May 8, 2013 Letters to the Editor

Science Sharing
Dear Editor: The student science sharing night last Monday, April 29, was a huge success. This was our second year of celebrating student learning at this event in the physical, biological and ecological sciences. We had over 100 students and community members participate, and we had student projects from Sitka and Mt. Edgecumbe High Schools, Blatchley Middle School and Keet Gooshi Heen.
    This event is more than just a science fair. It’s an opportunity for the community and students to interact and share learning on topics that affect the long-term sustainability of our community. We are surrounded by public lands and depend upon the bounty of the sea and land to sustain our quality of life.
    Integrating community, young people, scientists and natural resource managers in a shared learning experience will help ensure that we make well-informed decisions about managing these resources. This event also encourages students to explore further studies and possibly careers in the STEM (science-technology-engineering-math) topics.
    The science night was the culmination of the work of many people and organizations. It was supported by Sitka Conservation Society, University of Alaska Southeast, Sitka Sound Science Center, Sitka School District and Mt. Edgecumbe High School. But the people that did most of the work were the students!
Scott Harris,
Sitka Conservation Society
Kitty LaBounty,
 University of Alaska Southeast

Hospital Benefit
Dear Editor: On behalf of Sitka Community Hospital nursing management, we would like to thank the community and employees of the hospital for a successful first Healthcare poker run and SCHEA garage sale. The partnering of these two events resulted in a fun-filled Saturday morning, where the public was able to gain valuable health-related education, receive free health and safety items, have a chance to win credit towards hospital services and fill up on tons of garage-sale goodies.
    We’d like to thank the public for coming and participating in the event. The winners of the SCH credit went to the top three best poker hands: first place ($300) Joe Castro; second place ($200) Kayleen Novcaski; and third place ($100) Joe Anselm.
    We’d also like to thank the employees for their hard work and time to make this such a great experience. SCHEA (Sitka Community Hospital Employee Association) board members: Laura Reissmann, Benny Beaty and Shannon Callahan for all the garage sale work and coordination, numerous volunteers for helping set up and take down the events, employees from the departments that were represented: Emergency Room/Bike Safety, Wisewoman, Radiology/Mammography, Home Health/Infusion, Lactation Services, Tobacco Cessation, Blood pressure checks, Oceanside Therapy Center/BMI check, Surgical Services/Colon Health, Nutrition Services and Diabetes/Foot Care.
    We are planning on this being an annual event, so look for us next spring and remember, ‘‘Don’t Gamble With Your Health!’’
Sitka Community Hospital
 Nursing Management

100 Volunteer Day
Dear Editor: Last weekend the Sitka Fine Arts Camp held the third annual 100 Volunteer Day, and by our count it was the biggest one so far. We had about 200 people spend a part of their Saturday working on restoring and cleaning the campus to make ready for the camp season.
    Wandering about the campus for a peek was so inspiring! There were hives of industry at every turn, cleaning, painting, gardening and building. Our community once again came together to support, not just SFAC and the SJ Campus, but an idea. We came together believing in the arts, believing in our youths, and believing that by joining together in support of those things we can shape our future in exciting, creative ways. Sitka continues to unite to make a difference, and looking at all that has been accomplished on campus, it is evident that we are doing just that.
    An event such as this takes a tremendous amount of organization. Big thanks to Connie Kreiss and the building committee for making sure that all volunteers had a clear understanding of jobs to be done and supplies to do them. Thanks to Laura Schmidt and Linda Schmidt for directing workers.Thank you to the Daily Sitka Sentinel and KCAW Radio for getting the word out. Thanks to Sea Mart for providing the hotdogs, chili and fixings for lunch. Thanks also to the many others who brought salads and desserts to help feed the crowd.
    Mostly, of course, thank you so much to all of the volunteers who came to help out at this special event, and to the many who come throughout the year. Your dedication helps bring camp to life. Your commitment turns the idea into reality.
Sitka Fine Arts Camp
Board of Directors

Tax-Aide Volunteers
Dear Editor: The AARP Tax-Aide volunteers are a special group of people who are dedicated to giving their time and expertise to provide a free income tax preparation service for the citizens of Sitka year after year. This year, our volunteers e-filed over 110 returns with a total refund amount of approximately $136,000. The Earned Income Credit Tax was over $22,000 and the estimated tax preparation fees saved taxpayers more than $23,000. There were 42 citizens in the Sitka area age 60 or older who were served by Tax-Aide volunteers.
    These volunteers are the people that make the AARP Tax-Aide Program the great success that it has become. To all the AARP Tax-Aide volunteers: I want to personally thank you for the commitment and dedication you give to the program. The time and attention you give to each Alaskan in the preparation of their tax return is truly amazing. It is a pleasure and an honor to work with and know these volunteers.
    Thank you for the great job that you do!
Jan Watson,
 Alaska State Coordinator,
AARP Tax-Aide Program

