August 2021

Panel at Bethel convention seeks solution to tribal child welfare problems

first_imgAlaska Native Government & Policy | Family | Government | Southwest | State GovernmentPanel at Bethel convention seeks solution to tribal child welfare problemsSeptember 30, 2015 by Anna Rose MacArthur, KYUK Share:Valerie Davidson, commissioner of the state’s Dept. of Health and Social Services, led the panel on tribal-state child welfare in the AVCP region. (Photo by Anna Rose MacArthur/KYUK)Keeping tribal children in their tribal communities is the solution to improving regional child welfare, panelists said Monday at the Association of Village Council Presidents annual conventionThe panelists represented a range of local, regional and state organizations and said the approach to keeping children in their tribal communities is two-pronged.The first is by training more foster parents in each village. There is especially a need for therapeutic foster parents. Such parents receive extra training and an additional stipend to provide behavioral health services to foster children.Panelist Fennisha Gardner, Southwest regional director of children services, said currently there are no therapeutic foster parents in the Bethel area. Without these parents, many children are removed from their homes because they require therapeutic services not available in their communities.Panelist Linda Ayagarak-Daney, an AVCP social worker, said many foster parents are acting in a therapeutic way by engaging their foster children in cultural practices like berry picking, subsisting and boating.Monique Vondall-Rieke. (Photo courtesy of South Dakota State University)Another solution panelists offered was to continue establishing and empowering tribal courts. Many panelists said tribes, not the state, know best how to care for their children.The AVCP recently hired Monique Vondall-Rieke to help establish tribal courts throughout the region. Her vision is to create 25 to 30 new courts. To do that, she will soon begin tribal court assessments in AVCP villages.Vondall came from working with the Chippewa Tribe in North Dakota as a tribal judge and attorney. She was also responsible for writing tribal court code.The convention goes until Thursday at the Bethel Cultural Center.Share this story:last_img read more

Senate passes bill aimed at lowering individual health insurance costs

first_imgBusiness | Health | State GovernmentSenate passes bill aimed at lowering individual health insurance costsJune 3, 2016 by Andrew Kitchenman, KTOO and Alaska Public Media Share:The Senate voted 15-2 Friday to pass a bill to lower health insurance premium increases for individuals and families.Lori Wing-Heier, the director of the Alaska Division of Insurance, in January. (Photo by Skip Gray/360 North)State Insurance Division director Lori Wing-Heier told lawmakers last week that the individual insurance market could collapse if the legislature didn’t pass House Bill 374.Bill supporter Sen. Mia Costello, R-Anchorage, noted that insurance bills now exceed many families’ mortgage payments.“Through this legislation, we’re addressing a crisis,” she said, adding: “Essentially, we’re up against a wall.”The bill provides $55 million to fund a reinsurance program. This will offset the cost of Alaskans with the highest healthcare costs.Premera Alaska will be the only insurer on the individual market after Moda Health said it would stop offering individual plans by the end of the year.Wing-Heier says there are many reasons why Alaska has high healthcare costs.“There’s a lot of duplication in equipment in Alaska. And there’s also no mechanism to control fees in the private industry and physicians,” she said. “Those are things that we need to work on.”The House could vote on the bill as soon as Saturday to send the bill to Gov. Bill Walker’s desk.Share this story:last_img read more

