Alaskans need to tell their suicide prevention success stories

We really don’t need a day or a week or a month to be reminded to think about suicide and our need to find ways to prevent it. Those sad reminders are around us all the time, in the faces of our friends and neighbors, in the missing places where vibrant lives should have been. There’s no glamour in suicide. Just sadness — and a whole lot of misperceptions about how to prevent it.
By-and-large, suicide is linked to two things — substance abuse and mental disorders, the latter of which includes a wide range of conditions that are understood almost as little as suicide. Depression ranks high, and is so often linked with both substance abuse and suicide that it’s rare when this deadly trio do not go hand in hand.

Letters – Sept. 15

Improving access to healthcare a community responsibility South Peninsula Hospital and the Kenai Peninsula Borough are underway with two very important projects. The first is a long-overdue replacement of the air-handling system in the operating rooms.  Originally installed in the 1970s, this 40-year-old antiquated system is no longer adequate for the OR. In addition to […]

School district seeks to stay afloat in a sea of economic challenges

Some people believe the school year is a marathon, but I liken it to a 400-meter run — the toughest race to run. We have precious hours, minutes and seconds with students in the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District. Our nearly 8,800 students with diverse backgrounds and learning needs require parents, support staff, teachers and administrators to maintain focus, while moving briskly to meet their varied needs. We do this to keep students on track to achieve success and a meaningful high school diploma. In a few short months, several hundred students will walk across a stage to receive a diploma, and head into their future beyond K-12 education. It seems like a long race, but it happens fast.

Fiscal plan must strengthen Permanent Fund

Although I am in agreement with many of Gov. Bill Walker’s proposals to balance Alaska’s budget, I do not agree with his plan to restructure the Permanent Fund and to cap the Permanent Fund dividend to help balance the budget. I believe the Permanent Fund and the dividend must remain permanent and unaltered for the benefit of all Alaskans, both now and in the future.
There has been much discussion regarding Alaska’s worsening fiscal woes, precipitated mainly by the drop in oil prices and declining production. But much responsibility for our huge deficit must be laid at the feet of government, which historically has encouraged bloated spending while refusing to address the growing budget with proactive cost containment or revenue-enhancing measures.

Alaska needs to open discussion about alcohol addiction, recovery

Like many Alaskans, our family hosted more than a dozen visitors from out of state this summer. Most of them fell in love with our state on bright, sunshine-filled days as they gazed at gorgeous glaciers and salmon splashing in the streams. It’s hard not to love Alaska in the summer, and more than a few of these visitors professed intentions to return, some to stay. They started asking questions about the winter, the culture, the economy.
Inevitably, the conversation would always turn to the tough facts — our high rates of domestic violence, sexual assault, child abuse, seasonal depression and alcoholism. Now, add to that the rising rates of opioid use and addiction, and the shiny package seems to lose its luster.

Working together to prevent suicide

Next week is National Suicide Prevention Week, Sept. 5 – 11. World Suicide Prevention Day is Sept. 10.
Alaska has a high rate of suicide. In 2014, according to the CDC, our state was ranked second in the nation for death by suicide. In that same year, Alaska was rated the highest in the nation for youth ages 15-24, to die by suicide.

North Slope gas: ‘You dig, or we will’

In the final stages of the trans-Alaska oil pipeline, many quit their jobs prior to the completion of TAPS because they wanted to be first in line to work on the gasline. Alaska expected construction to begin that quickly, but that was nearly 40 years ago. Efforts to monetize the billions of dollars of stranded North Slope gas, such as the projects advanced by the Yukon Pacific Corporation and the Alaska Gasline Port Authority, did not materialize — primarily due to lack of access to gas. For the first time, Alaska now has assurances by the North Slope leaseholders that the gasline project will have access to North Slope gas.
World-renowned energy analyst Wood Mackenzie recently evaluated the economic viability of the currently structured AKLNG project and concluded the existing model of multiple producers owning and financing the project will not work. The producers agreed, but testified before the Joint Resources Committee that the project itself is not dead. In BP-Alaska’s testimony, for example, the company equated the significance of the project to its portfolio to a billion barrels of oil — a project they urged should continue to go forward.

Letters – Sept. 8

Rounding up thank-yous I would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to the numerous event participants, volunteers and those who contributed to the 2016 Rounds for the Rink on Aug. 20. The annual fundraiser benefits the Homer Hockey Association and Kevin Bell Arena. Thank you to the hole sponsors: Café Cups, the Grog Shop, […]

Tribal court leaders discuss banishment, baggage checks for liquor and drugs

In some villages, tribal courts have banished offenders for bootlegging and domestic violence. In others, tribal courts are conducting searches of passengers on incoming flights to stop the flow of alcohol and other drugs.
In a three-day conference this week on tribal court development, speakers mentioned these and other enforcement steps as examples of how tribal court operations are taking shape in Alaska, including some steps that would not be permitted under state and federal laws.

Alaskans deserve fair and honest elections

Fair and honest elections are the bedrock on which our democracy is built. They allow us to settle our differences with the pen instead of the sword that plagues so much of the rest of the world today.
Fair and honest elections should not be allowed to become a partisan issue in this state. Fair and honest elections are not a Democrat issue or a Republican issue. They are an all-Alaska issue.
Problems have been detected in the primary election held on Aug. 16 of this year. Yes, a majority of the problems have popped up in a Democrat primary in Northwest Alaska, but clean elections are not a regional problem. They are an all-Alaska problem.

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