Southeast News

Petersburg man indicted for explosives

Agents examine a plastic pipe found at the rock pit behind Petersburg's airport in July (KFSK file photo)A grand jury has indicted 59-year-old Mark Weaver of Petersburg for possession of unregistered explosives. He was injured in an explosion in a Petersburg rock pit in July, prompting an investigation by federal law enforcement agencies. Weaver was arrested this week in Washington state. more

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 Assembly accepts #IceBucketChallenge

The Sitka Assembly prepares to be doused in the Ice Bucket Challenge (KCAW photo/Rachel Waldholz)After adjourning on Tuesday evening, the Sitka Assembly lined up in front of Harrigan Centennial Hall and took a serious soaking from the Sitka Fire Department’s Engine #2, under the gleeful direction of Fire Chief Dave Miller.

Trashed recycling points to flaws in Sitka’s system?

This load of mixed paper recycling was dumped in June -- one of three loads dumped this year due to food contamination. (KCAW photo)Sitkans who saw a truck hauling one of the city’s large, green recycling bins up Jarvis Street to the waste transfer station earlier this summer were not imagining things. The contractor responsible for managing Sitka’s recycling dumped a total of three loads of mixed paper after discovering they had been contaminated by food waste.

DOT to start herbicide spraying in Southeast

pow_image006The Alaska Department of Transportation plans to spray herbicides on Prince of Wales Island. It will be the first time the DOT has applied herbicides in southeast Alaska since the state eliminated public review requirements in 2013. This has some community members and environmental groups worried about chemicals leaching into nearby habitat. more

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.

Alaska seeks continued involvement in BC mine review

The state of Alaska is requesting to be involved with Canadian approval of a proposed copper and gold mine across the border in British Columbia. State commissioners of three departments submitted comments on Seabridge Gold’s Kerr-Sulphurets-Mitchell or KSM mine this month. That open pit mine is planned in the Unuk and Nass river watersheds across the border from Ketchikan. Alaska’s congressional delegation, fishing industry and tribal groups have asked for a more detailed review of that project following a tailings dam failure at a different mine in British Columbia this month. more

Southeast hydro electric plant operations change hands

The operations of a hydro electric power plant in central Southeast Alaska changed hands quietly this month. Six employees at the Tyee Lake hydro electric plant on the mainland near Wrangell worked for the Thomas Bay Power Authority until August 15th. The following day they were six new employees of the Ketchikan based Southeast Alaska Power Agency. more

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.

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.

Voters in central Southeast back oil tax repeal 2-1

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhile it looks to be failing statewide, ballot measure one had strong support from voters in central Southeast Alaska Tuesday. more

Petersburg assembly passes electric rate hikes

lightswitchThe cost of electricity in Petersburg is going up. Petersburg’s borough assembly Monday approved rate hikes of four percent over the next two years, but not without some discussion about the increases. more

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.

The Ice Bucket Challenge splashes into Petersburg

bucketIf you’ve spent any time on social media this summer, you’ve probably come across Youtube videos of the Ice Bucket Challenge. It’s a fundraising effort for ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease. Now the viral sensation is popping up in communities around Alaska. more

Young voters

Maggie Gallin brought her son, Theo, to the polls on Tuesday, to vote in Alaska's primary election (KCAW photo/Rachel Waldholz)August 19th is primary day in Alaska, and several hard-fought races will come to a head. But in Sitka's Harrigan Centennial Hall, the election came down to this: neighbors chatting, ballots marked with blue ink, kids introduced to the polls for the first time. At not yet six weeks old, Theo Gallin (pictured with his mother, Maggie) took the prize for perhaps the youngest Sitkan to make it into a voting booth today.

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.

Transportation planners face skeptical crowd in Petersburg

fwx_sitkaPlanners with the Alaska Department of Transportation fielded questions from a packed house of skeptical residents from Petersburg and Kupreanof last week. The DOT officials were vetting a draft of the state’s latest plan for transportation for Southeast. Local residents were concerned with a loss of ferry service. They also faulted the plan’s focus on construction of new roads while existing pavement goes unmaintained. more

Bluegrass Camp for Kids goes busking

IMG_4696Kids hit the streets of Petersburg recently to showcase their music skills and raise money for Bluegrass Camp. It’s a program that runs throughout the United States, taught by a group of traveling folk musicians. more

Air Force cleans up Cold War-era radio site in Southeast

Duncan Canal (KFSK file photo)A large soil clean-up project at a former Cold War mountaintop radio site near Petersburg is underway this summer. A contractor for the U.S. Air Force is removing soil contaminated by fuel and building debris left at the site after it’s decommissioning almost three decades ago. more

Tribal groups disagree about BC mine projects

The Nisga'a Lisims Government Building is the home of the Canadian First Nation's government. Leaders say their environmental concerns have been answered by the developer of the KSM Mine. (Ed Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska News)Some Alaska tribal organizations say Aug. 4’s dam break at a British Columbia mine shows what could happen at proposed near-border mines. But some B.C. tribal governments strongly support development.

Early tests show B.C. tailings spill water ‘safe’

Muddy water from the breached Mount Polley Mine tailings pond dam floods a downstream creek and road Monday. (Cariboo Regional District Emergency Operations Centre photo)The British Columbia Environment Ministry says water that poured out of a massive mine-tailings pond Aug. 4 appears to be safe

Is B.C. mine tailings dam break a warning for Alaska?