Solid Waste Plan
Dear Editor: When I came to Sitka in 1999 the Sitka Solid Waste Plan was the community issue of importance.
    Our garbage incinerator was worn out, Kimsham landfill was filled to capacity and innovative solutions were needed.
    Our Assembly stepped up, demolishing the incinerator, closing the landfill and establishing off-island solid waste disposal and recycling.
    Now, in 2013 we hear from our public works director that recycling may not be making much money and we hear from Norm Campbell that recycling isn’t “all about the money.”
    They are both correct and we need to take counsel from both of their voices.
    The 1999 Sitka Solid Waste Plan is a political, public and environmental success, but to remain successful we must make sure it applies to 2013 and beyond.
Hugh Bevan, Sitka

Volunteer Day
Dear Editor: I understand that Saturday, May 4, was a “Red Letter Day” at the Sitka Fine Arts Camp with between 120-150 volunteers there. My first reaction was “heck and I missed it.”  I am so proud of all the volunteers that come to help whenever they can.  I have told everyone in my area of Alabama about this magical town of Sitka. You all or as we say in the south ‘‘y’all,” have welcomed me with open arms to Sitka. The spirit of Sitka is phenomenal.  There is always a helping hand there for whatever or whenever it is needed.  THAT IS AMAZING.
    I will be back in Sitka for the summer by the last Saturday in May to work. I do hope there will be that Saturday to volunteer before camp starts up in June. If we have had to close down the Saturday work to get ready for camp, I may sneak in and find a broom anyway.
    Thank you, again, for all you do for SFAC and each other. You are truly a special bunch of people, don’t ever stop caring for each other.
Carol Odess, Chelsea, Ala.


FOLLOWING FOR PAGE 2 -- OP-ED./////

Sitkans Called to Join First
March Against Monsanto

By BRETT WILCOX
    Sitka will join some 300 cities and tens of thousands of people around the world in the first global March Against Monsanto. Sitka’s march will be less of a march and more of a ceremony in honor of Monsanto’s victims.
    Why March Against Monsanto?
    The Monsanto Company is currently one of the world’s largest pesticide and seed companies. It is also the largest producer of genetically modified organisms. Genetic modification is based on the idea that God and Mother Nature don’t know what they are doing. And that we human beings, through crude and imprecise laboratory methods, can combine unrelated species, to create life forms that survive and thrive in toxic chemical baths or which generate poisons from within their cells, turning those plants into pesticides, plants which we then eat.
    Monsanto spends millions of dollars telling us their poison-soaked genetically modified crops are safe, healthy, and necessary to feed the world’s ever growing population. The Monsanto-influenced FDA and USDA routinely approve these biotech crops based on Monsanto’s claim that the crops are safe.
    Monsanto also spends millions of dollars making sure their GMO products remain unlabeled. They have even sued companies that label their own products as GMO-free, claiming that such labels stigmatize their own GMO products.
    Monsanto wants you to believe they’re mission is to feed the world’s hungry. Don’t believe them! Monsanto’s mission is to profit from, control, and own food – your food, my food, and the food of the world.
    Prior to getting into agriculture (if poisoning food can be called agriculture), Monsanto specialized in products that sicken and kill people and destroy the environment. These products include PCBs, DDT, and Agent Orange. Monsanto declared those products to be safe as well.
    Responsible for over 50 Superfund sites, Monsanto was once listed as a top U.S. polluters. Monsanto poisoned their own employees with Agent Orange, then manipulated studies to “prove” that Agent Orange does not cause cancer. Those studies helped Monsanto avoid compensation to Vietnam veterans poisoned by Agent Orange. More than 50 years after the Vietnam War, Vietnamese mothers are still giving birth to children with birth defects. Monsanto saturated Anniston, Ala., primarily a poor African American community, in PCBs, resulting in numerous ailments and premature deaths.
    Above all else, Monsanto lies. What else can they do? Telling customers their poisons will kill them is bad for sales.
    We will meet on Friday evenings, May 10, 17, and 24, at 7 p.m. at Centennial Hall to watch Monsanto-related documentaries. We will also hear from Imani Altemus-Williams, a Hawaiian activist and author, on May 17. Bring your friends, your enthusiasm, and your non-GMO snacks. By attending, you’ll be able to answer the question, “Why March Against Monsanto?” And by attending, you’ll learn what we can and must do to stop Monsanto. We must stop Monsanto before Monsanto stops the world.
    March Against Monsanto. 2 p.m. May 25. Castle Hill. Latest updates on Facebook: “March Against Monsanto Sitka.”
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Brett Wilcox is working on a book about Monsanto. He and his son, David, 14, are planning a cross-country run calling attention to genetically modified organisms.

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