Atlin dance group reflects cross-border cultural resurgence

first_imgAlaska Native Arts & Culture | Arts & Culture | Celebration | Juneau | Southeast | SyndicatedAtlin dance group reflects cross-border cultural resurgenceJune 16, 2016 by Ed Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska News Share:Taku Kwaan Dance Leader Wayne Carlick, left, and others drum as more than 30 people take the stage during Celebration 2016. The Atlin, British Columbia, group included relatives from Juneau.  (Photo by Ed Schoenfeld/CoastAlaska News)Southeast Alaska’s Tlingit culture doesn’t stop at the Canadian border. Tribal members also live in British Columbia to the east and the Yukon to the north. An Inland Tlingit group from up the Taku River has strong connections to Alaska.Audio Player Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.Dance Leader Wayne Carlick calls more than 30 people to the Celebration 2016 main stage.They’re children, adults and elders clad in button blankets, beaded vests and carved and woven hats. Some wear Chilkat blankets, others wolf hides.Taku Ḵwáan, or Taku People Dancers, came to Celebration from Atlin, British Columbia, about 90 miles northeast of Juneau.Youth Spokesman Matthew Wesley asks the Celebration audience for a Hoo-Ha cheer during the Taku Kwaan performance at Juneau’s Centennial Hall. (Photo by Ed Schoenfeld/CoastAlaska News)Carlick said it started around 10 years ago when young people began asking about their culture. Before this group, there was another, the Children of the Creator.“That dance group actually inspired our parents to join the dance group and eventually we became the Taku Ḵwáan Dancers. Our children were always a part of it and they’re the ones who actually started us getting busy and make our regalia and do all this stuff for our people,” he said.It was a cultural revival, not unlike recent decades’ resurgence on this side of the border.Both share some history. As in Alaska, Canada’s government-funded residential schools practiced what many call “aggressive assimilation.” The aim was to destroy traditions.“Nobody really danced for a long time because we didn’t know about our culture. There were elders who were silent because of the schools that we went to. And to try to break through all that and say, ‘This is who we are. Nothing’s going to get in the way of it, because no matter what they do to us, we are here, now,’” he said.The Taku people have close ties to the Juneau area.Louise Gordon is spokesperson for Taku River Tlingit First Nation.“It happened over a period of time. We actually migrated from the Taku down to Douglas Island, where the food was,” she said.She said some of the Taku Ḵwáan Dancers performing at Celebration are from Douglas or Juneau.“That’s why the wolves are part of our dance group because they were originally … people from the Taku River. But they decided to stay in Juneau and we decided to move inland. So the Celebration gives us an opportunity of reconnecting with our families” she said.Gordon credited Carlick for the dance group’s size and success.The former residential school student was given carving tools by elders in the 1990s. Carlick took those to Vancouver, B.C., where he studied, practiced and became a master carver.“He actually came back into the community and inspired the whole community. He’s actually had something to do with each and every one of our blankets. And I was witness to see him make 40 drums in one month. That’s more than one a day,” she said.Carlick said he did it by involving the community.“It’s the same thing about learning about our regalia, learning about the spiritual part and our connection to it. I think it’s all part of it. The drum is part of it. The shoes we wear, the clothing we wear, all become part of who we are. It’s almost like or second skin,” he said.Taku Kwaan dancers perform June 10 as part of Celebration 2016. The group is from Atlin, British Columbia, and included relatives from Juneau. (Photo by Ed Schoenfeld/CoastAlaska News)Inland Tlingits have their own regional cultural gathering every other year. The next Hà Kus Teyea will be held in 2017 in Teslin, in the Yukon, another Tlingit population center.Carlick said such events help maintain traditions.“This is our Olympics. This is the biggest of the dances, the biggest of the groups and the best groups in the world are here at Celebration,” he said.Three other Canadian dance groups performed during this month’s Celebration. Two were from Whitehorse, the Yukon’s capital city, and one was from Surrey, near Vancouver.Share this story:last_img read more

Online fundraiser nets nearly $50K for erosion-control project at Delta-area park

first_imgEnvironment | Interior | State GovernmentOnline fundraiser nets nearly $50K for erosion-control project at Delta-area parkOctober 4, 2016 by Tim Ellis, KUAC-Fairbanks Share:Alaska State Parks is trying to raise money for a riverbank-stabilization project that would halt the Tanana River from washing away the bank that’s already been eroded to within 13 feet of this historic cabin at Big Delta State Historical Park. (Photo by Monica Gray/ Alaska State Parks )Donors gave nearly $50,000 to an online fundraiser last month to help pay for a project to prevent the Tanana River from washing away the bank that runs along Big Delta State Historical Park near Delta Junction.Alaska State Parks will use the donations as a match for further fundraising to pay for a bank-stabilization project riverbank to prevent further erosion.Alaska State Parks Superintendent Brooks Ludwig said Monday the online crowdfunding drive that ended late last month went well, but fell just a bit short its $50,000 goal.“We’re at about $48,200, I think, at the last count,” he said. “And actually, the donations are continuing to come in.”Ludwig says State Parks will continue to accept donations through February while the agency applies for grants and other funding to pay for work to stop the Tanana River from washing away more of the south bank that runs along the Big Delta State Historical Park.The Tanana cut deeply into the bank last summer after rains raised the level of the river to near flood-stage, and the high water undercut a bluff on which an historic cabin was located. The bluff collapsed to within 13 feet of the structure before State Parks jacked it up in August and moved it away from the river.“We’re working to see what we can do with the state funding and the private donations,” he said. “Maybe we can leverage that for some federal funding for bank stabilization and some habitat work.”Ludwig says 87 people donated to the cause, along with several private- and public-sector donors that kicked in big bucks and in-kind donations of materials such as boulders and “root wads,” or the big, gnarly bundles of tree roots that’re yanked out when land is cleared and that are useful in building aquatic habitat.“If we can find some root wads, that’d be very beneficial because it’d be really nice to incorporate that in the bank restoration to preserve the salmon habitat there,” Ludwig said in an interview Monday.He says engineers are surveying the bank now to develop a design for the project, which he says will get under way in the spring.“We’re going to get at it in April, while the water is still very low,” he said, “and get in there and harden the bank before the water starts coming back up again.”Share this story:last_img read more

