Ed Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska - Juneau

Ed Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska - Juneau
Ed Schoenfeld is Regional News Director for CoastAlaska, a consortium of public radio stations in Ketchikan, Juneau, Sitka, Petersburg and Wrangell. He primarily covers Southeast Alaska regional topics, including the state ferry system, transboundary mining, the Tongass National Forest and Native corporations and issues. He has also worked as a manager, editor and reporter for the Juneau Empire newspaper and Juneau public radio station KTOO. He’s also reported for commercial station KINY in Juneau and public stations KPFA in Berkley, WYSO in Yellow Springs, Ohio, and WUHY in Philadelphia. He’s lived in Alaska since 1979 and is a contributor to Alaska Public Radio Network newscasts, the Northwest (Public Radio) News Network and National Native News. He is a board member of the Alaska Press Club. Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, he lives in Douglas.

Southeast Alaska is growing older faster than any other region in the state. This so-called “Silver Tsunami” is expanding the need for housing, transportation, healthcare and social services. CoastAlaska public radio stations are presenting a series of reports talking to our older community members – and those they work with – about many of the issues they face.

The largest tribal government in Southeast Alaska now has authority over foster care and other services for Native children facing abuse or neglect. An agreement signed Wednesday this week transfers state management, as well as funding, to the Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska. Download Audio

An Alaska Airlines flight on its way to Ketchikan and Juneau was struck by lightning Sunday night. No one was hurt, but it shook people up.
Rep. Sam Kito lll addresses the Alaska House of Representatives on April 7, 2014. (Photo by Skip Gray/360 North)

The Alaska Marine Highway System made it through one step in the legislative budget process without further cuts. But those could come later.

A longtime critic of Sealaska management is campaigning to limit the terms of the regional Native corporation’s board of directors. Previous efforts have failed.

An independent southern Southeast Alaska ferry system contributes about $50 million a year to the region’s economy. The Inter-Island Ferry Authority just released a report showing its impacts on tourism, seafood, health-care and other industries. The Inter-Island Ferry Authority, or IFA, has been sailing for about 15 years It runs between Hollis, on Prince of Wales Island, and Ketchikan. And it’s separate from the much larger Alaska Marine Highway System.

Many people think the Alaska Marine Highway System only serves port communities in the Southeast and Southwest parts of the state, plus Prince William Sound. It turns out the Railbelt benefits, too. Download Audio

Petersburg’s nonprofit cold storage plant is serving a wider group of customers than it did when it began about 10 years ago. It’s still mostly freezing fish for big processors but it’s also taking in groceries and sport anglers’ catches. Download Audio

Ferry fares went up 5 percent for most routes Jan. 1. The hike comes on the heels of a 4.5 percent increase that began in May. The increase is for new reservations. Those made before January will not change.

The Alaska Marine Highway System is not changing its rules for children traveling solo anytime soon. About a year ago, officials announced plans to require most children and teenagers to be accompanied by an adult. They said it was unsafe for those under 18 to be on their own on a moving ship. Ferry users disagreed and protested the decision.

It’s been a hard year for some Alaskans. Salvation Army branches around the state report significantly more requests for holiday assistance than last year. Here’s how the Southeast fishing community of Petersburg is responding to the need. Petersburg’s Salvation Army Community Center is collecting toys for 70 children this Christmas season. That’s up from 50 last year. About 85 families including around 230 people will get boxes of food. Those numbers are up too.

Budget cuts have already dramatically reduced Alaska Marine Highway sailings. And the recently-released spending plan for the next fiscal year calls for more. So, how does the ferry system fare in the governor’s budget? And will the Legislature make further cuts? Download Audio

Petersburg spent close to $70,000 fighting to keep its borough boundaries after Juneau contested them in court. Petersburg won a Dec. 4 Alaska Supreme Court ruling, but it’s not getting much of its money back.

A British Columbia mine that’s become a poster child for environmental disasters will soon begin discharging wastewater. Download Audio

A Catholic priest who serves parishes in Petersburg and Wrangell has suffered a life-threatening heart attack. The Rev. Thomas Weise, 46, was hospitalized Nov. 25, the evening before Thanksgiving while visiting family in Southern California.

Canadian regulators say the Tulsequah Chief Project, about 40 miles northeast of Juneau, has agreed to reduce pollution leaking into a nearby river. But the controversial project won’t have to restart a shuttered water-treatment plant many Southeast Alaskans want back in operation. The British Columbia copper, zinc, silver and gold mine closed in 1957, after 20 years of operation. But in recent years, two companies have developed plans to reopen it.

Alaska and British Columbia on Wednesday signed a memorandum of understanding giving the state a larger role in transboundary mine permitting decisions. Download Audio

Canadian regulators say the Tulsequah Chief Project, about 40 miles northeast of Juneau, has agreed to reduce pollution leaking into a nearby river. But the controversial project won’t have to restart a shuttered water-treatment plant many Southeast Alaskans want back in operation.

A federal funding battle could affect the future of the Alaska Marine Highway System. Ferry chief Mike Neussl says formula changes in the U.S. Senate’s version of a transportation bill would reduce the amount of money available to fix Alaska ships.

Alaska officials have drafted an agreement with British Columbia aimed at protecting transboundary waters. They say it will address concerns about pollution from mines on rivers that flow into Alaska. But critics say it may not make any difference, because it has no teeth. Download Audio