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Playwright Edward Albee put Valdez on theater map

Alaska Dispatch News - Fri, 09/23/2016 - 21:07

Playwright Edward Albee died at his home in Montauk, New York on Sept. 16 at the age of 88. There has been no shortage of tributes, appreciations and analysis of his position in American theater since that time, including a very long obituary in the New York Times, but scant, if any, mention of his connection to Alaska.

Albee was 65 when he came to Valdez in 1993 as the keynote speaker at a theater conference held at Prince William Sound Community College at the invitation of the campus president, Jo Ann C. McDowell. By any standard he had already had a full career starting with the one-act "The Zoo Story" in 1958.

His intense drama of dysfuntionality "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" was a Broadway success, turned into a film. "Half the reviews were really lousy," he told the Alaska Dispatch News in an interview, "and it managed to luck out and catch the public attention. It's also given me economic freedom to do whatever I want to do."

He won the Pulitzer Prize for drama in 1967 for "A Delicate Balance." He told attendees at the Valdez conference that he suspected the Pulitzer committee had bestowed the award not on account of its merit, "but because they were embarrassed at having missed giving it to 'Virginia Woolf.'" Another play, "Seascape," received the Pulitzer in 1975.

But in the 1980s Albee encountered a slate of dismissive reviews and chilly audience receptions. "The Lady from Dubuque" and "The Man Who Had Three Arms" both closed quickly after disappointing runs. Critics and academics pilloried him as being too confusing, too unfocused, too staid or too avant garde.

As he stepped up to the speaker's microphone in Valdez for the first time, he was on the verge of a great second wind. His poignant "Three Tall Women" had received a good reception in Europe. In 1994 it earned him his third Pulitzer. Subsequent plays like "The Play About the Baby" and "The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia?" also perplexed reviewers and theater-goers, but received respectable runs and helped confirm his reputation as the leading writer of serious theater in America, the heir of Eugene O'Neill and the predecessor to Tony Kushner.

The return of fame meant Albee had to spend more time on productions in major markets. But, with few exceptions, he managed to find time to return to Valdez for the theater conference for several years. For a while the event was named in his honor. At the 2003 conference he received an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from the University of Alaska Anchorage.

Albee's interest in the conference led directly to a parade of theatrical elites coming to Valdez. Big names included Kushner and other prominent playwrights: John Guerre, Horton Foote, Terrence McNally, Paula Vogler, August Wilson, Jon Robin Baitz and Arthur Miller. In addition there were notable performers like Eva Marie Saint, Paula Prentiss, Patricia Neal, John Heard and Marian Seldes.

His last announced appearance at the conference was in 2006, when he presented an award to fellow playwright Arthur Kopit. Now known as the Last Frontier Theatre Conference, the event has continued to thrive as one of Alaska's premiere creative gatherings in the years since.

[Related: Last Frontier Theatre Conference was a blast, but will it be the last?]

Alaskans found a man who was fearlessly outspoken when in the spotlight, but cautious, shy and somewhat shut off when surrounded by people, perhaps the result of his celebrity. This could be interpreted as brusque or aristocratic. But with repeated visits to Valdez, he became ever more approachable and people discovered his dry humor. On a sunny day – relatively rare in Valdez – he stared out the windows of the Valdez Convention Center and said, "I've been coming to this conference for five years. This is the first time I ever knew there were mountains on the other side of the water."

They also discovered his soft spots. Sharing a ride from the Anchorage airport with his longtime partner Jonathon Thomas and Cup'ik elder Joan Hamilton in 2001, he engaged in a long and heartfelt conversation with Hamilton about her life and politics. After he left the car, Hamilton was informed of his identity; the who had only exchandged first names. "I've always noticed that the most accomplished people are also the most polite," she said.

While in Valdez he would sometimes visit the local animal shelter, not to adopt a dog or cat, but simply to spend some time sympathizing with the animals. Born in Virginia in 1928, Albee had been abandoned as an infant and adopted by a wealthy owner of a theater chain. However flinty he seemed, he had visible vulnerability that his colleague Arthur Miller ascribed to all orphans, what Miller called, "that do-you-like-me? look."

There was a distinct aspect of self-doubt in the man, who was probably his own most relentless critic. But he wasn't afraid to toss a stinging comment at the press, the public or his profession. "The junk that's done on Broadway isn't worth anybody's time," he told the Dispatch News.

But at the same time, he relished his successes. In describing the triumph of "Three Tall Women," he seemed to be floating in the air. "It's always a great measure of satisfaction to outlast your critics," he said.


Playwright Edward Albee put Valdez on theater map

Alaska News - Fri, 09/23/2016 - 21:03
"Half the reviews were really lousy," he told the Alaska Dispatch News in an interview, "and it managed to luck out and catch the public attention.

He says he doesn't want a 'relationship,' so why does it totally feel like we're in one?

Alaska Dispatch News - Fri, 09/23/2016 - 20:49

Dear Wayne and Wanda,

I've been single for several years, but not by choice. I'm attractive and successful, but I'm also gay, and while Anchorage's gay community rocks, we're not exactly a thriving metropolis with thousands of potential guys to pick from. I've found lots of good friends here, and some good times here and there, but my last real committed relationship was to a guy who lives in Seattle. I tried the long-distance thing but it wasn't for me.

