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July 16, 2020
I hope everyone has been able to take advantage of the sunny days of summer and explore Alaska's bountiful opportunities. As we go through our daily lives it's easy to forget what's right outside our own back door. Last week my family and I were fortunate to spend time in Seward for my daughter's birthday and enjoyed a successful halibut fishing trip. It was nice to focus on family and fun, with a bonus of filling the freezer!
As always, I'm honored to serve and represent Senate District M. Please email me (mailto:[email protected]) , call my office at 907-269-0222, or visit us anytime to share you thoughts and concerns.
International Nordic Ski Coach of the Year - Jan Buron!
I was honored to host a small BBQ this week to join with Rep Gillis in presenting our Abbott Loop neighbor, Jan Buron with a commendation on behalf of the Alaska Legislature. The award reflects his decades of tireless advocacy and mentorship to our youth Nordic skiers in Alaska. A couple of Jan’s students joined us. 2020 individual Junior World Championship gold medalist, Gus Schumacher made a surprise visit to support his coach! He won the first U.S. junior gold medal for cross country skiing in history! Thanks, Gus! The whole thing was a surprise to Jan, thanks to help from his lovely wife, Marta. Jan’s dedication and subsequent achievements should inspire all of us to push just a little harder and mentor others. Jan’s message: We can achieve greater things than we think we can through hard work, discipline, and dedication.
“You have to train, but you have to dream. If you don’t have dreams it’s hard to train.”
Request Your Absentee/Mail-In Ballot
The Primary election is around the corner and will be held on August 18th. Lt. Governor Meyer and the Alaska Division of Elections is making sure everyone has an opportunity to vote using an a ([link removed]) bsentee/by-mail ballot ([link removed]) due to the current COVID-19 pandemic. August 8th is the deadline to request an absentee ballot. The application form can be completed on-line ([link removed]) or by a printable PDF ([link removed]) .
America's Top Cover in Alaska
I was honored to spend time with our men and women in uniform on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson - JBER to observe flight demonstrations and to learn more about the great opportunities and critical challenges they face in Alaska. Make no mistake, Alaska is vital to our national security. Our geographical importance presents opportunities for increased military infrastructure in the future. That’s good for Alaska and good for the nation. I’m humbled to play a small role as Co-Chair of the Joint Armed Services Committee in the Alaska Legislature. Thank you to Lieutenant General Krumm, Major General Andrysiak, Colonel Bradley, and Chief Master Sergeant Wolfe for the insight and hospitality!
Anchorage School District Announces Options for 2020/21
Last week Anchorage School District (ASD) Superintendent Deena Bishop announced ([link removed]) plans for the coming school year. The first day of school has changed to August 20th to allow educators additional time to prepare and to accommodate the coming primary elections.
ASD will follow the State of Alaska's "Smart Start 2020" ([link removed]) framework and determine plans to conduct school based on risk levels ([link removed]) . And Superintendent Bishop announced the various Learning Options ([link removed]) - ASD in School or ASD at Home ([link removed]) available to families.
For additional information and details click on the picture below.
Training Funds and Opportunities for Alaskans
Alaskans can access training funds to address employment skills and credential barriers
July 14, 2020
JUNEAU, Alaska – The Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development is promoting a variety of pathways that Alaskans can pursue to obtain needed skills and credentials to be competitive in their return to the workforce.
“Assisting Alaskans in overcoming skill barriers and obtaining meaningful employment is an integral part of our mission here at the Department of Labor,” said Commissioner Dr. Tamika L. Ledbetter. “If you need assistance returning to the workforce, we have several programs and services waiting to assist all Alaskans find meaningful employment.”
Alaska Job Centers connect Alaskans needing skills training and credentialing to appropriate training programs throughout the state. Job centers work with individuals to establish eligibility and to develop a career plan using a variety of federal and state funded programs to defray training costs.
Grant programs administered by the department include the Alaska Construction Academies (ACAs) and the Technical Vocational Education Program (TVEP) which provide training to Alaskans in their service areas. The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) Youth program provides training to youth and young adults ages 16-24 who experience barriers to finding a job. The State Training Employment Program (STEP) training programs also accept unemployed Alaskans for skills training.
The department also operates the State of Alaska’s Vocational Technical Training Center (AVTEC) in Seward. AVTEC offers a variety of training programs under one year in duration. Examples include welding, maritime, construction, industrial electricity, culinary arts and refrigeration. AVTEC will also work with employers to customize workforce trainings.
For more information on skills training, Alaskans can connect with their local job center at (877) 724-2539.
The project team recently completed the Review Plans, Specifications, and Estimate (also known as the 95% design plans) and current design plans are posted on the website. The right-of-way appraisal and acquisition process is underway and construction is anticipated to start in 2022, depending on availability of funding.
For additional information please visit the project website ([link removed]) .
Seward Highway "Windy Corner" Virtual Public Hearing
Many of us travel south on the Seward Highway to camp, fish and enjoy the beauty of the Kenai Peninsula - the Alaska Department of Transportation & Public Facilities is working to improve a dangerous stretch of road known as the Windy Corner. Please take time to attend the virtual open forum and add your voice to help make this project a success.
