Back to KINYRadio.com

The Juneau Daily News

Latest Edition

Weekly Poll | News Center | Weather | Site Map | Air staff | Help | Contact Us | Home
News of the North Now  Listen to our latest full-length local newscast right now, on-demand.

'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.
 

 


 


 

[Thursday November 20th,  2014  12th  EDITION 10:02 P. M.]

Public invited for coffee and doughnuts with Docks and Harbors Friday morning
Port Director Carl Uchytil is inviting the public and harbor patrons to coffee and doughnuts Friday morning. 

He also updates us on Thursday night's meeting, "The board approved the following: a Mt. Roberts Tram lease amendment, which will now be submitted to the CBJ Lands Committee for action; the 2016 CIP list; a conditional use permit which would modify the use agreement at the Auke Bay Loading Facility; and the calendar 2015 schedule of meetings. The public is also reminded that the Harbor Master and Port Director will be at the Yacht Club from 7:30 AM until 9:00 AM Friday morning and will be presenting coffee and doughnuts to anybody interested in talking about all things docs and harbors."

Caring is Sharing Food Drive, Friday at Foodland to benefit Southeast Alaska Food Bank
The "Caring is Sharing Food Drive" is Friday at Foodland IGA.  Juneau Radio Center stations will be broadcasting live all day, asking for your help to fill the shelves of the Southeast Alaska Food Bank. Bring your donations and meet the radio stations' staff and local celebrities. 

Darren Adams, a recent guest on Capital Chat, said, "This is by far and away our biggest food drive of the year and this is our way of kicking off the Thanksgiving, Christmas, and holiday season."

Capital Chat host, Sharon Gaiptman, said she hopes this year's food drive yields more than that of a couple of years ago when the Caring is Sharing Food Drive collected more than 23,000 pounds of food. She also explained how "celebrities" and "regular people" will be "locked up in jail and calling out the troops" to help bail them out with donations.

Adams explained food items do not have to be purchased at Foodland. He added that the food drive is a good time to clean out the pantry and see what you may already have to share. There are not many restrictions on what food can be accepted. He said they are not allowed to take homemade items or outdated baby food, and meats have to be commercially produced and packaged. He stressed if you're not sure of the expiration date, to donate it anyway, because not only will it will be checked, but many foods are good after the sell-by or use-by date. "We go through our food so fast, the food that's donated today will probably be in the stomachs of those that are hungry tomorrow."

The Caring is Sharing Food Drive is Friday from 6AM to 6PM at Foodland IGA.

Gas smell at Harborview Elementary, no source found
Capital City Fire Rescue Station One was dispatched to Harborview Elementary for a smell of natural gas this morning at 11:42.

Captain Noah Jenkins says that crews found a faint smell of mercaptan, the gas added to propane to make it smell, at the front door. The hazmat team walked around and through the school with gas detectors, but were unable to find anything out of the ordinary. Construction sites and businesses in the area were contacted and were found to not be using propane.

School staff on scene stated there have been repeated incidents of the smell in the building but maintenance staff have been unable to find any source.

Where's the snow?
One week before Thanksgiving, much of the nation is digging out from snowstorms, but the ground is bare in Alaska's largest city, and the capital has only seen a few flurries.

This time of year, Anchorage normally has nearly 17 inches of snowfall. Instead, it's seen less than 4 inches — and that snow has melted in unseasonably warmer weather.

In fact, a light rain fell this week, only to later freeze into a slick layer on roads and trails.

Without snow in Anchorage, local skiers are hitting the trails on roller skis, and local high school cross-country ski teams are practicing by running and hitting school gyms.

National Weather Service meteorologist Andy Dixon says the same system that is pushing frigid conditions from the north to the Lower 48 states is bringing warmer conditions to Alaska from the south. He says it should be winding down over the weekend.

Meteorologist Tim Steffan with the National Weather Service in Juneau tells News of the North, "We have not received much if any snow for this area although on Sunday the Juneau International Airport picked up some flurries, so we recorded a trace of snowfall. We are expecting some cooler temperatures to move in by next week and the rain to begin to mix with snow, but at this time we don't see any significant snowfall in the forecast."

Kenai Peninsula lynx hunting, trapping on hold
KENAI, Alaska (AP) — Hunting and trapping of lynx is on hold in the Kenai Peninsula until about 2020.

The Peninsula Clarion says the Alaska Department of Fish and Game sent a reminder to hunters and trappers earlier this month about the closure.

The closure of two game units on the Peninsula deviated this year deviates from the way the lynx season has been restricted in previous years.

Lynx are roughly on a six-year abundance cycle in the region, with populations tied to snowshoe hare numbers.

Fish and Game biologist Jeff Selinger says lynx hunting was allowed in past years even though trapping season was closed because most of the animals were taken by trapping and snaring.

But now there is a higher percentage of lynx being shot rather than trapped or snared.

Teen driver dies in crash northeast of Fairbanks
FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) — A 16-year-old Fairbanks driver died Wednesday in a one-car crash northeast of the city.

Alaska State Troopers say Rebekah Navrot was driving with a passenger on Steele Creek Road and lost control of her sedan. The car left the roadway and rolled.

She was not wearing a seat belt and was killed. An autopsy by the state medical examiner has been scheduled.

Troopers took a call on the crash at about 6:30 p.m.

Troopers say the passenger in the car also was not wearing a seat belt but was not injured.

Death of woman near Anchorage park ruled homicide
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The state medical examiner says a woman found dead near a northeast Anchorage park was the victim of a homicide.

The body of 54-year-old Irma Williams was found on Oct. 15 by a passer-by near Lions Park in the Mountain View neighborhood.

Anchorage police say they took a call Sept. 30 from Williams' family saying she had not been seen for a few weeks. She previously had been in regular contact.

Police are not releasing details on how she died but are asking people for information on her whereabouts before Sept. 30.

Police previously said Williams was a frequent visitor to Mizelle, Lions and Davis parks and often rode a blue bicycle that may have been equipped with a white basket.

She was not considered a vulnerable adult.

Alaska North Slope lease sale takes in $54.5M
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The state Department of Natural Resources says companies and investors submitted $54.5 million in high bids Wednesday for petroleum leasing on 524,387 acres on the central North Slope of Alaska.

The Alaska Dispatch News reports the bidding was the richest North Slope auction in 21 years. The state Division of Oil and Gas recorded a little more than $5.1 million in last year's North Slope area-wide lease,

Two firms, Dallas-based Caelus Energy and 70 & 148 LLC, were the most active bidders this year.

Caelus earlier this year acquired the Alaska assets of Pioneer Natural Resources Inc..

70 & 148 LLC is a subsidiary of Denver-based Armstrong Oil and Gas. The company offered multimillion-dollar high bids for tracts on the Colville River Delta.

Coast Guardsmen accept plea in game waste case
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Two Coast Guard petty officers suspected of leaving a dead deer and ducks along a Juneau road have pleaded guilty to state hunting violations.

Twenty-six year-old James Robert Schmidt and 27-year-old Christopher Caleb Hyde were originally charged with misdemeanor counts of failure to salvage all edible meat.

Schmidt under a plea agreement Nov. 6 was fined $500 fine and Hyde was fined $300.

A tip led Alaska Wildlife Troopers on Oct. 1 to a deer and four ducks left along Montana Creek Road. Antlers had been removed from the deer.

Assistant District Attorney Angie Kemp says the plea deal for violations rather than a misdemeanor conviction was appropriate. She says the men didn't have a criminal history and took responsibility for their actions.

UA Fairbanks picks firm for power plant design
FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) — An Iowa-based engineering company has been picked to help design a new $245 million coal-fired power plant at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports Stanley Consultants has been awarded a $13.6 million contract for planning the plant.

The existing plant is nearing the end of its useful life after 50 years.

The new 22-megawatt plant will provide power and electricity to the campus from a location adjacent to the current plant.

Stanley Consultants previously worked with the school to study options for the new plant. The company will work with Fairbanks-based Design Alaska to provide design and engineering work.

The design is to be completed by early 2016 and construction is due to be finished in 2018.

Assault and robbery in the valley
On 11/19/14 at about 9:05 PM, a 27 year old male reported he had been assaulted behind a business in the Valley. The male reported he was kicked in the face and the subjects had taken his wallet and Kindle tablet. Police obtained a first name for the suspect and a general description.

On 11/20/14 at about 12:07 AM an officer on patrol located a male matching the suspect description walking on Mall Road. A second male was contacted on Mall Road and questioned about the incident. The two males were detained and transported to the Juneau Police Department for questioning.

At about 2:15 AM, police obtained search warrants for the male’s backpacks. A Kindle tablet was located in one of the male’s backpacks.

The two males, 30 year old Matthew Gilchrest, a local resident and 23 year old William Stauffer, also a local resident were arrested for Robbery in the Second Degree and Assault in the Fourth Degree. Both males were transported to and lodged at the Lemon Creek Correction Center and held without bail.

The victim was transported to the Bartlett Regional Hospital for his injuries. His injuries appear to be non-life threatening.

Alcohol was a factor in this incident.

Seattle councilwoman arrested in wage protest
SEATAC, Wash. (AP) — A Seattle city councilwoman was among four people arrested during a protest calling for a $15 per hour minimum wage for Seattle-Tacoma International Airport workers.

The Seattle Times reports that Councilwoman Kshama Sawant said before Wednesday's protest that it was her "obligation as a public servant" to exercise civil disobedience.

King County sheriff's Sgt. DB Gates says the four were arrested for investigation of disorderly conduct. They reportedly remained in a street during the protest near Alaska Airlines headquarters in the Seattle suburb of SeaTac.

Residents of SeaTac, the city that surrounds the airport, have approved a $15 minimum wage. Separately, the Port of Seattle, which operates the airport, has said it has the authority to increase the minimum wage for some airport workers. The issues of the Port's wage authority and whether the SeaTac minimum wage should apply to the airport are playing out in court.

In a statement, Alaska Airlines says it supports fair wage jobs and voluntarily increased wages in April for more than 1,000 vendor employees at the airport. It also says it stands with the airline industry trade group, Airlines for America, as the group challenges the legality of the Port wage mandate.

Health consortium closes medical training unit
SITKA, Alaska (AP) — The Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium has ended a Sitka-based emergency medical training program.

The Daily Sitka Sentinel reports that the closure ends three decades of training in first aid, CPR and emergency medical services.

Consortium spokeswoman Stacy Smith says the program had been funded by grants. After those ended in recent years, the consortium picked up the tab for the service it offered the community for free.

Smith notes that other providers in Sitka offer training courses and the consortium felt it was duplicating those services.

Montana Creek Road to be closed for winter
The City and Borough of Juneau does not provide winter maintenance along Montana Creek Road beyond the Hank Harmon Rifle Range.

For safety reasons, the gate allowing vehicular access beyond the Hank Harmon Rifle Range will be closed for the season on Friday, November 21.

The gate will reopen May 1, or when conditions allow.

A parking lot adjacent to the Hank Harmon Rifle Range was expanded this summer to accommodate parking for winter recreational users.

[Wednesday November 19th,  2014  15th  EDITION 5:26 P. M.]

Coffee and doughnuts with Docks and Harbor officials
Docks and Harbor officials are copying the local cops and offering harbor patrons a chance to chat over coffee and doughnuts Friday.  The Port Director and Harbor Master will be hosting coffee and doughnuts at the Yacht Club from 7:30 AM to 9:00 AM Friday. Port Director, Carl Uchytil, tells News of the North, "The purpose of the gathering, modeled after Coffee with a Cop, is to provide greater opportunity for harbor patrons to meet with docks and harbor officials in an informal setting."

At Thursday night's Docks and Harbor Board Meeting, the board will consider a proposed lease amendment for the Mt. Roberts Tram property lease, review the Fiscal Year 2016 to Fiscal Year 2021 CIP project request, and hear a recommendation to modify the Auke Bay Loading Facility conditional use permit.  The meeting will start at 5:30 in CBJ Chambers.

Overdue hunter rescued in Sitka
The Coast Guard rescued a stranded hunter from the Carmel Mountain area near Sitka Wednesday.

An Air Station Sitka MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew transfered the 69-year-old man to Air Station Sitka where waiting medical personnel checked him for signs of hypothermia. 

Air Station Sitka personnel recieved a report of the stranded hunter from the Sitka Police Department after his wife reported him overdue from his trip.  Watchstanders at the Sector Juneau Command Center assumed control of the case and launched the helicopter crew to rescue the man.

"This case is a good example of how planning ahead and having good communication with loved ones can aid a successful rescue," said Cmdr. Pete Melnick, operations officer, Coast Guard Air Station Sitka. "The Coast Guard reminds hunters to leave a travel plan including campsite locations and estimated trip duration with family or friends before beginning any hunting trip. It's also recommended to bring more than one means of communication when possible and to always carry a signal device such as a mirror or flares for the event of a rescue."

