758w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/hyder-rally-IMG_2406-scaled-e1600389107690.jpeg 1250w" sizes="(max-width: 705px) 100vw, 705px" /><figcaption>Residents from both communities rally at the Stewart/Hyder border on September 11, 2020 in support of the Hyder children crossing the border to attend school in Stewart. (Photo by Carly Ackerman/Hyder AK &amp; Stewart BC COVID-19 Action Committee). </figcaption></figure> <p>“We’re doing everything we can to kind of create our bubble community,” said Wes Loe, Hyder’s unofficial mayor,</p> <p>He says winter is coming and people are getting worried about the impending darkness, deep snow and isolation that the border restrictions make much worse.</p> <p>“You can see the depression, the anxiety, especially the anxiety that’s building up in people,” he said. “And you see things that are taking place that normally don’t take place.”</p> <p>There have been bright spots.&nbsp; Stewart’s citizens recently donated truckloads of logs to Hyder as a goodwill gesture for their Alaska neighbors to cut up and use as firewood. Hyder’s residents haven’t been able to access a wood yard in Stewart, B.C. where they typically get their firewood to heat their homes.</p> <p><em>Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to reflect that the donated firewood is from private individuals.</em></p> Neighbors in Hyder, Alaska and Stewart, B. C. ask Canada to ease border restrictions https://www.alaskapublic.org/2020/09/18/neighbors-in-hyder-alaska-and-british-columbia-ask-canada-to-ease-covid-19-border-restrictions/ Alaska Public Media urn:uuid:9d3003a7-6473-9bed-253e-3b7cef11b936 Fri, 18 Sep 2020 15:10:44 +0000 The town of 65 is stuck on the American side of the border with nearly impassable travel restrictions. <figure class="wp-block-image size-large is-resized"><img loading="lazy" src="https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/hyder-st-IMG_2406-1080x718-1-600x399.jpeg" alt="A stop sign on a small road with wooden buildings and rain on the " class="wp-image-278329" width="731" height="487" srcset="https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/hyder-st-IMG_2406-1080x718-1-600x399.jpeg 600w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/hyder-st-IMG_2406-1080x718-1-300x199.jpeg 300w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/hyder-st-IMG_2406-1080x718-1-150x100.jpeg 150w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/hyder-st-IMG_2406-1080x718-1-768x511.jpeg 768w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/hyder-st-IMG_2406-1080x718-1-696x463.jpeg 696w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/hyder-st-IMG_2406-1080x718-1-1068x710.jpeg 1068w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/hyder-st-IMG_2406-1080x718-1-632x420.jpeg 632w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/hyder-st-IMG_2406-1080x718-1.jpeg 1080w" sizes="(max-width: 731px) 100vw, 731px" /><figcaption>There is no U.S. customs presence at the entrance to Hyder, Alaska as seen in this August 4, 2020 photo. (Photo by Jennifer Bunn/Hyder AK &amp; Stewart BC COVID-19 Action Committee). </figcaption></figure> <p>At the southeastern tip of Alaska’s panhandle lies the curious town of Hyder. It’s grown naturally alongside its Canadian neighbor of Stewart, B.C.</p> <p><audio controls="controls"><source src="http://media.aprn.org/2020/17HYDERBORDER-L.mp3" type="audio/mpeg"></audio></p> <p>It has a 250 area code, electricity from B.C. Hydro and its only road access is through Canada’s highway system. It’s separated by 7,000-foot snow-capped peaks from the rest of the state. So its connection with the rest of Alaska is limited.</p> <p>“There’s about 65 of us here, the only way we get supplies is through a mail plane that comes in from Ketchikan twice a week …weather permitting,” said Wes Loe, president of the Hyder Community Association.</p> <p>Most residents buy groceries and fuel and other supplies in Stewart, B.C. which is just over the border. For more than a century that was a mere formality as Canadian border guards would often wave people through.</p> <p><strong>RELATED: </strong><em><a href="https://www.alaskapublic.org/2020/09/17/west-coast-wildfires-bring-smoky-haze-to-southern-southeast/">West Coast wildfires bring smoky haze to southern Southeast</a></em></p> <p>But then came COVID-19 and with it&nbsp;<a href="https://www.alaskapublic.org/2020/03/19/alaskans-seek-answers-as-canada-closes-border-to-non-essential-travel/" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">blanket restrictions on cross-border travel</a>.</p> <p>“Since March, we can only go to Stewart once every seven days for three hours — to get whatever we need,” Loe said by telephone.</p> <p>About 400 people live in Stewart, B.C. and they largely consider Hyder’s Alaskans a part of their greater community. A cross-border committee has been working to ease travel restrictions. It’s&nbsp;<a href="https://krbd.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/MinBlair-9-9-20.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">written letters to Canadian officials</a>&nbsp;asking to relax the rules because of Hyder’s unique situation.</p> <p>Jennifer Jean is Hyder’s co-chair of the Hyder, Alaska and Stewart B.C. COVID-19 Action Committee.</p> <p>“We have no amenities in Hyder,” she said. “We have no gas stations, no grocery stores. There’s no medical facilities.”</p> <p><strong>RELATED: </strong><em><a href="https://www.alaskapublic.org/2020/08/11/border-woes-when-canada-says-no/">Border woes: When Canada says no</a></em></p> <p>There’s no school, either. Enrollment dropped below 10 students this year, leading the Southeast Island School District to shutter Hyder’s one-building schoolhouse.</p> <p>But there was a workaround: Hyder’s five school kids would be enrolled in Bear Valley School in Stewart.</p> <p>Hyder resident Nick Korpela works across the border on a Canadian work permit. But he says his daughters haven’t been able to cross to see their friends since March.</p> <p>“We promised them that they’re going to get to go to school and see their friends,” he said. “And two days before school started we got a call from the CBSA — Canadian customs — and they said that they were not going to allow the children through the border.”</p> <figure class="wp-block-image size-large is-resized"><img loading="lazy" src="https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/blair_IMG_3043-1080x810-1-600x450.jpg" alt="Schoolchildren sit ask a desk in the middle of the road behind a banner that reads &quot;Ms Blair, please let us go to school&quot;. Mountains and trees are in the background. " class="wp-image-278330" width="719" height="539" srcset="https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/blair_IMG_3043-1080x810-1-600x450.jpg 600w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/blair_IMG_3043-1080x810-1-300x225.jpg 300w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/blair_IMG_3043-1080x810-1-150x113.jpg 150w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/blair_IMG_3043-1080x810-1-768x576.jpg 768w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/blair_IMG_3043-1080x810-1-80x60.jpg 80w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/blair_IMG_3043-1080x810-1-265x198.jpg 265w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/blair_IMG_3043-1080x810-1-696x522.jpg 696w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/blair_IMG_3043-1080x810-1-1068x801.jpg 1068w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/blair_IMG_3043-1080x810-1-560x420.jpg 560w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/blair_IMG_3043-1080x810-1.jpg 1080w" sizes="(max-width: 719px) 100vw, 719px" /><figcaption>Hyders five school-aged children sit at desks at the Hyder/Stewart border on September 10, 2020 — the day school starts in Stewart, B.C. — which they can’t attend because of current border restrictions. Their banner appeals to Bill Blair, Canada’s minister for public safety who oversees the Canada Border Services Agency. (Photo by Carly Ackerman/Hyder AK &amp; Stewart BC COVID-19 Action Committee). </figcaption></figure> <p>His daughters haven’t left Hyder since spring — except for a single afternoon on a float plane to Ketchikan. They’d been looking forward to a change in scenery.</p> <p><strong>“</strong>I was kind of sad,” 10-year-old Hilma Korpela said. “I was like, ‘Oh great, one more thing to not be able to do.&#8217;”</p> <p>She’s starting the fifth grade. Now, her mother is preparing homeschool with her 8-year-old sister. But she says it’s not the same.</p> <p><strong>“</strong>I like hanging out with my friends … Hyder gets a bit lonely,” she said.</p> <p>Jennifer Jean also has two school-aged children.</p> <p><strong>“</strong>It’s really really hard on them,” she says, fighting back the emotion in her voice. “That was the light at the end of the tunnel for them was to be able to see their friends again. Have a little bit of normalcy in their lives.”</p> <p>The committee has redoubled its efforts to reopen the border with a recent rally on remote international frontier.</p> <p><strong>“</strong>They were at desks at the border the morning that school should have started and our Stewart friends and family came to their support the following day,” she recalled.</p> <p>B.C.’s provincial officials are sympathetic but say their hands are tied as the border is controlled by the federal government in Ottawa.</p> <p>Dr. Bonnie Henry — the top official leading the province’s pandemic response —&nbsp;<a href="https://vancouversun.com/news/local-news/remote-neighbours-stewart-and-hyder-ask-for-border-rules-to-be-relaxed" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">told reporters last month she thinks it’d be reasonable to loosen border restrictions for Alaskans living in Hyder</a>.</p> <p>“My only concern, of course, is that we’ve started to see&nbsp;<a href="https://www.alaskapublic.org/2020/07/13/alaskas-number-of-active-covid-19-infections-tops-900-as-case-count-again-grows-by-dozens/" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">dramatic increases in cases in the last month in Alaska</a>,” she said August 5. “And I know that that’s been&nbsp;<a href="https://www.alaskapublic.org/2020/04/26/from-her-home-office-yurt-alaskas-chief-medical-officer-navigates-uncharted-territory/" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">a challenge for my counterpart</a>, who I talk to regularly from Alaska.”</p> <p>U.S. and Canada COVID-19 numbers are starkly different. Canada has had almost 9,200 reported deaths. Compare that to the U.S. nearing the 200,000 mark.</p> <p>B.C. has about 1,000 more COVID-19 cases than Alaska. But the province has more than seven times Alaska’s population.</p> <p>There have been no reported cases of COVID-19 in either town. But with no medical clinic in Hyder, there hasn’t been any testing, either.</p> <p>“The larger border situation remains very worrisome for many Canadians,” said MP Taylor Bachrach Stewart’s elected representative in the Canadian parliament, “and there’s strong support for keeping the Canada-U.S. border closed as long as we need to, given the the stark difference in the situation on either side of the border.”</p> <p>He’s thrown his weight behind his constituents who want the border opened to their neighbors in Hyder.</p> <p>“I spoke with Bill Blair, the public safety minister for Canada, on the phone and communicated to him the urgency of the situation,” Bachrach said in an interview.</p> <p>Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy has&nbsp;<a href="https://krbd.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Dunleavy-to-Blair.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">penned an August 27 letter appealing to Canada’s federal government in Ottawa</a>.</p> <p>“Winter is coming and we know this pandemic will continue for a while,” Dunleavy wrote. “Allowing these communities to integrate will ease feelings of isolation among Hyder residents.”</p> <p>Dunleavy’s office declined to comment for this story.</p> <p>Bachrach says there’s been broad consensus from from elected officials in both Alaska and B.C. to work something out.</p> <p>“At this point, it feels like there’s pretty strong support for some sort of solution,” Bachrach said. “So I’m curious why it’s taking so long to put something in place.”</p> <p>But so far federal officials in Ottawa show no sign they’re willing to make exceptions.</p> <p>A spokesperson for Canada’s Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair told CoastAlaska that as of August 7, school kids living in the U.S. are prohibited from attending school in Canada as they are subject to a mandatory 14-day quarantine.</p> <p>“We brought forward significant restrictions at our borders to flatten the curve and prevent the spread of COVID-19 in Canada,” the ministry spokesperson wrote on Thursday. “These decisions have not been taken lightly, but we know that they are necessary to keep Canadians safe.”</p> <p>It says the restrictions on school children crossing daily is in order to “prevent the importation of cases of COVID-19 to Canada and increased community transmission.”</p> <p id="caption-attachment-129515"></p> <p>Residents in Hyder and Stewart haven’t given up.They’re advocating for what they’re calling the&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/bearbubble?src=hashtag_click" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">#BearBubble</a>&nbsp;that would create a shared space for residents in both communities and exempt them from the quarantine rules.</p> <figure class="wp-block-image size-large is-resized"><img loading="lazy" src="https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/hyder-rally-IMG_2406-scaled-e1600389107690-600x333.jpeg" alt="Residdents wave signs of differnt colors while standing on a two-lane road. " class="wp-image-278331" width="705" height="391" srcset="https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/hyder-rally-IMG_2406-scaled-e1600389107690-600x333.jpeg 600w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/hyder-rally-IMG_2406-scaled-e1600389107690-300x166.jpeg 300w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/hyder-rally-IMG_2406-scaled-e1600389107690-150x83.jpeg 150w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/hyder-rally-IMG_2406-scaled-e1600389107690-768x426.jpeg 768w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/hyder-rally-IMG_2406-scaled-e1600389107690-696x385.jpeg 696w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/hyder-rally-IMG_2406-scaled-e1600389107690-1068x592.jpeg 1068w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/hyder-rally-IMG_2406-scaled-e1600389107690-758x420.jpeg 758w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/hyder-rally-IMG_2406-scaled-e1600389107690.jpeg 1250w" sizes="(max-width: 705px) 100vw, 705px" /><figcaption>Residents from both communities rally at the Stewart/Hyder border on September 11, 2020 in support of the Hyder children crossing the border to attend school in Stewart. (Photo by Carly Ackerman/Hyder AK &amp; Stewart BC COVID-19 Action Committee). </figcaption></figure> <p>“We’re doing everything we can to kind of create our bubble community,” said Wes Loe, Hyder’s unofficial mayor,</p> <p>He says winter is coming and people are getting worried about the impending darkness, deep snow and isolation that the border restrictions make much worse.</p> <p>“You can see the depression, the anxiety, especially the anxiety that’s building up in people,” he said. “And you see things that are taking place that normally don’t take place.”</p> <p>There have been bright spots.&nbsp; Stewart’s citizens recently donated truckloads of logs to Hyder as a goodwill gesture for their Alaska neighbors to cut up and use as firewood. Hyder’s residents haven’t been able to access a wood yard in Stewart, B.C. where they typically get their firewood to heat their homes.</p> <p><em>Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to reflect that the donated firewood is from private individuals.</em></p> Alaska News Nightly: Thursday, September 17, 2020 https://www.alaskapublic.org/2020/09/17/alaska-news-nightly-thurs-sep-17/ Alaska Public Media urn:uuid:7036e7c0-fed5-dd12-bb21-3a6836f58337 Fri, 18 Sep 2020 02:02:48 +0000 Dr. Anne Zink discusses the past six months of the pandemic and what's to come. And, more than a quarter of Alaska communities haven't claimed their share of the state's federal pandemic aid. Plus, a new trail project puts young Anchorage residents to work. <figure class="wp-block-image size-large"><img loading="lazy" width="600" height="399" src="https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/20200310_zink_Ruskin-600x399.jpg" alt="Close up shot of a woman with dark hair and eyeglasses looking into the distance" class="wp-image-257584" srcset="https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/20200310_zink_Ruskin-600x399.jpg 600w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/20200310_zink_Ruskin-300x199.jpg 300w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/20200310_zink_Ruskin-150x100.jpg 150w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/20200310_zink_Ruskin-768x510.jpg 768w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/20200310_zink_Ruskin-1536x1020.jpg 1536w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/20200310_zink_Ruskin-2048x1360.jpg 2048w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/20200310_zink_Ruskin-696x462.jpg 696w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/20200310_zink_Ruskin-1068x709.jpg 1068w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/20200310_zink_Ruskin-632x420.jpg 632w" sizes="(max-width: 600px) 100vw, 600px" /><figcaption>Dr. Anne Zink, chief medical officer for the State of Alaska, briefed reporters on the coronavirus at a press conference with Gov. Mike Dunleavy on March 10, 2020. (Liz Ruskin/Alaska Public Media)</figcaption></figure> <p>Stories are posted on the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.alaskapublic.org/aprn/">statewide news</a>&nbsp;page. You can subscribe to Alaska Public Media’s newsfeeds via&nbsp;<a href="http://feedburner.google.com/fb/a/mailverify?uri=aprn-news">email</a>,&nbsp;<a href="https://itunes.apple.com/podcast/aprn-alaska-news/id264469573?mt=2">podcast</a>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<a href="http://feeds.aprn.org/aprn-news">RSS</a>. Follow us on&nbsp;<a href="https://www.facebook.com/alaskapublic">Facebook at alaskapublic.org</a>&nbsp;and on&nbsp;<a href="https://www.twitter.com/AKPublicNews">Twitter @AKPublicNews</a></p> <p><audio controls="controls"><source src="http://media.aprn.org/2020/ann-20200917.mp3" type="audio/mpeg"></audio></p> <p><strong>Thursday on Alaska News Nightly:</strong></p> <p>Dr. Anne Zink discusses the past six months of the pandemic and what&#8217;s to come. And, more than a quarter of Alaska communities haven&#8217;t claimed their share of the state&#8217;s federal pandemic aid. Plus, a new trail project puts young Anchorage residents to work.</p> <p><strong>Reports tonight from:</strong></p> <ul><li>Liz Ruskin in Washington D.C.</li><li>Nat Herz, Tegan Hanlon and Lex Treinen in Anchorage</li><li>and Andrew Kitchenman and Jacob Resneck in Juneau</li></ul> LISTEN: Alaska’s chief medical officer says we need to remain vigilant, ‘it’s darkest before dawn’ https://www.alaskapublic.org/2020/09/17/listen-alaskas-chief-medical-officer-says-we-need-to-remain-vigilant-its-always-darkest-before-dawn/ Alaska Public Media urn:uuid:4ecdb0d4-3b6f-e76e-b58a-fbc4e58b7643 Fri, 18 Sep 2020 01:47:00 +0000 Among the most immersed in all things related to COVID-19 is Dr. Anne Zink, the state's chief medical officer. Zink has been as much of a public face for the state's response as the governor himself, while still occasionally doing some work as an emergency room physician. <figure class="wp-block-image size-large"><img loading="lazy" width="600" height="400" src="https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/20200917_Dr_Anne_Zink_SOA_CHEN-6.jpg" alt="A woman looks at the camera while standing on a bridge" class="wp-image-278312" srcset="https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/20200917_Dr_Anne_Zink_SOA_CHEN-6.jpg 600w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/20200917_Dr_Anne_Zink_SOA_CHEN-6-300x200.jpg 300w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/20200917_Dr_Anne_Zink_SOA_CHEN-6-150x100.jpg 150w" sizes="(max-width: 600px) 100vw, 600px" /><figcaption>Alaska Chief Medical Officer Dr. Anne Zink stands on the Old Glenn Highway Footbridge over the Matanuska River on September 17, 2020. (Jeff Chen/Alaska Public Media)</figcaption></figure> <p>We&#8217;ve been asking Alaska policy makers and experts what they&#8217;ve learned about the coronavirus in the time since it first hit Alaska.</p> <p>Among the most immersed in all things related to COVID-19 is Dr. Anne Zink, the state&#8217;s chief medical officer. Zink has been as much of a public face for the state&#8217;s response as the governor himself, while still occasionally doing some work as an emergency room physician.</p> <p>And Zink says that over the last six months, the people fighting the disease have gained a lot of knowledge about what&#8217;s happening to patients and how the disease is spread.</p> <p>LISTEN HERE:</p> <p><audio controls="controls"><source src="http://media.aprn.org/2020/14 Anne Zink int.mp3" type="audio/mpeg"></audio></p> Trump tweets about the Pebble Mine in response to Fox News ad https://www.alaskapublic.org/2020/09/17/trump-tweets-about-the-pebble-mine-in-response-to-fox-news-ad/ Alaska Public Media urn:uuid:c1ab613c-c6d1-73bc-fbac-12ced1ad77a4 Thu, 17 Sep 2020 17:48:48 +0000 The developers of the proposed Pebble Mine aired an ad on Fox News last night, and it seems to have hit home with one viewer in the White House. <figure class="wp-block-image size-large"><img loading="lazy" width="600" height="401" src="https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/04122017_Pebble-600x401.jpg" alt="" class="wp-image-195521" srcset="https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/04122017_Pebble-600x401.jpg 600w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/04122017_Pebble-300x200.jpg 300w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/04122017_Pebble-768x513.jpg 768w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/04122017_Pebble.jpg 800w" sizes="(max-width: 600px) 100vw, 600px" /><figcaption>Stock photo of work camp at the Pebble deposit. (KDLG Photo)</figcaption></figure> <p>The developers of the proposed Pebble Mine aired <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=93e72dMPl4Y&amp;feature=youtu.be&amp;ab_channel=pebblepartnership">an ad</a> on Fox News last night, and it seems to have hit home with one viewer in the White House.</p> <p>The ad begins by praising President Trump’s regulatory reforms and ends with a direct appeal to Trump.</p> <p> “President Trump, continue to stand tall and don’t let politics enter the Pebble Mine review process,” the ad says. </p> <p>At 10:20 p.m. the president tweeted a statement echoing the final words of that ad.</p> <p>“Don’t worry, wonderful &amp; beautiful Alaska, there will be NO POLITICS in the Pebble Mine Review Process,” the president’s tweet says.</p> <figure class="wp-block-embed-twitter wp-block-embed is-type-rich is-provider-twitter"><div class="wp-block-embed__wrapper"> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-width="550" data-dnt="true"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Don’t worry, wonderful &amp; beautiful Alaska, there will be NO POLITICS in the Pebble Mine Review Process. I will do what is right for Alaska and our great Country!!!</p>&mdash; Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) <a href="https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1306417824471175168?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">September 17, 2020</a></blockquote><script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script> </div></figure> <p>The pro-Pebble ad also highlighted sections of the environmental review saying the mine won’t cause measurable harm to the salmon of Bristol Bay. </p> <p>Opponents of Pebble prefer the tweets of the president’s son.&nbsp;</p> <p><a href="https://www.alaskapublic.org/2020/08/04/donald-trump-jr-tweets-his-opposition-to-pebble-mine/">Donald Trump Jr. tweeted last month</a> that the headwaters of Bristol Bay are too unique and fragile to put at risk.</p> Alaska judge blocks ballot printing after candidate raises “clear” legal questions about design https://www.alaskapublic.org/2020/09/17/alaska-judge-blocks-ballot-printing-after-candidate-raises-clear-legal-questions-about-design/ Alaska Public Media urn:uuid:f6a7435d-7098-57fa-ad28-8cbce0e70b24 Thu, 17 Sep 2020 17:31:55 +0000 Alyse Galvin's lawsuit challenges a new ballot design from state elections officials -- who work for a Republican lieutenant governor, Kevin Meyer -- that only references Galvin’s Democratic Party nomination and not her independent voter registration. Galvin is challenging incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Don Young. <div class="wp-block-image"><figure class="aligncenter size-large is-resized"><img loading="lazy" src="https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/Alyse-Campaign-Photos-17-600x400.jpg" alt="" class="wp-image-211098" width="659" height="439" srcset="https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/Alyse-Campaign-Photos-17-600x400.jpg 600w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/Alyse-Campaign-Photos-17-300x200.jpg 300w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/Alyse-Campaign-Photos-17-768x512.jpg 768w" sizes="(max-width: 659px) 100vw, 659px" /><figcaption>U.S. House candidate Alyse Galvin, an independent who&#8217;s secured the Alaska Democratic Party&#8217;s nomination, is challenging a new ballot design by state elections officials. (Alyse Galvin campaign)</figcaption></figure></div> <p>A judge issued <a href="https://public.courts.alaska.gov/web/media/docs/galvin/order1.pdf">an order Thursday</a> temporarily blocking Alaska elections officials from printing more ballots after a U.S. Congressional candidate’s lawsuit raised “clear and very significant questions” about whether a new ballot design is illegal.</p> <p>Alyse Galvin, an independent candidate who won the nomination of the Alaska Democratic Party in its primary last month, <a href="https://public.courts.alaska.gov/web/media/docs/galvin/complaint.pdf">filed her lawsuit Tuesday</a>.</p> <p>It challenges a new ballot design from state elections officials &#8212; who work for a Republican lieutenant governor, Kevin Meyer &#8212; that only references Galvin’s Democratic Party nomination and not her independent voter registration. Galvin is challenging incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Don Young.</p> <p>The change also affects other independents who secured the support of the Democratic Party in the August primary election, like U.S. Senate candidate Al Gross, although Gross has not joined the lawsuit.</p> <p>Anchorage Superior Court Judge Jennifer Henderson issued her five-page temporary restraining order Thursday morning. It says Galvin, after a hearing Wednesday, showed that she’ll suffer &#8220;immediate and irreparable injury&#8221; if the courts don’t block printing of ballots that exclude candidates’ voter registration information.</p> <p>Henderson said Galvin’s campaign had raised significant questions about whether elections officials have broken the plain language of a state law that requires ballots to list candidates’ “party affiliation” after their name.</p> <p>Henderson did not explain why she ordered elections officials to stop printing ballots when, at Wednesday’s hearing, a state attorney reportedly said that more than 800,000 ballots had already been printed. But Henderson is requiring Galvin to commit $10,000 to cover any costs or damages to the state if she ultimately loses her lawsuit.</p> <p>Henderson has scheduled another hearing for Friday morning. She also asked the two sides to file new briefs that address Galvin’s request for the restraining order, and that include ideas that could spare the state from having to reprint ballots, by 4 p.m. Thursday.