Articles from the January 17, 2024 edition


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  • Environmental group petitions to list Alaska king salmon as endangered

    Nathaniel Herz, Northern Journal|Jan 17, 2024

    A Washington state-based environmental group says it’s filing a petition asking the Biden administration to list southern Alaska king salmon as an endangered species — following through on notice of intent it filed last year. The Wild Fish Conservancy’s 68-page petition says the king salmon, also known as chinook, are threatened by climate change and competition from hatchery-raised fish, and that state and federal management plans are failing to stem their decline. The petition targets all populations that use the Gulf of Alaska, inclu...

  • Dividend, school funding will again dominate legislative session

    Larry Persily, Wrangell Sentinel|Jan 17, 2024

    State lawmakers went back to work this week in Juneau, with two familiar topics likely to dominate the budget-writing work. “The real question is what are we going to do for the Permanent Fund dividend … and what are we going to do for education,” Rep. Dan Ortiz told the Wrangell borough assembly Jan. 9. “That’s what the argument is going to be about.” Ortiz, a retired schoolteacher in Ketchikan, also represents Wrangell and Metlakatla. He’s been in the state House since January 2015 and serves on the Finance Committee, which is in charge of...

  • Wrangell goes after $25 million grant to rebuild harbor floats

    Larry Persily, Wrangell Sentinel|Jan 17, 2024

    The borough will spend about $80,000 for an engineering report, cost estimates and conceptual drawings in hopes of winning a $25 million federal grant to rebuild the Inner Harbor, Reliance and Standard Oil floats. The grant application is due by Feb. 28, pushing the borough and its contractor, PND Engineers, with offices in Juneau and Anchorage, into an accelerated schedule to meet the deadline. If the federal grant comes through, the work will include new floats, ramps, pilings, electrical service and dredging, explained Interim Borough...

  • Advocates of higher Alaska minimum wage close to winning spot on ballot

    Yereth Rosen, Alaska Beacon|Jan 17, 2024

    Supporters of a ballot initiative that would increase Alaska’s minimum wage, mandate paid sick leave and provide other worker protections submitted more than 40,000 petition signatures to the Alaska Division of Elections on Jan. 9, bringing their cause one step closer to a decision by voters. The group, called Better Jobs for Alaska, brought boxes of signed petitions to a Division of Elections office in Anchorage. The initiative proposes to hike the state’s minimum wage, currently at $11.73 an hour, to $13 an hour next year, $14 an hour in 202...

  • Resident florist moves business to brick-and-mortar shop

    Mark C. Robinson, Wrangell Sentinel|Jan 17, 2024

    Since Artha DeRuyter arrived in town three years ago with her husband, clinical psychologist and current school board member John DeRuyter, she has provided flowers and floral arrangements for residents from their floating home in the harbor, in addition to selling her wares at other venues like the monthly community market at the Nolan Center, prompting her to name her blooming business OnTheWater Floral. Originally hailing from Fairbanks, DeRuyter has been involved with flowers, whether as a...

  • The Way We Were

    Amber Armstrong-Hillberry, Wrangell Sentinel|Jan 17, 2024

    Jan. 17, 1924 The Women’s Council held their regular meeting last Friday afternoon at 3 o’clock and continued their work for planning a program for the year. In connection with the plans for the coming tourist season, a committee for totems and their preservation was appointed as follows: Mrs. Prichett, Mrs. Palmer, Mrs. Case, Mrs. Wheeler and Mrs. Waters. Totem committees have been appointed from time to time from various organizations, and little has been accomplished, but in view of the fact that many of the totems must be cared for soo...

  • KSTK news director tries Alaska after Michigan and Colorado

    Mark C. Robinson, Wrangell Sentinel|Jan 17, 2024

    A year and a half ago, Colette Czarnecki, the new news director at public radio KSTK, had been a trainee in NPR's Next Gen Radio, a five-day, audio-focused journalism project which finds, coaches and trains journalists for public media. Her mentor on the project advised her to try looking for jobs in Alaska. As Czarnecki checked out public radio jobs in places like Petersburg, Ketchikan and finally Wrangell, she said, "The people that interviewed me, they kept on contacting me and constantly tol...

  • Salvation Army food pantry better stocked than usual after holidays

    Charley Sutherland, Wrangell Sentinel|Jan 17, 2024

    Typically, at this time of year, The Salvation Army food pantry, the only regular food pantry in Wrangell, is running low on items coming out of the holiday crush. Last year, the food pantry gave out 130 baskets for Thanksgiving and 200 for Christmas. Often, that leaves the pantry with fewer offerings for people in need immediately after the holidays. This year is different. Capt. Chase Tomberlin-Green explained The Salvation Army received loads of donations following November’s landslide — and they are still well stocked. Donations came fro...

