Author Archives: Rachel Waldholz, KCAW

Feds propose removing most humpback whales from endangered species list

NOAA Fisheries has proposed splitting humpbacks into fourteen populations and removing ten of those populations from the endangered species list. (Amy Kennedy/NOAA)The federal government is proposing to remove most humpback whales from the endangered species list. Forty-five years after the whales were first listed, federal scientists say that most humpback populations -- including those common in Alaska - are stable and growing.

School Board postpones final budget vote after city protests

The April 15 meeting was billed as a "final" budget hearing, but the School Board postponed a final vote until after the legislature makes its decisions on education funding. From left: Sitka Schools Superintendent Mary Wegner, and School Board members Tom Conley, Jennifer Robinson, Lon Garrison, Tim Fulton, Kaya Duguay, and Cass Pook. (Rachel Waldholz/KCAW)The Sitka School Board’s decision to cut the Community Schools program drew a protest from the city last week (4-15-15). That disagreement led the board to postpone a final vote on the district budget.

Harrigan Centennial Hall renovation will go out to bid

A rendering of what the new lobby would look like after the renovation of Harrigan Centennial Hall. (Image courtesy of McCool Carlson Green)The Assembly voted Tuesday night to put the Centennial Hall renewal project out to bid. The renovation will expand the building’s meeting and convention spaces and create a new, second entrance on the waterfront. Assembly members stressed that the project is being paid for entirely with state grants -- not with city money.

Assembly postpones discussion of electric rates

The Assembly put off a discussion of whether to raise electric rates until a special meeting on April 23. And while assembly members expressed support for finding an additional $1-million for Sitka schools, they couldn’t muster much enthusiasm for any of the specific proposals before them.

Coast Guard rescues hiker on Chichagof Island

A map identifying Gull Cove, on the north end of Chichagof Island, as shown on the Gull Cove Lodge website.A Coast Guard helicopter crew rescued a hiker early Saturday morning (4-11-15) after she went missing from a lodge on Chichagof Island.

Assembly to consider additional $1-million for schools

The Sitka School Board and Assembly met for a budget work session on April 9, 2015. (Rachel Waldholz/KCAW)The Sitka School Board's budget assumes the city will increase its funding by $1-million this year. Now, the Assembly is considering where that money might come from. Options range from eliminating sales tax exemptions to cutting library hours to putting a tax increase on the October ballot.

Visioning session to ask: What does healthy Sitka mean to you?

Melissa Marconi Wentzel discusses the Sitka Health Summit's upcoming Visioning Session. Participants will imagine where they'd like to see Sitka in five years, taking into account everything from public health to arts and culture, housing and transportation, access to healthy food and health behaviors. The event will be Thursday, April 16, from 5:30-7:30 at Kettleson Memorial Library (in the Stratton Building). Organizers will provide a light dinner, and childcare and activities for kids. You can find more information at sitkahealthsummitak.org. Downloadable audio

DOT considers cutting Sitka Airport hours

An Alaska Airlines jet touches down in Sitka. Both runway approaches are over ocean. (Flickr photo/Pat Groves)The state Department of Transportation has told city officials that budget cuts may mean shorter hours for Sitka’s Rocky Gutierrez Airport. The airport is currently staffed 24 hours a day. DOT is considering cutting one staff member, perhaps reducing operating hours to 18 or 20 hours a day.

Strong dollar and oversupply meant slow herring season in Sitka

Crew members on the Star Shadow make repairs after the second day of herring fishing in 2015. From left: Brandon Ihde, Billy Nestle, and Devin Jones. (Rachel Waldholz/KCAW)This year's low herring prices changed Sitka's sac roe herring fishery from a free-for-all to a cooperative effort. The reason? Low prices for roe, for starters. And a strong US dollar that makes all American exports more expensive. KCAW looks at how global economic trends translated into a quiet spring in Sitka.

Walker: “Concerned how far we’re cutting”

Governor Bill Walker addresses the Sitka Chamber of Commerce, April 3, 2015. (Emily Kwong/KCAW)Governor Bill Walker told the Sitka Chamber of Commerce that he’s “a little concerned” about the depth of cuts being proposed by state lawmakers. "My concern now is that with the stroke of a pen we can end programs that have taken decades to create," Walker said.