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[Friday, April 11, 2014  9TH EDITION 2:38 P. M.]

UPDATE: Chapel Fire
The fire at Chapel by the Lake Church is now being investigated as an intentionally set fire that caused approximately $4,000 in damage. It was initially being investigated as a suspicious fire.

Capital City Fire Rescue was dispatched to the church on Auke Lake Way for a report of smoke in the building early Tuesday morning at approximately 3:30. A security guard had found the smoldering fire in the sanctuary pulpit.

There were no injuries reported and no suspects have been identified at this time. This case is being investigated by both the Capital City Fire Marshal's Office and the Juneau Police Department. Anyone with information about this fire is encouraged to contact the fire marshal's office at 586-5322 or Juneau Police Department at 586-0600 or by logging on to Crime Line.


JPD Crimeline: Car theft and vandalism
This week's Juneau Police Department "Crime of the Week" focuses on cart thefts and vandalism.

During the night of March 14th and early morning on March 15th a 2014 green Chevy Blazer was stolen from Riverwood Drive. Stereo items and sunglasses were also stolen out of other vehicles on Riverwood Drive.

During the early morning hours of March 15th, the suspects in the stolen vehicle were associated with multiple tire slashings in Switzer Village. A resident of Pine Street reported the vehicle abandoned in that area at about 5:41 in the morning.

One witness said she saw three young males in the stolen Blazer when it was left on Pine Street. Two sweatshirts were found in the stolen vehicle and may have belonged to the suspects.

The stolen vehicle had been left unlocked with the keys in the console. Residents are reminded not to leave vehicles unlocked or to hide keys inside the vehicle.

Anyone with information is encouraged to log on to the Juneau Crime Line Web site and report their tip.


Assembly Finance chair comments on School District budget needs
Juneau School District officials presented their proposed budget for next school year to the Assembly Finance Committee Wednesday evening.

Finance Committee Chair Karen Crane told News of the North afterwards that they are evaluating the amount for the school district as they are looking at every other item in the budget.

She stressed that no decisions have been made.

Crane says the Juneau community has always funded the school district to the local cap and there's interest among Assembly members to continue to do that, if at all possible.

In addition to funding to the cap, the Assembly has also funded about $770,000 outside the cap for pupil transportation and school activities. Crane says there has been some discussion of reducing that amount by $200,000.

Superintendent Glenn Gelbrich, Administrative Services Director David Means and School Board President Sally Saddler presented a list of the potential impact of pending bills in the Legislature.

An increase by lawmakers in the Base Student Allocation would in turn raise the amount of the local funding cap. Crane says there would be a great deal of discussion about that on the Assembly.

With the additional money the district believes will be coming from the Legislature at this point, there's a potential for the local government to provide another $365,000.

Crane believes it would be very hard this year for the Assembly to find enough money to go all the way to an expanded cap, but she adds that's up for discussion.

On another matter, the panel reviewed the capital improvement projects program. Crane says members asked Manager Kim Kiefer for additional information on some of the projects that might be able to be deferred.

She says some members are also interested in seeing if additional funds can be found to keep the Augustus Brown Pool open. She says people have come forward with ideas on how to continue its operation. Right now, she says they'll have to come up with a plan after they see what the maintenance costs are.

Crane says the committee approved Manager Kim Kiefer's Marine Passenger Fee recommendations without change.

Sanford: CBJ to pursue improved budget making in the future
Juneau Mayor Merrill Sanford talked about the estimated $12 Million shortfall over the next two fiscal years and how to bridge that gap while on Action Line Friday.

He also talked about the need to look at changes in how future budgets are crafted.

Sanford said the city needs to start figuring out a way to live sustainably within its budget instead of getting ahead of itself and then not being able to meet commitments its made.

A system of estimating sales and property tax increases is also needed he says.

In addition, a couple of initiatives are planned.

Starting in July, the Mayor says a special committee will be appointed to look at all of the sales tax exemptions on the books to determined which ones should be maintained or adjusted.

Sanford says they also plan to seek an outside evaluation of how city departments could be operated more efficiently.

