Alaska News Nightly: August 19, 2013

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USCG Admiral Talks Arctic Strategy

Lauren Rosenthal, KUCB – Unalaska

The highest ranking leader in the United States Coast Guard stopped in Unalaska today to talk about Arctic strategy.

Wet Weather Likely Too Little, Too Late For Alaska Farmers

Tim Ellis, APRN Contributor

The severe drought that’s gripped the Interior for most of the summer finally broke over the weekend. Rain fell throughout the region for the first time in some areas since early July. But it’s probably too little and too late for most farmers, especially those who own livestock, who’ve have had to resort to costly measures like irrigating and importing hay from Canada and the Lower 48.

Valley Ag Center Boosts Seed Research

Ellen Lockyer, KSKA – Anchorage

Pioneer Mountain looms over a small, anonymous white building tucked away on Palmer’s Bodenberg Loop. Although the mountain and surrounding fields seem to dwarf the tiny structure, the research going on inside it could have gigantic implications for agriculture in the Matanuska Valley.

Juneau Clinic On The Chopping Block

Lisa Phu, KTOO – Juneau

Juneau’s Front Street Clinic is in danger of shutting down due to fiscal reasons. The public health facility, run by the Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium, caters to the capital city’s homeless and low-income residents.

Homeless Shelters Concerned As Federal Funding Dries Up

Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage

As Alaska’s summer starts to slide toward fall, concern is growing for sheltering the increasing numbers of homeless citizens in Anchorage on cold nights.

Ellen Krsnak is the community relations coordinator for Catholic Social Services, the agency that runs the Brother Francis shelter in the city.

Bean’s Cafe is across a parking lot from Brother Francis. Krsnak says Bean’s is a day shelter and serves breakfast and lunch.

Brother Francis handles the evening meal and provides a safe place to sleep, but often more beds are needed and Bean’s has provided sleeping space.

Federal money that was administered by the Municipality of Anchorage has dried up and without it, Krsnak says, the overflow numbers of homeless who need a bed on cold nights won’t be able to sleep at Beans.

Anchorage Health and Human Services director Janet Vietmeier says the problem of coming up with shelter funding for Anchorage’s homeless citizens is not a new topic.

Vietmeier says there are others in the community who have volunteered to provide services that Catholic Social Services would normally have to pay for. She declined to name who those volunteer organizations are.

If overflow shelter is not available at Bean’s Cafe this winter, homeless people would have to leave the area of Brother Francis and Beans to find warm beds on cold nights in other parts of the city. Transportation is not provided by any entity at this point. Vietmeier says people seem to figure it out.

“I guess I can answer that with, we have people that stay at gospel rescue mission and that’s not in that area, so somehow they find a way to find a warm place to sleep at night,” she said.

Vietmeier says the mayor considers the issue of safe shelter for the homeless a priority, but a meeting with organizations who advocate for the poor, including Catholic Social services has not yet been scheduled.

Snow Forecast Along North Slope

Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks

Wintery weather is forecast to sweep across Arctic Alaska.

National Weather Service meteorologist Scott Berg says a deep low pressure system is sending cold air down over the North Slope and Brooks Range, ushering in conditions a-typical of mid August.

“Generally it would bring just rain, but this is really cold and we’re gonna actually see some snow up along the North Slope,” Berg said. “It could possibly affect the Dalton Highway and the passes through the Brooks Range with a couple inches of snow.”

The northwestern Brooks Range can expect for up to 2 inches of snow, while up to 5 are forecast for the northeastern portion of the range, including Anaktuvuk and Atigun passes.

No snow is expected to the south, but Berg says the Interior will get some rain.

Berg says the high pressure ridge that dominated interior weather for much of the summer has pushed off to the east, allowing systems to move across the state.

Camp Near Wrangell Teaches Tlingit Culture, Language

Shady Grove Oliver, KSTK – Wrangell

The town of Wrangell, once called the “sleeping giant,” has seen an awakening of its native culture and history.

It began with the Chief Shakes Tribal House rededication in May. Last month, it hosted both a national traditional foods conference and a Tlingit basketball camp for kids.

In early August, a group of people headed to the original Tlingit settlement 25 miles from present-day Wrangell—for a language and culture camp. It was the first time Tlingit was spoken in Old Town in 65 years.

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