The weather on scene was reported to be calm.

 

John Delong, of Sitka, Alaska, stands with Petty Officer 2nd Class Brendan Dent, Petty Officer 2nd Class Jason Vaughn and Petty Officer 3rd Class Ryan Ransom from Coast Guard Air Station Sitka after his rescue from the Carmel Mountain area near Sitka Nov. 19, 2014. Delong was stranded on the island while hunting after his boat became submerged. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Cmdr. Pete Melnick

UPDATE:  Murder suspect arrested at JIA, puppy sent south
A man wanted on murder charges was arrested at Juneau International Airport last night.  A Juneau Police Officer working at JIA reported that a man was possibly sleeping near the small commuter flight section just before 8:00 PM. Moments later, it was determined that the 24 year old male, Taylor Pass, had an outstanding extraditable warrant from Dakota County Minnesota.

Pass was arrested on a no bail warrant charging probation violation stemming from original felony charges of Second Degree Murder with Intent, Second Degree Assault with a Dangerous Weapon and First Degree Murder Premeditated. 

Pass was transported to and lodged at the Lemon Creek Correctional Center on the charge of Commitment to Await Requisition. 

Pass was with a 26 year old female, who is also from Minnesota, and was also traveling with a Siberian Husky puppy.  Erann Kalwara, JPD Public Information Officer, told News of the North "An officer transported that dog to the humane society where it's in safe keeping right now and they're coordinating return to family members down south."

Woman dies of injuries suffered in trailer fire
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A woman pulled Tuesday from a burning mobile home in east Anchorage has died.

The Anchorage Fire Department says the woman died early Wednesday at a city hospital.

The department says it will not release the name of the woman.

Firefighters at 12:30 a.m. Tuesday were dispatched to the home in Glenncaren Trailer Court in the 2200 block of Muldoon Road.

They found a double-wide trailer in flames and were told a woman remained inside, trapped in a rear bedroom.

Firefighters entered through a bedroom window and found the woman in a bathroom adjoining the bedroom.

The woman's daughter escaped through a bedroom window.

Firefighters say the fire started in the home's living room near an entertainment center. The cause is unknown.

Report critical of Tongass timber transition
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — A research firm says the U.S. Forest Service has done little to transition the nation's largest national forest in southeast Alaska to young-growth timber harvests.

Headwaters Economics also says the agency continues to invest disproportionately in a timber industry that it says provides relatively few jobs while neglecting "more economically important industries," like tourism and fishing.

The firm says that despite the dwindling Southeast timber industry and a promise by the Forest Service to transition out of old-growth harvests, the agency has continued to generously fund its timber program in the Tongass National Forest.

The agency planned to discuss its plans for the Tongass late Wednesday afternoon.

State spends $100K defending gay marriage lawsuit
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The state has spent more than $103,000 to defend a lawsuit that overturned Alaska's ban on same-sex marriage.

The Alaska Dispatch News reports plaintiffs are seeking nearly $259,000 in legal fees from the state. If those fees are awarded, the cost to the state would total more than $360,000.

Included in the cost is $9,600 to Washington, D.C., attorney S. Kyle Duncan, who worked with the state to appeal at the U.S. Supreme Court and 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

A federal judge in October ruled the ban violates the U.S. constitutional guarantee of due process and equal protection.

After the appeals court lifted a temporary stay and the Supreme Court denied a review of the case, the state has asked federal appeals court panel for a review.

BP: Deal with Hilcorp completed
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — BP has closed the sale of its interests in four North Slope oil fields to Hilcorp.

BP president for Alaska operations Janet Weiss made the announcement Wednesday.

The company announced in April that it was selling all its interests in the Endicott and Northstar fields and half its interests in the Liberty and Milne Point fields.

Weiss said the sale would allow BP to focus on Prudhoe Bay and pursuing a major liquefied natural gas project. The sale involves the planned layoff of 275 workers and transfer to Hilcorp or early retirement of another 200 people.

Weiss said the companies have asked federal regulators to allow Hilcorp to become the operator of the long-planned Liberty project. BP plans to work with Hilcorp on submitting a project development and production plan.

Teen indicted in fatal Juneau car crash
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — A Juneau grand jury has indicted an 18-year-old driver involved in a fatal car crash.

William M. Buchkoski was indicted on four felony counts in the March 26 death of a passenger in his sport utility vehicle, 18-year-old Jessica Louise Billy.

Investigators say Buchkoski was driving on Yandukin Drive near Juneau International Airport and attempted a left turn onto Old Dairy Road but did not yield to a semi. The big truck T-boned the SUV.

A second passenger, 20-year-old Shadd Rudick, was critically injured and remains at a rehabilitation center in Everett, Washington.

The grand jury indicted Buchkoski on manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide and two felony assault counts.

He will be arraigned Dec. 17.

Floating strip club flourishes in Kodiak
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — After a bumpy start, a floating strip club is finding prosperity in the waters off Kodiak.

Darren Byler, owner of Wild Alaskan, a crab boat converted to a strip club, tells KTVA-TV that business has been "wildly successful" in the commercial fishing port.

Customers reach the club by water taxi. A few days after it opened, a complaint that the vessel was overloaded led to law enforcement agencies and the Coast Guard briefly closing the club.

Byler says the charge was unfounded, undeserved and embarrassing.

Kodiak's city manager Aimee Kniaziowski (ken-yah-ZHAHV'-skee) says Byler addressed public safety concerns. She says it pays city taxes but operates in state waters.

The business charges $20 per hour as a charter fee and allows only 12 customers on board at a time.

State releases proposed air quality rules
FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) — Proposed state regulations that could help clean up air in Fairbanks would limit what can be burned in wood stoves.

The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports proposed regulations released Monday would prohibit burning painted, stained or treated wood.

They would also ban the burning of garbage, oily waste products and plastics.

The standards would be tougher in winter for areas with chronic air pollution such as much of Fairbanks and North Pole.

In October through March, people operating wood-fired heating devices in those areas could only burn dry wood, wood pellets and manufacture-approved biomass fuels or starter fuels.

The Fairbanks area in winter is regularly out of compliance with federal air standards because of particulate emitted from wood burned by people trying use an alternative to expensive home heating oil.

Walker adds Chief of Staff
Governor-elect Bill Walker has added a Chief of Staff to his transition team.

The Alaska Dispatch reports that former Fairbanks North Star Borough Mayor Jim Whitaker has been tapped for the job. Whitaker and Walker had worked together on the Alaska Gasline Port Authority, when Walker was Mayor of Valdez.

Whitaker served in the state house as a republican but was invited to speak at the 2008 Democratic National Convention.

Walker last week named republican and democratic co-chairs of his transition team, which is organizing a policy conference in Anchorage this weekend ahead of the December 1st swearing-in ceremony.

Man found dead had sled dogs seized 1 day earlier
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A man who was found dead in downtown Anchorage last week was under investigation after police seized 12 emaciated sled dogs from his Girdwood home.

Anchorage police identified the man Tuesday as 50-year-old Dario Martinez, of Girdwood. His body was found hanging from a tree Thursday in an office building parking lot across Second Avenue from the entrance to the city's coastal trail.

One day earlier, animal control officers had found the 12 starving and thirsty dogs at his home. Another dog died of starvation.

Alaska business records show Martinez owned a sled dog operation in Girdwood.

The Alaska Dispatch News reports Martinez ran the Iditarod in 1999, finishing in 40th place.

Alaska State Troopers say its animal neglect investigation is closed with Martinez's death. Anchorage police say they have been unsuccessful in locating Martinez's next of kin.

Pot supporter fights subpoena of records
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — The owner of a medical marijuana business is fighting a subpoena as part of an investigation into whether the activities of the Alaska Cannabis Club are subject to campaign finance and disclosure laws.

Charlene Egbe, also known as Charlo Greene, says the Alaska Public Office Commission's request for records is tantamount to harassment.

The commission is scheduled to consider enforcement of the subpoena Wednesday.

Egbe made headlines in September when, while reporting on a story for an Anchorage TV station, she outed herself as the pot club's owner, quit her reporting job and vowed to work to legalize marijuana.

A commission campaign disclosure coordinator says it appears that Egbe or her club engaged in activities supporting a ballot measure to legalize recreational use of pot.

UAF students organize coffee roaster event
FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) — Students from the University of Alaska Fairbanks are organizing an event to showcase brews by local coffee roasters.

UAF officials say the Friday event is organized by students from a UAF School of Management class.

The event is scheduled to take place between 5:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. at the Fairbanks branch of Northrim Bank.

It's the third year the School of Management has been involved in the event.

2 injured in Chiniak banya explosion
KODIAK, Alaska (AP) — Two people in a rural Kodiak Island community were injured when they accidentally used fuel instead of water in a sauna-like building.

The Kodiak Daily Mirror reports the man and woman were treated at a Kodiak hospital after the explosion Tuesday in Chiniak. The woman was to be flown outside Kodiak for further care.

Alaska State Troopers say they were in a banya Tuesday when they accidentally used fuel oil instead of water.

Troopers spokesman Eric Olsen said they are investigating, but don't believe it was anything other than an accident.

Chiniak is located about 45 miles southeast of the city of Kodiak.

[Tuesday November 18th,  2014  10th  EDITION 5:00 P. M.]

Two water line breakages reported by CBJ Public Works
A contractor doing some excavating along the 3500 Block of North Douglas broke a water service line at approximately 3:00 p.m. Public Works has shut down the water to approximately 20 homes in that area. Crews are working to get the waterline repaired. There is no estimated time of when water service might be restored.

CBJ Public Works has also been notified of a water line break on Andreanoff Drive. Homes in that area may experience low water pressure or loss.

The department apologizes for any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your patience. When service resumes, customers may encounter water discoloration or minor disruptions in service. To clear the discoloration, first wait until the work crew leaves the area, then run the cold water tap (preferably in your bathtub) until the water runs clear. Please watch for crews working in the roadway, use caution, and obey traffic controls. For more information, contact CBJ Water Utility Office at 780-6888; for after-hours emergencies, call 586-2165.

With frosty and slick roads, wrecks are on the rise
Since roads have been frosty, icy, and slick over the past few days reports of wrecks have been on the rise.

There was a single vehicle wreck this morning on Egan at Vanderbilt Hill.  Capital City Fire Rescue Captain Chad Cameron says one patient was taken to the hospital.

Then there was a crash in the area of 3300 Riverside Drive this afternoon around 2:20.

JPD, CCFR and EMS responded to find a 1999 white Toyota Camry, upside down and on its roof. The Toyota had extensive damage and is believed to be totaled.

The driver and only occupant of the vehicle was identified as a 58 year old female Juneau resident. The driver was transported to Bartlett Regional Hospital for a medical evaluation. The injuries don’t appear to be life threatening.

Riverside Drive, between Rivercourt Way and Stephen Richards Drive, was closed off for about twenty minutes; traffic was diverted onto the side streets. The cause of the crash is still under investigation.

Kuskokwim 300 a 12-dog race in 2015
BETHEL, Alaska (AP) — The organizers of the Kuskokwim 300 sled dog race have changed the rules to reduce the number of starting dogs from 14 to 12.

KYUK says a driving idea for the reduction was to encourage more local teams to run the full race.

Kuskokwim 300 race manager Zach Fansler says some teams with midsize kennels don't always have 14 dogs ready to go.

Many large teams use the race as a testing ground for the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.

The race is scheduled to begin Jan. 16.

Fansler says mushers expressing interest in running include four-time Iditarod winners Lance Mackey and Martin Buser, and Martin's son Rohn Buser, who won last year's Kuskokwim 300.

High court seeks update on redistricting case
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — The Fairbanks-area plaintiffs who sued over Alaska's redistricting plan have appealed a judge's decision awarding them more than $310,000 in attorneys' fees and costs.

Attorneys for George Riley and Ronald Dearborn had requested nearly $440,000, including about $120,000 in appellate fees.

The appeal was made to the Alaska Supreme Court, which late last month put the appeal on hold, pending a possible settlement among the parties.

The parties have been asked to report back to the court by Dec. 19.

A lower court judge this summer ordered the Alaska Redistricting Board to pay about $296,000 in attorneys' fees and nearly $17,000 in costs.

In appealing, the plaintiffs questioned, among other things, whether the trial court erred in excluding appellate costs and in not awarding paralegal fees.

Glory Hole patrons organizing turkey baskets for needy families need turkeys
Every year, Glory Hole patrons distribute Thanksgiving boxes to families in need.