Vehicle abandoned downtown with door open and keys in ignition
A vehicle with it's driver's side door left open and the keys still in the ignition was found abandoned in downtown Juneau Thursday morning.

A Juneau Police Department bulletin says officers located the Mercury Sable on 3rd Street just before 7:00 A.M. and impounded it for safekeeping.

JPD is investigating. Anyone with information can log on to and anonymously report a tip.

UAS produces another record number of graduations and awards
The University of Alaska Southeast reports a record number of graduations and awards this year.

University of Alaska Southeast Chancellor John Pugh said on Juneau Radio Center's Capital Chat Thursday that  the number around the region including the Sitka, Ketchikan, and Juneau campuses is 789.

He says all schools are contributing. The School of Education will have 272; the School of Management, 177; the School of Arts and Sciences, 181; and the School of Career Education, 157.

The recipients range in age from 17 to 70. Pugh says the average age is 33 with the majority between the ages of 30 to 39.

Women comprise 63.5% of the graduates. Twelve percent are Alaska Natives which Pugh says is up from 2 to 3% when he first started as chancellor. He says 90% of the graduates are from Alaska.

Graduation ceremonies are planned in Sitka on Friday, May 2; in Ketchikan on Saturday, May 3 and in Juneau that Sunday, May 4.

New Household Hazardous Waste program starts today
The City and Borough of Juneau's Household Hazardous Waste program becomes a weekly event starting this Friday.

Residents will be able to make drop offs each Friday and Saturday and businesses by appointment each Monday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

This takes the place of the past program which was done on a monthly basis for seven months of the year.

CBJ Public Works Director Kirk Duncan was asked on Action Line this week if the greater frequency will make the program more expensive. He said it wouldn't since the reduction in shipping. Duncan said they're hoping it will be a break even situation even with the added days.

The new program will include electronics. "Basically, it it's got a plug, we take it," he said.

Substances dubbed as FOG, standing for fats, oils and grease, can also be dropped off. Duncan said part of the reason for the expanded program is to keep these substances from going down the drain.

A contractor from Seattle will turn it into bio diesel, according to Duncan.

Jim Penoir is the city's Hazardous Waste Coordinator. He joined Duncan on the program and was asked how much hazardous waste has been collected in years past. He estimated the amount at 500,000 pounds a year.

The Public Works officials say motorists will need to approach the collection site at 5436 Commercial Boulevard in the Lemon Creek commercial area near Costco differently.

Instead of circling around behind the Southeast Furniture Warehouse, people are directed to take a right on Commercial Drive and then another right into the facility. They say absolutely no vehicle lines will be allowed on Commercial Drive.

Due to what they call an incredibly larger number of phone calls, they're expecting a high demand through the end of the month. So they are advise you wait awhile if you can.

The number for businesses to call to make appointments each Monday is 780-6691.

Eaglecrest to host Porcupine Extravaganza
(Juneau, AK) – Eaglecrest Ski Area will soon be home to the new Porcupine Lodge. To celebrate this new facility, the last day of the season will be chock full of activities. Starting at 11 a.m. on Sunday April 13, obstacle courses will be staged on Muskeg and Dolly Varden.

The Porcupine Scavenger Hunt will also start at 11 a.m. with prizes, including t-shirts and a 2014/2015 Season Pass! The public is invited to participate in the ground breaking for the new Porcupine Lodge at 1 p.m., complete with plastic shovels for children and special guests from the Eaglecrest community.

Jeffra Clough of Eaglecrest says construction on Porcupine Lodge will begin the following week and should be completed in time for the start of the next ski season.

For more information on all of the weekend events visit

JDHS Site Council looking for new members
The JDHS Site Council is looking for a diverse group of committed parents and community members to fill 4 seats on the 2014-15 Site Council.

The Site Council is an advisory group made up of constituents from every part of the JD community -- students, teachers and staff, parents, community members -- and a school board liaison and the principal. There are two 2-year terms open for parent members and one 2-year and one 1-year term open for community members.

Parent members must have a son or daughter enrolled at JD in the 2014-15 school year. Community members may or may not have a student enrolled at JD.