Things have taken a positive turn though; this summer I met "Paul." Paul is new to Anchorage and came up, like many of us, looking for adventure. This guy is fun, hot and like me, very athletic and into cool outdoor activities. Here's the kicker: Paul is also in his mid-20s (I'm in my mid-30s). It isn't the age difference that bothers me exactly. The problem is Paul didn't come out until college so he's still really exploring his identity and enjoying the freedom of living the life he's always wanted.

The first night we spent together, he was pretty clear that he wasn't looking for anything serious. He then spent the next four nights at my house. We've now been involved for a couple of months and it's only gotten better. He spends most evenings with me, helps out around the house, cooks sometimes, and last week I gave him his own key. We're talking about taking a trip to Hawaii together this winter. Things look and feel serious. I'm ready to call it a relationship.

But Paul has continued to insist that he doesn't want a relationship. I know he sometimes sees other guys and I can't express how much this hurts, but it is what it is. I don't want it to be like that anymore. I think Paul is scared he will miss out on this part of his life but I want to convince him that in Anchorage we are incredibly lucky to have found this awesome connection. How can I get him to settle down and be with just me?

Wanda says: 

Gay, straight, white, black, young, old, purple, bi or middle-aged, here's one thing I've learned about men: when you push them to verbally expressing what it is they want, they're generally pretty straightforward.

This is where my girlfriends repeatedly get themselves into trouble; their love interest is clear about what he's capable of — for example, a casual relationship. Yet my lady friends scour things like hot chemistry and acts of kindness for signs that he's actually dying to get married and have kids.

When a partner tells us what it is he wants and needs, it is then our role to receive that, consider it, and decide whether it aligns with what we want. I hate to break it to you, but it seems pretty clear that while Paul likes you a lot and enjoys the comforts of your 30-something life, he also isn't ready to bail on his relatively new out-and-proud bachelor status.

It can be terribly painful and erosive to our self-confidence when someone we love loves us back just enough to hang around, but not enough to call a relationship a relationship. To know that Paul is actively with other men has got to be brutal knowledge to continually process. Clearly Paul makes you happy when he's around. But is this arrangement really good for you?

Wayne says:

I'm sorry, but you aren't pestering Paul into anything because he isn't hearing it. For the first time in his life he's unburdened, empowered, honest with himself and the people around him, and totally happy. He's #winning and you think he's going to let someone lock him up in a LTR (long-term relationship)? LOL.

The only reason he's still hanging around you and your place is because you let him. If you were to draw the line in the relationship sand, he'd walk.

But since you're older and mature, you know this already.

And while Paul might be young and recently out, you're wrong in assuming that he is also naive. I think you — and a lot of people, really — can learn a great life lesson from Paul: being true to yourself.

How refreshing: he's expressed exactly where he's at in his life and exactly what he can handle in a relationship right now. And how frustrating: a guy he likes hanging out with keeps pressuring him about being exclusive and keeps making desperate attempts to corral him.

Desperation stinks like a cheap cologne and its constant presence in the air is a major turnoff. I'm guessing Paul has smelled just about enough. Take a tip from him: keep it real. I know, it sucks that he's awesome and the dating pool is shallow. But don't give someone else the keys to your house and your emotions if they clearly aren't on the same page as you. Act your age, cut Paul off, deal with the heartbreak and keep looking for someone who is amazing and ready to settle down.

Want to respond to a recent column, point out a dating trend, or ask Wanda and Wayne for wisdom regarding your love life? Give them a shout at wanda@alaskadispatch.com.

Collection of contemporary Alaska Native masks to be burned in ceremony at museum

Alaska Dispatch News - Fri, 09/23/2016 - 20:43

"Aggravated Organizms," a collection of masks carved by Drew Michael and painted by Elizabeth Ellis, went on display at Out North in 2013 and has been touring the state since then. The large marks address different diseases or dysfunctions that affect Alaskans, like diabetes, arthritis, HIV and fetal alcohol syndrome.

The 10 masks will make their final appearance in a ceremony that will conclude with their "transformation" by fire. The event is part of the First Friday art happenings and will take place at 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 1 at the Anchorage Museum.

In accordance with Yup'ik and Alutiiq healing mask traditions, each mask will be "danced," performed with a dance and song, in the museum atrium. People in attendance will be invited to write down thoughts and sign the backs of masks representing diseases they feel have affected them, their friends and family.

Then the masks will be taken outside to the lawn and burned.

In a press release, Michael explained: "During times before missionary and western influence masks were shared to tell story of spirit, ancestors, please the spirits of the weather and creator, etc. After the story was shared a mask would be burned, put out in the tundra or given to children to release that story into the spirit world."


West sweeps doubles, defeats Bartlett 7-2 in tennis

Alaska Dispatch News - Fri, 09/23/2016 - 20:25

West swept doubles and picked up wins in boys No. 2 singles and girls No. 1 singles to defeat Bartlett 7-2 Thursday at Alaska Club East.

Both boys singles matches went to third-set tiebreakers, with Bartlett's Wyatt Chadwick taking the win in the No. 1 match 10-6 and West's Jack Green bagging a 10-6 victory in the No. 2 match.

Next on the tennis schedule is a four-team tournament to determine the Cook Inlet Conference regular season champion. South plays Service at 9 a.m. and West plays Dimond at 11 a.m.