Director Mariya Lovishchuk tells News of the North, "We have 200 families signed up and we have about 26 turkeys. The first distribution day is this Saturday and people are going to come and most are families or four, five, or six and most have children, so it would be really, really horrible if we could not deliver the turkey baskets to them." She says they are doing good on mashed potatoes, corn, and beans; but are short on butter, rolls, and pies.

"Money would be amazingly helpful because then we could just go buy the stuff. We are located at 247 S. Franklin St. and our phone number is 586-4159.  If you call us in advance we can even run out to your car and get them.  That's the amazing thing.  The patrons really organize the whole thing.  Actually no folks at the Glory Hole get this."

Thanksgiving dinner items can be delivered to the Glory Hole downtown on Franklin any day between 7:00 AM and 9:30PM. 

Alaska voter turnout highest for midterm since '94
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Voter turnout in Alaska was the highest it has been in a midterm general election in 20 years.

The latest results from the Division of Elections showed turnout for the Nov. 4 election at 56 percent. The 1994 midterm saw turnout of 64 percent.

This year's ballot included hotly contested races for U.S. Senate and governor and ballot measures to legalize recreational use of marijuana, raise Alaska's minimum wage and require legislative approval of the proposed Pebble Mine.

Wednesday is the deadline for the division to receive absentee ballots postmarked outside the U.S.

In 2010, when another high-profile Senate race was decided, turnout stood at 52 percent.

Report on tribal youth and violence urges action
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — American Indian and Alaska Native children are exposed to violence at rates higher than any other social group in the nation, according to a new report that urges creation of a new Native American affairs office, additional federal funding and other measures to combat the problem.

A U.S. Department of Justice advisory committee released the report Tuesday that reflects information gathered at public hearings across the country in 2013 and 2014.

Based on the public input and research, the committee assessed the effects of violence on tribal youth and came up with an action plan.

Committee co-chair and former U.S. Sen. Byron Dorgan of North Dakota said during a teleconference that the report's goal is to be a catalyst for action by Congress and the Obama administration.

Vessel runs aground, twice, near Kodiak
KODIAK, Alaska (AP) — A man has been charged with driving under the influence after running a landing craft aground near Kodiak.

Authorities arrested Edward Dyer after a crew member on Sunday reported that his skipper was intoxicated and the vessel had run aground near St. Herman Harbor.

KMXT reports that Dyer faces additional misdemeanor charges of reckless endangerment and assault. A bail hearing was scheduled for Wednesday.

After the Coast Guard released the vessel, its owner came to take possession and nearly made it through the channel before running aground on Near Island on Monday.

The Coast Guard says the vessel has been refloated.

Assemblywoman: city should opt out of pot sales
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — An Anchorage assembly member wants the city to opt out of the commercial marijuana trade.

The Alaska Dispatch News reports Assemblywoman Amy Demboski of Eagle River — who has announced she's running for mayor — will introduce an ordinance to ban commercial marijuana establishments.

Alaska voters Nov. 4 approved a measure to legalize recreational use of pot and it prevailed with 51 percent of the vote in Anchorage according to results so far.

The ballot measure allows communities to prohibit businesses that sell marijuana and Demboski says she's introducing an ordinance to do so.

She says the city shouldn't be a guinea pig for commercial marijuana in Alaska. She said she wants to see how regulations are developed and then decide whether to opt back in.

State complains about leased building air quality
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Air quality tests show high levels of carbon dioxide and dust in a Juneau office building the state is leasing for about 160 employees.

The state had been receiving complaints from employees about headaches and diesel fumes at the Bill Ray Center.

The state has been leasing the building, owned by First National Bank, since March while a state office building in Douglas is renovated.

The state hired a firm to do air quality tests when the bank did not immediately respond to its request for testing. The state has since notified the bank it is out of compliance with its lease.

A senior vice president with the bank said First National has responded in good faith and hired its own consultant to evaluate the building.

Underwear bandit arrested
A alleged "underwear bandit" has been arrested in Kodiak.

Eighteen year-old Ryan Cornelio is charged with a series of burglaries during which Alaska State Troopers say women's underwear was usually stolen. The Alaska Dispatch reports that Cornelio was arrested Monday when officers were responding to a burglary in progress. The suspect fled, but State Troopers were able to track the getaway vehicle.

Troopers were investigating seven burglaries in Kodiak over the last three months, and three other attempted break-ins.

Last week, Kodiak residents were notified that the cases were likely connected.

Alaska-based soldiers to return from Afghanistan
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Army officials say nearly 300 Alaska-based soldiers are scheduled to return to Fort Wainwright and Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson on Tuesday after deployments to Afghanistan.

Officials say the soldiers represent three different units. They will be reunited with family and friends at short ceremonies at the military bases.

The soldiers returning to Fort Wainwright are from the aviation task force of the 1st Battalion, 52nd Aviation Regiment.

The soldiers returning to JBER are members of the 23rd Engineer Company.

Also returning to JBER are members of the Headquarters Company for the 17th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion.

Forest Service urges safety near Juneau glacier
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — The U.S. Forest Service is cautioning residents to be safe when visiting the Mendenhall Glacier Recreation Area.

The agency, in a release, said it is impossible to predict lake ice stability regardless of temperatures or ice thickness. It recommends people stay away from the glacier's terminus, including ice caves and icebergs.

The Forest Service said the popular Mendenhall Glacier ice cave has deteriorated significantly over the past year, possibly due to heavy rains and summer melting, leaving it vulnerable to collapse.

[Monday November 17th,  2014  8th  EDITION 4:52 P. M.]

Active Alaska volcano calms down _ for now
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — One of Alaska's most active volcanoes has calmed down since spewing ash up to 35,000 feet into the air over the weekend, but scientists say the volcano has a pattern of prolonged eruptions of varying intensity.

Pavlof Volcano began erupting Wednesday, culminating with a major blast Saturday that lasted seven or eight hours before its seismic activity dramatically dropped.

The National Weather Service warned aircraft to avoid the area over the weekend because of the ash plume.

The Alaska Volcano Observatory says the volcano has erupted more than 40 times in recorded history, including earlier this year and last year.

Begich concedes Senate race to Sullivan
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Democratic U.S. Sen. Mark Begich has conceded the Alaska Senate race to Republican Dan Sullivan.

Begich called Sullivan to congratulate him Monday. He said he urged Sullivan "to adopt a bipartisan resolve in the Senate."

Sullivan led the one-term incumbent Begich by about 8,100 votes on election night Nov. 4, and maintained an edge as ballot counting continued.

In a statement, Begich said he was proud of the work he accomplished, in areas including energy development, veterans' health care and protecting postal service in Alaska.

He said the state deserves a bright future with expanded economic opportunity and a strong, prosperous rural Alaska. He also said he supports equality for all Alaskans and the results of an election have never diminished his desire to achieve those goals.

AIDEA approves loan for Wasilla theme park
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority will loan money to a company building a theme park in Wasilla.

KTUU-TV reports the state agency is loaning $5.4 million to Oregon businessman John Schweiger for the 58,000 square-foot Valley Family Fun Center.

It will be built next to Mat-Su Cinema.

AIDEA (AY'-dah) external affairs officer Karsten Rodvik says construction is scheduled to begin next spring and finish before the end of the year.

He says the theme park will feature go-karts, laser tag and a laser maze.

Surveyor rescued after night in wilderness
KETCHIKAN, Alaska (AP) — A logging surveyor who became lost in thick forest south of Ketchikan was found safe but near hypothermic after a night in the cold.

The Ketchikan Daily News reports 57-year-old William Johnson was found just after 8 a.m. Saturday by the Ketchikan Volunteer Rescue Squad.

Johnson was dropped off by skiff Friday morning and walked from a road that circles a forestry unit.

Chris John of the rescue squad says Johnson got into steep terrain with vegetation so thick he had to crawl and lost his way.

Searchers at around midnight found Johnson's truck and coat, leaving them concerned that he was without warm clothing.

John says Johnson was eventually located by yelling.

He was unable to walk back to a boat and was lifted out by helicopter.

BBB announces a $10,000 scholarship video challenge

Anchorage, Alaska — November 17, 2014 — Better Business Bureau serving Alaska, Oregon and Western Washington has officially launched the 2015 Students of Integrity Scholarship.

High school seniors in the Northwest will have a chance to win a $10,000 scholarship by creating a 90-second video that demonstrates how BBB helps people become smart consumers.

Michelle Tabler, BBB-Alaska Regional Manager, told News of the North, "The videos can focus on one of the following areas:  identity theft and fraud, online marketplace scams, phony online reviews, or charity scams."

“BBB values the importance of higher education and teens who personify high ethics,” BBB CEO Tyler Andrew said. “We believe this scholarship will enable a student to pursue both in a fun and creative way.”

Students can check their eligibility and apply online. A panel of judges from all three states will choose the winning entry in March. The deadline to apply is January 30, 2015.

The winner will receive a $10,000 scholarship and travel expenses to Portland where BBB will present him or her with a check at the March 28 Portland Trail Blazers game at the Moda Center.

Students may apply individually or in groups. The video entries of the top 15 finalists will be posted on BBB’s YouTube channel for public viewing.

Click here to learn more.

Full-day kindergarten considered in Fairbanks
FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) — The Fairbanks North Star Borough School District is considering full-day kindergarten at all of its elementary schools.

A presentation is scheduled for Tuesday's school board meeting on the additional costs and changes needed to implement such a program.

School board president Heidi Haas told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner the intent is not to vote for approval but to give board members and administrators an opportunity to discuss the viability of such a proposal.

Three nontraditional district schools offer full-day kindergarten. Haas said the high number of applications at those schools indicates an appetite for that option.

But she said not all board members think that is the way to go.

Cost estimates for a district-wide program range from about $1.5 million to $4 million, depending on the class size
.

CPR saves at Juneau Airport
At approximately 6:00 this morning, the Juneau Police Department received a 911 call that an 81 year-old male Juneau resident was having a medical emergency at the Juneau International Airport.

The report indicated that the male had lost consciousness. JPD Sergeant David Wrightson was working at the airport and located the male in less than one minute. The male did not have a pulse and Sergeant Wrightson began performing CPR.

Capital City Fire Rescue paramedics arrived at the airport in less than five minutes. Prior to the arrival of the paramedics, the male had regained consciousness. The male was transported to the Bartlett Regional Hospital for further medical treatment.

CCFR paramedics said that Sergeant Wrightson’s quick actions in performing CPR had saved the man’s life.

Juneau dentists buy back candy for troops
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — A Juneau orthodontist has adopted a sweet trend: Sending donations of Halloween candy to U.S. troops at home and abroad.

Brent Tingey paid $1 per pound of candy turned in by children over the holiday through an increasingly popular concept initiated by Operation Gratitude, which sends tens of thousands of care packages to troops each year.

Tingey and others at Tingey Orthodontics rallied local dentists to also get involved. They also helped distribute flyers to local schools to spread the word about the program.

The response included a 130-pound donation of leftover Halloween candy from Glacier Valley Elementary School.

Tingey says he plans to repeat the effort next year and hopes it becomes an annual event.

Police seize drugs with street value of $110K
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Anchorage police are announcing a major drug seizure in a weekend operation by the department's Special Assignment Unit.

KTUU-TV reports police Friday night seized drugs with a street value of about $110,000 from a home on Rocky Mountain Court near Russian Jack Park.

Police say officers found 24 grams of heroin, 101 grams of cocaine and 683 grams of methamphetamine.

Police say the seizure disrupted the business of a supplier to 100 customers.

Police arrested a 39-year-old woman and a 33-year-old man. Online court records Monday did not indicate that they had been formally charged.

2 charged with home invasion, kidnapping
FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) — Two men have been charged with a robbing and kidnapping a North Pole resident last week.

The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports 57-year-old Bill Kraus of Fairbanks and 40-year-old Isaac Horman are charged with kidnapping, robbery, burglary and felony assault.

Alaska State Troopers say Krauss was armed with a gun Wednesday when he and Horman forced their way into a home and demanded that two people inside hand over cellphones.

Troopers they drove off with one person, called the person's acquaintance and demanded money.

Troopers say their vehicle left the roadway and drove into a ditch and the kidnapped person was able to escape.

Kraus was arrested Friday and Horman on Saturday. Both remained jailed Monday.

What's happening at UAS this week
It’s International Education Week at UAS with events every day this week Nov. 17-21 , 11 a.m.-2 p.m.

TODAY AND Wednesday-National Student Exchange & Study Abroad Information Sessions at Spike’s Café’
Learn about all your Exchange & Study Abroad opportunities at UAS, both national and international! We will be right by Spike's to answer any and all questions you may have. Check it out!

Thursday, Nov. 20, 2 p.m. Egan Classroom 115
Come hear UAS ISEP students from Austria & Germany discuss life at their home universities!
 
