Articles written by Mackenzie Stewart


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  • Senate hears testimony on Pioneer Home rates bill

    Mackenzie Stewart, Senior Voice|Mar 1, 2020

    This article is a follow-up to the Feb. 2020 edition story “Pioneer Home residents file lawsuit over rate increases.” On Nov. 4, 2019, a lawsuit was filed against Alaska Pioneer Homes Director Clinton Lasley, Commissioner of the Dept. of Health and Social Services (DHSS) Adam Crum, Alaska State Governor Michael J. Dunleavy and the State of Alaska on behalf of Alaska Pioneer Home residents Eileen Casey of Ketchikan, Marion and Howard Rider of Juneau and all Pioneer Home residents. The lawsuit is in response to the state’s recent decision to im...

  • Pioneer Home residents file lawsuit over rate increases

    Mackenzie Stewart, Senior Voice|Feb 1, 2020

    On Nov. 4, 2019, a lawsuit was filed against Alaska Pioneer Homes Director Clinton Lasley, Commissioner of the Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) Adam Crum, Alaska State Governor Michael J. Dunleavy and the State of Alaska on behalf of Alaska Pioneer Home residents Eileen Casey of Ketchikan, Marion and Howard Rider of Juneau and all Pioneer Home residents. The lawsuit is in response to the state’s recent decision to implement an extreme rate increase, a move that is considered a financial necessity by Lasley and other state o...

  • Fairbanks-based ADRC serves vast northern area

    Mackenzie Stewart, Senior Voice|Feb 1, 2020

    Alaska's vast geographic space dictates more than its beauty. In the case of the statewide Aging and Disability Resource Centers (ADRC) it determines access and the providing of services for Alaskans with disabilities and for seniors and caregivers seeking long term support in their community. From Cantwell to the south and Utqiagvik to the north, Galena to the west and Northway to the east, ADRC North operates out of Fairbanks Senior Center and strives to match individuals living in the...

  • Expert offers advice on cutting down clutter

    Mackenzie Stewart, Senior Voice|Feb 1, 2020

    It’s silent. It’s sneaky. Suddenly, clutter is there. Clutter is all around us in our modern lives and is a growing problem. According to the National Self-Storage Association, one out of every 11 people in the United States rent storage space during a given year, including off-site units and storage pods stored in a homeowner’s yard, meaning not only can clutter invade your home, but can even outgrow it. Whether you’re looking to regain momentum on a New Year’s resolution, optimize and organize your living space, or bravely part ways with...

  • Resource Center serves Southeast Alaska seniors

    Mackenzie Stewart, Senior Voice|Dec 1, 2019

    Alaska's vast geographic space dictates more than its beauty-- in the case of the statewide Aging and Disability Resource Centers (ADRC) it determines access and the providing of services for Alaskans with disabilities and seniors and caregivers seeking long term support in their community. In Southeast Alaska, the ADRC operates within Southeast Alaska Independent Living, Inc. (SAIL). Originally solely an independent living center serving people with disabilities of all ages, SAIL took on the...

  • Senior Benefits restored; Pioneer Homes rates go up

    Mackenzie Stewart, Senior Voice|Sep 1, 2019

    After a legislative session of extreme budget fluctuations, the Alaska Pioneer Homes and the Senior Benefits program are the next state-funded senior assistance programs to see a shift in funding. Alaska Pioneer Homes rate increase Starting Sept. 1, the Alaska Pioneer Homes (AKPH) will be increasing monthly rates for residents. Clinton Lasley, Alaska Pioneer Homes director, stresses that rate increases do not mean that residents - both current and those subjected to the waitlist - will be turned away for an inability to pay. The Dept. of...

  • Genealogy events around Alaska

    Mackenzie Stewart, Senior Voice|Sep 1, 2019

    With easily accessible DNA testing and massive online databases, it’s never been simpler to trace your past, and the plethora of genealogical resources available around the state can lend an extra hand when tracking down ancestors. The Anchorage Genealogical Society (AGS) promotes and teaches genealogy through monthly meetings, workshops and classes. Meetings are free and open to the public and take place the third Wednesday of every month at the BP Energy Center from 7 to 8:45 p.m. Beginner classes commence in September and take place at t...

  • Full impact of budget cuts remains to be seen

    Mackenzie Stewart, Senior Voice|Aug 1, 2019

    On June 28, Governor Dunleavy shocked the state by cutting $440 million from the legislature’s proposed operating budget for FY20, a 182 line item veto that devastated funding for crucial social services and programs such as the Senior Benefits Program, the Homeless Assistance Program, Medicaid and Dental Services, a host of Behavioral Health Treatment and Recovery grants in addition to cutting 40% of funding for the University of Alaska system. Starting July 1, funds promised to Senior Benefits beneficiaries disappeared without warning and p...