Finals start at 3 p.m. All matches are at Alaska Club East.

Boys No.1 singles — Wyatt Chadwick (B) d. Jack Sedwick (W) 4-6, 6-3, 10-6.

Boys No. 2 singles — Jack Green (W) d. Paul Yang (B) 6-2, 6-7(5), 10-6.

Girls No. 1 singles — Savannah Paull (W) d. Maren Chadwick (B) 6-4, 6-1.

Girls No. 2 singles — Elise Wood (B) d. Sydney Bidwell (W) 6-0, 6-0.

Boys No. 1 doubles — David Woo/Andre Lief (W) d. Timothy Alex/Thane Hatcher (B) 6-3, 6-1.

Boys No. 2 doubles — Robert Sedwick/Daniel Luna-Sanchez (W) d. Jonah Vang/Daylan  (B) 8-1.

Girls No. 1 doubles — Diana Won/Aieleen Kim (W) d. Yinelkis Rosario/Livier Vargas (B) 6-1, 6-0.

Girls No. 2 doubles — Rachel Alda/Maria Kling (W) d. Cheng Her/Choua Her (B) 6-4, 6-2.

Mixed doubles — Kyle Winkler/Kristina Yu (W) d. Liam Walton/Megahn Reese (B) 6-0, 6-0.

Trial in defeated state Rep. Nageak's election lawsuit will kick off Tuesday

Alaska Dispatch News - Fri, 09/23/2016 - 20:21

A trial has been scheduled for next week for Barrow Democratic Rep. Ben Nageak's challenge to his Democratic primary election defeat by challenger Dean Westlake.

Anchorage Superior Court Judge Andrew Guidi on Friday said the trial will start Tuesday and run for several days. Guidi will decide the case himself without a jury.

Nageak and four voters in his district in far north Alaska are contesting the election results after reports of problems and irregularities at the polls.

Attorneys for Westlake wanted more time to prepare for the trial, but state Division of Elections Director Josie Bahnke said in a sworn statement Wednesday the state would need a final ruling — including on any appeals to the Alaska Supreme Court — by Oct. 14. The general election is Nov. 8.

Bahnke said her division will print 10,600 copies of two different versions of the general election ballot for Nageak's district, where he and Westlake were the only House candidates.

One version of the ballot assumes the courts will uphold Westlake's victory and be printed with him running unopposed. The other will have Westlake's and Nageak's in case a court rules the primary must be redone.

Bahnke said ballots must be confirmed by Oct. 14 so they can be mailed to absentee, early and special needs voters in time to meet a legal deadline.

Nageak has filed a separate legal challenge in Supreme Court, but that case is awaiting the outcome of the lower court proceeding and will be merged with any appeal, said Stacey Stone, an attorney for Nageak.

Collection of contemporary <b>Alaska</b> Native masks to be burned in ceremony at museum

Alaska News - Fri, 09/23/2016 - 20:18
"Aggravated Organizms," a collection of masks carved by Drew Michael and painted by Elizabeth Ellis, went on display at Out North in 2013 and has ...

Flag football: Bartlett trips Service, Dimond wins in Fairbanks

Alaska Dispatch News - Fri, 09/23/2016 - 20:14

Bartlett 33, Service 7

Aiyanna Lauofo passed for three touchdowns, rushed for one and pulled five flags, powering Bartlett's 33-7 Cook Inlet Conference win over Service in a Friday flag football game at Bartlett.

Lauofo completed five of nine passes for 125 yards, throwing two touchdown passes to Kianna McWhite and one to Corina Froehle. She racked up 96 yards on the ground on four carries.

Dani VanOrd was a defensive force for the Golden Bears with five pulls and a 73-yard interception return.

Service scored its touchdown on a 5-yard run by Tavie Parker in the second quarter.

Dimond 29, West Valley 6

Seanne Bialo threw a touchdown pass and scored a safety Friday to help propel Dimond past West Valley 29-6 in a nonconference flag football game in Fairbanks.

Bialo threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to Savanna Wallace, and both she and Makenna Boring scored safeties for the Lynx.

Victoria Johansen carried the ball 14 times for 135 yards, including a 17-yard touchdown, and Megan Luther completed six of 13 passes for 115 yards and rushed for another 46 yards, including a one-yard touchdown.

Meghen Jones and D'Avionne Rabb both intercepted passes to help Dimond keep West Valley's offense at bay. The Wolfpack got their lone touchdown on a 79-yard catch-and-run play.

Police: 4 dead in shooting at mall north of Seattle as officers search for gunman

Alaska Dispatch News - Fri, 09/23/2016 - 19:58

This is a breaking story. Check back for additional updates.

Four people have been shot dead at a mall in northwest Washington state and the shooter has fled the scene, police said on social media.

The shooting occurred at about 7:30 p.m. local time Friday at the Cascade Mall in Burlington, Washington, about 65 miles north of Seattle, Washington State Patrol spokesman Mark Francis said in a Twitter post.

Francis, who had posted a photo of rescue workers outside of the mall, said police were actively searching for the shooter.

"EMS starting to enter to attend to injured inside mall with police escort and after initial clearance," Francis said in a Twitter post.

(Reporting by Brendan O'Brien in Milwaukee)

Elementary school students harvest <b>Alaska</b> potatoes for the homeless

Alaska News - Fri, 09/23/2016 - 19:45
It's potato harvesting season in Alaska and some teachers are using this time of year to plant a seed in the minds of their students. Sixth graders at ...