Big turnout for Douglas library’s first Drag Queen Story Hour

first_imgArts & Culture | Juneau | KRNN | KRNN Tune IN | KXLL | KXLL Tune InBig turnout for Douglas library’s first Drag Queen Story HourJune 23, 2017 by Annie Bartholomew, KTOO Share:Gigi Monroe poses for pictures with Stacy Katasse and her children Autumm and Kaash at the Douglas Public Library on June 14, 2017. (Photo by Annie Bartholomew/KTOO) Amelia Jenkins and Gigi Monroe pose for a photo at the Drag Queen Story Hour at the Douglas Public Library on June 14, 2017. (Photo by Annie Bartholomew/KTOO) Teenagers were among the hundred people who attended the Drag Queen Story Hour at the Douglas Public Library on June 14, 2017. The event was funded by The Friends of the Library. (Photo by Annie Bartholomew/KTOO) 123 read more

Just 17% of Americans approve of Republican Senate health care bill

first_imgFederal Government | Health | Nation & World | NPR NewsJust 17% of Americans approve of Republican Senate health care billJune 28, 2017 by Jessica Taylor, NPR Share:Updated at 1:35 p.m. ETAmericans broadly disapprove of the Senate GOP’s health care bill, and they’re unhappy with how Republicans are handling the efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, according to a new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll.Just 17 percent of those surveyed say they approve of the Senate’s health care plan, the Better Care Reconciliation Act. Fifty-five percent say they disapprove, while about a quarter said they hadn’t heard enough about the proposal to have an opinion on it.With mounting defections within the GOP caucus over the bill, leaders decided to delay a vote on the legislation until after Congress returns from next week’s July Fourth recess.A Congressional Budget Office analysis released Monday found that if the bill were enacted, 22 million fewer people would have health insurance over the next decade due, in part, to the bill’s rollback of Medicaid expansion.“With numbers like these, it’s not surprising the Republican leadership in Congress is having a difficult time building consensus,” said Lee Miringoff, the director of the Marist Institute for Public Opinion.While Democratic opposition to the bill, as expected, is high, GOP support for the Senate GOP’s plan is very soft. Twenty-one percent of Republicans oppose the bill and just 35 percent support it. Sixty-eight percent of independents also oppose the proposed legislation.In fact, while many Americans want changes to the ACA, also known as Obamacare, they want it to be more far-reaching. A 46 percent plurality say they want to see the ACA do more, while just 7 percent want it to do less. Keeping the ACA and having it do less is essentially what GOP congressional plans are doing.Only 17 percent want the 2010 bill left intact and unchanged, while a quarter of Americans want it repealed completely — including just over half of Republicans.If Congress doesn’t go through with a repeal of the ACA, 37 percent of Americans said they would blame Republicans in Congress, while 23 percent would blame Democrats, and 15 percent would blame President Trump.Among Republicans, Trump wouldn’t bear the brunt of the blame if Congress is unable to repeal and replace Obamacare. Just 6 percent would blame him, and half said they would blame congressional Democrats. Another 20 percent said they would blame GOP lawmakers.The NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll surveyed 1,205 adults from June 21-25, 2017, contacted by live interviewers using a mix of landline and mobile numbers. There is a ± 2.8 percentage points margin of error. A sub-sample of 995 registered voters were also surveyed, with a ± 3.1 percentage points margin of error. Questions relating to how congressional Republicans are handling the issue of health care, the plan proposed by Senate Republicans, and whom should be blamed if Congress does not repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act were fielded from June 22-25, 2017 with 939 adults and 769 registered voters. The margin of error is +/- 3.2 percentage points and +/- 3.5 percentage points, respectively. Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit this story:last_img read more