</p> West Coast wildfires bring smoky haze to southern Southeast https://www.alaskapublic.org/2020/09/17/west-coast-wildfires-bring-smoky-haze-to-southern-southeast/ Alaska Public Media urn:uuid:7b6971ce-c4e4-cad3-8b57-1c8eae34918f Thu, 17 Sep 2020 16:20:14 +0000 But air quality remains in the "Good" level <figure class="wp-block-image size-large is-resized"><img loading="lazy" src="https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Image-from-iOS-3-scaled-1-600x450.jpg" alt="A harbor with a mountain in the background obscured by a light haze" class="wp-image-278245" width="725" height="544" srcset="https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Image-from-iOS-3-scaled-1-600x450.jpg 600w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Image-from-iOS-3-scaled-1-300x225.jpg 300w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Image-from-iOS-3-scaled-1-150x113.jpg 150w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Image-from-iOS-3-scaled-1-768x576.jpg 768w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Image-from-iOS-3-scaled-1-80x60.jpg 80w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Image-from-iOS-3-scaled-1-265x198.jpg 265w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Image-from-iOS-3-scaled-1-696x522.jpg 696w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Image-from-iOS-3-scaled-1-1068x801.jpg 1068w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Image-from-iOS-3-scaled-1-560x420.jpg 560w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Image-from-iOS-3-scaled-1.jpg 1250w" sizes="(max-width: 725px) 100vw, 725px" /><figcaption>Smoky haze covered Ketchikan on Wednesday. The National Weather Service said it’s not anticipated to pose a health hazard. (Eric Stone/Alaska’s Energy Desk) </figcaption></figure> <p>Residents in Ketchikan woke up to hazy skies Wednesday morning. That haze was smoke from wildfires burning on the Pacific coast of the Lower 48, according to National Weather Service Forecaster Bryan Caffrey.</p> <p>“There’s been a low off of Washington that’s been spinning, that’s what’s helped pull it up north into British Columbia, and finally just got in this morning to Dixon Entrance and the southern panhandle,” Caffrey said in a phone interview Wednesday.</p> <p>Wildfire smoke has&nbsp;<a href="https://www.opb.org/article/2020/09/15/oregons-air-is-so-hazardous-its-breaking-records/">shattered records</a>&nbsp;for poor air quality in Oregon,&nbsp;<a href="https://www.krem.com/article/weather/air-quality/hazardous-air-quality-spokane-breaks-records/293-da56641c-2fb4-4316-87c7-a095ed036e2c">Washington</a>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<a href="https://www.kqed.org/science/1969585/bay-area-air-quality-improves-as-northern-californias-smokestorm-finally-eases">California</a>.</p> <p>But here in Ketchikan, Caffrey said the smoke was forecast to remain suspended in the atmosphere over the southern panhandle Wednesday. That means it was not anticipated to be a health hazard.</p> <p>Preliminary data from a&nbsp;<a href="https://dec.alaska.gov/Applications/Air/airtoolsweb/Aq/Station/8">Juneau air quality monitor</a>&nbsp;run by the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation placed the area’s air quality in the “good” category. That means “<a href="https://www.airnow.gov/aqi/aqi-basics/">little to no risk</a>” to human health. Satellite-modeled data from company&nbsp;<a href="https://www.iqair.com/usa/alaska/ketchikan">IQAir</a>&nbsp;said the same for southern Southeast.</p> <p>Caffrey said the smoke likely won’t get as far north as the central panhandle.</p> <p>“We do have a front approaching tomorrow night. Not looking to bring any precip[itation] to the southern panhandle until maybe Friday, but that’ll help push everything back down south and east,” Caffrey said.</p> <p>The Juneau-based forecaster said smoke from the record wildfire season in California and the Pacific Northwest has been visible all over the northern half of the Lower 48.</p> Anchorage distributes thousands of free cloth masks to community https://www.alaskapublic.org/2020/09/17/anchorage-distributes-thousands-of-free-cloth-masks-to-community/ Alaska Public Media urn:uuid:e7060840-8f22-423d-8dc3-2cd0cfda7ef6 Thu, 17 Sep 2020 15:24:01 +0000 Anchorage began distributing 160,000 free cloth masks to the community on Monday. <figure class="wp-block-image size-large is-resized"><img loading="lazy" src="https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Image-1-600x480.jpeg" alt="Dozens of cardboard boxes containing cloth masks are stacked on pallets inside a warehouse." class="wp-image-278208" width="725" height="580" srcset="https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Image-1-600x480.jpeg 600w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Image-1-300x240.jpeg 300w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Image-1-150x120.jpeg 150w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Image-1-768x614.jpeg 768w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Image-1-696x557.jpeg 696w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Image-1-525x420.jpeg 525w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Image-1.jpeg 960w" sizes="(max-width: 725px) 100vw, 725px" /><figcaption>Boxes of cloth masks wait to be distributed to Anchorage community organizations. (Photo courtesy Audrey Gray/Anchorage Emergency Operations Center)</figcaption></figure> <p>Anchorage began distributing 160,000 free cloth masks to the community on Monday. The masks came from the federal Department Health and Human Services, which aims to distribute 1 million masks to Alaskans. They’re plain white cotton and washable, said Audrey Gray, public information officer for the city’s emergency operations.&nbsp;</p> <p>Gray said specific organizations in the community will be distributing masks to their clients or users. Those include Anchorage community councils, public libraries, the school district and several health and social services organizations. Transit riders who don’t have a mask can obtain one while boarding buses and homeless shelters like Brother Francis and the Sullivan arena have supplies for their clients.</p> <p>“We&#8217;re trying to make sure that they&#8217;re going to folks who may have a barrier to buying a mask, whether it&#8217;s a transportation barrier, maybe they&#8217;re financially not able to buy a mask,&#8221; she said. &#8220;That’s why we’re prioritizing it and using the distribution methods that we are.”</p> <figure class="wp-block-image size-large is-resized"><img loading="lazy" src="https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Image-600x480.jpg" alt="A woman with glasses wears a white, cloth mask." class="wp-image-278209" width="731" height="585" srcset="https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Image-600x480.jpg 600w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Image-300x240.jpg 300w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Image-150x120.jpg 150w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Image-768x614.jpg 768w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Image-1536x1228.jpg 1536w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Image-2048x1638.jpg 2048w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Image-696x557.jpg 696w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Image-1068x854.jpg 1068w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Image-525x420.jpg 525w" sizes="(max-width: 731px) 100vw, 731px" /><figcaption>Emergency Operations Center Public Information Officer Audrey Gray wears a cloth mask like the ones being distributed in the community. (Photo courtesy Audrey Gray)</figcaption></figure> <p>The municipality has another 130,000 face coverings on hand to distribute to community organizations as needed, Gray said. This is the third round of community mask distribution during the pandemic.</p> <p>The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2020/p0714-americans-to-wear-masks.html" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">recommend mask-wearing</a> to catch potentially infectious respiratory droplets, which can help slow the spread of COVID-19. Since late June, Anchorage has remained under a <a href="https://www.alaskapublic.org/2020/06/26/anchorage-mayor-to-require-masks-in-public-spaces-starting-monday/" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">mandatory mask order</a> for most indoor public settings, with some health and activity exceptions.</p> Legislation seeks to move Census deadline back to end of October https://www.alaskapublic.org/2020/09/16/legislation-seeks-to-move-census-deadline-back-to-end-of-october/ Alaska Public Media urn:uuid:9dd5addd-88d1-3b71-6051-d9251d4ca069 Thu, 17 Sep 2020 04:11:18 +0000 Alaska Rep. Don Young introduced the legislation in response to the Census Bureau's decision to shorten the counting season. <figure class="wp-block-image size-large"><img loading="lazy" width="600" height="400" src="https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/IMG_8670-600x400.jpg" alt="A woman in a green jacket and a blue and white shoulder bag knocks at a door" class="wp-image-277304" srcset="https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/IMG_8670-600x400.jpg 600w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/IMG_8670-300x200.jpg 300w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/IMG_8670-150x100.jpg 150w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/IMG_8670-768x512.jpg 768w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/IMG_8670-696x464.jpg 696w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/IMG_8670-1068x712.jpg 1068w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/IMG_8670-630x420.jpg 630w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/IMG_8670.jpg 1200w" sizes="(max-width: 600px) 100vw, 600px" /><figcaption>A census worker knocks on a door in Dillingham. Wednesday, September 2, 2020. (Isabelle Ross/KDLG) </figcaption></figure> <p>Alaska Representative Don Young introduced&nbsp;<a href="https://donyoung.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=401730">legislation that would restore the Census deadline to October 31.</a></p> <p>Young introduced the bipartisan and bicameral legislation –&nbsp;<a href="https://donyoung.house.gov/uploadedfiles/09152020censusbill.pdf">2020 Census Deadline Extensions Act, or H.R. 8250</a>&nbsp;– with Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Arizona), alongside Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii).</p> <p>Young said in a news release that if census-takers are unable to provide a thorough and accurate census count in Alaska, then: “Billions in federal funding will be left on the table over the next decade. We must extend the Census deadline.</p> <p>The release goes on to say, “Alaskans deserve to have their roads, schools, recreation areas, and other public services fully funded; our field staff need more time to complete this critical task.”&nbsp;</p> <p>In early August, the Census Bureau announced it would move up the census deadline up to the end of September out of concerns for the coronavirus. But various advocacy and Indigenous groups decried the decision, saying it would lead to a drastic undercounting of people.</p> <p>Then on September 5, a federal judge in California issued an injunction, ordering the Census Bureau to stop winding down its operations until a hearing on a preliminary injunction on Thursday, September 17.</p> <p>Two days after the judge’s decision, the Census Bureau began halting the layoffs of door-to-door census takers.</p> Coast Guard seeks information from public on deadly 2019 sinking of tender https://www.alaskapublic.org/2020/09/16/coast-guard-seeks-information-from-public-on-deadly-2019-sinking-of-tender/ Alaska Public Media urn:uuid:3954bfaf-6d06-6ba8-d9dc-aaba7693cd96 Thu, 17 Sep 2020 04:07:59 +0000 The F/V Scandies Rose sank on New Year's Eve last year and five crew died. <figure class="wp-block-image size-large is-resized"><img loading="lazy" src="https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/PHOTO_Scandies_Rose__Facebook_Grab-600x364.png" alt="A black and red tender with a white cabin with a hilly spruce tree forest in the background" class="wp-image-251296" width="709" height="431" srcset="https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/PHOTO_Scandies_Rose__Facebook_Grab-600x364.png 600w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/PHOTO_Scandies_Rose__Facebook_Grab-300x182.png 300w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/PHOTO_Scandies_Rose__Facebook_Grab-150x91.png 150w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/PHOTO_Scandies_Rose__Facebook_Grab-696x422.png 696w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/PHOTO_Scandies_Rose__Facebook_Grab-693x420.png 693w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/PHOTO_Scandies_Rose__Facebook_Grab.png 797w" sizes="(max-width: 709px) 100vw, 709px" /><figcaption>Scandies Rose (KMXT)</figcaption></figure> <p>The U.S. Coast Guard is seeking help from the public in its investigation of a Dutch Harbor-based fishing vessel that was lost off the Alaska Peninsula along with five crew members.</p> <p>The F/V Scandies Rose sank on New Year&#8217;s Eve about 170 miles west of Kodiak Island while en route to fish for Pacific cod.&nbsp;<a href="https://www.kucb.org/post/its-sinking-its-going-fast-survivor-recounts-deadly-sinking-fv-scandies-rose#stream/0">Two fishermen were rescued</a>&nbsp;wearing gumby survival suits in a life raft. The other five crew members and their 130-foot crab boat&nbsp;<a href="https://www.kucb.org/post/coast-guard-suspends-search-5-missing-fishermen-waters-west-kodiak#stream/0">were never found</a>.</p> <p><strong>RELATED: </strong><em><a href="https://www.alaskapublic.org/2020/02/06/when-the-scandies-rose-sunk-west-of-kodiak-he-survived-now-he-grapples-with-losing-his-crew-mates/">When the Scandies Rose sunk west of Kodiak, he survived. Now he’s grappling with losing his crewmates.</a></em></p> <p>Coast Guard investigators would appreciate anyone with information about the vessel or conditions around the time the ship was lost to come forward, according to Petty Officer Janessa Warschkow.</p> <p>&#8220;Whether that is former sailing experience on board the Scandies Rose, experience with the crew of the Scandies Rose, if you know the weather between Chiniak and Kodiak on December 31 of 2019,&#8221; she said. &#8220;Any information is helpful for the ongoing investigation.&#8221;</p> <figure class="wp-block-image"><a href="https://mediad.publicbroadcasting.net/p/kucb2/files/styles/x_large/public/202009/uscg_scandies_rose.jpg"><img src="https://mediad.publicbroadcasting.net/p/kucb2/files/styles/large/public/202009/uscg_scandies_rose.jpg" alt=""/></a></figure> <p>Warschkow said the intent of crowdsourcing information from the public is to gather facts to determine what happened, why it happened, and identify any corrective measures which can be taken to prevent future tragedies.&nbsp;</p> <p>&#8220;In this day and age, with social media being a very big platform to use for information, we do use social media and this type of thing to try and gather information from the public,&#8221; Warschkow said.&nbsp;</p> <p>The Coast Guard has released very little information about its findings so far. And according to Warschkow, the investigation could take months or even more than a year to conclude. Eventually, she said, the agency will release its findings.&nbsp;</p> <p>Anyone who has information on the sinking of the Scandies Rose last New Year&#8217;s Eve is asked to email ScandiesRoseMBI@uscg.mil.&nbsp;</p> Forest Service revives Prince of Wales timber sale blocked by court https://www.alaskapublic.org/2020/09/16/forest-service-revives-prince-of-wales-timber-sale-blocked-by-court/ Alaska Public Media urn:uuid:973c674d-4063-fa63-4a37-ed2e355d6797 Thu, 17 Sep 2020 03:55:00 +0000 A federal judge ruled last year that the Forest Service had failed to provide site specific information in advance of the timber sale. <figure class="wp-block-image size-large is-resized"><img loading="lazy" src="https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/POW_aerial-830x553-1-600x400.jpg" alt="Green, spruce covered mountains drop into the blue ocean." class="wp-image-270718" width="692" height="461" srcset="https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/POW_aerial-830x553-1-600x400.jpg 600w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/POW_aerial-830x553-1-300x200.jpg 300w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/POW_aerial-830x553-1-150x100.jpg 150w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/POW_aerial-830x553-1-768x512.jpg 768w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/POW_aerial-830x553-1-696x464.jpg 696w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/POW_aerial-830x553-1-630x420.jpg 630w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/POW_aerial-830x553-1.jpg 830w" sizes="(max-width: 692px) 100vw, 692px" /><figcaption>An aerial shot of Prince of Wales Island. (Photo by KRBD) </figcaption></figure> <p>The U.S. Forest Service wants a do-over for an old-growth timber sale that was halted by a federal court. The Prince of Wales Island areas are being re-analyzed in an effort by the federal agency to bring the timber to market.</p> <p>The&nbsp;<a href="https://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=58626">Twin Mountain II Timber Sale</a>&nbsp;would cover two separate areas north and west of Thorne Bay on Prince of Wales Island. Altogether, about 3,000 acres of old-growth forest.</p> <p>It was part of a larger timber sale that environmentalists&nbsp;<a href="https://www.krbd.org/2020/06/24/court-sends-feds-back-to-the-drawing-board-over-tongass-timber-sale/" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">successfully blocked</a>&nbsp;with a court challenge last year.</p> <p>A federal judge agreed that the Forest Service had failed to provide site-specific information in advance of the timber sale. A judge&nbsp;<a href="https://www.krbd.org/2019/09/23/federal-judge-halts-tongass-timber-sale-on-prince-of-wales-island/" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">issued an injunction that prevented the sale from going through</a>.</p> <p>Tongass National Forest spokesman Paul Robbins Jr. said in a statement the Forest Service is restarting the environmental review process to get some old growth timber to market.</p> <p>“This project does contain two units that were previously included under the&nbsp;<a href="https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/tongass/landmanagement/projects/?cid=fseprd529245" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">Prince of Wales Landscape Level Analysis</a>&nbsp;project,” Robbins said. “But they are no longer linked to the environmental impact statement from that project.”</p> <p>It includes nearly 50 miles of new, temporary and reconditioned roads to make the timber sale viable.</p> <p>“The proposed project aligns with the multiple use mandate for all national forests and provide valuable resources toward preserving a viable timber industry in Southeast Alaska,” Robbins said in prepared remarks.</p> <p>But critics of old growth logging say the Forest Service’s priorities are wrong.</p> <p>“(The) Forest Service’s acting as a sore loser,” said Dan Cannon of the Southeast Alaska Conservation Council, the environmental group that won a court victory earlier this year.&nbsp;<a href="https://www.alaskapublic.org/2020/08/24/feds-appeal-ruling-that-nixed-old-growth-logging-on-prince-of-wales-island/" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">(Government lawyers have appealed to the 9th Circuit Court</a>.)</p> <p>While the timber sales were blocked in court — District Court Judge Sharon L. Gleason’s decision did not hold up other aspects of the Prince of Wales Island land use plan. That includes stream restorations and investment in things like trails and cabins.</p> <p>Cannon notes that most of those projects haven’t been funded by the Forest Service, yet it continues to invest its staff and resources in this and&nbsp;<a href="https://www.krbd.org/2020/09/04/south-revilla-old-growth-logging-proposal-moves-forward-in-tongass/" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">other old growth timber sales in Tongass National Forest</a>.</p> <p>“It’s just, it’s disappointing that the Forest Service has decided to merely waste more money, time and staff resources on clear-cutting old-growth, rather than focus on the desired recreation activities of Prince of Wales residents,” Cannon said.</p> <p>He added restoration work is needed to undo decades of damage from a half-century of industrial clear cuts.</p> <p>And there’s another wrinkle. One area of the proposed timber sale on the western shore of Red Bay on the northern reaches of the island is&nbsp;<a href="https://www.kstk.org/2019/10/11/landless-tribes-stake-out-selections-in-the-tongass/" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">land sought by Southeast Alaska Natives who claim they were left out of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act</a>.</p> <p>“They should talk to us about it,” said Richard Rinehart is a Wrangell member of Alaska Natives Without Land. It’s a five-community coalition with financial backing by Sealaska Corporation — seeking federal land for Alaska Natives in Ketchikan, Petersburg, Wrangell, Tenakee Springs and Haines.</p> <p>He says desirable tracts are becoming scarcer.</p> <p>“You know the areas that people would want us to go or not go …&nbsp; is really huge, and places where they think it might be okay for us to claim land is pretty small,” Rinehart said.</p> <p>He says Congress hasn’t addressed the Southeast Alaska natives’&nbsp;<a href="https://www.withoutland.org/landmaps" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">century-old land claims</a>. And he says he’s wary of the Forest Service auctioning off valuable timberland until that’s addressed.</p> <p>Southeast Alaska’s timber industry has argued the old growth timber harvests will be necessary to keep the region’s last sawmills operating.</p> <p>The Alaska Forest Association — a timber industry group — didn’t comment.</p> <p>The Forest Service is&nbsp;<a href="https://cara.ecosystem-management.org/Public/CommentInput?Project=58626" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">accepting online comments</a>&nbsp;on the Twin Mountain II timber sale now through October 14.</p> One-of-a-kind photo collection documents 75 years of life in Angoon https://www.alaskapublic.org/2020/09/16/one-of-a-kind-photo-collection-documents-75-years-of-life-in-angoon/ Alaska Public Media urn:uuid:2442fc85-587d-d646-5511-cf47623442bd Thu, 17 Sep 2020 03:50:26 +0000 Cyril George, a Tlingit from the Beaver Clan of Angoon, died six years ago, but his 4,000 photos of life in the village will finally be available to the public. <figure class="wp-block-image size-large is-resized"><img loading="lazy" src="https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/CyrilGeorge_1400-1-scaled-1-830x571-1-600x413.jpg" alt="An elder Alaska Native man in a red vest smiles while sitting at a table" class="wp-image-278222" width="720" height="496" srcset="https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/CyrilGeorge_1400-1-scaled-1-830x571-1-600x413.jpg 600w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/CyrilGeorge_1400-1-scaled-1-830x571-1-300x206.jpg 300w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/CyrilGeorge_1400-1-scaled-1-830x571-1-150x103.jpg 150w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/CyrilGeorge_1400-1-scaled-1-830x571-1-768x528.jpg 768w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/CyrilGeorge_1400-1-scaled-1-830x571-1-100x70.jpg 100w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/CyrilGeorge_1400-1-scaled-1-830x571-1-218x150.jpg 218w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/CyrilGeorge_1400-1-scaled-1-830x571-1-696x479.jpg 696w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/CyrilGeorge_1400-1-scaled-1-830x571-1-611x420.jpg 611w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/CyrilGeorge_1400-1-scaled-1-830x571-1.jpg 830w" sizes="(max-width: 720px) 100vw, 720px" /><figcaption>Tlingit elder and Beaver Clan leader Cyril George. In addition to his work as a storyteller and a local and regional leader, George was also a prolific photographer. He took over 4,000 photos of life in Angoon and around the region. (Photo by Christy Eriksen/Sealaska Heritage) </figcaption></figure> <p>Cyril George didn’t go many places without his camera.</p> <p>George was a leader in the Beaver Clan of Angoon and was known for his contributions to local and regional politics. He was also known by those he was closest to as a photographer. When he died six years ago at the age of 92, he left behind a vast photo collection thought to be the largest ever made by someone who was Tlingit.</p> <p>George’s family recently donated those photos, with the goal of making them available to the public.</p> <div id="attachment_198089" class="wp-block-image"><figure class="alignleft is-resized"><img loading="lazy" src="https://media.ktoo.org/2020/09/118381154_4268604359880095_764356784329245075_o-scaled-1-340x202.jpg" alt="" class="wp-image-198089" width="371" height="220"/><figcaption>Photo by Cyril George, provided by Sealaska Heritage</figcaption></figure></div> <p>“Everywhere Cyril went in Angoon, and maybe other places, he always had a camera hanging over his neck,” former state senator and lifelong Angoon resident Albert Kookesh said. He said George took pictures at basketball games, local celebrations and weddings.</p> <p>“Every Native event that I am familiar with, he was there. And very rarely without his cameras,” Kookesh said. “He always had them with him.”</p> <p>George documented everyday life in the Admiralty Island village. In one black and white photo from his collection, three women wearing regalia pose near the shore. In another, a man disembarks from a boat.</p> <div id="attachment_198093" class="wp-block-image"><figure class="alignright"><img src="https://media.ktoo.org/2020/09/118076523_4268609449879586_4355741400501301512_o-scaled-1-340x238.jpg" alt="" class="wp-image-198093"/><figcaption>Photo by Cyril George, provided by Sealaska Heritage</figcaption></figure></div> <p>When George passed away in 2014, the Tlingit elder and founding Sealaska board member left behind a collection of over 4,000 photos. Last month, his family donated that collection to the Sealaska Heritage Institute. The nonprofit’s director of culture and history, Chuck Smythe, said George wanted the photos to be used and seen by many people.</p> <p>“You know, it’s quite an amazing collection. Seventy-five years of photos, spanning the 1920s to the 1990s,” Smythe said.</p> <p>Right now, the photos are sitting in boxes. They’ll have to be wrapped in plastic for a month before they can even enter the Institute’s archive. That’s to make sure they don’t bring any mold in with them. And people will have to wait until the archive opens again to view them. It’s currently closed because of the coronavirus pandemic.</p> <div id="attachment_198091" class="wp-block-image"><figure class="alignleft"><img src="https://media.ktoo.org/2020/09/117866184_4268619929878538_4599092967182789970_o-1536x1206-1-340x267.jpg" alt="" class="wp-image-198091"/><figcaption>Photo by Cyril George, provided by Sealaska Heritage</figcaption></figure></div> <p>But eventually, Smythe said, they hope to digitize the collection and put it online to broaden its reach. And to collect caption information.</p> <p>“We can’t wait too long because we want to make sure that any of the older people who would be able to reach back in their memory for the early photos are still with us,” he said.</p> <p>Smythe said such extensive documentation of life in a traditional, tight-knit community — where many people live subsistence lifestyles — has great historical and cultural significance.</p> <p>“You know, you can’t put a price on photos taken from somebody from within the culture and in this case, somebody from within the community as well. Because he sees things very differently than an outsider would,” he said, “and has that history and attachment to the land.”</p> <div id="attachment_198090" class="wp-block-image"><figure class="alignright"><img src="https://media.ktoo.org/2020/09/117944164_4268609143212950_2971040168514477334_o-340x208.jpg" alt="" class="wp-image-198090"/><figcaption>Photo by Cyril George, provided by Sealaska Heritage</figcaption></figure></div> <p>Kookesh, who considered George a mentor and close friend, says the collection has personal significance for him and his community. It will help bring back memories of people and events long forgotten. But he also sees the collection as important statewide, nationally and even internationally.</p> <p>“I want people to see those pictures from Angoon, for people who live in Germany or who live in Anchorage,” he said. “They can see an Angoon from Cyril George’s eyes. They can see the history of what we had and how we grew and how we survived.”</p> <p>Kookesh says he’s grateful to the family that the photos didn’t end up collecting dust in a forgotten drawer.</p> <figure class="wp-block-image" id="attachment_198092"><img src="https://media.ktoo.org/2020/09/117999706_4268620906545107_3229795519072469552_o-1536x968-1-830x523.jpg" alt="" class="wp-image-198092"/><figcaption>Photo by Cyril George, provided by Sealaska Heritage</figcaption></figure> Bethel cab drivers get unwanted duty of enforcing testing mandate https://www.alaskapublic.org/2020/09/16/bethel-cab-drivers-get-unwanted-duty-of-enforcing-testing-mandate/ Alaska Public Media urn:uuid:22ed6bcc-1643-1157-c7a9-7252dc4c8d80 Thu, 17 Sep 2020 03:44:44 +0000 Cab drivers say having to enforce a mandate to unwilling customers puts them in an awkward position. <figure class="wp-block-image size-large is-resized"><img loading="lazy" src="https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/20200316-COVID19-KBasile-2696_0-600x400.jpg" alt="A red SUV with a label of &quot;Kusko&quot; ono the top waits below some power lines on a snowy/icy street" class="wp-image-278219" width="723" height="481" srcset="https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/20200316-COVID19-KBasile-2696_0-600x400.jpg 600w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/20200316-COVID19-KBasile-2696_0-300x200.jpg 300w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/20200316-COVID19-KBasile-2696_0-150x100.jpg 150w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/20200316-COVID19-KBasile-2696_0-768x512.jpg 768w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/20200316-COVID19-KBasile-2696_0-1536x1025.jpg 1536w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/20200316-COVID19-KBasile-2696_0-696x464.jpg 696w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/20200316-COVID19-KBasile-2696_0.jpg 1800w" sizes="(max-width: 723px) 100vw, 723px" /><figcaption>A Kusko Cab in Bethel (Katie Basile/KYUK)</figcaption></figure> <p>On Aug. 31, the Bethel City Council passed a mandate requiring people arriving at the Alaska Airlines terminal to be tested for COVID-19. </p> <p>The mandate also states that taxi drivers picking up passengers at the airport must check that the passengers have been tested, which has made for an awkward situation for cab drivers who are put in a position of having to enforce the law. </p> <p>Kusko Cab is Bethel’s largest cab company. Co-owner Naim Shabani said that the day after the city council passed the new mandates, he printed out posters detailing the rules, and told all of his drivers to put them up in the backseat of their cabs.&nbsp;</p> <p>“There&#8217;s two posters,” Shabani said. “One is requiring passengers to wear a mask. And then the other one is the explanation for the need to show proof of a test at Alaska Airlines, or proof of a negative test.”</p> <p><em><a href="http://alaskapublic.org/tag/ruralcovid">Read more stories of how the coronavirus pandemic is affecting rural Alaska</a></em></p> <p>Even before the mandates were passed, Shabani said that many cab drivers were already asking passengers to wear a mask. But Shabani said that asking strangers if they took a medical test is taking it one step further, with cab drivers being put in an uncomfortable position.</p> <p>“Now they kind of have to play driver and enforcer at the same time, and a lot of passengers coming in generally don&#8217;t agree with having a cab driver enforce mandates on them,” Shabani said.</p> <p>Shabani said that he has not heard of any confrontations between drivers and passengers who refuse to show they were tested yet. He said that he is taking the word of his drivers that these testing checks are happening.</p> <p>“I can&#8217;t follow up on every single cab and cab ride to ensure that they follow this,” Shabani said. “It&#8217;s very much a self-policing mandate.”</p> <p>Alaska Cab, Bethel’s second largest taxi company, had not been following the city’s new mandate at first. Co-owner Choon Chung said that he had not received communication from the city about the mandate, but that he would comply now that he knew.</p> <p>“Nobody reports for what we’re supposed to do, but we’re gonna do it from today,” Chung said. “We’re gonna to tell everybody today.”</p> <p>Both cab company owners say that the city’s new mandates would only apply to a few rides per day because of the limited number of passengers who arrive at the Alaska Airlines terminal these days. Shabani said that he has half the number of drivers he used to have on the road, due to the general downturn in business, coupled with the health risks of COVID-19.</p> <p>“A lot of drivers have resigned,” Shabani said. “A lot of them have just kind of gone on a hiatus,&nbsp;if you will, just waiting to see if it&#8217;s gonna turn around.”&nbsp;</p> <p>Meanwhile, the City of Bethel has no plans, at least in the short term, to enforce the airport testing mandate. Acting City Manager Lori Strickler said that she is working on plans to expand the city’s airport testing incentive program instead.</p> <p>“We would prefer, instead of issuing citations to people, to incentivize people to comply,” Strickler said.</p> <p>Currently, the city provides $25 gift cards to local businesses if you get tested at the airport, but that’s only offered on the weekends. Strickler said that she wants the city to be able to provide incentives to arriving passengers on every flight during the week, and is looking at different options to do so.</p> Winds kick up century old volcanic ash in Alaska https://www.alaskapublic.org/2020/09/16/winds-kick-up-century-old-volcanic-ash-in-alaska/ Alaska Public Media urn:uuid:9acd61d2-622a-83f6-d577-47feeeba7721 Thu, 17 Sep 2020 03:31:19 +0000 Strong southerly winds picked up loose ash from a 1912 volcanic eruption, sending an ash cloud about 4,000 feet into the sky on Monday. <figure class="wp-block-image size-large is-resized"><img loading="lazy" src="https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Aerial-View-of-Novarupta-688-px-600x351.jpg" alt="An aerial view of a crater with an unusual rock formation in the middle that looks like oozing lava" class="wp-image-278211" width="729" height="427" srcset="https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Aerial-View-of-Novarupta-688-px-600x351.jpg 600w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Aerial-View-of-Novarupta-688-px-300x176.jpg 300w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Aerial-View-of-Novarupta-688-px-150x88.jpg 150w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Aerial-View-of-Novarupta-688-px.jpg 688w" sizes="(max-width: 729px) 100vw, 729px" /><figcaption>The lava dome named Novarupta marks the 1.2 mile (2 km) wide vent of the 1912 Novarupta-Katmai eruption. Novarupta is 1235 ft (380 m) wide and 211 ft (65 m) high. (NPS Photo)</figcaption></figure> <p>ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — While western U.S. states were suffering from hazy red skies from wildfires, Alaska was dealing with an air quality problem born a century ago.</p> <p>Strong southerly winds picked up loose ash from a 1912 volcanic eruption, sending an ash cloud about 4,000 feet into the sky on Monday.</p> <p>There were no reports of ashfall in nearby communities near Katmai National Park, famous as the location where brown bears stand in the Brooks River and catch salmon, but pilots were warned about the cloud because the ash can stall engines.</p> <p>“Basically these sorts of events happen every spring and fall when strong winds pick up ash from the 1912 Novarupta eruption,” said Kristi Wallace, a U.S. Geological Survey geologist at the Alaska Volcano Observatory.</p> <p>The three-day eruption, one of the world’s largest, began June 6, 1912, and sent ash as high as 100,000 feet above the Katmai region, located about 250 miles southwest of Anchorage. The USGS estimates 3.6 cubic miles of magma was erupted, about 30 times what spewed from Mount St. Helens in Washington state 40 years ago.</p> <p>The Novarupta eruption was the most powerful of the 20th century and ranks among the largest in recorded history.</p> <p>The ash was deposited in what is now known as the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes. “Just about 600 feet of ash out there that’s not vegetated,” Wallace said.</p> <p>Cloudy skies obscured satellite imagery on Monday, but a pilot flying at about 20,000 feet first reported the ash cloud, Wallace said.</p> <p>That was confirmed by a pilot flying at about 2,000 feet.</p> <p>The observatory issued a statement alerting people that this was not a new eruption from one of the seven volcanos in the Katmai region, but just high winds kicking up the Novarupta ash.</p> <p>“We know that what’s getting kicked up isn’t just glacial dust, mineral dust that you can see pretty much everywhere else in Alaska,” Wallace said. “These kinds of dust storms happen everywhere. But when they happen there, we know that the material that’s being picked up is predominantly volcanic ash.”</p> <p>The winds were only about 30 mph, said Michael Kutz, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service office in Anchorage. The cloud moved north from the Katmai region, and they had no reports of ashfall.</p> <p>Widespread rains Tuesday in the Bristol Bay region prompted the cancellation of ash advisories, Kutz said.</p> Alaskan Cannabis is a Budding Business for this Mother-daughter Team | INDIE ALASKA https://www.alaskapublic.org/2020/09/16/alaskan-cannabis-is-a-budding-business-for-this-mother-daughter-team/ Alaska Public Media urn:uuid:c603625e-02e9-a227-3fa8-06e4fd20d819 Thu, 17 Sep 2020 02:00:25 +0000 Alaska Blooms is a family-run cannabis business in Fairbanks, Alaska. While there are many challenges to owning a retail and grow operation, Karen and Kelsi Lowry find it rewarding to be a part of the marijuana industry in the 49th State. Story by Hannah Lies Video by Hannah Lies and Valerie Kern Music by FirstCom [&#8230;] <figure class="wp-block-embed-youtube wp-block-embed is-type-video is-provider-youtube wp-embed-aspect-16-9 wp-has-aspect-ratio"><div class="wp-block-embed__wrapper"> <iframe title="Alaskan Cannabis is a Budding Business for this Mother-daughter Team | INDIE ALASKA" width="696" height="392" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/DuFygZciFoo?feature=oembed" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen></iframe> </div></figure> <p>Alaska Blooms is a family-run cannabis business in Fairbanks, Alaska. While there are many challenges to owning a retail and grow operation, Karen and Kelsi Lowry find it rewarding to be a part of the marijuana industry in the 49th State. </p> <p>Story by Hannah Lies <br>Video by Hannah Lies and Valerie Kern <br>Music by FirstCom Music</p> LISTEN: How an Alaska hospital’s understanding of COVID-19 has evolved https://www.alaskapublic.org/2020/09/16/listen-how-an-alaska-hospitals-understanding-of-covid-19-has-evolved/ Alaska Public Media urn:uuid:459b2871-ff25-6fa4-6f8b-fdf21c041de5 Thu, 17 Sep 2020 01:49:06 +0000 Among those watching the coronavirus the closest is Alaska Regional Hospital's Infection Prevention Coordinator Jenny Mayo, who works with frontline staff and hospital administration on minimizing the impact of infections from things like viruses. <figure class="wp-block-image size-large"><img loading="lazy" width="600" height="400" src="https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/20200915_Jennifer_Mayo_Alaska_Regional_Hospital_CHEN-7.jpg" alt="A woman stands in front of a sign that reads &quot;Alaska Regional Hospital&quot; and a building" class="wp-image-278187" srcset="https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/20200915_Jennifer_Mayo_Alaska_Regional_Hospital_CHEN-7.jpg 600w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/20200915_Jennifer_Mayo_Alaska_Regional_Hospital_CHEN-7-300x200.jpg 300w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/20200915_Jennifer_Mayo_Alaska_Regional_Hospital_CHEN-7-150x100.jpg 150w" sizes="(max-width: 600px) 100vw, 600px" /><figcaption>Jennifer Mayo, Infection Prevention Coordinator for Alaska Regional Hospital, stands outside the hospital on September 15, 2020. (Jeff Chen/Alaska Public Media)</figcaption></figure> <p>The first known case of COVID-19 showed up in Alaska about six months ago, and this week we&#8217;re asking experts and policy makers what they&#8217;ve learned since then about the virus.</p> <p>Among those watching the coronavirus the closest is Alaska Regional Hospital&#8217;s Infection Prevention Coordinator Jenny Mayo, who works with frontline staff and hospital administration on minimizing the impact of infections from things like viruses.</p> <p>Regional actually took the very first COVID patient in Alaska, and, like a lot of people, Mayo says the hospital staff have learned a lot since then, and they&#8217;ve had to be resilient as our understanding of the disease has changed.</p> <p>LISTEN HERE:</p> <p><audio controls="controls"><source src="http://media.aprn.org/2020/16 Jenny Mayo int.mp3" type="audio/mpeg"></audio></p> Alaska News Nightly: Wednesday, September 16, 2020 https://www.alaskapublic.org/2020/09/16/alaska-news-nightly-wed-sep-16/ Alaska Public Media urn:uuid:c0cf4553-b1de-b15f-9971-f84850a58973 Thu, 17 Sep 2020 01:43:35 +0000 Oil prices remain low with no increase in sight. Plus, with fall coming, Anchorage hospitals keep an eye on COVID-19 numbers. And young bears are causing lots of problems in Juneau. <figure class="wp-block-image size-large"><img loading="lazy" width="600" height="400" src="https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/20200915_Jennifer_Mayo_Alaska_Regional_Hospital_CHEN-7.jpg" alt="A woman stands in front of a sign that reads &quot;Alaska Regional Hospital&quot; and a building" class="wp-image-278187" srcset="https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/20200915_Jennifer_Mayo_Alaska_Regional_Hospital_CHEN-7.jpg 600w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/20200915_Jennifer_Mayo_Alaska_Regional_Hospital_CHEN-7-300x200.jpg 300w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/20200915_Jennifer_Mayo_Alaska_Regional_Hospital_CHEN-7-150x100.jpg 150w" sizes="(max-width: 600px) 100vw, 600px" /><figcaption>Jennifer Mayo, Infection Prevention Coordinator for Alaska Regional Hospital, stands outside the hospital on September 15, 2020. (Jeff Chen/Alaska Public Media)</figcaption></figure> <p>Stories are posted on the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.alaskapublic.org/aprn/">statewide news</a>&nbsp;page. You can subscribe to Alaska Public Media’s newsfeeds via&nbsp;<a href="http://feedburner.google.com/fb/a/mailverify?uri=aprn-news">email</a>,&nbsp;<a href="https://itunes.apple.com/podcast/aprn-alaska-news/id264469573?mt=2">podcast</a>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<a href="http://feeds.aprn.org/aprn-news">RSS</a>. Follow us on&nbsp;<a href="https://www.facebook.com/alaskapublic">Facebook at alaskapublic.org</a>&nbsp;and on&nbsp;<a href="https://www.twitter.com/AKPublicNews">Twitter @AKPublicNews</a></p> <p><audio controls="controls"><source src="http://media.aprn.org/2020/ann-20200916.mp3" type="audio/mpeg"></audio></p> <p><strong>Wednesday on Alaska News Nightly:</strong></p> <p>Oil prices remain low with no increase in sight. Plus, with fall coming, Anchorage hospitals keep an eye on COVID-19 numbers. And young bears are causing lots of problems in Juneau.</p> <p><strong>Reports tonight from:</strong></p> <ul><li>Mayowa Aina and Abbey Collins in Anchorage</li><li>Robyne in Fairbanks</li><li>Matt Miller in Juneau</li><li>Robyne in Fairbanks</li><li>Erin McKinstry in Sitka</li></ul> Anchorage School District outlines plans for return to school buildings https://www.alaskapublic.org/2020/09/16/anchorage-school-district-outlines-plans-for-students-returning-to-school-buildings/ Alaska Public Media urn:uuid:48197e8b-a76d-2cc6-f053-c52738d96d25 Wed, 16 Sep 2020 22:20:48 +0000 The youngest children will return first, in mid-October. Middle school children will return in November and high school students will return in early 2021 <figure class="wp-block-image size-large"><img loading="lazy" width="600" height="450" src="https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/MVIMG_20200302_104539-600x450.jpg" alt="A line of elementary children line up and walk down the hallway out to recess in the winter" class="wp-image-256375" srcset="https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/MVIMG_20200302_104539-600x450.jpg 600w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/MVIMG_20200302_104539-300x225.jpg 300w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/MVIMG_20200302_104539-150x113.jpg 150w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/MVIMG_20200302_104539-768x576.jpg 768w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/MVIMG_20200302_104539-1536x1152.jpg 1536w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/MVIMG_20200302_104539-2048x1536.jpg 2048w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/MVIMG_20200302_104539-80x60.jpg 80w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/MVIMG_20200302_104539-265x198.jpg 265w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/MVIMG_20200302_104539-696x522.jpg 696w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/MVIMG_20200302_104539-1068x801.jpg 1068w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/MVIMG_20200302_104539-560x420.jpg 560w" sizes="(max-width: 600px) 100vw, 600px" /><figcaption>Kindergarten and 1st grade students at Kasuun Elementary in Anchorage head outside for recess on March 2, 2020. This year students have an extra 10 minutes to play outside as part of the district&#8217;s wellness initiative. (Mayowa Aina/Alaska Public Media)</figcaption></figure> <p>On Wednesday, the Anchorage School District announced a phased plan for reopening school buildings to students over the next few months.&nbsp;</p> <p>In a letter to families, the district wrote that in-person classes for elementary students, will resume on October 19, five days a week for 5.5 hours. In-person classes for middle school students in grades 6-7 will resume November 12-13 and on November 16th for other middle school grades, five days a week for 5.5. Hours. And in-person classes for high school students will resume January 4, 2021, five days a week for 5.5 hours.&nbsp;</p> <p>The district wrote that it is using the four weeks between elementary and middle school reopening to give the district opportunity to “adjust to elementary school logistics and safety protocols, and will only occur if safety practices and viral conditions permit.”</p> <p>The district will no longer use the split schedule hybrid model as previously planned, citing new research from Harvard which “suggests that hybrid models may actually increase the viral spread,&#8221; it said in the letter. The district also said the hybrid model would be “overly complicated for families.”</p> <p>The district <a href="https://www.alaskapublic.org/2020/09/11/when-will-the-anchorage-school-district-reopen-to-students-possibly-mid-october-district-says/">communicated last week</a> that it had set a target date of returning elementary students and students with special needs to the classroom by October 19, the first day of the second quarter.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Related:</strong> <em><a href="https://www.alaskapublic.org/2020/09/15/listen-anchorage-schools-superintendent-talks-challenges-of-educating-during-a-pandemic/">LISTEN: Anchorage schools superintendent talks challenges of educating during a pandemic</a>&nbsp;&nbsp;</em></p> <p>In the meantime, the district is beginning a voluntary reading program for the district’s youngest learners. Students in second grade and below will be able to go into school classrooms in small groups and be tutored by volunteer teachers. The program is set to start September 28.</p> <p>The district already has several voluntary programs operating in 15 school facilities, including partnerships with child care programs like Camp Fire, the YMCA, and the Boys &amp; Girls Club.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>See also:</strong> <em><a href="https://www.alaskapublic.org/2020/09/15/after-18-months-of-negotiations-mat-su-teachers-move-closer-to-a-strike/">After 18 months of negotiations, Mat-Su teachers move closer to a strike</a>&nbsp;</em></p> <p>Here is the district’s complete overview for returning students to school buildings.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Voluntary Reading Tutoring:</strong></p> <ul><li>Will begin September 28 for Grades 1 &amp; 2 students who opt in at selected schools based on equity of access and need</li></ul> <p><strong>Elementary Schools:&nbsp;</strong></p> <ul><li>In-person classes will resume on October 19 for Pre-K – Grade 6</li><li>All students will attend school five days a week for 5.5 hours each day (no alphabet-based cohorts)</li><li>The school day will begin at 9:30 a.m. for comprehensive elementary schools</li></ul> <p><strong>Self-Contained Special Education Programs:</strong></p> <ul><li>Programs will resume in school buildings on October 19 for Pre-K – Grade 12</li></ul> <p><strong>Middle School*:</strong></p> <ul><li>In-person classes will resume for first-year middle school students on November 12-13. (Grade 6 or 7 depending on the school)</li><li>November 12-13 will provide valuable transition time for first-year students</li><li>In-person classes resume for all other middle school students on November 16</li><li>Special and Alternative schools with middle / high school students will resume November 16</li><li>All students will attend school five days a week for 5.5 hours each day</li><li>The school day will begin at 8:45 a.m. for comprehensive middle schools</li></ul> <p>*The four-week gap between Elementary and Middle School re-entry allows time to adjust to elementary school logistics and safety protocols, and will only occur if safety practices and viral conditions permit.</p> <p><strong>High School:</strong></p> <ul><li>In-person classes will resume January 4, 2021</li><li>Coincides with the start of the second semester</li><li>High school will continue with the quarter model</li><li>All students will attend school five days a week for 5.5 hours each day</li><li>The school day will begin at 8 a.m. for comprehensive high schools</li></ul> <p><strong>Special, Alternative, and Charter Schools:</strong>&nbsp;</p> <p>Since charter and special/alternative schools often have a combination of elementary and secondary grade levels, specific re-entry dates may differ. A detailed list of schools and their re-entry dates will be forthcoming.   </p> <p><em>Are you an Anchorage School District teacher or caregiver to a student in ASD? Tell us what you think of this news and how it impacts you. Reach reporter Mayowa Aina at maina@alaskapublic.org with your initial reaction. </em></p> 31 Juneau residents test positive for COVID-19 after bar outbreak https://www.alaskapublic.org/2020/09/16/31-juneau-residents-test-positive-for-covid-19-after-bar-outbreak/ Alaska Public Media urn:uuid:0f0015c0-c49f-a67a-87e0-aaa4d84f0f53 Wed, 16 Sep 2020 22:20:45 +0000 The cases result from a single indoor event in late August. <figure class="wp-block-image size-large"><img loading="lazy" width="600" height="400" src="https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/RM_Bar-1-830x553-1-600x400.jpg" alt="A person with a mask is seen walking across a road in teh reflection of a bar window" class="wp-image-278167" srcset="https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/RM_Bar-1-830x553-1-600x400.jpg 600w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/RM_Bar-1-830x553-1-300x200.jpg 300w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/RM_Bar-1-830x553-1-150x100.jpg 150w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/RM_Bar-1-830x553-1-768x512.jpg 768w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/RM_Bar-1-830x553-1-696x464.jpg 696w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/RM_Bar-1-830x553-1-630x420.jpg 630w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/RM_Bar-1-830x553-1.jpg 830w" sizes="(max-width: 600px) 100vw, 600px" /><figcaption>People, masked and unmasked, wander through downtown on Saturday, Sept. 5, 2020, in Juneau. (Rashah McChesney/KTOO) </figcaption></figure> <p>At least 31 people have tested positive for COVID-19 after a single indoor event in late August.&nbsp;</p> <p>The outbreak, which has heavily impacted people who work in bars in Juneau, prompted city officials to close bars for indoor service and reduce restaurants to half-capacity.&nbsp;</p> <p>Juneau City Manager Rorie Watt said city officials were pushed into that decision by information about how many new cases had been diagnosed.&nbsp;</p> <p>“If it feels heavy-handed that we issued an emergency order on Friday, I can only tell you we felt like we had no choice,” he said.</p> <p>Watt and Deputy City Manager Mila Cosgrove spoke during a Tuesday COVID-19 update that Juneau city officials hold weekly.&nbsp;</p> <p>Test results from a weekend pop-up testing site at Centennial Hall targeted toward people who have been going to bars in Juneau are just beginning to roll in. Cosgrove said there was a delay at the state testing lab that processes the city’s tests, but that has been fixed.&nbsp;</p> <p>She also gave an update on the city’s latest COVID-19 case numbers: there were 13 new cases identified on Tuesday.&nbsp;</p> <p>So far, the city has had 252 residents and 98 non-residents test positive for the virus since March. City officials report that three people are currently at Bartlett Regional Hospital being treated for the virus.&nbsp;</p> <p>Watt said the COVID-19 outbreak among bar staff in Juneau is “a cautionary tale of how quickly things can go in the wrong direction.”&nbsp;</p> <p>Both Watt and Cosgrove said residents have to be vigilant and should avoid others who aren’t in their social bubble.&nbsp;</p> <p>“You really can’t let your guard down,” Watt said.</p> In fraught political moment, Kanye 2020 signs bring a laugh in Anchorage https://www.alaskapublic.org/2020/09/16/in-fraught-political-moment-kanye-2020-signs-bring-a-laugh-in-anchorage/ Alaska Public Media urn:uuid:6442d0ac-3711-f040-ab81-9c34ad17e14b Wed, 16 Sep 2020 15:21:26 +0000 Kanye West isn't on the Alaska ballot, according to the Division of Elections. <figure class="wp-block-image size-large is-resized"><img loading="lazy" src="https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Kany-600x415.jpg" alt="Two four-by-eight campaign signs with the image for Kanye West in red and blue, next to a white Bill Evans sign. A semi truck is driving by next to them. " class="wp-image-278108" width="712" height="492" srcset="https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Kany-600x415.jpg 600w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Kany-300x208.jpg 300w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Kany-150x104.jpg 150w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Kany-768x532.jpg 768w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Kany-1536x1064.jpg 1536w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Kany-2048x1418.jpg 2048w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Kany-100x70.jpg 100w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Kany-218x150.jpg 218w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Kany-696x482.jpg 696w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Kany-1068x739.jpg 1068w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Kany-607x420.jpg 607w" sizes="(max-width: 712px) 100vw, 712px" /><figcaption>A Kanye 2020 sign on O&#8217;Malley and Old Seward Highway on a state construction lot. The lower sign was graffitied and shortly thereafter, another sign appeared on top of it. (Lex Treinen/Alaska Public Media) </figcaption></figure> <p>Mysterious campaign signs have been popping up around Alaska for a well-known presidential candidate. But the candidate himself won’t be appearing on the ballot.&nbsp;</p> <p>“I’ma let you finish, but Kanye West is not on the ballot in Alaska,” is how the Alaska Division of Elections responded, on Twitter, to photos of the 4-by-8 signs that are spread around Anchorage. </p> <p><audio controls="controls"><source src="http://media.aprn.org/2020/15Kanye (pkg) mp3.mp3" type="audio/mpeg"></audio></p> <p>The tweet is a reference to the rapper and entrepreneur’s famous 2009 VMA speech in which the rapper and entrepreneur interrupted singer Taylor Swift in the middle of her acceptance speech.</p> <p>Kanye announced he was running for president this July, but he’s already missed filing deadlines in many states, including in Alaska. And he has since contradicted himself about whether he is running, though that hasn’t stopped election officials in at least a handful of states from confirming he’ll be on the ballot, according to <a href="https://www.complex.com/music/2020/08/kanye-west-2020-presidential-ballot-states">media reports</a>.&nbsp;</p> <figure class="wp-block-embed-twitter wp-block-embed is-type-rich is-provider-twitter"><div class="wp-block-embed__wrapper"> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-width="550" data-dnt="true"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">I&#39;ma let you finish but Kanye West is not on the ballot in Alaska <a href="https://t.co/6RUW74a8Lh">pic.twitter.com/6RUW74a8Lh</a></p>&mdash; AK Division of Elections (@ak_elections) <a href="https://twitter.com/ak_elections/status/1300958439632375808?