Monday March 22, 2010
I was thrilled to be in Anchorage for the ceremonial start of the 38th Annual Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. I always look forward to coming home for Alaska's Last Great Race and meeting the race fans, canine athletes and mushers.
Sen. Murkowski visits with musher DeeDee Jonrowe at the ceremonial start of the Iditarod.
Sen. Murkowski chats with musher Martin Buser.
Sen. Murkowski and musher John Baker share a laugh.
Congratulations, Lance Mackey!
I congratulate Lance Mackey and his remarkable team on their fourth consecutive win of Alaska's Last Great Race. From cancer, to blowing snow, to frigid temperatures, Lance continues to demonstrate the tenacity and drive needed to win under the toughest of conditions. His team of four-legged athletes has performed exceptionally well, carrying Lance to an historic win - no other musher has won four consecutive Iditarod races. Lance's win continues a tradition of victory begun by his father and brother and places Lance among the greatest competitors in Iditarod history. I send to Lance and his team my very best wishes as he celebrates his hard-earned triumph in this most Alaskan of competitions.
Health Care Update
I was disappointed that the House approved the partisan Senate health care bill, which the President is expected to sign into law as early as tomorrow. Proponents of the partisan health care bill say that the public will like the bill once it is passed. Will they like the fact that Americans will have to pay four years of taxes before they get the benefits? That's like making mortgage payments for four years before you can move into your new home. Will they like that the legislation cuts Medicare by more than $500 billion at a time when the program is slated to go broke in seven years? Will they like a half trillion dollars in new taxes to help pay for a massive government expansion of health care? At a time when the nation's debt has reached historically high levels, and the economy remains in a deep recession with unemployment hovering near 10 percent, this is the wrong bill at the wrong time. At more than $2.6 trillion, the cost of the legislation in its first 10 years of full implementation, we cannot afford it."
Great Alaskan Women Representing America at the Olympics
Alaskans, and the nation, recently cheered on Team USA at the Vancouver Winter Olympics. As part of Women's History Month, I want to recognize and congratulate the four female Alaskan athletes who were part of Team USA. Holly Brooks and Kikkan Randall of Anchorage, Callan Chythlook-Sifsof of Girdwood and Kerry Weiland of Palmer were all fierce competitors, delivering remarkable performances in their events. Their efforts, determination and team spirit helped the U.S. break the overall record for the number of medals won by a country in the Olympics. We are proud of these Alaskan women, who are role models for young girls everywhere.
In addition, these four Alaskan women were joined on Team USA by fellow Alaskans Jay Hakkinen of Kasilof and James Southam of Anchorage. I send my hearty congratulations to these athletes for their performance at the Olympic games.
Three Alaskan Female Aviators Recognized for their World War II Service
(From Top) Ellen Campbell of Juneau, Virginia Wood and Nancy Baker, both of Fairbanks -- Alaska's three WASP veterans.
And while I am talking about Women's History Month, I was pleased to see three Alaska women honored for their service as pilots in World War II. At a ceremony last week in the United States Capitol, the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian honor that can be bestowed by Congress, was awarded to the Women Airforce Service Pilots, or WASP.
A close-up view of the medal awarded to Ellen, Virginia and Nancy.
Ellen Campbell of Juneau attended the medal presentation ceremony along with about 200 other WASP from around the country, and I was thrilled to join Ellen at this special event. The other two Alaskan WASP, Virginia Wood and Nancy Baker, both of Fairbanks, were unable to attend the event but I look forward to presenting medals to them when I visit Fairbanks in early April.
Sen. Murkowski and Ellen Campbell tape an edition of The Alaska Report that will air in May.
Following the award ceremony, Ellen joined me as my guest for a taping of an upcoming edition of The Alaska Report. The WASP Alaska Report will air in May and will also be available on my YouTube page.
Murkowski Welcomes UA System President Mark Hamilton to The Alaska Report
On the most recent edition of The Alaska Report, airing this month, I welcomed UA President Mark Hamilton. President Hamilton, who is retiring, shared his reflections on the accomplishments and growth of the University system under his tenure. President Hamilton spoke on the success of the Alaska Scholars program in attracting high school students to UA system schools. Under President Hamilton's tenure, the number of college-bound students enrolling in the University of Alaska rose from 40 percent 12 years ago, to almost 67 percent today. This increase in Alaskan students choosing to stay in Alaska has yielded great dividends for our state by training and providing the state with a strong work force able to take on positions most needed in Alaska.
Alaska's higher-education system has flourished under President Hamilton's leadership, and I wish him the very best in his retirement.
Sen. Murkowski welcomes University of Alaska President Mark Hamilton to The Alaska Report.
As I was writing my newsletter, I received word this week that Pat Gamble has been named to succeed President Hamilton when he retires in June. I congratulate Pat on his new position and look forward to working with him on the matters facing Alaska's flagship institution of higher learning.
If you miss this edition of The Alaska Report, you can watch it on my official YouTube page.
The Sights and Sounds from Fourth Avenue
Sen. Murkowski visits with Chuck and Corkey Dickson - the King and Queen Regent for the 2010 Fur Rondy - as they take in the Iditarod.
Sen. Murkowski with Lt Gen Dana Atkins and his wife, Laura. Lt Gen Atkins is Commander of Alaskan Command at Elmendorf Air Force Base.
Sen. Murkowski with the Cats in the Hat. The National Education Association of Alaska partnered with musher Hugh Neff to promote reading on the trail. During the race, Neff took a copy of The Cat in the Hat on his sled to Nome.
Russ and Renee Wilmot share a smile with Sen. Murkowski on Fourth Avenue.
Sen. Murkowski with the Carroll Family take in some fun at the Iditarod.
Chas St. George, Public Relations Director for the Iditarod, poses with Sen. Murkowski.
Back in the Saddle
Following a knee injury that sidelined her for most of the 2009 season, Sen. Murkowski recently took to the slopes at Alyeska and picked up where she left off last season.