Interested people should submit a brief letter of intent to the JDHS main office by 3:45 on Friday, May 2. Details and a form are available at

Elections will be held at the monthly May Site Council meeting, Monday, May 5, 5-7 pm in the JDHS library. Nominees are invited to give a brief statement and participate in the voting.

'64 quake focus of Anchorage Museum exhibit
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — An exhibit recalling the devastating 1964 Alaska earthquake features the good and the bad of the quake.

KTVA reports the exhibit called "Riskland: Remembering the 1964 Earthquake" opened Friday at the Anchorage Museum. It will run until mid-September.

The earthquake was the second highest ever recorded at magnitude 9.2. The quake and resulting tsunamis killed 131 people.

But curator Greg Danner says there were positives that came out of the quake, and the exhibit attempts to highlight them, as well.

Among those are advances that have been made in science in the last 50 years.

Investigators testify in Kodiak double murder case
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A Coast Guard investigator says murder suspect James Wells had time to leave a Kodiak communications station, switch cars and drive home after shooting two co-workers.

Special Agent Aaron Woods testified Thursday that he recreated the scenario by driving from the communications station to Wells' home.

Wells is charged with murder in the deaths of Richard Belisle (BEL'-eye-ul) and Petty Officer First Class James Hopkins.
Wells claims he was late to work on April 12, 2012, because he had to change a soft tire. Security video recorded him passing the main Coast Guard base and returning 34 minutes later.

Woods says a one-way trip from the communication station to Wells' home can be made in about 13 minutes, which would have been enough time for Wells to commit the crime.

Lawyers give final arguments in Yakutat cold case
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — A jury in Juneau has begun deliberations in the murder trial of a 53-year-old Montana man who fatally shot his girlfriend in 1996 in the southeast Alaska community of Yakutat (YAK'-uh-tat).

Robert Kowalski claims his shotgun fired accidentally and killed 39-year-old Sandra Perry.

Kowalski in 2009 was convicted in Montana of criminally negligent homicide in the shooting death of another girlfriend. Kowalski claimed that also was an accident.

In the Alaska case, Kowalski claims they heard a bear outside their room at a Yakutat lodge and that he went to the window to investigate. He says he tripped as he walked back, fell onto Perry on the bed, and as he got up, the gun went off.

Prosecutor James Fayette says Kowalski's story is "ridiculous" and should not be believed.
(Juneau Empire)

Coast Guard 17th District schedules change of command in Juneau
(JUNEAU, Alaska) — The Coast Guard 17th District change of command is scheduled for June 12th at the Coast Guard station in Juneau.

Rear Adm. Thomas P. Ostebo, commander of the 17th District, will transfer total responsibility, authority and accountability to Rear Adm. Daniel B. Abel, commander of the 1st District.

Ostebo, who has commanded the 17th District since May 2011, received a Presidential nomination for promotion to vice admiral, and is under consideration for the position of Coast Guard Deputy Commandant for Mission Support in Washington, D.C.

Ostebo said, “It has been a tremendous honor to serve the people of Alaska and I am humbled to be nominated." If confirmed as vice admiral, he says he will endeavor to carry out his new duties in continued support of the Nation, the Coast Guard and Alaska.

New Command Sergeant Major named for Army in Alaska
The Army in Alaska is getting a new top non-commissioned officer.

Command Sergeant Major Terry D. Gardner is taking over for Command Sergeant Major Bernie Knight as the senior enlisted soldier for U. S. Army Alaska.

Knight is retiring after 30 years in uniform, originally enlisted as a marine.

Gardner enlisted in 1984, and most recently served as command sergeant major at Fort Riley, Kansas.

As senior non-commissioned officer, the command sergeant major advises Army Alaska commander Major General Michael Shields.

A change of responsibility ceremony was scheduled at joint base Elmendorf Richardson for Friday afternoon.

Prosecutors say 3 indicted in Anchorage death
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Three Anchorage residents have been indicted in connection with the April 1 shooting death of a 15-year-old girl.

Prosecutors say 24-year-old Jamal Townsend and 29-year-old Lammar Burney were each indicted Wednesday on seven counts including first- and- second degree murder and second-degree assault, as well as assault and misconduct involving a weapon.