  • Ranked-choice rankles the losers

    Wrangell Sentinel|Jan 17, 2024

    It’s becoming an increasingly common tactic for election losers to blame anyone but themselves. In Alaska, that means several of the recent losers and their supporters blame their defeat on ranked-choice voting, which took effect for the 2022 elections after the public voted in favor of the change in 2020. But rather than learn from their losses and put up candidates who appeal to a broader range of voters, which is the smart way to win elections, the losers want to deny all Alaskans the ability to select from the best of everyone on the b...

  • Trump excels at something - being mean

    Larry Persily Publisher|Jan 17, 2024

    Children are taught not to make fun of others, tease them or be mean. Parents, teachers, counselors, church leaders and community mentors such as Girl Scout and Little League volunteers work hard to explain why it’s hurtful to make fun of someone who is different. Most seem to get the message. But not all. Bullying and shaming continues to be a problem, made worse by social media which treats so many things as a joke or an amusing video, regardless of how it may hurt someone. And rather than set a good example, Donald Trump makes it worse — and...

  • Alaskans have more needs than just the dividend

    Jan 17, 2024

    The 2024 Alaska legislative session started Tuesday, Jan. 16. My main committee assignment will be to serve for the eighth year on the House Finance Committee, which is responsible for moving the operating and capital budgets to the full House for approval. The challenge we always face is allocating limited revenue to meet the nearly limitless funding requests, including the annual Permanent Fund dividend. We will begin our work this session with the spending plan submitted by Gov. Mike Dunleavy, which includes a deficit of $987 million and...

  • Artificial is OK to put in our hair, but not our heads

    Jan 17, 2024

    Artificial intelligence doesn’t seem natural to me. How can it be intelligent if it’s artificial? Back when I went to school in the 1950s, our intelligence was spurred on by a teacher standing in front of a classroom. We attended each day from 8 in the morning until noon and then back at 1 until 4:30 p.m. As each day passed, our intelligence increased. The goal, of course, was for us to go through our elementary, middle and high school with some real intelligence in our brains at the end of it. Reading, writing and arithmetic were our bas...

  • New owner wants to expand Wrangell seafood sales

    Larry Persily, Wrangell Sentinel|Jan 17, 2024

    A Pacific Northwest seafood business owner, whose family has been active in commercial fishing in Alaska since 1981, plans to buy and expand the operations of Fathom Seafoods in Wrangell. Peninsula Seafoods has applied to the borough for transfer of the lease on a small dockside parcel at the Marine Service Center. The port commission has recommended approval of the transfer, sending the issue to the borough assembly. As soon as the assembly signs off on the transfer, which could come at its Jan. 23 meeting, Jeff Grannum, general manager of Pen...

  • Assembly raises rates for lightering cruise passengers to shore

    Larry Persily, Wrangell Sentinel|Jan 17, 2024

    Cruise ship operators that lighter their passengers to shore will pay higher port fees starting this summer in Wrangell. The borough assembly unanimously approved the new rate structure Jan. 9, following a port commission recommendation. The rates had been set at 40% of the cost of tying up to the dock, with the new fee structure raising that to 60%. The increase in lightering fees is intended to encourage more ships to tie up at the dock rather than anchor offshore, Interim Borough Manager Mason Villarma told the assembly. Wrangell should be...

  • Assembly adopts $300 fine for illegal tree cutting

    Sentinel staff|Jan 17, 2024

    The borough assembly on Jan. 9 unanimously adopted an ordinance to institute a $300 fine for illegally cutting down trees on borough land. No one from the public spoke on the ordinance at the public hearing held before the assembly vote. In addition to the ordinance setting the amount of the fine, the assembly also unanimously approved an ordinance adding trespass to the borough code, which prohibits “cutting down, injury or removal of trees or timber from borough property without written permission.” Borough officials drafted the ord...

  • Outer Coast educational program pulls in former Wrangell residents

    Mark C. Robinson, Wrangell Sentinel|Jan 17, 2024

    When Lillian "Jing" O'Brien graduated from Wrangell High School in 2020, COVID-19 had taken over the nation and she had enrolled in Loyola University in Chicago with tentative plans to study pre-law and perhaps later corporate law. "I was fully planning to go, but then last minute around July, they sent out a message saying, unfortunately, due to the COVID restrictions, they were going to close down campus and move classes online." That unexpected complication pushed O'Brien to explore...

  • Juneau schools discover $9.5 million deficit; 10% of total budget

    Sean Maguire, Anchorage Daily News|Jan 17, 2024

    Juneau school administrators are facing a severe budget shortfall partly related to flat state funding and declining enrollment. But much of the crisis comes from accounting errors that “drastically” undercounted staffing costs. The city’s school board learned Jan. 9 that the district is projected to be $7.6 million in deficit for the current fiscal year and carrying over a $1.9 million shortfall from the prior fiscal year. The combined $9.5 million deficit equates to roughly 10% of the district’s total budget, and it’s expected to keep ball...

