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KNBA News - Yukon-Kuskokwim regional nonprofit lays off 30 employees

Dec. 23, 2015

Association of Village Council Presidents points to economy as cause for layoffs

By Anna Rose MacArthur, KYUK - Bethel

The Bethel-based regional nonprofit Association of Village Council Presidents, or AVCP, has laid off 30 employees, citing budget concerns.

In a press release, the corporation says general staff will take a five percent salary reduction, and senior management will face a ten percent salary cut.

It's unclear why the layoffs are occurring but AVCP cited the economy.

The release says, “During these changing economic times we have identified the need to reduce costs associated with providing services in our region.”

The statement says the budget cuts began last week.

News staff with KYUK contacted AVCP, but the senior chairperson was not available for an interview.

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Number of Anchorage traffic tickets dips

By Associated Press

Anchorage city treasurer Dan Moore says a drop in the number of traffic tickets written by police officers could affect the city's finances. The Alaska Dispatch News reports police attribute the lower volume of traffic tickets to staffing issues and the demands of training new recruits.

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Scientific equipment records North America’s largest landslide in 35 years

By Associated Press

Scientists say a massive landslide occurred Oct. 17 in an uninhabited area of eastern Alaska. It unleashed 200 million tons of rock down the Taan Fiord valley, the largest known landslide in North America since 1980. The landslide was detected on seismographs and confirmed by satellite imagery.

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Kasigluk students advance in national science and technology competition

By Anna Rose MacArthur, KYUK - Bethel

A sad story re-tells itself every winter in rural Alaska—people go out on the tundra and they don’t come back. A group of Kasigluk students are working to change that story by creating affordable winter survival packs for their community – packs that could save lives and win thousands of dollars in prizes for their school.

“Every year usually we have somebody who gets lost, and we hear of search and rescue having to go out and find them. And kids always worry about if it’s going to be one of their.”

That’s Natalie Cowley, she’s the Akiuk Memorial School teacher leading the project with a team of sixth through eighth graders.

They come in everyday and they get started, and they work for hours just trying to come up with the best things possible.”

The project is part of a national competition to win about $120,000 worth of technology. The annual Samsung Solve For Tomorrow contest challenges students to solve local issues while building enthusiasm for STEM— or science, technology, engineering, and math. Aniuk won the state level earlier this month and has until February to submit their final project.

The winter packs hold three items—shelter, heating pads, and a survival manual.

To make them affordable for every home, the students are using materials found around the village. They’re testing different shelter designs made from tarp and tent fabrics, making sure the structures withstand high amounts of snow and wind. And they’re creating reusable heating pads using a solution of household chemicals, mainly baking powder and vinegar.

“It takes like three hours to cook down, and the kids very patiently kept at it,” said Cowley.

The survival manuals add a cultural element to the project. The students are interviewing village elders about winter survival and compiling the information in a Yup’ik and English language guidebook. Cowley says the classrooms involve elders in projects every year, and most students hold Yup’ik as a first language.

“We want the community involved in the school, that there’s this flow between what goes on in the community and what goes on in the school,” said Cowley. And we all work together to support our students.”

Two years ago, Cowley’s Aniuk team won state for creating a device that maps underwater currents beneath the ice to help local in search and rescue. The school won about $20,000 worth of technology, which included multiple computers and tablets. Cowley says for a small school of 85 students, the winnings provided a big boost.

“The computers get used in three different classrooms for our reading program, and then the students are constantly using the tablets.”

Aniuk will receive a similar package this year for winning state again. Seizing nationals could multiply that prize six-fold. But the main goal, Cowley says, is bigger than winning.

“I want my kids to see that they can do anything that they want but still be a part of their local community.”

Cowley says her students are already talking about STEM careers.