Local News

Sitka Assembly asks for input on proposed car tax

The assembly voted 4-3 on Tuesday night in favor of a proposal that would increase vehicle registration fees. But the ordinance will come before the assembly at least two more times, and it’s not at all clear whether it will make it into law.

Sitka schools look to state to fund new standards

As it develops its list of legislative priorities, the Sitka School Board may back a plan to upgrade the Vilandre Field to equal Moller Park, in order to resolve a Title IX complaint. (KCAW photo/Robert Woolsey)The Sitka School Board will consider asking the state legislature for almost $2-million in the coming year, in order to help the district meet newly-adopted standards. The board convened in its first regular session of the new school year Monday night (8-25-14). Meeting state education standards is the first of several costly priorities in Sitka’s schools this year. Also a possibility: A $1.5-million upgrade of Vilandre Field.

Transportation planners look to road-and-ferry solution in SE

The M/V Columbia, recently re-powered, is not one of the three ships which could possibly be retired soon. (Flickr/Gillfoto)State planners still see a road across Baranof Island as an important part of transportation infrastructure -- though it may take decades to become reality. The Department of Transportation held an open house and informational meeting in Sitka this week (8-20-14) on the latest draft of the Southeast Alaska Transportation Plan. And while maintaining and refurbishing the ferry system is high on the list of priorities for the region, major road construction -- both in Juneau and in Sitka -- remains on the books.

Dry weather to bring relief for HPR drivers?

Contractors roll out the CABC, or "Crushed Asphalt Base Course," in preparation for paving HPR outbound from SeaMart. The DOT says the road will be finished -- or have a temporary surface -- by the end of the paving season mid-September. (KCAW photo/Robert Woolsey)Sitka drivers frustrated by poor road conditions on Halibut Point Road during this summer’s paving project can take heart: It’s going to get better. Al Clough, the Southeast Regional director for the Department of Transportation says that while heavy rains have been a setback, the road will be done -- or a driveable temporary surface in place -- by the end of the paving season a month from now.

Heat pumps tap ocean’s thermal energy to warm buildings, neighborhoods

Engineering consultant Andy Baker says the thermal energy in the ocean is clean, efficient, unlimited. (KCAW photo/Robert Woolsey)Using seawater to heat large buildings in Alaska is no longer a pipe dream. Andy Baker, an engineer with YourCleanEnergy LLC, helped design an ocean-sourced heat pump system for the Seward Sealife Center which will pay back the community’s investment in less than nine years -- just in fuel savings. Baker spoke to the Sitka Chamber of Commerce this week (8-20-14) about practical applications for a technology that has quickly moved from theory into reality.

Sitka backs oil tax repeal

Sitkans vote in the August 19, 2014 Primary Election (KCAW photo/Rachel Waldholz)Ballot Measure 1 may be failing statewide, but in Sitka and the rest of central Southeast Alaska, it was a clear winner on Tuesday. Seventy-five percent of Sitka voters backed the measure, with 1315 “yes” votes to just 448 “no” votes.

Sitkans asked to conserve water, power during hydro changeover

After 53 years of continuous service, the turbines at Sitka’s Blue Lake Hydro plant are quiet. Walt Dangel, one of the original powerhouse operators at Blue Lake, threw the switches turning off the plant in a small decommissioning ceremony Monday morning (8-18-14). Dangel was assisted by Frank Rogers, Sitka’s senior plant operator. The two old turbines produce a combined 6 megawatts of power. They’re being replaced by three new turbines that will produce 16 megawatts.

Primary to decide candidates, oil taxes

Poll worker Kathleen Brandt greets voters at primary day in Sitka's Harrigan Centennial Hall. (KCAW photo/Rachel Waldholz)Tuesday, August 19th, is primary day in Alaska. Sitka voters will be choosing candidates for Governor, Lt. Governor, U.S. House and Senate, and State Representative, and deciding the fate of the state's oil tax structure.

King salmon trolling ends on slow note

A troller in Sitka's ANB Harbor. The annual troll closure starts at midnight on Saturday. (KCAW photo/Rachel Waldholz)After an unprecedented two extensions, the summer king salmon season for trollers in Southeast is over. The Alaska Department of Fish & Game closed the fishery at 11:59 PM Monday, August 18 -- two days later than planned. The target for the three-day opener was 36,000 kings. But on day one it looked like trollers were bringing in about 12 fish per day. During the first opener of the season -- the first week of July -- trollers were landing about 50 kings per day.

Three Sitkans indicted for meth, heroin trafficking

Three Sitka defendants are facing drug trafficking charges related to meth and heroin. A Sitka Grand Jury last week indicted 56-year old John M. Laigo on three counts of Misconduct Involving a Controlled Substance in the Third Degree for delivering methamphetamine. 30-year old Crystal D. Brazell faces one count, also for allegedly delivering meth. In an unrelated case, 45-year-old Noriss Sergius Howard is facing three counts of MISCS in the Second Degree for allegedly delivering heroin.