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">September 2, 2020</a></blockquote><script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script> </div></figure> <p>But, regardless, someone is spending a moderate amount of money on the signs, which cost anywhere from about $50 to a couple hundred dollars, depending on where they’re printed and on their design.&nbsp;</p> <p>“Whoever&#8217;s doing it has little spare cash laying around,” said political blogger Jeff Landfield.</p> <p>He first heard of the signs after a columnist for his blog, the Alaska Landmine, spotted them. Since then he’s been trying to figure out who is doing it, but so far, he’s been stumped since it’s hard to find any clues based on their production or location. Most of them are in the public right-of-way next to other political signs.&nbsp;</p> <p>“Maybe they just see the other signs there and that&#8217;s where they go. Who knows? But there doesn&#8217;t seem to be any real pattern,” he said.&nbsp;</p> <p>The signs and the bases, made from two-by-fours that appear painted in gold spray paint, do require time and a sense of humor.&nbsp;Some people have suggested it was Landfield himself, though he denies it.</p> <p>Shan Linde owns a coffee shack on a strip of land between A and C Streets near 36th, where one of the most visible sign stands. He says he appreciates the joke.&nbsp;</p> <figure class="wp-block-image size-large is-resized"><img loading="lazy" src="https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Kanye-Service-600x400.jpg" alt="A blue Kanye sign hangs on an elevated footbridge as two cars pass" class="wp-image-278111" width="721" height="481" srcset="https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Kanye-Service-600x400.jpg 600w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Kanye-Service-300x200.jpg 300w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Kanye-Service-150x100.jpg 150w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Kanye-Service-768x512.jpg 768w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Kanye-Service-1536x1024.jpg 1536w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Kanye-Service-2048x1365.jpg 2048w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Kanye-Service-696x464.jpg 696w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Kanye-Service-1068x712.jpg 1068w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Kanye-Service-630x420.jpg 630w" sizes="(max-width: 721px) 100vw, 721px" /><figcaption>A Kanye 2020 sign hanging on the Service High School foot bridge on Sept. 10, 2020 (Lex Treinen/Alaska Public Media)</figcaption></figure> <p>“I like Kanye. I watch Kardashians. I watch all that. [He’s a] good fashion designer, smart guy. You know, I like that. [He’s] motivated, mentally ill, but takes care of his business,”&nbsp;he said.</p> <p>But the sign&nbsp; — Linde doesn&#8217;t know where it came from. He came home one weekend to find it there. He said people use the lot like an easement though it’s private property, and sometimes people put up inappropriate signs — or just too many — and he’s forced to take them down. </p> <p>There’s speculation that Kanye’s presidential campaign, which was later canceled by Kanye himself, is actually an elaborate ruse designed to siphon votes from the Democratic nominee Joe Biden. That argument’s been bolstered by recent reports that <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/live/2020/08/12/us/biden-vs-trump#kanye-west-who-is-pursuing-a-spot-on-the-2020-ballot-met-with-jared-kushner">high-level Trump officials have met with Kanye</a> and other Trump supporters have <a href="https://www.npr.org/2020/08/13/901534846/heres-how-republicans-are-boosting-kanye-west-s-presidential-campaign">pushed to get him listed on the ballot in certain swing states.</a> But in Alaska with its three electoral votes? Landfield said that’s unlikely.&nbsp;</p> <p>“People don&#8217;t really campaign [here], we’re not really worth it. And we&#8217;re a solid red state,” he said. <a href="https://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/polls/alaska/">Recent polling</a> puts Trump ahead in Alaska by about six percentage points.&nbsp;</p> <p>A more likely culprit:a prankster. Landfield said that the signs speak to the fraught political and social moment we’re living in, that sometimes calls for a joke.&nbsp;</p> <p>“You laugh or cry, maybe whoever did it chose to laugh,” he said.&nbsp;</p> <p></p> Assembly tables bill to protect hotel workers https://www.alaskapublic.org/2020/09/16/assembly-tables-bill-to-protect-hotel-workers/ Alaska Public Media urn:uuid:f1cbb05c-1fca-ac3d-9ea0-822a6f1af92d Wed, 16 Sep 2020 15:02:43 +0000 The Anchorage Assembly voted on Tuesday to indefinitely postpone an ordinance providing protections for hotel workers after several hours of public testimony against the proposed measure. <figure class="wp-block-image size-large"><img loading="lazy" width="600" height="385" src="https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/CaptainCook2-600x385.jpg" alt="" class="wp-image-263281" srcset="https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/CaptainCook2-600x385.jpg 600w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/CaptainCook2-300x192.jpg 300w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/CaptainCook2-150x96.jpg 150w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/CaptainCook2-768x492.jpg 768w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/CaptainCook2-1536x985.jpg 1536w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/CaptainCook2-2048x1313.jpg 2048w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/CaptainCook2-696x446.jpg 696w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/CaptainCook2-1068x685.jpg 1068w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/CaptainCook2-655x420.jpg 655w" sizes="(max-width: 600px) 100vw, 600px" /><figcaption>Ryan Marcey, a front desk clerk, works in an empty lobby at the Hotel Captain Cook on Friday, April 10, 2020. (Tegan Hanlon/Alaska Public Media) </figcaption></figure> <p>The Anchorage Assembly voted on Tuesday to indefinitely postpone an ordinance providing protections for hotel workers after several hours of public testimony against the proposed measure.&nbsp;</p> <p>The ordinance, which was put forth by Assemblymen Felix Rivera and Forrest Dunbar, would give hotel workers laid off because of the pandemic priority during re-hiring. A separate clause would require hotels changing ownership to retain existing workers for at least 90 days.&nbsp;</p> <p>Numerous hospitality workers, many in management or leadership positions, testified against the ordinance, arguing that it meddled in private business and was impractical to implement given the fickle nature of hotel staffing needs. Two union representatives called in favor of the ordinance, saying it would provide job security for service workers who are already vulnerable during the pandemic.</p> <p>After two hours of testimony, Dunbar and Rivera argued to keep the bill but modify it to take into account the concerns of the public. Even so, the bill was tabled indefinitely with a 9-2 vote.</p> Board of Fish nominees get chilly reception from commercial, subsistence groups https://www.alaskapublic.org/2020/09/15/board-of-fish-nominees-get-chilly-reception-from-commercial-subsistence-groups/ Alaska Public Media urn:uuid:559945b5-c7c1-5cbf-388c-3070fee4c930 Wed, 16 Sep 2020 03:26:19 +0000 A Sept. 3 meeting drew pointed questions from lawmakers on Gov. Dunleavy's appointments to the Board of Fish. <figure class="wp-block-image size-large is-resized"><img loading="lazy" src="https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/180111_BOF2_woolsey1-750x500-1-600x400.jpg" alt="Several old white men on wooden desks talk seriously. " class="wp-image-278131" width="731" height="487" srcset="https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/180111_BOF2_woolsey1-750x500-1-600x400.jpg 600w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/180111_BOF2_woolsey1-750x500-1-300x200.jpg 300w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/180111_BOF2_woolsey1-750x500-1-150x100.jpg 150w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/180111_BOF2_woolsey1-750x500-1-696x464.jpg 696w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/180111_BOF2_woolsey1-750x500-1-630x420.jpg 630w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/180111_BOF2_woolsey1-750x500-1.jpg 750w" sizes="(max-width: 731px) 100vw, 731px" /><figcaption>Board of Fisheries members hear testimony on shellfish proposals at the Southeast Shellfish/Finfish meeting in Sitka in 2017. The board sets key allocations and is the final arbiter between gear groups and interests competing over a shared public resource. (Robert Woolsey/KCAW) </figcaption></figure> <p>Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s&nbsp;nominees to the board&nbsp;that regulates state fisheries drew a lot of heat at a September 3 confirmation hearing.</p> <p>The timing of two of the appointments and the COVID-19 emergency makes it possible the appointees could set policy for Alaska’s commercial, sport and subsistence fisheries without first being confirmed by lawmakers.</p> <p>This month’s House confirmation hearing began with a relative unknown in Alaska’s world of fish politics.</p> <p>McKenzie Mitchell is an adjunct professor at UAF’s School of Management. She called in from a boat on the Yukon River&nbsp;where she’s working as a moose hunting guide.</p> <p><strong>“</strong>It almost seemed like your natural fit for the Board of Game,” House Speaker Bryce Edgmon (I-Dillingham) asked. “Why would you put your name for the Board or Fisheries when your experience is on the game side primarily?”</p> <p>Mitchell replied that she’d be open to serving on that board too.</p> <p><em>“</em>My experience, I guess, in both fisheries and hunting in the state of Alaska has been, you know, pretty well balanced,” she said.</p> <p>As experience, Mitchell has touted her graduate thesis on the region’s halibut sport fishery which is regulated by an international commission, not the state of Alaska.&nbsp;</p> <p>Her appointment was also endorsed by Fairbank Fish and Game Advisory Committee.</p> <p>Rep. Louise Stutes of Kodiak quizzed a different nominee,&nbsp;John Wood, on his close ties to the governor. Wood had worked as an aide to Sen. Dunleavy. He now describes himself as a retired attorney residing in the Susitna Valley.</p> <p>“Mr. Wood, are you currently in any capacity employed by the state presently<em>?</em>” Stutes asked.</p> <p>He replied that he has a contract advising the Department of Administration on labor negotiations and reports directly to the governor. But he said he didn’t think there’d be any issues with him serving on the board.</p> <p>“No fish issues whatsoever are covered by the contract,” Wood said. “So no, I don’t believe there to be any kind of conflict.”</p> <p>That didn’t satisfy the Kodiak Republican.</p> <p><strong>“</strong>Personally, that’s very alarming to me,” she said. “I just believe that morally, not ethically it is a conflict. But I will move on.”</p> <p>The most controversial nominee has been Abe Williams. He’s employed by the Pebble Partnership which seeks to develop an open-pit gold and copper mine on the headwaters of Bristol Bay where he grew up.</p> <p><strong>“</strong>I’ve fished in Bristol Bay for 30 years. I have subsistence fished with my grandmother, I’ve sports fished with my family, my kids. And, you know, I cherish this resource just as any other,” Williams said. “But I also am very, very, very connected to the people in the region.”</p> <p>Williams was also a plaintiff in a Pebble-backed lawsuit that sought to block Bristol Bay’s regional seafood development association from using dues from commercial fishermen to oppose the Pebble Mine.</p> <p><strong>“</strong>My challenge to them was largely in recognition to large sums of monies that we pay into the organization being directed to organizations like&nbsp;United Tribes of Bristol Bay&nbsp;and&nbsp;SalmonState.”</p> <p>A judge&nbsp;<a href="https://www.kdlg.org/post/judge-dismisses-pebble-funded-lawsuit-against-bbrsda-1#stream/0">dismissed the case</a>&nbsp;last year.&nbsp;</p> <p>Bristol Bay’s sockeye fishery is limited to 32-foot gill net boats — relatively small compared to much of Alaska’s fishing fleet.&nbsp;</p> <p>Successive proposals before the Board of Fish to open the fishery to larger vessels&nbsp;have been voted down. He denied being behind past efforts to change the rule. But said he can understand why the limit has critics among some fishermen.</p> <p><strong>“</strong>As a fisherman, I can see where the limit of 32 foot really creates a strain on your ability to do so adequately and be safe when you do it,” he said.</p> <p>One of the nominees was uncontroversial: longtime chairman John Jensen.</p> <p>The Petersburg resident is now the sole board member from a coastal fishing community for the rulemaking body that makes critical decisions of allocation that can affect livelihoods and impact food security.</p> <p>It’s also the arbiter in long running disputes between commercial fishermen and the charter fleet or subsistence groups.&nbsp;</p> <p>The committee opened the line to public testimony. All of the governor’s nominees received support from the sportfishing sector, including Abe Williams.</p> <p><strong>“</strong>Mr. Williams is taking flak today for his connection with the Pebble project but I personally find it hard to believe that he would knowingly jeopardize the fishery that supported him for decades,” said Forrest Braden, executive director of the Southeast Alaska Guides Organization.</p> <p>But commercial fishermen took a dimmer view.</p> <p><strong>“</strong>It doesn’t matter that Mr. Williams has fished Bristol Bay for 30 years. It matters that he works for the Pebble Limited Partnership,” said Georgie Heverly a Cook Inlet gill netter and member of the Anchorage Fish and Game Advisory Committee.</p> <p><strong>“</strong>And the lawsuit he was involved in against the&nbsp;BBRDSA&nbsp;was widely opposed by commercial fishermen,” she said. “So to appoint him as a commercial fishing representative but does not even have the support of the sector is an insult to this process and an insult to Alaska’s fishermen.”</p> <p>Others questioned the qualifications of the governor’s nominees, all of whom live in the Railbelt, on their grasp on subsistence fisheries.</p> <p><strong>“</strong>Appoint someone who’s actually qualified, not someone who has simply floated by or flown into our communities,” said Stephanie Quinn-Davidson is director of the Yukon River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission for Tanana Chiefs Conference.</p> <p>She says the Board of Fish makes crucial allocation decisions that can impact food security in rural Alaska.&nbsp;</p> <p>“These decisions need to be taken seriously,” she said, “and I have concerns with some of the responses you receive from these appointees today that showed woeful inexperience with and knowledge of Arctic Yukon Kuskokwim river fisheries.”</p> <p>Two of the nominees: Mitchell and Williams were appointed in April. The legislature adjourned early due to the COVID-19 pandemic and neither they nor Wood were confirmed. Legislative legal counsel says state law allows them to serve 30 days after the COVID19 emergency declaration expires: currently mid-December.</p> <p>But if the state’s disaster declaration is extended, the governor’s Board of Fish nominees could serve until January 18 without being confirmed.&nbsp;</p> <p>That means nominees could vote on fisheries issues affecting Prince William Sound and Southeast without being confirmed by a majority vote of lawmakers.</p> <p>Susan Doherty, executive director, Southeast Alaska Seiners Association, says that isn’t right.</p> <p><strong>“</strong>Unless being considered for reappointment,” Doherty said, “we believe no candidate should be able to sit and make judgment decisions that affect the lives and livelihoods or cultural opportunities of the people of Alaska without first being confirmed.”</p> <p>Yet the Board of Fish’s schedule remains up in the air. Its support staff has pointed to risks of holding in-person meetings in Cordova and Ketchikan this fall and winter.&nbsp;</p> <p><em>The Board of Fisheries has scheduled a&nbsp;work session&nbsp;at&nbsp;2:30 p.m. Wednesday, September 16</em>&nbsp;<em>to discuss revising how to hold regional meetings in the age of COVID. It’s considering major revisions to the 2020/21 meeting schedule.</em></p> <p><em>Editor’s Note: The second sentence in this article has been clarified.</em></p> In wake of scandals, Y-K school district revamps protocols for sexually inappropriate behavior https://www.alaskapublic.org/2020/09/15/in-wake-of-scandals-y-k-school-district-revamps-protocols-for-sexually-inappropriate-behavior/ Alaska Public Media urn:uuid:5d5751ac-9f4b-d488-82bd-311dcb4f05c1 Wed, 16 Sep 2020 03:20:24 +0000 The policy proposals identify specific examples of what “sexual grooming” behavior is, and it spells out how the district should respond to reports of such behavior, following the arrest in 2019 of a Bethel school principal on charges of sexual abuse. <figure class="wp-block-image size-large is-resized"><img loading="lazy" src="https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/MG_1833-600x400.jpg" alt="A green school with metal siding and a walkway leading to the front door. " class="wp-image-278128" width="717" height="479" srcset="https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/MG_1833-600x400.jpg 600w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/MG_1833-300x200.jpg 300w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/MG_1833-150x100.jpg 150w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/MG_1833-768x512.jpg 768w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/MG_1833-1536x1024.jpg 1536w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/MG_1833-2048x1365.jpg 2048w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/MG_1833-696x464.jpg 696w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/MG_1833-1068x712.jpg 1068w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/MG_1833-630x420.jpg 630w" sizes="(max-width: 717px) 100vw, 717px" /><figcaption>Gladys Jung Elementary School, where a principal charged with sexual abuse was arrested in 2019. (Christine Trudeau/KYUK)</figcaption></figure> <p>Following the arrest of one of its elementary school principals, the Lower Kuskokwim School District is changing its policies on how sexually inappropriate behavior is reported and investigated. In meetings about the new policies, school board members asked whether the district’s administration was capable of investigating its own employees without bias.</p> <p>In December 2019, Bethel elementary school principal Chris Carmichael was arrested, and later charged with two counts of sexual abuse of a minor. An&nbsp;<a href="https://www.kyuk.org/post/lksd-said-it-was-blindsided-principals-arrest-except-he-d-been-investigated-twice">investigation</a>&nbsp;by KYUK, the Anchorage Daily News, and ProPublica showed that the Lower Kuskokwim School District had received multiple complaints about Carmichael’s inappropriate conduct with students prior to his arrest.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>RELATED: </strong><em><a href="https://www.alaskapublic.org/2020/05/11/a-rural-school-district-said-it-was-blindsided-by-a-bethel-principals-arrest-except-hed-been-investigated-twice-before/">A rural school district said it was blindsided by a Bethel principal’s arrest. Except he’d been investigated twice before.</a></em></p> <p>“Unfortunately, we find ourselves in the situation where there&#8217;s credible allegations,” said LKSD School Board member Michael Husa. “It&#8217;s been turned over to the court system, and it&#8217;s working its way through. What we want to do is set up policies that should something similar ever happen, we catch it much sooner or, preferably, before it ever develops.”&nbsp;</p> <p>Several months after Carmichael’s arrest, the school district staff introduced new policies, which are making their way through the school board’s approval process. The policies identify specific examples of what “sexual grooming” behavior is, and it spells out how the district should respond to reports of such behavior.&nbsp;</p> <p>State laws require schools to report inappropriate behavior between staff and a student to law enforcement and the Office of Children&#8217;s Services. But the school district can also conduct its own investigation, and this internal investigative process is mainly what LKSD’s new policy seeks to change.</p> <p><strong>RELATED: </strong><em><a href="https://www.alaskapublic.org/2019/12/12/bethel-elementary-principal-charged-with-sending-sexual-messages-to-an-agent-he-thought-was-a-young-girl/">Bethel elementary principal charged with sending sexual messages to an agent he thought was a child</a></em></p> <p>In board meetings, Husa has advocated for more oversight of the superintendent when the district investigates an employee. He said that this was nothing against the current superintendent, Kimberly Hankins, but just another precaution to take.&nbsp;</p> <p>“Ms. Hankins has been in the district for a number of years,” Husa said. “She has relationships with employees already. She will continue to develop those, and I want more than one person&#8217;s eyes on it. So that we don&#8217;t have the potential bias.”&nbsp;</p> <p>At Husa’s suggestion, the board decided that any complaint of inappropriate behavior must be investigated by a three-person committee. That will include the superintendent, the director of human resources, and the district’s safety coordinator.&nbsp;</p> <p>Husa went further. He suggested that LKSD should bring in outside help so that the district’s administration does not investigate employees they may have relationships with.</p> <p>“It needs to be examined through an independent set of eyes,” Husa said.</p> <p>The school board passed another change that will require the district to bring in professional investigators in certain cases. The policy is unclear as to what circumstances would trigger the involvement of an independent agency.</p> <p>Superintendent Hankins wrote in an email that “whether and how an independent agency becomes involved will depend on the circumstances, what is reported, to whom, and what is discovered during the District’s initial review, along with what is discovered in any investigation by local law enforcement.”</p> <p>Husa had issues with another part of LKSD’s new policy, the part that defines what kind of sexual grooming behavior needs to be reported and investigated. The first draft of LKSD’s policy included giving gifts to students and visiting them at home as behaviors that should be investigated. Husa argued that those behaviors could be normal when you’re part of a small community.</p> <p><strong>RELATED: </strong><em><a href="https://www.alaskapublic.org/2020/04/13/state-files-two-new-charges-of-sexual-abuse-against-former-bethel-elementary-principal/">State files two new charges of sexual abuse against former Bethel elementary principal</a></em></p> <p>“Being involved in the community shows students that teachers aren&#8217;t there just to be at the school, they&#8217;re there as part of the community,” Husa said. “Part of the reason I was successful as a teacher out here was I had those relationships with the community.”</p> <p>Court records and interviews with parents showed that former principal Chris Carmichael had a history of giving gifts to students. However, the school board agreed with Husa and removed gift giving from the list of behaviors that warrant investigations into school staff. And board members decided that staff visiting students at home is allowed if a parent or guardian is present. Other inappropriate behaviors on the list include, but are not limited to: texting or messaging particular students frequently, being overly touchy with a student, and being alone with a student behind closed doors at school.</p> <p>LKSD’s school board will take another look at the new policy before adopting it. The next board meeting is on Sept. 24.</p> LISTEN: Anchorage schools superintendent talks challenges of educating during a pandemic https://www.alaskapublic.org/2020/09/15/listen-anchorage-schools-superintendent-talks-challenges-of-educating-during-a-pandemic/ Alaska Public Media urn:uuid:7071286a-431b-2d63-2b52-88daa6b12771 Wed, 16 Sep 2020 01:48:43 +0000 We're asking experts and local leaders what they’ve learned in the past six months of the coronavirus pandemic, and that includes Dr. Deena Bishop, superintendent of the Anchorage School District, the largest school district in the state. <figure class="wp-block-image size-large"><img loading="lazy" width="533" height="400" src="https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/20200915_Deena_Bishop_ASD_Sup_CHEN-2.jpg" alt="a woman standing in front of a building" class="wp-image-278080" srcset="https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/20200915_Deena_Bishop_ASD_Sup_CHEN-2.jpg 533w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/20200915_Deena_Bishop_ASD_Sup_CHEN-2-300x225.jpg 300w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/20200915_Deena_Bishop_ASD_Sup_CHEN-2-150x113.jpg 150w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/20200915_Deena_Bishop_ASD_Sup_CHEN-2-80x60.jpg 80w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/20200915_Deena_Bishop_ASD_Sup_CHEN-2-265x198.jpg 265w" sizes="(max-width: 533px) 100vw, 533px" /><figcaption>Anchorage School District Superintendent Dr. Deena Bishop stands outside an ASD office on September 15, 2020. (Jeff Chen/Alaska Public Media)</figcaption></figure> <p>It’s been half a year since the first known case of COVID-19 in Alaska. And back in March, there was still so much we didn&#8217;t know, and a lot to learn.</p> <p>So we&#8217;re asking experts and local leaders what they’ve learned in the past six months That includes Dr. Deena Bishop, superintendent of the Anchorage School District, the largest school district in the state.</p> <p>While the scientific knowledge of the coronavirus continues to evolve, Bishop says one of the big things educators have learned has to do with the differences between younger and older children.