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[Tuesday, April 15, 2014 11TH  EDITION 5:45 P. M.]

Colorado man to lead Juneau's hospital
The Bartlett Regional Hospital Board of Directors has hired a chief executive director.

Charles "Chuck" Bill of Durango, Colorado, will begin the job effective May 12.

Bill has served as the assistant administrator of Physician Development at Centura Health Physician Group in Durango since July of 2013. He has twenty plus years of health care experience prior to that.

Bill will be paid an annual salary of $315,000. He'll also receive a signing bonus of $31,500 and a relocation package of $31,500.

Additional incentives may be paid on an annual basis based on healthcare industry performance metrics at the discretion of the board, according to a release from the hospital.

Superintendent salary figure set as search begins for Gelbrich's replacement
As the search begins to replace Juneau School District Superintendent Glen Gelbrich, the School Board has decided to bump the annual salary to $162,000.

That was the recommendation of a board search committee to the full body, according to Board President Sally Saddler

Saddler says the search committee compared salaries of superintendents from around the state and some Pacific Northwest communities.

She says they sought to strike a balance. They wanted to make it wasn't so low that it would screen out good candidates or so high that it would be something the district couldn't afford.

Saddler said on Action Line Tuesday that Gelbrich was hired at a salary of $150,000.

He accepted a $5,000 raise at one point but declined a two percent hike in subsequent years.

If he would have accepted the raises, Saddler says Gelbrich would be making about $168,000.

Forums that seek public input into the search for a new superintendent are on tap this week.

Two on Wednesday evening from 6:30 to 7:30 are scheduled in the libraries of both high schools.

There's another scheduled for Thursday evening at the same time at the D-Z Middle School Library.

Saddler says ideally they would like to have a new superintendent on board by July 1. Gelbrich's resignation is effective June 30th.

Work to continue by planners on wireless tower plan & ordinance
The Planning Commission continues work on the draft wireless tower plan and ordinance this evening.

Community Development Director Hal Hart says a work session begins at 5 p.m.

The panel will convene at special meeting at 7 where public testimony will be accepted.

After that, Hart says the panel has the option to work on its recommendation to the Assembly or continue the meeting to a future date.

The Assembly imposed a moratorium on the erection of new towers unless they're needed for public safety until May 19th.

Assembly updated on flood plain mapping, economic development plan & housing
The Assembly Committee of the Whole heard updates on various topics at its meeting last night.

One was on the flood plain mapping by the Federal Emergency Management Agency that would have had a costly impact to some Juneau residents as originally drafted.

The Community Development Department has been working with the 265 property owners who saw increases in their insurance coverage or could not obtain insurance at all.

Deputy Mayor Mary Becker said they were informed that more than sixty housing units have come out of the flood zone due to more accurate mapping. Work continues on that matter, she says.

The committee was updated on work to date on the Assembly's goal of crafting a ten year economic development plan. Members were told of a survey of 400 households that has been completed. A further update from the McDowell Group is due in June, according to Becker.

The housing group empanelled by the Assembly to explore construction of additional affordable housing in the community addressed the panel. Becker said the group had positive things to say about the improved permitting process by the Community Development Department.

The group recommended that they be part of a peer review when subdivision standards are updated.

The Assembly was told more needs to be done to encourage the construction of starter homes. The Assembly was told no homes considered starter homes were sold in the last year.

On another matter, the Assembly approved sending a letter to the State Senate and House in support of the Governor's bill that proposes using $3 Billion of savings to pay down the unfunded retirement mandate.

Hughes apologizes for news release headline
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Alaska House members apologize for a news release on a breastfeeding initiative that had the words "smart and sexy" in the headline.

HCR18 sponsor Rep. Shelley Hughes said she intended to draw attention to the issue but not the kind it garnered.

She apologized Tuesday for the "poor choice of words" and said she was sorry if she offended anyone.

She and House Speaker Mike Chenault took responsibility for the news release, sent from the majority office Monday after legislative passage of the resolution. It was intended to support and recognize benefits of breastfeeding but wound up spawning jokes, some off-color.

Hughes, in the Monday release, said the Legislature is fond of natural resource development and it's time to "endorse the extraction of this God-given, abundant and renewable natural resource."