Thursday, Nov. 20, All Day, Mourant Cafeteria
One Day Stand Against Tobacco

Join us in initiating a smoke-free campus for the day! We ask all willing smokers to set aside those cigarettes for a day, or choose off-campus locations to smoke. Do this for the interest of the campus environment, the health of those around you, and the health of yourself. Stop by our booth in the Mourant from 11- 3 for more information, resources, specialists, and give-aways!

Friday, Nov 21st
Deadline to Withdraw from Full-Term Classes

Phone: 796-6100
Email: registrar@uas.alaska.edu

Website: http://www.uas.alaska.ed

6 p.m.-REC
Native Olympics, N.O., Practice and Competition
Strength training since time immemorial! “They (Native Olympic events) originated from the northern part of Alaska probably more than 2,000 years ago. The [Native] people from the interior of Alaska created a series of games to teach their kids important survival skills.” Ricardo Worl We'll practice jumping, strength, and endurance events such as but not limited to: one foot high kick, scissor broad jump, one arm reach, seal hop, leg wrestling, and stick pull.
 

Fri-Sun. Nov. 21-23
S.C.R.I.P.T club presents F2M a play written by Patricia Wettig, and directed by Bryan Crowder.

Location: Hendrickson Bldg | 113
Cost: $5 student / $10 non-student
Phone: 796-6517
Email: jypres@uas.alaska.edu

Website: http://www.uas.alaska.edu/student_gov/index.html

Dates November 21, 2014, Weekends 7:30 PM
November 22, 2014, Weekends 7:30 PM
November 23, 2014, Weekends 7:30 PM

Final Evening at Egan, Friday, Nov. 21 7 p.m. Egan Library
You’re invited to participate in a very important community discussion at this season's final Evening Egan; part of an on-going community effort for a way forward to  make healing racism and historical violence a local priority. Racism in Juneau: Reflection and Discussion. Friday, November 21st, 7 p.m. in the Egan Library at the University of Alaska Southeast. 


Yule Ball
Saturday, Nov. 22, 7 p.m. REC Center
A semi-formal, Harry Potter themed dance featuring live music by the Thunder Mountain Big Band & ballroom dance instruction! This event is free and open to the UAS and Juneau communities. The dance is November 22nd at 7pm and runs to 11pm. Dance instruction is 7:30pm-8:30pm. Delicious snacks provided. No experience required.

[Sunday November 16th,  2014  5th  EDITION 10:18 P. M.]

Emotionally disturbed man tased
Juneau Police say an emotionally disturbed man was tased Sunday morning around 6:45.

A JPD officer arrived in the area of Riverside Dr. and contacted the man who was walking on the sidewalk. Police believe he may have jumped from a vehicle. The man was described by police as being very agitated and appearing to be suffering from a mental illness. When the police officer tried to talk to him, the man is said to have advanced on the officer. The man was tased and taken into protective custody.

Capital City Fire Rescue and EMS arrived to care for the man, and he was later taken to Bartlett Regional Hospital for a medical exam. He sustained only minor injuries.


Murkowski seeks another look into guard probe
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski is asking the Department of Defense inspector general to re-examine the evidence and conclusions it reached in investigating the Alaska National Guard.

In 2013, Murkowski requested an investigation into allegations of misconduct within the guard. The inspector general notified her in May that the allegations could not be substantiated and later released a heavily redacted report.

But in a letter to the inspector general Friday, Murkowski said it seems highly irregular that that inquiry and another by the National Guard Bureau's Office of Complex Investigations would reach such different conclusions.

The guard bureau found victims did not trust the system because they lacked confidence in the command.

Federal agency criticizes handling of coal permits
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The federal Office of Surface Mining, Reclamation and Enforcement is criticizing a state agency's handling of permit extensions and renewals for the Wishbone Hill coal project near Palmer.

The office is upholding a decision by the state in October to renew project permits for the operator, Usibelli Coal.

But an official with the federal agency, Robert Postle, says the state erred in never officially terminating the permits due to inaction by an earlier owner.

Postle says permits don't terminate by themselves.

While reasonable extensions are allowed, KSKA reports the mining operation has changed owners twice since Wishbone Hill's two permits were granted in 1991. The state Department of Natural Resources granted an extension once between 1991 and 2010, when Usibelli began operations.

A third-party has appealed the state approval.

Flu season off to early start in Alaska
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Flu season is off to an early start in Alaska.

The season typically peaks in December and January. KTUU reports there were about 50 confirmed cases during all of last November. So far this November, there have already been more than 120 cases.

Health officials are encouraging Alaskans to get a flu shot, particularly children, the elderly and people with health conditions.

Several wrecks as weather gets frosty
Juneau is waking up to frosty roads as of late and wrecks were piling up Friday and Saturday. 

Juneau Police say a 17 year old female drove in a manner that constituted an unjustifiable risk to another by following too closely causing a three vehicle crash Friday afternoon around 4:30 in the 9000 Block of Egan. She was cited for negligent driving. Another driver was transported to BRH for treatment.

A vehicle was struck when another crossed the median in the 7000 block of Egan Dr.0 around 10:30 Saturday morning. A Juneau Police Department bulletin says a 27 year old man was driving too fast for road conditions. There were no injuries.

A pedestrian was hit just after 11:00 AM Saturday. A 51year old man struck a 29 year old woman with his vehicle, downtown in the 100 Block of Main St. She received minor injuries.

Saturday night just before 8:00 in the 8100 Block of Glacier Highway, Juneau Police report that 34 year old Kenneth Burchfield was arrested for DUI, Reckless Driving and Driving Without a License after crashing in the ditch behind Fred Meyer.

Capital City Fire Rescue also reports a recent wreck on Fritz Cove Road.  A vehicle slid off the road into a ditch onto its side.  There were no injuries. 



[Saturday November 15th,  2014  10TH  EDITION 6:53 P. M.]

Airplanes warned to avoid Alaska volcano airspace
Airplanes are being warned to avoid airspace near an erupting Alaska volcano as it spews ash 30,000 feet above sea level.

The National Weather Service said Saturday ash is being blown to the west and northwest of Pavlof Volcano.

Pavlof began erupting three days ago, pushing lava out from a vent near its summit. On Friday, the ash cloud reached 16,000 feet.

Alaska Volcano Observatory Geophysicist Dave Schneider says the eruption intensified at 6 a.m. Saturday, sending the ash cloud higher.

Schneider says it's not clear how long the eruption will last. He says Pavlof's eruptions may last for weeks or months with varying levels of intensity.

Pavlof is Alaska's most active volcano. It sits along international air routes connecting Europe, North America and Asia.

University of Alaska Fairbanks mulls program cuts
FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) — The University of Alaska Fairbanks it reviewing academic programs for possible elimination as it looks to cut $14 million from its budget.

The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports the school hopes to save $3 million annually by trimming academic offerings.

The school told more than 40 departments this week they may be cut. Theatre, geography and philosophy are among the programs under review.

Provost Susan Henrichs says no one is eager to eliminate programs. But she says the school no longer has the funding to pay for everything it's used to having.

University of Alaska President Pat Gamble told the Board of Regents this month the university expects a substantial system-wide budget gap after the Legislature and Gov. Sean Parnell signaled state funding will at best remain flat in 2016.

Parnell concedes to Walker
Dear Alaskan,

It has been an honor to serve as Governor of Alaska for more than five years. Sandy and I will always remain thankful and humble that we could work for you to create opportunities for every Alaskan.

After Friday’s vote counting by the Division of Elections, it became clear that while a win for the Parnell-Sullivan ticket was numerically possible, it is highly improbable. Where Alaska’s swearing-in date this year for the governor-elect is December 1st and where some ballots still must be counted, I deemed it in Alaskans’ interest to begin coordinating transition activities now with the Walker-Mallott ticket in the event the vote count holds.

I met this morning with Bill Walker to pledge an orderly transition. In line with this pledge, I offered office space for transition activities to the Walker-Mallott ticket as well as resources to accomplish the transition. We had what I believe to be a very productive discussion about how to work together for the benefit of Alaskans in this time of change in administration.

It is my fervent hope that Alaska’s trajectory for economic growth and individual safety and opportunity will be maintained. From bringing the Alaska LNG Project further than ever before; to creating Alaska Performance Scholarships for our young people; to being on track for natural gas to Fairbanks by 2016; to a Cook Inlet gas and economic resurgence; to reforming Alaska’s oil tax system to bring more North Slope investment and job activity than we’ve seen in decades (and more state revenue at these lower oil prices); to resolving the Point Thomson dispute and gaining first production there by 2016; and to leading our state in fighting the epidemic of domestic violence, sexual abuse, and sex trafficking – we have achieved a great deal for our state.

We respect the will of the voters, and offer Bill Walker, Byron Mallott and their families our sincere congratulations. Again, I want to thank our citizens for the honor of a lifetime.

Respectfully,

Sean Parnell

Vessel taking on water near Juneau
The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Anacapa assisted the crew of the 36-foot fishing vessel Pot Luck after their vessel began taking on water near Juneau, Alaska, Friday evening.

A Coast Guard Anacapa crewmember successfully patched two holes found in the Pot Luck's hull and escorted the vessel to Petersburg, Alaska.

Coast Guard Sector Juneau command center watchstanders received a report from the Pot Luck’s master stating their vessel was taking on water and their dewatering pumps were not keeping up. The watchstanders issued an urgent marine information broadcast and diverted the Anacapa to assist.

“These mariners did the right thing and contacted the Coast Guard as soon as they knew they needed assistance,” said Lt. Stacey Tate, command duty officer, Coast Guard Sector Juneau. “The Coast Guard encourages all mariners to have a reliable means of communication aboard their vessels, such as VHF radios, in order to contact help during emergencies.”

Weather at the time of the incident was reported as 2-foot seas and 10 mph winds.

The Anacapa is a 110-foot Island Class cutter homeported in Petersburg, Alaska.

Air Emergency cancelled
Due to the increasing air movement in the Mendenhall Valley, the City and Borough of Juneau has canceled its Air Emergency effective immediately.

The City would like to thank those residents affected by the Air Emergency for their cooperation.

Murkowski Questions Differing Findings of Alaska National Guard Investigations
Senator Calls on DoD to Reconcile “Diametrically Opposite Conclusions” of Dual Reports

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Lisa Murkowski Friday called upon the Department of Defense Office of Inspector General (DoDIG) to reexamine the evidence and conclusions of its investigation into misconduct of the Alaska National Guard done at her request – which concluded the allegations of sexual assault and misconduct within the Guard were unsubstantiated – seeking accountability and transparency of the review processes.

With the release of the National Guard Bureau Office of Complex Investigations (OCI) report in September finding serious offenses and misdoings, Murkowski wrote a letter to the DODIG asking how two reviews of the same allegations reached different conclusions, writing:

“It is my judgment that the striking difference between the conclusions of the largely redacted Army/DoDIG report and the unredacted OCI report requires further scrutiny and justification. It seems highly irregular that two inquiries conducted during roughly the same timeframe by professional military investigators would reach diametrically opposite conclusions. I would therefore ask that your office reexamine the evidence and conclusions reached in the Army/DoDIG investigation, as well as the rigor of that investigation, in an effort to reconcile the differences.”

Timeline of the dual investigations:

· June 12, 2013—Allegations of sexual misconduct, misuse of funds, and toxic command climate brought to Senator Murkowski’s attention by Alaska National Guard chaplains.

· June 19, 2013—Murkowski requests investigation by the independent Department of Defense Inspector General.

· May 21, 2014—Murkowski informed by the DoDIG that the investigation was complete.

· July 2, 2014—Report made available to Senator Murkowski, which found the “[Alaska National Guard] command climate sensing sessions did not identify concerns regarding sexual assault or sexual harassment”.

· September 4, 2014—National Guard Bureau Office of Complex Investigations report (requested by Governor Parnell) released, reaching opposite conclusions than the DoDIG report.

Navajo lawmakers approve junk food tax
WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) — The Navajo Nation Council has approved a tax on junk food sold on the country's largest reservation.

Lawmakers voted 10-4 on the last day of a two-day special session Friday to impose a 2 percent sales tax on items such as cookies, chips and sodas. If signed into law by President Ben Shelly, the tax would remain in effect until 2020.

American Indians and Alaska Natives as a whole have the highest age-adjusted prevalence of diabetes among U.S. racial and ethnic groups, according to the American Diabetes Association.

According to the proposal, the revenue generated by the new tax would go into a community wellness fund. The Navajo Nation Division of Community Development would channel the funds to various projects such as farmers' markets, vegetable gardens and exercise equipment.

The Tribal Council previously failed to pass the legislation in April and Shelly vetoed the measure earlier this year.

But advocates vowed to revive it.

