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KNBA News - State to shift part of $10 billion pension costs to municipalities

Dec. 28, 2015

Dept. of Administration to shift part of $10 billion debt to local governments

By the Associated Press

State and municipal leaders are discussing ways to change Alaska's multi-billion-dollar pension system for state workers, teachers, and local police and fire fighters. The Ketchikan Daily News reports that local leaders attended a meeting last week in Juneau to discuss possible changes to the system that would assign a portion of the system's $10 billion debt to municipalities.  The Alaska Department of Administration in September sent a memo notifying local governments that they would shoulder a portion of that burden.

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ICC report states Inuit food sources need more protection

by Associated Press

A report by a group representing Alaska's Inuit people calls for more protections for their traditional foods.

The Inuit Circumpolar Council-Alaska says drastic changes in the Arctic brought on by climate change, pollution and other factors are a threat to Inuit food. The report says decisions on policy and research should be made in the light of how they will affect traditional foods, from fish and berries to marine mammals.

Spokeswoman Carolina Behe says the Inuit have a different understanding of food importance than some other cultures. She says food security in urban Alaska is viewed in terms of nutrition and buying power.

She says the Inuit view themselves as part of the Arctic environment and the availability of traditional food is closely tied to the health of the ecosystem.

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Receding Tanana River strands wastewater output 

The water utility in the city of North Pole is seeking $4 million in state funding to fix a decade-old problem with its wastewater plant. The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports the pipe that carries treated wastewater to the Tanana River needs to be extended by as much as 4,000 feet because the channel is drying up.

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Changing Arctic:  A Program about Dramatic Transitions Underway in the Far North

President Obama appoints a new member of the Arctic Commission

By Tim Ellis, KUAC - Fairbanks

President Obama last week appointed long-time Alaska Native corporation leader Marie Kasaŋnaaluk Greene to the commission that advises the president and Congress on Arctic research.

“She brings a tremendous degree of not only experience but knowledge and understanding of the Arctic,” said Fran Ulmer, chair of the U.S. Arctic Research Commission.

Ulmer says Greene’s knowledge of the Arctic is informed both by being raised there and through her executive experience, including 13 years as president and CEO of Kotzebue-based NANA Corporation.

“She has served on both private and public boards,” said Ulmer. “She has run the NANA Corporation. She has been active in [the] community.”

Ulmer says Greene is dedicated to improving life for residents of the region. She says that’s an important cause for the Arctic Research Commission as well. Greene has worked on, among other things, improving workforce development, education and telecommunications in northwest Alaska.

“I think in many, many ways, she can reflect the concerns of the people of the Arctic, the people of Alaska,” said Ulmer.

Greene has also served as president of Maniilaq Association, a Native health- and social services organization also based in Kotzebue, during the 1980s and early 1990s. And she was a member of the Alaska Federation of Natives board of directors for several years.

AFN Vice President Ben Mallott says Greene is the perfect person for the Arctic Research Commission.

“She’s been an AFN board member and president of NANA for a long time, and she’s a competent person and we’re happy for her. We think she’ll do a great job,” said Mallott.”

Ulmer says Greene will replace Edward Itta on the seven-member commission. He’s a former North Slope Borough mayor and Inupiat whaler and hunter.

“Edward Itta from Barrow did an excellent job,” said Ulmer. “Similarly bringing with him much experience in the region, and the ability to translate to all of us who serve on the commission, and members of the federal government as well, an understanding of a region that is very unique. It’s both valuable and vulnerable.”

Greene earned undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Alaska. She wasn’t available to comment on her appointment.

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