Southeast News

Sitka Salmon Shares buys plant, expands its direct sales model

Launched 5 years ago, Sitka Salmon Shares now has over 2,000 customers who buy seafood across the midwest. The company just purchased Big Blue Fisheries in order to expand its operations.

Pot committee concerned about concentrates

(Creative Commons photo by Brett Levin) Ketchikan Police Chief Alan Bengaard described the process used to make concentrates, and the potential safety and health concerns.

Botanists look to fern for clues to Southeast’s past

Brad Krieckhaus, botanist at the Sitka Ranger District, made the first modern find of the fern on the southwest side of Baranof Island in Summer 2005.A species of fern common in Asia has been found in Southeast Alaska. But unlike invasive species, Wright’s filmy fern is an early colonizer. And figuring out how and when it got here is the next piece of the puzzle.

Red Chris Mine gets closer to full production

The Red Chris Mine's first shipment of copper concentrate was sent out April 11, 2015. (www.imperialmetals.com)A British Columbia mine upriver from Wrangell and Petersburg is one step closer to full production after reaching a benefits agreement with a First Nation group last weekend.

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.

Craig Library wins national medal for service

421In late February, the library learned it was among 30 finalists for the honor, and this week, the Craig Library was told it was among the 10 libraries and museums nationwide chosen to receive the medal.

Borough Assembly postpones pot ban again

The Ketchikan Gateway Borough Assembly postponed action again Monday on a proposed ban on commercial marijuana activities, choosing to let the ad hoc Marijuana Advisory Committee continue gathering information on the topic.

Oceans Alaska official optimistic about industry

Adult geoducks.Oceans Alaska Hatchery Manager Ron Zebal spoke recently to the Ketchikan Chamber of Commerce about Oceans Alaska’s current activities, and what’s next for the organization.

Some ferry cuts restored, but impacts unclear

A marine highway staffer watches as passengers and dogs reboard the ferry Matanuska before departing Wrangell Jan. 16, 2013. (Ed Schoenfeld/CoastAlaska News)State budget-writers have reversed one of cuts made to the Alaska Marine Highway. But officials say it's too early to say how much service will be restored.

Injunction denial met with pleasure, disappointment

This image is from the cover of the Big Thorne Timber Sale Environmental Impact Study. (U.S. Forest Service photo)Thursday’s Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling against an emergency motion for an injunction to delay the Big Thorne Timber Sale was greeted with pleasure or disappointment, depending on who you talk to.

Closing after 65 years, Brenner women look to the future

IMG_7918The doors of one of the oldest family-owned stores in Sitka closed last month. Brenner’s Fine Clothing and Gifts has been a staple on Lincoln Street for the past 65 years.

9th Circuit denies Big Thorne injunction

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has denied an emergency motion for an injunction that would have delayed the Big Thorne Timber Sale pending an appeal of a lower-court ruling.

Ortiz hears concerns as session end nears

House District 36 MapWith only a few days left in regular session for the Alaska Legislature, House District 36 Rep. Dan Ortiz held a teleconference Wednesday evening with constituents in Wrangell and Ketchikan to answer questions and hear concerns.

Public media cuts could end local programming

Wrangell's KSTK is among public broadcasters facing deep cuts that could change  programming. (File photo)Some Alaska public broadcasters would have to give up local programming if the state Senate’s budget cuts go through.

POW airport equipment outages spark debate

POW map BWNational Weather Service-run equipment at the Klawock Airport on Prince of Wales Island has been a subject of debate recently.

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.

9th Circuit considering Big Thorne injunction request

Big Thorne cropA coalition of conservation groups that seeks to stop the Big Thorne Timber Sale on Prince of Wales Island has filed an emergency motion for an injunction with the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals pending resolution of two appeals filed this spring with that court.

Public media cuts could end local programming

8-16-13 KFSK buildingSome Alaska public broadcasters would have to give up local programming if the state Senate’s budget cuts go through.

Wrangell teachers implement iPads in elementary school classrooms

ipadThe Wrangell School District brought its elementary school up to a one-to-one student-to-computer ratio last month by giving each student an iPad to use in class. Wrangell second-graders got to start using their new iPads by creating multimedia books about weather.

Federal agency reviewing yellow cedar for protection

An aerial shot of a yellow cedar stand. (U.S. Forest Service photo)Based on a petition submitted about a year ago by a coalition of conservation groups, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced last week that protection for the Alaska yellow cedar tree might be warranted under the federal Endangered Species Act.

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.

PSP: With new lab, STA takes a gamble on shellfish testing

Geoducks-for-sale.-Alaska-Department-of-Fish-and-Game-photo.Despite the risk of paralytic shellfish poisoning -- or PSP -- Southeast Alaska has a robust dive fishery that includes geoduck clams. The entire industry hinges on weekly testing results from the Department of Environmental Conservation laboratory in Anchorage. This scenario could change in the not-too-distant future, as Sitka Tribe of Alaska seeks to open an independent testing lab for Southeast.

Child porn charges lead to Louisiana rape charges for former Wrangell doctor

greg salardFederal child porn charges against former Wrangell doctor Greg Salard have led the state of Louisiana to revisit an old sexual assault investigation and charge him with aggravated rape.

Former Wrangell doctor wanted in Louisiana on rape charges

greg salardA former Wrangell doctor awaiting trial on child pornography charges is also wanted in Louisiana to face sexual assault charges. Greg Salard appeared in Juneau court Tuesday on a felony charge of a fugitive from justice.

Wrangell starts second attempt at building new hospital

Wrangell Medical Center held open meetings Thursday to start a second attempt at building a new community hospital after the first attempt stalled in 2012.

Regional watershed group aims to focus wetland mitigation funds on restoration

pats lakeThe Southeast Alaska Watershed Coalition has a plan in the works to keep wetland mitigation funds closer to home, and the group is asking Southeast communities to submit ideas for wetland and stream improvements.

School, borough officials discuss Wrangell Public Schools budget

New playgroundThe Wrangell School Board met with the Wrangell Borough Assembly last week to discuss the school district’s budget for the upcoming fiscal year and the potential shortfall it is facing from a loss of state and federal funding.

SEAPA moves forward with plans for Swan Lake expansion

seapa boardA power agency that supplies electricity to three Southeast communities is moving forward with plans to expand its hydro storage capacity by selling bonds.