Townsend also was indicted on one count of misconduct involving a weapon for alleged conduct in March at the same Mountain View home where Precious Alex was fatally shot.

Prosecutors say 21-year-old Karlie West was indicted on charges of second-degree murder, misconduct involving a weapon and third-degree assault.

West reportedly told authorities Townsend harbored a grudge against a man at the apartment. West is accused of driving Townsend and Burney to the apartment where the shooting occurred.

No Medicaid funding for expanded family planning
The Alaska House will continue debating a bill  this weekend that would further define medically necessary abortions for purposes of Medicaid funding.

The bill is similar to regulations adopted by the state health commissioner that are being challenged in court.

The House debated and voted on amendment 4 to SB49 Thursday evening. It sought to require state Medicaid funding for expanded family planning services for income-eligible individuals. It failed to pass the house 22 to 18.  Several other proposed changes were defeated.

The House will resume debate Sunday on abortion legislation. House Speaker Mike Chenault said two representatives were leaving yesterday and picking the matter up on Sunday would allow for them to be present to vote.

Parnell introduces pension plan
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Gov. Sean Parnell has outlined his plan for addressing Alaska's nearly $12 billion unfunded pension obligation in bill form.

HB385 was introduced Thursday afternoon.

The bill calls for moving $3 billion from the constitutional budget reserve toward addressing the public employees' and teachers' retirement systems. It would put about $1.9 billion toward the public employees' system and the rest toward the teachers' system. It calls for annual appropriations of $500 million, divided between the two.

The bill also would allow the state to request additional funds through appropriation to cover the annual contribution amount if an actuarial analysis determined that was needed.

While Parnell initially proposed his plan as a budget item, his spokeswoman said members of the House majority indicated they would be more comfortable having a bill introduced.

Chenault speaks to minimum wage bill
BECKY BOHRER, Associated Press
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP & KINY) — House Speaker Mike Chenault says legislative passage of a bill to raise the state's minimum wage would guarantee that wages go up, while the outcome of a similar ballot initiative is up in the air.

Chenault says it's an important issue in trying to move Alaska forward.

An initiative can be pre-empted if the Legislature passes substantially similar legislation. That happened in 2002, and a year later, lawmakers gutted the law.

Critics fear a repeat of that but Chenault says that's not his intention.

Language in HB384, which advanced from a House committee on Wednesday, tracks closely with the initiative.

The measure was on the House floor calendar Thursday, but delayed until today.

Thunder Mountain student body president calls for more school funding
The Senate Finance Committee took testimony Thursday on the House legislation that calls for increases in education funding.

Among those testifying was Hannah Marx, the student body president of Thunder Mountain High School in Juneau, who called for a significant increase in the Base Student Allocation.

Marx told the Senate budget writing committee about the impacts of staff reductions at her school due to the stagnant level of funding since she's been there.

She also said her fellow students are concerned about ever increasing class sizes.

Bill would allow landlords to garnish PFDs
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — A bill that would allow landlords to garnish tenants' Permanent Fund dividends to pay for repairs is headed for a full House vote.

The Juneau Empire reports House Bill 282 updates the Alaska Landlord and Tenant Act for the first time in decades.

The bill moved out of the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday. It will have to pass both the House and Senate before the legislative session ends on April 20.

The bill from North Pole Republican Rep. Doug Isaacson allows a landlord to garnish a renter's PFD for any repairs that cost more than what a security deposit covered.

Among other things, the bill also allows landlords to collect an additional pet deposit and extends the deadline for a landlord to return a security deposit.

Capital budget up for debate in State Senate
The capital budget for next fiscal year is scheduled for debate on the floor of the State Senate today.

It was reported out of the upper body's Finance Committee Thursday.

Top oil company executive briefs Juneau Chamber on development plans in Alaska
A top oil company executive updated the Juneau Chamber of Commerce Thursday on new drilling activities on the North Slope.

Scott Jepsen, Vice President of External Affairs for Conoco Phillips, also talked about the challenges presented by working with the federal government.

He talked specifically about what he called the very sensitive National Petroleum Reserve - Alaska. Jepsen says there's a desire to protect as much of the area as possible and make oil and gas development as unobtrusive as possible.