Alaska Air gives Justice Department more time to review merger with Virgin America

Alaska Dispatch News - Fri, 09/23/2016 - 19:27

Alaska Air Group agreed this week to give the Justice Department additional time to review its merger with Virgin America, but the deal is still on track to close in the early part of the fourth quarter, an Alaska spokeswoman said Friday.

Alaska Airlines reached an understanding with the U.S. regulator earlier this year not to close the merger prior to Sept. 30, which has not changed, the airline's spokeswoman Bobbie Egan said in a statement.

"Given our largely complementary networks, the relative size of this merger compared to past airline combinations, and both Virgin America and Alaska's reputations for being customer service-focused airlines, we continue to feel confident that the (Justice Department) will agree that our combination will allow us to better compete against the Big Four airlines," Egan said, referring to American, Delta, United and Southwest.

Bloomberg News reported earlier Friday that the airlines agreed to delay merger plans to give the Justice Department additional time, adding that they met with government officials last week to address their concerns about industry competition.

Egan said Bloomberg's report that the Justice Department "can now take several more weeks" for the review was inaccurate.

The Seattle-based company announced its $2.6 billion cash deal for Virgin America in April, which will make it the top carrier on the U.S. West Coast if the merger is approved.

Shares of Alaska Air were down less than 1 percent in afternoon trade.

(Reporting by Jeffrey Dastin in New York)

<b>Alaska</b> Air gives Justice Department more time to review merger with Virgin America

Alaska News - Fri, 09/23/2016 - 19:22
Alaska Air Group agreed this week to give the Justice Department additional time to review its merger with Virgin America, but the deal is still on track ...

Alaska Gov. Walker appeals for a pink salmon disaster declaration

Alaska Dispatch News - Fri, 09/23/2016 - 19:12

Gov. Bill Walker has requested the federal government declare a disaster for four Alaska regions hurt by one of the poorest pink salmon returns in decades.

In a Sept. 19 letter to U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, Walker said fishery failures that occurred this summer in the Kodiak, Prince William Sound, Lower Cook Inlet and Chignik areas are having a "significant impact on those who depend on the fishery for their livelihood" and asks for the "soonest possible review" due to the economic importance of these fisheries.

How bad were the humpy hauls?

In Kodiak, fishing remained closed during 70 percent of the pink salmon run, and the catch of 3.2 million fish was 28 percent of the expected harvest. The estimated value to fishermen, Walker wrote in his letter, is $2.2 million, compared to a five-year average of $14.6 million.

In the Sound, the total pink catch of 12 million was 46 percent below the preseason forecast. The dockside value of $6.6 million compares to an average of nearly $44 million over the past five years.

In the lower Inlet, the pink salmon catch of 97,000 fish was 13 percent of the 759,000 forecast. That means a pay day of $78,000 for Inlet fishermen, who have averaged $501,000 in recent years.

Fishermen at Chignik did not even get any directed openers for pink salmon this summer. The 140,000 humpies taken during the region's sockeye fishery were valued at $110,000, down from a five-year average of $740,000.

Should it occur, the pink salmon disaster declaration won't set a precedent. Alaska received $20.8 million in federal money for fishery failures due to three years of low king salmon returns on the Yukon and Kuskokwim rivers as well as the Inlet region.

The money was paid in two installments over two years, with an initial grant of $7.8 million divided among commercial fishermen. A second grant of $13 million was distributed as $4.5 million to the sportfishing sector, $7.5 million for research and restoration, and $700,000 to Inlet processors and salmon buyers who demonstrated income losses due to the fisheries failure.

"This is not going to be a blanket money grab for anybody who fished pinks. If you're in the disaster area and a large portion of your income was based on pink salmon, then I believe you will be eligible," said Rep. Louise Stutes, R-Kodiak, who spearheaded the push for the pink disaster declaration.

Stutes said her office is now compiling details for applicants, should the move get a greenlight from the federal government.

Affected fishermen also can apply for a waiver of this year's state loan payments, which would be tacked on to the end of the loan term.

A memo from Walker directs the state Department of Economic Development to "commit as many resources as possible to assisting pink salmon fishery permit holders, and that review of individual loan payment waivers be expedited."

Cameras count fish

To get better data on what's coming over the rails, three years ago fishery managers expanded onboard observer coverage to include halibut longline vessels less than 50 feet for the first time.

That's prompted a push to replace observer bodies that draw paychecks with electronic monitoring systems that don't. Such systems are already in use in other U.S. and Canadian fisheries.

"Those of us who live here know that some of these boats are too small to carry an extra person. There are bunk space issues, the wheel house is too small for them to spread all their stuff out and still be able to eat at the galley table and sometimes there's just nowhere to put them on deck safely," said Dan Falvey, program director for the Alaska Longline Fishermen's Association in Sitka.

Armed with funding from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the association has been recruiting boats to field test an EMS that includes a control center connected to GPS, cameras to monitor the lines, a deck camera to track discards and a seabird camera. The system, provided at no cost through the EM Cooperative Research Program, is turned on only if a vessel is selected randomly for coverage prior to a fishing trip.

"We'll get it installed … and next year before they go fishing, they log in their trip in and if the system says they have to have at-sea monitoring, they just flip the switch and fish like they normally do," Falvey explained.