Closed process on capital budget draws criticism

first_imgEconomy | Politics | Southcentral | Southeast | State GovernmentClosed process on capital budget draws criticismAugust 1, 2017 by Andrew Kitchenman, KTOO and Alaska Public Media Share:House page Laib Allensworth places copies of the capital budget on lawmakers desks in the Capitol on July 27. Rep. Dean Westlake, D-Kotzebue, reads in the background. (Photo by Andrew Kitchenman/KTOO)When the state Legislature passed the capital budget on Thursday last week, it ended a negotiating process that largely occurred behind closed doors. That’s often the case for legislation that requires the Senate and the House to work out their differences.   The Alaska House and Senate each passed different versions of the capital budget funding roads and other infrastructure this spring. But unlike in past years, they didn’t form a conference committee to find common ground until the end of July.  On July 27, the Legislature returned to Juneau for its third special session. In five and a half hours, the two chambers met, formed a conference committee and passed the $1.4 billion capital budget.  That pace and closed process upset some members of the Republican House minority caucus. During the capital budget debate in the House, North Pole Rep. Tammie Wilson said she had never seen anything like it.  “We should be really concerned, because it’s a public process that we’re giving up – the public process of being able to testify on what’s in this budget,” she said.  It was unusual for lawmakers to meet on the capital budget outside of the legislative session. It’s not unusual that they resolved budget differences behind closed doors.  Budget conference committee members usually meet privately to work out details. When they hold public meetings, it’s to vote on the compromises they’ve already reached. On July 27, the committee unveiled the new $1.4 billion capital budget. In 29 minutes, the committee shot down some minority Republican amendments and moved the bill along. Wilson said this week she hopes the Legislature finishes the capital budget much earlier next year – with a more open process.  “Well, it’s always upsetting when it’s a closed-door deal, and that’s absolutely what it was,” she said. “We weren’t called back until a deal was made. You could pretty much tell that when they met at 1 o’clock and within five or 10 minutes, you know, it was done. And I just don’t think that’s very fair to Alaskans – not to be able to take part.” Lawmakers in both chambers heard public testimony on the capital budget before passing separate versions.  Anchorage Democratic Rep. Les Gara said the public and the minority also had more than a month to weigh in. And they were facing a deadline.  Gov. Bill Walker’s administration was concerned construction projects would be delayed if the Legislature didn’t pass a capital budget by July 31. Gara also said lawmakers saved money from per diem expenses by negotiating outside of the session. “The two choices were to sit down there, griping with each other with people collecting per diem in Juneau for a week or two as you haggled everything out, or to say, ‘Look, go home, don’t collect per diem. A sm – group of people will try to figure out a proposal and see if it gets enough votes.’ And that’s what happened,” Gara said.Political scientist Clive Thomas, formerly with the University of Alaska Southeast, said the extraordinarily late capital budget was a factor in the closed process outside of Juneau.  “Most capital budgets are usually dealt with by the end of the session, the first session – the end of the regular session – so, I’ve never known of this process before,” Thomas said.   Legislators spent the extended session and earlier special sessions with the operating budget and a bill overhauling oil and gas taxes. Rep. Gara said he’d also like next year’s capital and operating budgets to be resolved sooner. But he says some lawmakers hold out in the hope that the other side will cave.  Share this story:last_img read more

Best Starts initiative fails to make October ballot

first_imgEducation | Family | Juneau | Local GovernmentBest Starts initiative fails to make October ballotAugust 14, 2018 by Jacob Resneck and Adelyn Baxter, KTOO Share:Nikki Love of the Southeast Alaska chapter of the Association for the Education of Young Children was among scores of Juneau residents who turned out to Monday’s Juneau Assembly meeting to support Best Starts, a subsidized child care initiative. (Photo by Jacob Resneck/KTOO)A measure asking Juneau voters to support raising property taxes to expand child care will not appear on the October ballot.Audio Player Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.Residents packed Assembly Chambers with an overflow crowd upstairs watching on closed-circuit TV as supporters made their case.Joy Lyons, executive director of the Southeast chapter of the Association for the Education of Young Children, addressed the Juneau Assembly before the vote.“There is no more important issue before you than the critical years of young children during birth to 5 and how we support them in our community,” Lyons said.The Assembly was voting on whether or not to put an advisory question about child care on the October ballot. Specifically, it would have asked voters if they’d support up to $2.8 million to expand child care availability in Juneau with higher property taxes. For a house assessed at $300,000 — annual tax bills would increase by $174.Mayor Ken Koelsch opposed the wording of the measure. He said he felt the advisory question would tie the hands of future Assembly members.“I could support this if we would take out the portion of the resolution concerning property tax and also the cost,” Koelsch said. “That, to me, puts the next Assembly in a situation I would not like to see them put in.”The Assembly was short-handed. Two members resigned to run for mayor leaving seven for the vote. How did they vote? The yeas were Rob Edwardson, Maria Gladziszewski, Loren Jones and Jesse Kiehl.The nays were Ken Koelsch, Jerry Nankervis and Mary Becker.The ballot initiative failed with three “no” votes and four “yes” votes. It marked the third attempt in two years for supporters to get Assembly support.After 12 years in the child care business, Samantha Adams closed her center down earlier this year citing high overhead costs. She said reluctance to put the question to voters was puzzling.“For the number of times that we’ve come before the Assembly to ask for their support on this matter, there’s always that, ‘Hey, here’s one more thing we need you to do.’ Or ‘here’s one more hoop that needs to be jumped through.’ And really, I think at this point it should be up to the community to decide these things,” Adams said.The next Assembly will be markedly different with at least four new members. Mayor Koelsch won’t seek another term and two members are running for state office in addition to the two who resigned to run for mayor.But Maria Gladziszewski’s term doesn’t expire until 2020. She said the question should be put to voters.“I think we’ve heard from lots of people who say, ‘Support daycare.’ Many, many, we’ve gotten certainly over 100 emails. But the question for me is, ‘Will you be willing to raise revenue to support this?’ And I think that people in this city should have a chance to vote on it,” Gladziszewski  said.She asked the vote be brought back to the Assembly in the near future. Depending on the October polls, the vote could go the other way.Share this story:last_img read more