As a result, the process is longer than normal, but he says they're optimistic they'll come up with a plan that works for both.

He warned of the negative effects of the proposed oil tax reform.

Jepsen said the company's plans hinge upon maintaining what he called  the "positive investment climate" that they see with the Governor's oil tax overhaul law.

If the referendum to repeal the law is successful in the August Primary Election, Jepsen said there will be a negative impact on those plans. Jepsen said passage would send what he called a "huge chill" not only on the Alaskan investment climate, but outside of Alaska as well.

Alaska's Begich among 11 Senate Democrats calling on President to approve Keystone XL
MATTHEW DALY, Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) — Eleven Senate Democrats, including Alaska's Mark Begich, are urging President Barack Obama to approve the Keystone XL oil pipeline by the end of May.

The senators say the five-year review of the Canada-to-Texas pipeline has been "exhaustive" and taken longer than reasonably justified. The letter sent Thursday says approval is needed to ensure the pipeline doesn't miss another construction season.

But politics is likely a larger factor. Six of the Democrats who signed the letter face challenges this year. In addition to Begich, they are Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Mark Pryor of Arkansas, John Walsh of Montana, Kay Hagan of North Carolina and Mark Warner of Virginia.

Democratic efforts to keep control of the Senate could hinge on those races.

Sullivan reports raising $1.3M in 1st quarter
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Republican U.S. Senate hopeful Dan Sullivan has reported raising $1.3 million during the first quarter of 2014.

That's comparable to the amount he brought in during the prior quarter, his first quarter in the race.

Sullivan is one of three high-profile candidates vying for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Democrat Mark Begich. The others are Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell and Joe Miller.

Begich, who is seeking re-election, reported his best fundraising quarter of this election cycle, with more than $1 million brought in between January and March. He reported having $2.8 million on hand at the end of the quarter.

Sullivan's campaign reported having just under $2 million on hand as of March 31.

Young reports ending quarter with nearly $700K
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — U.S. Rep. Don Young reported ending the first quarter of the year with nearly $700,000 on hand toward his re-election bid.

The Republican reported bringing in more than $77,000 between January and March.

He enjoys a massive cash advantage over the little-known Republican candidates also running, who so far have reported raising little or no money.

Democrats vying for his seat include Forrest Dunbar and Frank Vondersaar. Vondersaar has made previous failed runs for U.S. House and Senate.

Democrat Matt Moore, who unsuccessfully sought his party's nomination for U.S. House race in 2012, recently withdrew his candidacy for this year's race to run for the state Legislature.

Kenai patrol car demolished during traffic stop
KENAI, Alaska (AP) — Kenai police are seeking funds to replace a patrol car demolished during a traffic stop.

The Peninsula Clarion reports Officer Casey Hershberger on March 8 arrested a 27-year-old Soldotna man suspected of driving under the influence and drug misconduct.

Police say the suspect was in the back seat when a sedan driven by 19-year-old Anna Nisler rear-ended the patrol car.

Hershberger was standing at the open right rear door of the patrol car.

Nisler, Hershberger and the suspect were taken to Central Peninsula Hospital with what police say were non-life threatening injuries.

Nisler was issued a summons for overtaking and passing a parked emergency vehicle.

The Kenai City Council next week will consider appropriating money to pay for a new $28,000 patrol car.
(Peninsula Clarion)

Wasilla man accused of striking troopers with car
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Alaska State Troopers say a 26-year-old Wasilla man has been arrested after he struck two troopers with his vehicle.

Michael Ingersol was arrested on multiple charges, including assault on troopers, eluding and driving with a license suspended.

Troopers say the two officers drove themselves to a hospital. They were released after treatment for non-debilitating injuries.

According to troopers, Ingersol's mother called Wednesday evening and said she didn't want her son at her home.

Troopers say Ingersol was backing out of the driveway and struck the responding officers after they yelled at him to stop. Troopers say Ingersol fled and the officers were unable to catch him.

Troopers say that later that night, Ingersol was arrested after trying to flee from troopers and Wasilla police, and trying to strike them.