School district and support staff reach agreement
The Juneau School District (JSD) and Juneau Education Support Staff (JESS) have reached a tentative agreement on a new two-year contract, effective July 1, 2014 through June 30, 2016. This replaces the existing contract, set to expire on June 30, 2015.

Dr. Mark Miller, Superintendent of the Juneau School District, is gratified by the outcome, “I sincerely appreciate the willingness of both teams to come together and negotiate in good faith. This cooperative effort produced a settlement that both respects the work of our employees and can be accomplished with our available resources. I look forward to a continued collaborative working relationship. ”

JESS President Cricket Curtain echoes the Superintendent’s remarks. “We appreciate the new administration making an investment in a positive working relationship that resulted in a settlement that acknowledges the dedicated work of our membership,” she says.

The JESS bargaining unit is the District’s second largest employee association, representing about 266 of its 662 staff members. JESS membership includes office and instructional support staff, school nurses, RALLY employees, as well as maintenance and custodial personnel. JESS is a local affiliate of the Alaska Public Employee Association and American Federation of Teachers.

The JESS membership is scheduled to vote on the new contract on November 22. The Juneau School District Board of Education vote will follow. Details of the contract will be released to the public as part of the school board’s action.

Walker ousts Parnell in Alaska gubernatorial race
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Independent candidate Bill Walker has won the Alaska governor's race after an aggressive challenge to Republican Gov. Sean Parnell.

Walker grabbed a slim lead on election night, but the race was too close to call until thousands of absentee and questioned ballots were counted this week.

Walker is the first candidate unaffiliated with a party since statehood to win the office. Walker, who finished behind Parnell in the 2010 GOP gubernatorial primary, bypassed this year's primary by gathering signatures to support an outside run. But he didn't change his party affiliation from Republican to undeclared until deciding to run with Democrat Byron Mallott.

Mallott won his party's nomination for governor, but a Walker-Mallott ticket was seen as more competitive. Walker and Mallott joined forces in early September.

State delays ferry policy restricting kids' travel
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The Alaska state ferry system is delaying implementation of a new policy that would require child passengers to be accompanied by authorized adults.

State transportation department officials say numerous people contacted the agency about difficulties the policy would create for families who have already scheduled travel, particularly for the holidays.

The policy was scheduled to take effect Nov. 20. It would have required passengers under 18 to be accompanied by a parent, legal guardian or an adult with notarized authorization from the child's caretakers.

Officials say the current policy will remain in place for now. The policy has different rules for minors, depending on their age, but allows people 16 or older to travel without restriction.

Spokesman Jeremy Woodrow says any future policy change would be announced long before implementation.

[Friday November 14th,  2014  11th  EDITION 5:21 P. M.]

Alaska's most active volcano starts erupting
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Alaska's most active volcano is spitting lava into the air and producing an ash cloud at low elevations.

The 8,262-foot Pavlof Volcano started erupting this week in a relatively uninhabited area of the Alaska Peninsula, about 625 miles southwest of Anchorage. The closest community is about 40 miles away.

Observers from that community, Cold Bay, reported seeing dark snow on the surface of the volcano Wednesday, indicating an eruption has started. The eruption intensified that afternoon and continued Friday.

An ash cloud from the volcano extends about 125 miles, but at a relatively low altitude of about 16,000 feet.

The Alaska Volcano Observatory says the eruption could continue for days, weeks or even months.

The volcano has had more than 40 eruptions, including earlier this year and last year.

Walker lead holds steady as ballot count continues
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Independent candidate Bill Walker's lead over Republican incumbent Sean Parnell in Alaska's gubernatorial race is holding steady as election workers continued counting at least 36,000 absentee and questioned ballots from the Nov. 4 general election.

Walker leads Parnell by about nearly 4,500 votes Friday, after elections officials updated the vote count.

Elections director Gail Fenumiai (feh-NEW'-me-eye) says votes also will be counted Monday through Wednesday as necessary.

Although Walker has not been declared the winner, his lead has grown since the count of absentee and questioned ballots began Tuesday.

On Wednesday, Walker introduced the co-chairs of his transition team. Walker said the team is being assembled in recognition of a constitutional deadline that the governor be sworn in Dec. 1.

Parnell has not conceded, saying the race is not over.

Hawaii beach re-opened after reported shark attack
WAILUKU, Hawaii (AP) — Officials say part of a beach in Hawaii has been reopened after a snorkeler reported being bitten by a shark.

The Department of Land and Natural Resources says the 50-year-old Homer, Alaska, man said he was attacked early Thursday afternoon.

The department says he reported he was snorkeling off Airplane Beach area of west Maui when he glimpsed a five-foot shark, felt a bump, and then immediate pain.

He swam to shore and was taken to a hospital and treated for a leg laceration. There was no further word on the seriousness of the injury or his condition. Officials aren't releasing his name.

The department closed the beach area until officials could assess the situation. The beach re-opened Friday after a helicopter flight over the area didn't spot any sharks.

Mt. Edgecumbe and Bartlett Regional only AK hospitals to receive “Chasing Zero” award
Only two hospitals in Alaska have won the "Chasing Zero"  award presented by Mountain-Pacific Quality Health. 

The SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital in Sitka and Bartlett Regional Hospital in Juneau received the award for maintaining zero Catheter Associated Urinary Tract Infections or CAUTI.

Michael Jenkins, SEARHC Communications Director, told News of the North, "In order to win a Chasing Zero Award, hospitals like SEARHC, must maintain a zero (CAUTI) for a full year. A (CAUTI) is what's called a catheter associated urinary tract infection. Bartlett Regional in Juneau was also a winner. There were nine other hospitals in Alaska up for it, so it's quite an honor for us to be a part of that."

Both of this year’s award winners maintained zero CAUTIs in 2012 and 2013, exceeding Mountain-Pacific’s requirements. Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital and Bartlett Regional Hospital were the only Alaskan hospitals to achieve this award out of the nine that were qualified.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), urinary tract infections (UTIs) are the most common type of healthcare-associated infection reported. UTIs can be extremely painful and may affect the kidneys, bladder or urethra.

Pictured L to R: Pat Giampa, CNO, Erin Goldhahn, RN, Joe Servito, RN, and Sherry Bell, AMS/ICU/ED Nurse Manager.

Walker lead grows as count of ballots resumes
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Independent candidate Bill Walker has widened his lead over Republican incumbent Sean Parnell in Alaska's gubernatorial race after election workers resumed counting at least 36,000 absentee and questioned ballots from the Nov. 4 general election.

Walker leads Parnell by about nearly 4,800 votes Friday, after elections officials updated the vote count.

Elections director Gail Fenumiai (feh-NEW'-me-eye) says votes also will be counted Monday through Wednesday as necessary.

Although Walker has not been declared the winner, his lead has grown since the count of absentee and questioned ballots began Tuesday.

On Wednesday, Walker introduced the co-chairs of his transition team. Walker said the team is being assembled in recognition of a constitutional deadline that the governor be sworn in Dec. 1.

Parnell has not conceded, saying the race is not over.

US rig count up 3 to 1,928
HOUSTON (AP) — Oilfield services company Baker Hughes Inc. says the number of rigs exploring for oil and natural gas in the U.S. rose by three this week to 1,928.

The Houston firm said Friday in its weekly report that 1,578 rigs were exploring for oil and 350 for gas. A year ago there were 1,762 active rigs.

Of the major oil- and gas-producing states, Ohio gained five rigs and New Mexico increased by three. Alaska, California, Louisiana, Utah, West Virginia and Wyoming each gained one.

Texas declined by four, Pennsylvania was down three and Kansas and Oklahoma dropped one apiece.

Arkansas, Colorado and North Dakota were unchanged.

The U.S. rig count peaked at 4,530 in 1981 and bottomed at 488 in 1999.

Stakeholder to sell holdings in Alaska rig
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority has announced plans to sell its ownership stake in a Cook Inlet rig, which will be transported to South Africa for offshore exploration , pending final approval.

The authority, set up by the Alaska Legislature to provide financing for businesses that expand the state economy, said Friday it and other owners have been unable to secure a long-term charter for the jack-up drilling rig, the Endeavor-Spirit of Independence.

The rig arrived from Singapore in 2012. Initial plans called for keeping it in Homer for a few days, but it wound up staying more than seven months because of delays and repairs.

The Endeavor is owned by Kenai Offshore Ventures, LLC, involving AIDEA and partners. The partnership plans to purchase AIDEA's shares.

Eagle River man charged with stabbing roommate
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Bail has been set at $30,000 for a 41-year-old Eagle River man suspected of stabbing his roommate.

Anchorage police say Hugh Jeffrey Perry is charged with felony assault and was wanted on a previous warrant.

Police just after 7:30 p.m. Thursday took a report of a stabbing outside an Eagle River home.

Officers found a man with multiple stab wounds and describe his injuries as "severe but non-life-threatening." He was transported a hospital.

Police were told the suspect drove off in a sport utility vehicle and was probably heading for the Matanuska-Susitna Borough.

Alaska State Troopers at the request of police found Perry at a home in Palmer, arrested him and transported him to Anchorage, where he remained jailed Friday.

Online court records did not list an attorney for Perry.

Juneau Police Crime of the Week
On November 7th, 2014, at about 9:30 in the evening, a resident of the 600 block of St. Ann’s Avenue in Douglas reported having been burglarized sometime in the last four hours. The suspect or suspects entered the unlocked home and took $800 in cash, and an iphone with a red and black case.

The suspect ransacked the house, pulling out drawers and dumping them. He or she opened pill bottles and threw pills around the residence.


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.

JPD drug arrest at local hotel
According to a Juneau Police release, on November 13th, 2014, at about 9:30 in the evening, officers of the Juneau Police Department served a search warrant on a room in a hotel in the 1800 block of Shell Simmons. 45 year old William B. Neal Jr, from California, was arrested.

The Juneau Police Department had received information that Neal was selling methamphetamine from the room. Narcotics officers applied for and received search warrants for the room and Neal. The JPD SWAT team participated in the warrant service due to Neal’s extensive criminal history out of California which includes assault with a firearm and multiple robberies. The SWAT team did use a diversionary device that twice created a loud boom and flash of light.

Investigating officers collected just under 93 grams of methamphetamine packaged for sale. The value of the drugs on the streets of Juneau is about $30,000. Officers also collected 116 morphine pills. Neal has been charged with misconduct in the 2nd degree, a class A felony, for the morphine pills. He was charged with misconduct in the 3rd degree, a class B felony, for the methamphetamine. Neal was also charged with maintaining a residence for the purpose of selling drugs, which is misconduct in the 4th degree, a class C felony. Neal was lodged at the Lemon Creek Correctional Center.

Neal’s female companion, who was in the room and detained during the investigation, was released without charges.

Smoother marketplace rollout expected
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Officials are expecting a much smoother rollout of the federally run online insurance marketplace than during last year's initial open enrollment.

Enroll Alaska, a broker that was established to help people sign up for private health insurance, is not expecting the same technological glitches that plagued the site after it launched in October 2013. Enroll Alaska went into the first enrollment period with a goal of signing up tens of thousands Alaskans, but it wound up enrolling only a fraction of that goal.

Joshua Weinstein, president of Northrim Benefits Group, said Enroll Alaska has continued enrolling individuals in policies since the first enrollment period closed earlier this year, through qualifying life events like marriages or births. The broker has watched as the site has improved and provided feedback on how to make it work better, he said. Enroll Alaska is a division of Northrim Benefits Group.

One bit of uncharted territory with the new open enrollment period that starts on Saturday will be the renewal process, Weinstein said. People who bought plans last year can be automatically renewed, but he said those plans might not be right for them anymore.

He recommends that consumers consider their options and update the information about their income, which could affect whether they receive federal subsidies to help pay for their plans.

Open enrollment is set to run from Saturday through Feb. 15. Those who don't get coverage face a penalty. People do not have to go through a broker and can sign up on their own.

Two providers offer plans on Alaska's exchange — Premera Blue Cross Blue Shield and Moda Health. Alaska's Division of Insurance has approved rate increases for the coming year for those companies ranging from 22 percent to 29 percent across all plans for Moda and 35 percent to 40 percent for Premera, citing factors such as the relatively small market, which has to support its claims, and high claims in the first half of 2014. The division was working to finalize rates for insurers not on the exchange.

It's reasonable to think that people might be more open to looking at plans on the exchange with the website working better, particularly those who are eligible for subsidies, Premera spokeswoman Melanie Coon said Thursday. The company also sees a potential in new customers who didn't enroll last year or had extended prior plans, she said.

"We have a strong focus on member retention since our members will receive notices this week about rate increases as a result of the risk profile of our membership," Coon said in an email.

Premera has urged the state to create a supplemental reinsurance program to help stabilize the market and spread high medical costs across the entire insured market.