The goal is to equip up to 90 longline vessels and 30-pot boats of all sizes with electronic monitoring next year; about 70 from Kodiak, Homer, Sitka, Seward and Petersburg had signed up by the Sept. 20 deadline.

Anyone interested should register, Falvey said. They can also be part of future programs. Contact Liz Chilton at 206-526-4197.

Tipping the scales

In its quest to streamline catch accountings and end the use of paper fish tickets, state managers plan to integrate salmon weights with hopper scales aboard tender boats next summer.

"We were approached by industry to see if we could modify one of our eLandings application onboard tenders to allow for automatic documentation of the scale weights," said Gail Smith, eLandings program coordinator for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, adding that Trident Seafoods and Rice Lake Weights are collaborating with the pilot project in Cordova.

About 20 percent of Alaska's 600-700 tender boats use hoppers rather than hanging scales, Smith said, but more are moving towards vacuuming the fish from the catcher boats and conveying them to a hopper scale for better weighing accuracy.

"A brailer bag that is hung from a hanging scale has quite a lot of weight associated with the fish inside and bounces up and down more, so it's hard to get a good accurate weight," she explained.

Trial tests last year on tendered cod and pollock taken near Sand Point were very successful, Smith said, and the department is eager to try out the new system on salmon. It will be used in Bristol Bay next summer.

"Now we want to modify it to salmon landings because we've got more species and different delivery conditions, so we want to make sure it provides rapid, efficient documentation of the catch," she added.

"This will accommodate setnetters and beach-based deliveries to trucks or to smaller tenders," Smith said.

Both projects are funded by NOAA Fisheries and Pacific State Marine Fisheries Commission.

By giving away a backpack, Eagle River coach got back more than he gave

Alaska Dispatch News - Fri, 09/23/2016 - 19:12

When Eagle River cross-country coach Jacob Bera picked up a nice piece of swag at a recent high school meet, he felt a little guilty about keeping it for himself.

So he devised a team-building exercise for his runners, baiting them with the New Balance backpack he received.

In return, the kids blew his mind.

Bera, a teacher at Eagle River since the high school opened in 2005, asked runners to nominate a teammate who did something that exemplified team spirit. Coaches would read what the kids wrote and choose which nominee would get the backpack.

"It was a quick activity we were going to do at the beginning of practice," Bera said. "Some wrote two or three sentences, some of them pretty much wrote me an essay.

"… They didn't even really try to hook up a friend either. They were very sincere in wanting to share something cool that they saw."

The response was remarkable: 50 of the team's 65 runners turned in nominations. In the pile of papers left for him, Bera discovered a mountain of everyday kindnesses:

"Jordan woke Myah up twice from her 'deep slumber' so she could cheer for the rest of the team."

"I saw during Saturday's race that Caleb helped take the warmups of his teammates to the tent before their race."

"When I was injured, Peyton was so nice and helpful with getting me ice and more."

"Marie always does her very best to prepare for every race, and when she isn't racing she's always on the trails cheering people on. Outside of practice, she eats well and runs in races outside the ones organized by the school. If everyone had her dedication, we'd be the fastest school in the district."

"Will always helps with the tent and never complains."

"Cole runs with beginners and newcomers and helps motivate the team."

"I nominate Carter for attempting (and almost completing) his mission of a sub-17 5k at Palmer and kicking my butt in the process!"

There were nominations for Iain, for Camden, for Abby, for Logan, for Analisa, for Josh, for Veronica and more. There were nominations for fast runners and slow runners. For veterans and newcomers.

"It was amazing," Bera said.

"We're so focused on the team and performance and the logistics of it all, and sometimes we don't always see the cool things kids do," he said. "When I was reading them, I thought, 'How do I help them understand all the good things that I am looking at right now?' ''

A visual arts teacher, Bera decided to fill the giant white board in his classroom with anonymous excerpts from the nominations.

The next day when runners gathered for their usual pre-practice meeting, many sat in front of the white board, transfixed.

"We wound up spending a good amount of time on it," Bera said. "I read through them all (aloud). The kids wanted to hear them. It's a neat way to honor a few kids who aren't always the first across the finish line."

Marie Miller, a junior who was nominated twice for her dedication and supportiveness, said she was surprised to see her name on the board.

"I felt really happy because I didn't think that people thought of me as that kind of person," Miller said.

"…I think it can really boost someone's confidence, because that's what it did for me, especially if there's someone shy or quiet on the team and they see their name on the board."

Kate Paskievitch, a senior, said she learned about her teammates.

"There were lots of things about people supporting people on the trails that I didn't notice when I was racing," she said. "It motivated me to be more open for the team, to be more there as a teammate, rather than be there as a good runner.

"… It puts a lot more emphasis on being nice and building connections with people," she said, "rather than just success."

The backpack went to Will Salter, a senior described by Bera as "completely selfless."

"We have a hundred-pound team tent, and since his sophomore year he was always the one to grab it and haul it to the meet," Bera said. "He always does something for somebody else. He doesn't stand around. Somebody wrote that out, and the coaches, we looked at each other and we said, 'Yeah.' ''

On Saturday, Eagle River will race in the Cook Inlet Conference championships at Bartlett High. The Wolves aren't favored to win a team championship but they hope to advance some runners to next week's state championships.

