PUBLISHED: 5:17 PM on Wednesday, April 2, 2008
Charity and hunter education and music
One victim of the concerns, real or imagined, about our economy is the hundreds of charitable and non-profit organizations in Southeast Alaska who rely heavily on contributions from citizens and businesses to stay afloat.

As folks pull in their horns and cut back on discretionary spending, they're also choosing to donate less.

This includes both large and small businesses. Word is the cruise industry has dramatically cut back on contributions to charities in the state, as well as it's previously voluntary $2 million annual tip to the Alaska tourism Industry Association's annual marketing budget.

While none of us can spend money we don't have, I'd heartily encourage you to keep the contributions at home - and choose to support local charities over those outside Alaska. In many cases, these local charities do not have another option.

Certainly we need to hold them accountable for how they spend the money. But let's take care of the home team.

Sixth graders at Dzantik'i Heeni in Juneau will join their peers at Floyd Dryden in going through three days of hunting, conservation and shooting education this May through the state Hunter Education course.

It is the first time the DZH kids have taken part in the program, designed to teach them both essential safety and conservation rules, and to give them a better appreciation for the role management and hunting have in protecting wildlife and wild habitat.

Thanks to diligent and pursue work by local volunteers led by Ken Coate, and the success of previous courses at Floyd Dryden.

Ken is a great bear of a man with boundless enthusiasm for introducing young people to the outdoors, backed up by real action and the absolute inability to take "No" for an answer.

He's been an ADF&G volunteer instructor for many years. His vision is ultimately that every sixth grader in Alaska receives hunter safety training, so they may be more hunting-aware, active voters when they grow up.

"They are they future," I've heard him say dozens of times.

Amen. And well done.

If you'd like to volunteer to help with the program, contact Ken at

This last week in Hooper Bay Maj. Gen. Craig Campbell, adjutant general of the Alaska National Guard, recognized 10 surviving members of the Alaska Territorial Guard that volunteered and stood watch against Japanese attack during WWII.

More than 6,000 Alaskans volunteers in 1942 for the guard and served with limited training and equipment until 1947.

"On behalf of Gov. Sarah Palin and the people of Alaska, we thank you and your ancestors for outstanding service during World War II."

The essence of being an American has always been the willingness to defend our homeland, regardless of the threat or the demands.

That spirit of citizen service, of stepping up to serve whenever there is a need, is humbling and remarkable. It's gratifying that those citizen soldiers are finally getting recognized for that service.

Good news from the Alaskan seas is that there are fewer fatal accidents among the commercial fleet.

In part this seems to be because of stricter requirements for safety training and equipment and in part it's certainly because of less emphasis on derby-style fishing seasons that force fishermen to fish regardless of weather and sea conditions.

No life lost at sea is any less valuable, and each year the Southeast fleet loses fathers, sons and brothers, as we have already done so this year. Yet this is a glimmer of optimism that there will be fewer of these tragedies in the future.

Occasionally we just miss one.

That's the only good excuse I can offer for us just now mentioning the Alaska Folk Festival that opens next week in Juneau. This is the 34th year of the celebration of mostly-free, all-casual, free-spirited reunion of musical friends and family, which runs April 7-13.

Whether you're blessed with musical talent, just appreciate it, or like me can't carry a tune in a bucket with both hands, the Festival is a uniquely Alaska event.

Watch for more on the event in next week's CCW. And for more details on the Festival this week, see

Lee Leschper is general manager of the Capital City Weekly and advertising director of the Juneau Empire. Email him at