Cherise Fowler, outreach and enrollment coordinator with the Alaska Primary Care Association, said subsidies should help offset the cost increases.

Nearly 13,000 Alaskans signed up for coverage during the prior enrollment period, which ran from Oct. 1, 2013, to March 31. About 88 percent of those who selected plans received subsidies, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reported in May.

"For those who don't qualify for subsidies, the increases could be hard to swallow," said Aimee Crocker, operations manager with Enroll Alaska. "The broker is helping people enroll in plans either on or off the exchange," she said.

Since October 2013, Enroll Alaska has enrolled an estimated 3,000 Alaskans in coverage, Crocker said. The broker would like to see those individuals re-enroll in plans and possibly enroll an additional 500 to 1,000 people.

Lawmakers approve more Capitol renovation work
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — State lawmakers have awarded a contract for continued renovations of the Capitol.

The Legislative Council on Thursday awarded a $27.2 million contract to Dawson Construction for earthquake retrofit and other renovations to the 80-year-old building.

The Legislative Council manages the legislature's internal budget and support staff.

Project architect Wayne Jensen says contractors are finishing work that began last year on a $6.5 million contract to upgrade the west wing of the building.

Work under the new contract will last for two years and should be finished in time for the start of the 2017 legislative session.

Besides making the Capitol earthquake resistant, the renovations will make the building more energy efficient and replace the façade. Pieces of the brick facade have fallen from the structure.

Volcano erupts on Alaska peninsula
Pavlof Volcano on the Alaska peninsula is erupting again.

The Alaska Volcano Observatory raised the alert level to "orange" Thursday after observing lava and ash spewing from the peak. Pavlof is considered one of Alaska's most active volcanoes. It erupted in June for about one week.

Although it was bad weather, not any volcano, that stranded travelers at the Kodiak airport. KTVA-11 reports that no flights were able to land in Kodiak for three days due to high winds and poor visibility.

Travelers who didn't choose to leave the island by ferry instead were able to fly out on Thursday.

Minimum wage increase due in March 2015
Even though a ballot initiative to raise Alaska's minimum wage passed by a comfortable margin, the increase will not take effect with the new year as intended.
The Alaska Dispatch reports that an increase from $7.75 to $8.75 per hour won't become law until next March. That's because ballot initiatives take effect 90 days after the election is certified, which is scheduled for November 28th.

The initiative had been drafted to raise the minimum wage as of January 1st, but it was also going to appear on the August Primary ballot. because the legislative session ran a few days long, all initiatives were bumped to the November ballot instead.

A further increase to $9.75 per hour can take effect in 2016 as planned, with future increases pegged to the rate of inflation.

About 16,000 Alaskans currently work for minimum wage.

Hawaii beach area closed after snorkeler reports shark attack
WAILUKU, Hawaii - Officials say part of a beach in Hawaii has been closed after a snorkeler reported being bitten by a shark.

The Department of Land and Natural Resources says the 50-year-old Homer, Alaska, man said he was attacked early Thursday afternoon.

The department says he reported he was snorkeling off Airplane Beach area of West Maui when he glimpsed a five-foot shark, felt a bump, and then immediate pain.

He swam to shore and was taken to a hospital and treated for a leg laceration. There was no further word on the seriousness of the injury or his condition.

The department says it closed the beach area until officials could assess the situation on Friday.

Sitka hosts grief support conference
SITKA, Alaska (AP) — A grief support conference is expected to draw participants from around southeast Alaska to Sitka.

The Daily Sitka Sentinel reports the first Southeast Alaska Regional Grief Support Conference begins Friday evening at the Sheldon Jackson campus. Sessions will be held all day Saturday, too.

The theme is "Living with Loss, Growing with Grief." The sponsor is Brave Heart volunteers, which worked with the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority on the conference.

Alaska election workers to resume count of ballots
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The winner in the close Alaska governor's race could be determined as early as Friday when election workers resume counting at least 33,000 absentee and questioned ballots from the Nov. 4 general election.

Independent candidate Bill Walker leads Republican incumbent Gov. Sean Parnell by about 4,000 votes.

Elections director Gail Fenumiai (feh-NEW'-me-eye) says votes also will be counted Monday through Wednesday as necessary.

Even though Walker has not been declared the winner, his lead has widened since the count of absentee and questioned ballots began Tuesday.

On Wednesday, Walker introduced the co-chairs of his transition team. Walker said the team is being assembled in recognition of a constitutional deadline that the governor be sworn in Dec. 1.

Parnell has not conceded, saying the race is not over.

[Thursday November 13th,  2014  11TH  EDITION 9:34 P. M.]

First official Walter Soboleff Day Friday
Today is the first official Dr. Walter Soboleff Day. Legislation passed during the 2014 Legislative session declaring the November 14th celebration.

Soboleff was born on this day in 1908. The native rights and spiritual leader died at age 102 in 2011.

In one of his last public appearances, Rev. Dr. Walter A. Soboleff gave laughter and advice while addressing the Alaska GOP Convention in Juneau in 2010:

There's a parade in his honor this morning at Marine Park at 10 AM, organized by the Alaska Native Sisterhood.

ADOT&PF Kicks Off Alaska’s Avalanche Awareness Month
The Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities (ADOT&PF) wants Alaska’s drivers to be avalanche aware as they travel the state’s highways this winter.

According to Matt Murphy, ADOT&PF avalanche specialist, most of the avalanches that affect Alaska highways occur between December and March. He urges Alaskans to be alert to avalanche area highway signs and stay safe when traveling.

Avalanche areas exist in every region of Alaska. Specialists monitor highway avalanche risk by tracking weather, terrain and snowpack conditions. Common conditions that increase avalanche hazards include significant amounts of new snow or rain, strong winds and rapid changes in temperature.

ADOT&PF recommends the following practices for drivers traveling in avalanche prone areas:

• Check 511.alaska.gov or call 511 for current road conditions before traveling.
• Do not stop in avalanche areas.
• Always travel with emergency supplies in case of extended road closures.
• Expect delays when ADOT&PF is conducting avalanche hazard reduction work.
If a driver encounters an avalanche affecting the highway, ADOT&PF recommends:
• Do not step outside the vehicle.
• Do not attempt to drive through the avalanche debris, regardless of size.
• Drive away immediately to a safe location outside the avalanche zone.
• Call 911 and report the avalanche to Alaska State Troopers.

For more information visit ADOT&PF’s Snow Avalanche Programs page.

New ordinance changes dates for open burning
Capital City Fire Rescue would like to remind residents about the open burning restrictions that are in effect from Nov. 1, 2014 through April 30, 2015.

If you live in the Lemon Creek or Mendenhall Valley areas, open burning is not authorized unless you are using a wood burning stove for your home heating source.

The restrictions are based on a DEC Air Quality regulation. Due to the cooler temperatures, the air inversion causes the smoke to bank lower to the ground causing air quality concerns and complaints from the smoke.

Open burning will be allowed next Spring starting on May 1, 2015.

There was a new ordinance passed earlier this summer that changed the open burning season to May 1 through September 30.

If you have any questions please contact the fire marshals office at 586-5322.

Man found hanging from tree in Anchorage lot
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Police are investigating the death of a man whose body was found hanging from a tree at the edge of a downtown Anchorage office building parking lot.

The body was found Thursday morning across 2nd Avenue from the entrance to the city's popular coastal trail.

Police spokeswoman Jennifer Castro says the death of the adult man appears to be a suicide with no apparent sign of foul play. She says, however, the investigation continues.

The body was partially hidden behind the branches of the large evergreen tree where it was found.

The state medical examiner will conduct an autopsy to determine the man's identity and cause of death.

Castro says the man had been wearing glasses and a red jacket.

Ketchikan man missing, thought to have reentered burning home
A Ketchikan man is missing and Alaska State Troopers think he may have fled back into his burning home.

There were reports of a house fire and a shooting on Blackberry Lane Wednesday evening just before 6:00. A homeowner, identified as Ralph Smith, 49, exited his residence, told a family member it was on fire, then drove down the road and parked his pickup in the road. Smith fired off a couple of shots from his shotgun. It is not believed that the shots were directed at anybody.

Witnesses were unable to establish where Smith went following firing the shots. The North Tongass Fire Department and Alaska Wildlife Troopers also responded to the scene and assisted in the search but Smith was not found. It is believed that Smith went back into the burning home and perished.

North Tongass Fire Department was able to extinguish the fire but the home is a total loss. Troopers remained on scene throughout the night to maintain scene security. A Deputy Fire Marshal responded to investigate. A search of the fire debris is ongoing in an attempt to locate Smith. The cause of the fire is under investigation as well as the circumstance surrounding the incident.

Smoother marketplace rollout expected
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Officials expect a much smoother rollout of the federally run online insurance marketplace than during last year's initial open enrollment.

A new enrollment period begins Saturday. Enroll Alaska, a broker established to help people get private health insurance policies, isn't expecting the same technological glitches that plagued the site last year.

Enroll Alaska is a division of Northrim Benefits Group. Joshua Weinstein is Northrim Benefits Group president.

Weinstein says one bit of unchartered territory will be the renewal process. He says people who bought plans last year can be automatically renewed, but he says those plans might not be right for them anymore.

He recommends consumers peruse their options. He says people also should update their income, which could impact whether they receive subsidies to help pay for their plans.

Pot-friendly states teaming up on Capitol Hill
WASHINGTON (AP) — Members of Congress from states with legal pot say their colleagues should not stand in the way of expanded legalization.

Democratic Rep. Earl Blumenauer of Oregon says ending marijuana prohibition was the "one clear winner" in the midterm elections. Voters in Alaska, Oregon and the District of Columbia approved ballot initiatives to legalize marijuana possession. Those states would join Colorado and Washington state, which already have legal pot.

Drug-reform advocates are planning to push legalization initiatives in California and other states in 2016. Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher of California says he expects voters in his state would approve an initiative.

Rohrabacher says Republicans who oppose reform of marijuana laws should "wake up and see where the American people are." Polls show a majority of Americans favor legalization.

Juneau service agency struggles to stay open
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — A longtime Juneau service agency is in debt and facing the potential of closing.

The nonprofit Southeast Alaska Guidance Association, or SAGA, has seen a recent turnover in staff due to resignations and layoffs. One of the board members says SAGA is $250,000 in debt.

SAGA has AmeriCorps members in several Alaska communities and works outdoors with young people. It has been looking for another organization to take over its AmeriCorps members.

The board's acting chairman, Matt Smith, says the board is fighting to keep SAGA running. But he said he doesn't know if it will be operating after this year.

Juneau considers increase in tobacco excise tax
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Municipal officials in Juneau are considering an increase in the city tobacco excise tax.

The assembly will consider increasing the excise tax on a pack of cigarettes from $1 to $3.

That's on top of a 5 percent general sales tax and a $2 per pack state tax.

Municipal finance director Bob Bartholomew says sales taxes historically have been put up for a public vote but it's not required with excise taxes, which seek a result other than revenue. He says the result sought is a change in smoking behavior.

Anchorage in 2015 is scheduled to have Alaska's highest municipal cigarette sales tax at $2.39 per pack.

Chicago smokers pay a combined city, county and state sales rate of $6.16 per pack, the highest in the country.Chicago smokers pay a combined city, county and state sales rate of $6.16 per pack, the highest in the country.

13 emaciated dogs seized from Girdwood home
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Animal control officers have seized 13 emaciated dogs from a home in Girdwood.

KTUU-TV reports officers on Wednesday also found a dog at the home that had died and may have starved to death.

Animal shelter spokeswoman Laura Atwood says the animal control office received a tip by email that the dogs were being neglected.

Officers accompanied by Alaska State Troopers visited the home Wednesday afternoon.

Troopers say they are investigating the matter as a possible animal cruelty case but have not filed charges.

The 13 dogs were taken to the animal shelter for care.

FBI: Alaska leads nation in rapes per capita
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The FBI's crime statistics for 2013 indicate Alaska leads the nation in rapes per capita.

The Alaska Dispatch News reports the FBI counted 922 rapes last year, a rate of 124.4 per 100,000 residents.

That's three times the national average.

The number has increased in part because the FBI has revised its definition of rape.

The agency's Uniform Crime Reporting program formerly included only women victims and now includes men.

FBI spokesman Kevin Donovan says the new definition also includes nonconsensual acts of sodomy and sexual assaults with objects.

Among the other statistics for Alaska in 2013 were 4,708 violent crimes. That included 3,218 aggravated assaults.

Police departments reported 34 murders and non-negligent manslaughters, 624 robberies, 2,916 burglaries and 21,210 property crimes.

State office seeks veterans' input in survey
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Alaska officials are seeking input from veterans in a needs assessment project with the University of Alaska Anchorage.