</p> <p>LISTEN HERE:</p> <p><audio controls="controls"><source src="http://media.aprn.org/2020/15 Deena Bishop int.mp3" type="audio/mpeg"></audio></p> Carol Seppilu: Strong resilient indigenous https://www.alaskapublic.org/2020/09/15/carol-seppilu-strong-resilient-indigenous/ Alaska Public Media urn:uuid:2d96e3eb-5fb6-f416-6c7e-9d02ffe3038c Wed, 16 Sep 2020 01:42:31 +0000 On the next Outdoor Explorer, Carol Seppilu from Nome will describe her journey from suicide survivor to ultrarunner. September is Suicide Awareness Month and her shared message of Strong Resilient Indigenous is proving inspirational both state-wide and nationally. <figure class="wp-block-gallery columns-3 is-cropped"><ul class="blocks-gallery-grid"><li class="blocks-gallery-item"><figure><img loading="lazy" width="600" height="411" src="https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Carol-Seppilu-running-outside-of-Nome-photo-courtesy-Carol-Seppilu-600x411.jpg" alt="Carol Seppilu running outside of Nome, photo courtesy Carol Seppilu" data-id="278116" data-full-url="https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Carol-Seppilu-running-outside-of-Nome-photo-courtesy-Carol-Seppilu.jpg" data-link="https://www.alaskapublic.org/carol-seppilu-running-outside-of-nome-photo-courtesy-carol-seppilu/" class="wp-image-278116" srcset="https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Carol-Seppilu-running-outside-of-Nome-photo-courtesy-Carol-Seppilu-600x411.jpg 600w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Carol-Seppilu-running-outside-of-Nome-photo-courtesy-Carol-Seppilu-300x205.jpg 300w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Carol-Seppilu-running-outside-of-Nome-photo-courtesy-Carol-Seppilu-150x103.jpg 150w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Carol-Seppilu-running-outside-of-Nome-photo-courtesy-Carol-Seppilu-768x526.jpg 768w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Carol-Seppilu-running-outside-of-Nome-photo-courtesy-Carol-Seppilu-100x70.jpg 100w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Carol-Seppilu-running-outside-of-Nome-photo-courtesy-Carol-Seppilu-218x150.jpg 218w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Carol-Seppilu-running-outside-of-Nome-photo-courtesy-Carol-Seppilu-696x477.jpg 696w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Carol-Seppilu-running-outside-of-Nome-photo-courtesy-Carol-Seppilu-1068x732.jpg 1068w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Carol-Seppilu-running-outside-of-Nome-photo-courtesy-Carol-Seppilu-613x420.jpg 613w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Carol-Seppilu-running-outside-of-Nome-photo-courtesy-Carol-Seppilu.jpg 1438w" sizes="(max-width: 600px) 100vw, 600px" /><figcaption class="blocks-gallery-item__caption">Carol Seppilu running outside of Nome, photo courtesy Carol Seppilu</figcaption></figure></li><li class="blocks-gallery-item"><figure><img loading="lazy" width="600" height="399" src="https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Kilgaaqu-Run-Series-Nome-Teller-Highway-Leg-1-photo-courtesy-Carol-Seppilu-600x399.jpg" alt="Kilgaaqu Run Series, Nome-Teller Highway, Leg 1, photo courtesy Carol Seppilu" data-id="278117" data-full-url="https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Kilgaaqu-Run-Series-Nome-Teller-Highway-Leg-1-photo-courtesy-Carol-Seppilu.jpg" data-link="https://www.alaskapublic.org/kilgaaqu-run-series-nome-teller-highway-leg-1-photo-courtesy-carol-seppilu/" class="wp-image-278117" srcset="https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Kilgaaqu-Run-Series-Nome-Teller-Highway-Leg-1-photo-courtesy-Carol-Seppilu-600x399.jpg 600w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Kilgaaqu-Run-Series-Nome-Teller-Highway-Leg-1-photo-courtesy-Carol-Seppilu-300x200.jpg 300w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Kilgaaqu-Run-Series-Nome-Teller-Highway-Leg-1-photo-courtesy-Carol-Seppilu-150x100.jpg 150w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Kilgaaqu-Run-Series-Nome-Teller-Highway-Leg-1-photo-courtesy-Carol-Seppilu-768x511.jpg 768w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Kilgaaqu-Run-Series-Nome-Teller-Highway-Leg-1-photo-courtesy-Carol-Seppilu-696x463.jpg 696w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Kilgaaqu-Run-Series-Nome-Teller-Highway-Leg-1-photo-courtesy-Carol-Seppilu-631x420.jpg 631w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Kilgaaqu-Run-Series-Nome-Teller-Highway-Leg-1-photo-courtesy-Carol-Seppilu.jpg 852w" sizes="(max-width: 600px) 100vw, 600px" /><figcaption class="blocks-gallery-item__caption">Kilgaaqu Run Series, Nome-Teller Highway, Leg 1, photo courtesy Carol Seppilu</figcaption></figure></li><li class="blocks-gallery-item"><figure><img loading="lazy" width="600" height="403" src="https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Kilgaaqu-Run-Series-Nome-Taylor-Highway-Leg-2-photo-courtesy-Carol-Seppilu-600x403.jpg" alt="Kilgaaqu Run Series, Nome-Taylor Highway, Leg 2, photo courtesy Carol Seppilu" data-id="278118" data-full-url="https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Kilgaaqu-Run-Series-Nome-Taylor-Highway-Leg-2-photo-courtesy-Carol-Seppilu.jpg" data-link="https://www.alaskapublic.org/kilgaaqu-run-series-nome-taylor-highway-leg-2-photo-courtesy-carol-seppilu/" class="wp-image-278118" srcset="https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Kilgaaqu-Run-Series-Nome-Taylor-Highway-Leg-2-photo-courtesy-Carol-Seppilu-600x403.jpg 600w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Kilgaaqu-Run-Series-Nome-Taylor-Highway-Leg-2-photo-courtesy-Carol-Seppilu-300x202.jpg 300w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Kilgaaqu-Run-Series-Nome-Taylor-Highway-Leg-2-photo-courtesy-Carol-Seppilu-150x101.jpg 150w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Kilgaaqu-Run-Series-Nome-Taylor-Highway-Leg-2-photo-courtesy-Carol-Seppilu-768x516.jpg 768w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Kilgaaqu-Run-Series-Nome-Taylor-Highway-Leg-2-photo-courtesy-Carol-Seppilu-696x468.jpg 696w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Kilgaaqu-Run-Series-Nome-Taylor-Highway-Leg-2-photo-courtesy-Carol-Seppilu-625x420.jpg 625w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Kilgaaqu-Run-Series-Nome-Taylor-Highway-Leg-2-photo-courtesy-Carol-Seppilu.jpg 847w" sizes="(max-width: 600px) 100vw, 600px" /><figcaption class="blocks-gallery-item__caption">Kilgaaqu Run Series, Nome-Taylor Highway, Leg 2, photo courtesy Carol Seppilu</figcaption></figure></li><li class="blocks-gallery-item"><figure><img loading="lazy" width="600" height="391" src="https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Kilgaaqu-Run-Series-Nome-Council-Highway-Leg-3-photo-courtesy-of-Carol-Seppilu-600x391.jpg" alt="Kilgaaqu Run Series, Nome-Council Highway, Leg 3, photo courtesy of Carol Seppilu" data-id="278119" data-full-url="https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Kilgaaqu-Run-Series-Nome-Council-Highway-Leg-3-photo-courtesy-of-Carol-Seppilu.jpg" data-link="https://www.alaskapublic.org/kilgaaqu-run-series-nome-council-highway-leg-3-photo-courtesy-of-carol-seppilu/" class="wp-image-278119" srcset="https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Kilgaaqu-Run-Series-Nome-Council-Highway-Leg-3-photo-courtesy-of-Carol-Seppilu-600x391.jpg 600w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Kilgaaqu-Run-Series-Nome-Council-Highway-Leg-3-photo-courtesy-of-Carol-Seppilu-300x196.jpg 300w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Kilgaaqu-Run-Series-Nome-Council-Highway-Leg-3-photo-courtesy-of-Carol-Seppilu-150x98.jpg 150w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Kilgaaqu-Run-Series-Nome-Council-Highway-Leg-3-photo-courtesy-of-Carol-Seppilu-768x501.jpg 768w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Kilgaaqu-Run-Series-Nome-Council-Highway-Leg-3-photo-courtesy-of-Carol-Seppilu-696x454.jpg 696w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Kilgaaqu-Run-Series-Nome-Council-Highway-Leg-3-photo-courtesy-of-Carol-Seppilu-644x420.jpg 644w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Kilgaaqu-Run-Series-Nome-Council-Highway-Leg-3-photo-courtesy-of-Carol-Seppilu.jpg 860w" sizes="(max-width: 600px) 100vw, 600px" /><figcaption class="blocks-gallery-item__caption">Kilgaaqu Run Series, Nome-Council Highway, Leg 3, photo courtesy of Carol Seppilu</figcaption></figure></li></ul></figure> <p>When Carol Seppilu was 16 years old, she attempted suicide. She survived but was left with injuries that make it difficult to breath and talk. After years of surgery, inactivity, and depression, one day she decided to try to run. Although she didn’t go far on that first run, something about running resonated with her and she continued to run farther and farther, eventually settling her in the category of an ultra-runner, running distances longer than a marathon on trails.<br>Although most of our conversation is centered around running, we did talk about depression and suicide, a topic that might be difficult for some listeners.</p> <p><strong><a href="https://www.alaskapublic.org/about/lisa-keller/">HOST: Lisa Keller</a></strong></p> <p><strong>Guest:</strong></p> <ul><li><strong>Carol Seppilu</strong>, suicide survivor and ultrarunner</li></ul> <p><strong>LINKS:</strong></p> <ul><li><a href="https://www.adn.com/alaska-life/2019/10/11/given-a-second-chance-at-life-nome-woman-runs-her-way-to-health-and-happiness/">Anchorage Daily News story on Carol Seppilu and the Leadville 100: “Given a second chance at life, Nome woman runs her way to health and happiness.”</a></li><li><a href="http://maxromeyproductions.com/trailboundalaska">Max Romey Productions, Trailbound Alaska project: “A Light in Nome.”</a></li><li><a href="https://education.alaska.gov/tls/suicide">State of Alaska Department of Education &amp; Early Development: Suicide Awareness, Prevention, and Postvention</a></li></ul> <p><strong>BROADCAST: </strong>Thursday, September 17th, 2020. 2:00 pm – 3:00 p.m. AKT</p> <p><strong>REPEAT BROADCAST: </strong> Thursday, September 17th, 2020. 8:00 – 9:00 p.m. AKT</p> <p><strong>SUBSCRIBE:&nbsp;</strong>Receive&nbsp;<em>Outdoor Explorer</em>&nbsp;automatically every week via:</p> <ul><li><a href="https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/outdoor-explorer/id592932362" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">iTunes&nbsp;</a></li><li><a href="http://feedburner.google.com/fb/a/mailverify?uri=kska-outdoorexplorer" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">Email</a></li><li><a href="http://feeds.feedburner.com/kska-outdoorexplorer" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">RSS Feed</a></li><li><a href="http://feeds.feedburner.com/kska-outdoorexplorer" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">Podcast</a></li></ul> Alaska News Nightly: Tuesday, September 15, 2020 https://www.alaskapublic.org/2020/09/15/alaska-news-nightly-tues-sep-15/ Alaska Public Media urn:uuid:6d3c3847-edab-d9a9-8363-4bbefc3237e9 Wed, 16 Sep 2020 01:40:56 +0000 Teachers in the Mat-Su school district inch toward a strike. And, the U.S. Forest Service attempts a new version of a timber sale that was halted by a federal court. Plus, who in Anchorage is campaigning for a Kanye West presidency? <figure class="wp-block-image size-large"><img loading="lazy" width="600" height="400" src="https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Kanye-for-pres-600x400.jpg" alt="A Kanye sign next to two other political signs with a sign for Espresso Expressions in the background" class="wp-image-278109" srcset="https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Kanye-for-pres-600x400.jpg 600w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Kanye-for-pres-300x200.jpg 300w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Kanye-for-pres-150x100.jpg 150w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Kanye-for-pres-768x512.jpg 768w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Kanye-for-pres-1536x1023.jpg 1536w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Kanye-for-pres-696x464.jpg 696w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Kanye-for-pres-1068x712.jpg 1068w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Kanye-for-pres-630x420.jpg 630w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Kanye-for-pres.jpg 1732w" sizes="(max-width: 600px) 100vw, 600px" /><figcaption>A Kanye 2020 sign on a strip of grass between A and C Streets near 36th Ave. The owner of the property said he didn&#8217;t put up the sign, but he appreciated the humor. Sept. 10, 2020 (Lex Treinen/Alaska Public Media)</figcaption></figure> <p>Stories are posted on the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.alaskapublic.org/aprn/">statewide news</a>&nbsp;page. You can subscribe to Alaska Public Media’s newsfeeds via&nbsp;<a href="http://feedburner.google.com/fb/a/mailverify?uri=aprn-news">email</a>,&nbsp;<a href="https://itunes.apple.com/podcast/aprn-alaska-news/id264469573?mt=2">podcast</a>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<a href="http://feeds.aprn.org/aprn-news">RSS</a>. Follow us on&nbsp;<a href="https://www.facebook.com/alaskapublic">Facebook at alaskapublic.org</a>&nbsp;and on&nbsp;<a href="https://www.twitter.com/AKPublicNews">Twitter @AKPublicNews</a></p> <p><audio controls="controls"><source src="http://media.aprn.org/2020/ann-20200915.mp3" type="audio/mpeg"></audio></p> <p><strong>Tuesday on Alaska News Nightly:</strong></p> <p>Teachers in the Mat-Su school district inch toward a strike. And, the U.S. Forest Service attempts a new version of a timber sale that was halted by a federal court. Plus, who in Anchorage is campaigning for a Kanye West presidency?</p> <p><strong>Reports tonight from:</strong></p> <ul><li>Tegan Hanlon and Lex Treinen in Anchorage</li><li>Phillip Manning in Talkeetna</li><li>Jacob Resneck in Juneau</li><li>Robyne in Fairbanks</li><li>Maggie Nelson in Unalaska</li></ul> Paddling around North America https://www.alaskapublic.org/2020/09/15/paddling-around-north-america/ Alaska Public Media urn:uuid:77c215d3-6367-015d-32f1-5a1ecf13ebda Wed, 16 Sep 2020 01:27:54 +0000 What’s it like to sea kayak around south and north America, including Alaska? On this Outdoor Explorer we’ll talk with German paddler Freya Hoffmeister who is doing just that. <figure class="wp-block-image size-large"><img loading="lazy" width="600" height="326" src="https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/20200915_Freya-Hoffmeister_F-Hoffmeister-600x326.jpg" alt="Freya Hoffmeister" class="wp-image-278113" srcset="https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/20200915_Freya-Hoffmeister_F-Hoffmeister-600x326.jpg 600w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/20200915_Freya-Hoffmeister_F-Hoffmeister-300x163.jpg 300w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/20200915_Freya-Hoffmeister_F-Hoffmeister-150x81.jpg 150w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/20200915_Freya-Hoffmeister_F-Hoffmeister-768x417.jpg 768w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/20200915_Freya-Hoffmeister_F-Hoffmeister-1536x834.jpg 1536w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/20200915_Freya-Hoffmeister_F-Hoffmeister-2048x1112.jpg 2048w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/20200915_Freya-Hoffmeister_F-Hoffmeister-696x378.jpg 696w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/20200915_Freya-Hoffmeister_F-Hoffmeister-1068x580.jpg 1068w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/20200915_Freya-Hoffmeister_F-Hoffmeister-774x420.jpg 774w" sizes="(max-width: 600px) 100vw, 600px" /><figcaption>Freya Hoffmeister</figcaption></figure> <p>What’s it like to sea kayak around both South and North America? Freya<br>Hoffmeister is a German paddler who is finding out. Freya started paddling after<br>giving birth to her son and has seemingly lived by her slogan “Never Stop Starting,<br>Never Start Stopping” ever since. She has kayaked around Australia, solo; around<br>South America, Iceland, Ireland, and the South Island of New Zealand. Freya follows<br>a long line of paddlers, starting with Alaska’s Indigenous Peoples, who have paddled<br>the Alaska coast. She is currently paddling the coast of North America, taking in<br>sections of the coast as seasons allow. For Alaska, she has made it from Southeast to<br>Wales, finishing there in August of 2019. This past winter she paddled much of the<br>Baja peninsula. During this 2020 summer of COVID19, she has not yet been able to<br>travel out of Germany but looks forward to continuing her Alaska adventure as<br>soon as she safely can. On this show, Freya shares what she has learned from her<br>many trips and about sea kayaking Alaska’s coast.</p> <p><strong>HOST:&nbsp;<a href="https://www.alaskapublic.org/about/paul-twardock/">Paul Twardock</a></strong></p> <p><strong>GUESTS</strong>:</p> <ul><li><strong>Freya</strong> <strong>Hoffmeister</strong></li></ul> <p><strong>LINKS</strong>:</p> <ul><li><a href="http://freyahoffmeister.com/">Freya&#8217;s homepage</a></li></ul> <p><strong>BROADCAST: </strong>Thursday, September 10th, 2020. 2:00 pm – 3:00 p.m. AKT</p> <p><strong>REPEAT BROADCAST: </strong> Thursday, September 10th, 2020. 8:00 – 9:00 p.m. AKT</p> <p><strong>SUBSCRIBE:&nbsp;</strong>Receive&nbsp;<em>Outdoor Explorer</em>&nbsp;automatically every week via:</p> <ul><li><a href="https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/outdoor-explorer/id592932362" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">iTunes&nbsp;</a></li><li><a href="http://feedburner.google.com/fb/a/mailverify?uri=kska-outdoorexplorer" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">Email</a></li><li><a href="http://feeds.feedburner.com/kska-outdoorexplorer" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">RSS Feed</a></li><li><a href="http://feeds.feedburner.com/kska-outdoorexplorer" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">Podcast</a></li></ul> <p></p> Former executive of SAExploration arrested on charges of wire fraud, securities fraud https://www.alaskapublic.org/2020/09/15/former-executive-of-saexploration-arrested-on-charges-of-wire-fraud-securities-fraud/ Alaska Public Media urn:uuid:30cc8dcb-94eb-3587-1dda-0139c01f0f3e Wed, 16 Sep 2020 01:01:08 +0000 The Houston-based company provides seismic data to oil-and-gas companies. <figure class="wp-block-image size-large"><img loading="lazy" width="600" height="400" src="https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/02242017_Jeff-Hastings-600x400.jpg" alt="A portrait of former SAE Exploration Chairman and CEO Jeff Hastings in Juneau from 2017." class="wp-image-192956" srcset="https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/02242017_Jeff-Hastings-600x400.jpg 600w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/02242017_Jeff-Hastings-300x200.jpg 300w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/02242017_Jeff-Hastings-768x512.jpg 768w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/02242017_Jeff-Hastings.jpg 830w" sizes="(max-width: 600px) 100vw, 600px" /><figcaption>Former SAE Exploration Chairman and CEO Jeff Hastings answers questions in 2017 after his testimony before the House Resources Committee in Juneau. (Rashah McChesney/Alaska’s Energy Desk)</figcaption></figure> <p>The former chief executive of a company that proposed conducting a seismic survey in Alaska’s Arctic Refuge was arrested<strong> </strong>in Anchorage on Friday on charges of wire fraud and securities fraud.</p> <p>The federal charges are tied to Jeffrey Hastings&#8217; work as CEO and board chairman of SAExploration, a Texas-based company that provides seismic data to the oil-and-gas industry. The company also has offices in Anchorage. </p> <p>A complaint written by an FBI agent investigating the case — and unsealed on Monday — alleges that, between 2015 and August 2019, Hastings engaged in a multi-million-dollar scheme to deceive investors and artificially inflate the company’s revenue.</p> <p>Hastings’ lawyer, Michael Dry, did not respond on Tuesday to requests for comment on the charges.</p> <p>The 14-page complaint from the FBI details numerous allegations of financial wrongdoing. </p> <p><em><a href="https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/HastingsComplaint.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">Read the complaint here.</a></em></p> <p>Among them: It says Hastings made “false and misleading statements” to the US. Securities and Exchange Commission. It says he created a second company, Alaskan Seismic Ventures, as a way for SAExploration to take advantage of certain Alaska oil tax credits that it wasn’t eligible for. And, it says, he set up shell organizations to move money between the two companies so Alaskan Seismic Ventures could appear “independent and financially healthy.” </p> <p>The complaint does not say whether the State of Alaska was defrauded, but,  <a href="https://investors.saexploration.com/static-files/9b291063-7731-45a1-9c8a-6d7ae32ba0b0" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">according to SAExploration’s most-recent annual report</a>, Alaskan Seismic Ventures collected millions of dollars in tax credits.</p> <p>The report says the Securities Exchange Commission, Department of Justice and state Department of Revenue were investigating the company’s financial statements.&nbsp;</p> <p>Colleen Glover, Alaska’s tax director, said the state considers tax matters confidential, so the department could not comment on any potential investigations. <a href="http://tax.alaska.gov/programs/programs/reports/index.aspx?60650" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">Reports </a>from 2016 through 2019 show that SAExploration and Alaskan Seismic Ventures did not receive any cash from the state for oil and gas tax credits during those years.</p> <p>Also, according to the FBI complaint, Hastings didn’t work alone.&nbsp;</p> <p>The complaint says he conspired with three other now-former company executives who aren’t named in the complaint. At least one agreed to help law enforcement with the investigation.  </p> <p>The complaint says the four of them “misappropriated” more than $6 million of SAExploration funds for “their own personal use.”&nbsp;</p> <p>In a brief written statement Tuesday, SAExploration spokeswoman Sarah Marshall said the company is now under new management and continues “to work hard to provide the same operational excellence that our customers have come to expect.”&nbsp;</p> <p>Marshall said Hastings was put on administrative leave more than a year ago, and then resigned.</p> <p>SAExploration announced in 2019 that it was under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission for “certain accounting matters that arose in 2015-2016.” This August, the company filed for bankruptcy and said it reached an agreement with most of its creditors to restructure its debt, <a href="https://www.wsj.com/articles/seismic-data-provider-saexploration-files-for-bankruptcy-11598641364#:~:text=The%20company%2C%20which%20provides%20seismic,liabilities%20from%20its%20balance%20sheet." target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">The Wall Street Journal reported</a>. </p> <p>Meanwhile, Hastings had his initial appearance in federal court in Anchorage on Tuesday. He had been jailed at the Anchorage Correctional Complex since Friday.&nbsp;</p> <p>“We just don’t want him locked up for another night,” Hastings’ lawyer told the judge.</p> <p>The judge said Hastings could be released on a $500,000 bond secured by $100,000 cash. Hastings’ next court date was set for October.</p> <p><em>Reach reporter Tegan Hanlon at thanlon@alaskapublic.org or 907-550-8447.</em></p> Palmer High School temporarily closed after single confirmed COVID-19 case https://www.alaskapublic.org/2020/09/15/palmer-high-school-temporarily-closed-after-single-confirmed-covid-19-case/ Alaska Public Media urn:uuid:72151b3f-cca2-92ad-94a8-fba62f0602e3 Tue, 15 Sep 2020 21:11:59 +0000 The district will provide an update on the length of the closure Tuesday evening. <figure class="wp-block-image size-large"><img loading="lazy" width="600" height="450" src="https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/IMG_20200820_083808-600x450.jpg" alt="An empty hallway in an elementary school with a black arrow sticker on the floor pointing in one direction that says &quot;one way&quot;" class="wp-image-275951" srcset="https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/IMG_20200820_083808-600x450.jpg 600w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/IMG_20200820_083808-300x225.jpg 300w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/IMG_20200820_083808-150x113.jpg 150w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/IMG_20200820_083808-768x576.jpg 768w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/IMG_20200820_083808-1536x1152.jpg 1536w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/IMG_20200820_083808-2048x1536.jpg 2048w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/IMG_20200820_083808-80x60.jpg 80w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/IMG_20200820_083808-265x198.jpg 265w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/IMG_20200820_083808-696x522.jpg 696w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/IMG_20200820_083808-1068x801.jpg 1068w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/IMG_20200820_083808-560x420.jpg 560w" sizes="(max-width: 600px) 100vw, 600px" /><figcaption>Schools like Northwood Elementary are having to adapt and change protocols in order to encourage physical distancing and behaviors that would limit the spread of COVID-19 including making hallways unidirectional. Taken August 20, 2020. (Mayowa Aina/Alaska Public Media)</figcaption></figure> <p>A single case of COVID-19 was reported to the Palmer High School on Monday leading officials to close the school building, according to the school’s <a href="https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=1208800846155792&amp;id=363754610660424">Facebook page</a>. Students are participating in online learning Tuesday and all practices and games are postponed until further notice. </p> <p>Palmer High and buses that served the school will be cleaned and disinfected public health officials will trace the students’ contacts. The Mat-Su Public Health Department will notify families if their child is considered a close contact and the district will provide an update Tuesday evening on the length of the closure. </p> <p><strong>SEE ALSO:</strong> <a href="https://www.alaskapublic.org/2020/09/01/cluster-of-covid-19-cases-close-three-schools-in-mat-su-school-district/"><em>Cluster of COVID-19 cases closes three schools in Mat-Su School District</em></a><em>&nbsp;</em></p> <p>Palmer High is at least the seventh school in the district to be impacted by the coronavirus and the fifth school closure since the school year began. The school has about 800 students, according to numbers from the <a href="https://education.alaska.gov/compass/ParentPortal/SchoolProfile?SchoolID=330050">Alaska Department of Education and Early Development. </a></p> <p><a href="https://www.alaskapublic.org/coronavirus/"><em>Read the latest coverage of the coronavirus pandemic in Alaska</em></a></p> <p>The Mat-Su Borough School District is the largest district in the state to <a href="https://www.alaskapublic.org/2020/07/23/mat-su-school-district-charts-its-own-path-to-reopening/">resume in-person</a> learning this fall. The status of school closures can be found on the district’s <a href="https://www.matsuk12.us/covid">website</a>.</p> After 18 months of negotiations, Mat-Su teachers move closer to a strike https://www.alaskapublic.org/2020/09/15/after-18-months-of-negotiations-mat-su-teachers-move-closer-to-a-strike/ Alaska Public Media urn:uuid:0c779c30-5292-6043-e63b-d59ec67ff392 Tue, 15 Sep 2020 19:59:41 +0000 All members of the Mat-Su teachers union are eligible to vote over the next few days on whether to go on strike. The district will have 72-hours notice before a strike takes place. <figure class="wp-block-image size-large"><img loading="lazy" width="600" height="338" src="https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Colony-600x338.jpg" alt="" class="wp-image-273372" srcset="https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Colony-600x338.jpg 600w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Colony-300x169.jpg 300w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Colony-150x84.jpg 150w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Colony-768x432.jpg 768w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Colony-1536x864.jpg 1536w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Colony-696x392.jpg 696w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Colony-1068x601.jpg 1068w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Colony-747x420.jpg 747w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Colony.jpg 1600w" sizes="(max-width: 600px) 100vw, 600px" /><figcaption>Colony High School (Image from Mat-Su Borough School District)</figcaption></figure> <p>The Matanuska-Susitna Borough School District teachers union took one more step toward a strike by beginning a strike vote of all members, according to a press release by the Mat-Su Education Association.&nbsp;</p> <p>The Tuesday morning vote is a legal requirement and does not mean that a strike will take place, the release says.&nbsp;</p> <p>“Our teachers, psychologists, nurses, and everyone else working without a contract in the middle of this pandemic simply want to be respected and valued by the School Board,” said Dianne K. Shibe, president of the association, in the release.&nbsp;</p> <p>Mat-Su teachers have been working on an expired contract for over a year. Tensions escalated between teachers and the district when the school board presented the district with a “<a href="https://sites.google.com/apps.matsuk12.us/msea-negotiations-update/home">last best offer</a>” and Superintendent Randy Trani <a href="https://www.adn.com/opinions/2020/08/30/mat-su-school-board-makes-fair-offer-to-teachers/">published an op-ed</a> in the Anchorage Daily News supporting the offer. </p> <p>The union represents 1292 certified employees including teachers, nurses, and librarians, and other district staff. And the vote will take place over the next three days.&nbsp;</p> <p>“Every single member I’ve spoken to would rather have a fair contract than go out on strike, but they are prepared to strike if the Board won’t come back and negotiate,” said Shibe in the release. </p> <p>The district sent an email to families notifying them of the pending vote and explained the union must give the district 72 hours notice if it decides to strike. &#8220;If the district receives such notice, or is earlier informed that the teachers have voted to strike, the district will provide parents further information,&#8221; the email said. &#8220;Fortunately, there is still time for resolution.&#8221; </p> Loved ones fight for entry as hospital COVID precautions keep them outside https://www.alaskapublic.org/2020/09/15/hospitals-keep-tight-visitation-policies-to-prevent-covid-spread-while-some-patients-families-demand-entry/ Alaska Public Media urn:uuid:d389d59d-65f3-81a3-89ad-ac714231b648 Tue, 15 Sep 2020 18:46:01 +0000 Hospitals say they are forced to balance their values of compassion with the need for broader public health good. <figure class="wp-block-image size-large is-resized"><img loading="lazy" src="https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/20200911_Marvin_Roberts_Providence_daughter_CHEN-1.jpg" alt="Man sits next to sign that reads &quot;Let me see her!!