• Thumbs up to professional app developer Simon Roberts, a Tlingit and Haida man who lives on Prince of Wales Island, for creating a Tlingit language smartphone app. And another thumbs up to the experts, elders and entities assisting in the effort. The preservation of culture is vital and language is an integral part of getting there. Roberts is working with his grandma, Alicia Roberts, and University of Alaska Southeast Native languages professor Lance Twitchell, among others, on developing and recording the app. When it’s complete, the app called “Southern Tlingit 1,” will be available for free download in the iPhone and Android app stores.
• Thumbs down to the acoustic problems — specifically the flutter echoes, as they are called — that exist in the mental health wing at Bartlett Regional Hospital. With sensitive patients, having one more complication must be challenging for nurses, caregivers and doctors, not to mention the patients themselves. And thumbs down to the high price tag for the fix. We urge the administration to keep exploring options that may be more cost effective.
• In contrast, thumbs up to staff at Bartlett, including people like Jennifer Brown, the director of the mental health unit and the director of Rainforest Recovery who have acted on feedback from patients. “We want to promote a nice healing environment for patients,” she said in an article published this week. “It’s a great unit, it’s a safe unit, it’s a clean unit, but we think we could improve the healing aspect of it.”
• Thumbs up to this year’s record fishing season in Southeast Alaska in which commercial fishermen hauled in more than one million salmon for the first time ever. According to a story we ran in Friday’s edition of the Empire, “coho have returned to Southeast in the highest numbers since 1994, leading the troll fishery to almost double last year’s catch. Purse seiners have topped their previous overall salmon catch record by more than 10 million. Gillnetters’ top three years on record are the last three, with this year the highest. Pink salmon have also returned to Southeast in record numbers, trollers have caught more chum than they have since statehood, and the season isn’t over yet.” Good fishing like this can only continue with careful and proactive management techniques, as well as adherence to those guidelines.
• While most salmon species seem to be doing well, a thumbs down to the declining numbers of king salmon, not only in Southeast Alaska, but also in the rest of the state. It’s no secret the size and overall number of these tasty and tenacious fish has trended downward. In some rivers and regions of Alaska, the lack of fish is staggering. We are concerned and hope the problem can be solved.