Legislature approves $33 million

The City of Homer came out with funding for its top three priorities in the Alaska 2014 Capital Budget so far, a grant for Homer Port and Harbor improvements, help with a new fire station and dollars toward replacing the faulty harbormaster office.
“We did OK. We gave the legislature our whole CIP list (Capital Improvement List) and we were successful in the sense that the top three were addressed,” City Manager Walt Wrede said Monday.
These appropriations await the governor’s signature, but have a good survival chance since they were not politically tied. The harbor improvements came at the governor’s recommendation as a $4.2 million matching municipal grant program.

Community news – April 17

Dance to the beat of a different drum The public is invited to a drum-making workshop from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. April 27 at the Art Barn next to Many Rivers on East End Road. The workshop focuses on the Rainbow Fire Medicine Wheel Teachings and how to apply this ancient wisdom into contemporary […]

Alaskans should pay attention to Oregon’s intolerable acts

The Legislative Blitz of 2013 in Salem, Oregon is a grievously under-reported story. Oregon’s state government is moving in a total media blackout to close down all rural producers in mining, logging, agriculture, and ranching.
Beginning in December, 2012, the office of Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber emitted a blizzard of bills to the Oregon legislature. Oregonian mining law researchers Ron Gibson, Art Sappington, Hal Anthony, Guy Michael and Al Hansen are doing a Herculean task, reading and testifying on 2,684 bills to assess impact on natural resources, labor, family farms, small business, county economies, private property, and the foundations of American law.

Life-long ‘trash picker’ shares colorful memories

I’m a trash picker; a collector of litter and self-appointed cleaner of the roadways.
When I was 10, my family moved from the crowded suburbs of Camp Hill Pennsylvania to the majestic mountains of Jackson Hole, Wyoming, fulfilling my father’s dream of living in the wild west. Along with fresh air and an abundance of natural beauty, he discovered that the roadways were littered with soda pop bottles, beer cans, old tires, rotten tarps and a plethora of other discards.
Being a conservationist all his life, he knew something had to be done. It would start with us. My brother was three when my dad decided our small family of four would clean up the roadways. Thus began a family tradition.

Letters – April 17

Governor’s permitting bills cause injustice There has never been such a raid on the rights of the citizens in the State of Alaska as there is before you. Gov. Sean Parnell’s permitting initiative bills will take away any oversight by the citizens who have made this a great state. It will take away public comment […]

Exporting electronic waste = exporting green jobs

Not only is exporting potentially toxic electronic waste to developing countries morally and environmentally unsound, it also works against our desire to encourage the creation of domestic green jobs.
It is no secret that Americans’ love affair with all things electronic is resulting in a glut of e-waste as items are upgraded, replaced, broken and discarded.
The Environmental Protection Agency estimates the amount of discarded electronics is growing two to three times faster than any other part of the waste stream. In 2011, 4.8 billion pounds of e-waste was generated in the US, but only about 25 percent of that amount was recycled domestically.

Mine ‘streamlining’ has many faults

“Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the commissioner may authorize an activity on state land by the issuance of a general permit if the commissioner finds that the activity is unlikely to result in significant and irreparable harm to state land or resources.”
The language above is the lead statement of a bill introduced by the Governor and Natural Resources Commissioner to “streamline” Alaska’s permitting process. That Bill is HB 77. It passed the House and in a feat of cleaver political chicanery it passed out of Senate Finance despite overwhelming public testimony from around the state opposing it.
Though the bill didn’t pass this year, it can come up next year and constituents need to be ready.
It shows our Legislature is poised to turn over control of Alaska’s natural wealth to the virtually unfettered discretion of one man who is free to act “notwithstanding” any law the legislature may have enacted in the past to protect our natural resources.

Stabenow sets $1 million goal for women writers’ retreat

Women writers will soon get a free retreat all their own under plans by prolific author, Dana Stabenow to set up a six-cabin campus in Homer called the Storyknife Writers Retreat.
The author of the Kate Shugak series of mystery novels launched a campaign to raise $1 million between now and next spring. The money will go to build Alaska’s only retreat for female writers.
“We have googled our little hearts out looking for women’s writing retreats all over the world,” Stabenow said Friday. “We tried to find retreats specifically for women. Hedgebrook Farm (on Whidbey Island) is the only one. Storyknife will be second in the world.”
Women writers continue to get second class treatment in the publishing world, Stabenow said. Women still need help in becoming published authors and to get their books reviewed. Reviewers are still more likely to look at books by male authors than by women, she said.

Arts Briefs – April 17

Gwartnery workshop May3-5 UAA’s Kachemak Bay Campus of Kenai Peninsula College is holding registration for the upcoming spring writing workshop to be conducted by Debra Gwartney. Gwartnery is the author of the memoir Live Through This. She was a finalist for the National Books Critics Award and 2012 Kachemak Bay Writers’ Conference presenter. The workshop, […]

Storytelling ritual heals cultural divide, shows bigger picture

Storytelling. Whether around a campfire or around the dinner table, talking, telling tales and verbally exchanging ideas have been part of the human experience for as long as humans have used spoken language.
In part of celebrating the richness of oral traditions here, the Alaska Native Oratory Society held its fifth annual regional gathering last week at Alaska Christian College. Natives and non-Natives came together to speak publicly on a variety of topics important or meaningful to them.
The soft-spoken Alice Pauline, originally from Hooper Bay, led off the evening with a presentation about leaving past hardships of her village behind, and what it was like to travel from the tiny coastal community to larger and more populated areas in the Lower 48, specifically Iowa.
“If you ever have to travel with Natives to the Lower 48, I think you’ll have fun, especially if it’s their first time,” she joked about how overwhelming it all was at first.
However, getting away from all that was familiar helped her to better understand the things that had happened in her life.

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