Gov's pension plan gets municipal support
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Municipal leaders on Saturday expressed support for Gov. Sean Parnell's approach to addressing the state's unfunded pension obligation.

They also supported keeping the municipal contribution to the public employees' retirement system at its current level. Municipal leaders feared lawmakers would propose raising the local contribution, though no such proposal has been made.

During a House Finance Committee hearing Saturday afternoon, mayors, assembly members and borough finance directors praised Parnell's plan to move $3 billion from savings toward addressing the public employees' and teachers' retirement systems.

Committee co-chair Rep. Alan Austerman, R-Kodiak, said if the municipal share went up, that would help with upfront payments toward the liability. But he said municipalities weren't stepping forward and offering to do so. He said this is not just the state's liability.

Assembly committee exploring ways to keep pool and gym open
Whether to repair two facilities on City Manager Kim Kiefer's list for closure to help balance the city budget was before the Assembly Public Works and Facilities Committee Monday.

One was the Augustus Brown Pool where repairs could run from $5 to $10 Million.

Committee Chair Randy Wanamaker says they're waiting for a report from Architect Wayne Jensen before deciding what to do. He says that report is expected in July.

From that report, he says the Assembly can make a decision on the long term outlook for the facility and decide whether it should be renovated, replaced or closed.

It's estimated $200,000 will be needed for repairs at the Mt. Jumbo Gym.

When asked why fix it, if it's to be closed, Wanamaker said no firm decision has been made on its closure.

He says its a management recommendation at this time and the Assembly is looking at all of the options. So he says everything is still on the table.

Wanamaker says that project will be discussed at Wednesday night's meeting of the Assembly Finance Committee.

Revised sailings for Kennicott
Due to a high volume of traffic, the Kennicott departed Kodiak Monday approximately 7 hours behind schedule.

The vessel will sail a revised schedule this week.

The ferry will resume its previously published schedule Thursday departing Ketchikan en route to Bellingham, Wash.

An updated schedule is available at FerryAlaska.com. AMHS staff is contacting affected passengers.

Explosion on Shell Simmons Drive injurers one
There was an outside gas or vapor combustion explosion Sunday morning on Shell Simmons Drive.

Capital City Fire Rescue was dispatched just after 6:00 A.M. in response to the explosion and for emergency medical services. One patient was transported to Bartlett Regional Hospital for further care.

Approximately 2-3 gallons of ethylene glycol had exploded in the area. The spill was contained and the agency was advised to finish cleaning the area.


Inmate found dead at Eagle River women's jail
EAGLE RIVER, Alaska (AP) — A 24-year-old inmate at a women's prison has been found dead in her cell.

The Alaska Bureau of Investigations Major Crimes Unit announced Monday that the inmate was found dead last Thursday in her cell at Hiland Mountain Correctional Center in Eagle River.

Correctional officers found Amanda Kernak of Kokhanok unresponsive during a routine security check at 1:35 a.m.

A release says lifesaving efforts weren't successful.

Authorities say no foul play is suspected, and the State Medical Examiner's Office took custody of the body. Her next-of-kin have been notified.

A Department of Corrections spokeswoman says Alaska State Troopers are investigating Kernak's death.


Family seeks answers in Alaska inmate's death

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A 20-year-old California parolee found dead in his Alaska jail cell was being held even though his case had been dismissed more than a week earlier.

The Alaska fugitive case against Davon Mosley of Bakersfield, Calif., was dropped March 27 after California authorities declined extradition.

Mosley was arrested in Anchorage March 16 on a fugitive warrant from California. He died April 4.

Department of Corrections spokeswoman Kaci Schroeder declined to comment, saying the death is under investigation.

His fiance, Vernesia Gordon, said officials kept her from visiting Mosley after March 23. Gordon also says Mosley, who was schizophrenic and bipolar, told her he wasn't allowed to take his medications.

Gordon has hired a lawyer to investigate.

Mosley served 14 months in California after attacking family members with a machete.

Mallott calls for Parnell to veto SB 49
Democratic Candidate for Governor Byron Mallott is calling on Governor Parnell to veto the measure that further defines medically necessary abortions for purposes of Medicaid funding.

Senate Bill 49 cleared the Legislature this week.

