Lori Townsend, APRN - Anchorage
ltownsend (at) alaskapublic (dot) org | 907.550.8452 | About Lori
Alaska is celebrating a century of aviation. As part of an occasional series on Alaska aviators, we’re gathering stories of flying. Chuck Sassara came to Alaska in 1955 after graduating from UCLA. He and his wife Ann drove the Alaska Highway in a VW bus. He got a job the day they got to Anchorage with Pacific Northern Airlines.
Alaska is celebrating a century of aviation. As part of an occasional series, we’ve invited seasoned aviators to tell us about their adventures at the controls. Retired Anchorage pilot Warren Polski came to Alaska with his family when he was 9 and got his pilot’s license at age 16. He flew with the Civil Air Patrol for the next 50 years on search and rescue missions. One memorable flight was right after the 1964 earthquake. Polski took the first plane into Whittier, flying in two workers from the department of public safety. He says the ground was covered in debris and he needed to attempt to land on an airstrip maintained by the railroad.
Over the weekend, the Western Mining Action Network held a panel discussion in Anchorage on the development of large scale mines in British Columbia that could impact the Taku, Stikine and Unuk rivers. All are prolific salmon producers for Alaska.
Chris Zimmer is the Alaska Rivers without Borders campaign director. He says there are a number of mines proposed for BC and two of the most concerning are the Tulsequah Chief mine and the much larger Kerr Suphurets Mitchell or KSM prospect which is half the size of the Pebble mine proposal and 50 times larger than Tulsequah.
Chieftan Metals Corporation, based in Toronto, is the owner of the Tulsequah Chief Mine. Company President and CEO Victor Wypryski was traveling and could not be reached for comment today, but a recent posting on the company’s website highlights the results of a February water quality study.
Conducted at the request of the British Columbia ministry of the environment, the study tested four sites on the Tulsequah River, near the confluence of the Taku River near the mine site. Chinook, Coho, sockeye salmon and dolly varden were tested. Researchers reportedly found no discernable impact in fish tissue samples from historic mining discharge.
The University of Alaska Fairbanks mining extension program will offer a basic prospecting class in Palmer on Saturday.
Governor Sean Parnell has been responding to allegations that sexual assault crimes within the state’s National Guard were reported to him four years before he requested a federal investigation. The Governor says as soon as he had specific information, he acted. Parnell’s commissioner of the Department of Military and Veteran’s Affairs, Major General Thomas Katkus says the federal investigation should help improve the system.
A documentary showing statewide on 360 North this evening, chronicles the wilderness adventures of Jean Aspen and Tom Irons. “Arctic Son: Fulfilling the Dream” is the story of Jean, her husband Tom and their son Luke as they spend a year in the Brooks Range, out of contact and building their own cabin. When she was in her 20s, Jean went into the arctic with her first husband, living off the land for four years.
Governor Sean Parnell is defending his decision to wait four years to request a federal investigation into reports of a sexual assault problem in the Alaska National Guard. Anchorage Daily News columnist Shannyn Moore wrote Sunday that Parnell first learned about misconduct in the Guard in 2010, when he was approached by three guard chaplains. Parnell says he took those charges seriously, but lacked the details to prompt an investigation until February.
He says after the initial concerns were raised, he went to Major General Thomas Katkus to make sure the systems were in place to protect guard members. Then in February, Parnell says he was able to talk with a guard member who provided specifics.
A biologist from Baylor University in Texas has discovered a unique way to determine changes in hormone and contaminant levels in baleen whales – through their ear wax. Stephen Trumble is a whale biologist who studied at UAF. He says museums have collected these earwax plugs for a century and the Smithsonian alone has more than 500. They are commonly used to determine a whales’ age – like tree rings.
Anchorage based Southcentral Foundation announced a settlement with the Indian Health Service over contract payments that at $96 million represents the largest IHS settlement in history.
Retired Anchorage Detective Glen Klinkhart has written a true crime memoir called Finding Bethany. The story reveals the years of work it took Klinkhart and others within APD to find the killer of Bethany Correira, a young woman from Talkeetna who had moved to Anchorage for college and in 2003 was murdered by Michael Lawson, the man who managed the apartment building where she lived. Klinkhart says he also wanted to tell the stories of the dedicated people who helped solve the case in big and small ways.
There are still a lot of unknowns about how the sale of the Anchorage Daily News to Alaska Dispatch will play out. But former Anchorage Daily News writer and managing editor Howard Weaver is thinking a lot about that question. Weaver wrote the book “Write Hard, Die Free” about the Anchorage newspaper wars in the 1970s and 80s. Weaver says he was saddened to learn about the sale of the Daily News.
Mary Jane Fate, a Koyukon Athabascan born in Rampart, labored tirelessly to improve all aspects of Alaska Native people’s lives. As one of the original Alaska Native Land Claims Settlement Act lobbyists, she worked with others to convince the White House and Congress of the fairness and justice in conveying 40 million acres and $1 billion to Alaska Natives through the passage of the Native claims act in 1971.
Eleanor Andrews has been building the human infrastructure capacity of Alaska for nearly five decades. She has been a successful business woman, as the owner of the Andrews Group, and also has been a highly regarded public servant. But it is the effectiveness and sweeping nature of her advocacy on behalf of community that is most amazing. Andrews is most widely known as a “civic entrepreneur” – that is a person who inspires institutions, businesses and individuals to invest in the community at the same time that they being successful at their work.
Residents in Alaska’s largest city are distressed by the increasing human/bear encounters in Anchorage parks, along the coastal trail and area streams. In the lead up to salmon spawning in local waterways, an Anchorage biologist is working on a brown bear relocation program. Dr. Robert Bastic has developed a plan that will safely take bears away from the heavy population of Anchorage while also providing a unique tourism experience. The method? Hot air balloons.
Governor Parnell is asking the federal National Guard Bureau to investigate cases of sexual assault in Alaska’s National Guard. In a press release, Parnell wrote he is “deeply concerned by reports of sexual assaults and other behavior creating a hostile environment and culture within portions of the Alaska National Guard.”
Fifty-years ago today, Anchorage resident Jim Stone was about 11-years-old. His father was in the Air Force and the family had moved to Alaska four years earlier. He says he remembers the family dog had been very nervous in the hours before the shaking started. When the quake struck, Jim says his mom was making TV dinners while he and his dad and brother were watching Fireball XL5 on a portable television on a roller stand.