Air National Guard Volunteers Assist at Alaska Kitchen > U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE > Story

Since mid-August, Alaska Air National Guardsmen assigned to the 176th Force Support Flight Sustainment Services, who are local to the Matanuska-Susitna Borough area, have been volunteering their time to assist the Five Loaves, Two Fish Kitchen in Wasilla, Alaska.

“As a force in readiness, the relevancy of the National Guard increases through the flexibility of these Airmen,” said Air Force Master Sgt. Franz Deters, the senior noncommissioned officer in charge of the volunteer effort.

The kitchen relies on donations from the Food Bank and other foundations to prepare quality meals for local Mat-Su residents in need. The organization employs only one professional chef, Air Force veteran Mike Gordon, and the rest of the staff is completely made up of unpaid volunteers. The kitchen is next door to Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, whose kitchen committee heads up the operation.

“When the guard started volunteering here, we were very short staffed,” said Duane Hanson, one of the kitchen’s dedicated civilian volunteers. “Their work here has kept us on track in our efforts to help as many people as we can.”

The airmen work twice a week for three hours each day, preparing about 600 meals per month.



We get to help Alaskan citizens, filling in at a time when there are fewer available volunteers, all while getting training that allows us to gain additional experience in our jobs that we do for the guard.”

Air Force Master Sgt. Franz Deters, Alaska Air National Guard

The airmen are certified in food handling, with years of experience cooking in the Air Guard. They have been assisting the kitchen in food preparation, which consists of peeling, cutting, dicing and cooking various food items, before being put into sealed packages.

“I take pride in the fact that I work with a team that never says ‘It’s not my job,'” Deters said. “I work with men and women who will volunteer to go where they can have the biggest impact.”

According to Deters, this unique volunteer opportunity to serve the local community also helps his team meet mission essential training requirements for their work in service career fields for military service.

“We get to help Alaskan citizens, filling in at a time when there are fewer available volunteers, all while getting training that allows us to gain additional experience in our jobs that we do for the guard,” Deters said. “It’s really a win-win.”

Good Shepherd Pastor Rick Cavens, retired Alaska National Guard chaplain, oversees the kitchen staff. The kitchen provides meals to My House Homeless Teens Resource Center, Knik House and Family Promise. Recently, the kitchen started a meal program for Mat-Su School District families, with the intention of providing a food portion big enough to feed an entire family.

“I have two extended families, my church and my military family,” Cavens said. “The National Guard has offered a tremendous helping hand during this difficult time of uncertainty. We’re very thankful for their hard work and dedication to helping the local community.”

(Army Sgt.

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Executives seeking Pebble Mine detail their sway over politicians from Alaska to White House

A direct line to the White House, but routed through a third party to hide it from public view. Easy access to Alaska’s governor, as well as the state’s two U.S. senators. A successful push to unseat nine Republican state lawmakers who opposed their plan to build a massive gold and copper mine — the biggest in North America — near Bristol Bay in Alaska.

Those were some of the boasts, made by two top executives of a company trying to build the Pebble Mine, in videotapes secretly recorded by an environmental group and made public this week. It was a rare glimpse into the private discussions surrounding the company’s heated campaign to win federal permits for the project, which environmentalists say will destroy a pristine part of Alaska and devastate its world-famous sockeye salmon fishery.

The conversations were secretly recorded over the past month and a half by the nonprofit Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA). Posing as potential investors in the mine, EIA investigators conducted video calls in which the mine’s sponsors detailed how they sought to curry favor with elected politicians from Juneau to Washington, D.C.

The tapes feature separate conversations with two key men behind the project: Roland Thiessen, chief executive of the Canadian-based Northern Dynasty Minerals, and Tom Collier, chief executive of its U.S. subsidiary, Pebble Limited Partnership.

Within a matter of weeks, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers could grant a permit for the mine. While the agency found in late July that the project would have “no measurable effect” on the area’s fish populations, last month it informed Pebble Limited Partnership that it had to do more to show how it would offset the damage caused by the operation.

But even as the executives jump through regulatory hoops, they are focused on wooing Republican politicians. In the taped conversations, they detailed their plan to manage all the decision-makers.

Thiessen described both of the state’s Republican U.S. senators, Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, as politicians who might make noises about the project to appear sensitive to environmental concerns but ultimately will not stand in their way. “It’s an age-old practice where when you have constituents, you have important people who support you on two sides of an issue, all right, you try to find a way to satisfy them both,” he said in the recording.

He noted that Murkowski declined to move a bill that would have barred the federal government from permitting the mine. Instead, she included language in a spending bill that raised some questions about Pebble Mine but did not hinder it. “She says things that don’t sound supportive of Pebble, but when it comes time to vote, when it comes time to do something, she never does anything to hurt Pebble, OK?” Thiessen said.

She says things that don’t sound supportive of Pebble, but when it comes time to vote, when it comes time to do something, she never does anything to hurt Pebble, OK?”
— Roland Thiessen, CEO of Northern Dynasty

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Momentum brings dance to the Alaska Botanical Garden

Dancers with Momentum Dance Collective performed at the Alaska Botanical Garden on Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 20-21. The pathway performance “Sugar & Salt” was held in collaboration with The Forest That Never Sleeps, a project of Anchorage musician Kat Moore, whose music was broadcast on 106.1 KONR radio during each of shows. People could also watch the performances online.

“We’ve done a lot of work in unusual spaces and nontraditional theatre spaces. We really like bringing dance into the community,” said executive artistic director and dancer Becky Kendall. “This year was a little different because we had to think very differently not about where we were dancing, but about how people were watching.”

Momentum Dance Collective, now in its 13th year, had scheduled a piece for a stage performance in April.

“When that didn’t happen we had to rethink what a show meant, and we had to rethink what the content would be because the world changed,” Kendall said.

Audience wore masks as the watched Irenerose Castillo danced during Sugar & Salt at the Alaska Botanical Garden on Sunday. (Bill Roth / ADN)

“It’s a version of what we were thinking of doing in April,” added Irenerose Casillo. “With the pandemic and people having to be careful with where they are and how they experience things, I thought, maybe we dance on a path. We feel safe at home, we feel safe outside, so why don’t we bring those elements together on this pathway.”

Dancers with Momentum Dance Collective performed live and virtually at the Alaska Botanical Garden on Sunday. (Bill Roth / ADN)

Dancers from left, Beth Daly Gamble, Stephanie Stepp, and Amy Kofoid with Momentum Dance Collective performed live and virtually at the Alaska Botanical Garden on Sunday. (Bill Roth / ADN)

Kir Moore and Huey Worrell watched the dance performance on Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020. (Bill Roth / ADN)

Dancer Courtney Meneses performs with Momentum Dance Collective at the Alaska Botanical Garden on Sunday. (Bill Roth / ADN)

Irenerose Casillo and Becky Kendall of Momentum Dance Collective dance during the pathway performance of Sugar & Salt at the Alaska Botanical Garden on Sunday. (Bill Roth / ADN)

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