Bera's team-building activity may not have made anyone faster, but the coach thinks it inspired some to keep working hard, and maybe to work a little harder.

"People talk about this being an individual sport," Bera said. "I think people actually perform better when they know they're not just running for themselves, but running for a team."

CIC championships

The Cook Inlet Conference cross country championships are Saturday at Bartlett High. The varsity girls race is at 12:40 p.m., followed by the varsity boys race at 1:20 p.m.

Brown bear mauling on Admiralty Island injures Kentucky hunter

Alaska Dispatch News - Fri, 09/23/2016 - 19:02

A Kentucky hunter was taken to a Juneau hospital early Friday morning after being mauled by a brown bear in Southeast Alaska, according to Alaska State Troopers.

The U.S. Coast Guard transported Douglas Adkins, 57, of Jenkins, Kentucky, Friday morning from Admiralty Island, south of Angoon, troopers wrote in a dispatch.

His injuries are not life-threatening, according to troopers.

Around 8:30 p.m. Thursday, a Juneau-based big game guide and Adkins, whom troopers described as a client, were returning from a brown bear hunt to the beach at Chaik Bay when they came across a brown bear a short distance away. The two were using headlamps, troopers wrote.

The brown bear was startled and attacked Adkins. After a short while, the bear backed off and left the area, troopers said.

It was dark and the incident happened quickly, wrote Alaska State Trooper spokeswoman Megan Peters.

A crewmember from their vessel, Sultana, notified the Coast Guard Sector Juneau command center at about 11:30 p.m. Thursday that a bear had mauled a member of their hunting party and that the man had "multiple puncture wounds," the Coast Guard wrote in a release.

The Coast Guard arrived around 2 a.m. Friday and took the injured man to a Juneau hospital, where he remained Friday, said Ryan Scott, regional supervisor for the Department of Fish and Game's wildlife conservation division in Douglas.

Scott said the two people were armed but didn't fire any shots at the bear.

Few additional details were available Friday afternoon. Fish and Game had yet to speak with the mauling victim, Scott said.

The department will only attempt to locate and kill a bear if a mauling was not defensive, Scott said.

"In the area they were in, there's lots of bears, so whether or not we could actually determine which bear it was is a whole different approach," Scott said.

<b>Alaska</b> Gov. Walker appeals for a pink salmon disaster declaration

Alaska News - Fri, 09/23/2016 - 19:00
Bill Walker has requested the federal government declare a disaster for four Alaska regions hurt by one of the poorest pink salmon returns in decades.

Ruling means some of Clinton's emails will come out after election

Alaska Dispatch News - Fri, 09/23/2016 - 18:54

WASHINGTON — A federal judge on Friday ordered the State Department to finish preparing roughly 1,000 pages of Hillary Clinton's emails for release by Nov. 4, a more protracted timetable that means the bulk of Clinton's emails that were uncovered by the FBI will not be released until after the election.

In August, the judge, James E. Boasberg of U.S. District Court, raised the prospect of a flood of Clinton emails being released during the final weeks of the campaign, when he ordered the State Department to accelerate the release of nearly 15,000 new emails.

But Boasberg acknowledged the burden for the department's lawyers in reviewing thousands of emails, as well as responding to multiple lawsuits under the Freedom of Information Act that seek documents relating to Clinton, her aide Huma Abedin, and the Clinton Foundation.

Under the order issued Friday, in a lawsuit brought by the conservative group, Judicial Watch, the State Department will release 350 pages of emails by Oct. 7, 350 pages by Oct. 21, and another 350 by Nov. 4. After that, it will produce 500 pages a month. Boasberg summoned the lawyers for another status report on Nov. 7, the day before the election.

[FBI report on Clinton email depicts a haphazard system for sensitive data]

Questions about Clinton's private email address and server have hung over her presidential campaign for more a year, even after FBI Director James B. Comey said in July that her conduct did not warrant criminal charges for mishandling of classified information. Comey said the FBI had discovered thousands of emails that Clinton had not voluntarily turned over to the State Department before its investigation.

Of the nearly 15,000 emails the FBI turned over to the State Department in late July, roughly 9,400 were purely personal, according to the department's lawyers. They will therefore not be released. That leaves about 5,600 work-related emails to be reviewed. But roughly half of those may be wholly or largely duplicates of emails that have already been released.

Duplicates could take the form of a previously released email, which Clinton may have forwarded to her aides with orders to print it out. In some cases, the emails were part of long chains, on which Clinton was copied at the beginning, but later left off the list of addressees.

"We are currently processing these documents for release," said the State Department spokesman, John Kirby. "As we have done so, we have noticed that some personal emails remain within the approximately 5,600 documents, so the number may be further reduced."

Each email generates roughly 1.8 pages of print, a government lawyer said, which means about 10,000 pages will be released in total. Only about 10 percent will be made public before the election, which prompted a complaint from Judicial Watch.

"The public deserves to know what is in those emails, well before Nov. 8, and the State Department should not continue dragging its feet on producing them," the group's president, Tom Fitton, said in a statement. "The American people need to pressure State to stop sitting on these new Clinton emails for political reasons and release them as the law requires."