Mallott says the bill blatantly ignores Alaskan's constitutional right to privacy. He says determining when an abortion is necessary should be a matter between a woman and her doctor.

Enforcement of identical language in state regulations has already been put on hold by a court. The case is going to trial on April 29th.

Unless Governor Parnell vetoes the bill, Mallott says the state will inevitably end up in more costly litigation.

House panel advances governor's pension plan
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — The House Finance Committee has advanced Gov. Sean Parnell's plan for addressing the state's pension obligation.

It's not clear whether that's the plan lawmakers ultimately decide to go with. The Senate Finance Committee is also studying the issue.

Parnell proposed moving $3 billion from savings toward addressing the public employees' and teachers' retirement system with about $1.9 billion of that going toward the public employees system. The plan calls for $500 million annual payments after that.

The state is currently on a schedule that calls for escalating payments on pace to exceed $1 billion. Parnell's plan would lower those payments.

Family members testify in Kodiak homicide case
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The sister and brother-in-law of a Kodiak man charged with killing two Coast Guard communication station co-workers say he became irate when the topic of their deaths came up two months later.

Theresa and Donald Kiele (KEE'-lee) says James Wells became animated and said the dead men were incompetent and not qualified to work in the shop were antennas were built and repaired.

The Kieles testified Tuesday in the trial of Wells, who's charged with two counts of murder in the deaths of Richard Belisle (BEL'-eye-ul) and James Hopkins on April 12, 2012.

Prosecutors say they were shot shortly after beginning work.

Wells claims he was delayed by a flat tire. Prosecutors contend he drove to the shop in his wife's sport utility vehicle, shot the men and returned home.

Air ambulance bill passes House
The State House approved Senate legislation Tuesday relating to air ambulance service providers, including membership agreements and regulation of air ambulance service providers.

SB 159 will allow the continuation of the Airlift Northwest membership program that was in place for several years.

The State Division of Insurance found the company no longer operated under a business model that met exemptions provided under state law.  Juneau Representative Cathy Munoz said during her floor speech that the company is currently organized as  a non-profit medical provider under the University of Washington.

The bill was approved on a unanimous 35 to 0 vote. It was also approved unanimously by the Senate.

SB 159 must go back to the Senate where it will be asked to concur with House changes.

If it doesn't differences would be ironed out in a conference committee.

Legislature passes bill on AGDC appointment
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — The Alaska Legislature has passed a measure allowing out-of-state residents to serve on the board of a corporation that could play a key role in a major liquefied natural gas pipeline project.

The Senate's 13-7 vote makes clearer the way for Richard Rabinow, a former pipeline company executive from Texas, to serve on the board of the Alaska Gasline Development Corp.

Gov. Sean Parnell appointed Rabinow last September and has defended the appointment as falling within his discretion under the constitution. Rabinow faces confirmation Thursday.

Supporters of HB383, including House Speaker Mike Chenault, have said it was an oversight to not explicitly allow for out-of-state residents to serve on the board. They say they want the best people possible to serve.

Opponents say Alaskans should make policy decisions for Alaskans.

Huggins: Late Saturday target to finish work
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Senate President Charlie Huggins says lawmakers are aiming to complete their work by Saturday night.

Sunday is the scheduled end of the 90-day session, but that's Easter. Legislative leaders have said they'd like to complete their work before then, if possible.

There are several major pieces in play, including the budgets and bills dealing with education, the state's unfunded pension obligation and setting the state's participation rate in a major liquefied natural gas project.

Also pending is a bill to raise Alaska's minimum wage. The House narrowly passed such legislation Sunday, amid questions of lawmakers' motives. Voters are scheduled to vote on a similar measure later this year.

Huggins says the bill would need to have the votes to reach the Senate floor. He said that could be a challenge.

Fairbanks releases more info on super's leave
FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) — Fairbanks North Star Borough School District officials say the superintendent was placed on leave earlier this month while authorities investigate how the school handled an alleged sexual abuse case involving an employee.

The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports the investigation began after a high school tutor was charged late last month with sexual abuse of a minor, allegedly on school property.

The school district April 7 placed Superintendent Pete Lewis on leave, but declined to say why. The district said at the time, and reiterated Monday, it's not a disciplinary action.

Board President Heidi Haas released more information Monday before another closed-door session.