This aerial image shows Monday's Mount Polley Mine tailings dam break and some of the damage downstream. Fishing and environmental groups say the same could happen at new B.C. mines near the Southeast border. (Cariboo Regional District Emergency Operations Centre photo)Monday’s tailings-dam break at a British Columbia copper and gold mine could threaten Southeast Alaska salmon fisheries. Critics also say similar dams closer to the border could suffer the same fate.

State issues Alaska Class ferry RFP to Vigor

(Image courtesy ADOT)The Alaska Department of Transportation has released a Request for Proposals to the Ketchikan shipyard for construction of the Alaska Class dayboat.

Saxman files lawsuit over nonrural status

The Saxman Clan House.The Organized Village of Saxman has filed a lawsuit in federal court over the Federal Subsistence Board’s 2007 decision to designate the Tlingit Native village as non-rural.

Wrangell’s new boat lift tests upper limit

A boat lift hauls a 300-ton tug boat at the Wrangell Marine Service Center Wednesday, July 30, 2014. (Katarina Sostaric/KSTK)Wrangell’s new, 300-ton boat lift is the second biggest in Alaska. It hauled a 300-ton tug boat Tuesday after a week of delays. more

B.C. gives KSM mine environmental OK

A glacier reflects in a naturally occurring pool of rusty, acidic water at the site of one of the KSM Prospect's planned open-pit mines. B.C. officials just approved the mine's environmental plans. (Ed Schoenfeld/CoastAlaska News)A controversial mine planned for an area northeast of Ketchikan just won environmental approval from the British Columbia government.

New roads? Old ferries? A wilderness airport?

The ferry Malaspina makes a rare visit to waters off downtown Sitka during the 2010 Alaska Day celebration. A state transportation plan would route ferries to a new terminal across Baranof Island at the end of a new road. (Ed Schoenfeld/CoastAlaska News)Southeast Alaskans can learn more about regional transportation projects at a series of meetings starting Aug. 6.

Habituation allows bears and people to coexist at Anan Creek

bearThe fifth annual Bearfest started Wednesday, bringing researchers to Wrangell to discuss the symposium theme, “Bears and People.” At the Anan WIldlife Observatory, a careful relationship is maintained between bears and the people who come to watch them fish. more

Wrangell assembly approves Tyee transfer agreement

The Wrangell Borough Assembly Tuesday unanimously approved a contract to transfer the operation and management of the Tyee Lake electrical power plant to the Southeast Alaska Power Agency. more

BC’s KSM mine nears environmental approval

Oxidized rock colors a valley where one of Seabridge Gold's KSM Project's open pit mines will be dug. Canadian officials have opened their final comment period before environmental approval. (Ed Schoenfeld/CoastAlaska)Canadian environmental officials have given provisional approval to a controversial mine planned for an area northeast of Ketchikan.

B.C. mines get financial boost, one to open soon

BC mines map CROPPED - SEACCCanadian investors are putting millions of new dollars into mining projects near the Southeast Alaska border.

Wrangell’s new carving facility nearing completion

carving shed wrangellWrangell’s new carving facility is approaching completion, and the Wrangell Cooperative Association is hoping to have a dedication event this winter. more

TBPC fires general manager

The Thomas Bay Power Commission voted Wednesday to fire the general manager of the Thomas Bay Power Authority. The unanimous decision comes after TBPA General Manager Michael Nicholls missed TBPC meetings in June and failed to turn over documents requested by the commission. more

New Sealaska leaders promise growth, changes

New Sealaska CEO Anthony Mallott addresses shareholders June 28 at the regional Native corporation's annual meeting near the SeaTac Airport. (Photo Courtesy Sealaska)Sealaska’s new board chairman and CEO say the regional Native corporation is gearing up for growth.

SEAPA moves forward with transfer of Tyee hydroelectric facility

seapa board meetingThe Southeast Alaska Power Agency is moving forward with plans to take over the Tyee Lake hydroelectric facility. SEAPA board chairman Bob Sivertsen said the board Thursday resolved to terminate its contract with TBPA, leaving a year for negotiations. more

Stough gives up TBPC presidency, assembly seat

James Stough has resigned as president of the Thomas Bay Power Commission and given up his seat on the Wrangell Borough Assembly. The resignation came after Stough missed two TBPC meetings earlier this month. more

Yacht rally cancellation disappoints Wrangell businesses

salty dog rally logoThe Salty Dog Rally was expected to bring 40 yachts and a lot of business to Wrangell this week. The rally was canceled after the Wrangell Chamber of Commerce and local businesses put time, effort and money into planning for the influx of tourists. more

Wrangell dancers take Celebration 2014 stage

Wrangell's Old Willow Town Dancers, made of students in the community’s Johnson-O'Malley Program, perform at Celebration 2014. (Screenshot/360North)The Old Willow Town Dancers, with students in the community’s Johnson-O'Malley Program, performed at Celebration 2014 in Juneau. more

State turns over Meyers Chuck dock ownership

Meyers Chuck, between Wrangell and Ketchikan, will see a new dock within a few years. (Map by US Beacon)Wrangell officials have agreed to take over the Meyers Chuck dock. The state will provide funds for a replacement. more