[After latest email hacks comes a rising fear of what happens after 'send']

Public lands make Alaska the best of the best for hunting and fishing

Alaska Dispatch News - Fri, 09/23/2016 - 18:49

I am not an Alaskan by birth but my kids are. There is no better home I could imagine for my family.  I was raised in Texas — a state that only dreams of being as big and amazing as Alaska.  Though I am grateful for my upbringing, I frequently think how lucky my kids are to have rivers full of salmon, mountains, snow, friendly communities.  But one of the most remarkable benefits of all is the vast amount of public land right out our front doors.

Today is National Hunting and Fishing Day, and Gov. Bill Walker has signed a resolution celebrating it here in Alaska.

I grew up hunting and fishing in Texas and, believe me, in Alaska we have a lot to celebrate. In Texas, fishing was done on public waters, and hunting was mostly done on private land, where to use it, you had to know someone or pay.

Only around 5 percent of Texas lands is publicly accessible.  In Alaska, roughly 95 percent of our land is managed by the state or federal government and owned by all of us.  This is land for all of us to use and enjoy — to fish, to hunt, to hike, boat or camp. These are lands for which we should have a say in how they are managed.

[They came to Alaska for the fishing, but this king salmon got way too cozy]

Did you know that the state of Alaska contains roughly 3,000 rivers, 3 million lakes and 6,640 miles of coastline? Not to mention, Alaska certainly stands alone as the last state in the United States with such complete and intact salmon fisheries. These rivers, lakes and coastline are a major part of what makes our state so great. Anglers and hunters flock here from around the world to experience hunting and fishing that we get to enjoy out our backdoors.

Hunting and fishing hold an important place in our state's economy and heritage, sustaining our Native communities and culture for generations, filling our freezers and powering our economy. From a fishing perspective alone, more than 450,000 Alaska residents and visitors annually participate in Alaska's sport fisheries; Alaska supports more than 1,150 sportfishing businesses and licenses more than 2,788 sportfishing guide businesses, and sportfishing generates roughly $1.4 billion in angler-related expenditures annually.

It is no secret that salmon are the centerpiece of that fishing heritage for Alaskans. We recognize salmon as a renewable resource for both food and employment. Not only do we value filling our freezers with salmon but we value the experiences of catching salmon (and trout, grayling, Dollies) on the many Alaska waterways. These traditions and activities are integral to the Alaska identity.

So as Alaskans, we should celebrate National Hunting and Fishing Day to its fullest and I am glad that Gov. Walker took the time to do so for the state of Alaska. We also must work to ensure that celebration feeds action to ensure these same opportunities we have are available to all future Alaskans too: for your children and mine, and for their children and grandchildren.

[On Afognak, tough hunting yields magnificanet bull elk]

In America, hunters and anglers were some of the earliest advocates for clean water and healthy land management practices. They stood up for our public lands. And those efforts have paid big dividends in many contexts but Alaska is still the best of the best.  Reflecting on that history, though, it is clear we have a chance to learn from lessons and avoid the mistakes of the Lower 48.

So, on National Hunting and Fishing Day, I will celebrate by getting out fishing and enjoying Alaska's waters. But every day we must all work to make sure that our fishing and hunting resources are protected and maintained for future generations. After all, fishing and hunting are not only an important part of our heritage but a critical part of our economy — past, present and future.

Samuel Snyder, Ph.D., is the Alaska engagement director for Trout Unlimited's Alaska Program. He has worked on trout and salmon conservation across Alaska, especially in Bristol Bay and on the Susitna River. He has written widely on the history of fishing and conservation, including "Backcasts: A Global History of Fly Fishing and Conservation," published by University of Chicago Press.

The views expressed here are the writer's and are not necessarily endorsed by Alaska Dispatch News, which welcomes a broad range of viewpoints. To submit a piece for consideration, email commentary@alaskadispatch.com. Send submissions shorter than 200 words to letters@alaskadispatch.com or click here to submit via any web browser.

BP and ConocoPhillips told the governor they support a state-led gas project. Where was ExxonMobil?

Alaska Dispatch News - Fri, 09/23/2016 - 18:49

The company that owns the rights to most of the North Slope gas to fill a liquefied natural gas project in Alaska failed to join a letter to the governor from other big producers offering to help advance a state-led gas line project.

But ExxonMobil said it's still willing, as it has been, to sell gas to Alaska — at the right price.

The top officials in Alaska for BP and ConocoPhillips signed the letter to the governor on Monday, saying the companies are committed to working with the state to make the project more competitive by lowering costs.

Janet Weiss, with BP, and Joe Marushack, with ConocoPhillips, said the companies are preparing plans to turn over regulatory and commercial work to the state gas line corporation representing the state in the $55 billion Alaska LNG project.

The plans will include milestones to transfer the companies' interest in the Alaska LNG project to the state, they said. One of the assets to be transferred to the state is more than 500 acres of land owned by the oil companies near Nikiski where a plant could be built to liquefy North Slope natural gas after it's shipped down a pipeline.

The letter arrived during a period of uncertainty for the project, with the oil companies expected to reduce their roles in it, and the state planning to take over from ExxonMobil as lead partner. The change to a state-led project has come under fire by political critics who have been hammering the Walker administration for pursuing the costly project.

Gov. Bill Walker's office announced on Thursday he received the emailed letter from the two oil giants in Singapore, where he spoke at a conference to promote Slope natural gas to potential buyers. In the announcement, the governor touted the support of the two companies, saying their assurances of providing natural gas allows a state-led project move forward.