She says the board was going into executive session to investigate liability exposure issues. She said these covered the "alleged abuse, negligent hire, retention and supervision claims."
(Fairbanks Daily News-Miner)

Young rival Dunbar raises nearly $17K in quarter
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Democratic U.S. House hopeful Forrest Dunbar has reported raising nearly $17,000 during the first quarter of this year.

Dunbar reported having about $27,000 on hand as of March 31. He also reported a $12,000 debt to the state Democratic party for campaign help.

Dunbar is seeking his party's nomination for the seat that's been held by Republican Rep. Don Young since 1973.

Young reported bringing in more than $77,000 between January and March and ending the quarter with nearly $700,000 on hand.

Alaska Seaplanes announces expansion to Sitka.
Alaska Seaplanes will initiate twice-daily scheduled IFR (Instrument Flight Rules) service between Kake and Sitka, with fares starting at $149. Service between Juneau and Kake will also be expanded, with a third mid-day roundtrip offering increased flight options for Kake passengers.

The move intends to meet demand in Kake passenger traffic, which has grown steadily over the last two years as a result of Alaska Seaplanes’ migration to larger Piper Chieftain and Cessna Caravan platforms for a majority of flights in and out of Kake.

Alaska Seaplanes is the only scheduled operator of IFR capable commuter aircraft in the Juneau market.

The expanded flight schedules are set to begin on May 24th.

Car expert testifies in Kodiak double homicide
DAN JOLING, Associated Press
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — An expert in Honda vehicles says he's 70 percent sure that a blue car seen driving by a murder scene at a Kodiak Coast Guard communication station was one of his company's compact sport utility vehicles.

Honda technical specialist Neil Schmidt testified Tuesday in the trial of James Wells, who's charged with shooting co-workers Richard Belisle (BEL'-eye-ul) and James Hopkins on April 12, 2012.

Wells claims he was delayed driving to work that day by a flat tire on his pickup.

Prosecutors contend Wells drove to the airport, switched into his wife's blue Honda CRV, drove to the communication station and shot his co-workers.

A blurry security video shows a blue vehicle driving by the building at 7:08 a.m. and heading in the opposite direction five minute later.

Foot chase causes trooper and suspect to fall through ice
Alaska State Troopers received a 911 call reporting a male seemed to be impaired at Hamilton's Store in Cooper Landing Sunday afternoon around 5:45.

The male was seen leaving in a silver sedan, heading northbound towards Anchorage. The vehicle was stopped at mile 37.5 of the Seward highway.

The male passenger was identified as Jacob McGrew, 36 of Minnesota, and was confirmed to have an extraditable warrant out of Minnesota. McGrew refused to cooperate and fled on foot where he ran through a swamp and fell through the ice. The Trooper also broke through the ice.
The water was about waist deep. The Trooper was able to apprehend McGrew.

McGrew was transported by Cooper Landing EMS to Central Peninsula Hospital in Soldotna to be evaluated before being remanded. The Trooper was not injured and did not need medical attention.

Alaskan Pulitzer Prize winner for music
The 2014 Pulitzer Prize winner for music is John Luther Adams. a onetime executive director of the Northern Alaska Environmental Center.

The Alaska-based composer and author's work has long been inspired by the natural world he's experienced, and the Pulitzer committee was attracted to the real-world feel of "Become Ocean," which was informed by the waters off the coast of Alaska and the Pacific Northwest.

The committee said the composition is a "haunting orchestral work that suggests a relentless tidal surge, evoking thoughts of melting polar ice and rising sea levels." The piece was commissioned by the Seattle Symphony, which debuted the work in June.

The 60-year-old has taught at Harvard University, The Oberlin Conservatory and the University of Alaska. He has also been a composer in residence with the Anchorage and Fairbanks symphonies and Arctic Chamber Orchestra.

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

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

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

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

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

Forums scheduled and online survey available to provide input on superintendent search
The public is being asked by the Juneau School Board to weigh in on the search for a new superintendent of schools.

The opening comes with the resignation of Superintendent Glenn Gelbrich which is effective June 30.

Three forums are planned this week.

A release from the school district says community involvement in the forums and feedback from an online survey help guide the selection of a superintendent.

