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KNBA News - ConocoPhillips begins NPR-A project; "Spice" puts Anchorage fire dept. overbudget

Nov. 19, 2015

Conoco Phillips Launching Second Project in NPR-A

Conoco Phillips announced yesterday it will move ahead with construction of a $900 million project in the North Slope's National Petroleum Reserve. APRN's Rachel Waldholz reports the project, called the Greater Moose's Tooth unit, joins Conoco's CD-5 development, which started production earlier this fall on nearby Alaska Native lands. The two projects are the first full-fledged oil development within NPR-A. Conoco said construction will begin in early 2017, with first oil planned for 2018 and an expected peak production of 30,000 barrels per day.

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Increased “spice” emergency medical calls put Anchorage Fire Department over budget

The Anchorage Fire Department is over budget, due in part to the high volume of spice-related emergencies. APRN's Zachariah Hughes reports Anchorage Fire Chief Dennis LeBlanc told the assembly's public safety committee Wednesday he anticipates the department will go $650,000 over its projected 2015 budget. That’s less than one percent of the Department's $93 million budget. The Assembly is set to discuss the 2016 budget at its meeting on Tuesday.

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Tribal program teaches how to live life on life’s terms

By Anne Hillman, APRN

Sometimes starting over means more than just looking for a new job or a new place to live. It means re-learning how to "live life on life's terms." Cook Inlet Tribal Council runs a free, two-year intensive residential program in Anchorage helping men do just that.

Bill Tsurnos sits in a bright, airy common room, his late uncle's heavy gold ring whacking into the table as he gestures broadly. Twenty years ago, his family never would have let him near such an heirloom.

"A gold ring? I would never have one of these. A Rolex watch? No way,” said Tsurnos. “I couldn't hold one of these for two hours before. It's going to the Connection. Everything I looked at, leather coats, all I saw was heroin. How much can I get for that?"

For more than 20 years Tsurnos was in and out of jail. He couldn't hold down a job for more than a month. He was struggling with a heroin addiction and with the fact that occasionally, the basics of modern life, suck.

"Sometimes it's like waking up in the same house from the same bed and getting in the same car and going to the same job and doing it over and over and over again,” said Tsurnos. “Not just for a day, for a week, for years and years, ya know?"

By the early 90s, Tsurnos was ready to clean up his act. He joined the Delancy Street program in San Francisco. It's the model for Chanlyut, the residential education program that he now runs. Chanlyut requires participants to hit reset. They move into the house with only the basics and share a bunk bed in a dorm room. For the first month or so, they can't communicate with any family or friends outside of the program. They focus on re-learning the basics -- proper hygiene, cleaning the house, cooking dinner.

"Let me get the light. I gotta teach them to save electricity, too. That's living life on life's terms, Anne! You know if you're paying the electricity bill, you're gonna turn the light off."

But Tsurnos isn't the only one teaching life skills. The philosophy behind Chanlyut is "each one, teach one." Once a participant learns a skill, he teaches the next guy who joins the program. Tsurnos said this encourages responsibility and accountability as they earn new privileges, like writing letters to their parents twice a month or moving into a room with single beds instead of bunks.

Eventually participants move on to learning new skills by working for one of Chanlyut's businesses. They make wholesale foods for coffee shops and do lawn care.

"We have a janitorial service where we clean the Credit Union One Bank,” said Tsurnos. “I know, how cool is that, huh? They let a bunch of us ex-convicts, ex-drug addicts, criminals go into their bank and clean it at night."

The emphasis is on "ex." The recidivism rate for program graduates is only 19 percent -- less than a third of the statewide average. But going to Chanlyut is never a condition of parole. The participants are only there because they choose to be--it's voluntary.

"You wrote me a letter and you asked to come here and you told me why you wanted to come here. I didn't send out no invitations,” said Tsurnos. “You said you wanted to be here."

And if they don't want to deal with the extremely strict rules?

"There's the door. Go! If you don't want to be here, we don't want you here!"

Kevin Carlson chose to join the program a year ago after six years of drug use and a quick stint in the Anchorage Jail. He'd lost his wife and his kids, and said six months of rehab just wasn't going to be enough to transform his perspective. He said, so far he's figured out...

"How to be less self-centered, less worried about what I need and more worried about what I can do to help,” said Carlson. “Chanlyut has taught me that as long as the product is coming out the same, let them do it their way. Not everything has to be my way."

Carlson said he's not who he wants to be yet, but through Chanlyut, he's getting there.