Notice of Availability of Draft Environmental Assessment (EA) and Draft Programmatic Section 4(f) Evaluation & Notice of Virtual Open Forum Public Hearing
The Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities (DOT&PF) invites you to a public hearing (virtual format with website, social media, and telephonic access as well as in-person access) to review and make comments on the Draft Environmental Assessment (EA) and the Draft Programmatic Section 4(f) Evaluation relating to proposed safety improvements to Seward Highway between Mileposts (MP) 105 and 107, known as Windy Corner. This is a rescheduled event. In-person hearings originally planned for late March 2020 in Anchorage and Girdwood were cancelled due to COVID-19 related public health mandates.
The public hearing is for the purpose of considering the economic, social, and environmental effects of the project and the project's consistency with the goals and objectives of community planning that has been carried out.
All documents are available at www.windycorner.info ([link removed]) . Hard copies of the Draft EA, including Appendix G, Public and Agency Comments, are
available for review at DOT&PF Central Region Office located at 4111 Aviation Avenue in Anchorage, AK
MFaQ&c=Q8iJasR7RZ-J0Fd9RXD9ZA&r=6exeKoV6M07Df6aaCcVBlxuDMXW2ZZg5klFADDmlHL8&m=T0TvSQS2gRvshsUj7okkiBPPREpvV1yXrQcTpsNw9K0&s=ViZhripohhRF6dgZ542aQGoGX9S4FA2JGgA1vZxjYyI&e=) and at the DOT&PF Statewide Office located at 3132 Channel Drive in Juneau, AK
DwMFaQ&c=Q8iJasR7RZ-J0Fd9RXD9ZA&r=6exeKoV6M07Df6aaCcVBlxuDMXW2ZZg5klFADDmlHL8&m=T0TvSQS2gRvshsUj7okkiBPPREpvV1yXrQcTpsNw9K0&s=jwV1nl_fwJHDcF2YjXN4za0R3xlfhZyFCV30vy47uH4&e=) or upon request at [email protected] (mailto:[email protected]) . The Draft EA will be available at the ZJ Loussac Library in Anchorage and the Gerrish Branch Library in Girdwood when the libraries are reopened for in-person visits as they currently closed for in-person visits by order of the Library Director due to COVID-19 related public health concerns.
The Draft EA Preferred Alternative consists of improving the Seward Highway from MP 105 to MP 107. The purpose of the project is to implement safety upgrades to reduce high severity crashes and improve traffic operations to alleviate traffic congestion. DOT&PF has considered six build alternatives plus one no-build alternative. The proposed highway includes two 12-foot lanes in each direction separated by a median and paved shoulders. The Alaska Railroad Corporation tracks will be realigned to make space for the highway improvements. The modifications require right-of-way (ROW) in the form of a land exchange including the conversion of 26.3 acres of intertidal mudflats within Chugach State Park to transportation use and DOT&PF relinquishing 14.7 acres of land within the existing transportation ROW to DNR for park use. The Preferred Alternative proposes to extract approximately 2 million cubic yards of aggregate, riprap, and armor stone from material locations within Chugach State Park near
MP 109 and MP 104 (if needed) for construction of the improvements at Windy Corner. New recreational facilities and parking areas will be constructed near MP 106.5.
When a federally assisted transportation improvement project on existing or new alignment will use a Section 4(f) property a Section 4(f) evaluation is needed. For this project, a net benefit programmatic Section 4(f) evaluation was conducted and the preliminary view of DOT&PF and the official with jurisdiction (Department of Natural Resources Commissioner) over the Section 4(f) property is included in Appendix E of the Draft EA. A final action on the land exchange is expected in Fall 2020 with construction to follow in 2021.
Date: Thursday, July 30, 2020, beginning at 5 p.m.
Project Question and Answer
Review Options for Submitting Comments
Adjourn Public Hearing
More detailed information about how to participate online, via teleconference, or in person will be available on the project website by July 14, 2020: www.windycorner.info
([link removed]) .
How to Comment:
The comment period began on March 6, 2020 and ends at midnight Alaska Standard Time on August 14, 2020.
Comments may be submitted:
* By mail: Brian Elliott, Environmental Manager, DOT&PF Preliminary Design & Environmental; PO Box 196900, Anchorage, AK 99519-6900
* By email: [email protected] (mailto:[email protected]) (Please include "Seward Highway MP 105-107 Draft EA Comment" in the subject line)
* By telephone voicemail: 907-865-1378
All public comments received will be recorded, transcribed, become part of the public record, and may be subject to Freedom of Information Act requests.
The 2020 U.S. Census is underway and currently only 47.9% of Alaskans have taken the census ([link removed]) . Every 10 years, as mandated by the Constitution the nation counts the population to determine the number of seats each state will have in the U.S House of Representatives and to determine how federal funds will be distributed to each state. To complete the census ([link removed]) and make sure you are counted click on the picture below.
Our mailing address is:
Session: State Capitol, Room 125, Juneau, AK 99801
Interim: 1500 West Benson, Room 410, Anchorage, AK 99503
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