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Posts from the 'Local News' category

AEA: Fisheries Service Criticism of Susitna Dam Studies “Untenable, Bordering on the Absurd”

Thursday, October 9, 2014

The Alaska Energy Authority has responded to letters from the National Marine Fisheries Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that questioned research being done on the Susitna-Watana Hydroelectric Project.

Of the two federal agencies, the National Marine Fisheries Service took a stronger position regarding A-E-A’s ability to produce accurate models of salmon activity in the Susitna River.  The NMFS letter cited fourteen areas of concern, including sampling methods and possible misidentification of juvenile fish.  The agency says that the problems are significant enough that no further studies should be done until they are resolved.

On Wednesday, AEA labeled the criticism as inaccurate.  In a news release, Susitna-Watana Project Manager Wayne Dyok says the NMFS letter, “relies on mischaracterizations and generalizations.”  The actual response letter by AEA, which is signed by Dyok, goes even further, saying that assertions made by the Fisheries Service are “untenable, bordering on the absurd.”

AEA’s response letter to the National Marine Fisheries Service totals nearly fifty pages.  Most of that is a line-by-line refutation of the concerns listed by NMFS.  Many of AEA’s specific responses assert that NMFS is either ignoring the data or misunderstands the methodologies being used.  The Alaska Energy Authority maintains that it is following the study plan approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

FERC will have the opportunity to hear out both sides, soon.  Meetings are scheduled to start next week to discuss the Susitna-Watana field work.  Part of the objective of those meetings is for FERC to decide what, if any, changes need to be made in future field studies.

Talkeetna Community Council Election Results in Coin-Toss

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Results from the Talkeetna Community Council election are also in.  Four council board seats were up for election.  There were four candidates on the ballot, as well as one official write-in candidate.

The only incumbent running for re-election is Whitney Wolff, who received 107 votes and will remain on the council.  New council members include Mark Moren and Rich Crain.  There was a tie for the fourth seat, with Rob Shelby and write-in candidate Caitlin Hunt both receiving sixty-nine votes.  Per Talkeetna Community Council bylaws, the race was decided by a coin-toss, which was won by Rob Shelby, making him the final member of the board.

Additional write-in votes included a handful of Talkeetna residents, as well as one write-in vote each for Mickey Mouse and Mayor Stubbs.

In addition to electing board members, East Talkeetna residents voted 48-10 in favor of exploring adding East Talkeetna to the local flood service area.

2014 Borough Election Results

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Preliminary results are in for the Mat-Su Borough election.

Across the borough, voter turnout was almost exactly 11%, with just over 7,000 votes cast.   In the Upper Valley, voter turnout varied.  In Talkeetna, 13% of eligible voters turned out on Tuesday.  In Susitna, turnout was 9.5%, and in Trapper Creek just over 6% of eligible voters voted.

Areawide elections were held for two school board seats.  Tiffany Scott ran unopposed or Seat E, and Ole Larson ran unopposed for Seat D.  Both candidates received more than 5,000 votes.  In Borough Assembly District 4 in Wasilla, incumbent Steve Colligan ran unopposed, receiving 730 votes.  The only contested race is for Assembly District 5.  In that race, Dan Mayfield leads Bill Kendig by 293 votes, with just under 1,000 total votes cast.

Both borough ballot measures, one to redraw district lines to match state voting precincts and the other to increase property tax exemptions for senior citizens and disabled veterans, passed by comfortable margins.

 

Borough, Talkeetna Community Council Elections This Tuesday

Monday, October 6, 2014

Tuesday, Upper Valley Residents will vote in both borough and community council elections.

The Upper Valley will not be choosing its Borough Assembly member this year.  There are two Mat-Su Borough School Board seats on the ballot, but both candidates are running unopposed.  That means the decisions on the ballot come down to questions.  The first is proposition B-1.  If passed, the proposition would mean a redrawing of some of the borough’s districts in order to conform more closely to the state’s voting precincts.  It would also eliminate fourteen polling places.  The ordinance to place the question on the ballot passed unanimously in April.   The second ballot question would increase property tax exemptions for elderly disabled veterans and their widows or widowers.  Currently, those who qualify are exempted from the first $150,000 of property value.  Proposition B-2 would increase that amount by an additional $68,000.

Talkeetna residents will also be voting for community council members and on one advisory question.  Four seats are up for election.  The candidates are Whitney Wolff, who currently serves as the TCC chair, Rich Crane, Mark Moren, Rob Shelby, and write-in candidate Caitlin Hunt. (more…)

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Lunar Eclipse Wednesday October 8th

Thursday, October 2, 2014

A Total Lunar Eclipse will be visible from Alaska (and elsewhere) in the wee hours of Wednesday 10/8, weather permitting.  Kathleen Fleming has prepared an informational page for folks who would like to observe the eclipse.  Lots more info is on the internet, of course, but this will get you started.  Eclipse, Lunar 10-08-14

Kodiak Fisheries Debate

Thursday, October 2, 2014

On Wednesday, Congressman Don Young debated Democratic challenger Forrest Dunbar, and Senator Mark Begich squared off against Republican challenger Dan Sullivan in Kodiak over Alaska’s Fisheries.  KMXT has the full audio available online.

DHSS Wouldn’t Be Surprised if Enterovirus D68 Shows up in Alaska

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

It’s the time of year when cold and flu viruses start picking up.  On Tuesday, the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services sent out a list of tips for preventing the spread of the illnesses.  Also mentioned was Enterovirus D68, which has caused illness in children across the Lower 48.  EVD68 often represents with symptoms such as runny nose, fever, sneezing, coughing, and body aches.  More severe cases can cause difficulty breathing.

There were no confirmed cases of Enterovirus D68 in Alaska as of Tuesday, but Dr. Michael Cooper of the Department of Health and Social Services says “it would not be surprising if the virus is detected in Alaska soon.”

Tips for cold and flu season can be found online at dhss.alaska.gov.

Barbara Washburn Passes Away Weeks Before Her 100th Birthday

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

On September 25th, the Boston Globe reported that Barbara Washburn had passed away at the age of ninety-nine.  Barbara Washburn was the first woman to summit Denali, and was the wife of Bradford Washburn, who pioneered the West Buttress Route, now used by the vast majority of Denali climbers.

Barbara Washburn would have turned 100 on November 10th.  KTNA listeners who knew the Washburns are encouraged to contact the news department at news [at] ktna [dot] org.

National Marine Fisheries Service Issues Letter on Susitna-Watana Fish Studies

Monday, September 29, 2014

Last week, the National Marine Fisheries Service wrote a letter to the Alaska Energy Authority that criticized methods used in studies for the Susitna-Watana Hydroelectric Project.  The Fisheries Service listed fourteen concerns regarding studies of fish in the Susitna River drainage, ranging from issues with sampling sites to the potential misidentification of juvenile salmon.  The letter states that the issues will have significant impact on AEA’s ability to accurately model salmon behavior in the river, and that they “must be resolved prior to conducting additional field studies.”

Julie Speegle, spokeswoman for NMFS, says she believes the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service also filed a letter, though did not do so electronically.  Emily Ford, spokeswoman for the Alaska Energy Authority, says AEA anticipates working with all of the involved agencies at the upcoming round of meetings on Susitna-Watana.  She adds that AEA does not have a comment regarding the letter from the Fisheries Service.

The next meetings to discuss the studies for the Susitna-Watana Hydro Project will begin on October 15th.

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