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AK: Connecting

Rural Alaska communities are not known for having good internet connections, cell phone reception or, really, many good ways of connecting to people and programs outside their area. But rural public libraries do now have those types of connections, thanks to a program through the Alaska State Library that connects libraries all over the state – and country – for a variety of programs and purposes.

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February 7, 2014
Kei Kawada, center, looks on as his friends play a game in Unalaska's Magic: the Gathering tournament. Photo by Annie Ropeik, KUCB - Unalaska.

AK: Magic

For more than 20 years, people all over the world have been playing the strategic fantasy card game Magic: the Gathering. But the game has only recently found its way to Unalaska, where the island’s teenage boys have been going through a serious Magic phase for the past few months.

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January 31, 2014
Photo by Emily Forman, KCAW - Sitka.

AK: Girls Wrestling

Your high school might have had a wrestling team, but how many wrestlers were girls? There are more than a dozen girls on Sitka’s Mt. Edgecumbe High School wrestling team, and they regularly beat boys in their weight class.

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January 17, 2014
Dan Magone on the deck of the Arctic Hunter, with debris visible on the beach. Photo by Annie Ropeik, KUCB - Unalaska.

AK: Shipwreck

The grounded crab boat Arctic Hunter has been stuck on the rocks outside Unalaska for more than two months now. Dan Magone of Resolve-Magone Marine Services has been working on a plan to remove the wreck. Right now, the Hunter is at the mercy of the elements. So what happens to a shipwreck while it’s waiting to be saved?

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January 10, 2014

AK: History

In December, Juneau writer and English professor, Ernestine Hayes, released her new book Juneau from Arcadia Publishing. The book tells the history of the capitol city through pictures with elaborate captions. It’s a departure from her usual writing style. But the book builds on her effort to clarify the history of Native people.

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January 3, 2014
KLA student Theresa Corp buzzes her classmate David Evon's hair in support KLA teacher, Connie Sankwich. Photo by Angela Denning Barnes, KYUK - Bethel.

AK: Hair

Hair is important, especially in high school, but that didn’t stop a few dozen students at Bethel’s Kuskokwim Learning Academy boarding school from shaving off their hair in support of a teacher undergoing chemotherapy. It was also a chance for some students to remember family who died from the disease.

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December 27, 2013
Johnny Khongsuk sets up the Unalaska Raiders' robot on the game board. Photo courtesy of John Conwell, Unalaska school superintendent.

AK: Robotics

This month, five rural Alaska schools squared off in a virtual engineering competition run by Lego and GCI. It was a big learning experience for everyone – but especially, for the squad from Unalaska. They were competing for the first time, and they brought some unique strengths to the table.

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December 20, 2013
AK: Ancient Shorelines

AK: Ancient Shorelines

Most of us like to know something about our family history. And we might want to get some idea of who was here before us.

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December 13, 2013
Photo by Rachel Waldholz, KCAW  Sitka.

AK: Fortress of the Bear

In 2003, a Sitka couple proposed creating a bear rescue center from the remains of the town’s decommissioned pulp mill – a plan that raised some local hackles. Ten years later, the Fortress of the Bear is home to five brown bears and two new black bear cubs – and it has converted some skeptics, including a local biologist.

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December 6, 2013
Photo by Robert Woolsey, KCAW - Sitka.

AK: Banding Birds

Alaska has its share of big science projects, to be sure. But to get results, science doesn’t always have to be huge.
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November 29, 2013
The Begich Tower, a large pastel residential tower, would look more at home in New Jersey than small town Alaska.

Teaching in the City Under One Roof

It takes a different kind of person to live in Whittier, Alaska. The town is accessible only by water or by tunnel, the weather is extreme, and the only housing option is an ugly apartment building. But the community has managed to win over grade school teacher Erika Thompson. 

Alaska Public Media video producer Travis Gilmour spent a day with Thompson and found out life in this one-building town is unique, even by Alaska’s standards.

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November 22, 2013
Charlie is Carlton Smith’s second puppet. Smith first started doing ventriloquism 50 years ago as a ten year old boy. Photo by Lisa Phu, KTOO - Juneau.

AK: Tlingit Ventriloquism

Like many other indigenous languages, Tlingit is in survival mode. Revitalizing the language was the focus of this year’s Tlingit Tribes and Clans Conference held in Juneau last week. A Juneau resident has one solution for how to keep the language alive. During a conference session, realtor and assemblyman Carlton Smith gave participants a lesson in how to teach Tlingit to children with puppets. And he does it with the help of a special guest.

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November 15, 2013
The students crowd into the control room to review the Halloween show and go over problems. (Photo by Jeremy Hsieh/ KTOO)

AK: Live TV

Outside room 119 at Juneau-Douglas High School, a sheet of paper taped to the wall says, “FOG MACHINE IN USE.” It’s the Friday before Halloween, and the usually no-nonsense control room and JDTV News anchor desk is dressed with spider webs, skeletons, jack-o-lanterns, black lights, and strobes.

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November 8, 2013
Photo by Ariel Van Cleave, KBBI - Homer.

AK: Road Trip

There aren’t many highways suitable for road-tripping in Alaska, but the ones we do have are dotted with plenty of interesting road-side attractions.

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November 1, 2013
Photo by Lori Townsend, APRN - Anchorage.

AK: Native Crafts

The Alaska Federation of Natives Convention is focused on serious issues and politics. But one of the most popular attractions at the Carlson Center in Fairbanks is a massive ten filled with Native arts and crafts. The vendors’ tent offers a lot of traditional works, with a few surprises.

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October 25, 2013
Whitefish only spawn at night. Locals say they’re best smoked. Photo by Emily Schwing, KUAC - Fairbanks.

AK: Spear Fishing

For one month each fall, Interior residents wade into the crystal clear waters of the Chatanika River to catch whitefish. They spawn in the fall, unlike other fish in Alaska. The state limits both the number of permits and the harvest. This isn’t your typical fishery. Instead of rods and reels, or nets, fishermen use spears.

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October 18, 2013
Photo by Alison Eskelin,  DNR.

AK: Float

At 1.6 million acres, the Wood Tikchik State Park is the largest of its kind in the United States. With no road or trails, the park remains a quiet preserve for the fish and wildlife it was created to protect.

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October 11, 2013
Ivory cribbage boards sit in custom storage mounts made by museum professional Jon Loring. Photo by Lisa Phu, KTOO - Juneau.

AK: Museum Moving

Construction workers in Juneau are making progress on the State Library Archives Museum building – otherwise known as SLAM. What most people don’t see is all the work behind the scenes.

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October 4, 2013
AK: Baby Boost

AK: Baby Boost

As in many small towns in Alaska, there are no babies delivered in Wrangell’s hospital. Expectant mothers have to leave town to give birth. When they return, there aren’t many services to help them adjust to life with a new baby. Hannah’s Place is a non-profit that provides free courses for expecting couples and new parents. In exchange for taking these classes, parents have access to a “free” store that has nearly everything an infant needs.

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September 27, 2013
Photo by Lauren Rosenthal, KUCB - Unalaska.

AK: Salvage

For more than 30 years, Dan Magone has run around Alaska bailing out vessels in distress. In the process, he’s developed a multimillion-dollar marine salvage business – and a reputation. Magone is a daredevil to some, and a savior to others. But now, he’s the one being saved. Facing rising debt, Magone is selling his shop in Unalaska to a larger company. It’s enough to keep the lights on, but it’s going to be a big adjustment for the man at the center of Alaska’s salvage industry.

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September 20, 2013