Two of the forums are set for Wednesday evening. They will be held at the libraries at Juneau Douglas and Thunder Mountain High Schools from 6:30 to 7:30.

The other is Thursday evening from 6:30 to 7:30 in the Dzantik'i Heeni Middle School Library.

The online survey will be available until 8 a.m. on Friday.
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https://www.surveymonkey.com/sQY2YGRG

Savoonga carver dies in Nome
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A well-known carver from Savoonga has died after he was hit while walking in Nome.

The Anchorage Daily News reports that 54-year-old Wagner Wongittilin was hit by sport-utility vehicle at the intersection of Fifth Avenue and Bering Street around 1 a.m. Saturday. He was pronounced dead at a local hospital shortly after.

Authorities say the driver of the SUV had abandoned the vehicle, but came back to the area a short time later to report the accident to police.

Police say in a release that charges are pending following a review by the district attorney's office.

Full lunar eclipse delights Americas, event witnessed in Juneau
MARCIA DUNN, AP Aerospace Writer
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP & KINY) — Sky-gazers in North and South America were treated to a full lunar eclipse — at least those fortunate enough to have clear skies.

The moon was eclipsed by the Earth's shadow early Tuesday, beginning around 1 a.m. EDT for 5 ½ hours. The total phase of the eclipse lasted just 78 minutes. He says it pretty much presented itself as a quarter moon.

Meteorologist Rick Fritsch says staff at the Juneau Forecast Office on Back Loop Road had a chance to see it through a thin overcast at about 10:30 Monday night.
For some, the moon appeared red-orange because of all the sunsets and sunrises shimmering from Earth, thus the name "blood moon."

It's the first of four eclipses this year and the first of four total lunar eclipses this year and next. In the meantime, get ready for a solar eclipse in two weeks.

NASA got good news Tuesday: Its moon-orbiting spacecraft, LADEE (LA'-dee) survived the eclipse. Scientists had feared LADEE might freeze up in the cold darkness.

Kuskokwim ice not thick enough for auto travel
BETHEL, Alaska (AP) — It may be that time of the year where you need to keep your automobiles off the Kuskokwim River.

KYUK reports the river ice is melting enough that conditions could be dangerous for heavy vehicles.

Kwethluk village public safety officer Max Olick says the river is not safe enough for autos, and he urged caution when people are traveling.

If people do intend to travel on the river, they should inform others of their travel plans.

He says there is standing water on the river and pot holes.
(KYUK-AM)

Kansas church plans Alaska Native center protest
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A Topeka, Kan., church known for protesting at the funerals of soldiers says it plans to picket the Alaska Native Heritage Center on June 1.

The Westboro Baptist Church says in an online flyer published Sunday that it plans to send protesters to the center because "God hates your idols."

The Anchorage Daily News says the plans are triggering talk of a counter protest, prompting a Facebook group to launch for that purpose.

The Westboro flyer says there is nothing "appealing or holy about the 'heritage' of eleven 'distinct cultures' or 'diverse population' of Alaska."

Church members are known for holding protests at funerals to highlight their belief that God is punishing the nation for its acceptance of homosexuality, regardless of whether the deceased person was gay.
(Anchorage Daily News)

Developers eye Anchorage site for housing project
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Developers from California are planning to build an upscale housing complex in Anchorage at the current site of a mobile home park.

The Anchorage Daily News says the group is seeking to break ground next summer at the 30-acre Riviera Terrace Mobile Home Park in east Anchorage.

The plan calls for four construction phases of row houses and apartments, with a total of 450 housing units.

Cameron Johnson, one of the developers, says his group passed on as many as 40 other properties before purchasing Riviera Terrace two months ago. He says the developers recognize the heavy demand for housing in Anchorage.

Kristine Bunnell, a senior city planner, says the developers plan to submit an application next month to have the property rezoned for the density they are proposing.
(Anchorage Daily News)

Wounded Alaska based soldier to run Boston Marathon with prosthetic leg
TACOMA, Wash. (AP) — A member of Fort Wainwright's Stryker Brigade who lost his leg in combat plans to run in the Boston Marathon next Monday.

The Tacoma News-Tribune reports that Edward Lychik plans to run on a new prosthetic leg with a team honoring the memory of an 8-year-old boy killed in last year's blast.

 

' 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.