Hello from Juneau on the 21st
day of Special Session. Apologies for the gap between our updates, but as you may have read or heard in the news, there has not been very much movement here in the Capitol. This has honestly been a very frustrating time, and tensions are certainly very high. However, I do remain hopeful that compromise can be found and that we can avoid a government shutdown.
Constituent Coffee: Thank You!
Thank you so much to the 35 people who were able to make it to my constituent coffee over Memorial Day Weekend! It was so wonderful to sit down and talk with friends and neighbors about some of the issues we’re faced with here in Juneau. I enjoyed hearing updates from our community on what’s been happening in Anchorage this spring. It was additionally helpful to witness firsthand the construction work along on Brayton and surrounding areas. I heard from many of you that the signage and directions offered by the Department of Transportation’s team has been helpful. Please keep me posted if improvements still need to be made.
If you weren’t able to make it, I hope you’ll stay in touch about ideas and concerns you might have. My office is here for you!
Special Session Update
Like I said before, there has not been very much action here in the Capitol. This week we have had one meeting of the Conference Committee on the budget, and expect to have at least one more before Friday. These meetings will hopefully settle the budgets for 4 out of 18 departments, which chips away at the outstanding items for a full budget to be passed. This progress makes me hopeful, but still leaves a lot of work to accomplish before the special session is over.
Outside of the budget, the only committee action has been a solely informational House Finance meeting (held today) on the differences between the House and Senate’s oil tax legislation. During this time, many legislators have chosen to be home while they wait for progress. One of the questions I’ve been asked a fair amount is whether my colleagues and I are taking per diem while we are not in Juneau. I, for one, have not taken per diem while I’ve been away from the Capitol, and will continue not taking any per diem when not working in Juneau.
I appreciate the Governor putting forward a plan that he and his team knew would not be embraced with open arms. I don’t agree with everything in his package, nor does anyone in the Legislature at this point. Though I do think he demonstrated to many in this building that compromising means having tough conversations that might not get you everything you want. As evidenced by responses from some after his plan was presented, there are still legislators who believe a “win-win” is them getting exactly what they want, and never having to give. Is the Governor’s plan going to be accepted whole-cloth? Probably not. But what it does prove is that it is possible, if hard work is done, to come up with a settlement.
From Service to the Moon!
NASA recently announced the selection of 11 new astronaut candidates for the class of 2017, out of a record 18,300 applicants. Among those 18,300 was long-time Alaskan Robb Kulin, a graduate of Service High School in 2001! To read the full story about this exciting news for Robb and his family, click here!
Way to go Robb! You make Alaska incredibly proud and we know you’ll succeed in your future trainings and missions!
Hanshew Teaching Duo Shines!
Principal Nancy Brain of Hanshew Middle School recently provided my office this news alert regarding two outstanding teachers in our community:
Great news – a Hanshew teaching duo are 2017 Denali Award Recipients. The award is the highest District honor given to employees.
Individually they are great teachers, but together they are like lightning in a bottle. That’s how Hanshew Middle School Principal Nancy Brain describes teachers Katie Weidemaier and Leah Dubber.
Weidemaier and Dubber took the initiative to start two new eighth-grade pre-AP courses at Hanshew. Working together, they wrote a course curriculum infusing AP strategies into eighth-grade language arts and social studies. The content focuses on high-level reading, writing, research, and text analysis.
Weidemaier is described as a visionary language arts teacher who continually seeks new ways to engage her students and expand their learning. She works closely with multiple state and community organizations to further educational opportunities at her school. She has been instrumental in developing the middle school debate program at Hanshew and across the District.
Dubber continually takes advantage of learning opportunities to engage and challenge her students. Each year, her students compete in the “We the People” Middle School Invitational. This program provides an avenue for students to learn the historical and philosophical foundations of our country’s ideas about the creation of the Constitution.
A parent said, “At a time when schools are being asked to do more with less, these two astonishing teachers engage, inspire, and stir passion for knowledge.”
Leah and Katie are two of the most creative, hardworking, student-centered teachers I have ever had the pleasure of working with.
Principal, Hanshew Middle School
Way to go Katie and Leah! You make District 25, and our community proud!
Seward Highway Progress
Below is the weekly update provided by the Alaska Department of Transportation on the Seward Highway Dimond to Dowling project.
ROAD CLOSURE: Brayton Drive is CLOSED to all traffic, from Dimond Boulevard to 68th Avenue. Residents can access the northbound Seward Highway by using Sandlewood Place and Lore Road as an alternate DETOUR route. In addition, Sandlewood Place, Meadow Street and 68th Avenue should be used as a Brayton Drive business access DETOUR route.
NEW TRAFFIC PATTERN: Southbound Seward Highway traffic has shifted from the Seward Highway to Homer Drive, which now acts the southbound Seward Highway. Be alert to a reduced speed limit of 45 MPH throughout the construction zone.
FUTURE TRAFFIC PATTERN: Beginning Friday, June 9, northbound Seward Highway traffic will be shifted from the Seward Highway to Brayton Drive, which will now act as the northbound Seward Highway. Be alert to a reduced speed limit of 45 MPH throughout the construction zone.
Please note that no side road access will be permitted to and from the Homer Drive and Brayton Drive frontage roads during construction.
- Work will be in effect 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, through mid-October, in order to expedite the construction process.
- To receive email updates about this project, email SewardDowlingDimond@spawnak.com.