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Governor Calls for Greater Law Enforcement Presence in Villages

October 13, 2009, Bethel, Alaska - With a focus on revitalizing the Village Public Safety Officer (VPSO) program, Governor Sean Parnell today called for a greater partnership between the state and communities to increase training, recruiting and retention efforts. Of the 71 funded VPSO positions, only 52 are filled.

"I want to see a far greater and more meaningful law enforcement presence in the villages," Governor Parnell said. "I'm asking for your help in identifying solid prospects for these law enforcement positions."

Speaking at the Association of Village Council Presidents' 45th annual convention in Bethel, the governor also addressed fisheries and energy issues.

"I understand and see the hardship rural Alaskans experience as a result of poor chinook salmon runs," Governor Parnell said. "Families lack food for the winter and incomes are stretched even thinner."

Governor Parnell recently sent a second letter to Commerce Secretary Gary Locke requesting swift action in declaring a fishery disaster due to poor returns of chinook salmon on the Yukon River. The state is working to provide better in-season assessment and management and more opportunities to harvest other species during times of weak chinook runs. An extension of a special subsistence season for moose hunting is also being considered.

The Division of Community and Regional Affairs (DCRA) recently launched a massive effort to communicate with every community in Alaska that does not have road access to fuel deliveries to ensure they have adequate fuel supplies to weather the winter.

By the end of September, DCRA staff placed nearly 1,200 phone calls to reach out to 583 entities in 193 communities located off the road system, successfully contacting more than 90 percent. Of that number, nearly 83 percent reported that they had either received their winter supply of fuel, or are in their normal delivery schedule. Work continues with other communities to ensure deliveries of fuel by air are scheduled.

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