Monthly Archives: October 2008
Alaska’s top insurance regulator says that, among other things, her job is to make sure insurance companies remain solvent through good times and bad. Linda Hall, the director of the state division of insurance, addressed the Sitka Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday (10-29-08). Hall has run the division of insurance for five-and-a-half years. She says she’s the first person with a significant background in the insurance industry to do so. Hall told the Chamber audience that workers’ compensation claims and health care costs ran far above the national average in Alaska. While paying premiums to cover those claims was not something businesses looked forward to, Hall warned that insurance company insolvency was a greater threat.
A challenger in the race for the US Senate will ask the president to pardon incumbent Ted Stevens. David Haase, the Libertarian candidate for senator from Alaska, says he would write President Bush “not for me, but for all Alaskans.” Haase extended this offer – and discussed some other campaign issues – in a call to KCAW in Sitka shortly after Stevens received his guilty verdict on October 27, 2008.
The Mount Edgecumbe Yupik dance group was one of the performers at the Alaska Federation of Natives Convention last week in Anchorage. The group is made up of primarily Yupik dancers, but there are also kids from other cultures that are welcome to join as well.
Bert Stedman is running unopposed for a second full term in the Alaska senate. He’ll appear on the November 4th ballot as the lone candidate for Senate District A, which includes Ketchikan, Sitka, Petersburg, Wrangell, and most of the communities in between. The Sitka Republican was first appointed by governor Frank Murkowski in 2003 to replace Robin Taylor, who left the senate to take a job in state government. Stedman was elected in his own right in 2004, and joined a rare bi-partisan majority coalition that gave him co-chairmanship of the powerful senate finance committee. KCAWs Robert Woolsey met with Stedman recently to discuss the senator’s outlook on his next term:
Sitka Community Hospital is facing a critical staff shortage. The departure of Dr. John Totten has left the facility without a regular general surgeon. The impending departure of Dr. Graham Chelius in January will leave the hospital without full-time obstetrical services. The Sitka assembly was scheduled to discuss the issue at its regular meeting last night (10-28-08), but the item was postponed until November when hospital board president Jeff Johnston could be present. While it likely could be a matter for an executive session, assembly member Nancy Cavanaugh – as hospital liaison – framed the issue for her colleagues and the public:
Dave Atkins is the Woody Biomass Utilization program manager for the US Forest Service in Missoula, Montana. He is a participant at the Southeast Alaska Wood Energy Workshop taking place in Sitka on October 29th and 30th (2008). He spoke with KCAWs Robert Woolsey about the prospects for biomass energy in the Tongass.
The Department of Fish & Game’s decision to close the hunting season for does on the first of October on northeast Chichagof Island was unprecedented. The closure came over a month earlier than last year’s closure of the same area in November, and two months before the department closed down hunting for does in the entire game management unit comprised of Admiralty, Baranof, and Chichagof islands. Area management biologist Phil Mooney says two hard winters in a row, following several years of mild winters, high deer abundance, and over-foraging, all contributed to the crash in the population. Mooney spent a week in August working on the road system in the closed area between Tenakee Springs and Hoonah. He spoke with KCAW’s Robert Woolsey about what he found there.
Scientists with the International Pacific Halibut Commission are confident that a new strategy for counting halibut will improve the outlook for both the fish and the fishermen in Southeast Alaska. Dr. Bruce Leaman, executive director of the IPHC, recently toured Southeast communities to talk with commercial and sport fishermen about new changes to the commission’s survey methods, and what those changes may mean for the future of halibut stocks.
New Mineral claims worth billions of dollars in iron ore and other precious metals have recently been staked near Yakutat. The claims cover approximately 49,000 acres of mostly federal but some state land. Some local residents are concerned about the effects mining would have on the area, including its proximity to the Situk river and impacts on Yakutat’s fishing industry.
Three of the ten students asking questions at Sitka High School were members of the team’s champion debate team. Here’s how Charles Hart, Amy Parrent, and Berett Wilber sized up the performances of Representative Peggy Wilson and the democratic challenger, Lily Herwald.