ANCHORAGE, Alaska– Gov. Sarah Palin gave an update on her administration’s efforts to help struggling villages in her first major news conference since the start of the Legislative Session.
The governor said again she’s willing to travel to rural villages, but some villagers are wondering when that’s going to happen.
Palin says members of her staff have taken a number of trips to the remote village of Emmonak, but at least one lawmaker has said he would like to see less talk and more action.
Palin laid out her plans to solve the crisis in western Alaska, which includes extending the moose hunting season, and expanding heating fuel assistance deliveries.
“People can have more of that healthy abundant protein that is out there,” Palin said. “They can hunt, and that’s a big darn deal. We need to remember the plight out there especially in western Alaska, did not happen over night so the solutions to these problems will not be found overnight either.”
But Palin critic Rep. Jay Ramras, R-Fairbanks, says not enough is being done now.
“She kept referencing Emmonak and its 11 communities in western Alaska,” Ramras said. “It’s a lot deeper than Emmonak. I’d like to hear an action plan to get the food to western Alaska now.”
Emmonak villagers say food drops from a few weeks ago have helped.
“The people that responded and tried to do something about what’s happening here and other villages I think that above all says people do care,” village resident Nicholas Tucker said. “I think that’s most important to us.”
On Wednesday, Palin announced she’s willing travel to Emmonak, but no plans have been made as to when that might happen.
“We’re doing a lot here in Emmonak and in fact we’ve had staff members out there three times now making sure the residents who are hurting understand what the government programs are,” Palin said.
“It’s been over a month, and I would think she would have done everything she could within that time knowing the problems of the villages,” Ramras said.
Down in Seattle some restaurants are trying to market chum salmon to their patrons in an effort to help people from western Alaska make more money.