Department of Military and Veterans Affairs officials say they are working with UAA's Institute of Social and Economic Research to identify top issues for veterans through a survey.

Officials say the surveys were sent to 3,000 Alaska veterans and another 1,900 were sent to veteran posts for distribution.

The ISER survey is sponsored by the Alaska Office of Veterans Affairs. Officials say veterans' identities will be confidential and used to generate reports.

Office of Veterans Affairs director Verdie Bowen says such a needs assessment has never been done by the state.

Move planned for historical collections
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Reference room hours and services are being limited at the Alaska State Library's Historical Collections.

This is to allow for the majority of the collections to be moved to a vault in the new state libraries, archives and museums building in Juneau.

According to a news release, the move will take several months, during which time the reference room will be open from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays, with limited access to collections.

While online services will continue, response times could be slower, as staff will be involved in the move.

[Wednesday November 12th,  2014  14th  EDITION 9:59 P. M.]

Walker introduces co-chairs of transition team
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Bill Walker, the leading candidate for Alaska governor, has introduced former state Sen. Rick Halford and Ana Hoffman of Bethel as co-chairs of his transition team.

Walker, an independent, hasn't been declared the winner in the race, but has a 4,000-vote lead over incumbent Republican Gov. Sean Parnell — with at least 33,000 more votes to be tallied starting Friday.

Walker said Wednesday his team is being assembled in recognition of a constitutional deadline that the governor be sworn in Dec. 1.

At a press conference, Walker and his Democratic running mate Byron Mallott introduced Halford and Hoffman, co-chair of the Alaska Federation of Natives board of directors.

Parnell told supporters in an email Wednesday that "this race is not over."

Juneau Community Foundation announces philanthropy awards
Rick Shattuck, Juneau Community Foundation board member, tells News of the North, "We're honoring Philanthropist Of The Year, Paul Douglas and his works with the Douglas-Dornan Foundation."

Established in honor of Paul's son and daughter-in-law, Brian Douglas and Wythe Dornan, who died at the ages of 27 in an automobile accident in 1993, the Douglas-Dornan Foundation supports organizations dedicated to enhancing the health, education and welfare of individuals living in Southeast Alaska.

The Juneau Community Foundation is a local charitable organization established to make it easy for Juneau residents to make donations to charitable causes they feel strongly about, such as local recreation programs, schools, scholarships, social services, arts and humanities, or other nonprofit agencies. Find more information at www.juneaucf.org.

Shattuck, of Shattuck and Grummett Insurance, also said two businesses would be honored for their philanthropy, "Triplett Construction and Allen Marine for their generous donations to various projects in the community."

Troopers warn of underwear bandit
KODIAK, Alaska (AP) — An underwear bandit is actively stealing women's undergarments in Kodiak,

Alaska State Troopers say there's been a rash of burglaries reported lately. People have returned to their homes to find items — mostly women's underwear — missing.

Fisherman Hannah Clark tells Kodiak radio station KMXT that she began noticing items had been moved around in her home when she returned from fishing trips last summer. But she didn't connect those incidents to her missing underwear until she heard the news Wednesday.

Clark says she can't believe "there's an actual underwear bandit."

Clark jokes at least the thief has good taste after taking her recent $150 shipment from Victoria's Secret.

Troopers refuse to release details since it's an ongoing investigation. But they remind people to lock their homes.

Oil field services firm looks to sell Alaska unit
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A Denver-based company is looking to sell its oil field services unit in Alaska and Russia's Sakhalin Island.

CH2M Hill said Wednesday it has asked Bank of America Merrill Lynch to help exploring alternatives for the business unit that employs about 2,400 people.

The company's U.S. Managing Director Patrick O'Keefe says in a release posted on the company website that CH2M Hill intends to concentrate on expanding its engineering, consulting and program management services for its core markets, including water, energy, environmental and transportation.

CH2M Hill in 2007 purchased the Anchorage-based VECO Corp., the oil field services company whose founder and owner, Bill Allen, pleaded guilty to federal charges of bribing state lawmakers in exchange for votes favoring industry on oil legislation.

Man sentenced for possessing, creating kid porn
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — An Anchorage man convicted of sexual abuse of a minor and possession of child pornography has been sentenced to 12 years in prison.

The Alaska Dispatch News reports 45-year-old Kevin Dale Callander was sentenced Friday in state court to 24 years with 12 suspended.

He will be sentenced Dec. 22 in federal court for four counts stemming from sexually exploitive recordings made while he was on vacation — two for making child pornography and two for transporting illegal materials.

Assistant Attorney General Adam Alexander says Callander initially was investigated for possession of child porn but detectives found out he had filmed abuse of girls.

The state is seeking restoration from Callander for two classes of victims, the local girls and the children depicted in the child pornography Callander possessed.

Air Emergency in effect
Due to the temperature inversion which continues to exist in the Mendenhall Valley, the City and Borough of Juneau has issued an air emergency.

The area covered by this Emergency extends from the Airport north to the Mendenhall Glacier, west to Montana Creek, south along the east shore of Auke Lake and includes the east half of the Mendenhall Peninsula.

The emergency means that all woodstove and fireplace burning is prohibited except for pellet stoves.

For an update on the status of this Air Emergency, please call 586-5333.

State works to link veterans to jobs
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The state is working to help match military veterans with jobs in the public and private sector, through policy and job fairs.

Steven Williams coordinates employment for veterans with Alaska's labor department. He said a common challenge for service members leaving the military is feeling overqualified for civilian life.

Williams spent more than a decade in the National Guard and said while deployed he was trusted with equipment and other people's lives. He said a challenge in transitioning to civilian life is having a lot of experience but getting less responsibility.

Alaska has the highest number of veterans per capita in the country.

KSKA reports that state policy gives veterans priority at job centers and offers tax credits to employers.

A recent job fair was held in Anchorage.

Bethel winter shelter lacks volunteers
BETHEL, Alaska (AP) — Operators of a winter homeless shelter in Bethel say a lack of volunteers could affect the planned opening of the second season.

KYUK reports that early December is the targeted opening for the Bethel Winter House. The shelter first opened last winter, offering meals and overnight lodging to the homeless.

But Winter House president Eva Malvich says the shelter needs at least 60 volunteers to open. As of Monday, only 10 volunteers had been trained. Volunteers work twice a month.

Malvich says if enough volunteers haven't signed up by the end of the month, the shelter's board of directors will have to meet and decide whether it can open or not.

She says the shelter was run with 20 volunteers last year, and that wasn't enough.

Manokotak man convicted of killing VPSO
FAIARBANKS, Alaska (AP) — A Manokotak (man-oh-KOH'-tak) man has been convicted of killing a village public safety officer in 2013.

KTVF-TV reports a Dillingham jury late Tuesday afternoon convicted 44-year-old Leroy Dick Jr. of first-degree murder of a peace officer in the death of Officer Thomas Madole.

Sentencing is scheduled for March.

Manokotak is about 350 miles southwest of Anchorage

Madole was a former Assembly of God pastor in Bethel who became a patrol officer in 2011.

On March 19, 2013, he called Alaska State Troopers to say he was going to Dick's home to talk. About an hour later, troopers took calls of gunshots.

Officers from Dillingham flew to the village and found Madole's body outside Dick's home.

Sullivan defeats Begich in Alaska Senate race
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Republican Dan Sullivan spent Tuesday night checking election returns, hanging out with his family and watching the movie "Patton."

On Wednesday, he was on his way to Washington, D.C., as senator-elect, after defeating Democratic incumbent U.S. Sen. Mark Begich.

While thousands of absentee and questioned ballots remain to be counted in Alaska, results from Tuesday's count of about 20,000 ballots indicated that Begich could not overcome Sullivan's lead.

Begich on Wednesday refused to concede the race. His campaign manager says Alaskans deserve to have every vote counted. More ballots will be counted starting Friday.

Sullivan plans to take part in Senate organization meetings in Washington on Thursday, which is also his 50th birthday.
 

Updated, Unofficial General Election Results

US Senate

Begich, Mark DEM 111668 45.37%
Fish, Mark S. LIB 9026 3.67%
Gianoutsos, Ted NA 4725 1.92%
Sullivan, Dan REP 119579 48.58%
Write-in Votes   1132 0.46%

Governor/Lt. Governor

Clift/Lee LIB 7442 3.05%
Myers/Rensel CON 5899 2.41%
Parnell/Sullivan REP 113126 46.30%
Walker/Mallott NA 117130 47.94%
Write-in Votes   719 0.29%

Ballot Measure 2- Marijuana

Number of Precincts   441  
Precincts Reporting   441 100.0%
Times Counted   248561/509011 48.8%
Total Votes   243887  

YES   127639 52.34%
NO   116248 47.66%

UPDATE: Latest from Board of Elections
News of the North talked with Gail Fenumiai, Director of Elections for the state of Alaska this morning.
She provided us with this update.

"Yesterday we counted over 20,000 absentee and question ballots. We will resume our counts on Friday. Staff is still working hard state-wide in getting ballots processed. The absentee and question reviews boards are working hard going through the review process. Once that is done, getting them opened and ready for counting. We still have over 32,000 absentee and question ballots at this point and time that will continue to be counted beginning on Friday and then following Monday through Wednesday of next week as needed. "

Latest from Director of Elections
According to an email from Director of Elections, Gail Fenumiai these are the latest ballot counts through Tuesday tonight.

Full count absentee ballots: 19,933. There are also 2,982 partial count absentee ballots. We counted a little over 13,300 Tuesday night. We have counted over 23,800 absentee ballots since Election Day.

Outstanding absentee ballots (by-mail, online and fax only): 10,300

Questioned ballots: TOTAL REPORTED TO DATE: 16,172. At this point, 9,928 eligible for counting. We counted almost 4,100 Tuesday night.

Next count will be on Friday, November 14th.

Governor's race uncalled; Walker plans transition
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Bill Walker hasn't been declared the winner of the Alaska governor's race, but he's planning ahead just in case.

Walker, an independent, maintains a lead over incumbent Republican Gov. Sean Parnell after the state began counting absentee and questioned ballots on Tuesday.

Walker currently leads incumbent Republican Governor Sean Parnell by 4,000 votes.

The Associated Press will not be calling the race until more absentee and questioned votes are counted. Elections director Gail Fenumiai says votes also will be counted Friday, and then Monday through Wednesday as necessary.

However, Walker is planning for the transition to office and has scheduled a Wednesday news conference to name co-chairs of the team.

He says this is being done in recognition of a constructional deadline that the governor be sworn in on Dec. 1.

GOP win in Alaska adds to party's US Senate sweep
Republican Dan Sullivan has won Alaska's U.S. Senate seat in a hotly contested race.

He defeated first-term incumbent Mark Begich as voter disapproval of President Barack Obama swept Democrats out of office and allowed the GOP to seize control of the Senate.

Sullivan said in a statement that "my door will always be open to all Alaskans."

The Alaska contest was too close to call on Election Night, with Sullivan up by about 8,100 votes. It became evident Tuesday when the state began counting about 20,000 absentee and questioned ballots that Begich could not overcome his opponent.

Begich wouldn't concede the race early Wednesday morning. His campaign manager says there are still tens of thousands of outstanding votes from rural Alaskans.

LGBT equality rating in Alaska
The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, today released its third annual report assessing LGBT equality in 353 cities across the nation, including four in Alaska.

The 2014 Municipal Equality Index (MEI), the only nationwide rating system of LGBT inclusion in municipal law and policy, shows that cities across the country, including in Alaska, continue to take the lead in supporting LGBT people and workers, even when states and the federal government have not.

The average score for cities in Alaska is 28 out of 100 points, which falls below the national average of 59. Anchorage: 35, Fairbanks: 24, Juneau: 33, Sitka: 20.

Conservative Patriots Group calling it quits
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — The Conservative Patriots Group, a tea party-style organization based in Wasilla, is calling it quits.

In an email, president Steve St. Clair said financial limitations, administrative duties and government regulations had taken a toll on the volunteer-led group.

He said the group's board decided to end the Conservative Patriots' status as a for-profit corporation and suggested several like-minded organizations with which members might want to get involved.

St. Clair said in an interview that the group was going away in name only. He said its mission and agenda, pushing for things like limited government and individual liberty, would continue.

He said the difficulties included having to do multiple independent expenditure reports for an email mentioning numerous candidates and members being pulled in different directions.

Talkeetna man crashes in rare electric car
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A Talkeetna man driving a rare electric car was injured when the vehicle crashed on the Parks Highway.

Alaska State Troopers say ice was a factor Monday in the crash of a blue 2011 Tesla Roadster near Mile 85.

Troopers say 57-year-old Jack West was heading north at about 5:20 p.m. when he lost control on the icy road surface. The car was demolished.