Republican Governors Association buys ads in Alaska

first_imgEconomy | Interior | Politics | Southcentral | State GovernmentRepublican Governors Association buys ads in AlaskaAugust 28, 2018 by Andrew Kitchenman, KTOO and Alaska Public Media Share:Mike Dunleavy accepts the presumptive nomination as the Republican Party’s candidate for governor on Aug. 21. The Republican Governors Association is buying TV advertising to help Dunleavy. (Photo by Zachariah Hughes/Alaska Public Media)The Republican Governors Association is buying TV advertisements to help elect new nominee for governor Mike Dunleavy. After Dunleavy’s primary win last week, the association spent more than $200,000 for ads in Alaska.The Washington, D.C.,-based association has been buying TV ads in Alaska since the spring. It’s paying for the ads through the Alaska-based group Families for Alaska’s Future.There’s been nearly $1.7 million in total this year in ad buys from the RGA and Families for Alaska’s Future with the Anchorage and Fairbanks network affiliates. Most of the money has gone to KTUU-TV in Anchorage.“The Alaska governor’s race is a very high priority, and it’s a top pick-up opportunity for Republicans,” said Jon Thompson, spokesman for the Republican Governors Association.There are 36 gubernatorial elections this year, and the Republicans are defending seats in 26 of them. Thompson said Alaska presents a unique opportunity for the party to pick up a seat.“One, because Bill Walker has failed the state, and it’s ripe for Republican pick up, and because Mike Dunleavy is the only candidate with a clear plan to reform the state’s economy and make Alaska’s government more efficient,” Thompson said.The Republican Governors Association is dedicated to electing and supporting Republican governors. In previous years, the association has been funded by corporate donors. They included the businesses owned by prominent party donors Sheldon Adelson and the brothers Charles and David Koch.Share this story:last_img read more

Alaska ferry run canceled after LeConte crew member tests positive for COVID-19

first_imgCoronavirus | Juneau | Southeast | TransportationAlaska ferry run canceled after LeConte crew member tests positive for COVID-19August 10, 2020 by Jacob Resneck, CoastAlaska Share:Ferry LeConte docks in Haines in winter 2018. (Photo by Berett Wilber/KHNS)The Alaska Marine Highway System ferry LeConte’s run up Lynn Canal was canceled Sunday after a crew member tested positive for COVID-19. State transportation officials say the unnamed individual had finished a two-week shift on Aug. 1st and began feeling ill after returning home to Juneau.It’s not clear when the crew member went in for a test. But ferries spokesman Sam Dapcevich says state transportation officials were notified on Saturday that a ferry worker had the coronavirus.“We tested the entire crew aboard the LeConte, 23 crew members, and all the test results came back negative,” he said. “We also are testing the next crew that is supposed to start their rotation Aug. 14th. They will all be required to have a negative test result before reporting to duty.”The LeConte’s crew wasn’t cleared until the early morning hours of Sunday. That led to the decision to postpone the sailing to Haines and Skagway until Wednesday.“With the amount of time it took to test everybody and, and keeping people up late into the night we didn’t want to run the boat the next morning with a tired crew,” Dapcevich said.The LeConte is expected to resume sailings this week. It includes runs between Juneau, Pelican, Angoon, Kane and Lynn Canal communities later this week.State public health officials say no close contacts were identified in Juneau or on the vessel. There are no specific testing or quarantine recommendations for passengers or crew at this time.This story has been corrected to reflect that the LeConte’s sailings up Lynn Canal have been postponed until Wednesday.Share this story:last_img read more