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News From Senator Begich; October 25, 2010: Connecting with Alaskans Across the State


Connecting with Alaskans Across the State With Alaskans headed to the polls a week from tomorrow, it was incredible to travel across the state last week and hear what concerns and ideas you have for the future. As always, it was great to meet with dozens of groups and individuals as I visited Sitka, Juneau, Ketchikan, Fairbanks and Homer. Getting a chance to hear firsthand the issues and challenges facing communities is an excellent way to stay focused and in touch with Alaska's needs.

I particularly enjoyed my stop in Sitka on Alaska Day where I got to march in the parade and take part in the re-enactment ceremony commemorating Alaska's purchase from Russia. It is truly a holiday atmosphere as the entire town comes out to celebrate this historic part of our state's history. Spending two days in Fairbanks for the annual Alaska Federation of Natives Convention was another treat as I had the chance to see many old friends and connect with new ones. Fairbanks did an excellent job hosting the convention and making everyone feel welcome.

As Congress resumes in mid-November following the elections, I know we will continue work on a number of key issues including tax reform, an energy plan for the country, and ways to continue to create jobs and rebuild the economy. I look forward to all of that and more, as working each day for Alaska's needs brings great reward and satisfaction.

Digital Signature
Senator Mark Begich

Friendships Renewed at AFN Convention Sen. Begich had a great time catching up with friends at the arts & crafts fair at the annual Alaska Federation of Natives Convention in Fairbanks. Begich addressed the delegates Friday afternoon.

Begich Delivers for Rural Alaska, but Challenges Remain Rural Alaska has benefitted from federal policies and enormous federal assistance over the past year, but huge economic, political and cultural challenges remain. That was Sen. Begich's message to the Alaska Federation of Natives convention Friday in Fairbanks. In his eighth straight year of addressing Alaska's largest convention, Begich said he has worked as a senator to provide Alaska Natives around the state the tools to solve local problems. For example, the Recovery Act is funding millions of dollars worth of sorely needed road, hospital and high-speed Internet improvement projects to the region. Begich was the only member of Alaska's congressional delegation to vote for it, and for permanent reauthorization of the Indian Health Service. The senator reiterated his support for subsistence, for new tools to fight sexual assault and domestic violence and for economic development by Alaska Native corporations and tribes. Begich commended the service of Alaska Native veterans and promised to continue working to address their needs as a member of the Senate Veterans Committee. The senator received a standing ovation for his remarks.

Celebrating Alaska Day in Sitka Sitka Alaska Day

Sen. Begich marched in Sitka's Alaska Day Parade with the local Boy Scouts.

Town Hall in Homer Homer Town Hall

Sen. Begich held a mini town hall at Captain's Coffee in Homer answering questions about taxes, the deficit, the upcoming elections and more.

Back to School in Ketchikan Ketchikan School

Sen. Begich pictured with some student leaders at Ketchikan High School following an all-school assembly where the senator answered questions for the entire student body.

Top Homeless Officials Visit Anchorage at Begich's Request With more than 20 deaths on the streets of Anchorage in or around the homeless community over the past several months, Sen. Begich has secured the assistance of the federal agency which deals with homelessness. At the senator's request, two top officials plan to travel to Anchorage next month to help local leaders address the tragic problem. Begich in September wrote a letter to the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) seeking assistance. In a response earlier this month, the agency called Anchorage's homeless situation "alarming" and said USICH Deputy Director Jennifer Ho and Regional Homelessness Coordinator for HUD Region 10, Paul Carlson, will travel to Anchorage Nov. 30-Dec. 2 to meet with local officials. "I am pleased to learn some of the country's leading experts on homelessness are coming to Anchorage to try to help with the growing crisis around homelessness and death in public places," Begich said. "Perhaps with local, state and federal officials working together, a clear plan of action can move forward to safeguard this population." According to the Municipality of Anchorage, there are an estimated 1,700 people homeless each night in Anchorage, including 400 families with children.

Aboard the NOAA Ship Fairweather NOAA Ship

In Juneau, Sen. Begich toured the NOAA Ship Fairweather which operates in Alaska coastal waters. The Fairweather is designed primarily for hydrographic surveys in support of nautical charting, but is capable of many other missions in support of NOAA programs.

Save the Historic Storis Coast Guard Cutter Rather than send a unique piece of Alaska history to the scrap heap, Sen. Begich has asked U.S. Coast Guard Commandant Robert Papp to delay any transfer of the decommissioned Coast Guard cutter Storis until arrangements can be made for its use as a museum in Juneau. "The STORIS patrolled Alaska waters for 60 years monitoring fisheries and saving lives and, when restored with private funding, would make an appropriate venue to memorialize the Coast Guard's involvement in Alaska history," Begich said. "There would be no more fitting tribute than conveyance of the STORIS for use as a museum in its former home port, a city that attracts one million visitors annually." Language to convey the vessel to the non-profit Storis Museum in Juneau was deleted from the Coast Guard authorization bill passed earlier this year in favor of other administrative procedures for disposing of surplus property.

Coast Guard Cutter Storis USCGC Storis

Sen. Begich is urging the Coast Guard to turn the decommissioned cutter Storis into a museum for its former home port of Juneau.

Begich Accepting Applications for Internships College-age Alaskans interested in internships in Sen. Begich's D.C. or Alaska offices for Spring 2011 can apply now. The deadline for applying is November 10. Click on the following link for the application:

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