Emily Kwong, KCAW - Sitka

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Sitka commemorates relationship with Japanese sister city

Sitka has a sister city in Nemuro , Japan. Like Sitka, Nemuro is an ocean-facing fishing port, but bigger - about 30,000 people to Sitka’s 10,000. And on Monday, Nemuro citizens visited Sitka’s city hall to commemorate their decades long relationship. Download Audio

State calls off student testing

The state of Alaska has canceled standardized testing in schools this year. Upwards of 70,000 students were scheduled to take Alaska Measures of Progress (AMP) assessments across a five-week window, but in a press release issued on April 1, Alaska’s Department of Education & Early Development called the whole thing off. The reason? Ongoing problems connecting to an online server – in Kansas. Download Audio
Alaska News Nightly by Alaska Public Media

Alaska online testing suspended this year due to Kansas server

The state of Alaska has suspended online standardized testing in schools this year because of ongoing problems connecting to a Kansas-based server. In a press release issued this afternoon, the Department of Education said that “repeated technical disruptions have rendered the affected tests invalid.”

Landslide suit raises questions about Benchlands liability

The August 18th landslide in Sitka was unprecedented, claiming the lives of three men and raising safety concerns about the Benchlands, a strip of land nestled between the mountains and the ocean. The city sold four parcels, totaling 20 acres, to Sound Development LLC in 2013 and construction was in progress when the landslide hit, damaging one home and completely destroying another. Download Audio

Seeking Democratic nom, De La Fuente campaigns in-state, in Sitka

While Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton marshaled support in Washington this weekend, a lesser known candidate - Rocky De La Fuente came to Alaska. De La Fuente was the only presidential hopeful in the state for the democratic caucus. And he brought his campaign - with its dark horse ambitions - to Sitka.
“The Grand Bargain” is a multi-tier proposal by the Task Force. Among their suggestions is a plan to raise property taxes, reduce grocery bills, and soften electricity rate hikes for the next three years. (Emily Kwong/KCAW)

‘The Grand Bargain’ seeks to improve Sitka communities

In Sitka, a Citizen’s Task Force has been meeting for several months to come up with a strategy for keeping the community’s basic services, while adjusting the tax structure. The Task Force is ready to reveal their plan called “The Grand Bargain.” Download Audio

Lawmakers struggle to fund Pioneer senior homes

The pioneer home system is older than the state of Alaska. The first home, in Sitka, was repurposed from abandoned marine barracks in 1913. The state-funded system now operates in six locations and provides care to 440 of Alaska’s senior citizens. And demand is only growing. But as lawmakers grapple with the budget, some wonder whether the state can keep funding the homes at all. Download Audio

Sitka revisiting idea of consolidating hospital services

For decades, the question of whether Sitka can afford two hospitals has percolated, with little success at consolidating services. That era may be coming to a close. Last week, the Assembly entertained a motion from Charles Clement, CEO of the Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) to renew talks with Sitka Community Hospital about collaborating on medical services. This raised alarm bells for some citizens. Download Audio

Damaged cable leaves Sitka and Angoon with shoddy service

Missed connections were hard to avoid this Valentine’s Day in Sitka and Angoon. The fiber optic cable serving both island communities is damaged, leaving customers with spotty to no service. Installed in 2008, the cable runs 1,400 feet below the ocean’s surface. Picture a bundle of glass strands, thinner than a human hair, encased in plastic. And surrounding that is an armor of steel, made of 12-gauge strands. Download Audio

Edgecumbe to ANSEP: ‘It’s 70 years of tradition here’

The past three weeks have been turbulent at Mt. Edgecumbe High School in Sitka. The Alaska Native Science and Engineering Program, or ANSEP, has proposed turning the 70-year-old boarding school into an accelerated high school, with an emphasis on science and engineering. It all began when ANSEP founder Herb Schroeder presented his idea to lawmakers in January, as a draft piece of legislation. Now, Edgecumbe students and teachers, are asking questions about ANSEP’s motivations – and whether the plan would even work. Download Audio

Hanley’s departure comes at critical time for Mt. Edgecumbe

Education Commissioner Mike Hanley’s departure comes at a critical time for Mt. Edgecumbe, the state run boarding school in Sitka. The Alaska Native Science and Engineering Program is interested in piloting an accelerated, STEM-focused high school on the campus. As details of that proposed takeover unfold, Mt. Edgecumbe administration was looking to Hanley as one of their defenders. Download Audio

Marijuana laws missing key language

Lieutenant Governor Byron Mallott signed the state marijuana regulations into law last month (01-22-16) and the state will begin accepting license applications on February 24th. But there’s a wrench in the works: the original bill fails to properly authorize background checks. Download Audio

How a deer can cause a plane crash

Throughout this year’s hunting season, Sitka’s airport has been contending with an unusual issue: dead deer. Carcasses have been washing up on the runway since November, attracting birds. And this has posed a big problem to business as usual. Download Audi0

Kreiss-Tomkins previews session, proposes license plate design contest

The Alaska legislature gaveled in Tuesday (01-19-16), in what will be the fourth session for Representative Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins of House District 35, representing his hometown of Sitka, Petersburg, and 20 other rural Southeast communities. In sharing his goals for the session, Kreiss-Tomkins has a few policy ideas up his sleeve.

Sitka to challenge state’s setback for pot businesses

At it's Tuesday meeting, the Sitka Assembly decided to contest the state’s proposed setback distance for pot business. Sitka joins Petersburg in penning a letter to the Department of Law, requesting the setback be reduced to 200 feet. Download Audio

Sitka gets nod for ship-shape harbor

Sitka is the fourth recipient of a statewide “Alaskan Clean Harbors” certificate. Along with Homer, Seward, and Haines, Sitka’s harbor system was recognized in October by the Alaska Clean Harbors Advisory Committee for meeting 88 best management practices. Download Audio

Budget director uses money game to illustrate state’s plight

In an effort to get Alaskans on the same page, state budget director Pat Pitney has spent the past six months leading fiscal dialogues in communities throughout Alaska. And Thursday, she brought her talking points to Sitka, along with a wooden scale to illustrate the state budget crisis. Download Audio

Sitka teen tased repeatedly by police readies for lawsuit

The Alaska Native teenager at the epicenter of a tasing incident in Sitka last year has hired legal counsel. Though he’s not yet filed a lawsuit, the lawyer representing Franklin Hoogendorn intends to bring his case before a Sitka jury. Download Audio

AK: Caretaker for the dead receives unexpected help

On a clear night in September, a group of vandals desecrated a 200-year old cemetery in Sitka, tipping over headstones. The caretaker, 65-year-old Bob Sam, discovered the damage the next morning. Some of the marble slabs were broken beyond repair. This is the story of how the cemetery caretaker enlisted the help of local police to protect the rights of the dead. Download Audio

Sitka tribal council pens FBI, alleging racism in police dept

Sitka’s tribal council wrote a letter last week to the Anchorage division of the FBI, regarding a tasing incident of a Native Alaska teenager in the Sitka jail last year. The letter alleges that prejudice exists within the Sitka Police Department and asks the FBI to consult the tribe during the investigation. Download Audio