  • Discovering Alaska's many mushrooms

    Mackenzie Stewart, Senior Voice|Aug 1, 2019

    Late summer and early fall mean mushrooms abound across Alaska. With over 97,000 identified species, mushrooms are second to insects in species diversity. From science and discovery to crafting and photography, mushroom hunting in National Forests, state parks and even your own backyard allows anyone to foster a greater appreciation for Alaska's natural fungi. Getting started To become a seasoned mushroom hunter, one must first do their research, says Kate Mohatt, an ecologist for the Forest...

  • Budget cuts take toll on assistance programs

    Mackenzie Stewart, Senior Voice|Jun 1, 2019

    Years of declining oil prices and increased spending of state funds came to a head for a number of state-subsidized senior assistance programs this legislative season. After taking office in Dec. 2018, Gov. Dunleavy’s proposed operating budget for FY20 sought to match state revenue to state expenses and asked Alaskans to look at the hard truth of the financial situation the state is currently facing. While a fiscally responsible budget is desired, programs that benefit low-income seniors in need, such as the Office of the Long Term Care O...

  • Mental health resources for Alaska veterans

    Mackenzie Stewart, Senior Voice|May 1, 2019

    A lot is asked of our men and women in the military, whether active duty or those who have achieved veteran status. Per their service, they are required to constantly relocate, every three to four years depending on military branch. They must deploy to faraway places for training and service abroad, spending weeks and months without those closest to them. Every day, they are asked to perform mentally and physically, with strength and stamina. They are, in principle, dissuaded from showing weakness. They are soldiers. They are warriors. They...

  • A resource for Alaskans with brain injuries

    Mackenzie Stewart, Senior Voice|Feb 1, 2019

    While slipping on ice may be a common affair during the slick, wintry months of the new year, falls are the leading cause of traumatic brain injuries (TBI) in Alaska, according to the Alaska Brain Injury Network (ABIN). “Falls that result in a TBI occur across all age groups, but we definitely see a lot of this in the older population,” said Julie Davies, resource coordinator and executive director of ABIN. “With the ice and weather, a lot of people slip and fall, banging their head. Most think that if you don’t lose consciousness, you don’t n...

  • Senior centers assess after riding out earthquake

    Mackenzie Stewart, Senior Voice|Jan 1, 2019

    A magnitude 7.0 earthquake took Southcentral Alaskans by surprise the morning of Nov. 30, 2018. The quake is the second largest the area has seen since the Good Friday earthquake of 1964, a magnitude 9.2 quake that destroyed parts of Anchorage, sunk trees into the earth and killed over 125 people statewide. Wild tales of the most recent shake abound for many, with seniors that survived the Good Friday earthquake making comparisons between the two. Senior centers across the region and the seniors they serve responded to the most recent disaster...

  • Christmas bird counters wanted this month

    Mackenzie Stewart, Senior Voice|Dec 1, 2018

    The National Audubon Society’s 119th Christmas Bird Count will be conducted between the dates of Dec. 14, 2018 and January 5, 2019. The Christmas Bird Count (CBC) is a long-standing program of the National Audubon Society. Since the count began over a century ago, Audubon Society has relied on the dedication and commitment of volunteers to conduct its early winter bird census across the U.S., Canada and many countries in the Western Hemisphere. Each count takes place in an established 15-mile wide diameter circle and is organized by a count c...

  • Heating assistance program opens Oct. 1

    Mackenzie Stewart, Senior Voice|Oct 1, 2018

    The Heating Assistance Program (HAP) is designed to promote the general welfare and safeguard the health and well-being of Alaskans by​ offsetting the cost of home heating for eligible Alaskan residents. HAP assists households with income at or below 150 percent of the federal poverty income guidelines, who have a minimum of $200 in out-of-pocket heating costs per year, and meet all other eligibility criteria. The benefit is a one-time payment to the household’s vendor, sent to the vendor, and applied to the customer’s account as a credi...

  • Alaska International Senior Games begin Aug. 10 in Fairbanks

    Mackenzie Stewart, Senior Voice|Aug 1, 2018

    The 2018 Alaska International Senior Games (AISG), held August 10-19 in Fairbanks, will kick off with the Opening Ceremonies and Gala Games at Pioneer Park's Alaska Centennial Center for the Arts on August 10, 6 p.m. The annual torch lighting ceremony sets the tone for AISG's 65 events, including 20 different sports ranging from team sports like basketball and tennis to individual sports like swimming and archery. "All athletes over 90 will have a torch in the torch lighting ceremony," said...

  • An extension and boost for state's Senior Benefits Program

    Mackenzie Stewart, Senior Voice|Jun 1, 2018

    Editor's note: This story in our print edition included an error regarding the timeline of these Senior Benefits Program changes. In the second to last paragraph, the date should have read July 1, 2019, not 2018. Fairbanks’ Senior Recognition Day, an event to honor Alaskans 65 years and older as part of Older Americans Month, included an additional celebratory event this year - the official signing into law of House Bill 236, otherwise known as the Senior Benefits Program extension bill, by Governor Walker. As of May 10, the program will be ext...