The partners have spent more than $500 million studying the project, which won't be built until 2023, if ever. ExxonMobil owns about one-third of the gas on the Slope that would feed a pipeline, with BP, ConocoPhillips and the state — through its royalty share — owning the rest.

An official with ExxonMobil would not comment on why it did not sign onto the letter.

In another development this week, ConocoPhillips and the state announced they had signed an agreement to discuss forming a joint venture to market North Slope gas to utilities around the world.

Asked if ExxonMobil would be part of a joint-venture marketing company, Aaron Stryk, ExxonMobil's upstream media relations advisor, said the company does not comment on details of its commercial arrangements.

Company officials have previously said ExxonMobil will support a state-led gas line project in part by making investments to provide natural gas to the project from the Point Thomson and Prudhoe Bay fields.

But before ExxonMobil will commit to those investments, the company has said it will need gas sales and purchase agreements in place from a reliable buyer at commercially reasonable prices.

[Related: Oil producers balk following new study calling Alaska's LNG project uneconomic]

Sexual assault case raises old questions amid new reality of social media

Alaska Dispatch News - Fri, 09/23/2016 - 18:45

A woman's life is about to become a virtual hell, thanks to the legal maneuverings of NBA star Derrick Rose.

She can count on it because the public still reacts with scorn toward women who accuse famous athletes, Hollywood stars and politicians of sexual assault.

Rose won the legal right to use the woman's name in a civil trial in which he is accused of rape, scheduled to begin Oct. 4. The pseudonym Jane Doe will cease to shield her. The 30-year-old college student will be identified in proceedings, which opens her to levels of scrutiny and fury that Rose will not face. That fact alone takes a moment to digest.

The woman has accused Rose of raping her in 2013 along with two buddies after she passed out. Rose and the woman had been in a consensual, non-exclusive sexual relationship for nearly two years. But, she alleges, that changed in August 2013 after she had left the New York Knick's rental house in Los Angeles drunk and possibly drugged.

Her name exposed, the woman will soon be easy prey for any slug with an Internet connection. She will be called a slut and a greedy whore for seeking monetary compensation. She will probably receive death threats. The woman's parents are immigrants from Mexico, so she'll also be treated to assumptions about her family's immigration status and all sorts of other ethnic hatred.

Rose's legal strategy appears to be to leverage this reality to get her to settle her $21.5 million civil suit.

This is how we shame women who allege sexual assault. It often works because the public will be more than willing participants, consuming the details like gossip and rendering spot judgments about the victim.

[It's a challenge to end sexual assault in Alaska, but we're in it together]

That being said, there is also a forceful argument that shielding the identities of sexual assault victims mutes the public response to such crimes. That argument was made most forcefully in 1989 by Geneva Overholser, the brave editor of the Des Moines Register, who published a column arguing that anonymity harms rape victims and mutes public outrage at the crime.

She wasn't wrong but she was writing before the advent of viral social media.

Her arguments continue to be persuasive. She wondered in 2003 whether the media's hesitancy to name names — indeed, it is an institutionalized rule — has "prolonged the stigma and fed the underreporting."

The myths about rape continue partly because truths about the crime are shielded as well. And when its victims are nameless and faceless, that leaves a vacuum for assumptions.

In a less sexist world, a woman could make an allegation and expect the known facts either to prove or disprove the contention. What the woman wore, how much she drank that evening, if she had previously agreed to sex with that man or any other would be of no consequence. Sexual assault would not be among the most underreported crimes if these notions ceased to exist.

[Why is Alaska the rape capital of the US? Because we allow it]

Only what happened would matter. Was there consent or not? But that's not the world that we live in, despite the strides we have made.

It should be noted that the judge has put Rose and his legal team on notice for shaming.

"Defendant Rose appears to suggest that women who publicly portray themselves as 'sexual' are less likely to experience embarrassment, humiliation and harassment associated with gang rape," the judge wrote in an earlier order.

But in the decision to allow the plaintiff to be named, other factors also had to be weighed: the public's interest in the case, and the possibility that a pseudonym at a civil trial would be perceived by the jury as a comment on the harm caused by the alleged actions of Rose.

The judge can only control so much: the actions of defendant and plaintiff, jurors and those who attend the proceedings. What the public does to the woman, particularly on social media, is where the threat lies.

This is the sad reality behind Overholser's long-held opinion that society does more harm than good by shielding the identities of rape victims. Nearly 30 years later, we're still struggling with the notion.

For all of the ethical, legal and sensitivity questions raised, the narratives of sexual assault — be they criminal charges or lawsuits or journalistic reporting — still divide the public in unhelpful ways. Some people are so uneasy with the details that they prefer the muting of anonymous victims. Others take to social media and eagerly attack the victim further.

And that leaves victims wondering if they're better off not coming forward to seek justice.

Mary Sanchez is an opinion-page columnist for The Kansas City Star. Readers may write to her at: Kansas City Star, 1729 Grand Blvd., Kansas City, MO 64108-1413, or via email at msanchez@kcstar.com.

The views expressed here are the writer's and are not necessarily endorsed by Alaska Dispatch News, which welcomes a broad range of viewpoints. To submit a piece for consideration, email commentary@alaskadispatch.com. Send submissions shorter than 200 words to letters@alaskadispatch.com or click here to submit via any web browser.