Trooper spokesman Tim DeSpain says roads from Willow to Trapper Creek were "pure ice." West was wearing his seat belt and was treated at the scene for head cuts but was not taken to a hospital.

KTUU-TV reports the Tesla Roadster was Tesla Motors' first electric car. It could accelerate from zero-to-60-mph and carried a U.S. base price of $109,000. Production ended in 2011.

Anchorage adds firm to defendants in port lawsuit
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The city of Anchorage is suing a fourth company over problems with the Port of Anchorage expansion project.

The Alaska Dispatch News reports the municipality last week added GeoEngineers Inc. to the companies it's suing.

The others are the construction manager, Integrated Concepts and Research Corp., the port designer, PND Engineers Inc., and CH2M Hill Alaska Inc., the company that acquired Veco Alaska Inc. in 2007.

The municipality claims the companies failed to properly design, analyze and oversee the port expansion. The project has cost $300 million so far and could cost hundreds of millions more to complete.

The city is also suing the federal agency initially responsible for the project, the U.S. Maritime Administration.

The case is scheduled to go to trial October 2015.

VETERANS, WE SALUTE YOU!!!

[Tuesday November 11th,  2014  12th  EDITION 8:47 P. M.]

Walker retains lead in Alaska governor's race
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Independent candidate Bill Walker has widened his slim lead over Republican Gov. Sean Parnell in Alaska's tight gubernatorial race.

Alaska elections workers began counting more than 53,000 absentee and questioned ballots Tuesday.

With a little less than one third of those ballots counted by early evening, Walker was ahead by nearly 4,000 votes over Parnell among all ballots counted since the Nov. 4 election.

Elections director Gail Fenumiai (feh-NEW'-me-eye) says votes also will be counted Friday, and then Monday through Wednesday as necessary.

Also being closely watched is Alaska's U.S. Senate race. On election night, Republican challenger Dan Sullivan led first-term Democratic Sen. Mark Begich by about 8,100 votes.

Sullivan widened that lead by several hundred votes as election workers began counting the remaining ballots.

Alaska counts ballots that will decide Senate race
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Republican Dan Sullivan is maintaining his lead over Democratic Sen. Mark Begich in Alaska's U.S. Senate race.

Sullivan held an advantage of nearly 8,100 votes early Tuesday evening. Earlier in the day, election workers began counting about 50,000 absentee, questioned and early-voted ballots from last week's election.

The counting is expected to continue Tuesday night and then later this week.

Sullivan had extended his lead by several hundred votes Tuesday, before falling back to an edge comparable to the one he held on election night.

Republicans say Sullivan's lead is insurmountable. But Begich says every vote should be counted.

Alaska begins count of final votes for governor
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Alaska elections workers began counting more than 53,000 absentee and questioned ballots Tuesday that will decide who won the super-tight race between Republican Gov. Sean Parnell and independent challenger Bill Walker.

One week after the election, the race remained too tight to call, with Walker leading by roughly 3,000 votes.

Only a fraction of the remaining ballots are expected to be counted Tuesday. Elections director Gail Fenumiai (feh-NEW'-me-eye) says votes also will be counted Friday, and then Monday through Wednesday as necessary.

Fenumiai says no outcome is official until the election certification, which is targeted for Nov. 28.

Also being closely watched is Alaska's U.S. Senate race. On election night, Republican challenger Dan Sullivan led first-term Democratic Sen. Mark Begich by about 8,100 votes.

Alaska village without power for days
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The western Alaska village of Tuluksak (to-LOOK'-suk) has been without power for four days after a power plant failure.

KTUU-TV says the outage left 96 customers or households without electricity in the community of 380.

Residents are turning to woodstoves for heat. They are charging their phones at the village school, which has its own generator.

Power plant manager Willie Phillip says it's unclear when the power will return. He says replacement parts have been ordered.

The village is no stranger to going without electricity for days. Lifelong resident Willie Alexie says an outage lasted so long about two years ago that meat spoiled in freezers.

The outage is occurring as temperatures are warmer than usual. The area forecast for Wednesday calls for a high of 44 degrees.

Hawaii shipping company buys Alaska business
HONOLULU (AP) — The shipping company with the largest share of the Hawaii market is acquiring the Alaska operations of its competitor.

The companies said Tuesday that Matson Inc. will buy Horizon Lines, Inc. for $69 million. Matson will also acquire Horizon's debt.

Separately, Horizon will sell its Hawaii operations to The Pasha Group for $142 million and shut down its Puerto Rico business.

Horizon has been operating container ships to Alaska since 1964. The company serves Anchorage, Kodiak and Dutch Harbor.

Matson CEO Matt Cox says the deal is a rare opportunity to substantially grow the company's Jones Act business.

The Jones Act requires vessels shipping goods between states to have been built in the United States, be crewed and owned by U.S. citizens and fly the U.S. flag.

Committee to review questioned books
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — A committee is set to review four books that were approved as part of a new elementary curriculum in Juneau but whose content has been deemed offensive to Alaska Natives and Native Americans.

The four challenged books, assessed by a cross-cultural specialist with the Goldbelt Heritage Foundation, are part of a language arts curriculum set to be implemented this spring.

They are "Visit," ''Our Teacher the Hero," ''Continuing on" and "History Detectives."

Attendees at a recent Native Education Advisory Council meeting called for the removal of the texts, which were said to obscure the truth about the mistreatment of Native people.

School spokeswoman Kristin Bartlett said the challenged books were not included in the sample sent to the district last year.

Remains of Ice Age infants uncovered in Alaska
FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) — Researchers have uncovered the remains of two Ice Age infants in Alaska's interior, a discovery archaeologists call the youngest human remains of that era found in northern North America.

The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports the remains dating back about 11,500 years offer a new glimpse into ancient burial practices.

Researchers have explored a large sand dune for nearly a decade at a dig site known as the Upward Sun River southeast of Fairbanks.

In 2010, archaeologists found the partly cremated remains of a 3-year-old child. The remains of the infants were discovered last year about 15 inches below in the same area.

The newspaper reports that University of Alaska Fairbanks researcher Ben Potter details the 2013 discovery in a new report published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Alaska counts ballots to decide Senate race
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Alaska election officials are beginning to count thousands of outstanding ballots that will decide the U.S. Senate race.

Republican challenger Dan Sullivan led first-term Democratic Sen. Mark Begich by about 8,100 votes on election night. But about 50,000 absentee, questioned and early-voted ballots remained to be counted, starting Tuesday.

Republicans have said Sullivan's lead is insurmountable. Begich has said every vote should be counted.

While the race had been closely watched nationally because of its potential to help decide control of the Senate, that drama has been decided. The GOP has already picked up the seats it needs.

Also Tuesday, Alaskans hoped to get greater clarity on the governor's race. Incumbent Republican Gov. Sean Parnell trails independent candidate Bill Walker by about 3,000 votes.

Man sentenced to 46 years in stabbing death
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A 38-year-old Anchorage man convicted of second-degree murder has been sentenced to 46 years in prison.

The Alaska Dispatch News reports Joshua Wagner was convicted of stabbing a neighbor, Norman "George" Dennis, in October 2011.

Jurors at his trial in February rejected Wagner's claim of self-defense.

Wagner was living in a travel trailer parked near Dennis' rental home and had stored belongings in Dennis' garage.

A witness told police the men began fighting in Dennis' garage and that Wagner had a knife. Dennis was stabbed nine times but retreated into his home and locked the door before he collapsed. He died at a hospital.

Investigators said Wagner broke windows in the home, yelled that he was going to kill Dennis and sprayed a fire extinguisher into the home.

Governor Parnell Issues Veterans Day Message

Juneau, Alaska – Governor Sean Parnell issued the following statement in honor of Veterans Day:

“Today we celebrate our veterans and every day we honor them. On this 96th anniversary of the Armistice of 1918, which ended World War I, we remember our freedom has been bought at great price, and that freedom’s future is defended by those currently serving.

“As we survey the white stone markers of our military cemeteries, we find strength, resolve and gratitude. These remarkable individuals, and their families, are truly an inspiration to us all. We honor veterans for their courage, dedication, and love of country.

“Sandy and I encourage all Alaskans to pause for a moment this Veterans Day to honor the service and sacrifice of our veterans and service members. God bless the men and women of our armed forces and this great nation.”

Man sentenced for assaulting incapacitated woman
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — A Juneau man convicted of sexually assaulting a woman who had passed out in a downtown park has been sentenced to 15 years in prison.

Gilbert C. Willard was arrested after a witness in August 2013 called 911 to report that Willard had groped the intoxicated woman at Juneau's Marine Park.

At the sentencing hearing Friday, Superior Court Judge Louis Menendez described Willard as a man who "preys upon the defenseless" and is a danger to the public.

Assistant District Attorney Angie Kemp said Willard had a previous felony assault conviction and eight misdemeanor assault convictions. She recommended a 30-year sentence with 10 years suspended.

Judge Menendez sentenced Willard to 25 years in prison with 10 suspended.

French refunds campaign contributions, donates to charity
ANCHORAGE: In an unusual move at the end of an unusual campaign Alaska State Senator Hollis French (D-Anchorage) announced today that he will be returning over $30,000 of excess campaign funds to his contributors. Additionally, French intends to make contributions of $5000 to both the Boys and Girls Club of Alaska and the Alaska Democratic Party. Refund checks to donors will start going out at the end of this week according to French.

French's campaign for lieutenant governor came to an end with the formation of the Unity Ticket of Bill Walker and Byron Mallott. He worked with the Alaska Public Offices Commission to make certain that the disposal of his campaign funds was according to law.

"It isn't very often that you send money back to contributors," said French, "but this was anything but an ordinary campaign. The campaign funds I accumulated have to be distributed according to law and that's what I've done."

French will carry forward $50,000 of his campaign funds for a future campaign, which is allowed by statute.

Fairbanks man charged with impersonating officer
FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) — A Fairbanks man suspected of claiming to be a police officer to extort money from sex workers has been arrested.

Alaska State Troopers on Monday arrested 26-year-old Jase O. Connors.

The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports he's charged with felony counts of impersonating a public servant and attempted extortion.

He remained jailed Tuesday at Fairbanks Correctional Center with bail set at $5,000.

The troopers' Special Crimes Investigation Unit in August received a report of emails sent to Fairbanks sex workers that attempted to extort money.

In one email, the sender claimed to be a police officer.

Troopers interviewed Connors on Oct. 15. A grand jury indicted him Friday.

Archaeological find near Tanana River
The remains of two infants discovered at an archaeological site in interior Alaska are thought to be among the oldest human remains ever found in North America.

Archaeologists working at the Upward Sun River site near the Tanana River east of Fairbanks discovered the remains last year. They are thought to be 11,500 years old, dating to the end of the last Ice Age.

Other artifacts indicate humans began inhabiting Alaska as early as 14-thousand years ago.

UA-F researcher Ben Potter tells the Alaska Dispatch that the site is like a time capsule, giving clues to how ancient people lived and how they treated their dead.

State Wrestling Tournament moved over prayer
The State Wrestling Tournament for small high schools is changing location due to a complaint about a prayer.

Anchorage Christian Schools at Anchorage Baptist Temple has hosted the event for seven years, typically starting with a public prayer. The Alaska Dispatch reports that an attendee last year complained to a church-state separation group, which sent notice to the Alaska School Activities Association. The A-S-double-A board agreed that, as a government-sponsored event, a public prayer would violate the first amendment, even at a private religious school.

Rather than omit the prayer, Anchorage Christian Schools declined to host.

The wrestling tournament next month (Dec 12-13) will be held at Bartlett High School instead.

Lawmaker seeks to restrict pot initiative
With the marijuana legalization initiative passing, one state lawmaker is already thinking about how to implement it.

South Anchorage representative Bob Lynn said Monday he would introduce a bill to put some restrictions on the legal sale of marijuana. While the legislature cannot undo the ballot measure, Lynn says his bill would add regulations for areas that were not mentioned in the initiative.

Lynn says he would begin with three things: no marijuana sales within 500 feet of a school, church, or park; limited advertising for marijuana sales; and prohibiting felony convicts from working at a marijuana establishment.

Lynn says he did not support the initiative, but now it's up to the legislature to close the gaps in the law.

Autopsy ordered for man found in Juneau ditch
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — An autopsy has been ordered for a 63-year-old man whose body was found submerged in the water of a deep ditch in Juneau.

Juneau police say in a statement that the body of 63-year-old Gregory Dockery was found Sunday across the street from Twin Lakes Park.

There were no apparent injuries on the body that would have led to his death, and police continue to investigate.

Police say Dockery lived and moved between a variety of communities, including Juneau and St. Petersburg, Florida.