&quot;" class="wp-image-277871" width="687" height="459" srcset="https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/20200911_Marvin_Roberts_Providence_daughter_CHEN-1.jpg 600w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/20200911_Marvin_Roberts_Providence_daughter_CHEN-1-300x200.jpg 300w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/20200911_Marvin_Roberts_Providence_daughter_CHEN-1-150x100.jpg 150w" sizes="(max-width: 687px) 100vw, 687px" /><figcaption>Marvin Abbott of Kodiak on September 11, 2020, after being denied visitation rights to his daughter due to COVID-19 safety precautions, camps outside of Providence Hospital in Anchorage. (Jeff Chen/Alaska Public Media)</figcaption></figure> <p>When Marvin Abbott heard that his 26-year-old daughter was unconscious in the emergency room from complications of an asthma attack in Kodiak last week, he immediately went to the hospital, where he stood by her side for several hours.&nbsp;</p> <p>But since she was medevaced to the ICU in Anchorage last Sunday, he hasn’t been able to see her. That’s because of Providence hospital’s strict policy on visitation for the ICU that has been in place since the beginning of the pandemic.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>Abbott says it’s unfair, given the declining case numbers in the state and in Anchorage.&nbsp;</p> <p>“Our numbers here just don&#8217;t justify these types of actions. It&#8217;s not right,” he said on Friday from a strip of sidewalk where he camped with a sleeping bag.&nbsp;</p> <p>Abbott has gathered many vocal supporters who came out to a protest over the weekend to demand the hospital let Marvin in. On Monday, he was still there, four nights into his protest.</p> <p>But officials at Providence point out that it&#8217;s the same as hospitals around the state and say it’s necessary in order to prevent COVID from spreading to the hospital’s most vulnerable patients in the ICU. A July study by the<a href="https://www.acc.org/latest-in-cardiology/journal-scans/2020/07/21/13/29/outcomes-from-intensive-care-in-patients#:~:text=Conclusions%3A,ICU%20mortality%20fell%20over%20time."> American College of Cardiology </a>suggests that for patients who end up in the ICU who are infected with COVID-19, mortality rates are near 40%. </p> <p>And there’s not just a risk for patients. A COVID-19 outbreak could also infect doctors and nurses, leading to a shortage of staff that could have community-wide repercussions.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;“If our workers become ill it can really impair our ability to care for the community,” said Providence Medical Director Dr. Michael Bernstein. That’s especially true in Anchorage, which provides medical care for much of the state.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>Bernstein acknowledged that the hospital policy is difficult for patients and for and said that the hospital is reevaluating its visitation policy weekly. The policy also sets up an ethical conflict for decision-makers at Providence.&nbsp;</p> <p>“Compassion is one of our core values and so we want to care for the patients and their families and loved ones with compassion. And that is at odds with this need to restrict visitation,” he said.&nbsp;</p> <p>The policy currently allows for visitation only during childbirth, if the patient is a minor, or if they are at the end of their life. That is the minimum standard for visitation as spelled out in<a href="https://covid19.alaska.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/06032020-COVID-MANDATE-015.pdf"> a state health mandate</a>.</p> <p>There is also a case-by-case exemption that would allow for one visitor from each family to visit. Bernstein said that over the past week 12 people applied for the exemption and six people had one granted. It’s unclear whether Abbott applied for an exemption. Abbott himself said he wasn’t sure he had applied and had been given numerous forms of paperwork that he completed. Privacy laws prevent hospital officials from talking about a specific case.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>But Abbott said his bigger goal was a policy change, which would help other families in his situation. Several other families in similar situations have spoken to the media in recent weeks.&nbsp;</p> <p>Across the country, visitation policies have sparked vigorous debates and lawsuits from patients’ families over their right to enter hospitals. In Connecticut, the Office of Civil Rights within Health and Social Services investigated a policy that kept the family of people with difficulties communicating from visiting patients in the hospital. The office eventually <a href="https://www.hhs.gov/about/news/2020/06/09/ocr-resolves-complaints-after-state-connecticut-private-hospital-safeguard-rights-persons.html">resolved the complaint </a>with the state of Connecticut to allow visitation for those patients, but that was a state-issued policy, not one that was issued by the hospital itself.&nbsp;</p> <p>In a separate case, the Office of Civil Rights <a href="https://www.hhs.gov/about/news/2020/07/21/ocr-resolves-religious-discrimination-complaint-maryland-hospital-system-ensures-patients-receive-religious-visitations-during-covid-19.html">resolved a case with a Maryland hospital</a> that would allow priests to visit and pray for patients at the hospital.&nbsp;</p> <p>Abbott said that while his daughter doesn’t have any diagnosed issue communicating, doctors told him that her emergency — a severe asthma attack followed by an anxiety attack — may have caused permanent brain damage.&nbsp;</p> <p>He says he thinks being there would help her recover and he’d at least be able to help with making medical decisions for his daughter, who has been unconscious since she was brought into the emergency room in Kodiak on Sept. 6.&nbsp;</p> <p>“I don&#8217;t know what kind of decisions are being made in there,” he said.&nbsp;</p> <p>Bernstein said he realizes that there are hard-to-measure mental health consequences to the policy, but he said COVID is unlike any other threat that the hospital has had to assess in recent history. He’s heard of hospitals in the state dealing with family members so determined to see loved ones that they lied about symptoms consistent with COVID-19 in order to get into the hospital.&nbsp;</p> <p>“Because the risk can be so great with COVID — mortality potentially — we have to play safety as the highest priority, but we do recognize that there are emotional consequences,” he said.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>Some, like Abbott, see it differently and will keep making their case for change. Reached Monday over the phone, Abbott said he’s staying until he gets into the hospital.&nbsp;</p> <p>“I ain’t planning on going anywhere,” he said.</p> LISTEN: Anchorage mayor reflects on 6 months of coronavirus pandemic https://www.alaskapublic.org/2020/09/15/listen-anchorage-mayor-reflects-on-6-months-of-coronavirus-pandemic/ Alaska Public Media urn:uuid:1d762d0c-6ab9-cd52-3d38-d3bdba91e715 Tue, 15 Sep 2020 17:14:13 +0000 We're asking experts and policy makers what they’ve learned in the past six months. Among the policy makers is Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz, who says hindsight is always a wonderful tool. <figure class="wp-block-image size-large"><img loading="lazy" width="600" height="400" src="https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/20200914_Mayor_Ethan_Berkowitz_CHEN-13.jpg" alt="A man stands in front of a body of water and a city in the background." class="wp-image-278027" srcset="https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/20200914_Mayor_Ethan_Berkowitz_CHEN-13.jpg 600w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/20200914_Mayor_Ethan_Berkowitz_CHEN-13-300x200.jpg 300w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/20200914_Mayor_Ethan_Berkowitz_CHEN-13-150x100.jpg 150w" sizes="(max-width: 600px) 100vw, 600px" /><figcaption>Mayor Ethan Berkowitz stands by the Coastal Trail in Anchorage on September 14, 2020. (Jeff Chen/Alaska Public Media)</figcaption></figure> <p>It’s been a long six months since the first known case of COVID-19 in<br>Alaska. And soon after, things started to change, quickly. Businesses<br>and schools were forced to close. Stores ran out of toilet paper and<br>cleaning supplies.</p> <p>While the virus had been spreading throughout the country and the<br>world, by the time it got to Alaska, there was still a lot we didn&#8217;t<br>know and a lot to learn.</p> <p>So this week, we&#8217;re asking experts and policy makers what they’ve<br>learned in the past six months.</p> <p>Among the policy makers is Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz. Berkowitz<br>says hindsight is always a wonderful tool.</p> <p>LISTEN:</p> <p><audio controls="controls"><source src="http://media.aprn.org/2020/11 Berkowitz int.mp3" type="audio/mpeg"></audio></p> Alaska Air cancels flights to Portland, Spokane https://www.alaskapublic.org/2020/09/15/alaska-air-cancels-flights-to-portland-spokane/ Alaska Public Media urn:uuid:e29b495b-df4e-f140-6aed-186d1640a529 Tue, 15 Sep 2020 16:56:09 +0000 Heavy smoke from wildfires is making conditions unsafe for employees and guests, the airline said in a statement. <figure class="wp-block-image size-large is-resized"><img loading="lazy" src="https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/Alaska_Airlines_737-900-600x450.jpg" alt="Alaska Airlines jet. Photo shared via Wikimedia Commons." class="wp-image-148802" width="720" height="540"/><figcaption>Alaska Airlines jet. (Wikimedia Commons.)</figcaption></figure> <p>SEATTLE (AP) — Alaska Airlines has suspended all flights in and out of Portland until 3 p.m. Tuesday as wildfire smoke inundates the region. It’s also suspending operations in Spokane and canceling some flights in Eugene, Medford, Redmond, Pasco and Walla Walla.</p> <p>“Across the West, fires are creating thick smoke and haze, causing very poor air quality conditions in the Portland and Spokane areas,” Alaska said in a statement Monday. “We made the difficult decision to stop our operation so that our employees and guests can remain safe.”</p> <p>The Oregonian/OregonLive&nbsp;<a class="" href="https://www.oregonlive.com/business/2020/09/alaska-air-suspends-all-pdx-flights-citing-wildfire-smoke.html" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">reports&nbsp;</a>Alaska is the busiest airline serving PDX. The suspension also applies to sister airline Horizon Air.</p> <p>The Port of Portland, which runs the airport, said no other airline has taken a similar step yet. It said Alaska canceled 74 flights Monday.</p> <p>The coronavirus pandemic had already severely diminished travel through PDX. Alaska’s decision Monday, though, underscores just how awful Oregon’s wildfire crisis has become.</p> <p>Wildfires that began last week burned more than 1 million acres across the state and created atrocious atmospheric conditions in Portland and many other cities. Oregon health authorities urged businesses to shut down outdoor operations and send their workers home.</p> <p>Oregon’s Department of Environmental Quality again rated air across much of the state as “hazardous” Monday, with air quality scores among the very worst in the world. The state warned unhealthy air will persist at least through Thursday.</p> <p>The air quality index in the Portland area was near 400 Monday afternoon, well above hazardous levels. In parts of the state closer to the wildfires, the index topped 500.</p> <p>“Improving weather conditions in the coming days could begin to dissipate smoke in Portland and Spokane,” Alaska said Monday. “However, other airports in the West could be impacted by drifting smoke.”</p> Unalaska’s biggest fish processor sees new COVID-19 cases https://www.alaskapublic.org/2020/09/15/unalaskas-biggest-fish-processor-sees-new-covid-19-cases/ Alaska Public Media urn:uuid:36d5a974-2a98-65ab-2023-333b33af55ca Tue, 15 Sep 2020 16:50:13 +0000 But the five employees who tested positive didn't interact with others, according to company officials. <figure class="wp-block-image size-large is-resized"><img loading="lazy" src="https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Unisea-600x400.jpg" alt="A blue warehouse building with a small entry building oustdie where employees in hazmat equiipment wait" class="wp-image-278060" width="739" height="493" srcset="https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Unisea-600x400.jpg 600w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Unisea-300x200.jpg 300w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Unisea-150x100.jpg 150w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Unisea-768x512.jpg 768w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Unisea-1536x1024.jpg 1536w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Unisea-2048x1365.jpg 2048w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Unisea-696x464.jpg 696w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Unisea-1068x712.jpg 1068w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Unisea-630x420.jpg 630w" sizes="(max-width: 739px) 100vw, 739px" /><figcaption>The Unisea facility in Unalaska in 2020 (Hope McKenney/KUCB)</figcaption></figure> <p>UniSea has seen five positive cases of the coronavirus among its employees and employee family members since late August.</p> <p>That&#8217;s largely due to an influx of about 100 new processing workers that the island&#8217;s biggest seafood processor brought in to fill a gap in the market, according to UniSea President and CEO Tom Enlow.&nbsp;</p> <p>&#8220;We started the &#8216;B&#8217; season with no intention to bring additional processing employees up,&#8221; he said. &#8220;But then we were contacted by a couple processors who were not going to be able to open up their cod platforms, and that would basically leave their respective fleets without a market to deliver to. So we made the strategic decision to go ahead and bring in additional processing workforce for the fall cod season.&#8221;</p> <p>Early on in the pandemic, Unalaska&#8217;s onshore processing plants chose&nbsp;<a href="https://www.kucb.org/post/fish-processors-choose-stay-unalaska-work-both-and-b-seasons#stream/0">to keep seasonal employees on-island between fishing seasons</a>&nbsp;— one of many strategies the plants are employing to keep the virus out.&nbsp;</p> <p>UniSea leadership knew there would be some risk involved in bringing new employees to the island to process cod, according to Enlow. But, he said, that&#8217;s why state and&nbsp;<a href="https://www.ci.unalaska.ak.us/citymanager/page/local-mandates">local health mandates</a>&nbsp;are in place, and community and workforce protection plans are being followed.</p> <p>&#8220;I think that every seafood processing company that operates in Alaska coastal communities has experienced positive COVID-19 cases,&#8221; Enlow said. &#8220;UniSea was one of the last companies standing. We knew that by bringing workers in, there was going to be some level of risk involved, but we were very careful in our screening process to make sure that we could reduce and mitigate that risk.&#8221;</p> <p>All five individuals who tested positive for the virus — four of whom are part of the new group who came in for fall cod season which started Sept. 1 — were identified through the company&#8217;s quarantine testing protocol, which requires a COVID-19 test at the beginning, middle, and end of the 14-day quarantine period.</p> <p>In compliance with the company&#8217;s workforce protection plan, they were quarantined away from others and did not have contact with the outside world, according to Enlow.&nbsp;</p> <p>&#8220;We do not allow people in quarantine to leave the quarantine quarters,&#8221; he said. &#8220;They are completely isolated. They&#8217;re not in a cohort group. They&#8217;re not allowed to go outside. We make special exceptions in a monitored fashion for individuals who are smokers, and understand that it&#8217;s a powerful addiction and that they need to have some kind of relief. But that&#8217;s all done in a supervised way. So in other words, you&#8217;re in quarantine for 14 days with no contact with the outside world, no contact with the people that are monitoring you or providing you with meals, etc.&#8221;</p> <p>According to Enlow, the contact tracing process through the state&#8217;s health department has been challenging. He said the state doesn&#8217;t have the staffing in place to provide much support. But he said, the&nbsp;<a href="https://www.ci.unalaska.ak.us/citymanager/page/covid-19-emergency-response-plan">local Emergency Operations Center (EOC)</a>, clinic staff, and their own internal COVID-19 response team are doing a lot of the contact tracing themselves.</p> <p>&#8220;We have done a terrific job in isolating these five cases,&#8221; said Enlow. &#8220;Of the five cases, only one exhibited mild symptoms. The other four have been asymptomatic. But they have been in isolation, no contact with others.&#8221;</p> <p>Enlow said as long as the company continues to follow protocols to protect their staff and the community, he&#8217;s not overly concerned at this time about having a larger outbreak at the facility, which is Unalaska&#8217;s largest seasonal employer.&nbsp;</p> <p>&#8220;The big concern lies more in what&#8217;s going to happen come &#8216;A&#8217; season, when literally hundreds of new workers are going to be coming into the community,&#8221; he said.&nbsp;</p> <p>UniSea intends to encourage employees already in Unalaska to stay on-island between &#8220;B&#8221; and &#8220;A&#8221; season, said Enlow, by providing food and housing, and possibly a paid incentive.</p> <p>But for incoming &#8220;A&#8221; season employees, he said the company plans to quarantine and test them in Seattle or Anchorage prior to traveling to Unalaska. Those who have quarantined for 14 days and tested negative for COVID-19 will then fly to the island on a secured flight, where a final test will be done upon arrival.</p> <p>There are currently about 700 processing workers at UniSea&#8217;s facility, plus support workers, many of whom are full-time residents of Unalaska, according to Enlow. He said the processing workforce will go up to about 1,000 come &#8220;A&#8221; season.</p> <p>In response to the coronavirus pandemic, Unalaska&#8217;s onshore processing plants have chosen to keep seasonal employees on-island in between fishing seasons.</p> <p>In a rural Alaskan town of 4500 year-round residents, an influx of approximately one thousand international workers—looking for ways to keep busy—is quite a change.</p> <p>UniSea is keeping plant security tight. In order to enter, everyone must pass through a checkpoint and show a company ID or be placed on a list of expected visitors.&nbsp;</p> For Denali area tour operators, canceled season means fewer dog cuddles, economic uncertainty https://www.alaskapublic.org/2020/09/15/for-denali-area-tour-operators-canceled-season-means-fewer-dog-cuddles-economic-uncertainty/ Alaska Public Media urn:uuid:7dd63baa-a7e6-e3a8-d902-acdab178e7e7 Tue, 15 Sep 2020 16:44:13 +0000 Many Denali Borough businesses rely on a cruise ship visitors who didn't show up this year. But there are some signs that things could improve next year. <figure class="wp-block-image size-large is-resized"><img loading="lazy" src="https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Husky-Homestead-600x333.jpg" alt="Two women hold puppies and pose for a smartphone photo in front of spruce trees" class="wp-image-278056" width="699" height="388" srcset="https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Husky-Homestead-600x333.jpg 600w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Husky-Homestead-300x166.jpg 300w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Husky-Homestead-150x83.jpg 150w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Husky-Homestead-768x426.jpg 768w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Husky-Homestead-1536x852.jpg 1536w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Husky-Homestead-2048x1136.jpg 2048w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Husky-Homestead-696x385.jpg 696w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Husky-Homestead-1068x592.jpg 1068w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Husky-Homestead-757x420.jpg 757w" sizes="(max-width: 699px) 100vw, 699px" /><figcaption>A couple of tourists cuddle husky pups during their visit to Husky Homestead, which informs visitors of Alaska&#8217;s sled-dog tradition. (Courtesy of Husky Homestead)</figcaption></figure> <p>As this summer’s tourism season winds down, Denali Borough officials and business persons are assessing the economic impact of the sharp, pandemic-driven decline in the number of visitors to Denali National Park. The downturn has been especially painful for communities that are heavily dependent on the tourism industry, like those in the Denali Borough.</p> <p>Among the dozens of businesses outside of Denali National Park and Preserve is the Husky Homestead. General Manager Carrie Skinner says it’s a popular tourist attraction that gives visitors a chance to learn about sled dogs up close and personal, starting with little fuzzy husky pups.</p> <p>“Guests come and get to hold a puppy, when they arrive,” she said, “and then the first portion of our presentation is about the Alaskan Husky sled dog. We share people how we name them, train them, raise them …”</p> <p>Skinner says the Husky Homestead had its best season ever last year, with more than 21-thousand customers. But this season, that number fell to just over a thousand – a dropoff of some 95%.</p> <p>“We never could’ve seen COVID coming, and what kinds of impacts it would have on the travel industry worldwide,” she said. “I mean, it’s pretty much decimated it.”</p> <p>Skinner also serves as the Denali Chamber of Commerce’s board president, and she says the downturn has been hard on both tourism businesses and those that depend on the economic activity the industry generates locally. She says most of this summer’s missing tourists were those who would’ve come to the national park in buses or trains as part of package tours offered by cruise companies.</p> <p>“We are heavily dependent on visitors who are coming up on the cruise ships,” she said.</p> <p>Borough Mayor Clay Walker says the dropoff in tourism has in turn reduced revenues that the industry usually generates for the borough government. He says to help ease the pain, the borough has established relief programs, one of which, Denali CARES, distributed $730,000 in federal grants to local businesses that have been feeling the pinch.</p> <p>“It was a really rough year,” Walker said. “A lot of businesses didn’t open. Some of those that did, wish they hadn’t. Others that did open actually said it was worthwhile.”</p> <p>Walker outlined the sharp decline in visitors in the mayor&#8217;s report he delivered in last week&#8217;s borough Assembly meeting.</p> <p>“As expected, due to pandemic mandates and travel restrictions, the final quarter of Fiscal Year 2020, which ended June 30, saw a dramatic decline in overnight accommodations tax revenue,” according to the text of the report in last week&#8217;s agenda. “Preliminary numbers show a 96 percent decline. Overall, the preliminary numbers for FY 2020, which will be finalized and audited in the months ahead, show a more modest net contraction in our financial position, thanks to a robust first quarter of receipts.”</p> <p>The mayor said he&#8217;s encouraged that bookings for cruises to Alaska next summer are brisk.</p> <p>“The level of bounce back next visitor season depends upon many factors,” according to the text of his report. “&#8221;I have spoken visitor industry leaders and have heard different levels of 2021 projections. Without cross-gulf sailings in 2021, projections are maybe twice the level of visitation we saw this July and August. With cross gulf sailings, we could see a much more significant rebound.”</p> <p>Walker says businesspeople who opened their doors this season muddled through partly by adjusting their expectations early in the season. He says the fact that they faced much less competition this year has also helped.</p> <p>“I spoke with several (businesspersons), some (owners of) restaurants and even a rafting company, that said their season was actually decent, based on lower expectations and the fact that there weren’t many others open.”</p> <p>Walker says that ability to adapt to changing circumstances is essential to conducting business this year and next, when he hopes a vaccine will be available and the concern over covid hopefully begins to recede. For example, he says businesses should be flexible to accommodating changes that might include booking fewer tourists at a time.</p> <p>“I do think people will be traveling in smaller groups, potentially, especially next summer, and looking for smaller-group activities,” he said. “And I think businesses that can respond to that and provide those opportunities may be posed for success.”</p> <p>Both Walker and Skinner say the&nbsp;<a href="https://fm.kuac.org/post/explore-local-campaign-launches-today" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">state&#8217;s efforts to promote more in-state tourism</a>&nbsp;by Alaskans have helped boost the otherwise slow season.</p> <p>Skinner agrees the tourism business and many other industries all will have to adapt and adjust to the new normal that may or may not eventually return to what we all used to consider “normal.”</p> <p>“I’ve heard from a few people who are like, ‘It may take a while, but we’re going to return to normal,’ ” she said. “And there’s a few who say, ‘Well, we need to realize that may take a while and that this may now be our new normal, at least for a time period.’ ”</p> <p>Skinner says regardless of whether the new normal persists into the coming year, she’s pretty sure there will always be a strong demand among visitors to hold a little fuzzy husky pup.</p> On Unalaska’s trails, listen for Jojo, the hiking cat https://www.alaskapublic.org/2020/09/15/on-unalaskas-trails-listen-for-jojo-the-hiking-cat/ Alaska Public Media urn:uuid:ee7ea682-711a-f54b-5cb4-63e5b0eebbdb Tue, 15 Sep 2020 15:24:15 +0000 JoJo is an Unalaska resident who loves hiking, loves fish, and enjoys catching up with his neighbors. In other words, he's a lot like most people on the island. The striking thing about JoJo, though, is that he's a cat. <figure class="wp-block-image size-large"><img loading="lazy" width="600" height="400" src="https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/JoJo_1-600x400.jpg" alt="A cat with a white chest peeks from the tall grass" class="wp-image-278050" srcset="https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/JoJo_1-600x400.jpg 600w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/JoJo_1-300x200.jpg 300w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/JoJo_1-150x100.jpg 150w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/JoJo_1-768x512.jpg 768w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/JoJo_1-1536x1024.jpg 1536w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/JoJo_1-2048x1365.jpg 2048w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/JoJo_1-696x464.jpg 696w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/JoJo_1-1068x712.jpg 1068w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/JoJo_1-630x420.jpg 630w" sizes="(max-width: 600px) 100vw, 600px" /><figcaption>Mariza Tovar said she found out that JoJo was a hiker when she&#8217;d start putting her shoes on, getting ready to hit the trail, and JoJo would approach her, as if begging to join. (MAGGIE NELSON/KUCB)</figcaption></figure> <p>JoJo is an Unalaska resident who loves hiking, loves fish, and enjoys catching up with his neighbors. In other words, he&#8217;s a lot like most people on the island. The striking thing about JoJo, though, is that he&#8217;s a cat.</p> <p>JoJo is the island&#8217;s famous hiking cat with an undeniably charming character. And as I hiked up Ski Bowl, near Nirvana Hill recently, he stealthily pursued me, crouched low to the ground, attentively observing his surroundings. If it hadn&#8217;t been for the green and yellow reflective fringe and bell hanging from his collar, I would have had no clue how closely he trailed.</p> <p>Mariza Tovar is one of JoJo&#8217;s owners and many devotees. Tovar said JoJo always roams free and never goes out on a leash, and while he&#8217;s unsuccessfully tried to join her in the kayak, he prefers to stick to the tundra with hiking buddies rather than roaming into town on his own.</p> <p>Although JoJo didn&#8217;t have a whole lot to add during the hike—he was generally distracted with cheekily avoiding my camera, stopping for water breaks along the creek, or bathing in pools of sunshine—Tovar and her partner, Harish Vasavan, were excited to dote on their beloved JoJo.