Hibernation about to end for bears
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — It's that time of the year when Alaska residents should be taking down bird feeders and securing garbage cans.

That's because authorities with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game say bears should be waking up and leaving their dens any day now.

The Anchorage Daily News says there's usually a few human-bear encounters reported in April. But area biologist Dave Battle says that number usually spikes in May.

Bird feeders typically turn into bear feeders, so those temptations should be removed. Battle also says residents should keep their trash in bear-proof cans or inside until pickup day.
(Anchorage Daily News)

Foster Farms salmonella outbreak continuing
LIVINGSTON, Calif. (AP) — Federal health officials say a salmonella outbreak linked to Foster Farms chicken isn't over and has now infected 524 people in 25 states and Puerto Rico.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released the updated numbers on Wednesday. The agency reported in January that the outbreak appeared to be over. It has been going on since March 2013.

The CDC noted an up tick in illnesses in February.

The outbreak led to a public health alert from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for raw chicken packaged at three Foster Farms facilities in California.

Though no one has died, the CDC says the outbreak strains have been resistant to several commonly prescribed antibiotics.

Foster Farms says it has implemented a salmonella control program that has reduced the prevalence of salmonella in its products.

Sitka children banned from smoking establishments
SITKA, Alaska (AP) — Children can no longer go into Sitka businesses that allow smoking, even for one-time, non-smoking events.

The Daily Sitka Sentinel reports the measure passed by the assembly this week forbids children from entering those premises if smoking is ever allowed at the place of business.

It clarifies a 2005 law banning smoking in public places.

3 weeks since Oso mudslide; 8 people still missing
EVERETT, Wash. (AP) — Washington Gov. Jay Inslee planned to visit the Oso mudslide Friday afternoon and make stops in Arlington and Darrington.

His office says he'll spend time with elementary school children and thank first responders.

On Saturday it will be three weeks since the huge landslide traveled nearly a mile, crossing the North Fork of the Stillaguamish River to bury a residential area.

Snohomish County officials confirm 36 people were killed and eight remain missing.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency says more than 370 individuals or families have registered for assistance.

A computer simulation of the slide by the U. S. Geological Survey shows it moved with surprising speed and spread out in the valley.


USGS computer simulation:

Feds OK pot background checks by Washington state
GENE JOHNSON, Associated Press
SEATTLE (AP) — After a year of requests, the U.S. Justice Department says it is giving Washington state access to an FBI database so it can conduct nationwide background checks on people who apply to run legal marijuana businesses.

In a statement provided to The Associated Press, the department said Thursday that allowing the checks is consistent with its priorities in letting legal marijuana experiments in Washington and Colorado move forward — including keeping people with troublesome criminal histories out of the industry.

Washington state officials first asked last April for permission to run the checks.

The federal agency declined without explanation, even though it had allowed similar checks on medical marijuana licensees in Colorado. Washington's Liquor Control Board last month began issuing licenses to pot sellers without the nationwide background checks.

No federal water for Washington pot farms
ELLENSBURG, Wash. (AP) — The Kittitas Reclamation District has been told it can't supply water to marijuana farms.

The district's lawyer told commissioners the Bureau of Reclamation, which is part of the Interior Department, won't permit the water to be used while growing the drug remains a federal crime.

The Daily Record reports the irrigation district's water comes from Yakima River Basin reservoirs.
(Daily Record)

Migrating gray whales visible off Washington coast
PORT ANGELES, Wash. (AP) — The spring migration of gray whales is underway as more than 20,000 swim from their breeding waters off Baja, Mexico, to rich feeding grounds in Alaska's Bering Sea.

Migrating whales can be seen from many locations along the Washington coast or the Strait of Juan de Fuca where some stray.

The Quileute Tribe is holding a ceremony Friday (at 10 a.m.) at LaPush to welcome the whales.

The Peninsula Daily News reports tribal school student perform traditional dances that recall the tribe's history of hunting whales from canoes with ropes made from cedar and floats made from seal skins.
(Peninsula Daily News)


' News of the North' content copyright of Alaska Broadcast Communications Inc. and Juneau Alaska Communications LLC. Any unauthorized use will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.