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[Saturday January 31st, 2015 6th EDITION 9:20 P. M.]

Small plane collides with aircraft in Mat-Su Valley
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The Alaska Department of Public Safety says officials have found two separate wreckage sites in the Mat-Su Valley after responding to reports that a single-engine plane collided with another aircraft.

A statement issued Saturday afternoon says pilots of both planes were found alive. One had serious injuries while the other pilot was moderately injured.

One airplane has been determined to be an Alaska Wildlife Trooper fixed-wing aircraft. It is undetermined what type of plane the other aircraft is.

The department says one of the pilots had to be extricated and was transported via LifeMed to Providence Hospital in Anchorage. No passengers were on board either aircraft.

FAA spokesman Ian Gregor says the collision happened at around 1 p.m. Saturday southwest of Wasilla. The circumstances of the collision are unknown.

USGS: No problems from series of Alaska earthquakes
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The U.S. Geological Survey says there have been a series of Alaska earthquakes in the Bering Sea.

There was a magnitude-5.3 temblor Saturday morning centered about 6 miles under the Bering Sea. It was about 57 miles southeast of the City of Saint Paul and about 752 miles southwest of Anchorage.

Geophysicist John Bellini says the remote area has seen four earthquakes of various sizes in the last 24 hours.

There have been no reports of the quake being felt or causing any damage or injuries.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says there is no tsunami threat.

Anchorage fraternity investigated for sexual harassment
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A fraternity at the University of Alaska Anchorage is under investigation for sexual harassment.

Alaska Dispatch News reports the university has temporarily suspended Tau Kappa Epsilon from hosting on-campus recruitment activities as it investigates reports of sexual harassment.

University Director of Campus Diversity and Compliance Marva Watson says female students on Monday reported fraternity members made derogatory comments about the women's physical appearances.

Tau Kappa Epsilon's president declined to comment. TKE International Fraternity Chief Information Officer Alex Baker says the organization has started its own investigation into the allegations.

Tau Kappa Epsilon is one of two active fraternities at University of Alaska Anchorage.

Man gets 40 years in prison for Anchorage mall shooting
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A man convicted of murder in a shooting at Alaska's busiest mall has been sentenced to 40 years in prison.

KTUU reports Terence Gray was sentenced Friday to 50 years with 10 years suspended in the death of Edwing Matos. A jury found Gray guilty of second-degree murder in the 2010 shooting at Anchorage's Dimond Center.

Prosecutors say the shooting involved a dispute over a stolen video game console.

Gray's public defender says the shooting was an act of self-defense.

 

Alaska might not be able to afford generous film subsidies
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Gov. Bill Walker says low oil prices could prevent Alaska from being able to afford to dole out generous film subsidies.

The director of the Alaska Film Office warns television and film producers that their subsidy applications will probably be rejected because the state is facing a critical budget deficit.

KTUU reports it's not clear how big-budget submarine thriller "Hunter Killer" will be affected. Pre-production was expected to begin this month in Whittier. Producers have said the subsidy factored in the decision to film in Alaska.

Walker said Friday no decision has been made to stop the program.

Revenue Commissioner Randy Hoffbeck says subsidy applications will be accepted for review but film credits will have to be weighed against Alaska's $3.5 billion spending deficit.

UPDATE:  The Juneau 12th Man Super Bowl pic
Juneau residents broke out the blue and showed their Seahawks pride this morning on the Capitol building steps for the Juneau 12th Man Super Bowl pic! Search Juneau 12th Man on Facebook for more information and pictures from the event.

Event organizer Lisa Tourteloot told News of the North, "We had probably 100 to 150 people that came out, it was very cold, it was very windy. But people people brought their flags, and their banners, and dressed in all their finery. We had everything from little kids to the elderly, so it was a fabulous turnout and we had a great time."



 

Wind warning downtown Juneau and Douglas
The National Weather Service says there's a high wind warning from 3PM today through 6AM Monday morning for downtown Juneau and Douglas which could see 25 to 35 mph winds with gusts up to 60 mph, otherwise it's mostly clear skies today with highs 30 to 35.

Comment period extended for Arctic ringed seal habitat
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — The public has an extra three weeks to comment on a proposal to designate critical habitat for Arctic ringed seals.

The National Marine Fisheries Service said Friday that it was extending the comment deadline from March 9 to March 31.

The proposed designation would identify sea ice in the northern Bering, Chukchi and Beaufort seas as critical for ringed seal pupping, nursing and other activities.

Under the Endangered Species Act, federal agencies would be required to consider whether actions they authorize, fund or carry out would adversely affect the ice, and ringed seals, if the designation is made. According to a release from the agency, such a designation would not impact subsistence activities.

Aurora sailings cancelled
Due to high winds, heavy seas and freezing spray forecast in Lynn Canal, MV Aurora sailings for Sunday, Feb. 1 are cancelled.

Additional information will be provided as necessary.  AMHS staff is contacting affected passengers.

For schedule information, please visit FerryAlaska.com or contact your local terminal by dialing 1-907-465-3941 or toll-free at 1-800-642-0066.

Wash. temporarily renaming ferries for Seahawks players
SEATTLE (AP) — If your Super Bowl plans on Sunday include travel on Washington state ferries, you can step aboard the "M/V Russell Wilson" or possibly the "M/V Marshawn Lynch."

Gov. Jay Inslee has directed that the ferries be temporarily renamed in honor of the Seattle Seahawks.

Ferry system director Lynne Griffith says fans appreciated last year's "symbolic renaming of the fleet." And she notes the team went on to win that big game.

The state Transportation Department has 24 vessels in its fleet. On Sunday, each will be renamed for a Seahawks team member.

Seattle's Chancellor falls in practice but probable for game
TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — Strong safety Kam Chancellor was a new addition to the Seattle Seahawks injury report on Friday but is probable for Sunday's game against New England.

Chancellor fell near the goal line on the second-to-last play of Friday's practice according to the pool report. He walked off the field without a limp, but left the practice facility with a wrap on his left knee.

The rest of Seattle's injured players were all listed as probable for Sunday, including All-Pros Earl Thomas (shoulder) and Richard Sherman (elbow).

Seattle's last full practice took place inside the bubble at Arizona State University because of rain. Seattle was forced inside for more than half of its practice on Thursday because of the weather. Attendees at the practice included former Seattle owner John Nordstrom, former Seahawks quarterback Jim Zorn and rapper Snoop Dogg, who brought his youth football team from Los Angeles.

The Seahawks will have a walkthrough on Saturday morning followed by the team photo at the stadium.

Goodell: Pats could be penalized even if no competitive edge
PHOENIX (AP) — Commissioner Roger Goodell says that even if no competitive advantage was gained, the New England Patriots could face increased penalties if the NFL investigation finds they violated rules by deflating footballs in the AFC championship game.

Goodell says at his annual pre-Super Bowl news conference Friday: "We have rules. We're a league of rules."

The league appointed lawyer Ted Wells to look into what happened to the Patriots' footballs during the 45-7 victory over the Colts that sent New England to the Super Bowl.

Patriots owner Robert Kraft has said he expects the investigation to determine his team did nothing wrong — and he expects an apology from the NFL.

Providence and Seattle mayors to make Super Bowl bet
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — The mayors of Providence, Rhode Island, and Seattle will be making a Super Bowl bet.

Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza and Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, both Democrats, are scheduled to announce the details of their wager during a conference call Friday afternoon.

The New England Patriots will take on the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX, which kicks off at 6:30 p.m. Sunday at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. The Patriots play their home games in Foxborough, Massachusetts, only about 10 miles from the Rhode Island line.

Elorza is a lawyer, professor and former housing court judge who's in his first term as mayor. Murray is a former Washington state lawmaker who's also in his first mayoral term.

Washington lawmakers celebrate Seahawks ahead of Super Bowl
OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — The Washington state Senate passed a resolution honoring the Seattle Seahawks as they prepare to play the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLIX.

The resolution was passed Friday, and many lawmakers on the floor were wearing Seahawks jerseys, scarves and hats. At least two lawmakers are attending the game in Phoenix, Democratic Sen. Mark Mullet and Republican Sen. Joe Fain. Both wore jerseys under their suit jackets on the Senate floor.

In addition to citing the team's accomplishments and dramatic comeback win during the NFC championship game, the resolution proclaimed that Washington would be renamed Hawkington until Monday.

Outside the building, Gov. Jay Inslee led a cheering crowd on the Capitol steps in a "moment of loudness." Inslee is traveling to Arizona this weekend to attend the game with his wife, Trudi.

Goodell: No decision yet on discipline for Lynch
PHOENIX (AP) — The NFL won't decide on any discipline for Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch until after the Super Bowl, commissioner Roger Goodell said at his Super Bowl news conference Friday.

Lynch has kept all his media appearances this week to five minutes or less and hasn't said much. He has also donned hats with logos of his own apparel line, which are not sponsored by the NFL.

While Goodell did not comment about what the possible penalty might be, he made clear that Lynch had an obligation to do the interviews.

"It's part of your job," Goodell said. "There are things in your job that you might not necessarily want to do. I think Marshawn understands the importance of the Super Bowl and the importance of his appearance in the Super Bowl."
 

[Friday January 30th, 2015 7th EDITION 9:25 P. M.]

Arctic policy commission to submit report to lawmakers
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Alaska's Arctic Policy Commission is recommending the state take several steps to enhance Arctic communities in its final report.

The report's recommendations include development of an Arctic port, oil and gas exploration, spill prevention resources, home access to water, sewer and sanitation services in rural communities, reduced power and heating costs, workforce development and increased research.

The report also suggested one or more Legislative committees focused on the Arctic.

The commission delivered its final report and an implementation document to the Legislature Friday.

The 26-member commission includes 10 legislators, and has spent the past two years working on an Arctic policy for the state.

Commission members Rep. Bob Herron and Sen. Lesil McGuire introduced companion bills this session to define the state's Arctic policy.

Commission opposes changing annual financial disclosure date
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — The Alaska Public Offices Commission opposes pushing back the deadline for filing annual financial disclosures for legislators and public officials.

Rep. Mike Hawker proposed changing the deadline from March 15 to April 30. In his sponsor statement for HB 65, he says the change would allow filers time to use tax return information and ensure the most accurate, up-to-date information.

He says the bill has been well received during the legislative process. The House State Affairs Committee this week amended it to push the date to May 15.

The public office commission's executive director says the commission believes the bill would hinder the public's ability to have financial disclosure information from legislators during session.

The disclosure requirement applies to legislators, other public officials and members of certain boards and commissions.

Lawmaker proposes limits on left lane driving
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — A state representative from Palmer has proposed legislation aimed at reducing the number of drivers who linger in the left lane.

HB 91, from Republican Rep. Shelley Hughes, calls for drivers to stay in the right-hand lane unless they are directed otherwise, passing another vehicle or preparing for a left turn.

It also would prohibit drivers from impeding or blocking a driver trying to pass in the left lane.

A violation would be considered an infraction, punishable by a fine of at least $100.

Hughes, in a statement, said the bill stems from conversations with Alaskans who commute and are tired of getting stuck behind slow moving traffic in the left lane.

She said she would like to see less road rage and congestion.

Crime Line Crime of the Week: Purse snatcher
A 75 year old Juneau woman reported someone stole her purse out of her motorized shopping cart at Fred Meyer on Thursday at about 3:30 in the afternoon. The victim had $150 dollars cash in the purse along with a cell phone.
Surveillance video taken just after 2:00 in the afternoon shows a woman with long hair and wearing glasses looking into the victim’s cart and taking the purse. She is wearing a dark sweatshirt with a logo on the front and a light colored coat. That woman then proceeded down a hallway toward the store’s bathrooms.

The Juneau Police Department is looking for assistance from the public in identifying the woman in this picture from the store video. Anyone with information is encouraged to log on to the Juneau Crime Line Web site and report their tip. You may also call JPD at 586-0600. You may be eligible for a reward.
 

Alaska halibut catch sees first increase in decade
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Fishermen in Alaska will have access to slightly more halibut this year than last.

The International Pacific Halibut Commission voted Friday in Vancouver, British Columbia, for a total catch in Alaska of 21.215 million pounds, up from 19.705 million pounds in 2014. That's the first time in a decade the commission's increased the catch.

The uptick means commercial fishermen in southeast and southcentral Alaska will see slight quota increases.

The Alaska catch limit is divided between several areas, and includes commercial and charter halibut sectors, as well as their wastage. The commission accounts for sport-caught halibut, but doesn't limit it.

Sport and charter halibut fishing opens Sunday. The commercial fishery will open March 14.

From Northern California to the Bering Sea, the total 2015 halibut limit is 29.223 million pounds.

State lawmakers riled up over federal actions
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — One Alaska state senator is advocating an act of civil disobedience against the federal government and another warned at the end of a light-hearted poem that Alaskans are "packing heat."

The pushback against federal overreach continues at the Alaska Capitol, and comes less than a week after President Obama proposed most of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge be protected as wilderness, including the refuge's potentially oil-rich coastal plain.

Sen. Mike Dunleavy says the state needs to do more than issue proclamations. He's proposing the state begin surveying a road through a wildlife refuge near King Cove after the Interior department rejected it.

Sen. Click Bishop delivered a takedown of federal actions in Dr. Seuss-style Friday. He said Alaskans might seem sweet, but chances are "we're packin' heat!"

The Juneau 12th Man Super Bowl pic
Break out the Blue and Show your Seahawks pride Saturday at 10 am on the Capitol building steps for the Juneau 12th Man Super Bowl pic!

Search Juneau 12th Man on facebook for more information.

Alaska Committee annual board meeting Saturday
The Alaska Committee is holding its Annual Board Meeting this Saturday.

Come hear a review of the years activities, as well as the plans for the future, Saturday morning at 9:00 am in the Alaska Room in the Airport.

Man, woman, and dog fall through ice at the glacier
Capital City Fire Rescue responded Wednesday afternoon after a man and his dog fell in through the ice at the Mendenhall Glacier.

Assist chief Ed Quinto said, "There was a report of a man that had fallen into the ice, apparently he was walking three dogs. One of the dogs had fallen in and he went in to rescue his dog. In the process there was another female that attempted to assist the original person that went into the water. Both persons did make it out along with all three dogs and they walked towards the visitor parking lot where the fire truck crew met with the individuals."

There were no injuries but one person was taken to the hospital for evaluation.

Harbor code of conduct pulled at Docks and Harbors meeting
At the board meeting, the board approved proposed regulation changes to the waterfront sales permits. The board also approved regulation changes to the passenger for hire fees imposed on charter operators. Both regulation changes require approval from the assembly after a notification period.

The board also approved and recommended for adoption by the assembly, construction, administration, and inspection services for Stater Harbor launch ramp facility currently under construction by Miller Construction.

The board did not take up the harbor code of conduct that was pulled from the agenda before the meeting, to allow the port director to discuss with CBJ law, some of the nuances with recommendations.

Mayor Sanford discusses tobacco tax and marijuana regulations
Mayor Merrill Sanford was the guest on Action Line Friday. He talked about items that would be considered at the next assembly meeting including increased taxes on cigarettes and adding marijuana to the second hand smoke code.

On the increase in the local cigarette tax, which is up for action during Monday night's Assembly meeting, the mayor replied, "I think the main reason for most assembly members wanting to increase the tobacco tax is not only to get revenue generation, which we need right now, it would bring in 1.7 million if they raised it two dollars, which is a lot of money. Holy smokes, that would fill a big hole! Most of the assembly members, or a lot of them I think, think that every time you raise tobacco taxes a little bit or so much, then you get a following decrease in usage of tobacco. Some people believe that's the way you should have less health care problems in the future. I have to really look at it as just taxing people more, and more, and more. No matter what it is. And then also, you know taxes should be spread out over a real big general area instead of just one centralized area, in my mind.

On marijuana being added to the second hand smoke code, which is up for action at the next assembly meeting, the Mayor said, "We have a law right now for second hand smoke that identifies where you can, and where you can't, and everything else, for second hand smoke. There's still questions that have to be answered about clubs. In the second hand smoke ordinance, those things aren't allowed except for in private clubs that have a separate room. So there's a lot ambiguity still about the rules and regulations here."

An ordinance is up for introduction that bars the use of marijuana in public. The CBJ Assembly meets Monday night at 7:00.

Walker names Hummel as adjutant general for Alaska
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Gov. Bill Walker has named Laurie Hummel as Alaska's new adjutant general.

Hummel is a retired colonel in the U.S. Army. She unsuccessfully ran for the state Legislature last year.

The announcement was made in Anchorage.

Brig. Gen. Leon "Mike" Bridges had been serving as acting adjutant general following the ouster of Thomas Katkus last year.

Then-Gov. Sean Parnell asked for Katkus' resignation as part of a leadership change stemming from a scathing report that looked into allegations of misconduct within the Alaska National Guard.

The report found that victims did not trust the system because of a lack of confidence in the command.

Alaska sea otter pup moving into Seattle Aquarium
Alaska sea otter pup moving into Seattle Aquarium
The Seattle Aquarium is welcoming a six-month-old sea otter from Alaska.

Mishka is scheduled to arrive Saturday from the Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward. She was rehabilitated after being caught last July in a fishing net and now weighs 26 pounds.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said Mishka likely wouldn't survive if released back into the wild.

The Seattle Aquarium has housed northern sea otters since opening in 1977.

Walker to name adjutant general for Alaska
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Gov. Bill Walker is scheduled to announce his choices for adjutant general and deputy commissioner of the state Department of Military and Veterans Affairs.

The announcement is scheduled to take place in Anchorage on Friday.

Brig. Gen. Leon "Mike" Bridges has been serving as acting adjutant general following the ouster of Thomas Katkus last year.

Then-Gov. Sean Parnell asked for Katkus' resignation as part of a leadership change stemming from a scathing report that looked into allegations of misconduct within the Alaska National Guard. The report found that victims did not trust the system because of a lack of confidence in the command.

Arctic policy commission to submit report to lawmakers
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — The Alaska Arctic Policy Commission is expected to submit its final report to the Legislature on Friday.

According to a press release, the report and related legislation are intended to guide the state's work, as well as U.S. policy, on Arctic issues.

Companion bills have been introduced in the Alaska House and Senate to define the state's Arctic policy.

The bills identify four areas of focus: economic and resource development, infrastructure, health communities and a state-based agenda for science and research.

The 26-member commission includes 10 legislators, and has spent the past two years working on an Arctic policy for the state.

The preliminary report to the Legislature, released last January, included goals revolving around economic development, public safety and community and cultural sustainability.

Tip leads troopers to arrest 1 of 2 Fairbanks fugitives
FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) — A North Pole man who walked away from a halfway house two weeks ago was arrested Thursday by Alaska State Troopers.

The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner (bit.ly/1KdRdi6) reports troopers acting on an anonymous tip arrested 23-year-old Logan Patrick Austin.

Austin faces drug and theft charges.

He had been released on bail but was returned to custody Jan. 3 after investigators said he violated conditions of his release.

Troopers say Austin walked away Jan. 14 from the North Star Center. A bulletin issued Wednesday said he was considered a dangerous offender.

Authorities in Fairbanks continue to seek a second man, 35-year-old Michael Bracht, who was scheduled to begin a 32-month sentence but took off last week while on a 12-hour release in the care of a custodian.

Plans suspended to double wind turbines at Fire Island
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Plans have been called off to double the number of wind turbines on Fire Island just off Anchorage.

The Alaska Dispatch News reports construction and shipping contracts were canceled after Alaska rail belt utilities declined to purchase the power.

The $50 million project would have added 11 additional turbines. That would have produced about 20 megawatts of capacity to power about 7,000 homes along the rail belt, which runs from Fairbanks to Seward. The 11 turbines on the island now produce nearly 18 megawatts of power.

Fire Island Wind, a subsidiary of Cook Inlet Regional Corp., was planning to offer to sell power at 6.2 cents a kilowatt-hour. But utilities complained the cost would increase as power moves through the grid, and be nearly double when it reaches Fairbanks.

ConocoPhillips to slow petroleum reserve project investment
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — ConocoPhillips Alaska says that it's slowing its pace of investment on the Greater Mooses Tooth 1 project, citing permitting issues and oil prices.

Permit applications were submitted in July 2013.

Spokeswoman Amy Burnett said while the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recently issued a record of decision, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management has yet to issue a final decision for the project, which is in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska.

She said by email that if the agencies differ on road routes, the project would not move forward until those differences were resolved.

She said the company does not have a set timeframe for revisiting a final investment decision for the project. But she said work to advance the project will continue, including a seismic program and engineering.

Police investigate fatal shooting in Anchorage
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Anchorage police have identified the victim in an early Thursday morning shooting.

Police in a release say 20-year-old Jeanpal Borge was found dead in a parking lot located near Bragaw Street and San Jeronimo Court in east Anchorage. The lot is near several businesses, including a Costco store.

Police received numerous calls about 12:30 a.m. Thursday from people who reported hearing shots fired.

KTUU reports responding officers found Borge dead. Police say their investigation continues.

The television station says the death is the fourth homicide this year in the municipality.

 

[Thursday January 29TH, 2015 7th EDITION 9:16 P. M.]

Former Wasilla mayor appointed to fisheries commission
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — A former Wasilla mayor will help regulate participation in Alaska's commercial fisheries.

Grace Jang, a spokeswoman for Gov. Bill Walker, said Verne Rupright was appointed to the Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission Jan. 20.

The three-member body decides who can participate in limited entry fisheries and adjudicates appeals.

Jang wrote in an email that Rupright was selected based on his legal background, and as someone who could help the commission navigate fiscal challenges.

Commissioners serve a four-year term and are paid a little over $100,000 a year plus benefits. The appointment is subject to legislative confirmation.

Rupright replaces Frank Homan, who was appointed by former Gov. Sean Parnell in November.

Shell says it will drill off Alaska if it can get permits
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Royal Dutch Shell PLC says it will drill off Alaska's northwest coast in 2015 — if it can get the permits it needs and drill safely.

Speaking in London, Chief Executive Officer Ben van Beurden said Thursday that Shell will move forward with its plan to use two drill vessels in the Chukchi Sea subject to getting permits and legal clearance.

Shell last drilled in Arctic waters off Alaska in 2012. One drill vessel ran aground off Kodiak. The contractor on a second was fined $12.2 million for environmental and maritime crimes.

The company is awaiting a resolution to a lawsuit that challenged the federal government's environmental review before it sold Chukchi leases in 2008.

Overdue plane found on lake near Cook Inlet
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Searchers have rescued a pilot on a lake west of Cook Inlet.The pilot was found Thursday and transported to a Soldotna hospital.

Clint Johnson with the National Transportation Safety Board tells KTUU it was his understanding that the unidentified pilot didn't have any injuries.

Johnson says the Cessna 180 was found at the crash site on Chakachamna Lake. The plane had partially broken through the ice.

Rescuers began searching after the plane was reported overdue when it didn't return as planned to Soldotna on Wednesday. The lake was the plane's destination.

The investigation will include when and why the plane went down.

Victim identified in Anchorage fatal shooting
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Anchorage police have identified the victim in an early Thursday morning shooting.

Police in a release say 20-year-old Jeanpal Borge was found dead in a parking lot located near Bragaw Street and San Jeronimo Court in east Anchorage. The lot is near several businesses, including a Costco store.

Police received numerous calls about 12:30 a.m. Thursday from people who reported hearing shots fired.

KTUU reports responding officers found Borge dead. Police say their investigation continues.

The television station says the death is the fourth homicide this year in the municipality.

Effort to warn women about alcohol during pregnancy
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — A media campaign is set to launch in March that's aimed at reducing the number of children born with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders in Alaska.

A study also is planned that is expected to involve signs and pregnancy test dispensers in bars, to test their effectiveness in raising awareness about the potential implications of drinking while pregnant.

Jeff Jessee is CEO of the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority, which received funding from the Legislature last year for the media campaign.

He told the Senate Finance Committee the goal is prevention.

He said many women receive misinformation about alcohol and pregnancy. He said the campaign will be aimed at letting women ages 20 to 35 know it's best to stop drinking before becoming pregnant and to avoid alcohol while pregnant.

Lawmakers hear from administration on marijuana regulations
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Health concerns and workplace issues were flagged for further consideration by Alaska lawmakers as they continue work on drafting regulations for the legalization of recreational marijuana.

Alaska's chief medical officer, Jay Butler, told a Senate committee there are many unknowns regarding marijuana's impacts, but said a public education campaign on potential risks is needed.

Workforce representatives also talked about industry challenges. Those include federal regulations that require certain occupations to have a zero-tolerance policy on drugs, some employers' desire to prohibit marijuana use and the potential for difficulty filling jobs.

Voters in November approved an initiative under which recreational marijuana becomes legal Feb. 24. The state then has nine months to write regulations. The Senate committee has been holding hearings to prepare for its involvement in vetting a commercialization bill.

Walker reveals invoice to federal government live on Action Line Thursday
Governor Bill Walker was the guest on KINY's Action Line Thursday morning. The governor said President Barack Obama has not yet replied to his invitation to visit the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, but Walker did have a total on that invoice to send to Interior Secretary Sally Jewel.  Earlier this week during a news conference, Walker said he would send Jewell an invoice for Alaska's education and health care costs, which was in response to President Obama plans to recommend that the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge be put off limits to potential oil and gas drilling.  Walker was not joking when he uttered, "About 2.6 billion is the amount of the invoice and we're now working on what the interest rate will be after 30 days if it's not paid. We're in a situation that we have to take this stuff seriously."

The governor also renewed his call to citizens to submit their ideas on what to do about the budget. He said, "We are looking at all options. We've reached out to Alaskans. That's what we do best, is reach out to Alaskans." On the governor's website, www.gov.alaska.gov, you can send in suggestions, comments, and ideas about how to reduce the budget. Governor Walker noted that there were about 1800 responses in the first hour or two and now the university system is sorting through thousands of responses.

 
(Action Line Host Pete Carran and Governor Bill Walker)

Legislation to build the Keystone pipeline moves forward
The Senate voted Thursday to move ahead with legislation to build the Keystone pipeline, despite the threat of a presidential veto.

This legislation passed the Senate 62-36, just shy of the 67 votes the Senate would need to override a presidential veto.

Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski talked about what's next and says right now she's not concerned about the veto threat, "We've made some changes so the House will take a look at what we have done and I'm hopeful that we'll be able to move a bill to the president very very quickly, then it's in his lap. We have to get it to the president's desk first before we're discussing what happens with the veto, we're just working through the process, today is a good day in that we're going to be able to move it out of the Senate with a good bi-partisan vote."

Alaska State Troopers: "Whether elated or deflated, only drive sober."
(ANCHORAGE, Alaska) – While anxiously waiting for game day there probably isn’t much that Seahawks and Patriot fans will agree on. However, the Alaska State Troopers have a game day challenge for both sides. In order to keep Alaska roads as safe as possible, Troopers want every Super Bowl party to include a designated driver or some other plan in place to keep all party go-ers from driving impaired.

Along with that challenge to both groups of fans, the Alaska State Troopers will conduct a high visibility enforcement campaign. The goal of that campaign is to do everything possible to prevent a fatal or major injury wreck from occurring on Alaska’s roadways during the weekend of Super Bowl Sunday. While a portion of the Super Bowl parties will end with the losing side’s fan base feeling deflated, Troopers are saying, "Let’s all work together to prevent any roadway tragedy on game day."


 

Inmate found dead at Anchorage jail
An inmate was found dead at the Anchorage jail. Alaska State Troopers say 33-year old Larry Kobuk had been restrained by corrections officers Tuesday night for being non-compliant. As officers were leaving the cell, they noticed Kobuk was non-responsive. He could not be revived and was pronounced dead at a local hospital.

Kobuk was being held at the Anchorage Correctional Complex on charges of vehicle theft, reckless driving, and driving with a revoked license. The State Medical Examiner's Office will conduct an autopsy.

Last rocket sent for the season to study aurora
The last rocket for the season has gone up from Poker Flat Research Range north of Fairbanks, capping a week that saw five launches within 24 hours. The launch early Tuesday morning used a four-stage rocket to measure the electrical voltage and currents in the aurora over the North Slope. Seven instruments relayed data from different locations, 300 miles up, before crashing into the Arctic Ocean.

A day earlier, four rockets were launched within a 30-minute window to measure turbulence within the aurora. Researchers had been waiting for two weeks for suitable weather.

Walmarts in AK and WA sell "Wild Alaska" seafood
Wal-Mart is now selling a new line of wild Alaskan seafood -- though only at its Alaska and Washington stores.

The world's largest retail chain had discontinued Alaska seafood when the state dropped out of a sustainability certification program. A year ago, Wal-Mart agreed to recognize new fisheries management standards.

The result is a new brand called "Wild Alaska," with products ranging from king, silver, and chum salmon to rockfish, cod, and pollock fillets. The packaged seafood also includes prepared sandwiches and burgers, processed in the Pacific Northwest.

Proposed fee increases and code of conduct at Docks and Harbors meeting Thursday
The CBJ Docks and Harbors board conducts its monthly meeting Thursday evening.

Port Director Carl Uchytil highlighted the meeting on KINY's Action Line Wednesday. Program host Pete Carran asked Uchytil about two items up for action: a harbor code of conduct and increases in fees.

Uchytil replied about the need for a code with, "It was something that the new harbor master put together as a result of not having any rules in the harbor and issues have come up over the years where we need to be able to show patrons that we do have rules and there is an expectation of conduct in the harbors. It goes to primarily working with dog owners and pet owners as there have been issues but also we've had some concerns with some inebriates on the docks."

As for proposed regulations changing waterfront sales permits and passenger for hire fees, Uchytil said, "These are the vendor booths that are down along the cruise ship docks and we have three sets of these booths. Each of these has up to 11 companies that can sell local tours. The process in the past has been an outcry auction with a minimum bid of $5,000. We are looking to raise that minimum outcry auction to $30,000. The Docks and Harbors Board has initiated a comprehensive fee review of all our fees, both of the harbor enterprise side and the docks enterprise side. On the harbor enterprIse side, since 2006 we have been charging $1.10 per passenger that embarks a charter, so whale watching, fishing charters, any vessel that operates out of our harbors we charge $300 per company and then $1.10 per passenger. What the board is desiring to do is increase that over a period of three years to $500 per company and up to $1.50 per passenger."

Thursday evening’s docks and harbors board meeting is scheduled to convene at 5:30 in Assembly Chambers of City Hall.

Lawmakers propose resolution pushing back on refuge proposal
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Alaska political leaders remain riled up about President Barack Obama's plans to recommend that the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge be put off limits to potential oil and gas drilling.

A resolution was introduced in the state House, calling on Congress to reject any proposal "that does not explicitly and, without delay" open the coastal plain for development.

Obama has said he'll recommend designating much of the refuge as wilderness, including the coastal plain. That's the highest level of protection.

State political leaders see it as an example of federal overreach that they say would limit Alaska's ability to develop its resources.

Congress will have to weigh in.

State lawmakers urged Alaskans to use the (hashtag)ThisIsOurAlaska to bring attention to the issue on social media.

Consultants suggest possibly revisiting Cook Inlet credits
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Legislative consultants have suggested to lawmakers that it may be wise to examine their approach to incentivizing oil and gas development from Cook Inlet.

Alaska revenue officials have said the state could pay out $625 million in credits this year, primarily to small explorers or those developing new that have no tax liability. The revenue commissioner has said the credits are split pretty evenly between the North Slope and in Cook Inlet.

Consultants from Enalytica, in a report to the Senate Finance Committee this week, said some small producer credits are expected to sunset on Jan. 1.

But that doesn't affect Cook Inlet, where they said producers largely pay no oil production taxes and low, fixed rates on gas.

Nurses, Ketchikan hospital reach tentative contract terms
KETCHIKAN, Alaska (AP) — Nurses at Ketchikan's city-owned hospital have reached a tentative labor contract agreement.

The Ketchikan Daily News reports nurses represented by the Alaska Nurses Association bargained with officials of PeaceHealth, which operates Ketchikan Medical Center.

The two sides bargained for two months and settled on the second day that talks were overseen by a mediator.

Nurse Kristin Fahey says the agreement must be approved by union members. She says details of the contract will be released after it's approved.

Nurse Ann Fama says union members sought higher wages, more opportunities for training and more clinical support for new nurses, who often work night shifts.

Marijuana criminal bills put on hold for rewrite
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Bills to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana have been put on hold while lawmakers wait for a new draft that better reflects the voter intent.

Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux says the companion bills, intended to legalize one ounce or less of marijuana for adults 21 and older, are being rewritten.

The bills had raised concerns from marijuana legalization supporters and the state's public defender agency, who said that the method used to decriminalize the drug didn't match what the voters asked for in November.

Amy Saltzman, a legislative staff member working on the bill, said lawmakers still want to pass a bill by Feb. 24. That's when the marijuana initiative is set to take effect.

Hanley: Education will have to be protected at some level
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — State education commissioner Mike Hanley says the department and school districts will have to work to find efficiencies in light of the state's budget deficit.

But he says education will have to be protected at some level and expects there to be a conversation as to what that level should be.

Gov. Bill Walker has said he wants to insulate education to the greatest extent possible. He has proposed cutting about $50 million in additional aid to schools for fiscal years 2016 and 2017.

In an interview, Hanley said the state must be strategic about cuts it makes to education. He said the governor, lawmakers and the department will have to decide at some point that it can't go lower. He said he's not sure what that level is.

State to appeal court decision in school funding case
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — The state plans to appeal a court ruling that invalidated a requirement that local school districts help pay for education.

The Department of Law, in a release, also said the state will request a stay of the ruling. It says that would ensure municipalities continue contributing until the case is decided by the Alaska Supreme Court or the school funding system is changed by the Legislature, another option.

A judge in November found the contribution was a dedicated fund, violating a state constitutional provision. The lawsuit was filed by the Ketchikan Gateway Borough.

Attorney General Craig Richards says Alaska has a history of local governments, the state and federal aid contributing to education. He says the state believes in the constitutionality of a system of shared support and local control.

Tongass Advisory Committee shifts meetings to Juneau
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — The Tongass Advisory Committee is moving meetings scheduled for the next two months in Petersburg and Wrangell to Juneau.

Tongass deputy forest supervisor Jay Anderson says the change ensures that more members can attend at a critical time in deliberations.

The Juneau Empire reports Anderson serves as the committee's designated federal official.

Anderson says the committee's interest in meeting in other southeast Alaska communities has not changed.

The committee advises the Department of Agriculture on the forest's management plan and on how to shift from predominantly old growth management to young growth management that's economically viable for the timber industry.

The next meeting will be Feb. 17-19 at Extended Stay America Hotel in Juneau.

Dates for the March meeting have not been announced.

 

[Wednesday January 28TH, 2015 6th EDITION 2:34 P. M.]

Capital Transit winter roads route changes
Capital Transit is implementing winter route changes until midnight tonight.

Service will be discontinued on St. Ann’s Avenue, Cordova Street, Davis Avenue, Lemon Creek Road, and Franklin and Fourth Streets Downtown:
No service on Cordova Street. Please wait for the bus at the Breeze Inn stop.
No service to St Ann’s. Please wait for the bus at the Douglas Post Office stop.
No service on Franklin or 4th street. Please wait for the bus at the Main Street stop.
No service on Davis Avenue and Lemon Creek Road. Please wait for the bus at Glacier Highway.

Unless otherwise notified, Capital Transit will return to normal service tomorrow.

For more information call Capital Transit at 789-6901.

Cooperative Extension's Juneau open house Thursday
The University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service in Juneau will host an open house Thursday at its downtown district office.
The open house will run from noon to 5:30 p.m. in the Public Safety Building at 450 Whittier St., Suite 128.

Residents may meet Juneau-based agents Sarah Lewis and Darren Snyder and find out more about workshops, programs and events offered by Extension in Juneau and Southeast Alaska. Fred Schlutt, the Alaska Extension director, and Roxie Dinstel, the associate director, will also meet with area residents. Refreshments from local food businesses will be served.

Cooperative Extension is part of an educational network supported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and land-grant universities. Extension offers programming in Southeast on gardening, 4-H, home energy, nutrition, food preservation, family finances and emergency preparedness. Call the office at 907-523-3280 for more information or visit www.uaf.edu/ces/juneau/.

Major expansion planned at Sea-Tac Airport
Major expansion planned at Sea-Tac Airport
SEATTLE (AP) — Port of Seattle commissioners are looking a major expansion at Sea-Tac Airport to accommodate expected passenger growth over the next 20 years.

The Seattle Times reports a new international arrivals facility planned for 2019 is just a beginning. There also are plans for adding 35 more airplane gates to the current 81 gates.

Airport officials discussed plans Tuesday for a projected 66 million passengers a year two decades from now. Last year, 37 million passengers passed through the airport.

Snow to turn to rain
Juneau woke to snow covered roads this morning but the National Weather Service says snow will soon turn to rain.

Meteorologist Tim Steffen tells News of the North, "Snow will continue through most of the day, but warmer air will move in this afternoon. We'll start to see a mix of snow and rain. Today we're expecting one to three inches. Tonight we're expecting a little bit more warmer air to move in and a little more rain. Accumulations are going to be kept down tonight because of that. Snow will be confined to the higher elevations. Even warmer air moves in tomorrow and changes everything over to rain."

Feds reject petition for Aleutians marine sanctuary
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — The federal government has rejected a petition to create a new marine sanctuary in the Aleutian Islands.

In a letter dated Friday, the director of the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries Director wrote that the petition did not receive support from "a breadth of community interests."

The Aleutians East Borough and other local groups opposed the designation.

Dillingham state Rep. Bryce Edgmon introduced a resolution opposing the designation. While the resolution has not yet had a hearing, other Alaska lawmakers signed on in support of it.

Several environmentally-focused nonprofits submitted the petition.

Anchorage resident Rick Steiner, a board member for one of the groups, said he was not planning to resubmit the petition, although the group may. Steiner said he was more likely to pursue a marine national monument designation.

Anchorage Assembly approves pot public consumption ban
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The Anchorage Assembly has approved an ordinance that bans marijuana consumption in public places.

The Alaska Dispatch News unanimously passed the proposal Tuesday after approving an amendment that specifically notes permitted facilities could allow patrons to consume marijuana.

Pro-marijuana groups had testified against the ordinance, with some expressing concerns that the regulation would effectively ban businesses allowing marijuana consumption, such as cannabis cafes.

The new rules blend the city's statutes on smoke-free workplaces and public alcohol consumption. Municipal Attorney Dennis Wheeler said Tuesday the portion of the city's alcohol laws dealing with permitted facilities was in another part of the ordinance.

Ballot Measure 2, approved in November, decriminalizes the possession, use and non-sale transfer of up to an ounce of marijuana when the new law takes effect Feb. 24.

Coast Guard taking public comment on Arctic vessel routes
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — The Coast Guard has begun accepting public comment on proposed vessel routes to the Arctic Ocean off western and northwest Alaska.

KTOO reports traffic through the Bering Strait has about doubled over seven years. Coast Guard Rear Adm. Daniel Abel says there are about 400 transits annually by about 200 vessels.

He says the proposed routes would help control how vessels transit north from the Aleutians through the Bering Sea and into Arctic waters.

The four-mile wide, two-way routes are designed to have vessels avoid active commercial fishing grounds or environmentally sensitive areas.

Abel says following the routes likely will be voluntary.

Public comment on the Coast Guard's proposed Port Access Route Study will be taken until June.

Walker expects adjutant general decision this week
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Gov. Bill Walker says he expects to announce by the end of this week his pick to be Alaska's adjutant general.

Brig. Gen. Leon "Mike" Bridges has been acting in that role since the ouster of Thomas Katkus last September.

Then-Gov. Sean Parnell asked for Katkus' resignation in light of an investigation into allegations of sexual assault and other misconduct within the Alaska National Guard. The report was conducted by the National Guard Bureau's Office of Complex Investigations.

Walker last week announced that retired state court judge Patricia Collins would be hired as a special investigator to look into allegations of wrongdoing.

Walker to invite Jewell to visit Alaska wildlife refuge
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Gov. Bill Walker says he will invite President Obama and Interior Secretary Sally Jewell to visit the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Walker's announcement Tuesday came two days after Obama said he plans to recommend that Congress designate most of the refuge as wilderness, including its potentially oil-rich coastal plain

Alaska political leaders have vowed to fight the proposal, which the Republican-controlled Congress will decide.

During a news conference, Walker also said he would send Jewell an invoice for Alaska's education and health care costs. He said it would show there is an impact to actions taken by the federal government.

Alaska, which relies heavily on oil revenues to fund state government, faces multibillion-dollar budget deficits amid an oil-price crash.

Walker said Jewell is expected to be in Alaska next month.

Super Bowl airing live on KINY Sunday
Excitement is building in Phoenix for this weekend's Super Bowl. ABC's Alex Stone is there. "Players have unique ways of describing what it feels like to be at the Super Bowl. The Seahawks know the feeling - being here for the second year in a row. And Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett says it feels like a great big smooch. (It's like the first time you kiss a woman and then the second time you kiss her it's always better, so, the second time being here is just so special.) And not all the talk is about football. One reporter asked Patriots coach Bill Belichick his favorite stuffed animal - his response -- a little monkey puppet."

Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch constantly repeated "I'm here so I don't get fined" for five minutes before leaving the podium at Media Day for the Super Bowl in Phoenix. Lynch wouldn't answer any questions. He set a timer on his phone, caught a bag of Skittles tossed from the crowd and stopped to pick up a reporter's recorder off the floor before he walked away.

A Super Bowl ticket for six bucks? Sounds impossible -- unless you have a time machine. Ticket prices for Super Bowl 1 started at just $6. The cheap seats didn't jump into the three figures until the 1988 Super Bowl. Face value for tickets to Sunday's big game range from $800 to $1,900. But forget about trying to get one at those prices. Resale tickets on the official NFL Ticket Exchange are now topping 14-grand apiece. But you can find some nosebleed seats for about 4-K. Catch the game on the radio for free, at 800 KINY and online at www.kinyradio.com Sunday. The pregame show starts at noon.

[Tuesday January 27TH, 2015 4th EDITION 3:18 P. M.]

Juneau's Crime Line recruiting board members, seeking donations
Guests on KINY's Action Line show today were Crime Line President Bob Kanan and Vice President Robin Paul.

Kanan has been on the Crime Line board since the organization was formed in 1981. Since tipsters can remain anonymous, program host Pete Carran asked Kanan about how people receive their monetary rewards. According to Kanan, "Normally, we get the reward money by meeting up with somebody. It's either usually in the form of a check or sometimes cash. We've even gone to extreme conditions of putting cash in an envelope taped up underneath a payphone."

Juneau Crime Line needs help with two areas. Vice President Robin Paul says they can always use monetary donations to help pay for the rewards and they need additional board members. For more information, Paul suggests going to juneaucrimeline.com. Their contact information is on the website or you can contact them through the police department. Lieutenant Kris Sell is their liaison at the police department and Paul says she has done a wonderful job for them in the last year or so.

Crime Line is a non-profit organization composed of a cross-section of the community and is designed to aid police agencies in their investigations. Tipsters are guaranteed anonymity and given a number when claiming a reward of up to $1,000.00.

If you have information on any crime, log on to juneaucrimeline.com.

University of Alaska Southeast-Chancellor Search and Activities
The ads are going out to find a new chancellor for the University of Alaska Southeast.

Retiring chancellor John Pugh tells us, "The president has approved off on the position description and the ads and so on, and it is my understanding from Mike Ciri, the Vice Chancellor of Administration, that should be posted next week sometime."

Pugh also explained what fun is planned this week at UAS, "January 30th to February 7th is going to our Winter Fest, which is a week long event and includes events such as, skate night, polar plunge and there is going to be casino night. All UAS students, staff and faculty are invited to join in the fun. Polar plunge is always a big one out at UAS. This Friday, January 30th, is Sound+Motion at the Rec Center and the program is called 'Climbing the Shot Tower'. Saturday evening we have an evening with Mark Kelley at 7pm. Discover the heart and soul behind a beautiful image as Mark shares his insights to the world of photography. On the 31st is a Techno-Contra dance at 8pm at the Rec Center, a part of the campus stomp dance series. There's a lot going on this week!"

Alaska ferry system to close bars on ships to save money
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — The state ferry system plans to close the bars on the six ships that have them.

The Alaska Marine Highway System estimates this will save the state more than $750,000 a year.

The rollout is expected to begin later this winter, with the change seen as the vessels are returned to service following their annual overhauls.

System spokesman Jeremy Woodrow says travelers will still be able to buy and drink alcohol in the cafeterias of those ships during meal hours.

He says the bar areas will be closed off but the lounge space will be available for travelers.

The move is the latest by the ferry system to reduce costs. It previously closed gift shops on ships and Woodrow says it also has taken steps aimed at reducing fuel costs.

Official shares ideas for marijuana regulations in Alaska
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — The head of the board currently in charge of writing regulations for the legalized use of recreational pot in Alaska says rules on edibles, advertising and extraction methods should be part of the conversation.

Cindy Franklin is executive director of the Alcoholic Beverage Control board.

She presented ideas for new regulations during a Tuesday Senate committee hearing, primarily centered around public safety concerns and keeping marijuana away from minors.

Voters in November approved an issue under which recreational marijuana becomes legal Feb. 24. The state then has nine months to write regulations.

Sen. Lesil McGuire has said she plans to introduce a bill creating a marijuana control board to develop regulations.

Representatives from several state departments and the Alaska Mental Health Trust also participated in the hearing.

Reaction from both sides as Obama floats idea of drilling leases in Atlantic
WASHINGTON (AP) — It's just an idea being considered -- but there's already plenty of reaction to a plan being floated by the Obama administration that would, for the first time, open up a wide area of the Atlantic Coast to drilling.

Areas more than 50 miles off Virginia, the Carolinas and Georgia would be opened to oil companies no earlier than 2021.

Some Northeastern Democrats are objecting, out of concern over oil spills. But South Carolina's Republican governor, Nikki Haley, says it will mean jobs and investment for her state.

Environmental groups are criticizing the idea, saying offshore drilling hasn't gotten safer in the years since the BP disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

The oil industry, though, is applauding the move -- saying much of the nation's offshore potential is untapped.

The idea of leases in the Atlantic comes even as the administration moves to restrict drilling indefinitely in environmentally-sensitive areas of Alaska. And Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska calls it a war on her home state.

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell says it's a "balanced proposal" that will make resources available while still protecting areas that she says are "simply too special to develop."

Superintendent says trying to cut budget with a scalpel, not a hatchet
There's a school board work session Tuesday night to discuss the budget.

Juneau Schools Superintendent Mark Miller says they are trying to avoid layoffs through attrition. Miller commented on budget cuts saying, "We're trying to do the cuts with a scalpel, not a hatchet. We're looking at every dollar we spend. We've cut administration by 26% over the last four years. It's tough. We're looking at increased revenue wherever we can."

The meeting is at 6:00 PM at the Thunder Mountain High School Library.

Cold snap envelops interior Alaska communities
FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) — Mild winter temperatures have disappeared and been replaced with bone-chilling cold in Fairbanks and other interior Alaska communities.

The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports residents woke up Monday to temperatures in the 40s below zero.

That's not unusual for a Fairbanks winter but it's the coldest stretch this season.

Fairbanks public schools cut back on scheduled activities after temperatures by noon had failed to climb above 42 below zero.

Granite Creek near Delta Junction recorded 55 degrees below zero. Coldfoot, a truck stop 180 miles north of Fairbanks, reached minus 53.

National Weather Service forecaster Lindsay Tardif-Huber says frigid temperatures likely will stick around for a day or two and slowly increase.

Marijuana activist plans to open medical pot dispensary
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A marijuana activist is planning to open an Anchorage medical pot dispensary next month.

Alaska Dispatch News reports Alaska Cannabis Club owner Charlo Greene has scheduled the opening for Feb. 24.

That's the day recreational marijuana becomes legalized in Alaska under a ballot initiative approved by voters in November. The sale of marijuana remains illegal, with the state not accepting business applications until February 2016.

Greene's reasoning for the dispensary is that the initiative requires licenses for recreational marijuana businesses.

State Alcoholic Beverage Control Board director Cynthia Franklin says activity not specifically covered under the initiative remains illegal.

Greene, whose legal name is Charlene Egbe, made national headlines last year when she quit her job as a television reporter with a four-letter outburst, saying she'd advocate for legalized marijuana.

Kalakala demolition crew saving souvenirs of iconic ferry
TACOMA, Wash. (AP) — The crew scrapping the ferry Kalakala (kuh-LAHK'-uh-luh) at a Tacoma dry dock is saving some pieces as souvenirs of the iconic Puget Sound vessel.

Hundreds have called Rhine Demolition looking for a trinket.

The News Tribune reports workers plan to save the rudder and distinctive rounded pilot house. They're also saving some port holes and railing that might end up in a museum.

Dismantling began last week after the Kalakala rusted away for about a decade in Tacoma.

The sleek, silver ferry was the symbol of Seattle in the days before the Space Needle. After it was taken out of service in the 1960s it was used as a cannery in Alaska. It was returned to Puget Sound with restoration plans but none came up with enough money.

Obama floats offering first-ever drilling lease in Atlantic
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration floated a plan Tuesday that for the first time would open up a broad swath of the Atlantic Coast to drilling, even as it moved to restrict drilling in environmentally-sensitive areas off Alaska.

The proposal envisions auctioning areas located more than 50 miles off Virginia, North and South Carolina, and Georgia to oil companies come 2021, long after President Barack Obama leaves office. For decades, oil companies have been barred from drilling in the Atlantic Ocean, where a moratorium was in place up until 2008.

"This is a balanced proposal that would make available nearly 80 percent of the undiscovered technically recoverable resources, while protecting areas that are simply too special to develop," Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said in a statement.

The plan, which covers potential lease sales in the 2017-2022 time frame, drew immediate reaction from Capitol Hill, where Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, called it a war on her home state, and where Northeastern Democrats were expected to outline their objections later Tuesday to drilling in the Atlantic Ocean.

The Interior Department in a press release issued Tuesday, said that it was "considering" a lease sale in the Atlantic.

For Alaska, the plan puts off limits parts of the Beaufort and Chukchi seas, citing their importance to Alaska natives and the sensitive environmental resources.

Obama in early 2010 announced his intention to allow drilling 50 miles off the Virginia coast, only to scrap it after the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. But the administration has allowed oil and gas companies to explore for oil and gas in the Atlantic in the meantime, which is the initial step prior to drilling.

Environmental groups were quick to criticize the proposal, saying offshore drilling had not gotten safer in the years after the BP disaster.

"This 5-year plan could destroy our coastal economies for decades to come, costing future generations the fishing livelihoods that have been part of their local fabric for generations," said Oceana's vice president Jacqueline Savitz.

According to documents obtained by The Associated Press through the Freedom of Information Act, at least four firms have filed applications with federal fisheries managers to conduct wide-scale seismic imaging surveys in the Atlantic to explore for oil and gas deposits.

The applications for "incidental harassment" of marine animals including endangered right whales are currently being reviewed by NOAA Fisheries.

The projects involve towing seismic air guns behind vessels for hundreds of miles, over months and years. The guns emit strong bursts of air and sound, which allow crews to create two-and-three-dimensional images of the seafloor.


Sheriff: Friends were flying plane to Alaska when it crashed
OWEN, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin authorities say two friends were flying a recently purchased airplane to Alaska when it crashed, killing the pilot's father.

Clark County Sheriff Greg Herrick released the names of the three people involved in Monday's crash in central Wisconsin.

The pilot, 27-year-old Mark Siegwart of Hammond, Indiana, and his friend, 41-year-old Nathan Smoot from North Pole, Alaska, were flying the plane to Alaska after leaving Hammond. Along the way they stopped and picked up Siegwart's father, 56-year-old Martin Siegwart of Boon, Michigan.

The pilot said the single-engine Cessna 182 started to ice up and lose altitude. The plane was trying to make an emergency landing on a road when it crashed.

Martin Siegwart died at the scene. His son remains in stable condition, and the other passenger has been released.

Juneau considers $20M fix to sewage problem
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Juneau is looking to spend about $20 million to fix its sewage problem.

The Juneau Empire reports the city has been spending about $2 million a year since 2010 to ship its sewage biosolids, or the leftover waste from its treatment plants, to Oregon. Juneau began shipping the waste after the city's sewage sludge incinerator broke down beyond repair in 2010.

Assembly members have considered a number of options, including buying a thermal dryer or composting.

The latter was rejected because of the amount of flat land needed.

Assembly members favor buying a dryer to extract the moisture from the sludge, which could be burned for fuel. The assembly voted to study the issue for another six months.

State officials to meet with bond rating agencies
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Alaska's Revenue commissioner says state officials plan to meet with bond rating agencies next week.

The state is dealing with a multibillion-dollar budget deficit amid a crash in oil prices.

Commissioner Randall Hoffbeck told the Senate Finance Committee the state has not seen its high rating downgraded but one agency, Moody's, has put the state on negative watch.

He said areas the rating agencies could look at include how the state reacts to lower prices in terms of the size of government, developing new revenue sources and continued savings.

The state has billions of dollars in reserves that it plans to dip into to get by as it seeks to cut spending.

House, Senate discuss marijuana legalization
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Alaska lawmakers are grappling with how to decriminalize marijuana after voters in November approved a ballot initiative to legalize the substance.

The House and Senate judiciary committees are considering bills that would decriminalize marijuana in certain situations and create new laws, including making it illegal to provide pot to minors.

But the bill being considered doesn't make marijuana outright legal. Instead, if an adult is arrested for possession and appears before a judge, then a section of the law kicks in that says the person can't be convicted of a crime.

Deputy Public Defender Tracey Wollenberg said the bill's current language undermines the voters' intent. She suggested using the initiative language to make an exception to state criminal statutes.

4 rockets launched into the aurora over Alaska to study turbulent air currents
FAIRBANKS, Alaska - Four NASA soundings rockets were launched within a half hour into the northern lights in an effort to better understand and visualize turbulent air currents in the upper atmosphere.

The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports the rockets appeared to have produced data in the early Monday morning launches near Fairbanks.

The launches into the active aurora in minus 40 degree weather came after 13 straight nights of unsuitable weather for a launch.

Two rockets were led by University of Alaska Fairbanks Geophysical Institute's Rich Collins to measure turbulence. The institute says in a release that the other two rockets led by Miguel Larsen of Clemson University released a visible vapour to help researchers visualize turbulence about 60 miles above the ground.

Head of Justice Dept. anti-corruption section leaving
WASHINGTON (AP) — The head of a Justice Department section that prosecutes politicians for corruption says he's leaving his position this week for another job within the agency.

Jack Smith, who has led the Public Integrity Section since 2010, said in an interview on Monday that he will become the top assistant to David Rivera, the U.S. Attorney in Nashville, Tennessee.

He says the new position will allow him to return to trying cases, something he said he's missed.

Smith inherited a unit that underwent personnel turnover and criticism following the botched prosecution of late Alaska senator Ted Stevens.

But the section scored a big win last year with the conviction of former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell on corruption charges.

Blind harbor seal learns basic skills at Alaska aquarium
SEWARD, Alaska (AP) — A blind harbor seal is learning basic behaviors such as being fed by hand at an Alaska aquarium.

Officials at the Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward say the pup, named Bryce, was rescued in late December in Homer, Alaska.

The veterinary staff at the center believes he suffered a head trauma, which caused his blindness.

Officials say in a release that Bryce is learning basic husbandry behaviors, such as hand-feeding and learning how to target based on audible cues when staff members shake a rattle in place of a target buoy.

Center staff members say he might have improving sight, but only in one eye.

Federal officials say Bryce can't be released back into the wild, so he will stay at the center until a permanent home can be found.

Revenue officials explain tax credit issue flagged by Walker
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — State Revenue department officials say the tax credits that were a focus of an opinion piece by Gov. Bill Walker are primarily for explorers or those developing new oil and gas fields in Alaska.

The issue arose during a Senate Finance Committee hearing Monday.

Walker earlier this month said the state stood to pay out about $100 million more in oil and gas production credits than it takes in in production taxes this year. He referenced the 2013 rewrite of Alaska's oil tax law, saying the overhaul occurred with little consideration given to low prices.

Revenue Commissioner Randall Hoffbeck told the committee there's no systemic problem with the credits themselves.

He said investments in the future are painful when there isn't much revenue but he said they are still investments.

Walker administration to weigh in on marijuana regulation
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Alaska lawmakers will hear from the governor's administration regarding marijuana regulations Tuesday.

Representatives from the departments of revenue, public safety, law and commerce, as well as the Alaska Mental Health Trust and the state's Alcoholic Beverage Control board are expected to participate in the Senate State Affairs Committee hearing Tuesday morning.

Alaska voters in November approved a ballot initiative to legalize marijuana and regulate it commercially.

Sen. Lesil McGuire said a bill creating a five-member marijuana control board, and addressing other regulatory issues such as taxation and licensing fees and structure, will be introduced this session. It will first go to Senate State Affairs.

Chairman Sen. Bill Stoltze says his committee is holding hearings as part of its role in vetting such a bill and considering public safety issues.
 

[Monday January 26TH, 2015 7TH  EDITION 7:48 P. M.]

Alaska officials say offshore drilling plan likely to take some Arctic locations off table
ANCHORAGE, Alaska - Alaska's congressional delegation is expecting the federal government to pull additional areas from consideration for Arctic Ocean offshore drilling when it announces a five-year drilling plan.

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski says she was briefed last week by the Interior Department on the upcoming drilling plan.

Federal waters used by subsistence hunters are other areas that were excluded from leasing in past sales. Murkowski says she was told those exclusions could be made permanent and additional areas pulled from consideration.

She's says that's another blow to development in the state, which already is suffering with the drop in oil prices.

Murkowski, Sen. Dan Sullivan and U.S. Rep. Don Young spoke at a news conference in Washington, D.C., to state their objections to pursue a wilderness designation for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.


 

State wants to ensure feds honor Medicaid expansion promise
State health commissioner Valerie Davidson says Alaska's participation in Medicaid expansion would be made contingent upon the federal government paying at least 90 percent of the cost.

She said the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have negotiated that provision with other states.

The federal government is expected to cover the full cost of expansion in states opting for it through 2016. The federal contribution would decline after that, reaching 90 percent by 2020, where it's supposed to stay.

But some have questioned whether the government will honor that commitment. The issue is expected to be part of budget talks in the legislature, as Gov. Bill Walker has made expanding Medicaid a priority.

Davidson told a House committee the administration plans to release an updated report on expansion soon.

Committee of the Whole talks marijuana enforcement, fisheries jobs, and more tonight
The Committee of the Whole meets tonight at 6:00 PM in assembly chambers. City Manager Kim Kiefer was our guest on Action Line Friday, to fill us in on the agenda.

Kiefer says they will discuss the West Douglas Road Project. "What we've got poised is putting the paperwork through for the permit to get authorization to do the permitting process on it. Part of that is, when you put together a project, you have to come up with a purpose and need for the project. We've been talking about this since this since the 80's, and we need to go back to the assembly saying, "Here's what we're going forward with," we're going to hopefully put the core application in in March and then start that process. Once we get that approval from the core, then we can actually go out and do the bid for it. What we're looking at is a small narrow road, a seasonal road that most likely will be gated off in the winter time, which could be good for cross country skiing or other uses, but right now, it'd be what we're calling a pioneer road to get as far as we can with the money that we have."

Marijuana enforcement will also be discussed. "Marijuana is the topic in a lot of places right now, especially with cities wanting to know what's going to happen, and what's the state going to do. One of the questions that we have for the assembly is how do we deal with smoking marijuana if it's in a vehicle? What does the assembly want us to do from an enforcement standpoint? We need their direction so that the city attorney can draft an ordinance to come back and say, okay, here's what our recommendation is. That assembly HRC committee will also be looking on February 2nd whether or not to include marijuana in our smoking ban. We just need some direction, there's a number of pieces that the city needs to look at and determine how they want to do that enforcement, and since nothing is in place now, we want to make sure that we take care of some of those pockets to move forward."

There will be a report on the Treadwell Ice Arena as well. "The recommendation of the task force was to do an advisory board, so the committee of the whole once again provide direction to city staff to determine what that board will look like, how many members, what that makeup will be, will there be a member from the parks and recreation advisory committee that will sit in on it, and what their focus is going to be."

The committee will also receive an update on biosolids. "There's been some discussion about what we can do for composting; can we compost it here, and what would the cost be? We'll be bringing that technical memo back to the assembly to let them know what the costs are, and what the process would look like as another option on what we can do with our biosolids."

Finally, she mentioned they will hear a report from NOAA Fisheries. "There was a task force to look at fisheries here, looking at the federal jobs that are not in the state, when they're doing work in the state, and trying to see how we can put infrastructure in place, how we can try and get some of those jobs back into the state of Alaska."

Airport Manager: "Delta is back!"
Delta is back in Juneau for summer and an affiliate will provide year round service.

Airport Manager Patty deLaBruer explained this breaking news on KINY's Action Line with Pete Carran this morning, "We just got confirmation this morning from Delta Airlines corporate offices that Delta Airlines will not only be resuming service with a 737 800 in the middle of May, but then they are going to have continuing year round service starting in September with Delta Connection. They'll be using SkyWest in the off months or winter months."

She said they will be flying a CRJ 900, a jet that can carry up to 76 passengers.

Lawmakers to discuss marijuana bill
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Alaska lawmakers will discuss a bill to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana during a joint session of the House and Senate Judiciary committees Monday.

The bill would decriminalize marijuana in certain situations and create new laws, including making it illegal to provide pot to minors.

Lawmakers have said they want the bill, from the Senate Judiciary Committee, to pass by Feb. 24, when recreational marijuana use for those 21 and older is set to become legal under a ballot initiative approved by voters in November.

The bill would provide a defense in court rather than make small amounts of pot legal outright. Marijuana advocates see this as an affront to the will of voters.

Senate Judiciary chair Lesil McGuire expects that to be a focus of testimony during the hearing.

Tribe criticizes Walker for support of reserve drilling plan
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Tribal government officials in the North Slope village of Nuiqsut (noo-IK'-sut) are taking issue with Gov. Bill Walker for promoting parts of a ConocoPhillips petroleum drilling project that they say will hurt subsistence fish and wildlife resources.

Tribal leaders in the North Slope village of 450 are objecting to company's proposal for an 8-mile road and parallel pipeline within the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska that recently won a wetlands permit from the Army Corps of Engineers.

The Alaska Dispatch News reports the Bureau of Land Management oversees the reserve and must give final approval for the project.

Tribal leaders say they were not consulted by Walker before he urged Interior Secretary Sally Jewell to approve ConocoPhillips' development plan.

The tribe and BLM favor an alternative development plan.

UAS: Deadline to drop a class and study abroad information session Tuesday
UAS Chancellor John Pugh says Tuesday is the deadline for 100% tuition and fees refunds for full time classes and it's the deadline to change credit or audit for full time classes. Call the registrars office at 796-6100 for more information.

The National Student Exchange and Study Abroad Information sessions will be held Tuesday at 1:30 PM in the cafeteria. Learn about exchange at both the international and national levels.

Murkowski, Sullivan, Young, and Walker to fight president's wilderness designation
Alaska's congressional delegation is vowing to fight President Obama's decision to seek wilderness designation for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. In a video announcement over the weekend, the president said ANWR, including its coastal plain, should be protected from oil exploration.

Currently, about 40-percent of the refuge is managed as wilderness. While only congress can add new wilderness areas, the decision to seek the designation treats ANWR with the highest degree of federal protection.  In the meantime, Governor Walker says he's angry that Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said nothing about the ANWR plan when he met with her earlier this month. He says his first thought was to send the federal government a bill for the lost state revenue.

Congressman Don Young and Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan issued a joint statement Sunday saying the designation threatens the future of Alaska's economy. Murkowski says she'll use her position as Chair of the Senate Energy Committee to block the interior department at every turn. Murkowski says she's also concerned that the administration plans to announce new restrictions on offshore drilling in the Arctic Ocean and on leasing in the National Petroleum Reserve Alaska.

Dog credited with alerting Fairbanks family of fire
FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) — A dog is credited with waking up family members after a fire broke out in their Fairbanks home.

The Fairbanks Daily News Miner reports the fire began in the chimney of the Executive Estates home Sunday morning while the family slept.

Officials say the dog alerted family members, who smelled burning when they woke up and discovered a glow coming from their stove's chimney.

The family called 911. Family members then ran outside, where it was 25 degrees below zero.

Fire officials say the fire originated in the attic and spread to the roof. The fire was contained after about 30 minutes.

Fairbanks assistant fire chief Ernie Misewicz says the roof will need to be replaced before the home is habitable again.

The family is staying with relatives.

Navy wants to increase use of sonar-emitting buoys
SEATTLE (AP) — The U.S. Navy is seeking permits to expand sonar and other training exercises off the Pacific Coast, a proposal raising concerns from animal advocates who say that more sonar-emitting buoys would harm whales. The Navy now wants to deploy up to 720 sonobuoys about 12 miles off the coasts of Washington, Oregon and Northern California.

The Navy's John Mosher says the increase sounds dramatic but the impacts aren't. He says anti-submarine warfare training is critical. The waters in the training range are home to endangered whales such as orcas, humpback and blue, as well as seals, sea lions and dolphins. Critics say the noise from sonar can harass and kill whales and other marine life. They worry the Navy is expanding training exercises without increasing efforts to reduce the impacts.

[Sunday January 25TH, 2015 3rd  EDITION 6:43 P. M.]

62 years for murder of former Anchorage soldier's wife
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A former soldier has been sentenced to 62 years in prison for the murder of his wife in their Anchorage home.

KTVA reports 26-year-old David Lopez was sentenced Friday.

A jury last year found him guilty of murder for the 2012 shooting death of his wife, Sara Lopez.

Prosecutors say David Lopez was angry that the Office of Children's Services took away the couple's daughter after Sara Lopez brought the toddler to a hospital because of concerns about bruises on the girl.

According to the Alaska Department of Law, David Lopez called the children's services agency and threatened to shoot everyone at the office unless his daughter was returned. He later called 911 to report he shot his wife.

Gov working on plan to reduce Alaska interior energy prices
FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) — Gov. Bill Walker says he's working on a plan to reduce energy prices in interior Alaska.

Walker told the Golden Valley Electric Association Saturday says he wants his proposal to be in effect by next winter.

Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports Walker says it's too early to divulge details, but hinted that it could include Cook Inlet gas shipped by railroad, which has emerged as an alternative to trucking liquefied gas from the North Slope.

Walker says interior energy costs remains a priority for his administration and notes that oil costs will rise again.

Walker Chief of Staff Jim Whitaker says the plan wouldn't require the same level of risk to the electric utility as trucking gas to the interior.

Gas line, marijuana things to watch this week in legislature
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — The Alaska Legislature begins its first full week of work Monday after an intense start to the new session with the budget taking priority amid falling old prices.

The session will be the first with Bill Walker in the governor's seat and his State of the State and State of the Budget speeches were highly anticipated. While the first speech was brimming with hopefulness, the second, devoted to confronting the state's multibillion-dollar budget deficit, gave the message that government needed to downsize.

More details on the impacts of Walker's spending proposal are expected to emerge in the coming days.

Lawmakers this week also plan overviews on the liquefied natural gas project and oil and gas production credits. They're also looking at legislation related to the legalization of recreational pot.

Obama to seek wilderness designation for Alaska refuge
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama says he will ask Congress to designate more than 12 million acres of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, including the Coastal Plain, as a wilderness area. The designation would seal the area off from oil exploration and give it the highest degree of federal protection available to public lands.

The nearly 20 million acre refuge has long been a piece of contentious land in the struggle between conservationists and advocates of greater energy exploration in the United States.

In a White House video released Sunday, Obama says he is seeking the designation "so we can make sure that this amazing wonder is preserved for future generations."

The Department of Interior on Sunday issued a comprehensive plan that for the first time recommended the additional protections.

December unemployment rates down statewide, but most locations don't see it
Alaska's statewide unemployment rate went down in December, even though most parts of the state saw more people without jobs.

The State Department of Labor says the seasonally adjusted 6-point-3 percent rate in December was down from November's 6-point-5. It also compares to a rate of 6-point-4 percent a year earlier.

The slight decline was driven by employment in Anchorage, which the Labor Department says is less seasonal, and by winter construction on the North Slope.

All other parts of Alaska saw increased unemployment in December.
 

[Saturday January 24TH, 2015 3rd  EDITION 5:42 P. M.]

Walker brings back Marc Luiken as DOT commissioner
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Gov. Bill Walker is bringing back a familiar face to fill the job of state Transportation Department commissioner.

Alaska Public Radio Network reports Walker on Friday named Marc Luiken as DOT commissioner.

He was hired by former Gov. Sean Parnell for the same job and held the post from 2010 to 2012.

The retired Air Force colonel also worked on oil production with ConocoPhillips.

Walker says he and Luiken have a somewhat shared vision of what can be done in the department that oversees Alaska highways, airports and ferries.

Walker also says he liked Luiken's approach when he held the job before.

Yukon Quest musher adds helmet after 2014 concussion
FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) — Veteran musher Brent Sass had to withdraw from the Yukon Quest last year after falling asleep, falling from his sled and smacking his head on the surface of a frozen lake.

He's taking precautions against another concussion this year.

Sass tells the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner that he will wear a helmet in this year's Yukon Quest, which begins Feb. 7.

Sass says he's free of the headaches and other symptoms that lingered after he was hurt but he intends to take better care of himself.

The helmet already was tested when he hit a tree during a training run.

The 35-year-old Eureka musher and former college cross-country skier won the Gin Gin 200 three weeks ago and will be one of the favorites in the 2015 Yukon Quest.

Anchorage man sentenced to 30 years for abuse of minor
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A former University of Alaska Anchorage assistant professor has been sentenced to 30 years in prison for sexual abuse of a minor.

KTVA-television reports 49-year-old Steven Pyle pleaded guilty last year to assaulting a 9-year-old child and was sentenced Friday.

Pyle was hired at UAA in 2006 and worked in the medical science laboratory program.

Pyle apologized in court to the child's family before Anchorage Superior Court Judge Philip Volland imposed the sentence.

Former crime lab worker pleads guilty to theft of drugs
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A former state employee has pleaded guilty to stealing drugs from the state crime lab in Anchorage.

The Alaska Dispatch Newsreports 54-year-old Stephen Palmer pleaded guilty Friday to felony theft, evidence tampering and two counts of drug misconduct, plus misdemeanor official misconduct.

Judge Michael Spaan set sentencing for June 5. The four felonies carry a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $50,000 fine.

Palmer was hired at the crime lab in 1992. He resigned in December 2011.

He was charged in March with stealing seized drug evidence plus drug samples, known as reference standards, kept at the crime lab.

Prosecutors say he added adulterants to the drug samples to cover up the thefts.

Prosecutors say Palmer stole heroin and methamphetamine for personal use.

University of Alaska dedicates herb book to Fairbanks expert
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The work of a Fairbanks woman who spent four decades researching how to grow and use fresh herbs in Alaska has been turned into a book by the University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service.

"An Alaska Herb Garden" is dedicated to Barbara Fay, whose passion for herbs led to her to teach and start an herb exhibit at UAF's Georgeson Botanical Garden.

Fay says her love for herbs came from her grandmother, a Polish immigrant who never used a recipe to cook.

Fay moved to Fairbanks in 1967. Few herbs were grown locally or sold in Alaska stores far from sources in Lower 48 states, so she had to learn to grow them herself.

UAF horticulture professor Pat Holloway says Fay's class handouts created the book's framework.

Lawmakers want bill to decriminalize marijuana fast tracked
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Alaska lawmakers hope to fast track a bill that would decriminalize marijuana, but legalization advocates disagree with the mechanism it uses.

The Senate Judiciary Committee introduced a bill Friday that would decriminalize marijuana in certain situations and create new laws regarding the drug.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Lesil McGuire said she wants the bill to pass before Feb. 24, when recreational marijuana use is set to become legal under a ballot initiative passed in November.

Advocates question how the bill decriminalizes the drug. The bill would repeal the section of the voter initiative permitting certain marijuana possession, and replace it with language that provides a defense in court if one is prosecuted for possession.

Hearings on the bill are expected to begin Monday in the House and Senate judiciary committees.


Sen. Lisa Murkowski, "Keep Energy Affordable"
In the weekly Republican Address, Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Chairperson of the Senate Energy Committee, is urging Democrats and Republicans to work together to pass an infrastructure bill, creating jobs and promoting clean energy:

"American is now producing more energy than ever before. We've seen firsthand that American supply matters to global prices. And the only question now is whether we're going to take the steps necessary to keep energy affordable."
 

[Friday January 23rd, 2015  8th  EDITION 1:55 P. M.]

Lunch at the Governor's Mansion
News of the North's Pete Carran and Lori James enjoyed a loaded baked potato lunch and conversation today with Governor Bill Walker, First Lady Donna Walker, Lt. Governor Byron Mallot, members of the governor's staff, and other media representatives. 



(
Lt. Governor Byron Mallot with News of the North's Lori James and Pete Carran)

Gov says he's haunted by drawn-down rate of savings
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Gov. Bill Walker says he's haunted by the draw-down rate from savings to cover state costs.

He says that's money that could go to schools or infrastructure.

Walker has proposed cutting $550 million in unrestricted general spending next year. Even with that, his budget director said Alaska can expect to draw $3.3 billion from savings.

Alaska faces projected deficits of about $3.5 billion this year and next amid low oil prices.

Walker also has proposed a look at what the right size of government should be, with an eye toward future cuts and consolidations. He has suggested privatizing services but gave no examples.

Depending on spending and oil prices and production, the constitutional budget reserve fund could last until the early 2020s or be gone in the next couple years.

Kodiak school briefly placed on lockdown after threats
KODIAK, Alaska (AP) — Kodiak School District officials say a city school was briefly placed on lockdown after a student threatened another student.

KMXT reports Kodiak Middle School was put on lockdown for nearly 30 minutes Friday morning.

School district spokeswoman Destiny Fitzgerald says administrators are declining to reveal the nature of the threats made, or whether they involved a weapon or were verbal.

Officials say school principal Jethro Jones took the precautionary step of calling for the lockdown at 9:20 a.m. Friday. The lockdown was lifted at 9:45 a.m.

No students were reported injured and no other schools were affected.

Police were notified.


Federal board approves Kenai Peninsula gillnetting
KENAI, Alaska (AP) — The Federal Subsistence Board has voted to allow subsistence gillnetting on the Kenai and Kasilof rivers.

The Peninsula Clarion reports the new fisheries will primarily target sockeye salmon, under the decisions issued Thursday.

The potential to harvest other species of fish, however, has been a sticking point.

Alaska Department of Fish and Game Department biologists are concerned about king salmon runs, which have dipped in numbers in recent years, as well as resident species such as rainbow trout.

The Kasilof River decision follows proposals from the Ninilchik Tribal Council to allow a community-set gillnet fishery for subsistence users, who must be residents of certain rural Kenai Peninsula communities.

The tribal council had argued that the gill nets will catch far fewer kings than sport and commercial users do.

Skagway police say Klondike Highway to reopen
SKAGWAY, Alaska (AP) — The Klondike Highway is set to reopen at noon Friday.

Skagway police dispatcher Tami Scime (sha-MAY') says an avalanche on the Canadian side prompted the closure of the highway this week.

Montana man sentenced in Alaska for hunting violation
FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) — A 45-year-old Montana man has been sentenced to pay a $3,000 fine after pleading guilty to violating the federal Lacey Act while leading a former Major League Baseball player on a 2009 sheep hunt.

The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports the plea agreement entered Tuesday by Jason Kummerfeldt of Billings, Montana, completed the 16th and final case against employees and clients of a now-closed Anchorage guiding business called Fair Chase Hunts.

Authorities say Kummerfeldt was an assistant guide when he took former Red Sox third baseman Wade Boggs on a hunt in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in August 2009.

Authorities say Kummerfeldt and another guide incorrectly assured Boggs he didn't need to buy a non-resident caribou tag to also hunt for caribou.

Boggs was not charged in the incident.


Efforts to rename North America's tallest mountain blocked
As with every new congress in the last four decades, efforts to rename North America's tallest mountain have been blocked by the Ohio delegation.

A bill introduced Wednesday by Ohio representative Bob Gibbs would keep the name "Mount Mckinley," after the 25th president who was born in the buckeye state but never visited Alaska.

Under state law, the Athabascan name "Denali" is preferred, but as long as a Mckinley bill is pending in congress, the U.S Board of Geographic Names is blocked from considering any changes.

Army to hold public hearings in Alaska over possible cuts
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The Army is planning to hold two public listening sessions in Alaska for people to weigh in on potential personnel cuts.

KTUU reports that listening sessions are set to be held in Anchorage Feb. 23 and in Fairbanks on Feb. 24.

Locations and times of the meetings have not yet been determined.

Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson spokesman Lt. Col. Alan Brown says the Army is considering cuts at 30 installations, including some overseas.

Brown says the worst-case scenario in Alaska would be cuts of up to 5,800 soldiers at Fort Wainwright and up to 5,300 soldiers at JBER.

JPD Crime of the Week: daylight theft of gold and jewelry from home
Juneu Police say someone went into a home in the 17000 block of Glacier Highway on January 17, during the day, and took about $18,000 worth of jewelry and gold. Some of the gold was in the shape of dolphins and there was one gold star. A gold necklace worth $12,000 and two wedding bands were also taken.

 

Anyone with information is encouraged to log on to the Juneau Crime Line Web site and report their tip. You may also call JPD at 586-0600. You may be eligible for a reward.

Crime Line is a non-profit organization composed of a cross-section of the community and is designed to aid police agencies in their investigations. Tipsters are guaranteed anonymity and given a number when claiming a reward of up to $1,000.00. If you have information on this or any other crime, log on to http://juneaucrimeline.com.

Anchorage international airport seeks to build hotel
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Plans are underway to build a hotel at Anchorage's international airport.

KTVA-TV reports that managers of Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport have started the paperwork for a hotel to be built on airport property.

Airport manager John Parrott says the airport gets a lot of business travelers and there would be a significant market for the convenience of a hotel at the airport.

The hotel likely would be connected to the terminal where the commercial flights are.

Parrott says construction could begin in the summer of 2016 and be completed by the end of that year, barring any problems.

Senate panel discusses legislature's role in pot oversight
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Alaska lawmakers have signaled plans to play a role in the legalization process for marijuana.

Alaska voters last November approved the recreational use of marijuana. That becomes legal on Feb. 24. However, the state has nine months to develop regulations for marijuana production and sales.

During a Senate State Affairs Committee hearing Thursday, Republican Sen. John Coghill of North Pole said some laws will need to be updated to allow for the legal sale and use of marijuana as allowed for by the initiative.

Committee chairman Bill Stoltze said the panel won't introduce a bill of its own, but will try to provide information and look at bills introduced by others. Next, Senate State Affairs will hear from the departments of Revenue and Public Safety on marijuana.

Walker releases a few more details on budget plans in Alaska
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Gov. Bill Walker has released a few more details on his plans to downsize state government in an effort to confront a multibillion-dollar budget deficit.

In prepared remarks for his State of the Budget speech, Walker said he will propose a $550-million cut in general funding from last year.

He said no agency will be immune from cuts, including the department of education, though he said the hit there will be at a proportionally smaller level. It includes reducing the level of forward-funding by 10 percent.

He also said he asked commissioners to show how their departments would look in four years if their budgets were cut by 25 percent. He proposed cutting his own office budget by 11 percent.

Alaska plans to revisit stalled ferry project later
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — A state official says Alaska intends to revisit plans to update a ferry terminal on Canadian land but wants to allow a cooling off period in a dispute over the use of American steel in the project.

The state on Wednesday canceled bids for the project, which is on land the state leases in Prince Rupert, British Columbia.

The Canadian government threatened to block the project, objecting to a requirement that U.S. steel and iron be used.

That requirement applies to projects funded by the Federal Highway Administration, which was expected to pay for most of the terminal update.

Patricia Eckert, associate director for international trade within the governor's office, said the state plans to re-engage with the Canadians on this issue, probably within the next year.

Collins named special investigator for National Guard claims
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Attorney General Craig Richards has hired a retired state court judge to serve as a special investigator to look into allegations of sexual assault and other misconduct within the Alaska National Guard.

Patricia Collins is expected to look at each allegation that has been made and determine if it was adequately investigated by law enforcement and handled appropriately by prosecutors.

She also has been asked to determine whether cases should be investigated further.

Her work is to span the time period between September 2010 and November 2014. Richards says Collins is to produce a confidential report by the end of April and another report that will be made public about a month later.

Richards says the contract with Patricia Collins is for up to $50,000, plus reasonable expenses.

Kelly says he will keep open to possible Medicaid expansion
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — A co-chair of the Senate Finance Committee says the state is not on a path to expanding Medicaid but said he would keep an open mind to the possibility.

Sen. Pete Kelly made his comments as the committee discussed hiring former state health commissioner Bill Streur as a consultant. Streur served under former Gov. Sean Parnell, who resisted expanding Medicaid coverage, citing cost concerns.

Parnell's successor, Gov. Bill Walker, has made expanding Medicaid a priority and said he thinks it will lead to savings.

Sen. Lyman Hoffman said he wanted to make clear that the purpose of the contract with Streur wasn't to find ways to justify rejecting Medicaid expansion. Kelly said that was correct.

Part of the approved contract with Streur is a review of potential savings from expansion.

Ferry system plans new rate structure
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Alaska ferry rates are due to change over the next several years in an effort to make them more equitable throughout the state.

This summer, rates on most routes will increase 4.5 percent.

In the next four to five years, ferry officials will work to implement a new rate structure based primarily on miles traveled for all routes.

In the meantime, fares for more than a dozen routes will not see the fare hike, including Annette Bay to Ketchikan, Kodiak to Seldovia and others. That's because passengers on these ferries already pay a higher fare than those on other routes.

The new rate structure was recommended in a report requested by the Legislature last year. Ferry system officials presented that report to the House and Senate transportation committees Thursday.

Palin visits Vegas SHOT show, due to serve chili to homeless
LAS VEGAS (AP) — Former Alaska governor Sarah Palin met fans at the annual Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade Show in Las Vegas, ahead of a planned side trip to serve wild boar chili to homeless people.

The Sportsman Channel says the 2008 vice presidential candidate and host of the network's "Amazing America with Sarah Palin" would host a Hunt.Fish.Feed event Thursday at the Salvation Army in downtown Las Vegas.

Volunteer Las Vegas police officers and Nellis Air Force Base personnel also are scheduled to help serve dinner to up to 1,000 people from U.S.

Vets, Catholic Charities and Shade Tree shelters.

Palin also was due to take part in the annual Golden Moose Awards at the Venetian resort.

The SHOT show is at the Sands Expo Center on the Las Vegas Strip.

Burn planned at Denali National Park and Preserve
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — The National Park Service is planning a fire at Denali National Park and Preserve at the end of the month.

The park service plans to burn trees and brush between Jan. 26 and Feb. 6 near the entrance to the park as part of its fire prevention efforts.

According to the park service, smoke may be visible from the Parks Highway and the air.

There is one pile to burn, which is expected to take three or four days. Park service staff will monitor the fire.

 

[Thursday January 22nd, 2015  7th  EDITION 7:30 P. M.]

Superintendent Miller on school budget: "It's rough!"
Work is underway by the Juneau School District on the budget for the school year.

Pete Carran talked to Superintendent Mark Miller about the work ahead while a guest on Action line Thursday.

Miller addressed the budget with a quick, "It's rough." The superintendent was asked about the deficit they're looking to bridge at this point, "We're trying to do the cuts with a scalpel and not a hatchet, and we're looking at every dollar we spend. You know, we've cut administration by 26% over the last four years. It's tough. It's hard. We're looking at increasing revenue wherever we can, but we're all in it together. We're in it with the city and borough. We're in it with the state and the state legislators. It's one boat and we're in it with the community, because we're all about doing what's best for kids."

The school board will take up the budget during a work session Tuesday evening. Meanwhile, public comment on the superintendent's performance from citizens is due by January 30th.

Go to the district’s web site, www.juneauschools.org, for more information.

Southeast breaks rainfall records, Juneau ties high temperature
Rainfall broke records all over Southeast Alaska Wednesday.

Meteorologist Geri Swanson with the National Weather Service gave News of the North the rundown on numbers:

"Wednesday, January 21st proved to be another very wet day for Southeast Alaska. The amounts ranged from 1.2 inches in the Juneau Lena Point to an impressive 4.78 in Petersburg. The Petersburg daily amount of 4.78 inches blasted the previous record of 1.8 inches set in 1988. Here in the Juneau area, the airport received 1.98 inches, breaking the previous record of 1.33 inches set in 1988. The Juneau Forecast Office received 2.45 inches, breaking the record of 0.75 inches set back in 2011. The Juneau Douglas Waste Water Treatment Plant recorded 2.2 inches, breaking their previous record of 0.64 inches set in 2009. The Juneau airport tied the record high temperature of 47 degrees, last set in 1981. The Sitka airport received 3.5 inches of rain, breaking the previous record of 1.72 inches, set back in 1918. The Ketchikan airport had a soaking, with 4.68 inches of rain, more than doubling the previous record of 2.1 inches set in 2004. The observer at the Ketchikan 13 mile also had record breaking rainfall of 2.62 inches. Their previous record was only 0.73 inches in 2012."

The next wave of precipitation moved into the Panhandle Thursday with the potential for more record breaking rainfall.

Increase in water and wastewater rates in effect
New water and wastewater rates have recently gone into effect and customers should expect changes in billing statements.

A City & Borough of Juneau news release says, all Bill Pay automated customers will need to update their accounts to reflect the new rates in order to stay current.

The CBJ Assembly approved an increase to both the water and wastewater rates on June 6th of last year.

The new rates went into effect January 1st of this year.

Find more information at http://www.juneau.org/pubworks/rates.php.

Lawmakers to hear about transportation projects
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — The House and Senate transportation committees will meet jointly Thursday to hear about several major projects.

Updates are slated for the Susitna-Watana hydro project, Knik Arm bridge, the in-state pipeline, the Kodiak Launch Complex and the road projects in the Ambler mining district and in Juneau.

Gov. Bill Walker halted new, non-obligated spending on those projects in December.

Officials with the Alaska Marine Highway System will give lawmakers an update on the proposed 4.5 percent increase for fares on state ferries. The new rates are supposed to go into effect on May 1.

The new rate structure came after lawmakers last year requested a study of ferry rates. The final report is due next month.

Senate State Affairs Committee to hear about marijuana laws
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Alaska lawmakers will hear from marijuana proponents on Thursday about ways the drug should be regulated.

Alaska voters last November approved the recreational use of marijuana. That becomes legal on Feb. 24. However, the state has nine months to develop regulations for marijuana production and sales.

Even though the state's Alcoholic Beverage Control Board could write those regulations, lawmakers could still get involved in the process.

Thursday's hearing before the Senate State Affairs Committee will include testimony from Tim Hinterberger and Bruce Shult, who both lobbied for passage of the pot measure.

Peninsula school district starts search for superintendent
KENAI, Alaska (AP) — The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District has begun a national search for a new schools superintendent.

The Peninsula Clarion reports the application period opened Friday and will close Feb. 16.

Applicants must have an Alaska teaching and administrative certificate, a master's degree with certain specializations and at least five years of experience as a school administrator.

The advertised annual salary is $140,000 to $165,000 plus benefits.

Sean Dusek was hired as interim superintendent through July 1 and has not said whether he will apply for the permanent job.

Ferry Kalakala arrives at scrap yard in Tacoma
TACOMA, Wash. (AP) — The historic ferry Kalakala (kuh-LAHK'-uh-luh) is now at the Tacoma dry dock where it will be scrapped.

The Coast Guard says it arrived Thursday morning.

It was towed two miles from the Hylebos Waterway, where it has been moored for a decade, to the graving dock on the Blair Waterway,

The sleek, silver ferry was the symbol of Seattle in the days before the Space Needle. After it was taken out of service in the 1960s it was used as a cannery in Alaska.

The Kalakala was returned to Puget Sound with hopes of restoring the vessel but none of the plans came up with enough money.

The News Tribune reports Rhine Demolition is handling the salvage and will decide whether to offer any souvenirs to the public.

Rock slides prompt closure of Klondike Highway
SKAGWAY, Alaska (AP) — Rock slides have prompted the closure of the Klondike Highway.

Skagway police in southeast Alaska say the highway is closed until further notice.

Skagway police dispatcher Tyler Thomas says the rock slides are on the Canadian side of the highway.

Interim CEO begins filling in at Sitka Community Hospital
SITKA, Alaska (AP) — An interim CEO has begun working at financially troubled Sitka Community Hospital to fill in until a replacement is found for the former CEO who resigned suddenly.

Rob Allen arrived last week from Deerfield, Massachusetts, where he has been living. Allen was raised in Sitka and makes several trips a year to the southeast Alaska town.

The Daily Sitka Sentinel says Allen's appointment follows the Jan. 2 resignation of CEO Jeff Comer, who left town Jan. 4 and returned to his home in Phoenix.

Allen began his new stint last Friday. He says he can serve until April, when his Sitka boat tour business begins for the visitor season.

The Sitka Assembly voted in December to extend a line of credit to the hospital from $500,000 to $1.5 million.

Legislative Welcoming Reception this evening
It’s the 30th Annual Legislative Welcoming Reception and it’s coming to Centennial Hall this evening.

It's paid for by donations from the community and hosted by volunteers with the city of Juneau, the Alaska Committee, the Juneau Chamber of Commerce, and the Juneau Convention and Visitors' Bureau. 

Juneau Representative, Sam Kito III, says it's a "great networking opportunity for residents."  Wayne Jensen of Jensen, Yorba, Lott INC. says gift baskets with goodies from local businesses will be given to the Governor,  Lt. Governor, and legislators.

The event runs from 5:00 until 6:30 today.

Juneau Police say number low for use of force last year
The Juneau Police Department's Executive Officer, Lt. Dave Campbell had the breakdown on Use Of Force in Juneau for 2014. He said there were 49,673 incidents in 2014 that resulted in 2,639 cases which led to 1,179 arrests.

"That's a little over three arrests per day." said Lt. Campbell.  "Our total numbers of use of force for 2014 was 39 times. You can break it down further to say that 21 times the taser was used. One time a baton was used. Three times pepper spray was used and 14 times an officer had to use his hands to physically restrain someone. So we're talking about some very low numbers here."

Lt. Dave Campbell was the guest on Action Line on Wednesday.

[Wednesday January 21st, 2015  6th  EDITION 7:54 P. M.]

Alaska Gov Walker delivers 1st State of State speech
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) Gov. Bill Walker is calling on Alaskans to pull together, and not panic, as the state faces multibillion-dollar budget deficits amid a fall in oil prices.

Walker, in his first State of the State address, struck a hopeful tone, saying he sees the fiscal situation not as a crisis but as an opportunity to make impactful changes and challenge traditional ways of operating.

In his prepared remarks, he did not get into many specifics on the budget. He plans a separate speech devoted to the topic on Thursday.

However, he vowed to protect education funding and continue making investments in what he called one of the state's highest priorities.

He also spoke on the need for affordable energy and pledged to move forward with a major liquefied natural gas project.

Walker: Special investigator to be named Thursday
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) Attorney General Craig Richards will name a special investigator Thursday to look into the handling of sexual assault and other allegations within the Alaska National Guard.

That's according to Gov. Bill Walker.

In his State of the State speech, Walker said that as commander in chief of the guard, he will ensure that perpetrators are brought to justice.

A report, released by then-Gov. Sean Parnell last September, found that victims didn't trust the system due to lack of confidence in the command.

The scandal and criticism of the Parnell administration's handling of complaints overshadowed last year's gubernatorial race.

Walker's spokeswoman has said the investigator will look into allegations of sexual abuse, harassment and cover-up, as well as whether the response of law enforcement was appropriate and whether procedures were followed.

2 lawmakers ask gov to weigh selling Kodiak Launch Complex
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) Two House Democrats are asking Gov. Bill Walker's administration to analyze the potential benefits of selling the Kodiak Launch Complex.

Reps. Les Gara and Scott Kawasaki made the request.

The launch complex has struggled financially and the Legislature has threatened to cut its funding if it didn't bring in more business.

The state created the Alaska Aerospace Corp. in 1991 to develop an aerospace sector for Alaska's economy. The corporation owns and operates the launch complex.

Walker is weighing how or whether to proceed with the facility, along with five other large-scale projects.

Alaska cancels ferry project bids after dispute with Canada
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) The state of Alaska has canceled bids for a ferry terminal update that the Canadian government threatened to block in a dispute over the use of American steel.

The cancellation notice went out Wednesday.

Just a few days earlier, the Canadian government issued an order that would have blocked the state from doing the project on land it leases at Prince Rupert, British Columbia, unless a resolution was reached.

The dispute centered on "Buy America" requirements for steel, iron and manufactured products in projects funded by the Federal Highway Administration.

Much of the construction funding for the project was to come from the federal agency, with the rest coming from the state.

Canadian officials called the requirement to only use U.S. steel on Canadian soil unacceptable.

Bills that cost money to get extra scrutiny: House majority
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Members of the House majority say bills that cost money will get extra scrutiny this session.

The state is facing multibillion-dollar budget deficits amid a fall in oil prices.

House Speaker Mike Chenault says sometimes lawmakers will pass legislation that they feel is needed and costs some money. But he says bills that cost money may not move as quickly through the process this year as their sponsors would like.

House Finance co-chair Steve Thompson says it will be difficult to justify increasing the budget through new legislation. But he says health, life and safety issues will be part of that deliberation.

House Majority Leader Charisse Millett says she thinks there will be less legislation this year, unless it's "overwhelmingly needed."

Fairbanks air quality proposal draws crowd to testify
FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) — Fairbanks area residents would be penalized for spreading pollution, under proposed air-quality measure under consideration by the Fairbanks North Star Borough Assembly.

The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports that about 75 people attended the meeting Tuesday before the Air Pollution Control Commission.

Most of the 40 people who testified were against the proposed ordinance, which outlines smoke opacity requirements as well as possible fines.

The assembly is scheduled to vote on the measure Jan. 29.

Sponsors of the measure include assembly member John Davies, who called pollution a serious health issue that is causing deaths in the borough. Members of the audience were skeptical about that claim.

Pollution problems in Fairbanks and North Pole have landed the area on the federal Environmental Protection Agency's watch list.

UA Regents to discuss anticipated cuts in funding
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The University of Alaska Board of Regents will gather Thursday in Anchorage for two days of discussions on anticipated funding cuts.

The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports the 11-member board will hear reports from UA President Pat Gamble and chancellors at the three main campuses.

Besides the budget, regents will discuss in an executive session how to replace Gamble, who will retire in June.

Gamble told regents in November that the university likely will face a funding problem even after absorbing a $26 million shortfall for the current fiscal year.

State revenue is closely tied to the oil industry and the per-barrel price of Alaska North Slope crude oil has dropped from $80 in November to less than $50.

Village school placed on lockdown as residents exiled
FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) — Alaska State Troopers say the school in the village of Huslia (HOOS'-lee-uh) was placed in lockdown this week as local residents were exiled from the community.

The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports the brief lockdown occurred Tuesday.

Troopers spokeswoman Megan Peters says the people who were asked to leave are no longer in the Koyukuk River community.

Peters said she couldn't elaborate on why the residents were exiled, or how many were asked to leave. Peters says troopers are still investigating, and no one has been charged with any crime.

The community of about 275 people is located nearly 260 miles northwest of Fairbanks.

Ethics panel looks at how other states collect unpaid fines
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — The legislative ethics committee will look to other states for more information on how to collect unpaid fines.

Committee members met Wednesday and decided to see how other states collect fines before creating their own process.

The committee also decided that lawmakers must now disclosure participation in the Alaska Energy Authority's Emerging Energy Technology Fund.

The committee also recommended introduction of a bill changing the ethics requirements for contractors to the legislators. The bill would align them with the requirements for legislative volunteers and interns.

Ethics committee Executive Director Jerry Anderson also told the committee that legislators made 135 fewer disclosures in 2014 than in 2013. The drop-off came in the number of disclosures for gifts and/or hospitality, which Anderson attributed to the campaign season.

Department approves temporary royalty relief for Caelus
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Alaska's Department of Natural Resources has approved temporary royalty relief for five North Slope leases that it says could not economically be developed otherwise.

The reduced royalty rate would apply to five leases held by Caelus Natural Resources Alaska LLC that otherwise have rates of 12.5 percent and 16.7 percent. It comes with conditions. For example, the project would have to be sanctioned by March 31.

Caelus also must submit a non-confidential project summary before commercial production of the Nuna development begins.

Caelus applied for royalty modification for 11 leases. But the department found that only five leases are expected to include production from Nuna.

The department said it would increase the rate by which Caelus could reduce certain costs if at least 80 percent of workers hired are Alaskans.

Alaska Senators and Representative disappointed in President Obama's address
Alaska's two US Senators and US Representative have released their responses of disappointment in President Obama’s State of the Union address Tuesday night, in which he spoke of cooperation and working with Congress, while at the same time threatening to veto any Congressional initiatives with which he disagrees.

Senator Lisa Murkowski said, “Tonight the President had an opportunity to say, ‘Let’s work together in the last two years of my administration, let’s look to the fact that we have a Republican Congress and a Democratic Executive, let’s come together and make some things happen.’ He could have said that, and in a way he did say that, but he went on the say, ‘But only on my terms, and if you fail to do so on my terms, I’m going to move forward on a veto’ … That’s not how you bring together a government. That’s not how you govern together. So it’s one thing to say we need to be working together, it’s another thing to put your actions to those words. What we heard tonight was we’re going to increases taxes instead of making economic opportunities available to people so that they can better themselves and their families. Instead of finding those ways that we can provide better jobs and opportunities for our families so that they can put their kids through college and really better themselves, put retirement away. What we heard is that government is the answer. It will be government that will provide for free community college education, it will be government that sets minimum wages, it will be government that provides childcare, it will be government that leads on so many of these areas. I don’t think that most of us view the government as that answer. And in the president’s speech, not only did he say government was the answer, but if you don’t like the proposals that I’m putting forward, I’m going to veto them. That’s not cooperation. That’s not governing together. So, it was a bit of a disappointment from my perspective tonight.”

Congressman Don Young chose not to view the President’s speech from within the House Chamber, saying he “couldn’t stomach another year of campaign-style rhetoric and deceit. This President has sworn to uphold the Constitution of the United States and for six years he has broken his solemn oath. Time and time again, he has misled the American people and undermined the very document that makes this nation great. His vision for America couldn’t be further from what I believe in, from what truly makes this the greatest nation in the world – individual liberty and the right to prosper from the efforts of hard work one puts forth. For the sixth time, I’ve walked away from this President’s State of the Union address disappointed and concerned for the agenda and vision he’s laid out to solve the many issues facing the American people. Unfortunately, the President has once again missed the mark in terms of strengthening the nation’s economy and assisting a majority of middle-class Americans in finding relief from rising costs, growing regulatory burdens, and an ever expanding federal government. Simply put, bigger government and expanded bureaucracy is not the answer to our nation’s problems. The American people have spoken and sent a powerful team of leaders to Washington, D.C. with a clear and simple message: government should be solving our nation’s many problems, not creating them. As Republicans and Democrats, in both the House and Senate, we must provide a legislative agenda focused on an open and responsive government, one that empowers everyday Alaskans and Americans to achieve increased opportunity, one that provides a robust and healthy economy, and one that reduces government-created burdens. By once again proposing policies that grow Washington, D.C. and expand the government’s grip on our local economies, it’s clear the President has chosen to ignore the resounding message Americans have sent him. As the 114th Congress moves forward, I will continue my fight to defend and uphold the Constitution while providing commonsense relief and opportunity for all Americans. This President’s dishonesty and failed policies have done little to advance solutions and create opportunity in this nation, and I remain committed to finding real legislative reforms to provide more jobs, better wages, lower education costs, increased energy production, and a simpler tax code."

Senator Dan Sullivan released the following statement in response to President Obama’s State of the Union address: “It is time for a new direction. America's hope lies in the strength of our people, not the size of our federal bureaucracy. That is why I'll be partnering with my colleagues in the Senate to empower local communities through common sense conservative solutions like greater access to federal lands for responsible resource development, small business relief and regulatory reform, and restoring the rule of law. I urge President Obama to join us in these endeavors and I look forward to working with anyone who wants to do what's right for Alaska and for our country.”

Corrections officer injured during attempted escape
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A corrections officer at the Anchorage jail was treated and released at a hospital after sustaining injuries from two prisoners trying to escape.

KTUU-TV reports a 20-year-old man arrested on a malicious destruction charge was sharing a cell Sunday night with a 35-year-old man held a theft charge.

Alaska State Troopers say the inmates at 10:15 p.m. asked the corrections officer for toilet paper and rushed her when their cell door was open.

Troopers say the men hit the officer and put her in a choke hold. Other corrections officers stopped the assault.

Troopers say one inmate tried run but was unable to open an exit door. He was found hiding in a shower.

Assault and attempted escape charges were forwarded to prosecutors.

Alaska Gov Walker to deliver 1st State of State speech
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Gov. Bill Walker is scheduled to deliver his first State of the State address Wednesday night.

Lawmakers in both parties are eager to hear his plan for the direction of the state. There's high interest, too, in his budget priorities, which he is expected to get into in a separate address on Thursday.

Republicans and Democrats each plan to deliver responses.

Walker changed his party affiliation from Republican to undeclared in joining forces with Democrat Byron Mallott on a "unity ticket" last year. He defeated Republican incumbent Sean Parnell in November.

The state is facing an unprecedented, multibillion-dollar budget shortfall amid the crash in oil prices. But Walker has said he believes the state can manage its way through the situation.

Legislative ethics committee mulls fine collection
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — The legislative ethics committee will discuss options for collecting unpaid fines levied against lawmakers.

The committee plans to meet Wednesday morning in Juneau.

The committee is expected to address a legal opinion it received on how best to collect unpaid fines and then consider four options.

Those include amending state law, seeking assistance from the Legislative Council, requesting action from the attorney general or exploring how other states collect fines.

Among other agenda items will be a review of ethics disclosures from last year.

The nine-member ethics committee includes legislators and members of the public and is responsible for helping people understand and comply with the Alaska Legislative Ethics Act, including considering complaints regarding alleged violations. The act applies to legislators and most legislative employees.

[Tuesday January 20th, 2015  5th  EDITION 5:38 P. M.]

2015 employment forecast: state shows flat numbers, southeast losing 200 jobs
The employment forecast for the state is out and published in the January edition of Alaska Economic Trends. That publication and the economic forecast is prepared by the research and analysis section of the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development. Section chief Dan Robinson and economists Caroline Schultz and Conor Bell were guests on KINY's Action Line show on Tuesday.

Robinson provided the overall picture for the entire state, "It's an interesting time for Alaska. We saw in the end of 2014 a real slowdown in job growth, so we didn't add a lot of jobs in 2014. We are forecasting basically flat numbers for 2015."

Schultz said there would be continued growth in the oil and gas sector, but declines in government jobs with construction slowing. She also talked about the projection for the tourism industry, "When the U.S. economy was hurting, we did see some dips in our visitor numbers, but now that the U.S. economy is back on track, or heading towards a track that's on its way to back to normal, we're definitely expecting growth."

Bell provided the forecast for Southeast Alaska, "We saw mild losses in 2014, about 250 jobs. We should continue on a similar trend, where we're seeing some losses across all government. Instead of having a growing private sector, we have a stagnant private sector that's not able to accommodate for those government losses. We'll expect further losses into 2015, about 200 jobs."

Bell said the manufacturing sector would be particularly strong thanks to fishing activity and the construction of two new Alaska state ferries at the shipyard in Ketchikan. The forecast does not include data from the last three months of 2014. It will be revised toward the middle of 2015.

Alaska House gavels in for the start of the 29th Legislature
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — The Alaska House has gaveled in for the start of the 29th Legislature, a session expected to be focused heavily on the state's budget deficit.

Falling oil prices have exacerbated the budget deficit, which is projected to be at least $3.5 billion this year and next.

This is the first of two regular sessions for the 29th Legislature.

There are eight new members in the House and two in the Senate. The GOP retains control of both chambers.

There also is a new governor in office, Bill Walker. Walker is scheduled to address a joint session of the Legislature, and Alaskans, in two speeches this week: the State of the State address on Wednesday, and the State of the Budget address on Thursday.

Plaintiffs say state fell short in outreach to Native voters
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Plaintiffs in a voting rights lawsuit say the state fell short in providing outreach and ballot information to Alaska Native voters with limited English ahead of the November elections.

Plaintiffs' attorneys say while the state attempted to translate more documents than they had previously, there has been no change in the state's approach to language assistance.

They say there were no outreach workers available in 40 percent of Native villages in the three affected census areas. They say pre-election radio announcements were made in less than half the villages in the census areas.

The filing comes as the two sides seek a possible settlement.

A federal judge last September ordered the state take additional steps to provide voting materials to limited English-speaking Native voters ahead of the elections.

Walker halts eminent domain of property for bridge project
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Gov. Bill Walker has stopped the state transportation department from seizing the land occupied by a sandwich shop in Anchorage for a bridge project that may be put on hold.

Walker last month halted all new, non-obligated spending on six major projects, including the Knik Arm crossing while he evaluated whether or how to proceed with them in light of the state's tough budget situation.

His spokeswoman, Grace Jang, said he blocked the department from exercising eminent domain because it violated the spirit of last month's administrative order.

Residents of the Government Hill neighborhood in Anchorage, where the sandwich shop is located, expressed their thanks Tuesday.

Alaska's lack of snow could again shift start of Iditarod
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — South-central Alaska's lack of snow and uncertain weather is again pushing organizers of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race to ponder moving the start of the race from Willow to Fairbanks.

A ceremonial start for the 1,000-mile race is scheduled for March 7 in Anchorage.

The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports teams usually begin actual racing a day later in Willow.

The trail takes them through the Alaska Range, down the Yukon River and along the Bering Sea coast to Nome.

In 2003, the Iditarod Trail Committee started the race in Fairbanks north of the Alaska Range because of poor snow.

Race marshal Mark Nordman says one big storm could improve trail conditions, but starting the race in Fairbanks is an option.

Ice playground being built ahead of Alaska sculpture contest
FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) — Construction of an ice playground has begun in an Alaska city ahead of its annual world ice sculpture championships.

The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports workers began building the playground Monday at the George Horner Ice Park in Fairbanks.

The playground will feature a pirate ship slide made from 65 refrigerator-sized blocks of ice.

Ice championships chairman Dick Brickley says a giant ice lens also is planned for the park. He says it will be 12 feet in diameter and powerful enough to focus the sun's rays and start a fire.

The attractions must be completed by the time the park opens Feb. 23. That's when teams of artists participating in the 2015 BP World Ice Art championships begin making sculptures.

The artists are from 16 countries.

Yukon Quest organizers consider route change
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Organizers of the 1,000-mile Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race are considering changing the race route this year because of warmer-than-usual weather.

KTUU reports there is still open water in Whitehorse in Canada's Yukon Territory. Race officials are working on plans for an alternate route for the race between Whitehorse and Fairbanks.

The race begins Feb. 7 in Whitehorse.

Organizers say no decision has been made and conditions could still change substantially.

Twenty-six mushers, including four past Yukon Quest champions, are signed up for this year's race.

Eaglecrest halts lift operations, postpones classes
Juneau, AK – Eaglecrest will halt lift operations until receive enough snow to open at least part of the upper mountain is received.

All seasonal programs and Snowsports School programs and classes have been postponed until more snow arrives. The Ticket Office and Equipment Repair Shop will be open Thursday – Monday from 9am – 3pm. Learn to Ski Weekend scheduled for January 24 & 25 has been postponed until a date yet to be determined. All winners have been notified by telephone.

For more information and updates check out skijuneau.com/wordonthemountain.php.

Could Alaska finally see the gas price dropping streak?
(ABC NEWS) - According to the U-S Energy Department, the national average price for a gallon of gas is at 2 dollars and 14 cents. Gas prices have now dropped 116 days straight, the longest losing streak in history.

ABC's Chief Economic and Business correspondent Rebecca Jarvis says if the streak is not broken, the entire country will see the national average dip below 2 dollars a gallon by the upcoming weekend. "Americans now spending nearly two and half billion dollars less every week, on gasoline than they did this time last year. That's 1,100 dollars in savings a year for the typical family. Vermont, Alaska and Hawaii, the only states left in the country without at least one station selling sub-two dollar gas."

Ship sinking south of Sitka
Coast Guard Sector in Juneau responded to the sinking of the 80-foot fishing vessel Eyak approximately 13 miles south of Sitka Harbor, Monday.

The Coast Guard had received a call from a crewmember aboard the Eyak stating they had run aground by Calligan Island and were taking on water.

Alaska State Troopers and Sitka Search and Rescue crews arrived on scene and assisted with dewatering of the vessel. The Coast Guard helicopter crew arrived on the scene and monitored the dewatering efforts until the crew of the Eyak was evacuated from the sinking vessel.

Senate panel to consider contracts for former commissioners
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — The Senate Finance Committee plans to consider contracts with two former state commissioners as lawmakers try to address state spending and massive budget shortfalls.

The committee co-chairs have proposed hiring former Revenue commissioner Angela Rodell and former health commissioner Bill Streur. The committee is expected to consider the proposed contracts later this week.

Co-chair Anna MacKinnon said she and co-chair Pete Kelly spoke with Gov. Bill Walker and told him they are just looking for the best advice on issues that are major cost drivers, such as Medicaid and debt service.

Rodell and Streur served under the prior administration and were replaced by Walker.

Kelly said it is no criticism of the new health commissioner, Valerie Davidson, but he said lawmakers need their own source of information.

Alaska Legislature to get underway; budget a big issue
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — A new legislative session convenes Tuesday in Juneau, with the budget being the major issue.

The House is scheduled to gavel in early Tuesday afternoon, with the Senate to follow.

There are eight new members in the House and two in the Senate, though both those previously served in the House. This will be Gov. Bill Walker's first session.

He and leaders of the GOP-controlled Legislature want to focus this session on cuts and looking for efficiencies.

Sen. Pete Kelly of Fairbanks thinks there is a lot of common ground with Walker on the budget.

Alaska faces multibillion-dollar budget shortfalls amid low oil prices.

Walker said he thinks the state can manage its way through and that will be part of his message in Wednesday's State of the State speech.
 

[Monday January 19th, 2015  5TH  EDITION 9:12 P. M.]

Walker: Nothing off the table in budget talks
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Gov. Bill Walker says nothing will be off the table as the state grapples with multibillion-dollar budget deficits amid the plunge in oil prices.

He plans to look at the budget over several years, rather than focus on just the upcoming year. He says he has in mind a target for cuts over the next three years but isn't ready to disclose that.

Even taking a longer view, he says he doesn't expect state leaders to just dabble around the edges of the fiscal situation this session.

According to the Legislative Finance Division, the statutory budget reserve fund, which is easier for lawmakers to draw from than other funds, is expected to be dry by the end of this fiscal year.

Alaska, however, still has billions of dollars in savings.


Kuskokwim 300 has hometown winner for 1st time in 30 years
BETHEL, Alaska (AP) — A Bethel man is the first local musher in nearly 30 years to win the Kuskokwim 300 Sled Dog Race.

Pete Kaiser and his team crossed the finish line in Bethel at 5:31 a.m. Sunday. His elapsed race time was 35 hours, 1 minute and 25 seconds.

Kaiser earns $25,000 for his first place performance.

Kaiser began mushing as a kid and grew up watching the Kuskokwim 300.

The race started Friday in Bethel, with mushers traveling to Aniak and then back to Bethel. This was the 36th running of the race.

KYUK reports the 300-mile race was about 30 miles shorter this year. A lack of snow prevented the race from using any trails off the Kuskokwim River.


Canada threatens to block project over US steel requirements
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — The Canadian government has issued an order that would block the state of Alaska from updating a ferry terminal unless the two sides resolve an ongoing dispute over the use of U.S. steel in the project.

The project is on Canadian soil that's leased by the state. The port at Prince Rupert is part of the Alaska Marine Highway System.

Most of the funding for construction is expected to come from the Federal Highway Administration, which has "Buy America" requirements for steel, iron and manufactured products used in projects it funds.

Canada's minister of international trade, Ed Fast, says the application of "Buy America" provisions on Canadian soil is an "affront to Canadian sovereignty."

Gov. Bill Walker says he believes the two sides will see their way through.

Oregon man, 24, dies in 1,000-foot fall from Alaska mountain
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Alaska State Troopers say an Oregon man died while climbing Mount Yukla.

Troopers say Dasan Marshall of Portland, Oregon, was climbing with a friend on Sunday when he fell about 1,000 feet.

Because of the terrain in the Chugach Mountains about 6 miles from the Eagle River Nature Center, a helicopter was used to recover 24-year-old Marshall's body. The body was taken to the state medical examiner's office.

No foul play is suspected.

Officials: Ketchikan jail inmate wasn't suicide watch
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Authorities say the inmate who died after trying to hang himself at the Ketchikan Correctional Center wasn't on suicide watch.

Alaska Department of Corrections spokeswoman Sherrie Daigle says that when Brendon Sample was booked and questioned about being suicidal, he said he wasn't having any suicidal thoughts.

She says Sample apparently hanged himself with a bedsheet while his bunkmate was out of the cell on Thursday.

He was pronounced dead Saturday at an Anchorage hospital.

Records show he was charged with sexual abuse of a minor.

Alaska Dispatch News reports this is the second Alaska inmate to die by apparent suicide in less than a month. Corrections officials say Robert Alexie used a piece of clothing to kill himself last month in the bathroom of the Anchorage Correctional Complex.

Alaska Airlines adding Seattle-Phoenix Super Bowl flights
SEATTLE (AP) — Alaska Airlines has added two roundtrip flights between Seattle and Phoenix for the Super Bowl.

The airline also is offering 56 members of its mileage plan a chance to win airplane tickets, hotel accommodations and a game day party. The sweepstakes rules are on the Alaska Airlines Facebook page.

Super matchup: Seahawks face Patriots for NFL championship
For Russell Wilson's Seattle Seahawks to become the first team in a decade to win consecutive Super Bowls, they'll have to beat the most recent group to do it, Tom Brady's New England Patriots.

In an enticing matchup pitting the defending champions against the dominant NFL franchise of the 2000s, the NFC's Seahawks (14-4) will face the AFC's Patriots (14-4) in the title game at Glendale, Arizona, in two weeks.

New England reached its eighth Super Bowl, equaling Dallas and Pittsburgh for most in league history. It's the sixth time Brady and coach Bill Belichick made it in the past 14 years; they won trophies after the 2001, 2003 and 2004 seasons.

Some Las Vegas sports books had the Seahawks as 1-point favorites; others made the game a pick 'em.

[Sunday January 18th, 2015  4TH  EDITION 8:50 P. M.]

Alaska lawmakers will scrutinize budget, pot and Medicaid
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — There's big question as the Legislature convenes Tuesday: How low will oil prices go?

Plunging prices have contributed to massive budget deficits that cuts alone can't erase. Alaska has billions of dollars in its constitutional budget reserve, but oil prices and spending will dictate how long that cushion lasts.

Here are five things to watch for over the next 90 days:

—BUDGET: It's the top priority of leaders who have spent the past month or so warning of rough times ahead. Many lawmakers aren't expecting much in the capital budget beyond the federal-match projects generally found in the placeholder budget put out by Gov. Bill Walker two weeks after he was sworn in. Walker is scheduled to address the budget situation in a special speech Thursday night.

The size of the budget hole is unprecedented, according to Legislative Finance Director David Teal. The current year deficit is estimated at $3.5 billion, up $2.1 billion from May, when the 2015 budget was signed. Next year's deficit is forecast to be comparable.

A number of lawmakers want to focus this session on cuts, prioritizing spending and looking at ways to deliver services more efficiently or differently. Incoming Senate Democratic Leader Berta Gardner said she will consider it a win if education, a major driver of the state's operating budget, isn't cut. But she said the way education is funded is open to change, including taking a look at the current per-pupil funding formula.

Alaska doesn't have a state sales or personal income tax, and Sen. Peter Micciche, R-Soldotna, said he'd like to keep it that way.

"In order to do that, we have two choices, and that is to cut services or ask Alaskans how they want to pay for those services that are outside of our core constitutional responsibility as a state," he said.

—MEDICAID EXPANSION: This is likely to come up as part of the budget debate. As a candidate, Walker pledged to expand Medicaid coverage in Alaska if elected. Medicaid is a program that helps cover health care cost for lower-income people and, like education, is a major budget driver. Walker's health commissioner, Valerie Davidson, sees expanded coverage as an important investment in the health care of Alaskans and a catalyst for reforming the system to ensure it's sustainable.

The feds are expected to cover the full cost of expansion through 2016 and the bulk of costs indefinitely, with the state contributing.

—RELATIONSHIPS: This will be Walker's first session in office and his relationship with the GOP-led Legislature will be watched.

He defeated Republican incumbent Sean Parnell in November. Walker changed his party affiliation from Republican to undeclared in joining forces with Democrat Byron Mallott as part of an "Alaska first" unity ticket. The state Democratic Party has lauded Walker, and Democrats see in him a partner. Walker's shakeup of the board of the Alaska Gasline Development Corp. riled some Republican lawmakers. But GOP legislative leaders say they're willing to work with Walker's administration.

Lawmakers will have to sign off on Walker's new appointments, including new members of the Cabinet and those he picks to fill the three empty gas line board seats.

—NATIONAL GUARD: Questions about the state's handling of sexual assault and other allegations of misconduct within the Alaska National Guard overshadowed last year's gubernatorial race. The Walker administration plans to hire a special investigator to look into the issue. Legislative hearings are also expected.

—MARIJUANA: Voters in November approved legalizing recreational use of marijuana by those 21 and older. Pot consumption becomes legal Feb. 24, but the state has another nine months after that to come up with regulations for the sale of marijuana. Proposals dealing with who oversees the regulation of the industry and the location of shops should get scrutiny this session.

Pot entrepreneurs lining up space for marijuana businesses
FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) — Real estate agents in Fairbanks are starting to field inquiries about property that could be used for businesses connected to the state's new recreational marijuana law.

Voters in November voted to legalize recreational marijuana. Possession under state law will be legal for people older than 21 on Feb. 24.

Associate broker Kelli Powers tells the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner she has taken calls and showed space for commercial marijuana space.

David Pruhs of Pruhs Real Estate Group, who's also a Fairbanks city councilman, has also taken calls.

He's recommending that buyers don't purchase space until the state develops regulations for governing marijuana businesses.

He says a better choice might be a lease with an option to buy in case a location can't be zoned for a marijuana business.

New population estimate shows slight decline in Alaska
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The state demographer estimates Alaska's population is shrinking — slightly.

Eddie Hunsinger tells the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner that Alaska's estimated population has fallen by 61 people to 735,601, a drop of less than a hundredth of 1 percent.

The federal census occurs every 10 years. State estimates in the years between the federal census are based in part on surveys of military and shared-housing facilities, Alaska Permanent Fund dividend applications and Internal Revenue Service records.

The estimate released Thursday looked at the population from July 2013 through June 2014.

The estimate shows losses in interior Alaska tied to military personnel fluctuations matched by a gain of about the same number of people in the Anchorage and Mat-Su region.

UA Fairbanks chancellor may seek president's job
FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) — The chancellor of the University of Alaska Fairbanks says it's likely he will apply to replace outgoing UA President Pat Gamble.

The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports UAF Chancellor Brian Rogers spoke Friday to Interior Republicans.

Rogers says he will make his decision after Gov. Bill Walker appoints four new members of the UA Board of Regents.

Gamble announced last month he will leave June 1.

Rogers has been chancellor since 2009. He's a former Democratic state representative from Fairbanks.

He was director of budget development and vice president for finance at UA from 1984 to 1995.

He served on the Regents Board from 1999 to 2007.

Walker says he's aiming to announce regent candidates at a regents' meeting this week.

Wrangell man dies of injuries suffered in Ketchikan jail
KETCHIKAN, Alaska (AP) — An autopsy has been ordered for a 20-year-old Wrangell man who died of injuries suffered in a Ketchikan jail.

Alaska State Troopers say Brendon Sample on Thursday attempted to hang himself with a bed sheet while alone in a cell at Ketchikan Correctional Center.

Corrections staff found him unresponsive. He was taken to Peace Health Ketchikan Medical.

He stayed in the intensive care unit until 1 a.m. Friday, when he was flown to Alaska Regional Hospital in Anchorage.

Sample was pronounced dead Saturday in Anchorage.

Online court records indicate Sample on Jan. 11 was charged with sexual abuse of a minor.

Alaska faces lean budget times as oil prices plunge
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Alaska faces some drastic cuts to its state budget as oil prices plunge.

Lawmakers converge on Juneau for the start of the session Tuesday with oil at about half as much as the $107 a barrel it was when legislators left in April. Alaska relies heavily on oil revenue to fund state government.

With an estimated 80 percent decline in oil production taxes since last year, lawmakers and new Gov. Bill Walker will have to look at cuts and possible new revenue streams even as they dip into savings.

New ideas are welcomed. In fact, Walker is giving prizes to the five best ideas residents have to cut spending or raise money. In these lean times, it's not too extravagant: a soup-and-sandwich lunch with Walker.

MLK holiday event in Juneau Monday
The Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday observance in Juneau will be Monday at 1:00 PM at St. Paul's Catholic Church.

Sherry Patterson of the Juneau Black Awareness Association was the guest on Action Line Friday. She told KINY's Pete Carran, "It's also a day of service." BAA is sponsoring a the Gloves & Socks Drive. Donations go to AWARE & Glory Hole.

Patterson says Lt Governor Byron Mallott will be there to shake hands and say a few words on Dr. King.

Everyone is invited to this admission free community event. Find the Juneau Black Awareness Association on Facebook or email juneaubaa@gmail.com.
 

[Saturday January 17th, 2015  2nd  EDITION 6:35 P. M.]

Alaska Pacific University to develop, lease 65 acres
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Alaska Pacific University says it wants to develop and lease 65 acres on its Midtown Anchorage campus.

The university said Friday the income will be used to keep tuition costs down and to fund scholarships.

Alaska Dispatch News reports the small, private institution gets about 20 percent of its annual budget from leasing its land and buildings. It doesn't receive any funds from the state.

The university has an agreement with development company U-Land.

The university says the area surrounding the core campus was designated about 20 years ago as property that would be used for generating income.

Instead of selling the land, the university will lease the developed property.

Alaska officials investigate bite from illegal canine
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Alaska officials are investigating an animal bite that appears to be from an illegal wolf hybrid.

The Alaska Attorney General's Office says the animal bit a woman at a kennel Thursday, sending her to the hospital.

Assistant Attorney General Carole Holley says Coshok's Canine Castle in Anchorage was holding the animal for the state, along with another alleged wolf hybrid. The animals were being held there as evidence in a court case.

It's illegal to possess wolf hybrids in Alaska without a permit. The state defines a wolf hybrid as any offspring from a wolf or wolf hybrid with a dog or another wolf hybrid.

A manager at the kennel tells the Alaska Dispatch News that the woman is going to be OK.

Jury: Negligent homicide conviction in Alaska diving death
KETCHIKAN, Alaska (AP) — Jurors in Alaska have found a commercial fisherman guilty of criminally negligent homicide in the death of a Kansas diver who died while harvesting sea cucumbers.

The jury on Friday found Joshua Wodyga (woh-DY'-gah) not guilty of manslaughter.

Prosecutors argued Wodyga's negligence in maintaining an air compressor and air filter led to the death of Levi Adams, of Leawood, Kansas. He died of carbon monoxide poisoning and drowning while he and Wodyga were diving in 2013.

Ketchikan Daily News reports Wodyga was found guilty after the jury deliberated for about three hours on Thursday and about five-and-a-half hours on Friday.

Adams' parents and sister attended the weeklong trial. Assistant District Attorney Ben Hofmeister says they're glad there's accountability for the death.

Wodyga faces up to 10 years in prison.

Anchorage man pleads guilty to baseball bat murder
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — An Anchorage man has pleaded guilty to murder in the death of his neighbor found beaten with a baseball bat.

KTUU reports Victor Garcia pleaded guilty Friday to second-degree murder in a deal with prosecutors who agreed to drop a first-degree murder charge. He faces a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison.

In 2013, T.R.E.L. Zawko was found beaten to death inside his garage. Anchorage police say Garcia lived in the attached unit of the midtown duplex.

Police linked Garcia to the murder using DNA found on a bloody baseball bat. Authorities say the aluminum bat was bent.

Alaska asks gay marriage appeal wait for high court decision
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Alaska Attorney General Craig Richards is asking a federal appeals court to not do anything with the state's appeal of a gay marriage ruling until the nation's high court weighs in.

A department spokeswoman Friday said this won't change the status of gay marriage; Alaska will continue to allow and recognize same-sex marriages.

The high court announced Friday that it will take up four gay marriage cases and decide whether same-sex couples nationwide have a right to marry.

In October, a federal judge in Alaska struck down this state's same-sex marriage ban. The state has appealed to the 9th Circuit Court.

In a statement, Richards said the U.S. Supreme Court's order makes clear the justices will address the same issues that are at the heart of the Alaska case.

Chenault questions the process for Fish and Game finalists
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — House Speaker Mike Chenault is questioning the nominating process for Fish and Game commissioner and treatment of finalist Roland Maw by the Board of Fisheries.

The boards of fisheries and game met Wednesday to send a list of commissioner candidates to Gov. Bill Walker.

The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported the Board of Game voted to give Maw an interview but the Board of Fisheries voted to not interview him. His application died.

Acting commissioner Sam Cotten's name was the only one advanced.

In a letter to Walker, Chenault called the Board of Fisheries' action unconscionable. He suggested Walker consider replacing the board with members who would support an open process.

Walker said he shared Chenault's disappointment that Maw wasn't interviewed but said he believes Cotten would make an excellent commissioner.

Gov: Commerce commissioner to lead consumer energy efforts
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Gov. Bill Walker has put the state's commerce commissioner in charge of coordinating consumer energy efforts in Alaska.

Walker says putting a cabinet-level person in charge of the state's wide-ranging efforts on consumer energy was among the suggestions given to his transition team.

Walker made the change in an administrative order, dated Friday.

Fred Parady is the acting commerce commissioner.

Walker also directed Natural Resources Commissioner Mark Myers to work with the Alaska Industrial Development Export Authority to assess possible natural gas supplies for an Interior Alaska project.

Cooper Landing squatter gets a year on firearms violations
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A squatter on the Kenai Peninsula will spend a year in a federal prison for being a felon in possession of firearms.

The U.S. attorney's office says in a release that 57-year-old John J. Soper was sentenced Friday in U.S. District Court in Anchorage.

Soper's name was given to Alaska State Troopers when they were investigating a rash of thefts in the Cooper Landing area.

Investigators found him living in a cabin that was illegally built on U.S. Forest Service land near Cooper landing.

A trooper and forest ranger made contact with him, and found he had four firearms in his possession. He's prohibited from having firearms because of a previous felony conviction.

North Pole considers ban on pot sales
FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) — The Christmas-themed town of North Pole, Alaska, may not put any bows on a marijuana retail stores.

The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports the city council is about to consider a ban on the sale of marijuana.

The draft ordinance says pot retail stories don't reflect the values of the city, where light poles are shaped like candy canes.

Council members will discuss the draft ordinance at a work session Thursday; public testimony won't be taken..

Alaska voters in November approved the recreational use of marijuana, which becomes legal Feb. 24. However, the state has nine months from that date to write regulations for the sale of pot, and local governments can opt out.

While the proposal from Councilwoman Sharron Hunter would prohibit marijuana sales, personal use would be allowed.

 

[Friday January 16th, 2015  10TH  EDITION 4:40 P. M.]

UPDATE: Tree causes power outage out the road
AEL&P says power was out from Lena Cove north out the road because a tree came into lines this afternoon. 

Company spokeswoman, Debbie Driscoll, says power was restored by around 4:30.

Legislator seeks delay in marijuana concentrates regulations
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — A Homer legislator has proposed delaying regulations for marijuana concentrates to allow officials to focus this year on rules for the sale and growth of legalized pot and licensing of marijuana businesses.

But the chairman of the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol in Alaska said the bill would "defy the will of the voters" and open the state to litigation.

Republican Rep. Paul Seaton says he wants regulations written in manageable units.

The proposed delay would apply to marijuana concentrates and the chemical extraction of the psychoactive ingredient THC. It calls for those rules to be finalized by November 2016.

Alaska voters approved legalizing recreational use of pot by those 21 and older. While the initiative takes effect Feb. 24, the state has until this November to write regulations.

Senator blasts discipline decision for Stevens' prosecutors
(AP) — U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski says "righting" the Justice Department's disciplinary system will be a top priority as she considers the nomination of Loretta Lynch as attorney general.

Murkowski expressed frustration that a review board upheld the reversal of suspensions of two federal prosecutors accused of withholding evidence in the corruption trial of then-Sen. Ted Stevens.

APRN reports the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board ruled that the Justice Department bungled the disciplinary process against prosecutors Joseph Bottini and James Goeke.

The board found the department violated its own procedures in pursuing discipline. The department can appeal the decision.

Stevens was found guilty by a jury in 2008 but a federal judge later tossed the decision and case amid allegations of prosecutorial conduct.

He died in a plane crash in 2010.

Longer background checks lead to delays getting on Army post
FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) — A more stringent security check might mean delays for visitors trying to get into Fort Wainwright in Fairbanks.

The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports the U.S. Army post began the new system on Thursday. It's part of a larger initiative already used at other bases.

The delays might come as soldiers search for visitor's names on a nationwide criminal history database.

Post spokesman Allen Shaw says there might be initial delays as people adjust to the system, but he expects those to be smoothed out in the next few weeks.

Soldiers and others with military identification cards do not have to stop for background checks. Those in the Trusted Traveler program or with sponsored passes also don't have to go through the process.

Alaska seafood processor sells stake to StarKist owner
SITKA, Alaska (AP) — An Alaska seafood processor has sold a 12 percent stake to the parent company of StarKist Co., giving the South Korean tuna producer access to the salmon market.

The sale to Dongwon Industries by Sitka-based Silver Bay Seafoods has been public since November, but the Alaska processor outlined details this week to the Sitka Chamber of Commerce.

KCAW reports Silver Bay CEO Rich Riggs told the chamber Wednesday that since starting the fishermen-owned processor, it has purchased 130 million pounds of salmon.

The sale to Dongwon leaves Silver Bay with capitol for expansion and access to the canned seafood market.

The StarKist brand was previously owned by Del Monte Foods before it was sold in 2008 to Dongwon, which set up a new StarKist headquarters in Pittsburgh.

Last year warmest on record
(ABC News) - 2014 was the planet's warmest year on record.

ABCs Aaron Katersky says, "In 2014 the average temperature across the Earth's oceans and land surfaces was a degree and a quarter above average, the warmest ever. NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration say the record warmth was spread around the world including Far East Russia into western Alaska, parts of interior South America and large swaths of the Atlantic."

Tom Karl, Director of NOAA's Climatic Data Center, says the data was not surprising, "For the 21st century, 9 out of 10 years have been warmest on record."

Representative Cathy Munoz discusses trimming operating costs on Action Line
Juneau Representative Cathy Munoz was Thursday's guest on Action line. She filled us in on plans to trim the state government's operating costs.

"Immediately we will begin work on the budgets. In the house we have the operating budget. My budget assignments are the court systems budget and the Department of Environmental Conservation. So that means that I chair the budget revue. When we receive the governor's budget, we get into the nuts and bolts of his proposal, but before that we will begin looking at all new programs within the department to access whether or not we can continue to go forward. We'll also be doing a close revue of all formula driven programs to look at ways to reduce the cost of state government."

Two juveniles flip mustang on Tongass Blvd., alcohol involved
A wreck involving two juveniles and alcohol is leaving Juneau Police trying to determine who was driving after the vehicle crashed Thursday.

Sgt. Brian Dallas says, "The Juneau Police Department received multiple reports of a 2 car motor vehicle crash on Tongass Boulevard, near Hayes Way. JPD officers as well Capital City Fire/Rescue were dispatched to the scene. Investigation revealed that a 1998 Ford Mustang was traveling Southbound on Tongass Boulevard when it drifted out of the lane of travel and struck a parked 2014 Dodge truck. Due to the impact, the Ford Mustang flipped and landed on its roof in the middle of Tongass Boulevard. Two juveniles, a 16 year old and a 17 year old, were found with the Ford Mustang and transported to Bartlett Regional Hospital for treatment of non-life threatening injuries."

According to a police bulletin, the 16 year old was cited for minor consuming and both Juveniles were later released to their parents. Tongass Boulevard was closed to through traffic for approximately 30 minutes as the roadway was cleared. The Ford Mustang was totaled with approximately $2,000.00 damage. The Dodge Truck sustained approximately $4,000.00 damage. Investigation continues into determining the driver of the Ford Mustang.

Juneau district, teachers' union begin contract talks
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — The Juneau School District and local teachers' union have begun talks on a new contract.

In a joint news release, the district and Juneau Education Association said they met to begin negotiations last week.

The current contract expires June 30.

The union represents about 355 teachers and certified staff.

Senators to share offices, staffers in Juneau, Ketchikan
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — U.S. Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan plan to open offices in Juneau and Ketchikan with a shared staff member in each location.

The idea is to keep costs down.

In a joint news release, the Republican lawmakers said Alaskans deserve to have their views heard and their needs responded to. But they said Alaskans also deserve to know that tax dollars are being spent responsibly.

The staff positions have not yet been filled, and dates have not been set for the offices to open.

[Thursday January 15th, 2015  8th  EDITION 7:00 P. M.]

'Deadliest Catch' crabber sues over fireworks injury
SEATTLE (AP) — A crab fisherman featured on the Discovery Channel's "Deadliest Catch" TV show is suing his former employers over a fireworks injury he suffered aboard the Time Bandit in 2013.

The Seattlepi.com reports that David Zielinski was working as a deckhand on the Time Bandit when a mortar-style firework blew up in his hand. Bones in his right hand and forearm were shattered.

Zielinski filed a lawsuit Tuesday in King County Superior Court, saying the firework was a Time Bandit-brand device that exploded prematurely. According to media accounts, Zielinski was taken to Dutch Harbor, Alaska, and flown to Seattle for treatment.

Show representatives didn't answer requests for comment.

Court papers say the effects of the accident are hurting Zielinski financially. Time Bandit and New Era Alaska Inc. are named as defendants.


Thomas, Cashen named deputy state labor commissioners
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Joe Thomas, a former Democratic state senator from Fairbanks, has been named a deputy commissioner of the state labor department.

Thomas' appointment was announced by the department Thursday, along with that of Greg Cashen, also as a deputy commissioner.

Thomas has a labor background, including work as a labor leader in Fairbanks. He was elected to the state Senate in 2006. He lost a re-election bid in 2012.

Cashen most recently served as administrative services director for the Alaska Gasline Development Corp. He is a former assistant commissioner in the labor department and former executive director of the Alaska Workforce Investment Board.

Alaska Gov. Walker announces birth of third grandchild
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Alaska Gov. Bill Walker says he and his wife, first lady Donna Walker, are grandparents for a third time.

The governor on Thursday announced on his Facebook page that their grandson, Walker Ross Linderman, is the first child for their daughter, Tessa, and her husband, Dennis Linderman.

Walker's spokeswoman, Grace Jang, confirmed the birth in an email to The Associated Press.

The new baby will have easy access to his grandparents. Walker says the Linderman family will spend February in Juneau, where Dennis will do a medical rotation at Valley Medical Care.

Walker writes: "Grandma is rocker-ready!"

He also says they are expecting to welcome a fourth grandchild in April.

Sitka library project halted because of structural concerns
SITKA, Alaska (AP) — The major remodeling project at the Sitka city library has been halted until February because of concerns over the structural integrity of the building.

City engineer Dan Tadic says the problem is in the steel components holding up the building. He says they could have failed under stress, such as a snow load.

The project will resume Feb. 5 after the arrival of replacement steel.

KCAW reports the issue was first noticed by a local structural engineer who discovered design flaws in November.

Tadic estimates as much as 50 percent of the building will be reworked with the new steel that's been ordered.

The cost of the alterations is estimated at $200,000, and will be paid by the structural engineering subcontractor, Anchorage-based PDC Engineers, and Juneau architectural firm MRV.

Sitka plans town hall on marijuana regulation
SITKA, Alaska (AP) — City officials in Sitka want to hear from residents on how the city should regulate the recreational use of marijuana.

Alaska voters in November approved an initiative legalizing the recreational use of pot by those 21 and older. The initiative allows local governments to ban or put limits on the operation of marijuana businesses, such as the number of operations and their locations.

While the initiative allows for personal use, public consumption is banned. But Sitka's city attorney says public consumption is not defined.

KCAW reports that a town hall is planned for Monday.

City staff members plan to incorporate ideas from the town hall into a proposed ordinance for the Sitka Assembly to consider.


Alaskans attend 'lessons learned' marijuana conference
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Forty Alaskans are among more than 500 people attending a Colorado conference on "lessons learned" from marijuana legalization.

The Alaska Dispatch News reports the Colorado Association of Chiefs of Police is hosting the conference, which runs through Friday.

Erie, Colorado, Police Chief Marco Vasquez says the goal is to share what Colorado officials have learned so far.

He says better data collection in public health and safety would have helped Colorado officials.

He says the state had a strict timeline to craft rules for recreational marijuana. He says that made it difficult for government to respond.

Alaska has nine months to create rules after its marijuana ballot initiative goes into effect Feb. 24 and Vasquez suggests Alaska officials slow the timetable as much as possible.

Dahl new Juneau Chamber of Commerce executive director
JUNEAU, Alaska – The Juneau Chamber of Commerce has selected Craig Dahl, the Former President and Chief Executive Officer of Alaska Pacific Bank, as its new Executive Director.

The Chamber’s Board President, Lance Stevens says, "It gives me great pleasure to welcome Craig Dahl as the new Executive Director for the Juneau Chamber of Commerce.  Dahl brings to this new role a lifetime of commitment to the business health of Juneau.  With Craig’s experience and background in serving the business community of Juneau, the Board of Directors has the leadership needed to meet the Chamber's stated objectives: to improve the business climate and to make this community more prosperous, ecologically attractive and desirable as a place to work and live. I'm looking forward to working with Craig, the board and the members of the Juneau Chamber of Commerce to attain our goals.”

Dahl says his long experience in the community and in business in Juneau allows him to step into this new position and immediately face the challenges ahead.  “I’ve been in banking in Juneau since 1973, and having just retired from Alaska Pacific Bank in April, this opportunity couldn’t come at a better time for me to find a new way to contribute to this community,” Dahl said. “I have lived in Juneau for over 50 years and my wife Leslie and I have raised three children here. Juneau is our home and it is exciting to be able to contribute to the continued health of our community in this new capacity.”

Dahl identified some key issues that the business community is facing now that he anticipates will be of concern. “There are many challenges ahead – state revenues, city budgets, taxation issues – and I’m looking forward to taking these issues on and keeping the businesses of Juneau informed as to what is in front of us, and I am also motivated to contribute to solutions in these and other areas.”

Dahl holds a B.A. in Management from Seattle University and has also studied various business programs at The University of Wisconsin, University of Alaska Southeast, the Wharton School of Financial Management and the University of Colorado. He has been a member of the Glacier Rotary Club for 35 years and has served on many community boards, including the Chamber of Commerce, the American Red Cross, the Alaska Housing Development Corporation and the Juneau Economic Development Council. Dahl has also been a Juneau Volunteer Fireman in the past.

(Past and present Chamber of Commerce board members welcoming Craig E. Dahl as new Executive Director)

Walker to lay out priorities, discuss budget in 2 speeches
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Gov. Bill Walker will be giving two addresses before a joint session of the Alaska Legislature next week.

OnSitka library project halted because of structural concerns
SITKA, Alaska (AP) — The major remodeling project at the Sitka city library has been halted until February because of concerns over the structural integrity of the building.

City engineer Dan Tadic says the problem is in the steel components holding up the building. He says they could have failed under stress, such as a snow load.

The project will resume Feb. 5 after the arrival of replacement steel.

KCAW reports the issue was first noticed by a local structural engineer who discovered design flaws in November.

Tadic estimates as much as 50 percent of the building will be reworked with the new steel that's been ordered.

The cost of the alterations is estimated at $200,000, and will be paid by the structural engineering subcontractor, Anchorage-based PDC Engineers, and Juneau architectural firm MRV.

Sitka plans town hall on marijuana regulation
SITKA, Alaska (AP) — City officials in Sitka want to hear from residents on how the city should regulate the recreational use of marijuana.

Alaska voters in November approved an initiative legalizing the recreational use of pot by those 21 and older. The initiative allows local governments to ban or put limits on the operation of marijuana businesses, such as the number of operations and their locations.

While the initiative allows for personal use, public consumption is banned. But Sitka's city attorney says public consumption is not defined.

KCAW reports that a town hall is planned for Monday.

City staff members plan to incorporate ideas from the town hall into a proposed ordinance for the Sitka Assembly to consider.

Alaskans attend 'lessons learned' marijuana conference
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Forty Alaskans are among more than 500 people attending a Colorado conference on "lessons learned" from marijuana legalization.

The Alaska Dispatch News reports the Colorado Association of Chiefs of Police is hosting the conference, which runs through Friday.

Erie, Colorado, Police Chief Marco Vasquez says the goal is to share what Colorado officials have learned so far.

He says better data collection in public health and safety would have helped Colorado officials.

He says the state had a strict timeline to craft rules for recreational marijuana. He says that made it difficult for government to respond.

Alaska has nine months to create rules after its marijuana ballot initiative goes into effect Feb. 24 and Vasquez suggests Alaska officials slow the timetable as much as possible.

Wednesday, Walker will deliver his first State of the State speech. The following night, he will give a State of the Budget speech.

Walker spokeswoman Grace Jang says Alaska is in an unprecedented fiscal situation, and Walker wants to ensure he has enough time to discuss that.

She says the State of the State address will touch on Walker's overall priorities, while the State of the Budget will focus on with his plans for the budget situation.

Alaska faces an estimated budget deficit of $3.5 billion this year and a comparable amount next year amid plunging oil prices.

Walker took office Dec. 1.

Action Line returns with host Pete Carran and first guest Representative Sam Kito III.
KINY kicked off the return of Action Line Wednesday with host Pete Carran and guest Juneau Representative Sam Kito III.

Kito was elected in his own right last November after being appointed to fill out the term of Beth Kerttula. He says he's had time to get around the district and talk to a lot of people, getting more familiar with some of the issues that he'd just starting getting familiar with during the previous session. He's come back in with an interest in legislation and "with the decrease in oil prices, looking at what we're going to have to do as a state on the budget."

Kito also commented on the recent budget cuts by Governor Walker of 6 mega projects including Juneau Access, "Without a growing economy I am concerned about trying to add a significant amount of responsibility to DOT for maintenance."

Today's guest is Juneau's other representative, Cathy Munoz.

Tax exemptions review committee meeting today
Last week for around two hours, public testimony was taken on proposed reductions to tax exemptions in Juneau. Tonight there's an Assembly work session at 5:30 PM on the matter.

Bob Bartholomew, CBJ Finance Director tells News of the North, "Their goal is to follow up on the public testimony that was received on January 8th and then make decisions on which exemptions they would like to forward to the Finance Committee for further review. It's a public meeting but they are not taking testimony. The public is welcome."

Coast Guard recognizes success of Alaska’s boating safety program
JUNEAU, Alaska — The Coast Guard recognizes the successes of Alaska’s boating safety program with an 80 percent drop in recreational boating fatalities since HB108, Use, Regulation and Operation of Boats, was introduced in 1998.

Mike Folkerts, boating safety specialist, Coast Guard 17th District, tells News of the North, "The Coast Guard is very impressed with Alaska's boating safety program. It's operated out of the Department of Natural Resources. They've done a fabulous job of reducing boating fatalities in Alaska."

Boating safety has come a long way since 1998 when there were 38 fatalities; in 2014 Alaska reported seven fatalities. Alaska’s observed life jacket wear rates in the 13 to 17 year olds category are nearly double the national rate. Alaska’s rate for boaters 18 and over is nearly three times the national wear rate.

However, the fatality demographic for non-commercial boaters in Alaska remains consistent:

Alcohol is reported to be a contributing factor in 25 percent of boating fatalities.
90 percent of boating fatalities are adult males.
90 percent of boating fatalities occur in boats under 26-feet.
83 percent occur due to capsizing or falling overboard.
75 percent occur while operating power boats.
50 percent of boating fatalities occur in salt water.
50 percent of boating fatalities occur in fresh water.

"The U.S. Coast Guard cautions mariners to ‘Boat Sober and Boat Safer,’” said Folkerts. “Take a boating safety class, file a float plan, keep a means of communication on your person and always wear your life jacket when on deck or in an open boat. That life jacket will buy you time."

Wearable Art ticket sales begin today
Tickets for Juneau Arts & Humanities Council’s annual fundraising event, Wearable Art, go on sale to the general public this morning at 10:00 at the JACC, Hearthside Books, and online at www.jahc.org.

Wearable Art Extravaganza, 2015, “Juxtaposition, a celebration of contrasts” will take place on Saturday, February 14 at 8:00 PM and Sunday, February 15, 3:00 PM at Centennial Hall.

As of press time, 140 tickets were available for the Saturday show. One table, the Most Valuable Patron table, will be open for bid until 5:00 PM that day, with the current high bid being $615. To bid, call the Council at 586-2787 or come to the JACC. Bidding closes at 5:00 PM on Thursday, January 15.

New this year:

  • The theme is Juxtaposition, a Celebration of Contrasts.

  • Hannah Wolfe directs the show.

  • An all new runway configuration, which may be seen on the jahc.org web site, runs the length of Centennial Hall, offering more seats closer to the runway, with set design by NorthWiind Architects and Trickster Company.

  • Allison Holtkamp and Scott Burton are the MCs for the event.

  • Both People’s Choice and Jurors’ Choice awards will be announced.

  • Sunday’s show will be identical to the Saturday show: The Mayor’s Awards will be presented in the spring at a separate event.

  • MK McNaughton and the Juneau Giant Puppets will be there to greet the audience before the show and to entertain everyone throughout the evening.

The event includes a Silent Auction, different on each day. Funds raised through the Auction and ticket sales fund the improvements at the Juneau Arts and Culture Center and the scholarship and grant opportunities offered by the Council.

Patrons must be 21+ or with parent or guardian to attend the event. A no-host bar and refreshments will be available.

Nearly 16,000 Alaskans sign up for insurance
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Government figures show nearly 16,000 Alaskans already have signed up for private health insurance through the federal online marketplace during this enrollment period.

That compares with about 13,000 that signed up during the initial open enrollment period, which spanned six months.

The current enrollment period started Nov. 15. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says that as of last Friday, 15,830 Alaskans had signed up for coverage.

There was no immediate breakdown of how many of those are renewals or first-time enrollees.

Regional director Susan Johnson said she is pleased with the enrollments so far, calling the response strong and positive. Most Alaskans enrolling through the exchange have been eligible for federal help to pay for their policies.

Open enrollment for insurance coverage this year ends Feb. 15.
 

[Wednesday January 14th, 2015  5th  EDITION 3:38 P. M.]

Eaglecrest Closed on Thursday and Friday
Juneau, AK, – Eaglecrest will be closed on Thursday and Friday due to warm weather and rain. The Home School lessons scheduled for Thursday and Friday afternoons have been cancelled.  Eaglecrest anticipates opening the Porcupine Chair on Saturday and the chair will operate from 9am – 3pm.

They will be evaluating conditions on the upper mountain and will make an announcement on Friday. For updated trail and snow conditions along with lift status visit www.skijuneau.com.

Joint boards interview 1 for Walker cabinet post
FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) — The acting commissioner of the Department of Fish and Game was the only person to be interviewed for the permanent job.

The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports the interview was granted Wednesday to Sam Cotten, who was named to the acting position when Gov. Bill Walker took office in December.

The Alaska Board of Fisheries and the Alaska Board of Game met together Wednesday to narrow the list of four candidates. The board will decide later whether to forward Cotten as the choice for the permanent commissioner to Walker.

Richards: Public vetting of Guard issue needed for healing
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Attorney General Craig Richards says for healing to occur following allegations of misconduct within the Alaska National Guard, there needs to be a public vetting of what happened.

Richards is expected to recommend to the governor a special investigator to look into the issue.

Richards said having someone within the Department of Law handle the matter was considered. But he said he felt it was important for a special investigator to be independent. He told APRN the investigator will be asked to produce a report.

Meanwhile, Richards also said his department, like others, is looking at ways to reduce costs.

He said no decision has been made on whether to pursue the state's appeal of a court decision striking down a ban on same-sex marriage in Alaska.

Anchorage Assembly considers pot public consumption rules
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Pro-marijuana groups are speaking out against a proposed Anchorage Assembly ordinance that would ban all public consumption of marijuana.

The Alaska Dispatch News reports the Alaska Cannabis Institute and Coalition for Responsible Cannabis Legislation say the proposal's definition of public places is overreaching.

Public testimony on the issue is scheduled for Jan. 27.

Critics say the regulation would effectively ban businesses allowing marijuana consumption, such as cannabis cafes.

Municipal Attorney Dennis Wheeler says the proposed rules blend the city's statutes on smoke-free workplaces and public alcohol consumption.

Ballot Measure 2, which was approved by voters in November, decriminalizes the possession, use and non-sale transfer of up to an ounce of marijuana when the new law takes effect Feb. 24.

Public consumption of marijuana is prohibited under the new law.

Mount Edgecumbe superintendent resigns after 6 months
SITKA, Alaska (AP) — New Mount Edgecumbe High School Superintendent J Thayne has resigned.

The Daily Sitka Sentinel reports Thayne had been on the job at the state-run boarding school for little more than six months when he announced his resignation Friday, citing personal reasons.

His replacement, Bill Hutton, is set to begin next Monday. He is living out-of-state, so that leaves Edgecumbe without a top administrator for the first week of classes in the new semester.

State Deputy Education Commissioner Les Morse says he will handle the duties of the job from Juneau until Hutton's arrival.

Hutton was superintendent from 2008 to 2010. He was replaced by Randy Hawk, who retired in July.

Hutton will stay at least through the end of the school year.

UPDATE: Trial begins for Ketchikan fisherman charged in diver death
KETCHIKAN, Alaska (AP) — The trial of a 33-year-old Ketchikan commercial fisherman charged with manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide in the death of a diver has begun with a focus on the air compressor he used during dive operations.

The Ketchikan Daily News reports Joshua Wodyga (woh-DY'-gah) is charged in the death of 32-year-old Levi Adams, of Leawood, Kansas, who died Oct. 8, 2013, while harvesting sea cucumbers.

Assistant District Attorney Ben Hofmeister in his opening statement Tuesday told jurors that Wodyga's failure to keep his air compressor in good condition played a significant role in sending carbon monoxide to Adams instead of oxygen.

Hofmeister also says the air compressor was designed for pneumatic tools, not diving.

Defense attorney Mark Osterman says a "terrible accident" took Adams' life.

Richards: Public vetting of Guard issue needed for healing
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Attorney General Craig Richards says for healing to occur following allegations of misconduct within the Alaska National Guard, there needs to be a public vetting of what happened.

Richards is expected to recommend to the governor a special investigator to look into the issue.

Richards said having someone within the Department of Law handle the matter was considered. But he said he felt it was important for a special investigator to be independent. He told APRN the investigator will be asked to produce a report.

Meanwhile, Richards also said his department, like others, is looking at ways to reduce costs.

He said no decision has been made on whether to pursue the state's appeal of a court decision striking down a ban on same-sex marriage in Alaska.

Juneau sets records as higher than normal temps remain
Juneau tied one record and set two others as temperatures remain unseasonably warm. National Weather Service Meteorologist Kimberly Vaughan says of yesterday's high, "Juneau Airport reached 46 degrees which actually tied the record high temperature that was previously set back in 1981. The Juneau Forecast Office also reached 46 degrees which broke the record of 44 degrees and that was just set back last year."

"We have been seasonably warmer than normal and we have what we call a record high minimum, which is when the low temperature stays warm enough to be the warmest on record and the Juneau Airport actually broke that record by only going down as low as 38 yesterday.", she said.

The current forecast shows highs expected to be 40 or above through Friday.

JPD seizes firearms after illegal discharge
Juneau Police responded to multiple reports of shots being fired in the 3600 block of Amalga Street around 8:00 Tuesday night.

Sergeant Chris Gifford says, "Arriving officers located spent handgun cartridges on the porch of an apartment in the area. Contact was made with the occupants of that apartment, and firearms were seized as one of the occupants, a 29 year-old female, was prohibited by her conditions of United States federal probation from possessing firearms or ammunition. Additional charges in the case have been forwarded to the City Attorney’s office for prosecution."

Alcohol was not a factor in this incident, and there were no injuries.

Juneau School District adopts calendar for next school year
At Tuesday night's regular school board meeting, the board of education adopted the 2015 / 2016 school year calendar. Chief of Staff Kristin Bartlett says, "School will begin August 20th again and end May 27th, 2016. The new calendar will be posted online at the Juneau School District website, www.juneauschools.org. It will also be shared with family by email this week."

A physical education independent study course was approved. A telecommunications services contract was awarded to ACS. They board voted to recommend to the City and Borough of Juneau to put proceeds from a Gastineau Elementary roof insurance payment toward a capital improvement project called "School District Facilities, Renovations and Repair." They also talked about revisions to the transportation policy regarding buses to charter schools.

Cervical Cancer Awareness Month raises awareness about prevention
JUNEAU – January is Cervical Health Awareness Month, and SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) would like to remind women that this is the perfect time to schedule your women’s health screening.

Pam Sloper, RN and WISEWOMAN Case Manager in Haines wants people to know that cervical cancer is caused by a common virus called HPV, Human papillomavirus, and is very preventable. She states, '"more than half of all sexually active men and women are infected by the HPV at some time in their lives".

Cervical Cancer is caused by a common virus called Human Papillomavirus (HPV) and is preventable. A vaccine is available that provides protection against HPV for pre-teens and should be a part of their regular vaccine schedule. Additionally, regular pap and HPV tests give health providers a chance to notice changes in the cervix before they become cervical cancer.

Sloper also says, "If there are some abnormal cells on your cervix and you've got the HPV, then they can usually just go in and remove those cells and its more of a pre-cancerous condition".

Talk with your provider at your annual exam about what tests or vaccines are right for you. Vaccinate early, get your Pap test regularly, and have an HPV test when recommended.

UAF chancellor expects budget cuts, up to 250 positions cut
FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) — The state's looming budget crisis because of the decline in oil prices could mean layoffs at the state's flagship university.

The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports the chancellor at the University of Alaska Fairbanks is warning that as many as 250 positions could be cut.

Chancellor Brian Rogers told the Fairbanks Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday that UAF is anticipating cuts of between $20 million to $30 million next year amid signals that state funding will decline between 7 to 10 percent.

He says there will be no part of the university that won't be affected.

He expects to eliminate 200 to 250 positions to help fill the budget gap. Last year, the university cut 160 positions, including 55 full-time jobs.

The university employs about 4,100 people.

Trial begins for Ketchikan fisherman charged in diver death
KETCHIKAN, Alaska (AP) — The trial of a 33-year-old Ketchikan commercial fisherman charged with manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide has begun in Ketchikan.

Joshua Wodyga (woh-DY'-gah) is charged in the death on Oct. 8, 2013, of 32-year-old Levi Adams, of Leawood, Kansas, a diver attempting to harvest sea cucumbers.

An air compressor supplying air to breathing hoses used by Adams and another diver malfunctioned and both were injured. The other diver was resuscitated.

Prosecutors charged Wodyga after concluding the air compressor on Wodyga's boat was marked as not for human use. They also said Wodyga had not properly maintained the air compressor.

A defense attorney at Wodyga's arraignment said the Coast Guard had concluded the death was accidental.

Pebble Mine owner raises funds for operations, legal fight
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd. has raised about $13 million from the sale of shares to help fund operations and an ongoing legal fight in support of the proposed Pebble Mine.

Northern Dynasty is the project's sole owner.

Operations were scaled back in 2013 after a subsidiary of Anglo American PLC withdrew. Northern Dynasty has been looking for a new partner since.

It also has been fighting the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency over a process that could halt or restrict development of the massive gold-and-copper prospect, which is near the headwaters of a world-premier salmon fishery.

Sean Magee, a Northern Dynasty vice president, said he doesn't expect a ramp-up of field operations for the Pebble project. He said the project won't enter into permitting until Northern Dynasty has a new partner.

 

[Tuesday January 13th, 2015  7th  EDITION 3:40 P. M.]

Minnesota climber phones home on way down Mount McKinley
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A Minnesota climber making his way down from the summit of Mount McKinley in Alaska says he's looking forward to a hot shower, then a hot bath, then some good food and drink.

Lonnie Dupre, of Grand Marais (muh-RAY'), told The Associated Press by satellite phone Tuesday that he was drinking hot cocoa at 11,000 feet and waiting for the weather to clear up a bit before heading down to his planned camp for the night at around 7,500 feet.

Dupre is claiming credit for becoming the first solo climber to reach the 20,320-foot summit of Mount McKinley during January, the coldest and darkest month on North America's highest mountain.

He says the summit was extremely cold, but the view was magnificent during the 10 minutes he spent there Sunday.

Meyer decides against Pierre contract for press work
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — The incoming Alaska Senate president has decided against hiring a former state military affairs official to help the Senate majority press office this session.

Sen. Kevin Meyer last week told colleagues he had decided to hire McHugh Pierre on contract to work in the press shop. But details had not been worked out, and no contract had been signed.

Pierre last year was asked to resign his job as a deputy commissioner in the state Department of Military and Veterans Affairs as part of a leadership change following a scathing report on problems within the Alaska National Guard. Pierre said he did nothing wrong.

Meyer told The Associated Press on Tuesday that Pierre could have become a distraction for the caucus.

Government predicts shale slowdown as oil falls
NEW YORK (AP) — As oil's long slide continued, the Energy Department forecast Tuesday that production from U.S. shale operators will begin to tail off in the second half of the year.

The decline would mark the first such drop in what has been a 6-year boom in U.S. onshore crude production.

The price of oil fell Tuesday, dipping briefly under $45, before ending down 18 cents to $45.89 a barrel. That's the lowest since the spring of 2009, and a drop of 58 percent over the past six months.

Oil fell after the energy minister for the United Arab Emirates, a member of OPEC, suggested that the cartel will not lower production to reduce global supplies in an effort to reverse falling prices.

Brent crude, an international benchmark used to price oil used by many U.S. refineries, fell 84 cents to close at $46.59 a barrel in London.

Low crude prices are leading to significant savings for buyers of diesel, gasoline, jet fuel and heating oil.

Typical U.S. households will spend $750 less on gasoline this year than in 2014, because the average gasoline price will fall to $2.33 per gallon, from $3.36 last year, the Energy Department also forecast Tuesday.

The national average stood at $2.12 a gallon Tuesday, according to AAA, the lowest in nearly 6 years.

The forecast was part of a monthly outlook released by the Energy Department's Energy Information Administration. It was EIA's first outlook to include forecasts for 2016.

Onshore fields in North Dakota, Texas and elsewhere have driven the enormous increase in U.S. crude oil production over the past 6 years. That rise, combined with more supplies from Iraq, Canada and elsewhere, is the main factor pulling down global oil prices.

But those lower prices have already begun to force drillers to delay or cancel plans for new exploration, and the EIA expects a slip in onshore production in the second half of this year. Production from those fields is expected to peak at 7.4 million barrels per day in May, and fall to 7.2 million barrels per day by December.

"Many oil companies have cut back on their exploration drilling in response to falling crude prices," EIA Administrator Adam Sieminski in a statement.

For the year, average U.S. production, including output from Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico, is still expected to rise, but by the slowest rate in four years. If oil prices rise as expected in 2016, onshore oil production should climb again, and reach 9.5 million barrels per day, the second highest ever, after 1970's record 9.6 million barrels.

But the EIA says it is a particularly tough time to predict future prices, especially in distant months. The market signals that the agency uses to forecast prices are all over the place, and that uncertainty limits its ability to predict production levels.

EIA forecasts that the average global price of crude will be $58 in 2015, and rise to $75 next year as demand for oil increases and global supply growth slows. But to illustrate the uncertainty in the market, it said December oil prices could range between $28 and $112 per barrel.

"Perhaps issuing projections is a fool's game," said Howard Gruenspecht, EIA's deputy administrator, in a conference call with reporters.

Traders expect oil prices to rise again, but are struggling to guess when, and by how much. Many expect oil to fall further before turning around.

U.S. crude could go as low as $40.25 a barrel, says energy consultancy Ritterbusch and Associates. Jim Ritterbusch, the firm's president, wrote in a note to investors Tuesday that he sees "little support" for oil this week.

"Each successive trading session seems to bring a new bearish impetus," he wrote.

In other futures trading on the NYMEX:

— Wholesale gasoline fell 0.6 cent to close at $1.269 a gallon.

— Heating oil fell 2.1 cents to close at $1.633 a gallon.

— Natural gas rose 14.8 cents to close at $2.943 per 1,000 cubic feet.

Alaska and 4 other states seeing high gas prices
With gas prices dropping, more states are reporting regular unleaded for under two dollars per gallon.

ABC's Alex Stone reports, "Forty-five states now have at least one gas station selling regular unleaded for under two dollars a gallon, according to Gas Buddy. The only states without under two dollar gas - Alaska, Hawaii, Vermont, California, and Pennsylvania. The cheapest station in California is now at $2.13 a gallon."

The lowest price for regular in Juneau is $3.45 while in Anchorage it's 2.43 and in Faribanks it's 2.78

Anchorage senator proposes hemp as agricultural crop
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — An Anchorage lawmaker has proposed to make hemp an agricultural crop in Alaska.

Democratic Sen. Johnny Ellis says he decided to introduce the bill, which he has been considering for several years, after seeing bipartisan support for hemp in last year's federal farm bill.

The Alaska Dispatch News reports that hemp is a type of cannabis plant that lacks the high levels of the psychoactive ingredient THC found in marijuana. Hemp seeds and fibers can be used to make products such as clothing, food and paper.

However, hemp is considered a controlled substance by the federal Drug Enforcement Administration, and a permit is required from DEA to cultivate it.

Ellis said just how Alaska would go about permitting hemp would be a point of discussion during the committee process.

Lack of snow limits K300 to Kuskokwim River
BETHEL, Alaska (AP) — This year's Kuskokwim 300 Sled Dog Race is going to be entirely an ice event.

Race manager Zach Fansler tells KYUK that a lack of snow is preventing the race from using any trails off the river this year.

So the entire 300 mile race will be run on the frozen Kuskokwim River. Race officials used donated equipment this week to clear a giant ice dam near Kalskag to make it ready for Friday's start.

The race starts in Bethel, and mushers will travel to Aniak and then back to Bethel on the same trail; 31 mushers are signed up for this year's race.

2014 had record number of quakes in Alaska
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — If you thought the earth was moving a little more than usual recently, you are correct.

Officials with the Alaska Earthquake Information Center say there were 40,686 earthquakes in Alaska and the bordering parts of Canada in 2014.

The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports this easily was a new high for quake activity, beating the previous mark of nearly 32,000 earthquakes in 2003. It also significantly higher than the 28,000 quakes recorded in 2013.

Officials say there are several reasons for the increase, including a greater number of seismometers and better technology.

But there were also just must more earthquakes last year.

State seismologist Michael West says a vast majority of the quakes were small, in the magnitude 2 or 3 range, and a lot of these came as aftershocks.

Anchorage mayor wants to limit where pot is consumed
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — While marijuana will soon be legal in Alaska, the mayor of Alaska's largest city doesn't want it quite so public.

KTUU reports a proposal is expected to be introduced Tuesday that would ban pot consumption in public places in Anchorage.

Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan directed municipal lawyers to write a proposal that would forbid marijuana use in places where the "public or a substantial group of persons has access."

It lists places like all businesses, streets, alleys, shopping centers, hotels, apartment hallways, bus stops and parking areas.

It also would ban the use of marijuana in bars. Municipal attorney Dennis Wheeler says the intent is to treat marijuana like cigarettes.

A ticket would cost an offender $100.

The full assembly took take up the proposal in a few weeks.

Final round of fisheries disaster aid to be distributed
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — A federal agency has approved distribution of the final $13 million of aid allocated to Alaska for the 2012 Chinook salmon fishery failure.

Congress last year approved $75 million for fisheries disasters nationwide, including $20.8 million for Alaska. An initial round of in aid included direct payments to commercial fishermen in the Yukon-Kuskokwim and Cook Inlet regions.

NOAA Fisheries says the second tranche includes $4.5 million for direct payments to sport fishing guides and businesses in the recreation fishing sector to compensate for lost income. Another $7.5 million will go toward salmon disaster research, restoration and other work and $700,000 in direct payments will be made to Cook Inlet-area commercial buying stations and salmon buyers.

The Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission will administer distribution of the funds.


Entrance fees to national parks waived for Monday holiday
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Entrance into national parks nationwide will be free on Monday, in commemoration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

The National Park Service says entrance fees also will be waived on eight other days this year.

They are Feb. 14 through 16, for Presidents' Day weekend; April 18 and 19, to mark the start of National Park Week; Aug. 25, to mark the anniversary of the park service; Sept. 26, for National Public Lands Day and Nov. 11, for Veterans Day.


Moore wins 6th Copper Basin 300
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Allen Moore of Two Rivers has won his sixth Copper Basin 300 sled dog race, and third straight.

KTVA reports Moore beat Ray Redington Jr. to the finish line in Glennallen by 2 minutes on Monday. Ryne Olson was third.

Moore wife, Aliy Zirkle, finished sixth.

Race officials say 49 mushers started the 310 miles race on Saturday.


NOAA schedules 5 public hearings on ringed seal habitat
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The federal agency overseeing seal populations will hold five hearings in Alaska on proposed critical habitat for ringed seals.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has proposed 350,000 square miles of ocean off Alaska's north and west coast as critical habitat for the main prey of polar bears.

A 90-day public comment period began Dec. 9.

NOAA Fisheries will hold public hearings Jan. 28 in Nome, Feb. 2 in Anchorage and Feb. 17 in Kotzebue.

The final public hearings will be Feb. 23 in Barrow and Feb. 26 in Bethel.

Ringed seals use sea ice for birthing and molting.

Ringed seals were declared threatened in December 2012. Federal scientists say a decrease in sea ice is probable this century and changes likely will cause ringed seal populations to decline.

Assembly increases cigarette tax, issues marijuana moratorium, approves new JPD K9
At Monday night's CBJ Assembly Meeting, we saw a hefty tax to come on cigarettes. An ordinance was adopted to increase the tobacco excise tax from the current $1.00 per pack to $3.00 per pack of cigarettes.

The Assembly also adopted an ordinance appropriating almost $65 thousand dollars for the new K-9 Program as well as for the purchase, travel, training and maintenance of a Police K-9 through September 30th. The Police K-9 will be assigned to a current officer of the Juneau Police.  JPD Chief Bryce Johnson answered a citizen's question on how the dog would be used in schools saying the K9 would only be used for demonstration purposes. "There is no policy in place with the school district to run it through schools to look for drugs."

Even though several people, including a local businessman wanting to expand his alcohol sales and a local elementary teacher concerned with how medical marijuana patients will get their supply, spoke against the moratorium on marijuana establishments, a moratorium was approved.  It was originally set for one year but was reduced to six months. The CBJ law department said they need time to consider zoning laws.

[Monday January 12th, 2015  6th  EDITION 7:31 P. M.]

Head on crash at Fred Meyer access
Juneau Police say a head crash at the Fred Meyer access Monday afternoon closed the outbound lanes of Egan Drive for about 35 minutes, but there were no reported injuries.

According to a JPD press release, at 4:19 PM a 1979 black Mazda RX7 was turning from Egan Drive in bound toward Fred Meyer as a 2014 silver Toyota was traveling out bound. The release says the Mazda struck the Toyota head on and both drivers declined medical treatment.

Police say the driver of the Mazda was cited for failing to yield while turning left and failing to maintain insurance.

Habitat director for Fish and Game let go
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — The director of the Department of Fish and Game's habitat division is being replaced.

Gov. Bill Walker accepted the resignation of Randy Bates on Monday. Acting Fish and Game Commissioner Sam Cotten says Bates was among the employees asked to offer resignation letters when Walker came into office.

Cotten says the Walker administration wants to see the public involved in decision making. But he said the division's approach to area management plans did not seem to fit with that philosophy of having public input and debate before a plan is created or revised.

Cotten says there are a number of area plans pending for which the administration plans to take a fresh look and engage the public.

A replacement for Bates has not been named.

Transportation commish ousted following defense of project
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — State transportation commissioner Patrick Kemp has been ousted following his defense of the department's pursuit of the Juneau access road.

A spokeswoman for Gov. Bill Walker, Grace Jang, said the administration asked for and received Kemp's resignation Monday. Jang says Walker insists on having commissioners aligned with his decisions and policies.

Walker recently halted new spending on six large-scale projects, including the road and Knik Arm crossing. He asked that project managers report on potential costs to delay or terminate contracts or obligations.

Kemp, in a letter to Walker's budget director, defended the Juneau project. The department also raised concerns that the state would have to repay federal funds if it ends work on the road and Knik Arm bridge before those projects are completed.

Federal regulators pause licensing process for dam
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Federal regulators have agreed to put on hold the licensing process for a massive proposed dam in south-central Alaska as the state decides how, or whether, to move forward with the project.

The Alaska Energy Authority, or AEA, requested the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission suspend the schedule for 60 days pending further notice on plans for the Susitna-Watana dam. AEA has been pursuing the project for the state.

Gov. Bill Walker last month directed that new, non-obligated funding for the dam and other big-ticket projects be halted to allow a review of the projects. The state is facing multibillion-dollar budget deficits amid a crash in oil prices.

An AEA spokeswoman says the authority is looking at options that would preserve the state's investment while preserving future license potential.


Team: Climber 1st to solo summit Mount McKinley in January
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The support team for a Minnesota adventurer says a GPS tracking device shows he's succeeded in becoming the first solo climber to reach the summit of Alaska's Mount McKinley in the month of January.

Project coordinator Stevie Plummer says Lonnie Dupre reached the 20,320-foot summit of North America's tallest peak at 5:08 p.m. Central time on Sunday. She says he sent a text message saying "All OK, Doing Well," through a GPS messenger device that showed it was sent from the same coordinates as the summit.

This was Dupre's fourth attempt at a solo summit in January of Mount McKinley, also known as Mount Denali. The mountain's notoriously treacherous winter weather forced him to turn back in 2013, 2012 and 2011.


Truck driver gets deferred sentence in pedestrian death
BIG TIMBER, Mont. (AP) — An Indiana truck driver has been given a six-year deferred sentence for leaving the scene of a Montana accident in which an Alaska man was killed.

The Livingston Enterprise reports 46-year-old David Burt Welk of Marion, Indiana, was sentenced on Jan. 6 by District Judge Katherine Bidegaray in Big Timber. He was given credit for the 348 days he spent in jail. Prosecutors unsuccessfully sought a two-year jail sentence.

Welk was charged after the Sept. 30, 2013, death of 81-year-old Elgie Bedford of Wasilla, Alaska. Investigators say Bedford had left his vehicle and was walking in the westbound lane of Interstate 90 when he was struck by several vehicles that morning.

Welk was arrested after his co-driver reported they'd hit something in south-central Montana. No one has been charged in Bedford's death.


Young sworn in for 22nd term in US House
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — U.S. Rep. Don Young has been sworn in to serve his 22nd term in Congress.

Young, who is the longest-serving Republican in the U.S. House, missed the start of the new Congress last Tuesday following the death of his brother. He took his oath of office on Monday and said he takes great pride in serving the people of Alaska.

Young is Alaska's lone representative in the House. He will serve on the House Natural Resources and Transportation and Infrastructure committees.


Trial delayed for Soldotna man charged with sexual assaults
KENAI, Alaska (AP) — A 39-year-old Soldotna man charged with sexually assaulting two women in 2013 has had his trial delayed again.

The Peninsula Clarion reports public defender Josh Cooley last week asked for a 60-day continuance in the trial of Shane Heiman.

Judge Charles Huguelet set Heiman's trial for April 6.

Heiman has been jailed since Dec. 13, 2013.

Alaska State Troopers say Heiman that day shut off power to the cabin of a 23-year-old woman, broke into the home and tried to rape her. He was using a headlamp and carrying a knife.

The woman escaped to a nearby home.

Troopers also charged him with kidnapping and sexually assaulting an 18-year-old woman taken from her Soldotna apartment at knifepoint on Nov. 11, 2013, by a man with a headlamp.

Department raises concerns with halting road projects
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — The state transportation department says ending work on the Juneau access road and Knik Arm bridge could mean the state having to repay millions of dollars in federal funds.

So far, nearly $100 million in federal money has gone toward the projects.

The department raised the issue in a memo to Gov. Bill Walker's budget director. Walker recently halted new spending on six large-scale projects, including the Juneau road and Knik Arm crossing. He also asked that project managers report on potential costs to delay or terminate contracts or obligations.

A Walker spokeswoman says the administration was evaluating the information and that no final decisions have been made.

Emily Ferry, with the Southeast Alaska Conservation Council, said cancelling the mega-projects would save billions of dollars.

Weather Service: 2014 was Alaska's warmest year on record, 7th warmest for Juneau
FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) — The National Weather Service is confirming what a lot of Alaskans concluded about temperatures last year — 2014 was warm.

The agency says 2014 surpassed 1926 as Alaska's warmest year on record.

The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports the United States National Weather Service Alaska made the announcement on its Facebook page based on information from the National Climatic Data Center.

Weather data for Alaska goes back to 1918.

To determine the warmest year, the climatic data center pulls temperature data from reporting stations and computes the statewide departure from the long-term average.

McGrath, Nome, Kotzebue, Bethel, Cold Bay, King Salmon and Homer experienced their warmest years on record in 2014.

The warm year was helped by exceptionally mild temperatures statewide in January, May, November and December.

Meteorologist Richar Lam says Juneau saw it's seventh warmest year on record in 2014.  It was also the wettest summer on record in Juneau, he says.

Alaska LNG export project advances despite oil price fall
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Officials connected to Alaska's massive liquefied natural gas export project say falling oil prices haven't slowed it.

The Alaska Dispatch News reports the project's size, projected timelines and affiliation with large companies are keeping it on track.

Steve Butt, senior manager for Alaska LNG, says none of the investing companies are looking to change at this time.

The project has an estimated price tag of $45 billion to $65 billion with the state of Alaska, Exxon, BP and ConocoPhillips as equity partners.

The project aims to extract North Slope natural gas and move it through an 800-mile pipeline for loading onto tankers bound for Asia.

It could take until 2026 for gas to flow and Butt says short-term price movements don't impact a project with a very long life.

Anchorage police investigate shooting of 7-month-old puppy
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Anchorage police say a dog was shot seven times and left to die on the west side of the city.

Police say the 7-month-old female pit bull was found at around 8 a.m. Saturday near Jewel Lake Road and International Airport Road east of Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport.

A good Samaritan took the dog to an animal hospital, which called animal control.

Police spokeswoman Anita Shell tells KTUU-TV the dog's front leg was shattered. It underwent surgery and is reported as stable.

Shell says the dog was not wearing a collar and did not have an identifying microchip.

Shell says the dog was friendly and well-fed and likely was a pet. The owner has not been found.

Police have opened a felony animal cruelty investigation.

Coast Guard rescues woman that fell from canoe
KODIAK, Alaska — The Coast Guard assisted a 26-year-old woman from Metlakatla who was reported to have fallen out of her canoe and swam to shore near Tongass Narrows, Sunday.

A Station Ketchikan 25-foot Response Boat – Small crew picked up the survivor and transferred to her family in Annette Bay.

Coast Guard Station Ketchikan watchstanders were notified by Ketchikan Police Department that a woman had fallen out of her canoe near South Pennock Island in Tongass Narrows and was able to make it to shore but was stranded. The watchstanders informed Coast Guard Sector Juneau watchstanders and dispatched the RB-S crew who safely retrieved the woman.

“The young lady had her lifejacket on which probably saved her life,” said Petty Officer 3rd Class Jacob Rupert, crewmember aboard the RB-S. “Once we had reached her, we took very good care of her - holding her hand, keeping her warm and fetching her canoe – until we reached her family in Annette Bay.”

Weather on scene was reported as 7 mph winds, 40-degree temperatures and 10-mile visibility.
 

[Sunday January 11th, 2015  3rd  EDITION 4:18 P. M.]

Housing First Project eyes tobacco tax, pot sellers see delay, JPD requests new K9
Tobacco smokers may see more money go up in smoke, as pot smokers may not see places to blow their dough sprouting up in Juneau as quickly as they might like.

At Monday night's City and Borough of Juneau Assembly meeting, an ordinance will be introduced that would increase the tobacco excise tax from the current $1.00 per pack to $3.00 per pack of cigarettes, and would amend the definition of “other tobacco products” to include e-cigarettes and other vapor-inducing products. The increase would be effective April 1.

The higher excise tax rate would increase annual tax revenue collected by an estimated $1.7 million dollars, part of which is set to fund a resolution to commit $1.5 million dollars for the construction of the Juneau Housing First Project. The project is also requesting additional grant money for a facility with 32 single resident occupancy units, dining and kitchen facilities, administrative offices, and space for the Front Street Clinic.

Marijuana entrepreneurs in Juneau may have to wait a bit longer than other Alaskans to request permission to sell pot. Up for public hearing and adoption is a one year moratorium on the receipt or processing of applications for marijuana establishments. Pot becomes legal February 24, and the State has nine months from then to enact regulations concerning the registration and oversight of marijuana establishments. The initiative requires the State to begin accepting and processing applications for the registration of marijuana establishments within one year of the effective date of the act. The initiative authorizes local governments to enact legislation concerning the time, place and manner related to the operation of registered marijuana establishments. The Assembly says the purpose of the moratorium is to allow time to consider and enact legislation concerning the operation of marijuana establishments in the CBJ. The moratorium would expire after the date the State is required to enact regulations, but before the time the State is required to begin processing applications.

JPD's new K-9 may not have to be on the lookout for legal weed soon, but there's still lots of important work to be done. The list of K-9 duties include: controlled substances interdiction, investigations and enforcement operations. This ordinance up for adoption would appropriate $64,282 for the new K-9 Program as well as for the purchase, travel, training and maintenance of a Police K-9 through September 30, 2015. The Police K-9 will be assigned to a current officer of the Juneau Police Department.

The CBJ Assembly Meeting is Monday night at 7:00PM in Assembly Chambers at City Hall.

Judge clears Homer biologist of moose hunting violations
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A state wildlife biologist has been acquitted of charges that he illegally killed a moose with help from a spotter in an airplane.

The Alaska Dispatch News reports Homer District Court Judge Margaret Murphy cleared Jason Herreman on Friday in a bench trial.

Herreman was the area management biologist in Homer. The Department of Fish and Game placed him on unpaid leave after charges were filed.

He told investigators he wounded a moose Aug. 23 near Anchor Point and tracked the injured animal a day later. He acknowledged speaking to a pilot that day.

Defense attorney Myron Angstman says Judge Murphy ruled that the communication with the pilot was of no aid to Herreman.

Game, Fish boards meet to choose commissioner candidates
FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) — Alaskans could find out this week who will be nominated as the state's new commissioner of the Department of Fish and Game.

The state boards of Fisheries and Game will hold a joint session Wednesday in Juneau to develop a list of qualified candidates that can be submitted to Gov. Bill Walker.

The boards may interview applicants but will not take public testimony.

The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports acting Commissioner Sam Cotten, a former Alaska lawmaker, and three others have applied.

Walker named Cotten acting commissioner Dec. 1.

The other candidates are Zachary Hill, a postdoctoral pharmaceutical researcher in San Francisco, Gregory Woods, a transportation terminal manager for a trucking and railroad company in South Carolina, and Roland Maw, director of a Cook Inlet commercial fisherman's association.

Number of women jailed in Alaska reaches all-time high
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Alaska's female prison population has reached an all-time high.

The Alaska Dispatch News reports 581 women were in state custody on Jan.5.

The Department of Corrections says women make up 12 percent of Alaska's prison population, up from 8 percent 10 years ago.

The department last year started freeing up space at the Anchorage area's prison for women, Hiland Mountain Correctional Center, by transferring inmates to the previously all-male Anchorage jail.

Thirty-one women were at the jail a week ago.

The department says women were most likely to be serving time for probation violations, drug offenses, driving under the influence or theft.

Women make up about 21 percent of the people in prison for drug offenses.

Just 9 percent of the people imprisoned for violent crimes are women.

[Saturday January 10th, 2015  3rd  EDITION 7:50 P. M.]

Spring classes start Monday at UAS
Monday is the first day of instruction of the Spring 2015 Semester at the University of Alaska Southeast.

In a press release, Public Relations and Marketing Director Katie Bausler, says you can register for classes now if you haven’t already done so.

She says there are still class openings in programs such as Art, Alaska Native Languages and Automotive Technology and more.

Get more info and/or register here: http://www.uas.alaska.edu/schedule/

Wildlife agency wants to protect tufted puffins
OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — Washington wildlife managers want to list tufted puffins as an endangered species in the state, while removing protective status for Stellar sea lions.

The native seabirds, with striking feathers and a bright orange bill, were once common in the San Juan Islands and along the coast.

The Department of Fish and Wildlife says there's been a dramatic decline in their historic breeding sites in recent decades.

Meanwhile, the agency says the population of Stellar sea lions that range from southeast Alaska to northern California has grown steadily and should be removed from the state's threatened species list.

The federal government removed that population from federal protection in 2013.

The state is seeking public comment this month. A public hearing is scheduled next month.


Suspended sentence for attempted Anchorage infant drowning
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — An Anchorage woman has been sentenced to four-and-a-half years in prison for trying to drown her infant daughter.

Alaska Dispatch News reports Crystal Renee Hawkins' sentence imposed Friday includes three years of suspended jail time and six years of probation.

Originally facing an attempted murder charge, she pleaded guilty to first-degree assault in May.

Hawkins told detectives in 2012 she held her 7-month-old daughter face-down in the water for about a minute.

Police say the baby was taken to a hospital and was active and drinking from a bottle the next day.

Defense attorney Brendan Kelley says the 42-year-old mother was under "some degree of duress" at the time.

Assistant District Attorney Gustaf Olson says Hawkins' husband argued she no longer needed to be confined.


Pedestrian struck, killed by vehicle in East Anchorage
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Police say a pedestrian has died after being hit by a vehicle in East Anchorage.

Police say Peter Andrew Albert was trying to cross Muldoon Road Friday night when a Ford Explorer hit him.

Sixty-year-old Albert wasn't in a crosswalk.

He was taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead.

The 19-year-old driver stayed at the scene and cooperated with police. No citations have been issued.

The southbound lanes of Muldoon Road near 12th Court were closed for several hours while officers investigated.

Police say the collision is a reminder to be careful when crossing roads.

Coupon prompts Alaska appeals court to toss theft conviction
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A coupon for stolen merchandise has prompted the Alaska Court of Appeals to throw out a theft conviction.

Donald Lynn Henson was convicted of stealing fishing equipment and motor oil from the Fred Meyer store in Soldotna in 2011. He was sentenced to three years in prison.

Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports the appeals court ruled Friday a coupon would have reduced the price of the stolen items to below the threshold for a felony.

The opinion says Henson took $510 worth of merchandise, but a coupon would have allowed him to purchase the items for less than $500.

The minimum amount for a felony second-degree theft charge is $500. Less than that is a misdemeanor.

Henson's case goes back to Superior Court in Kenai for a new trial.

Marine Race to Alaska planned for June start
KETCHIKAN, Alaska (AP) — The rules are simple. Get a boat without an engine. And be the first to reach Alaska.

Those are the rules for the Race to Alaska, a 750-mile marine sprint from Washington's north coast to southern Southeast Alaska.

Race co-founder Jake Beattie tells KRBD the race will start June 4 in Port Townsend, Washington. The finish line will be Thomas Basin Boat Harbor in Ketchikan.

The race isn't designed as a luxury cruise; instead, it's a bare-knuckle, wild event characterized by some who have signed up already: a chin-up champion, a Canadian kilt manufacturer and a stand-up paddle boarder.

The website describes it as the Iditarod on a boat, with a chance of drowning.

Registrations with entry fees are still being accepted. First prize is $10,000.

Poor snow has limited ski, work time at Eaglecrest
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Poor snow has meant that far fewer employees filling out time cards at Juneau's Eaglecrest Ski Area.

General Manager Matt Lillard says up to 120 employees can be working various hours during a full operation in a high-snow season. Jobs include chair lift operators, ticket office attendants, repair and rental shop operators and ski patrol.

So far this season, Lillard estimates that 60 employees have worked the limited hours available.

Lillard said generally everyone who has wanted to work hours has gotten some.

Lillard says Eaglecrest normally doesn't offer refunds on season passes because of weather or low snowfall. But he said the board of directors was looking at ways of allowing for more ski time once the snow comes, such as longer hours.

Halcro files letter of intent in Anchorage mayor's race
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Former Alaska legislator Andrew Halcro has filed a letter of intent to run for mayor of Anchorage.

Halcro filed the letter, signaling his interest in seeking the post, with the Alaska Public Offices Commission on Friday.

Halcro is a former state representative who unsuccessfully ran for governor as an independent against Republican Sarah Palin in 2006. He currently serves as president of the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce.

The Alaska Dispatch News reports the field of candidates for mayor already includes former Anchorage Assembly Chairman Dan Coffey, current Assembly member Amy Demboski and former Assembly member Paul Bauer.

Ketchikan man gets 4 years in Coast Guard assault
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — A 57-year-old Ketchikan man with a history of violence will spend four years in a federal prison for attacking a member of the Coast Guard.

Jon William Munhoven was sentenced in U.S. District Court in Juneau. He also must serve three years of probation.

Munhoven was arrested on Sept. 2, 2013, when a 25-foot Coast Guard boat from Ketchikan responded to a call for help from a vessel where a man said Munhoven had bloodied his nose. The Coast Guard crew placed Munhoven in handcuffs and he kicked a member of the crew in the face during the struggle.

Judge Timothy Burgess noted Munhoven's extensive violent criminal history as factors for the four-year sentence.

Judge evicts former TV reporter, pot activist from building
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A marijuana activist is looking for a new location for her business.

The Alaska Dispatch News reports Alaska Cannabis Club owner Charlo Green has been evicted from her downtown Anchorage location.

A judge on Friday ruled that Greene failed to provide insurance for the Alaska Cannabis Club, where she held events.

Greene, whose real name is Charlene Egbe, had argued that her landlord, Ethann Oldham, interfered with her ability to get insurance.

But Judge Pamela Washington ruled Oldham hadn't interfered.

Greene made national headlines last year when she quit her job as a television reporter with a four-letter outburst, saying she'd advocate for legalized marijuana.

Police say Anchorage dog poisoned by antifreeze

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Anchorage police say a dog has been poisoned by antifreeze.

KTVA reports 5-year-old Little Su, a female English shepherd, died Thursday night.

Police say in a statement that Little Su became sick Wednesday night and was taken to a vet. Police say a sample of the dog's fluid found it had consumed antifreeze.

Little Su's owner found a container near the property in the 4700 block of Grumman Street that contained a mixture of chicken and antifreeze.

Police ask anyone with information about the poisoning to contact them.

Little Su had served as an Alaska Search and Rescue Dog for three years.

 

[Friday January 9th, 2015  12th  EDITION 4:33 P. M.]

Overnight parking allowed for Saturday's Inaugural Ball
The City and Borough of Juneau says overnight parking restrictions will be lifted for three downtown parking facilities during the Inaugural Ball.

Overnight parking will be allowed at the Shopper’s Lot, the Marine Park Plaza and on level four of the Downtown
Transportation Center parking garage Saturday evening.

Crime of the Week: Owner offers additional reward in pizza parlor vandal case
Juneau Police say the owner of a local pizza parlor is offering a one thousand dollar reward after someone broke the front window of Bullwinkle’s in the Mendenhall Valley Wednesday night. The window is very familiar to Juneau residents, especially those with children.

The owner has reported the damages will run up to $3000. He is offering a thousand dollar reward, in addition to a potential Crime Line reward, for information leading to the conviction of the person responsible.

Anyone with information is encouraged to log on to the Juneau Crime Line Web site and report their tip. You may also call JPD at 586-0600. You may be eligible for a reward.

Munoz pre-files four bills inspired by Juneau residents
Juneau Representative Cathy Muñoz says she has introduced four new bills inspired by Juneau residents. The measures would allow for an additional 120-day allowable absence for unforeseen medical emergencies, prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity or expression, designate the House of Wickersham as the official residence of the lieutenant governor, and reinstate the sport fishing licensing program.

In a press release, Munoz states, “These are all based on ideas that constituents have brought to me over the past year. Each one is designed to provide a benefit to the public such as allowing those with unforeseen medical emergencies to still qualify for the Permanent Fund Dividend, reinstating safeguards for sport fishing guides and operators, maintaining the historical integrity of the House of Wickersham and designating it as the official residence of the lieutenant governor, and recognizing for all Alaskans the same civil rights regardless of their sexual orientation and gender identity or expression. My constituents asked for help to address these issues, and these bills aim to do just that.”

The measures are among pre-filed legislation that came out today and will be formally introduced in the House on the first day of the session, January 20, 2015.

Senator Egan strongly objects to proposed move of Legislature
Juneau's Senator Dennis Egan gives a strong objection to incoming state Senator Bill Stoltze of Chugiak proposal to move the legislative session from Juneau to the new legislative building in downtown Anchorage.

Egan tells News of the North, "Fairbanks is the seat of education, Anchorage is the seat of commerce, and Juneau has been the seat of government since statehood. I just hate to see this get into another battle between different regions and I think things ought to remain the same."

Stoltze's bill is being drafted.  It would not call for a physical relocation of the state Capitol.

First wave of prefiled legislation introduced
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — The first wave of bills filed ahead of the upcoming legislative session is out.

It includes a proposal to constitutionally protect Alaskans' Permanent Fund dividends, another attempt to change the makeup of the Alaska Judicial Council and a proposal to bar political parties from having ad space in state election pamphlets.

There also are two proposals to do away with daylight savings time.

Democratic Sen. Bill Wielechowski is proposing the constitutional amendment to protect the Permanent Fund and dividends.

He said it would take a potential revenue source off the table as lawmakers grapple with deep budget deficits. But he said that's the point. He said there are other sources the state can consider, like setting a gross minimum oil tax to better protect the state at low oil prices.

Gas line group board seeks clarity on confidentiality pacts
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The board of the state corporation working on two major gas pipeline projects is seeking clarity on how it can operate if members do not sign confidentiality agreements.

Gov. Bill Walker has instructed the two state commissioners on the Alaska Gasline Development Corp.'s board to not sign such agreements in a bid to have the board operate more transparently.

At a meeting Thursday, missing three members removed by Walker in a shake-up, board chairman John Burns said he had asked the corporation's attorney and state attorney general to analyze the impact on the board's work if new members do not sign the pledge.

The Alaska Dispatch News reports the board also approved plans to cut spending by $90 million over this year and next.

Young hires new executive assistant
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Paula Conru has joined U.S. Rep. Don Young's office as his executive assistant and scheduler.

Conru replaces Alana Wilson, who left the office last year for another job.

Young's office says Conru served as an executive assistant to former Gov. Sean Parnell and as a scheduler for Parnell's last re-election campaign. She also is a former legislative aide.

Tongass National Forest supervisor to retire in April
KETCHIKAN, Alaska (AP) — The supervisor of the Tongass National Forest will retire his year.

The Ketchikan Daily News reports Forrest Cole has set his retirement for April.

Cole has been forest supervisor since 2003.

A Forest Service announcement says he held positions in the Petersburg, Juneau and Yakutat ranger districts and the Stikine Administrative Area.

The Tongass is also losing its deputy forest supervisor. Tricia O'Connor in February is transferring to the Bridger-Teton National Forest in Wyoming.

She has been in Alaska for more than 10 years and was district ranger for the Yakutat Ranger District.

The Tongass is the nation's largest national forest and makes up the largest intact temperate rainforest in the world.

Ketchikan man sentenced for Coast Guardsman assault
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — A 55-year-old Ketchikan man convicted of assaulting a Coast Guard officer has been sentenced to four years in federal prison and three years of supervised release.

Jon William Munhoven, who also spells his name Mundhoven, was sentenced Wednesday in Juneau.

Munhoven was a guest on a boat in September 2013 and got into a fight with the skipper, who called the Coast Guard.

Munhoven in March was convicted of kicking a responding Coast Guard officer in the face, chipping his tooth and bloodying his nose.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jack Schmidt sought a 10-year sentence and called Munhoven one of the most violent men he had ever seen in court.

Schmidt cited Munhoven's past convictions over four decades for assaults, armed robberies, rape and kidnapping.

Ex-Petersburg school official gets 12 years for child porn
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The former maintenance director for the Petersburg school district will spend 12 years in a federal prison following his conviction on child pornography charges.

The U.S. attorney's office says in a release that 46-year-old Tye Leif Petersen was sentenced in U.S. District Court in Anchorage for distribution, receipt and possession of child porn.

Prosecutors said Petersen had over 2,000 images and 39 videos of children under the age of 12. Some of the images depicted sadistic or masochistic conduct.

Authorities also say he took pictures of children at the local high school and in the southeast Alaska community and traded them for child pornography on a Russian website that is solely used to distribute child porn.

Sullivan names additional staff hires
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan has filled out his staff.

Appointments announced by Sullivan's office on Thursday include Peter Henry as legislative director, Robyn Engibous as deputy chief of staff and Kathlene Rowell as state director.

Henry most recently was a staff member on the Senate Environment and Public Works committee. Engibous was finance director on Sullivan's campaign who previously worked at the State Department and for former Sen. Ted Stevens.

Kathlene Rowell, who also worked on Sullivan's campaign, was previously a former special assistant at the state Department of Natural Resources.

Paul "Otto" Feather was chosen as senior military and veterans' affairs adviser and Matanuska-Susitna regional director. Feather, a veteran, served as road manager and veterans outreach coordinator on Sullivan's campaign.

Sullivan, a Republican, was sworn into office Tuesday.

Alaska historian dies of cancer
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A woman who wrote 13 books and more than 100 articles, many about the history of Southeast Alaska, has died. Patricia Roppel of Wrangell was 76.

Her daughter, Cindy Baird, tells The Associated Press that Roppel died of cancer Jan. 6, 2015, in Bellevue, Washington.

A Washington state native, she moved to Alaska in 1959. She taught home economics at Ketchikan from 1959 to 1965, the same year she published her first article.

Many of her books were about how Alaska's resources were used, like salmon hatcheries, canning and mining, or the people and places of Southeast Alaska.

Two books led to being named Alaska Historian of the Year, in 1977 and 2006.

Survivors include her husband of 55 years, Frank Roppel, two children, John and Cindy, and two grandchildren.

 

[Thursday January 8th, 2015  18th  EDITION 2:42 P. M.]

 
Lawmaker mulling proposed move of legislature to Anchorage
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A Republican state lawmaker is working on a bill that would move the Alaska Legislature from Juneau to Anchorage.

Incoming Sen. Bill Stoltze, of Chugiak, says he has long supported relocation.

But Stoltze told KTUU this latest proposal would be to move the legislative session from Juneau to the new legislative building in downtown Anchorage. It would not call for a physical relocation of the state Capitol or for shifting much of state government from Juneau.

Democratic Sen. Dennis Egan of Juneau strongly opposes relocation but said he was unaware of Stoltze's proposal.

Gov: Unsustainable for tax breaks to exceed oil tax revenue
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Gov. Bill Walker says the state is expected to pay about $100 million more in tax credits to oil producers than it receives in production taxes this year amid low oil prices.

In an opinion piece, published in Alaska newspapers, Walker says while he supports the philosophy behind tax incentives, giving away more in tax breaks than the state collects in revenue is irresponsible, and unsustainable.

The Revenue department says production taxes yielded $2.6 billion for the state in 2014 but are estimated to total $524 million this fiscal year amid much-lower oil prices.

Walker spokeswoman Grace Jang says Walker currently isn't proposing any particular law change. She says the administration is sharing facts with Alaskans as it learns them. Walker took office Dec. 1.

Haines guide sentenced for violation from 2011 goat hunt
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — A Haines hunting guide was fined $2,000 and sentenced to four years probation for falsifying paperwork after a 2011 goat hunt.

Federal District Court Judge Timothy Burgess also revoked John Katzeek's hunting and guiding privileges during probation, ordered him to pay $1,500 in restitution and required him to complete 200 hours of community service.

Katzeek was charged with nine hunting counts and acquitted of eight.

According to testimony at trial, Katzeek guided two Canadian hunters who legally killed two goats but left meat on the mountain to lighten their loads when an assistant guide broke his leg.

Prosecutors say Katzeek signed paperwork that included the wrong information on the weight of the meat salvaged, the name of the assistant and the hunt date.

Alaska places ski team coach on leave
FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) — The man who has led the University of Alaska Nordic ski teams for more than a decade has been placed on leave.

Coach Scott Jerome confirmed to the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner that he is no longer coaching but remains a university employee.

Beyond saying Scott's contract won't be renewed when it runs out June 30, UAF athletic director Gary Gray wouldn't elaborate because it's a personnel matter.

The 44-year-old Jerome has coached the Nanooks for the last 10.5 years.

Gray says Christine Turman, the assistant ski coach, will be the interim coach and will lead the Nanooks at the U.S. Cross Country Ski championships, which end Saturday in Houghton, Michigan.

Sitka hospital board selects interim CEO
SITKA, Alaska (AP) — A Sitka businessman has been selected as the interim CEO of troubled Sitka Community Hospital following the abrupt departure of his predecessor.

The Daily Sitka Sentinel reports Rob Allen was selected at a special meeting of the hospital board Wednesday.

For now, Allen replaces Jeff Comer, who resigned suddenly amid the hospital's financial problems. Comer planned to leave Sitka over the weekend, saying he was assaulted on a trail after he was recognized as the hospital CEO.

Comer took over as hospital CEO in September, and told city administrator Mark Gorman last week that he planned to step down as CEO.

The Sitka Assembly recently voted to extend a line of credit to the hospital from $500,000 to $1.5 million, to help cover costs for December and January.

EPA steps in to finish cleanup of Alaska fuel spill
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The government has taken over cleanup of 4,400 gallons of diesel that spilled into an Alaska creek because the responsible company said it lacked enough insurance to finish the job.

Much of the fuel remains frozen in a creek bed weeks after a tanker slid off the Richardson Highway Dec. 9 near Valdez.

Environmental regulators say North Pole-based Alaska Petroleum Distributing Inc., the tanker operator, told responders it used most of its $1 million insurance coverage and was financially incapable of completing the cleanup. The federal Environmental Protection Agency assumed command of the effort.

EPA spokeswoman Hanady Kader says the first priority is the cleanup. She says the "bottom line in these situations is the polluter pays."

Jay Johnson, whose family owns Alaska Petroleum, says he will reimburse the government.

Democrats block quick debate on pipeline bill
WASHINGTON (AP) — Democrats are blocking immediate Senate debate on a measure that would approve the building of the Keystone X-L pipeline. That sets up a test vote for next week that the bill is expected to clear easily.

The House is planning to pass its own version of the bill tomorrow. The first piece of legislation from the Republican-controlled Senate is headed for a threatened White House veto, and neither side appears to be backing down today.

The new energy committee chairman, Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, urged colleagues not to be deterred by the veto threat. She reminded them that the bill fell just one vote shy of Senate approval when Democrats controlled the chamber last year.

This time, the bill already has enough support to overcome a filibuster: 54 Republicans and six Democrats are sponsors. But supporters acknowledge they remain short of the numbers that would be needed to overcome a veto. They're already discussing other means to get the pipeline approved.

Senate panel approves Keystone bill despite veto threat
WASHINGTON (AP) — A bill to approve the Keystone XL oil pipeline cleared a key Senate committee Thursday, setting up a floor debate next week as Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called on President Barack Obama to rescind his veto threat.

The Energy and Natural Resources committee moved the bill closer to the floor by a 13-9 vote. Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, a sponsor on the bill, was the only Democrat to support it.

New energy committee chairman Lisa Murkowski, an Alaska Republican, noted the bill has Democratic support and came within one vote of passing the Senate last year.

The Keystone pipeline would carry oil from Canadian tar sands to Gulf Coast refineries. The House will vote on its version of the bill Friday, and is expected to pass it easily.

Corrections officer accidentally shoots daughter
FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) — Police say an Alaska corrections officer accidentally shot his 12-year-old daughter in the leg when they went for physical therapy appointments.

The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported the girl was released from a hospital Tuesday after undergoing surgery.

Police Officer Doug Welborn says the girl suffered a severe flesh wound.

Initial police reports said the shooting occurred when the father removed his jacket and didn't want other patients to see his holstered .40-caliber pistol.

But Welborn said Thursday the father also had a therapy appointment, and the shooting occurred when he removed the pistol from his hip holster as he prepared to get on a therapy table.

The bullet went through his forearm before striking his daughter.

Police have forwarded the result of their investigation to prosecutors for possible charges. The name of the corrections officer was not released.

Senate panel takes up pipeline bill despite veto threat
WASHINGTON (AP) — A Senate committee has taken up a bill approving the Keystone XL pipeline with plans to move it toward the full Senate, despite a veto threat from the White House.

Energy and Natural Resources Chairman Lisa Murkowski says lawmakers shouldn't be deterred by President Barack Obama's threat. She notes the bill has Democratic supporters and came within one vote of passing last year.

The Keystone pipeline would bring oil from Canada to Gulf Coast refineries. Murkowski, an Alaska Republican, says the U.S. is becoming an energy superpower and needs to demonstrate respect for its neighbors and for trade with allies.

But Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell of Washington says for Congress to intervene in the administration's review of the pipeline amounts to a "sweetheart deal" for a foreign company.

Anchorage behavioral health center to offer military care
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Military service members in Anchorage will soon have inpatient behavioral health services from a facility program now providing services for youth.

KTUU reports that North Star Behavioral Health plans to turn its Bragaw Street facility into a 36-bed acute unit for adults.

Facility director Andrew Mayo says the focus will be on treating people with mental health and substance abuse issues.

Lt. Col. David Cordy, mental health flight commander for the 673rd Medical Group, says mental health and substance abuse programs at the Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson hospital can treat many patients.

But he says there is a lack of options for patients who need a higher level of care, such as inpatient services.

The inpatient military program is slated for a spring opening.

Barrow couple arrested on murder charges
FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) — A Barrow couple has been arrested on charges of second-degree murder in connection with the death of a 37-year-old Fairbanks man.

Alaska State Troopers say 39-year-old Abraham Stine of Barrow and his 31-year-old girlfriend, Dominique Vasquez, also of Barrow, were taken into custody Wednesday at Fairbanks Correctional Center. It's unclear if Stine and Vasquez have attorneys.

Troopers say they were notified early Wednesday morning about a disturbance at the Extended Stay Hotel in Fairbanks.

Officers found 37-year-old Wesley Lord dead inside a room at the hotel. Troopers say Lord had injuries consistent with blunt force trauma.

According to troopers, Stine assaulted Lord and Vasquez tried to cover Lord's mouth so he couldn't be heard.

Troopers say an autopsy will be conducted by the state medical examiner's office.

Bus service on winter route
Capital Transit is implementing Winter Route Changes until midnight tonight. Service will be discontinued on St. Ann’s Avenue, Cordova Street, Davis Avenue, Lemon Creek Road, and Franklin and Fourth Streets Downtown:

No service on Cordova Street. Please wait for the bus at the Breeze Inn stop.
No service to St Ann’s. Please wait for the bus at the Douglas Post Office stop.
No service on Franklin or 4th street. Please wait for the bus at the Main Street stop.
No service on Davis Avenue and Lemon Creek Road. Please wait for the bus at Glacier Highway.

Unless otherwise notified, Capital Transit will return to normal service tomorrow. For more information call Capital Transit at 789-6901.

Juneau man to repay embezzled $41K used to gamble, drink
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A 42-year-old Juneau man will serve five years' probation, including four months confinement, for using embezzled funds from a union for things like gambling and drinking.

The U.S. attorney's office says in a release that Jonathan H. Smith was sentenced in U.S. District Court in Anchorage. He also must pay more than $41,500 restitution, the amount prosecutors say he stole from the Carpenters Local Union 2247 in Juneau.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin Feldis said Smith used part of the embezzled funds to gamble at casinos in Las Vegas and Washington state. Other stolen money was used on personal travel, meals, bar tabs and shopping.

Authorities said Smith as financial secretary of the union illegally converted union money, property or other assets between April 16, 2007, and May 8, 2012.

Postal carrier sentenced to probation for tossing mail
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — An Anchorage mail carrier has been sentenced to one year probation after being convicted of throwing mail in the trash.

The U.S. attorney's office says 36-year-old Alfonso Pitpit pleaded guilty to one count of obstruction of mail. In addition to probation, he was fined $1,000.

Prosecutors say a witness saw Pitpit empty two trays of mail into garbage cans on his route in October. The witness notified the post office, and the mail was recovered and delivered.

Pitpit was sentenced Tuesday.

Human remains found in debris of Talkeetna cabin fire
TALKEETNA, Alaska (AP) — Alaska State Troopers say human remains were found in a cabin that burned over the weekend in Talkeetna.

Troopers just before midnight Saturday took a call on the burning cabin.

Troopers and a deputy fire marshal investigated the cabin Sunday and found the human remains in debris.

The remains were transported to the state medical examiner's office.

Troopers say no positive identification has been made and that no foul play is suspected.

NTSB releases preliminary report in NW Montana plane crash
KALISPELL, Mont. (AP) — Investigators for the National Transportation Safety Board say a plane made "several erratic maneuvers" before it crashed into a hillside near Flathead Lake in northwestern Montana last month, killing the pilot and injuring a passenger.

The Flathead Beacon reported Wednesday that investigators say the two-seat Piper was flying low to the ground before the crash, and witnesses say the plane's engine accelerated and revved just before impact.

Killed in the crash was 33-year-old Brett Thoft, of Wasilla, Alaska. His passenger, Tim Schauss, of Lake County, was critically injured.

According to the preliminary report, Schauss bought the plane Sept. 30 and was learning to become a pilot. Just before the Dec. 16 crash, Thoft, a Federal Aviation Administration certified mechanic, replaced the propeller on the plane.

 

[Wednesday January 7th, 2015  16th  EDITION 2:33 P. M.]

 
Lawmakers wonder if AGDC dismissals will delay pipeline work
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Two Republican lawmakers are questioning whether the removal of three board members from an organization expected to play a key role in Alaska natural gas pipeline projects will delay the group's work.

Reps. Mike Chenault and Mike Hawker led legislative efforts to create the Alaska Gasline Development Corp. They said Wednesday that they were concerned that Gov. Bill Walker's shake-up of the board could delay the group's efforts.

Walker doesn't foresee that.

He told The Associated Press that he removed the three members because he wanted Alaskans on the board, and he wanted greater geographic representation.

Those dismissed were Richard Rabinow, Drue Pearce and Al Bolea.

Rabinow, a former pipeline company executive, is from Texas. Pearce is from Anchorage and Bolea, a former oil company executive, is from Big Lake.
 
Wanted Juneau man jumps from 2nd story window, chased and arrested
After jumping from a two-story building and being chased a short distance, a Juneau man has been arrested for two warrants. Juneau police say over a period of 7 days, they received multiple reports of Robert H. Meireis violating conditions of release stemming from a domestic violence crime.

A JPD information release says officers investigated and filed charges with the City Attorney’s office for Unlawful Contact 1st Degree, Domestic Violence Assault 4th Degree and Criminal Mischief.

An arrest warrant to Answer to the Charge of DV Assault, a warrant to Answer to the Charge of Violating Conditions of Release and a summons to Answer to Charge of Assault were issued Tuesday for Meireis. Officers found Meireis shortly thereafter at the Bergman Hotel.

Meireis talked to officers through the door of the hotel room for several minutes, but then took off on foot out a 2nd story window. After a short foot pursuit officers were able to detain and arrest Meireis on Fourth Street. He was transported to Lemon Creek Correctional Center.
 
Klawock City Council member facing felony drug charges
KETCHIKAN, Alaska (AP) — A Klawock (kla-WOCK') City Council member has been indicted on felony drug charges, including an allegation of methamphetamine possession.

The Ketchikan Daily News reports 35-year-old Sabrina Demmert was indicted Friday by a Craig grand jury.

There is no telephone listing for Demmert in Klawock, and she could not be reached for comment Wednesday. Online court records don't list a defense attorney on the case.

The charges are misconduct involving a controlled substance and conspiracy to commit misconduct involving a controlled substance. One of the three counts alleges that Demmert possessed methamphetamine last March.

Klawock city administrator Leslie Isaacs confirmed to the newspaper Tuesday that Demmert is a council member. But he declined to comment further until more information is available.

Isaacs didn't immediately return a call for comment Wednesday.
 
Nonpayment of electric bill cuts power to Fairbanks motel
FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) — Twenty-six people living in a Fairbanks residential motel were forced to find new housing after the owner failed to pay a $4,000 electricity bill and a utility cut off power.

The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports Golden Valley Electric Association cut off power Dec. 30 to the Tamarac Inn.

Building owner Rose Mary Johnson could not be reached for comment.

Louise Kester managed the motel and lived there. She says the boiler quit working when the power went off.

Kester alerted social service agencies to help residents find alternative housing.

Golden Valley spokeswoman Corrine Bradish says the building owner was aware of the bill.

She says the utility usually cuts power after 56 days of non-payment and the motel was given 10 extra days.
 
Gardner will call it a win if education not cut this session
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — The minority leader of the Alaska Senate says she'll call it a win if education is not cut during the upcoming legislative session.

Democratic Sen. Berta Gardner of Anchorage said there is no way lawmakers will be able to cut the state's budget to offset the multibillion-dollar budget deficits projected for this year and next. She said in the current climate, there will not be funding increases.

Education became a sticking point during the last session, with lawmakers going into overtime to craft a compromise for additional funding and changes within the public education system. Some Democrats criticized the measure as a flop.

Gardner is set to lead a five-member minority.

Other caucus priorities include supporting Gov. Bill Walker's push for expanded Medicaid coverage.
 
3 organizations burglarized in Bethel
BETHEL, Alaska (AP) — Bethel police are investigating the weekend break-ins of three organizations.

KYUK reports a Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corp. worker discovered a burglary at an apartment complex that serves as the organization's professional housing facility.

YKHC spokeswoman Donna Bach says unauthorized people were staying inside, and a coin-operated laundry machine was tampered with. Police say a missing change machine was found hours later near a crowbar.

Police also received a report about another break-in at Grant Aviation Saturday after a worker noticed vending machines and cash machines were tampered with.

Another break-in was discovered Sunday at the main office of the Association of Village Council Presidents.

AVCP president Myron Naneng says a safe was forced open but nothing seems to be missing.

Police have not ruled out a connection between the break-ins.
 
Anchorage school stadium plan gets go-ahead
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A plan for a stadium at an Anchorage high school has gotten the go-ahead from the local Planning and Zoning Commission.

The commission's vote Monday was by a 7-to-1 margin for the plan affecting South Anchorage High School. The plan includes a series of conditions and restrictions that aim to placate neighborhood fears about crowds, noise and lights.

The Alaska Dispatch News reports conditions include limiting the use of stadium lights, requiring games to wrap up by 10 p.m. and coating bleachers with sound-dampening material.

This was the second attempt by the Anchorage School District to win approval for a stadium at the school.

The vote Monday gives the school district the ability to move forward with construction.

Funding for construction, however, still falls short by $500,000.
 
Anchorage hospital proposes additional ER locations
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Alaska Regional Hospital is seeking to build stand-alone emergency rooms, one in south Anchorage and the other in Eagle River.

KTUU reports the Anchorage hospital submitted a Certificate of Need to the state in December. The process is required before building a medical facility.

Providence Alaska Medical Center in Anchorage submitted its own Certificate of Need last fall. It seeks construction of 14 additional emergency rooms on its campus — including 10 for pediatric emergencies.

Alaska Regional Hospital CEO Julie Taylor says a decision from the state health commissioner on which proposal would fit Anchorage best is expected by this spring.
 
Juneau loses well loved character of a volunteer, Peggy Garrison
Former Juneau City Clerk and avid volunteer for the Golden North Salmon Derby, Peggy Garrison, died Sunday at the Juneau Pioneer Home.
Peggy's niece, Jackie Jennings, former Juneau police officer, says, "She would love to tell a very naughty, Irish joke that was a little colorful, to say the least.  That spoke volumes about her character.  She could entertain clergy and they were willing to pay attention to a naughty joke."
 
Just shy of her 85th birthday, Peggie was born Jan. 31st 1930 in Ireland.  Margaret Mary "Peggie" Whyte Garrison is survived by her husband Richard E. "Dick" Garrison, who the only person to fish every one of the Golden North Salmon Derbies.
 
A memorial service for viewing and prayers will be held at the Cathedral of the Nativity on 5th St. Friday evening at 6:00. On Saturday from from 10:00 - 11:00, a Funeral Mass will be held at the church. At 11:30, a reception will be held for friends and family at the Coho Restaurant in the Goldbelt Hotel.
 
2014 SEABIA award recipients
The following Southeast Alaska Building Industry Association members were recognized at the Association’s Holiday Party.

Associates of the Year Award: The Counterfitters and Tyler Rental; Big Builders of the Year to Bicknell, Inc., Coogan Construction, and Lowpete Construction;

Builder of the Year to Victor Banaszak, VRB Construction; Volunteer of the Year to Russ McDougal, Mac’s Design & Construction; and Lifetime Achievement Award to Steve Burnett, Burnett Construction.

These members have received this special recognition for their contribution and support to the housing and building industry here in Juneau. SEABIA thanks all of its members, as well as the community, for their support and contributions this past year and the year ahead of us.
Laura Baker, Executive Officer with the non profit trade association, tells News of the North, "Coming up March 13 - 15, we will have our 2015 Home and Outdoor Living Expo."
For more information contact: seabia@gci.net
 
Over half a foot of snow falls on Juneau overnight
Break out the snow boots, Juneau International Airport measures around 7 inches of snow falling overnight.

Aaron Jacobs, meteorologist with the National Weather Service, says some areas in the Valley report 8 inches of snow. He says snowfall will diminish through noon when the winter storm warning will expire. "There's a drying trend coming in for later tonight and into Thursday. Windy conditions will develop later in the week."

Juneau schools are open today. School buses are operating on snow routes. Families should be prepared for delays in areas of the district with the heaviest snow fall. Buses may be running late as drivers use caution on the roads.

A listing of school bus snow routes can be found on the district website, www.juneauschools.org. Bus routes are under the Parents section of the website.

Also, Capital Transit is implementing Winter Route Changes until midnight tonight. Service will be discontinued on St. Ann’s Avenue, Cordova Street, Davis Avenue, Lemon Creek Road, and Franklin and Fourth Streets Downtown:
No service on Cordova Street. Please wait for the bus at the Breeze Inn stop.
No service to St Ann’s. Please wait for the bus at the Douglas Post Office stop.
No service on Franklin or 4th street. Please wait for the bus at the Main Street stop.
No service on Davis Avenue and Lemon Creek Road. Please wait for the bus at Glacier Highway.
Unless otherwise notified, Capital Transit will return to normal service tomorrow. For more information call Capital Transit at 789-6901.
 
Weather disrupts sailings of ferry Aurora
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Rough seas in recent days have disrupted some ferry sailings for Juneau, Haines and Skagway.

Strong winds, freezing spray and heavy seas sent the Aurora back to the Auke Bay ferry terminal Tuesday morning. CoastAlaska reports the ferry was also kept in port on Sunday due to the weather.

Alaska Marine Highway System spokesman Jeremy Woodrow says gale-force winds and low temperatures caused saltwater spray to freeze on the ship's lifesaving equipment. That meant that if there was an emergency, the crew would not have been able to deploy the lifeboats, he said.

The ferry sailed Monday because it was bound for Gustavus, a route that Woodrow said had calmer weather.
 
2 bills address discrimination based on sexual orientation
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Two Alaska state representatives plan to reintroduce separate bills that would make it illegal to discriminate based on sexual orientation.

KTOO reports former Juneau Rep. Beth Kerttula, a Democrat, introduced the same bill in 2011 and 2013. Rep. Cathy Munoz, a Juneau Republican, was a co-sponsor in 2013.

Munoz is hopeful the bill will carry more weight with her Republican majority colleagues this time.

Rep. Andy Josephson, an Anchorage Democrat, says in a release he also will sponsor legislation that would prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity or expression.

Josephson is also sponsoring an amendment to the state constitution to legalize gay marriage in Alaska. A federal court in October struck down Alaska's former constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, but an appeal is pending.
 
Walker removes 3 members from gas line corporation board
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Gov. Bill Walker has removed three members from the board of the Alaska Gasline Development Corp., including a former president of ExxonMobil Pipeline Co. whose appointment created controversy during the last legislative session.

Walker's office, in a release late Tuesday night, announced the removal of Richard Rabinow, Drue Pearce and Al Bolea.

Legislators last year approved a measure, in response to Rabinow's appointment by then-Gov. Sean Parnell, expressly allowing out-of-state residents to serve on the board of the gas line organization. Rabinow is from Texas.

Walker's office also said the governor has instructed the state labor and commerce commissioners, who sit on the board, to not sign confidentiality agreements.

Walker said he cannot allow Cabinet members to sign agreements meant to keep information from the public.
 
Walker meets with Jewell, discusses King Cove road
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Gov. Bill Walker plans to visit King Cove.

Residents of that community and others have been pushing the Interior Department to allow for construction of a road through a wildlife refuge in order to reach an all-weather airport at Cold Bay that could improve access to emergency flights.

A lawsuit over the department's rejection of a road is pending.

Walker spokeswoman Grace Jang says Walker supports the road and wants to see the situation first-hand. No date for the trip has been finalized.

Walker met with Interior Secretary Sally Jewell on Tuesday in Washington, D.C. He said in a statement that he stressed to Jewell his desire to seek a resolution on the issue.

Walker's office said the governor also met with Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.
 
Wasilla man fined for illegal dumping in state refuge
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A 20-year-old Wasilla man has been fined for dumping roofing material and other trash in a state game refuge.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game says Ian Beall pleaded guilty Dec. 22 to illegal dumping in Goose Bay State Game Refuge southwest of Wasilla.

Beall was also ordered to complete 20 hours of community service by picking up trash in the Goose Bay and Palmer Hay Flats state game refuges.

Alaska Wildlife Troopers investigated Beale in early November.

The department says the refuge's road entrance for decades was the site of illegal dumping, vandalism and vehicle-burning.

The department has spent more than $100,000 on improvements and trash removal with help from the Alaska National Guard and volunteers.

More than 100 tons of trash have been removed since 2010.

 

[Tuesday January 6th, 2015  16th  EDITION 5:25 P. M.]

McGrath man charged with using machete in assault at party
MCGRATH, Alaska (AP) — A McGrath man suspected of hitting another man with a machete has been charged with felony assault.

Alaska State Troopers say 29-year-old John Lindeman Jr. was arrested for an incident that occurred early New Year's Day.

A village public safety officer took a report that a man from Anchorage attended a party at Lindeman's home and was assaulted.

An Alaska Wildlife State Trooper determined Lindeman hosted a bonfire and outdoor drinking party and that the Anchorage man was struck on the forearm and hand at about 4 a.m.

The injured man was treated and released at the McGrath Clinic.

Lindeman was jailed in Bethel.

McGrath is a community of 320 about 221 miles northwest of Anchorage.

Correction: Alaska Traffic Fatalities story
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — In a story Jan. 2 about Alaska traffic fatalities, The Associated Press reported erroneously the number of Alaska fatal traffic crashes in 2014. There were 65 fatal crashes last year and 70 people died.

A corrected version of the story is below:

The state Highway Safety Office says traffic crashes climbed in 2014.

The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports 65 fatal traffic crashes occurred, more than the previous six years and the most since 75 fatal crashes in 2007.

The 65 fatal crashes in 2014 killed 70 people.

Highway Safety Office research analyst Miles Brookes says it's too early to say precisely how many fatal wrecks involved drivers impaired by alcohol or drugs.

Brookes says so far about 38 percent had been confirmed to have involved drivers with blood-alcohol levels over the legal limit.

Senate majority looks to hire ex-military affairs official
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — A military affairs official, who resigned as part of a leadership change following problems within the Alaska National Guard, has been asked to work with the Alaska Senate majority press office.

Senate President Kevin Meyer told members he decided to hire McHugh Pierre on a four-month contract, beginning Jan. 15.

Majority press secretary Carolyn Kuckertz says the press shop is down one person, and hiring Pierre was seen as a way to fill that void.

Pierre said he has tentatively agreed to the job but not yet signed a contract.

Pierre was a deputy commissioner with the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. In September, following the adjutant general's ouster, then-Gov. Sean Parnell asked Pierre to resign.

Pierre said he did nothing wrong and accepted that Parnell wanted new leadership.

Sullivan sworn in as new US senator for Alaska
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Dan Sullivan has been sworn in as Alaska's new U.S. senator.

Sullivan is a Republican and a former state attorney general and Natural Resources commissioner. He defeated incumbent Democrat Mark Begich last November.

Sullivan's swearing-in — along with those of other senators elected to serve in the new Congress — was broadcast on C-SPAN2 on Tuesday. Tuesday marked the start of the new congressional session.

The oath was administered by Vice President Joe Biden.

Alaska's senior senator is Republican Lisa Murkowski. Republican U.S. Rep. Don Young is Alaska's sole representative in the House.

Site south of Denali being looked at for possible dam
FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) — A site south of Denali National Park and Preserve is being considered for a possible dam.

The Native Village of Cantwell filed preliminary paperwork with federal regulators in November to explore a dam along Carlo Creek, about 13 miles south of the park entrance.

Gordon Carlson, a Cantwell village official, said the community is looking for an alternative energy project to generate revenue by providing electricity to the Golden Valley Electric Association grid.

But he stressed the proposal is very preliminary. He said it's not clear yet if it's even plausible.

The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports the proposed 10-foot-high dam would power a 1.6-megawatt turbine. Associated infrastructure would include a road, powerhouse and transmission line.

Alaska businesses begin pot sales before legal date
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Alaska law enforcement representatives say an entrepreneur is breaking the law by openly selling marijuana ahead of the official legalization date approved by voters in November.

The Alaska Dispatch News reports the website of Discreet Deliveries offers to drop off up to an ounce of marijuana to customers in Anchorage and the Matanuska Valley.

The Alcoholic Beverage Control Board is overseeing implementation of the voter initiative. Director Cynthia Franklin says the owner of Discreet Deliveries could be prosecuted.

That's also the opinion of Anchorage Police Chief Mark Mew.

Discreet Deliveries owner Rocky Burns says if he was worried, he wouldn't have started sales. He says he wants Alaskans pot companies to establish a customer base before outsiders move in.

Recreational marijuana will be legal Feb. 24.

Aleut Corp. subsidiary settles Adak spill case for $700,000
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A subsidiary of Aleut Corp. will pay a $500,000 civil fine and another $200,000 for compliance measures for violating its oil discharge and prevention plan five years ago.

The Alaska Department of Law announced the settlement Tuesday with Aleut Enterprise LLC.

Aleut Enterprise manages fueling facilities in Adak and Cold Bay and manages the port of Adak, according to its website.

State prosecutors say the company on Jan. 11, 2010, released about 1,126 barrels of fuel, or 35,469 gallons, into state waters.

The fuel was being transferred from a tanker at the loading dock and overfilled a tank.

The fuel entered Helmet Creek, which flows into Sweeper Cove, a small boat harbor in the port of Adak.

The company's operations manager pleaded guilty to two criminal counts.

Alaska evergreen to be next US Capitol Christmas tree
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — An evergreen tree from Alaska will serve as the U.S. Capitol Christmas tree next year.

The U.S. Forest Service says schoolchildren around Alaska will make thousands of ornaments for the 60 t0- 85-foot tree, and for smaller trees in Washington, D.C., government offices.

Alaska Dispatch News reports the tree will come from the Chugach National Forest. It's the first time a tree from Alaska will be the Capitol Christmas tree.

The tradition of placing a Christmas tree on the west lawn of the Capitol began in 1964.

A different national Forest has been selected each year since 1970 to provide a tree.

The Chippewa National Forest in Minnesota provided the 2014 tree, which made appearances all over that state and the Midwest before arriving at its destination.

Proposed Ketchikan sludge fee hike fails
KETCHIKAN, Alaska (AP) — The Ketchikan Gateway Borough Assembly has rejected a proposal to raise sludge fees for homeowners with septic systems.

But the issue will be revisited later this month.

KRBD reports that the proposal failed by a 3-2 vote Monday night, when only five of seven assembly members were present.

The item is set to be back to the assembly on Jan. 19.

Public meeting on Juneau’s tax exemptions
The City and Borough of Juneau’s Assembly Tax Exemption Review Committee (TERC) is holding a public meeting on proposed changes to business related and senior citizen sales and property tax exemptions on Thursday evening at 5:30pm in Assembly Chambers in City Hall.

The TERC has held 11 meetings to discuss options for potential changes to various sales and property tax exemptions. The objective of this meeting is to announce the committee’s final recommendations and solicit input from businesses and the public on the following specific exemptions:

1. Increasing the amount of the sales tax CAP exemption on the sale of a single item or service from $7,500 to $14,000.

2. Changes to senior citizen sales tax exemption: Remove senior sales tax exemption eligibility for non-Juneau residents. Implement an “income (needs) based” eligibility program, setting the household income level at 250% of poverty. For seniors with household income above the 250% of poverty level, narrow the tax exemption to 3 essential items (food, electricity & heating fuel.)

Board of Game public meetings to be held this week in Juneau
The Alaska Board of Game will be considering 40 proposals regarding hunting and trapping regulations for the Southeast region. Meetings will be January 9 - 13 at the Westmark Baranof Hotel at 127 North Franklin Street. Prior to this Southeast region meeting, the board will hold a one-day work session on January 8th at the same location for the purpose of hearing various reports and to address board business. Meetings begin at 8:30 a. m., and are open to the public. A live audio stream of the audio for both meetings is intended to be available on the Board of Game website at www.boardofgame.adfg.alaska.gov.

Proposals scheduled for the Southeast region meeting have been submitted by the Department of Fish and Game, local fish and game advisory committees, and the general public seeking adjustments to hunting and trapping regulations in the Southeast region (Game Management Units [GMU] 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5.) Issues to be addressed by the board include: hunting and trapping seasons and bag limits, methods and means, and restricted areas.

The agenda for the Southeast Region meeting begins with several oral reports provided by the Department of Fish and Game, followed by oral testimony. Public testimony will be taken during the Southeast Region meeting only. Anyone wishing to testify before the board must sign up at the meeting location before Saturday, January 10, at 10:30 am. Public testimony will continue until everyone who has signed up has been given the opportunity to be heard. Deliberations on the proposals will begin following public testimony and continue through the remainder of the meeting.

Meeting materials including the agenda, roadmap, and public comments can be found on the Board of Game meeting information website at: www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=gameboard.meetinginfo. Documents submitted to the board during the meeting are intended to be posted online throughout both meetings. During the meeting, written public comments limited to ten single sided pages, from any one individual or group, may be submitted by hand delivery at any time if 20 copies are provided. Individuals who cannot attend the meeting may submit comments via fax to (907) 465-6094.

Learn more about the Board of Game Process: ADF&G Boards Support Section will host an evening training session on how to be effective at board meetings. The training session is open to the public and advisory committee members. It will be held at the Westmark Baranof in the main meeting area, starting at 6:30 pm on Friday, January 9. For more information, contact Boards Support Section at 465-4110.


Parts of Denali Park open to snowmobiles
FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) — A section of Denali National Park and Preserve is now open to snowmobiles.

The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports the area south of the Alaska Range crest was opened Friday for snowmobile use.

Because of inadequate snow cover, areas north of the crest are closed.

Also closed are lands within the former Mount McKinley National Park.

National Park Service officials say riding conditions are "potentially dangerous" because of high avalanche hazards and thin ice and open water on rivers.

Sullivan to be sworn in as new senator
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Dan Sullivan is set to be sworn in as Alaska's junior senator.

The Republican, a former state attorney general and Natural Resources commissioner, defeated incumbent Democrat Mark Begich last November.

Sullivan is scheduled to be sworn in Tuesday, as the new Congress convenes.

Alaska's senior senator is Lisa Murkowski.

Ceremony to welcome home 160 Alaska soldiers
JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska (AP) — About 160 soldiers will be officially welcomed home to Alaska Tuesday from Afghanistan.

U.S. Army Alaska says in a release that two units will be feted in an 11 a.m. ceremony at the base.

The solders are from the 17th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion and the 23rd Sapper Co.

They officially returned last month, but Tuesday's ceremony will allow family, friends and Anchorage community members to take part in the welcome.

The Army says the ceremony will end with commanders "uncasing" the unit's colors, signifying their return from deployment.

Escape suspect still wearing handcuffs arrested in village
ANVIK, Alaska (AP) — A 27-year-old man from the southwest Alaska village of Anvik escaped custody after an arrest Jan. 1 but was arrested two days later.

The handcuffs on one wrist may have given him away.

Alaska State Troopers say an Anvik village public safety officer took a complaint on New Year's Day that the man was driving a snowmobile while intoxicated.

After field sobriety tests, the officer arrested the man on suspicion of DUI and driving with a revoked license.

Troopers say the man was placed in a holding facility but escaped and fled by snowmobile 23 miles to the village of Grayling.

Troopers obtained a warrant for the man's arrest, and on Saturday night, found him hiding in a Grayling home with the handcuffs still attached.

He was jailed in Bethel.

Young to miss 1st day of new Congress following family death
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — U.S. Rep. Don Young will miss Tuesday's vote for House speaker due to a death in his family.

Young spokesman Matt Shuckerow said Young's brother, 84-year-old Russell Young of Meridian, California, has died, and the congressman will spend time with family ahead of a memorial service in the Sacramento area.

Shuckerow said Don Young, who is 81, will be sworn in upon his return.

Young has served in Congress since 1973. He was re-elected in November.

Shuckerow said by email that Young doesn't believe Rep. John Boehner's position as speaker is in any jeopardy. Shuckerow said that of the announced candidates for the job, Young believes Boehner is the most appropriate choice to unite House Republicans.

Young said the new Congress needs to begin governing and set aside bickering.

[Monday January 5th, 2015  16th  EDITION 6:02 P. M.]

Special investigator planned to look into Guard allegations
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Attorney General Craig Richards is in the process of hiring a special investigator to look into the handling of sexual assault complaints within the Alaska National Guard.

Grace Jang, a spokeswoman for Gov. Bill Walker, said Richards is vetting five candidates who have strong criminal investigation backgrounds and are in good standing with the Alaska Bar. She did not have a set timeline for the hiring but expected it to be soon.

She said the person selected will be more of a fact-finder and recommend whether a special prosecutor is needed.

Jang said the special investigator will be charged with looking into allegations of sexual abuse, harassment and cover-up, as well as whether the response of law enforcement was appropriate and procedures were followed.

Walker wants commissioner input on possible budget cuts
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Alaska Gov. Bill Walker has asked his commissioners to look for places to cut agency operating costs.

In a recent letter, Walker called for state agencies to plan for and implement operating cost reductions for the rest of this fiscal year. He said the state would begin looking longer-term at the proper level of government services in the context of existing programs, needs of Alaskans and financial sustainability.

He also asked commissioners to evaluate operating budget cuts of 5 percent and 8 percent from the placeholder budget for next year proposed by his predecessor. In line with that, Walker asked them to assess such things as fee structures and opportunities to privatize service delivery.

Walker requested a list of capital project funding that could be redirected toward other needs.

Walker traveling to Washington for Sullivan swearing-in
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Gov. Bill Walker is traveling to Washington, D.C., for the swearing in Tuesday of Alaska's new U.S. senator, Dan Sullivan.

Sullivan, a Republican, defeated incumbent Democrat Mark Begich in November.

Walker spokeswoman Grace Jang says Walker also plans to meet with Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and is trying to set up meetings with others before returning to Alaska late Wednesday.

She says the Jewell meeting will mainly be introductory, a chance for the two to meet after previously speaking over the phone.

Jang said one issue that could come up is a road through a wildlife refuge from King Cove to Cold Bay. She said Walker supports efforts, backed by the prior state administration, to allow for a road. Jewell rejected a road.

A lawsuit over the denial is pending.

Ferry project bid opening delayed to allow time for talks
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — The bid opening for a ferry terminal replacement project in British Columbia has again been pushed back to allow more time for a possible resolution over the use of U.S. steel in the project.

The state of Alaska last week pushed the bid opening from Jan. 6 to Jan. 21. A spokeswoman for Gov. Bill Walker says the delay speaks to a willingness on both sides to come to mutually agreeable terms.

The Prince Rupert terminal is on Canadian soil leased by the state as part of the Alaska's ferry system.

Canadian officials have balked at a Federal Highway Administration requirement that U.S. steel be used in projects it funds. Much of the funding for the replacement project is set to come from the federal agency, with the state contributing.

UAS welcomes students after winter break
The University of Alaska Southeast campus re-opens today after winter break.

Tuition and Fees for the Spring Semester are due Tuesday.

It's housing move-in day for new and returning students on Wednesday.

New and transfer student orientation is Friday.  In a release the University of Alaska Southeast says the institution strongly believes that the orientation process assists all new students in their transition to UAS and increases their chances for academic success.

Next Monday, January 12, is the first day of spring instruction. UAS says, "Register for classes NOW if you haven’t already done so."

Find more information at http://www.uas.alaska.edu/.

Number of ships transiting Arctic waters falls in 2014
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — An increase in shipping that some predict for Arctic waters did not show up in 2014.

Alaska Public Radio Network reports 31 ships sailed the Northern Sea Route between Europe and Asia and 22 used part of the route.

That was down from 70 vessels using the route in 2013.

Malte Humpert of the Arctic Institute, a Washington, D.C., think tank, says 2014 shows that Arctic shipping may be further off than thought.

He says a higher volume of sea ice may also have been a factor.

Joël Plouffe, managing editor of the journal Arctic Yearbook, says the opening of the Arctic has been oversold as a major and immediate boom but remains a region where access is limited and development is expensive.

Sitka hospital CEO says he was assaulted
SITKA, Alaska (AP) — The CEO of Sitka's community hospital says he missed a meeting last week because he was assaulted.

Jeff Comer said he could no longer stay in Sitka and planned to leave over the weekend.

Comer was scheduled to appear at a meeting Friday but instead sent the hospital board president to read a statement from him. He said he was willing to help the city and hospital as needed, from Arizona.

KCAW reports Sitka police chief Sheldon Schmitt confirmed that Comer called dispatch Friday afternoon to report an assault on a hiking trail after he was recognized as being the hospital CEO.

The Sitka Sentinel reports Comer had notified the city administrator days earlier of plans to step down as CEO from the hospital, which is having financial troubles.

Park Service releases names of Denali crash victims
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The National Park Service has released the names of two men who died last month in a two-vehicle collision at Alaska's Denali National Park and Preserve.

Park Service officials say the men who died in the Dec. 22 crash are 28-year-old Patrick Defoe of Wasilla and 51-year-old Antril Sanguinetti of Anchorage. The crash occurred on the Parks Highway about 1.5 miles south of the park entrance.

Officials say the family of Defoe spoke with the news media before the state medical examiner officially confirmed his identity.

The Park Service is working on the crash investigation with the state medical examiner and Alaska State Troopers.

Kalakala to be scrapped; end of iconic Puget Sound ferry
TACOMA, Wash. (AP) — The historic ferry Kalakala (kuh-LAHK'-uh-luh) has reached its final destination.

The News Tribune reports the owner plans to have the rusting hulk scrapped later this month in Tacoma.

The 276-foot ferry went into service in 1935 and carried cars across Puget Sound until 1967. In the days before the Space Needle, the silver art deco style vessel was the post card symbol of Seattle.

Then, it was towed to Alaska and used as a fish processor.

It was towed back to Seattle in 1998, but plans by several owners to restore it never came up with enough money.

The Kalakala ended up on property owned by Karl Anderson. He has spent about a half million on it and says it will cost another half-million to prepare it for demolition.

New Anchorage downtown lounge under liquor license scrutiny
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The Anchorage Assembly is scrutinizing a pending liquor license transfer for a new downtown business, following shootings, fights and even an unsanctioned street dance party in other downtown areas.

The LED Lounge, which hasn't officially opened for business, is housed in the building of the former Platinum Jaxx, a nightclub that had a reputation as a bad neighborhood operator.

KSKA reports a group of business and property owners believe the new business would bring the same problems to the neighborhood.

An assembly committee recently heard more information about the proposed transfer. Members noted a civil court case that concluded the applicant let his workers compensation insurance lapse in the past.

Lounge owner and operator Robert Alexander says his business record is not spotless, but he deserves a chance.

16 year old Sitka girl rescued after falling down embankment
A 16 year old Sitka girl that fell down a snow embankment was unable to get back on a trail while hiking with her brother on Verstovia Mountain Sunday afternoon.

Alaska State Troopers say Sitka Mountain Rescue organized several teams to respond, located and rescued Ali Venneberg. She did not sustain any significant injuries in her fall and declined treatment by EMS.

Anchorage homicides in 2014 among fewest in 2 decades
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The number of homicides in Anchorage in 2014 was among the lowest in two decades.

Alaska Dispatch News reports homicide detectives investigated the deaths of 14 people last year.

One of those deaths is not being counted as a homicide that has been confirmed.

Two of the cases remain unsolved, with no arrests made or suspects named.

There were two victims in one of the 2014 cases.

Police say the year's total is the second lowest number of homicides for the city in 24 years.

The city has averaged more than 20 homicides annually since 1991.

Fairbanks City Council to vote on union contract
FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) — The Fairbanks City Council is scheduled to vote on a proposed one-year labor agreement between the city and AFL-CIO Joint Crafts Council.

The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports the contract up for a vote at Monday's council meeting proposes a 2.5 percent package increases.

The total cost of the increase would be more than $116,500. It is part of a three-year contract that included provisions to relaunch negotiations for the second and third years, with negotiations for the third year set to begin later this year

The union represents about 50 city employees.

Brent Sass, musher injured in Yukon Quest, wins Gin Gin 200
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Brent Sass, the Eureka musher who was injured in last year's Yukon Quest, has won the Gin Gin 200 Sled Dog Race.

Alaska Dispatch News reports the 35-year-old musher won the race Sunday. The Gin Gin is the first distance race of the season in Alaska.

In second was Matt Hall of Eagle, followed by Paul Gebhardt of Kasilof.

In last year's Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race, Sass was running neck and neck with Allen Moore near the end of the race when Sass nodded off and fell off his sled, striking his head on ice.

Sass, who was briefly separated from his team, eventually scratched and Moore won.

The Gin Gin 200 trail ran from Meiers Lake to Alpine Creek Lodge near the Denali Highway, and back.

Juneau Economic Development Plan to be discussed at COW meeting
The sole agenda on this evening's Committee of the Whole Meeting is the Juneau Economic Development Plan.

City Manager Kim Kiefer says, "The assembly received the final draft in late December." She added that contractors will be discussing the plan with the assembly so they can bring it back and have it finalized at a future assembly meeting. Tonight's meeting will have no public comment, but the public is wecome to attend this overview and discussion.

See a two page summary and the full plan at http://www.juneaueconomicplan.org.

UPDATE:  Teenage boy stabbed on Tongass Boulevard after party
A 17 year old boy is expected to recover after being stabbed.  Juneau Police say the report came in from Bartlett Regional Hospital early Sunday morning.  The teenager has two stab wounds,  one to his lower side and one to his back. One of those stabbings caused his lung to collapse. 

According to a JPD information release, their investigation shows that the victim and another teenage male were walking on Tongass Boulevard after leaving a nearby house party. The two young males were approached by two older males who asked them for marijuana. The two younger men said they did not have any and a verbal altercation started. The verbal altercation escalated to a physical altercation. All four males then began running away from the scene. The friend of the victim noticed the victim was having trouble running. The friend then saw large amounts of blood on the victim’s clothing and they located the stab wounds. The boys returned to the house party where another person agreed to drive the victim to the emergency room.

A 26-year-old Juneau man has been arrested in connection with the stabbing.  Joshua Paul Feak is charged with assault.

 

[Sunday January 4th, 2015  8th  EDITION 4:50 P. M.]

White Mountain Man charged in girlfriend's death
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A 31-year-old White Mountain man is charged with first-degree murder in connection with the New Year's day death of his girlfriend at their home.

KTUU reports Gilbert Olanna Jr. also was charged Saturday with tampering with evidence and assault in connection with the death of 40-year-old Esther Lincoln.

Authorities say Olanna spent much of the early hours of New Year's day out drinking before returning home, where he argued with Lincoln.

According to charging documents, Olanna "held Lincoln around the neck for several minutes until she went limp." Olanna also said he also hit the woman in the face, cleaned up and put clothes on Lincoln before calling a health aide from a neighbor's house.

Online court records on the case don't list an attorney for Olanna.

State closes DEC office in Bethel
BETHEL, Alaska (AP) — The state has closed the Bethel office of the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, citing budgetary issues and restructuring.

KYUK reports the DEC's spill and response office in Bethel closed Dec. 31, just after the retirement of Bob Carlson, the sole DEC employee in Bethel.

The DEC's environmental program manager Steve Russell in Anchorage says financial considerations played a role in the decision not to relocate someone to Bethel. He says Carlson's departure sped the process.

Russell says spill prevention and response will now be handled out of Anchorage, and the agency can get someone to Bethel quickly.

Carlson says the Bethel office closure will result in a lower level of service for people in the region.

Man attempting to fight with taxi driver tased
A man trying to fight with
with a taxi driver was tased early Saturday downtown. 

Juneau Police say a caller altered them to the altercation on Front Street Saturday around 1:00 in the morning.  Officers then contacted 28 year old Jackson Lee Benedict Buchanan as he was then trying to fight another man who intervened when that man saw the taxi driver get hit.

Buchanan initially complied with diretions from officers while a taser was pointed at him. Once handcuffed, Buchanan began spitting at officers and assaulted one of the arresting officers who was trying to put him into a patrol car. The taser was then deployed. Buchanan continued to thrash and fight and damaged a patrol vehicle. Buchanan’s continuing violent efforts and emotional state while restrained caused officers to be concerned about Buchanan’s medical safety. Officers called Capital City Fire and Rescue and Buchanan was restrained on a gurney and transported by ambulance to Bartlett Regional Hospital.

Buchanan was later lodged at the Lemon Creek Correctional Center and charged with five misdemeanors: assault, assault on a police officer, criminal mischief, harassment, and disorderly conduct.

UPDATE: Power outage in Douglas and on Thane restored
According to AEL&P's facebook page, crews were dispatched to the Douglas area around 9:00 Sunday morning for reports of a power outage.  Shortly after 9:00 AM, AEL&P reported that they attempted to close back in the line but it tripped open again, which meant there was still an object in the line or a damaged section. Crews were patrolling the line to find the issue as quickly as possible. AEL&P said, "We know it's cold. Getting your power back on is our top priority." At 9:50 AM, AEL&P said, "We have restored power to Douglas."

A second outage affecting parts of Thane Road was also reported. AEL&P had to remove a tree from the line on Thane Road. Power was restored in that area at 10:13. AEL&P says customers could experience brief interruptions still while repairs are fully completed.

Navy considers more sonobuoys off Pacific Coast
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The U.S. Navy could significantly increase the number of sonobuoys it plans to deploy off the Pacific Coast.

The floating, acoustic surveillance devices are used in anti-submarine warfare. The Oregonian reports that in a modified environmental assessment for Northwest training and testing, the Navy increased the number of planned sonobuoys from 20 to 720.

They would be in areas at least 12 miles offshore from Alaska, Washington, Oregon and Northern California.

The Navy acknowledges that deploying more of them is likely to harm endangered leatherneck turtles. It's accepting public comments until Feb. 2.

In addition to more buoys, the document also details additional "maritime security operations" that weren't reviewed in the earlier environmental assessment, possibly including escorts for submarines, search-and-seizure exercises, and anti-piracy missions.

Pic of Palin's son standing on dog draws reaction
A photo of Sarah Palin's young son standing on a dog to reach the kitchen sink is drawing sharp reaction both in support and in protest.

The image of Trig, presumably preparing to wash dishes, and the reclining and seemingly relaxed black Lab-type animal is posted on the former Alaska governor's Facebook page.

The online response to the New Year's Day post was fast. There were nearly 70,000 responses liking the photo along with a variety of comment.

Some blamed Palin, her politics, or called it animal mistreatment. Others offered her support and said the dog would have moved if it had been hurt.

The Oregonian reports that the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals chided the former governor Saturday.

Palin responded: "Dear PETA, Chill. At least Trig didn't eat the dog."

Aurora sailings for Sunday cancelled
Due to high winds, heavy seas and freezing spray in Lynn Canal, MV Aurora sailings for Sunday, Jan. 4 are cancelled. AMHS staff is contacting affected passengers. For schedule information, please visit FerryAlaska.com or contact your local terminal by dialing 1-907-465-3941 or toll-free at 1-800-642-0066.

 

[Saturday January 3rd, 2015  4th  EDITION 7:00 P. M.]

Alaska communities reach record-high temperatures
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Seven Alaska communities have recorded their hottest annual average temperatures ever in 2014.

The relatively warm weather is sending dogsled teams traveling hundreds of miles to find reliable snow for training. It's also interrupting rural travel along rivers that would normally be safely frozen.

The National Weather Service Alaska says the warm weather has blanketed most of western and southwestern Alaska and stretched to nearly every corner of the state.

Climate scientist Rick Thoman says places in Alaska have hit climate records that were held for 70 years or more.

But KTUU reports not everyone misses the cold. Cynthia Erickson of Tanana says the children love it, and they're outside having bonfires all the time.

Sitka hospital discussing possible CEO resignation
SITKA, Alaska (AP) — The Sitka Community Hospital Board is holding a special meeting to make a decision about the proposed resignation of its CEO.

The board will meet at the hospital Monday at noon.

CEO Jeff Comer took over as CEO of the Sitka hospital in October. But KCAW reports the organization was in worse financial jeopardy than he realized.

In December Comer asked the Sitka Assembly for a $1.5 million line of credit saying the hospital had run out of cash. The Assembly approved $1 million and the hospital's chief financial officer resigned that same month.

Delays collecting payments and funds owed to Medicare have contributed to the problem.

Comer previously ran nearly thirty hospitals and emergency rooms in Arizona.

The public is welcome to attend the Monday meeting.

"Eyeball" man sentenced for shooting officer
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A man nicknamed "Eyeball" because of a tattoo that darkened the white part of his right eye pleaded guilty to shooting an Anchorage police officer.

Jason Barnum was sentenced to 22 years in prison Friday in Anchorage Superior Court.

Alaska Dispatch News reports the 39-year-old pleaded guilty to attempted murder, a consolidated first-degree burglary charge and third-degree weapons misconduct.

The shooting happened when police were investigating home burglaries and car thefts. Officers were inspecting at a hotel in 2012 when Barnum opened fire from a bathroom. Two officers shot back, striking Barnum in the arm, and one officer was injured.

Barnum was charged with 33 criminal counts. He later admitted to the committing thefts and burglaries to feed a heroin addiction.

At his sentencing Barnum apologized for hurting people.

Walker has first inaugural ball Saturday in Valdez
VALDEZ, Alaska (AP) — The first of eight inaugural balls for Alaska Gov. Bill Walker and Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott will be held Saturday evening in Valdez.

The Valdez Star reports the $50 tickets were sold out before the ball was announced, leaving some upset residents in the town where Walker got his political start as mayor in 1979.

So Walker will hold a free meet-and-greet event from 1-3 p.m. Saturday at Gilson Middle School.

Mallott's travel schedule won't allow him to attend the afternoon session, but he will in Valdez for the ball.

Other inaugural balls will be Jan. 10 in Juneau, Jan. 17 in Nome, Jan. 24 in Fairbanks, Jan. 31 in Anchorage, Feb. 6 in Wasilla, March 7 in Ketchikan, and one in Kenai, to be scheduled later.

[Friday January 2nd, 2015  12TH  EDITION 10:45 P. M.]

City's first 2015 baby bounces into Juneau on the second day of the year
It's a boy! The first baby born in 2015 at Bartlett Regional Hospital was at 12:07 Friday January 2nd.

Elliot Michael Fanning measured 21" long and weighed 8lbs, 12oz. The proud parents are Luke and Christine Fanning. Elliot's big bother is Logan and his big sister is Adele.

When asked about the health of mother and new son, Luke told News of the North, "She's doing great. Everybody's healthy. I was really proud of her."

 

Luke Fanning, Logan Fanning (brother), Christine Fanning, Adele Fanning (sister), Baby Fanning

UPDATE: Crime of the Week, a hit and run at the bank
Juneau Police say the woman in their Crime of the Week photo has contacted them and taken responsibility. JPD also acknowledges an exchange of information between the two drivers involved in the incident and does not anticipate any charges.

Juneau Police on Friday released the picture of a woman accused of a hit and run in the Denali Alaskan Federal Credit Union parking lot.

The Juneau Police Department said they wanted to contact the woman who is believed to have backed a red Toyota Tacoma pickup into a Mazda Protégé on December 9.

Lt. Kris Sell tells us, "The damage to the Mazda was not extensive and it is possible the woman driving the pickup was not aware she had damaged a vehicle. Security footage does show the incident. The picture being released is of the driver when she was inside the bank."

Anyone with information is encouraged to log on to http://juneaucrimeline.com and report any tips. You may also call JPD at 586-0600. You may be eligible for a reward.

Juneau Douglas City Museum First Friday exhibit features 12 guest community curators
The Juneau-Douglas City Museum along with the Friends of the Museum invite you to celebrate the community-curated exhibit Ordinary Things / Extraordinary Tales opening on First Friday, January 2nd, 2015, from 4:30 to 7:30 pm.

In an essay titled “Looking at Artifacts, Thinking About History”, authors Steven Lubar and Kathleen Kendrick state, “Curators make it their mission to discover and tell these stories, to put objects back into history.” They suggest that there are five ways to think about artifacts which, as it turns out, perfectly capture the points of view of the twelve guest curators who were invited to select an object from the Museum’s collection, looking through the lens of their professional life and to write a personalized label in response to their selection.

“Artifacts tell their own stories” as Ferry Captain Wayne Carnes illustrates in the label that accompanies his selection of a marine compass. “Artifacts connect people” is clearly on display via the Jensen-Peterson families’ table and chairs selected by CBJ Accounts Payable Supervisor Sherry Patterson. Dr. Emily Kane’s poetic musing about an empty tin of boric acid demonstrates that “artifacts mean many things” while Physical Therapist Patrick Ripp’s word portrait of the hands that made the spruce root basket he selected shows how “artifacts capture moments”. Finally, Nurse Keith Goering’s selection of a head used in the study of the pseudoscience of phrenology and Miner Jerry Harmon’s powder punch both show that “artifacts reflect changes” while at the same time reflect how things can also remain the same through time.

The curators mentioned above are joined by Chemist Michelle Bonnet Hale, Mechanic Larry Blatnick, Editor Genevieve Gagne-Hawes, Massage Therapist Melchi Nelson, Geological Engineer Mike Blackwell and Writer/Teacher Jim Hale in the creation of Ordinary Things / Extraordinary Tales, which is on display at the City Museum from January 2nd through Saturday, February 28th.

For more information regarding this event, exhibition opportunities or other upcoming programs, please visit: www.juneau.org/museum or call 586-3572. The Juneau-Douglas City Museum’s Fall/Winter Hours are Tuesday-Saturday, 10am-4pm. Admission is free during the month of January in memory of Harold O. Fossum.

Kitchen Chair, selected by Sherry Patterson, JDCM 92.09.004


Phrenology Head, selected by Keith Goering, JDCM 88.37.001 A-B

 

Condensation Chamber, selected by Michelle Bonnet Hale, JDCM 2007.22.004 A-B



Fairbanks man sentenced for firing gun from pickup
FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) — A Fairbanks man who fired a gun from a pickup window has been fined and sentenced to community service.

The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports Craig Logan Lant was fined $300 and ordered to perform 250 hours of community service.

A driver in the Goldstream Valley west of Fairbanks called Alaska State Troopers in August to report the shot fired from the truck.

He said Lant had fired across a road into trees.

A Fairbanks grand jury indicted Lant on a felony count of weapons misconduct.

In an agreement last month with prosecutors, Lant pleaded guilty to misdemeanor weapons misconduct.

Colorado pot symposium draws Alaska officials
FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) — Law enforcement officers and other public officials from Alaska will be traveling to Colorado for a symposium on governing and marijuana.

The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports at least a dozen public officials will attend the three-day conference that starts Jan. 14 in Lone Tree, a suburb of Denver.

Alaska voters in November approved legalizing recreational use of marijuana.

Fairbanks Police Department Deputy Chief Brad Johnson says he wants to learn as much as he can from the Colorado experience with legalized pot.

The Fairbanks North Star Borough planning director plans to join Johnson at the symposium.

Gov. Bill Walker's spokeswoman Grace Jang says representatives from the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board, the Department of Revenue, the Attorney General's office and the municipality of Anchorage also will attend.

Traffic deaths jump to highest level since 2007
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The state Highway Safety Office says traffic fatalities climbed in 2014.

The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports 65 people died in wrecks last year, more than the previous six years and the most since 75 people died in 2007.

Counting pedestrians and cyclists, 70 people died.

Highway Safety Office research analyst Miles Brookes says it's too early to say precisely how many fatal wrecks involved drivers impaired by alcohol or drugs.

Brookes says so far about 38 percent had been confirmed to have involved drivers with blood-alcohol levels over the legal limit.

Legislature debuts redesigned website
KENAI, Alaska (AP) — The Alaska Legislature's website,
http://akleg.gov, has a new look.

The Peninsula Clarion reports the updated site debuted Dec. 26. It's been designed to be more user-friendly, and includes a new version of the BASIS tool, which allows people to track a bill throughout the legislative process.

The new website also includes a "Live Now" tab so people can watch committee hearings online from the website. Previously, people had to go to a different website for live TV.

The legislative website will be friendlier for smartphone and tablet users as it automatically resizes to the user's screen.

The debut comes just ahead of the 2015 legislative session, which starts Jan. 20.

3 men see snout, free moose buried in avalanche
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A moose buried by an avalanche on an Alaska mountain had its luck changed by three men passing on snowmobiles.

The Alaska Dispatch News reports that the three Matanuska-Susitna Borough residents spotted the animal's snout sticking out of the snow and used shovels to free the moose.

Marty Mobley, Rob Uphus and Avery Vunichich were on at outing Sunday at Hatcher Pass about 55 miles northeast of Anchorage when they passed a small hillside that had both ski and moose tracks.

When they returned an hour later, an avalanche had covered the tracks.

Mobley says he saw something move in the debris and it turned out to be a snout, not a skier.

After 10 minutes of digging, the moose stood up, towered over its rescuers and ran off.

Only one arrested for drinking and driving New Year's Eve
Juneau Police report only one driving while intoxicated charge being issued on New Year's Eve.

A JPD bulletin says a 17 year old male was arrested for DWI after he backed into a parked vehicle in Sealaska Plaza.

His passengers, 18 year old Zane Henricksen, 19 year old Demetrius Campos, 18 year old Toriana Fogg, and 18 year old Andrea Gordon were all cited and released for Minor Consuming Alcohol.

Inmate assaulted by five at LCCC, sent to Anchorage for care
Alaska State Troopers say an inmate at the Lemon Creek Correctional Center was transported to Anchorage for medical treatment after he was assaulted by five inmates.

Troopers were notified of the assault at the medium-security facility shortly before 5 Wednesday morning. Troopers say the inmate who was assaulted sustained an eye injury. The assault is being investigated.

Kodiak bears mostly laying low despite warm winter
KODIAK, Alaska (AP) — Despite Kodiak's warm winter, most bears around the road system have been keeping to themselves — with one notable exception.

Fish and Game Department regional supervisor Larry Van Daele says one bear has been making regular appearances around trash day in the Selief and Larch areas.

Van Daele says the bear seems to come out on Tuesdays, which is garbage day. The bear hits the roll carts and trash bins and then goes away for a while.

KMXT reports the bear has not exhibited aggressive behavior toward people.

Van Daele says the bear is a consistent nuisance, however, and the police department is keeping a close eye on it.

[Thursday January 1st, 2015  5th  EDITION 4:36 P. M.]

Judge blocks termination of Alaska National Guard officer
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A state judge has temporarily blocked the termination of one of three Alaska National Guard officers fired in October by then-Gov. Sean Parnell.

Brig. Gen. Catherine Jorgensen sued this week to keep her job.

Alaska Dispatch News reports that Anchorage Superior Court Judge Andrew Guidi agreed Wednesday to issue a temporary order barring the state from carrying out the dismissal.

Jorgensen alleges Parnell fired her without cause in a "political Hail Mary" to save himself.

Parnell ran an unsuccessful bid for re-election after the release of a scathing report into allegations of sexual assault and other misconduct within the guard. Critics said Parnell didn't act quickly enough in addressing problems within the guard.

Guidi says his order will remain in place until a broader hearing, possibly in mid-January.

State submits air-quality regulations to EPA
FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) — Alaska environmental regulators have submitted the state's plan for addressing the chronic pollution in the area during winters.

The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports the state Department of Environmental Conservation adopted new regulations Wednesday that tackle air-quality measures.

The state had a year-end deadline set by the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

Regulations combine existing rules, research and scientific modeling in Alaska's State Implementation Plan.

The EPA requires such documents for states to prove they're serious about cleaning up areas falling short of the federal Clean Air Act.

Collecting public input, the state has encountered pushback from anti-regulation critics, as well as those who did not think regulations were going far enough.

Alice Edwards with the DEC says the new rules are simplified, but more stringent.

Public comment period begins for Kodiak composting proposal
KODIAK, Alaska (AP) — A public comment period has begun for a proposal by the city of Kodiak to turn sewer sludge into compost.

The Kodiak Daily Mirror reports the city's permit application has been submitted to the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, which is proposing to issue the permit.

The public may comment to the DEC's solid waste program by 5 p.m. Jan. 20.

The location for the permit is borough property that would be transferred to the city if the permit is issued.

The city has a contract with Quayana Development Corp., which is doing a smaller-scale compost program at the landfill.

Application period for Alaska dividend begins
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — With the new year, eligible Alaskans can begin signing up for the 2015 Permanent Fund Dividend.

The application period begins on New Year's Day and continues through March 31.

People can sign up online or pick up forms at designated distribution centers.

Eligible Alaska residents received checks of nearly $1,900 in October when the 2014 dividend was distributed. The money comes from investment profits from the state's oil wealth savings account.

To qualify for a dividend, new residents must live in Alaska for a full calendar year.

The fund was established in 1976 after North Slope oil was discovered. The state began distributing dividend checks in 1982.

Alaska has no income tax. Residents, however, must pay federal taxes on the payout.

North Dakota, Alaska locked in rivalry for oil, population
BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — Forget South Dakota. North Dakota's most similar sister state these days is some 2,000 miles away.

Alaska and North Dakota once had little more in common than wintry weather and elbow room. But the two states have been in a rivalry over population numbers and crude oil output for the past several years.

North Dakota is bettering Alaska on crude production and the number of residents now.

Recent Census Bureau data show North Dakota recaptured the 47th most populous state from Alaska, which had held the ranking for the past decade.

North Dakota has a record of more than 739,000 residents, roughly 3,000 more than Alaska.

North Dakota passed Alaska in 2012 to become the second-leading oil-producing state in the U.S., behind Texas.
 

[Wednesday December 31st, 2014  11th  EDITION 3:52 P. M.]

Walker says no delay in marijuana regulations
FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) — Alaska Gov. Bill Walker says he's confident the rule-making process for commercial marijuana sales can proceed on time.

The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports the announcement comes two weeks after Walker said he was considering a 90-day delay in implementing a regulatory system for legal marijuana sales.

Walker says in a statement issued Tuesday that officials assured him the timelines can be met as outlined in the ballot initiative passed by voters in November.

Ballot Measure 2 decriminalizes the possession, use and non-sale transfer of up to an ounce of marijuana when the new law takes effect Feb. 24.

The initiative also set in motion the legalization and permitting of marijuana sales. That is the process Walker discussed delaying earlier in December at a Greater Fairbanks Chamber of Commerce luncheon.

Suspect plans guilty plea in Homer harassment case
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The attorney for a Homer man suspected of harassing an intoxicated, unconscious teenager at a 2012 party says his client will plead guilty to felony evidence tampering and hindering prosecution charges.

Defense attorney Phillip Weidner says 22-year-old Anthony Resetarits also will plead guilty to misdemeanor harassment and contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

A Kenai grand jury indicted Resetarits and his brother in September 2013 on felony charges of sexual assault.

A judge in August dismissed the charges, citing problems with information presented to the grand jury.

New charges filed Tuesday say Anthony Resetarits deleted photos of the incident and encouraged others to do so.

Weidner says Resetarits did not sexually assault the teen but acknowledges responsibility for his inappropriate conduct, which was a product of his own intoxication.

Fairbanks man convicted of impersonating officer
FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) — A Fort Wainwright man suspected of pretending to be an Alaska State Trooper has pleaded guilty to misdemeanor impersonation of a public servant.

The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports 19-year-old Jake Taylor Crain reached a plea agreement with prosecutors on the charge and was sentenced to 14 days in jail, which he had already served while awaiting the outcome of the case.

Crain in November was arrested by Alaska State Troopers, who took complaints that Crain had used police-style lights to pull drivers over on the Richardson Highway.

Prosecutors presented a case of felony impersonation to a Fairbanks grand jury, but jurors declined to indict Crain.

Crain as part of the plea agreement forfeited his lights. He also was issued a $300 speeding ticket.

Search continues for missing couple
Searchers have found more leads as they look for a couple who disappeared on the Kuskokwim River.

Bethel Search & Rescue discovered some eyeglasses, flashlights, and other items that may belong to George Evan and Sally Stone. The couple was reported missing on an ATV trip from Bethel to Akiak, December 11th. The ATV driver, Ralph Demantle, was found dead about 10 miles from Bethel.

Sonar equipment is allowing searchers to scan the riverbed under the ice.

Gas prices continue to slide
Gasoline prices in Anchorage have dropped below 3 dollars, on average.

Triple-A puts the average price at $2.96 per gallon for regular, about 40 cents less than a month ago.

Alaska and Hawaii are the only states with average gas prices above 3 dollars.

Triple-A shows Missouri has the cheapest gas, averaging a dollar-92 per gallon.

Freedom Caucus in Alaska Legislature
A subset of the Republican-led majority is forming what they call a "Freedom Caucus."

Chaired by Eagle River representative Lora Reinbold, the group currently has three other members: Representatives Wes Keller of Wasilla, Shelley Hughes of Palmer, and newly-elected Cathy Tilton, whose district spans from Chugiak to Wasilla.

Reinbold tells the Alaska Dispatch that the caucus meets for an hour each week, with the goal of "defending freedom" -- specifically on ways to cut the budget.

Reinbold says other house members have been invited to join.

NANA names new chief financial officer
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — NANA Regional Corp. has named a new chief financial officer.

Officials with the regional Alaska Native corporation say Jens Beck's appointment will be effective Sunday.

Officials say Beck also will be the CFO for NANA Development Corp., NANA's wholly-owned subsidiary.

Beck has also served as CFO and senior vice president at Arctic Slope regional Corp. Energy Services.

Kotzebue-based NANA has more than 13,000 Inupiat Eskimo shareholders.

NANA covers a 38,000-square-mile region in northwest Alaska.

Incoming GF&P head cleared in ethics complaint
PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — The incoming secretary of the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks was cleared of ethics allegations in Alaska, though critics say it was due to a technicality.

Gov. Dennis Daugaard last week announced that South Dakota native Kelly Hepler will replace Jeff Vonk, who is retiring in January after serving as Game and Fish secretary since 2007.

Hepler works with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. The Argus Leader reports that he was among several public officials in that state accused in August of not reporting gifts from a lobbying organization. The Alaska Public Offices Commission determined last month that Hepler did nothing wrong.

A spokesman for Daugaard says Hepler was up front about the matter when approached about the South Dakota job.

Christmas tree recycling begins Friday, Jan. 2
Free Christmas tree recycling brought to you by CBJ & Capitol Landfill is available January 2-31, 2015. Drop off location is at Capitol Landfill by the metal recycling station. Please have the trees clean; no lights, tinsel or flock. Last year trees had a lot of contamination, so help us keep this program operating cost effectively by keeping the tree clean..

For more information you can logon to Juneau.org /Public works/ waste management/recycling. Or you can call Solid Waste Coordinator Jim Penor at 780-6009.

CHARR gets you home free and safe this New Year's Eve at participating businesses
Juneau Lynn Cannel CHARR is giving you a safe ride home again this New Year's Eve. Leeann Thomas, Proprietor of the Triangle Club, tells News of the North, "This is our 10th year and we have fifteen participating businesses. You can find posters around town. When you're done having fun on New Year's Eve, you have the server call you a free cab."

They have 25 cabs and a new vehicle to use this year, the van that will loop around downtown and Douglas. If you don't live in those areas you can get a free cab at participating establishments.

Baby orca born to endangered whale population
SEATTLE (AP) — The Center for Whale Research says a baby orca has been born to the endangered population of killer whales that frequent Puget Sound.

Research center scientist Ken Balcomb says he and another scientist spotted the new baby Tuesday in J pod. That's one of three families of whales that spend time in the inland waters of Washington state and Canada.

He says the mother whale is J-16, a 43-year-old female that has had three surviving calves and two non-surviving calves.

The new baby is estimated to be a day or two old and appeared healthy.

The baby orca was seen swimming with its mother and 8-year-old sister off the Canadian Gulf Islands of British Columbia.

The news is being celebrated after the death of a 19-year-old pregnant orca earlier this month.

The birth brings the Puget Sound orca population to 78.