  • State sets much larger harvest guideline for Southeast golden king crab

    Olivia Rose, Petersburg Pilot|Jan 17, 2024

    The commercial tanner crab and golden king crab season in Southeast opens at noon Feb 17. A change this year will require golden king crab fishermen to call in to the Department of Fish and Game every day to report which management area they plan to fish, to help fisheries staff better anticipate and manage the harvest. The department announced the golden king crab guideline harvest level in southern Southeast, Registration Area A, at 272,500 pounds, with specific areas seeing notable changes. The number is almost three times the size of last...

  • Alaska awaits return to service for 737 Max 9 as FAA steps up oversight of Boeing

    Ken Sweet, Associated Press|Jan 17, 2024

    Boeing told employees Monday that it plans to increase quality inspections of its 737 Max 9 aircraft, following the failure of an emergency exit door panel on an Alaska Airlines flight Jan. 5. The inspections come after federal regulators grounded the 737 Max, and after Boeing said it is “clear that we are not where we need to be” on quality assurance and controls. Alaska Airlines and United Airlines are the only U.S. carriers with the Max 9 aircraft. As of Monday, the Federal Aviation Administration had not said when it would allow the airline...

  • Searchers find bodies of 2 who died when boat overturned near Sitka

    Shannon Haugland, Sitka Sentinel|Jan 17, 2024

    Using an unmanned underwater drone to search a boat that had overturned near Chichagof Island, searchers on Jan. 10 located the bodies of two people who were missing after three others were rescued from the Jan. 9 accident. The three who survived were hoisted from the water within about an hour from the time Sitka Police Department received a digital GPS distress alert at 4:35 p.m. Jan. 9. Police immediately notified Coast Guard Air Station Sitka, and within 14 minutes a rescue helicopter was on the way to the accident site, in waters off the...

  • Jan. 11 earthquake south of Sitka registers 5.9 magnitude

    Sitka Sentinel|Jan 17, 2024

    An earthquake jolted some Sitka residents awake Thursday night, Jan. 11, but no damage was reported and no tsunami occurred. The Alaska Earthquake Center at Fairbanks said the magnitude 5.9 earthquake occurred at 10:46 p.m. on the seafloor 50 miles south of Sitka. It was felt across Southeast, including Wrangell. Assistant Sitka Fire Chief David Johnson said the department received a half dozen or so calls about the momentary shaking that people experienced throughout town. Elisabeth Nadin, communications manager of the earthquake center, said...

  • Researchers say Pacific Northwest salmon hatcheries hurt wild stocks

    Alex Baumhardt, Oregon Capital Chronicle|Jan 17, 2024

    For much of the past century, fish hatcheries have been built in the Pacific Northwest, across the U.S. and around the world to boost fish populations where wild numbers have gone down. But an analysis of more than 200 studies on hatcheries programs meant to boost salmonid numbers across the globe — including salmon, trout and whitefish — shows that nearly all have had negative impacts on the wild populations of those fish. Most commonly, hatchery fish reduced the genetic diversity of wild fish, leading to poor health and reproductive out...

  • Peter Pan Seafood closes largest Alaska plant for this winter

    Nathaniel Herz, Northern Journal|Jan 17, 2024

    In a major hit to Southwest Alaska’s fishing industry, Peter Pan Seafood will keep its huge plant in the village of King Cove shuttered this winter, meaning that the company won’t be processing millions of dollars worth of cod, pollock, crab, salmon and halibut. “It's one of the most difficult days of my life,” Rodger May, one of the company’s owners and a longtime player in the seafood industry, said in a brief interview Thursday, Jan. 11 “It's just a devastating time for the industry.” The closure is the latest sign of the widening turm...

  • Alaska opts out of expanded summer food stamps program

    Annie Berman, Anchorage Daily News|Jan 17, 2024

    Alaska was one of 15 states to reject federal funding that would have provided direct grocery assistance this summer to thousands of families with children in the state who are facing increased food insecurity and rising food costs. The new federal program would have meant an extra $120 per child in direct funds this summer to families who qualify for free or reduced lunches — about half of all kids in Alaska. Officials with Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s administration cited a major food stamps backlog at the Alaska Division of Public Assistance as the...

  • Police report

    Jan 17, 2024

    Monday, Jan. 8 Violation condition of release: Arrested. Agency assist: U.S. Forest Serice. Missing person. Welfare check. Tuesday, Jan. 9 Motor vehicle accident: Citation issued for failure to provide proof of insurance. Motor vehicle accident. Wednesday, Jan. 10 Reckless driving. Thursday, Jan. 11 Agency assist: Ambulance. Friday, Jan. 12 Traffic stop: Verbal warning for no headlights. Saturday, Jan. 13 Agency assist: Library. Agency assist: Search and rescue. Sunday, Jan. 14 Theft: Theft of gas from vehicle at airport....

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