Monthly Archives: August 2009
Officials from the University of Dubuque in Iowa have pledged to work on a “plan for transformation” with the trustees of the former Sheldon Jackson College. A delegation from Dubuque concluded a four-day visit to Sitka on Wednesday (8-19-09). They said they could help re-establish Sheldon Jackson College, as long as the effort was “revenue neutral.”
For Alaskan residents and service providers, the lifting of the federal moratorium on Personal Care Assistance applications this month comes as good news. But it is only partial relief for those who need any of the wide array of Medicaid services offered under the waivers program. Although the state is required to submit a draft plan of corrective action by September 1st, it could be several months before the moratorium on waivers is lifted. Sitka is home to one of the largest direct services providers in the state, the Center for Community. KCAW’s Robert Woolsey spoke with the center’s executive director, Connie Sipe, about how the ongoing moratorium on Medicaid waivers is affecting her program:
Three brown bear cubs have been captured, and a fourth has died, after their mother was possibly killed in a Sitka neighborhood. Officials with the state department of Fish & Game decided to trap the cubs on Sunday (8-16-09) after it became apparent that the sow was no longer with them. The cubs have been temporarily housed, but their future is by no means certain.
State senator Albert Kookesh and three others have pleaded not guilty to a subsistence fishing violation, and will contest the charges. Kookesh appeared in district court in his home town of Angoon on Wednesday (8-12-09) to enter his plea.
The sky may not exactly be falling, but sales tax receipts in Sitka are down significantly over last year. In an address to the Sitka Chamber of Commerce Wednesday (8-13-09), city finance director Dave Wolff reported that the national economic recession -- which may have peaked last year -- has finally shown up on Sitka’s ledgers.
The Sitka Electrical Department is currently developing a project that would raise the existing dam at Blue Lake, and add a third turbine near the existing powerhouse at Sawmill Creek. The project could be on line as early as 2015. Although the project is designed to be funded by rate payers, federal renewable energy legislation has created an opportunity to pay for some of the $50-million dollar project with government dollars. But hydroelectric power – as most of the nation sees it – is not considered renewable. The Sitka Conservation Society and the Sitka electrical department are working to eliminate that particular stigma for projects like Blue Lake. This summer SCS hired a Willamette intern, Lexi Fish, to develop a legislative strategy for renewable hydro power. Fish, along with Scott Snelson, the watershed staff officer for the Tongass, and electric department engineer Dean Orbison, stopped by KCAW recently to discuss the Blue Lake expansion with Robert Woolsey:
Sitka voters will most likely see a $15-million dollar ballot proposition to acquire and renovate the Hames Wellness Center in this October’s municipal election. And voters also will be asked to pay for bond package by increasing local property taxes.
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game predicted 40 million pink salmon would show up in South East Alaskan seines, gillnets and even on troll gear this summer. With the extended dry spell in June and July, ADF&G biologists and commercial fishers alike have been concerned about the pink stocks, hoping that weekly escapements and forecasts will stay on target. With rain showers finally relieving some of those concerns, KCAW’s Chris Todd reports that the forecast remains basically intact.
Mim McConnell says she’ll bring no particular agenda to the table if she’s elected to the Sitka assembly this fall. McConnell says she has a long interest in public service. And the person she’ll replace, Nancy Cavanaugh, says she has few regrets.
A forty-year old clearcut along the Sitka road system is undergoing extensive thinning this summer. The effort to cut and harvest second-growth timber in the Starrigavan Valley is being funded in part by a consortium of conservation groups, led by the national sportfishing advocacy organization Trout Unlimited. KCAW’s Robert Woolsey met recently with representatives of the US Forest Service and Trout Unlimited to talk about this unusual partnership: