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Pebble Fund provides grants to mine area

The Pebble Fund is awarding 32 community grants totaling nearly $1 million in Southwest Alaska near the controversial Pebble copper-and-gold-mine prospect.

The fund is endowed by the Pebble Partnership, a joint venture of the two mining companies hoping to develop a mine. Development has been opposed by commercial fishing interests in nearby Bristol Bay, among others. The Alaska Community Foundation is overseeing the grants, which are expected to reach $5 million over the next few years.

The grants included money to expand an elder food bank for Naknek, South Naknek and King Salmon; to buy elliptical cross trainers and treadmills for community use in those same towns; to help build a health clinic in Chignik Bay; to pay for a "cultural awareness trip" to San Diego for the entire Chignik Lagoon School; to train firefighters in Aleknagik; to help build a community center in Egegik; to buy a vehicle that can transport elders to community meetings and events in Nondalton; and to build a community greenhouse and chicken cooperative in Igiugig, among many other grants. A full list can be found at adn.com/pebbleblog.

About half of the grants were for about $25,000. The smallest grant -- $1,000 -- will buy music, repair instruments and replace strings for the Perryville school. The largest grant -- $175,098 -- will help the Lake & Peninsula School District raise high school graduation rates and employability of students.