  • Memorial celebrates late Alaskan filmmaker

    Mackenzie Stewart, Senior Voice|May 1, 2018

    Emmy award-winning Alaskan filmmaker William (Bill) Bacon III, headed North to the Last Frontier in 1946, making a living as a cinematographer and photographer for over 50 years. An animal trainer and cinematographer for Walt Disney Productions until the mid-1960s (Charlie the Lonesome Cougar; Nikki, Wild Dog of the North; King of the Grizzlies and more), he began making his own documentaries in the late-1990s, including Tibet: A Moment in Time and Tibet Hope, films that focused on the exile of...

  • Donated dental services for Fairbanks-area seniors

    Mackenzie Stewart, Senior Voice|Apr 1, 2018

    Donated Dental Services (DDS), a Dental Lifeline program, provides free dental services for qualifying seniors and those with disabilities in the Fairbanks and North Pole area. In order to be eligible, the patient must have exhausted all other insurance resources and be able to provide documentation for lack of adequate funds, said Sue Lear, DDS Coordinator. “Dental insurance through Medicaid must be used first,” said Lear. “Although this is a last resort program, as the dentists are all working on a volunteer basis, our goal is to help as ma...

  • House votes to extend Senior Benefits program

    Mackenzie Stewart, Senior Voice|Mar 1, 2018

    HB 236, the House bill seeking to extend the sunset date for the Alaska Senior Benefits Program, was approved by the House of Representatives 35-1 on Feb. 7 and is currently waiting to be reviewed by the Senate Finance Committee. The program supports nearly 11,400 seniors statewide, according to a figure from the Alaska Commission on Aging (ACoA), but without an extension of the sunset clause will end on July 1, 2018. In the January 2018 issue of Senior Voice, Denise Daniello, Executive Director of the ACoA, stated the importance of advocacy...

  • Alaska Commission on Aging meets, hosts joint advocacy event

    Mackenzie Stewart, Senior Voice|Feb 1, 2018

    The Alaska Commission on Aging (ACoA) will meet February 5-9 in Juneau for a face to-face board meeting that will include meetings with legislators and their staff as well as visits to rural communities in Southeast Alaska. In addition, the commission is hosting the “Partnering in Advocacy for Alaska Seniors” as a special joint advocacy meeting bringing in representatives from various senior advocacy organizations including AgeNet, the Pioneer Home Advisory Board, and AARP Alaska. This unique event, scheduled for the morning of Feb. 6, will off...

  • Celebrating a special Alaska Day milestone

    Mackenzie Stewart, Senior Voice|Oct 1, 2017

    Every year, Sitka hosts the Alaska Day Festival, and 2017’s theme, "Sesquicentennial of the Treaty of Cession," marks the 150th anniversary of the transfer of Alaska from Russia to the United States on Oct. 18, 1867. Starting Oct. 10, official greeters dressed in 1860s garb will greet visitors at the Sitka Rocky Gutierrez Airport. “We’re expecting more tourists this year,” said Ted Allio, chairman of the Alaska Day Festival Committee. “We have a new hotel, so there’s plenty of room for people to visit.” This year’s festivities include everyth...

  • Juneau takes another look at senior sales tax breaks

    Mackenzie Stewart, Senior Voice|Sep 1, 2017

    Juneau seniors may pay less at the cash register as the Juneau Assembly seeks to expand the list of essential items included in the city’s senior citizen sales tax exemption. Assembly member and ordinance sponsor, Mary Becker, hopes that including necessities like toilet paper, paper towels and facial tissue, personal items like shampoo, soap, and toothpaste and prepared food items to the list of essentials already exempt from the tax will increase essential services for seniors. “We decided we need to expand exempted items to make it more pal...

  • Serious fun and games in Fairbanks

    Mackenzie Stewart, Senior Voice|Aug 1, 2017

    The 2017 Alaska International Senior Games (AISG), held Aug. 11 through 21 in Fairbanks, will kick off with the Opening Ceremonies and Gala Games at Pioneer Park Civic Center on Aug. 11, 6 p.m. The annual torch lighting ceremony sets the tone for AISG's 65 events, including 20 different sports ranging from team sports like basketball and tennis to individual sports like track and field and cycling. "The Opening Ceremonies will also have puzzles, thinking games and fabulous food," added Diann...

  • Center is a lifeline for Southeast caregivers

    Mackenzie Stewart, Senior Voice|Jul 1, 2017

    After the National Family Caregiver Support Act was passed by U.S. Congress in 2000, the Senior and Caregiver Resource Center based in Juneau began offering caregiver-specific resources to elders and their families throughout Southeast Alaska. As per the Act, the center provides five different levels of service: 1) information, 2) assistance, 3) counseling, training and support groups, 4) respite care and 5) supplemental services, according to Marianne Mills, Southeast Senior Services (SESS)...

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