</p> <p><a href="https://mediad.publicbroadcasting.net/p/kucb2/files/styles/x_large/public/202009/jojo_the_cat.jpg"></a>&#8220;The house is called JoJo Mansion. There&#8217;s a bed for him on almost every window,&#8221; Vasavan said.</p> <figure class="wp-block-image size-large"><img loading="lazy" width="600" height="391" src="https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/JoJo_3-600x391.jpeg" alt="" class="wp-image-278052" srcset="https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/JoJo_3-600x391.jpeg 600w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/JoJo_3-300x196.jpeg 300w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/JoJo_3-150x98.jpeg 150w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/JoJo_3-768x500.jpeg 768w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/JoJo_3-696x454.jpeg 696w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/JoJo_3-1068x696.jpeg 1068w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/JoJo_3-645x420.jpeg 645w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/JoJo_3.jpeg 1200w" sizes="(max-width: 600px) 100vw, 600px" /><figcaption>Before he became a member of the Tovar and Vasavan household, JoJo lived as a stray intermittently for nearly three years in Unalaska. (MAGGIE NELSON/KUCB)</figcaption></figure> <p>Vasavan and Tovar both agree that it&#8217;s hard to deny JoJo when he spreads out on the ground, taunting you with the soft, white, contrasting inner side of his belly—a move they refer to as the &#8220;JoJo spread.&#8221; And as Tovar noted, it&#8217;s a move he uses to get treats and attention from many people in the area.</p> <p>She said that while he doesn&#8217;t do much real hiking without a partner, he roams the neighborhood, making daily visits to old friends.</p> <p>&#8220;He has a favorite neighbor that gives him tuna,&#8221; said Tovar. &#8220;JoJo knows the sound of [the neighbor&#8217;s] car. He gets home from lunch and I&#8217;ve seen [JoJo]—he&#8217;ll just wait. And then [the neighbor] will leave the door open and there goes JoJo and he has his own water bowl and food bowl.&#8221;&nbsp;</p> <p>Before he became a member of the Tovar and Vasavan household, JoJo lived as a stray intermittently for nearly three years in Unalaska. And while he managed well living as a stray, Tovar said that he acclimated quickly to domesticated life. </p> <p>Tovar said she found out that JoJo was a hiker when she&#8217;d start putting her shoes on, getting ready to hit the trail, and JoJo would approach her, as if begging to join. And so she and Vasavan began bringing him on their hikes, and JoJo just continued to follow.&nbsp;</p> <p>Like most of the cats on the island, JoJo is instinctive, strong, and a survivor. While he loves luxuries like canned tuna, his fluffy beds in practically every window at home, and even a&nbsp;<a href="https://www.instagram.com/jojo.the.hiking.cat/">personal Instagram account</a>, JoJo is a hunter at heart. So much so, that Tovar said she had to find him a collar to keep him from hunting birds.</p> <p>&#8220;When he does bring them home, when they&#8217;re not alive, he&#8217;ll eat the whole thing,&#8221; said Tovar. &#8220;He&#8217;ll just chomp on the head first and then just, like, it&#8217;s gone.&#8221;&nbsp;</p> <p>Based on his hunting abilities and years of living as a stray, Tovar said that she anticipates that JoJo will continue hiking with her and Vasavan throughout the winter. </p> With fall sports cancelled, Northwest Arctic Borough schools look to form eSports teams https://www.alaskapublic.org/2020/09/14/with-fall-sports-cancelled-northwest-arctic-borough-schools-look-to-form-esports-teams/ Alaska Public Media urn:uuid:4c522bf1-c2be-197c-fb2c-c0e49057f779 Tue, 15 Sep 2020 05:43:55 +0000 ASAA began conducting competitive eSports last year in Alaska schools, and with in-person sports on hold in the Northwest Arctic, now could be their time to join. <figure class="wp-block-image size-large is-resized"><img loading="lazy" src="https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/IMG_20200121_170048-600x450.jpg" alt="picture of three high school male students playing League of Legends in an eSports lounge at the University of Alaska Anchorage" class="wp-image-253528" width="716" height="538" srcset="https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/IMG_20200121_170048-600x450.jpg 600w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/IMG_20200121_170048-300x225.jpg 300w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/IMG_20200121_170048-150x113.jpg 150w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/IMG_20200121_170048-768x576.jpg 768w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/IMG_20200121_170048-1536x1152.jpg 1536w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/IMG_20200121_170048-2048x1536.jpg 2048w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/IMG_20200121_170048-80x60.jpg 80w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/IMG_20200121_170048-265x198.jpg 265w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/IMG_20200121_170048-696x522.jpg 696w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/IMG_20200121_170048-1068x801.jpg 1068w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/IMG_20200121_170048-560x420.jpg 560w" sizes="(max-width: 716px) 100vw, 716px" /><figcaption>East High School students (from left to right) Tom Cabanilla, Dragon Lee, and Lorry Lee play the video game League of Legends online against Petersburg High School during the first sanctioned eSports state championship playoff games. (Mayowa Aina/Alaska Public Media)</figcaption></figure> <p>With fall sports canceled in the Northwest Arctic Borough School District, officials say they’re moving to get students involved in the emerging realm of competitive eSports.</p> <p>“Kids will be able to form teams where they’ll compete in two sanctioned sports under ASAA, Alaska School Activities Association,” said Brett Slaathaug, activities coordinator for the school district.</p> <p>One of the two sanctioned sports is Rocket League, a video game where players play soccer using rocket-powered vehicles. The other is League of Legends, a game where players control avatar-like “champions” and work together to destroy an enemy team’s base.&nbsp;</p> <p>ASAA began conducting competitive eSports last year in Alaska schools, with 46 schools competing in the inaugural season. Slaathaug says the district is hopeful that students will gain benefits they’d normally get from cross-country running and volleyball.</p> <p>“We know that activities drive a lot of desire to come to school every single day, get the homework done, keep the grades up, keep the behavior good,” Slaathaug said. “It just helps in every which way.”</p> <p>With much of the state’s most populated communities currently in the red zone with respect to COVID-19 spread, Slaathaug says the district doesn’t want to risk the safety of its student athletes. He says the state is looking to potentially adjust the schedules for several sports that students in the region compete in, including wrestling and basketball. He also floated the idea of conducting more regional sports activities should cases remain low in the area, though all of that is still up in the air.</p> <p>For now, Slaathaug says he hopes eSports will help the students in the Northwest Arctic Borough, who normally compete against 1A, 2A and 3A schools, to interact with competitors they wouldn’t normally.</p> <p>“There’s going to be situations where our schools are going to compete against 4A schools from Colony [High School] or some 1A schools from the Southeast. And so it’s going to be a pretty neat experience because they’re going to connect with a lot of different schools from different divisions that they typically don’t.”</p> <p>Slaathaug says the district is hoping to get teams put together by the beginning of the eSports pre-season in October. He says as many as 11 new teams could be formed, adding to the growing statewide competition.</p> With fall sports canceled, Northwest Arctic Borough schools look to form eSports teams https://www.alaskapublic.org/2020/09/14/with-fall-sports-cancelled-northwest-arctic-borough-schools-look-to-form-esports-teams/ Alaska Public Media urn:uuid:d2b5e347-4a6b-0c8b-6883-1fe6ad1ecdff Tue, 15 Sep 2020 05:43:55 +0000 ASAA began conducting competitive eSports last year in Alaska schools, and with in-person sports on hold in the Northwest Arctic, now could be their time to join. <figure class="wp-block-image size-large is-resized"><img loading="lazy" src="https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/IMG_20200121_170048-600x450.jpg" alt="picture of three high school male students playing League of Legends in an eSports lounge at the University of Alaska Anchorage" class="wp-image-253528" width="716" height="538" srcset="https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/IMG_20200121_170048-600x450.jpg 600w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/IMG_20200121_170048-300x225.jpg 300w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/IMG_20200121_170048-150x113.jpg 150w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/IMG_20200121_170048-768x576.jpg 768w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/IMG_20200121_170048-1536x1152.jpg 1536w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/IMG_20200121_170048-2048x1536.jpg 2048w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/IMG_20200121_170048-80x60.jpg 80w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/IMG_20200121_170048-265x198.jpg 265w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/IMG_20200121_170048-696x522.jpg 696w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/IMG_20200121_170048-1068x801.jpg 1068w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/IMG_20200121_170048-560x420.jpg 560w" sizes="(max-width: 716px) 100vw, 716px" /><figcaption>East High School students (from left to right) Tom Cabanilla, Dragon Lee, and Lorry Lee play the video game League of Legends online against Petersburg High School during the first sanctioned eSports state championship playoff games. (Mayowa Aina/Alaska Public Media)</figcaption></figure> <p>With fall sports canceled in the Northwest Arctic Borough School District, officials say they’re moving to get students involved in the emerging realm of competitive eSports.</p> <p>“Kids will be able to form teams where they’ll compete in two sanctioned sports under ASAA, Alaska School Activities Association,” said Brett Slaathaug, activities coordinator for the school district.</p> <p>One of the two sanctioned sports is Rocket League, a video game where players play soccer using rocket-powered vehicles. The other is League of Legends, a game where players control avatar-like “champions” and work together to destroy an enemy team’s base.&nbsp;</p> <p>ASAA began conducting competitive eSports last year in Alaska schools, with 46 schools competing in the inaugural season. Slaathaug says the district is hopeful that students will gain benefits they’d normally get from cross-country running and volleyball.</p> <p>“We know that activities drive a lot of desire to come to school every single day, get the homework done, keep the grades up, keep the behavior good,” Slaathaug said. “It just helps in every which way.”</p> <p>With much of the state’s most populated communities currently in the red zone with respect to COVID-19 spread, Slaathaug says the district doesn’t want to risk the safety of its student athletes. He says the state is looking to potentially adjust the schedules for several sports that students in the region compete in, including wrestling and basketball. He also floated the idea of conducting more regional sports activities should cases remain low in the area, though all of that is still up in the air.</p> <p>For now, Slaathaug says he hopes eSports will help the students in the Northwest Arctic Borough, who normally compete against 1A, 2A and 3A schools, to interact with competitors they wouldn’t normally.</p> <p>“There’s going to be situations where our schools are going to compete against 4A schools from Colony [High School] or some 1A schools from the Southeast. And so it’s going to be a pretty neat experience because they’re going to connect with a lot of different schools from different divisions that they typically don’t.”</p> <p>Slaathaug says the district is hoping to get teams put together by the beginning of the eSports pre-season in October. He says as many as 11 new teams could be formed, adding to the growing statewide competition.</p> Seafood Trade Relief Program offers help to fishermen hurt by U.S.-China trade war https://www.alaskapublic.org/2020/09/14/seafood-trade-relief-program-offers-help-to-fishermen-hurt-by-u-s-china-trade-war/ Alaska Public Media urn:uuid:6ff9ff3d-599c-ab71-4a8b-53a5c5fc2d9a Tue, 15 Sep 2020 05:38:06 +0000 USDA will provide cash to Alaska fishermen based on last year's catch: 16 cents a pound for salmon, 4 cents a pound for herring and a whopping 76 cents per pound for geoduck clams. <figure class="wp-block-image size-large is-resized"><img loading="lazy" src="https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Craig-Harbor-830x623-1-600x450.jpg" alt="A small harbor with 30-foot fishing boats on a sunny day with large spruce trees nearby. " class="wp-image-278044" width="724" height="543" srcset="https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Craig-Harbor-830x623-1-600x450.jpg 600w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Craig-Harbor-830x623-1-300x225.jpg 300w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Craig-Harbor-830x623-1-150x113.jpg 150w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Craig-Harbor-830x623-1-768x576.jpg 768w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Craig-Harbor-830x623-1-80x60.jpg 80w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Craig-Harbor-830x623-1-265x198.jpg 265w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Craig-Harbor-830x623-1-696x522.jpg 696w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Craig-Harbor-830x623-1-560x420.jpg 560w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Craig-Harbor-830x623-1.jpg 830w" sizes="(max-width: 724px) 100vw, 724px" /><figcaption>The Craig Harbor (KRBD File Photo)</figcaption></figure> <p>The U.S. Department of Agriculture says it’s setting aside more than half a billion dollars for fishermen hurt by tariffs associated with the U.S.-China trade war. Some Alaskans are applauding the move, but others worry the program leaves some out.</p> <p>Jeremy Leighton is a dive fisherman based in Ketchikan. That means he spends as many days as he can looking for sea cucumbers and geoduck clams on the cold, murky seafloor.</p> <p>He was&nbsp;<a href="https://www.ktoo.org/2020/02/18/coronavirus-shutters-southeast-alaska-geoduck-clam-fishery/" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">among the first Alaskans</a>&nbsp;to see the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Most of Alaska’s geoduck clam harvest is sold to consumers in China. When China locked down as the coronavirus spread, demand for the husky bivalves collapsed and managers closed the market.</p> <p>Leighton and other fishermen were already facing a tough market — they were looking at a 25% tariff on seafood exported to China.</p> <p>“So the last year prices dropped since […] the tariffs were put on,” Leighton said.</p> <p>But it’s not just geoduck fishermen. Frances Leach heads up United Fishermen of Alaska, a fishing industry group.</p> <p>“China seems to be one of the biggest markets for a lot of our seafood products in Alaska. And not just buying them for consumption, but also processing. We send a lot of seafood over to China to be processed,” Leach said.</p> <p>Now, Leighton and thousands of other U.S. fishermen could be eligible for a new program designed to help fishermen hurt by the tariff on seafood.</p> <p>It’s an Agriculture Department initiative called the Seafood Trade Relief Program. U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan said it’s a new twist on an old trade war strategy.</p> <p>“There have been long standing U.S. Department of Agriculture programs that provide relief to farmers, when their products exported are hit with retaliatory tariffs,” Sullivan said. “And what I’ve been arguing to the president and his entire team, is that if the farmers get that kind of relief, then our fishermen should get that kind of relief as well.”</p> <p>Sullivan called the program “historic.” He says it’s the first time the USDA has set aside money for fishermen in response to retaliatory tariffs, though other federal agencies and programs often provide assistance to Alaska fishermen.</p> <p>A wide variety of fishermen are eligible. The USDA says it’ll provide cash transfers&nbsp;<a href="https://www.farmers.gov/sites/default/files/2020-09/Seafood-Trade-Relief-Program-STRP-FAQs.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">based on licensed fishermen’s total 2019 landings</a>&nbsp;— 16 cents a pound for salmon, 4 cents a pound for herring and a whopping 76 cents per pound for geoduck clams.</p> <p>“Sixteen of the 19 species included in the program are harvested in Alaska,” Sullivan said.</p> <p>That includes four kinds of crab, Alaska pollock, sablefish and&nbsp;<a href="http://www.farmers.gov/seafood" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">more</a>.</p> <p>So, $500 million for fishermen: great news, right?</p> <p>“We probably have, I would say, more questions than we have answers at this point in time,” said Southeast Alaska Regional Dive Fisheries Association Co-Executive Director Phil Doherty.</p> <p>He said he’s concerned that one key species often exported to China was left off the list: sea cucumbers.</p> <p>Leach, the UFA director, said that’s because that fishery didn’t see a big enough loss due to tariffs, based on USDA’s calculations. She said halibut didn’t meet the threshold, either.</p> <p>“And the reason for that is because halibut is a domestic market. We don’t market that as much internationally, so it was — halibut was not impacted as much by the trade war,” Leach said.</p> <p>But she encourages anyone who might be eligible to apply.</p> <p>“The fish haven’t been coming back — a lot of species are not doing so well. So commercial fishermen have really seen a downturn in a lot of areas,” she said. “My advice to commercial fishermen is that if there’s this opportunity to get some funding, to go on and apply for it.”</p> <p>Leighton, the geoduck and sea cucumber diver, says he’s not sure whether he will. He says he hasn’t had much luck with federal pandemic aid programs yet.</p> <p>“It’s difficult for us to actually get them. I’ve applied for three of them and I’ve gotten $1,000,” he said.</p> <p>He says it’s hard to keep track of all the paperwork — receipts, bills, and such. He says he’ll take a look at the requirements and decide whether to apply.</p> <p>The application for the Seafood Trade Relief Program goes live Sept. 14 and is open through Dec. 14. You can find that at&nbsp;<a href="http://www.farmers.gov/seafood" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">farmers.gov/seafood</a>.</p> <p><em>This story was produced as part of a collaboration between KRBD and Alaska’s Energy Desk.</em></p> Alaska News Nightly: Monday, September 14, 2020 https://www.alaskapublic.org/2020/09/14/alaska-news-nightly-mon-sep-14/ Alaska Public Media urn:uuid:7c3c390f-a7e5-d409-5b89-32b945826c7c Tue, 15 Sep 2020 03:14:19 +0000 Alaska leaders talk about what they've learned about COVID, six months into the Pandemic. And, a Kodiak man camps outside of Anchorage’s Providence Hospital in hopes of seeing his daughter in the intensive care unit. Plus, the pandemic forces a village in Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta to fight a fire on its own. <figure class="wp-block-image size-large"><img loading="lazy" width="600" height="400" src="https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/20200911_Marvin_Roberts_Providence_daughter_CHEN-1.jpg" alt="Man sits next to sign that reads &quot;Let me see her!!&quot;" class="wp-image-277871" srcset="https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/20200911_Marvin_Roberts_Providence_daughter_CHEN-1.jpg 600w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/20200911_Marvin_Roberts_Providence_daughter_CHEN-1-300x200.jpg 300w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/20200911_Marvin_Roberts_Providence_daughter_CHEN-1-150x100.jpg 150w" sizes="(max-width: 600px) 100vw, 600px" /><figcaption>Marvin Abbott of Kodiak on September 11, 2020, after being denied visitation rights to his daughter due to COVID-19 safety precautions, camps outside of Providence Hospital in Anchorage. (Jeff Chen/Alaska Public Media)</figcaption></figure> <p>Stories are posted on the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.alaskapublic.org/aprn/">statewide news</a>&nbsp;page. You can subscribe to Alaska Public Media’s newsfeeds via&nbsp;<a href="http://feedburner.google.com/fb/a/mailverify?uri=aprn-news">email</a>,&nbsp;<a href="https://itunes.apple.com/podcast/aprn-alaska-news/id264469573?mt=2">podcast</a>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<a href="http://feeds.aprn.org/aprn-news">RSS</a>. Follow us on&nbsp;<a href="https://www.facebook.com/alaskapublic">Facebook at alaskapublic.org</a>&nbsp;and on&nbsp;<a href="https://www.twitter.com/AKPublicNews">Twitter @AKPublicNews</a></p> <p><audio controls="controls"><source src="http://media.aprn.org/2020/ann-20200914.mp3" type="audio/mpeg"></audio></p> <p><strong>Monday on Alaska News Nightly:</strong></p> <p>Alaska leaders talk about what they&#8217;ve learned about COVID, six months into the Pandemic. And, a Kodiak man camps outside of Anchorage’s Providence Hospital in hopes of seeing his daughter in the intensive care unit. Plus, the pandemic forces a village in Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta to fight a fire on its own.</p> <p><strong>Reports tonight from:</strong></p> <ul><li>Eric Stone in Ketchikan</li><li>Emily Hofstaedter in Nome</li><li>Abbey Collins and Lex Treinen in Anchorage</li><li>Krysti Shallenberger in Bethel</li><li>Rhonda McBride in Kodiak</li></ul> U.S. House candidate Alyse Galvin answers listener questions https://www.alaskapublic.org/2020/09/14/u-s-house-candidate-alyse-galvin-answers-listener-questions/ Alaska Public Media urn:uuid:9a1b34e5-8a08-ada9-51d9-8c65932f44d9 Mon, 14 Sep 2020 17:36:42 +0000 Challenging Alaska's lone and long serving U.S. House representative for a second time, Alyse Galvin is running as an independent with support from state democrats. <div class="wp-block-image size-medium wp-image-228610"><figure class="alignright size-large is-resized"><img loading="lazy" src="https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/Alyse-Galvin-600x400.jpg" alt="" class="wp-image-222223" width="390" height="260" srcset="https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/Alyse-Galvin-600x400.jpg 600w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/Alyse-Galvin-150x100.jpg 150w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/Alyse-Galvin-300x200.jpg 300w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/Alyse-Galvin-768x512.jpg 768w" sizes="(max-width: 390px) 100vw, 390px" /><figcaption>(Emily Russell/Alaska Public Media)</figcaption></figure></div> <p>Challenging Alaska&#8217;s lone and long serving U.S. House representative for a second time, Alyse Galvin is running as an independent with support from state democrats. What does she see as the biggest challenges facing the state and the nation and what would she prioritize if Alaskans send her to Washington DC? </p> <p><strong>HOST:</strong> Lori Townsend<strong><br>GUESTS:</strong></p> <ul><li><strong>Alyse Galvin</strong>, candidate, U.S. House of Representatives</li></ul> <p><strong>PARTICIPATE:</strong></p> <p>Call <strong>550-8422</strong> (Anchorage) or <strong>1-800-478-8255</strong> (statewide) during the live broadcast.</p> <p>Send an email to <strong>talk@alaskapublic.org</strong> (comments may be read on air).</p> <p>Post your comment before, during or after the live broadcast (comments may be read on air).</p> <p><strong>LIVE Broadcast:</strong>&nbsp;Tuesday, Sept 15, 2020 at 10:00 a.m. on APRN stations statewide.<br><strong>LIVE Web stream:</strong> <a rel="noopener noreferrer" href="http://player.streamguys.com/apm/sgplayer/player.php" target="_blank">Click here to stream.</a></p> LISTEN: U.S. House candidate Alyse Galvin answers listener questions https://www.alaskapublic.org/2020/09/14/u-s-house-candidate-alyse-galvin-answers-listener-questions/ Alaska Public Media urn:uuid:834ed95e-ad79-91e4-a118-3a5cf7cf242a Mon, 14 Sep 2020 17:36:42 +0000 Challenging Alaska's lone and long-serving U.S. House representative for a second time, Alyse Galvin is running as an independent with support from state Democrats. <div class="wp-block-image size-medium wp-image-228610"><figure class="alignright size-large is-resized"><img loading="lazy" src="https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/Alyse-Galvin-600x400.jpg" alt="" class="wp-image-222223" width="369" height="246" srcset="https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/Alyse-Galvin-600x400.jpg 600w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/Alyse-Galvin-150x100.jpg 150w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/Alyse-Galvin-300x200.jpg 300w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/Alyse-Galvin-768x512.jpg 768w" sizes="(max-width: 369px) 100vw, 369px" /><figcaption>(Emily Russell/Alaska Public Media)</figcaption></figure></div> <p>Challenging Alaska&#8217;s lone and long-serving U.S. House representative for a second time, Alyse Galvin is running as an independent with support from state Democrats. What does she see as the biggest challenges facing the state and the nation and what would she prioritize if Alaskans send her to Washington DC? </p> <p><audio controls="controls"><span data-mce-type="bookmark" class="mce_SELRES_start" style="display: inline-block; width: 0px; overflow: hidden; line-height: 0;"></span><span data-mce-type="bookmark" class="mce_SELRES_start" style="display: inline-block; width: 0px; overflow: hidden; line-height: 0;"></span><span data-mce-type="bookmark" class="mce_SELRES_start" style="display: inline-block; width: 0px; overflow: hidden; line-height: 0;"></span><span data-mce-type="bookmark" class="mce_SELRES_start" style="display: inline-block; width: 0px; overflow: hidden; line-height: 0;"></span><span data-mce-type="bookmark" class="mce_SELRES_start" style="display: inline-block; width: 0px; overflow: hidden; line-height: 0;"></span><source src="http://media.aprn.org/2020/toa-20200915.mp3" type="audio/mpeg"><span data-mce-type="bookmark" class="mce_SELRES_end" style="display: inline-block; width: 0px; overflow: hidden; line-height: 0;"></span><span data-mce-type="bookmark" class="mce_SELRES_end" style="display: inline-block; width: 0px; overflow: hidden; line-height: 0;"></span><span data-mce-type="bookmark" class="mce_SELRES_end" style="display: inline-block; width: 0px; overflow: hidden; line-height: 0;"></span><span data-mce-type="bookmark" class="mce_SELRES_end" style="display: inline-block; width: 0px; overflow: hidden; line-height: 0;"></span><span data-mce-type="bookmark" class="mce_SELRES_end" style="display: inline-block; width: 0px; overflow: hidden; line-height: 0;"></span></audio></p> <p><strong>HOST:</strong> Lori Townsend<strong><br>GUESTS:</strong></p> <ul><li><strong>Alyse Galvin-I</strong>, candidate, U.S. House of Representatives</li></ul> <p><strong>PARTICIPATE:</strong></p> <p>Call <strong>550-8422</strong> (Anchorage) or <strong>1-800-478-8255</strong> (statewide) during the live broadcast.</p> <p>Send an email to <strong>talk@alaskapublic.org</strong> (comments may be read on air).</p> <p>Post your comment before, during or after the live broadcast (comments may be read on air).</p> <p><strong>LIVE Broadcast:</strong>&nbsp;Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020 at 10:00 a.m. on APRN stations statewide.<br><strong>LIVE Web stream:</strong> <a rel="noopener noreferrer" href="http://player.streamguys.com/apm/sgplayer/player.php" target="_blank">Click here to stream.</a></p> Nome police locate truck related to investigation into woman’s disappearance https://www.alaskapublic.org/2020/09/14/weekend-search-parties-unsuccessful-as-fbi-steps-into-search-for-nome-woman/ Alaska Public Media urn:uuid:be054807-4720-b4af-7858-bd7b2031cf6f Mon, 14 Sep 2020 17:03:32 +0000 About two weeks after she was reported missing, Nome police say they requested on-the-ground help from the FBI to find a missing 33-year-old woman, Florence Okpealuk. <figure class="wp-block-image size-large is-resized"><img loading="lazy" src="https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Truck-NPD-600x409.png" alt="A grainy photo of a tow truck" class="wp-image-277969" width="727" height="496" srcset="https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Truck-NPD-600x409.png 600w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Truck-NPD-300x204.png 300w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Truck-NPD-150x102.png 150w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Truck-NPD-768x523.png 768w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Truck-NPD-218x150.png 218w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Truck-NPD-696x474.png 696w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Truck-NPD-617x420.png 617w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Truck-NPD.png 868w" sizes="(max-width: 727px) 100vw, 727px" /><figcaption>A truck that police were seeking near the Nome port. (Nome Police Department Photo) </figcaption></figure> <p>Law enforcement officials say they have located the driver and a vehicle they were seeking in connection with the disappearance of a 33-year-old Nome woman. </p> <p>On Sunday, authorities released <a href="https://www.facebook.com/NomePD/photos/a.641582389226470/3447955571922457/">photos over Facebook</a> of a vehicle it was seeking in connection with the disappearance of Florence Okpealuk. In the release, police say that the vehicle was in the area of the port early in the morning on Aug. 30, the day before Okpealuk was reported missing by her family. They wrote that the driver “may recall observations or information which could assist the investigation” but don’t list the driver as a suspect. </p> <p>Later on Sunday, authorities reported that the vehicle and the driver had been located. Chloe Martin a spokesperson for the FBI, speaking from Nome, said that the vehicle was found thanks to help from the public, but declined to share other details about the vehicle or driver to protect the investigation. </p> <p>It’s the first lead the department has released to the public since the investigation began. Community members have also organized several search parties to comb areas around town where Okpealuk disappeared.&nbsp;</p> <p>Over the weekend, community search parties were unsuccessful in locating Okpealuk, over two weeks since she went missing. </p> <div class="wp-block-image"><figure class="alignleft size-large is-resized"><img loading="lazy" src="https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Okpealuk-headshot.png" alt="The smiling face of an Alaska Native worman with dark rimmed glasses" class="wp-image-277968" width="255" height="343" srcset="https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Okpealuk-headshot.png 430w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Okpealuk-headshot-223x300.png 223w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Okpealuk-headshot-112x150.png 112w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Okpealuk-headshot-312x420.png 312w" sizes="(max-width: 255px) 100vw, 255px" /><figcaption>Florence Okpealuk (Nome Police Department Photo)</figcaption></figure></div> <p>It’s the second weekend of organized search parties in Nome. </p> <p>Over the weekend, the <a href="https://www.facebook.com/NomePD/posts/3448885335162814">FBI joined local authorities</a> from the Alaska State Troopers and the Nome Police Department. In a press release, NPD says that the FBI joined the search at the request of the department so that the bureau can provide “additional manpower and specialized resources” that could help with the search. The FBI had been providing technical assistance since “shortly after Ms. Okpealuk was reported missing,” according to the release.</p> <p>Martin, of the FBI, said that six personnel from the bureau are in Nome for the investigation. </p> <p>Okpealuk’s disappearance and the subsequent response has<a href="https://www.alaskapublic.org/2020/09/07/alaska-native-women-rally-to-search-for-missing-nome-woman/"> led to frustration</a> among some Nome residents, who say the police weren’t quick enough to act and haven’t been sharing information with family members. </p> <p><em>This story has been updated with new information from the FBI. </em></p> LISTEN: A flurry of lawsuits aim to stop drilling plans in Alaska’s Arctic. So what’s next? https://www.alaskapublic.org/2020/09/14/listen-a-flurry-of-lawsuits-aim-to-stop-drilling-plans-in-alaskas-arctic-so-whats-next/ Alaska Public Media urn:uuid:56236bbd-fdb0-a339-c7b9-1ae69f6bc05d Mon, 14 Sep 2020 15:26:29 +0000 Alaska Public Media's Tegan Hanlon and Casey Grove break down the avalanche of recent lawsuits that aim to derail drilling plans for Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and Alaska’s National Petroleum Reserve. <figure class="wp-block-image size-large"><img loading="lazy" width="600" height="388" src="https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/caribou-600x388.jpg" alt="Caribou graze on the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, with snowcapped peaks of the Brooks Range as a backdrop. (USFWS)" class="wp-image-155133" srcset="https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/caribou-600x388.jpg 600w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/caribou-300x194.jpg 300w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/caribou-768x497.jpg 768w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/caribou-900x582.jpg 900w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/caribou.jpg 1024w" sizes="(max-width: 600px) 100vw, 600px" /><figcaption>Caribou graze on the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, with the Brooks Range as a backdrop. (USFWS)</figcaption></figure> <p>Alaska Native groups, environmental groups and, most recently, <a href="https://www.alaskapublic.org/2020/09/10/15-states-sue-to-stop-drilling-plan-for-arctic-refuge/">a coalition of 15 states</a> have filed a flurry of lawsuits over the past month that aim to derail drilling plans for Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and Alaska’s National Petroleum Reserve.</p> <p>These are separate lawsuits over separate pieces of land — a lot of land — and it’s a lot to keep track of.</p> <p>Alaska Public Media’s Tegan Hanlon and Casey Grove recently talked over the phone to try to sort through it all.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>LISTEN HERE:</strong></p> <p><audio controls="controls"><source src="http://media.aprn.org/2020/09LawsuitsTwoWay.mp3" type="audio/mpeg"></audio></p> <p><strong>[GROVE]: Well, let’s just get right into it. Can you briefly summarize what triggered these lawsuits?</strong></p> <p><strong>[HANLON]:</strong> Yes. So there have been two big, recent developments when it comes to oil and gas drilling on Alaska’s North Slope.</p> <p>Number one: The Trump administration announced in August <a href="https://www.alaskapublic.org/2020/08/17/trump-administration-finalizes-plan-for-oil-drilling-in-arctic-refuge/">its official plan for opening up part of the Arctic Refuge to oil and gas development</a>. It’s an area called the coastal plain, and it sits to the east of Prudhoe Bay.&nbsp;The coastal plain makes up about 8% of the whole refuge. But the whole refuge is massive, so 8% of it is about the size of the state of Delaware.</p> <p>It&#8217;s a place believed to hold billions of barrels of untapped oil, but it’s also an area where caribou migrate, polar bears den and migratory birds feed. And environmental groups have long fought to keep drilling rigs out.</p> <p>And so, this official plan for oil and gas development on the land comes out in August, and Interior Secretary David Bernhardt says that the federal government could auction off drilling rights in the coastal plain to oil and gas companies by the end of the year. (Once leases are issued, it will be harder for a future president to reverse course.)</p> <p>All of it is a very big deal.</p> <p><strong>RELATED</strong>: <a href="https://www.alaskapublic.org/2020/08/17/trump-administration-finalizes-plan-for-oil-drilling-in-arctic-refuge/"><em>Trump Administration finalizes plan for oil drilling in Arctic Refuge</em></a></p> <p><strong>[GROVE]: OK. I got that part. So, what’s number two.&nbsp;</strong></p> <p>Significant development number two: On the other side of Prudhoe Bay, to the west, sits Alaska’s National Petroleum Reserve also called the NPR-A. There’s already some oil and gas development going on in the NPR-A, but there’s also land that is off-limits to drilling under the current Obama-era plan for the reserve.</p> <p>But the Trump administration is working on a new management plan for the reserve, <a href="https://www.alaskapublic.org/2020/06/26/trump-administration-wants-to-open-millions-of-more-acres-to-oil-development-on-alaskas-north-slope/">and it released its final environmental impact statement for that plan in June</a>. The proposal would make about 80% of the NPR-A open to drilling instead of the current 50% or so. And that includes opening up the Teshekpuk Lake area — in the reserve’s northeastern corner — to drilling.</p> <p><strong>RELATED</strong>: <a href="https://www.alaskapublic.org/2020/06/26/trump-administration-wants-to-open-millions-of-more-acres-to-oil-development-on-alaskas-north-slope/"><em>Trump administration wants to open millions of more acres to oil development on Alaska’s North Slope</em></a></p> <p>The next step is the government issuing what it calls a record of decision — or you might hear it referred to as a “ROD” — basically it’s just the final decision.</p> <p>Again, all of it is also a very big deal.&nbsp;</p> <p>And, like the Arctic Refuge, the NPR-A is also thought to hold billions of barrels of oil but it’s also an important habitat for birds and caribou and other wildlife. In both areas, there’s also concerns about impacts to subsistence, the climate and the land.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>[GROVE]: And then came the lawsuits, right?</strong></p> <p><strong>[HANLON]:</strong> Yes! And then came an avalanche of lawsuits.</p> <p>Actually, two of the lawsuits related to development in the Arctic Refuge’s coastal plain were filed Wednesday.</p> <p>One <a href="https://www.narf.org/arctic-national-wildlife-refuge/">by a tribal government and two village councils</a> and another <a href="https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/StatesANWRlawsuit.pdf">by a coalition of 15 states including New Jersey and New York </a>and Washington, but not including Alaska.&nbsp;</p> <p>Taken together, the lawsuits are hundreds of pages.</p> <p>At the most basic level the claims very broadly boil down to alleging that the federal government glossed over the impacts that oil and gas development could have on the land, wildlife, climate and subsistence. And, they say, that the government failed to follow numerous environmental laws when developing the plans.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>RELATED</strong>: <a href="https://www.alaskapublic.org/2020/08/24/we-will-give-you-one-heck-of-a-fight-lawsuits-filed-against-oil-drilling-plan-for-alaskas-arctic-refuge/"><em>‘We will give you one heck of a fight’: Lawsuits filed against oil drilling plan for Alaska’s Arctic Refuge</em></a></p> <p>Here’s how EarthJustice attorney Kate Glover summarized the claims in <a href="https://earthjustice.org/sites/default/files/files/audubon_et_al_complaint.pdf">one of the Arctic Refuge lawsuits</a>:</p> <p>“The problem is that BLM is pushing prioritizing oil and gas over all other purposes&#8230; all of the claims in the lawsuit are targeting their failure to take into account the impacts on Indigenous communities, wildlife, subsistence and recreational wilderness values of the refuge.”</p> <p>The Bureau of Land Management counters that its actions are lawful and based on the best available science.</p> <p><strong>[GROVE]: So what’s the status of the lawsuits currently?</strong></p> <p>Well, they’re all in U.S. District Court in Alaska, so federal court. We’ve got the two just filed. And there are at least four others that are still really early on in the process.</p> <p>Lawyers say the NPR-A lawsuits will likely start moving through the court process once the federal government issues its final decision on a management plan.</p> <p>And, lawyers who filed two other Arctic Refuge lawsuits say they’re now waiting on the federal government to answer the complaint. One lawyer I spoke with said a ruling from the judge may not come for a year or so.</p> <p><strong>[GROVE]: Can the federal government move ahead with a lease sale with lawsuits ongoing?</strong></p> <p><strong>[HANLON]:</strong> The short answer is: Right now, yes.</p> <p>The Bureau of Land Management says “there is no legal prohibition” right now for it to move forward with a lease sale,&nbsp;in the case of the Arctic Refuge, or a final decision on a management plan, in the case of the NPR-A.</p> <p>Then if a judge rules in a way that makes the lease sale or the management plan invalid, well, that’s a whole other conversation for us to have.</p> <p>Also: I was curious if the filing of the lawsuits would have any impact on oil companies’ decisions on where to drill.</p> <p>Lawyers who filed the lawsuit are hopeful that’s the case.</p> <p>But Kara Moriarty who leads the Alaska Oil and Gas Association says she doubts it. She says the lawsuits aren’t surprising.</p> <p>“Lawsuits have just become a way of life. And it was not surprising to us. If the industry was concerned about lawsuits these days, they&#8217;d probably never invest in Alaska anymore in the oil and gas industry. Trying to use lawsuits to keep resources in the ground has become a tried and trued page out of a playbook by groups.”</p> <p><strong>[GROVE]: Well, to close out: Any ETA at this point on a lease sale or official decision on the NPR-A management plan?</strong></p> <p><strong>[HANLON]:</strong> No, no set date announced publicly at this point. That’s the million dollar question.</p> <p><em>Reach reporter Tegan Hanlon at thanlon@alaskapublic.org and Casey Grove at cgrove@alaskapublic.org. </em></p> Should Alaska Native Corps get COVID-19 funds intended for tribes? Answer hinges on comma, lawyers say https://www.alaskapublic.org/2020/09/14/should-alaska-native-corps-get-covid-19-funds-intended-for-tribes-answer-hinges-on-comma-lawyers-say/ Alaska Public Media urn:uuid:a4b11cb4-20e0-d8f6-6af8-e6617fca0db9 Mon, 14 Sep 2020 15:20:14 +0000 Hundreds of millions of dollars may be at stake, but at times the arguments turned on an age-old grammatical puzzle. <figure class="wp-block-image size-large"><img loading="lazy" width="600" height="537" src="https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/805px-E._Barrett_Prettyman_Federal_Courthouse_DC-600x537.jpg" alt="" class="wp-image-270955" srcset="https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/805px-E._Barrett_Prettyman_Federal_Courthouse_DC-600x537.jpg 600w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/805px-E._Barrett_Prettyman_Federal_Courthouse_DC-300x268.jpg 300w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/805px-E._Barrett_Prettyman_Federal_Courthouse_DC-150x134.jpg 150w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/805px-E._Barrett_Prettyman_Federal_Courthouse_DC-768x687.jpg 768w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/805px-E._Barrett_Prettyman_Federal_Courthouse_DC-696x623.jpg 696w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/805px-E._Barrett_Prettyman_Federal_Courthouse_DC-470x420.jpg 470w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/805px-E._Barrett_Prettyman_Federal_Courthouse_DC.jpg 805w" sizes="(max-width: 600px) 100vw, 600px" /><figcaption>The Barrett Prettyman Court House is home to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. (Wikimedia Commons)</figcaption></figure> <p>Attorneys for tribes argued in a federal appeals court Friday that Alaska Native Corporations deserve no share of the money Congress reserved for tribes in the CARES Act.&nbsp;</p> <p>At stake is perhaps hundreds of millions of dollars, but at times the arguments in the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia turned on an age-old grammatical puzzle.</p> <p>Let&#8217;s put the grammar question this way: If I say ‘We ate salty pretzels, cake and candy’ does that mean the cake and candy were salty, too?&nbsp;</p> <p>In other words, can a modifier placed next to a list apply to only some items on that list?</p> <p>The question is relevant because, in the CARES Act, Congress set aside $8 billion to help tribes fight the coronavirus, and for a definition of what a “tribe” is, it referred to <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indian_Self-Determination_and_Education_Assistance_Act_of_1975">a 1975 law</a>. In that law, Congress included Alaska Native corporations in a list, and then followed the list with an eligibility clause, and &#8211; at least according to some of the attorneys &#8211; that eligibility clause excludes the ANCs.&nbsp;</p> <p>Department of Justice Attorney Adam Jed argued that Congress would not have included Native Corporations in a list, only to exclude them by the end of the sentence. He said people just make grammatical mistakes sometimes, and you have to go by what Congress meant.&nbsp;</p> <p>And then Jed made an argument only an English major could love:&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>“We actually cite a couple of grammar guides where we point out that this issue &#8211; I think one guide called it an extraposed modifier &#8211; is viewed by many as a common grammatical error but is actually viewed by others as permissible,&#8221; he said.</p> <p>RELATED: <a href="https://www.alaskapublic.org/2020/04/16/tribes-want-to-exclude-alaska-native-corporations-from-8-billion-coronavirus-fund/"><em>Tribes want to exclude Alaska Native Corporations from $8 billion coronavirus fund</em></a></p> <p>The tribes trying to exclude Alaska Native Corporations comprise a dozen from the Lower 48 and a handful from Alaska. Arguing for them, attorney Riyaz Kanji said Congress put other money in the CARES Act for the corporations, and for Native people who aren’t affiliated with a tribe.</p> <p>“Nobody, of course, wants anybody left out in the cold, and that would not happen to Alaska Natives in the urban areas or Alaska Natives in the villages,&#8221; he said.</p> <p>It’s not clear how the Treasury Department would distribute the money it is reserving for ANCs if the corporations lose the case &#8211; whether it would go to Alaska tribes or to tribes around the country.</p> <p><strong>RELATED:</strong> <a href="https://www.alaskapublic.org/2020/05/11/what-ancs-are-doing-to-help-alaska-native-communities-cope-with-the-pandemic/"><em>What ANCs are doing to help Alaska Native communities cope with the pandemic</em></a></p> <p>More than a piece of the pie, tribes say they are standing up for the&nbsp;principle of sovereignty. Tribes have governmental powers, and they want it clear that corporations aren’t the same thing. </p> <p>The corporations say they are also spending resources to help their shareholders combat COVID-19.</p> Musk ox don’t live in Manokotak. Why is there a musk ox in Manokotak? https://www.alaskapublic.org/2020/09/14/musk-ox-dont-live-in-manakotak-why-is-there-a-musk-ox-in-manakotak/ Alaska Public Media urn:uuid:99886e67-0340-5fc2-e407-4bdcc6ecb4ac Mon, 14 Sep 2020 13:24:00 +0000 A rare sighting of a bull musk ox has been caught on camera. <figure class="wp-block-image size-large"><img loading="lazy" width="525" height="356" src="https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/melvin_and_sally_andrew_0-1.jpg" alt="" class="wp-image-277933" srcset="https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/melvin_and_sally_andrew_0-1.jpg 525w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/melvin_and_sally_andrew_0-1-300x203.jpg 300w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/melvin_and_sally_andrew_0-1-150x102.jpg 150w" sizes="(max-width: 525px) 100vw, 525px" /><figcaption>The muskox pictured here, was spotted on Airport Road in Manokotak on an early Saturday morning in September, 2020. (Photo courtesy of Melvin and Sally Andrew) </figcaption></figure> <p>Melvin Andrew was out in Manokotak in the early morning. He and his wife, Sally, were looking for moose when they spotted a rather large creature.</p> <p>“She said, ‘a moose! A moose!’ But when I spy-glassed it I saw the telltale sounds of muskox horns. I said some explicit words like, what is he doing here,” Andrew said.</p> <p>The Andrews approached the ox thinking it would leave, but it did not budge. It dipped out of sight, but they managed to catch a glimpse of the animal walking away and snapped a photo.</p> <p><a href="https://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=muskox.main">Muskox are native to the Yukon-Delta National Wildlife Refuge.</a>&nbsp;They can grow to be five feet tall and weigh somewhere between 600-800 pounds. They have long hair, a slight shoulder hump and very short tail. Both males and females have horns, but the bulls’ are are larger and heavier.</p> <p>Pat Jones is a wildlife biologist for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game in Bethel. Jones said this particular animal is an adult bull that moseyed down from the Nelson Island population &#8211;a herd of muskoxen, adult and calf.</p> <p>“The bulls seem to have a lot more wanderlust, they go on longer walkabouts,&#8221; he said. &#8220;They show up in areas first and maybe five years to 10 years later, we start seeing cows in the areas that we saw bulls. That’s kind of the historical pattern we’ve seen across the landscape. But there’s been some moving your direction for years.”</p> <p>About a year ago, muskox were spotted by residents in villages around the Togiak Wildlife Refuge. Jon Dyazuk is the village refuge liaison.</p> <p>“First sighting we had was last spring,&#8221; Dyazuk said. &#8220;It was a muskox that a village member sent us, that was in Chagvan Bay. Not so long afterwards, Another one was sighted not so long afterwards, near the village of Platinum.”</p> <p>Muskox disappeared from Alaska in the 1920s. A federal initiative reintroduced the animals a decade later, bringing over 34 muskox from East Greenland to Nunivak Island, off the west coast of the state.</p> <figure class="wp-block-image size-large is-resized"><img loading="lazy" src="https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/adfg_muskox-600x456.jpg" alt="A map of Alaska showing the range of muskoz in three separate areas, the far west and Nunivak Island, the Northwest Arctic, and an area on the east end of the Norht Slope. " class="wp-image-277934" width="672" height="511" srcset="https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/adfg_muskox-600x456.jpg 600w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/adfg_muskox-300x228.jpg 300w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/adfg_muskox-150x114.jpg 150w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/adfg_muskox-80x60.jpg 80w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/adfg_muskox-696x529.jpg 696w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/adfg_muskox-553x420.jpg 553w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/adfg_muskox.jpg 700w" sizes="(max-width: 672px) 100vw, 672px" /><figcaption>Muskox territory across the state. They can be found on Nunivak Island, Credit Courtesy of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.</figcaption></figure> <p>By the 1970s, the state transported some of the animals from Nunivak to establish new herds on the Seward Peninsula, Cape Thompson, the Nelson Island and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. ADF&amp;G reported a total of about 5,300 muskox in Alaska in 2011.</p> <p>There are no official population counts of muskox in Bristol Bay, due to their low presence in the region.</p> <p>But what happens if you encounter a muskox? Unlike moose or caribou, they will not acknowledge a person’s presence. Rather, the ox will get defensive, back itself into a corner until it feels it&#8217;s safe to leave. But Jones says they will go on the offensive with canines.</p> <p>“Probably a self-defense mechanism that goes back to the Ice Age,&#8221; he said. &#8220;They will kill dogs if they get the chance. If there’s a muskox around and you have a dog on a chain you’ll want to bring it inside for a day or two till the muskox passes. Every year, muskox kill dogs that are chained up outside.”</p> <p>Muskox hunting is not permitted in Bristol Bay, and there’s a closed moratorium in other regions of the mainland —&nbsp;Units 18 and 22 B,C, D and E, and in Unit 23. People can register for muskox hunting through June 30, 2021.</p> <figure class="wp-block-embed is-type-video is-provider-vimeo"><div class="wp-block-embed__wrapper"> <iframe title="RPReplay_Final1599422813" src="https://player.vimeo.com/video/457120349?dnt=1&amp;app_id=122963" width="463" height="1000" frameborder="0" allow="autoplay; fullscreen" allowfullscreen></iframe> </div></figure> <p><em>Video courtesy of Melvin and Sally Andrew</em></p> <p><em>Contact the author at tyler@kdlg.org or 907-842-2200</em></p> <p><em>The title of this story originally misspelled Manokotak</em></p> Improve your home cyber security with FBI pro tips https://www.alaskapublic.org/2020/09/13/improve-your-home-cyber-security-with-fbi-pro-tips/ Alaska Public Media urn:uuid:d608f34d-3d51-d4dd-b8cf-a43ae0928527 Mon, 14 Sep 2020 02:08:43 +0000 FBI agents from the Anchorage field office will join us on the next Hometown Alaska to share strategies on improving your home cyber security. The challenges are many and growing. Working, studying or shopping from home due to COVID-19 restrictions has added risk. Home security cameras, talking personal assistants who will turn on your radio [&#8230;] <div class="wp-block-image"><figure class="aligncenter size-large is-resized"><img loading="lazy" src="https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/FBI-cyber-secure-image.jpg" alt="" class="wp-image-277951" width="600" height="303" srcset="https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/FBI-cyber-secure-image.jpg 600w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/FBI-cyber-secure-image-300x152.jpg 300w, https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/FBI-cyber-secure-image-150x76.jpg 150w" sizes="(max-width: 600px) 100vw, 600px" /><figcaption>Image from the fbi.gov website dealing with protecting citizens from cyber crime. </figcaption></figure></div> <p>FBI agents from the Anchorage field office will join us on the next <em>Hometown Alaska </em>to share strategies on improving your home cyber security.</p> <p>The challenges are many and growing. Working, studying or shopping from home due to COVID-19 restrictions has added risk. Home security cameras, talking personal assistants who will turn on your radio or select your favorite tunes, printers — all can be security risks unless you take correct steps to protect your home network. </p> <p>Agents will share local stories about computer security breaches that have happened right here in Anchorage and Alaska. October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month, so we&#8217;re getting a jump on updating ourselves, including children and elders, on how to stay safe online. Your questions and comments are always welcome. Please join us!</p> <p><strong>GUEST:</strong></p> <ul><li>FBI agents from the Anchorage field office with expertise in cyber security, </li></ul> <p><strong>LINKS</strong></p> <ul><li><a href="https://staysafeonline.org/stay-safe-online/online-safety-basics/online-shopping/">Online shopping: safety basics</a> from the National Cyber Security Alliance website</li><li><a href="https://staysafeonline.org/stay-safe-online/identity-theft-fraud-cybercrime/hacked-accounts/">Hacked accounts: Signs you&#8217;ve been hacked</a>, additional help from social media services like EBay, Google, Twitter, Facebook etc., National Cyber Security Alliance website</li><li><a href="https://staysafeonline.org/stay-safe-online/securing-key-accounts-devices/securing-home-network/">Securing your home network, secure your wireless router</a>, tips from National Cyber Security Alliance website</li><li><a href="https://www.fbi.gov/investigate/cyber">FBI Cyber Crime website</a></li><li><a href="https://www.fbi.gov/news/stories/national-cybersecurity-awareness-month-100119">FBI Cybersecurity Awareness Month</a> (October) website</li></ul> <p><strong>PARTICIPATE:</strong></p> <ul><li>Call&nbsp;<strong>550-8433</strong> (Anchorage) or&nbsp;<strong>1-888-353-5752</strong> (statewide) during the live broadcast (2:00 – 3:00pm)</li><li>Send <strong>e-mail</strong> to <a href="mailto:communityforum@kska.org">hometown@alaskapublic.org</a> before, during or after the live broadcast (e-mails may be read on air)</li><li>Post your <strong>comment</strong> or question below (comments may be read on air</li><li><strong>LIVE:</strong> Monday, September 14, 2020 at 2:00 p.m</li><li><strong>RE-AIR:</strong> Monday, September 14, 2020 at 8:00 p.m.</li><li><strong>PODCAST:</strong> at <a href="https://www.alaskapublic.org/category/programs/hometownalaska/">www.alaskapublic.org/hometown</a> for free future public access</li></ul>