Colorado man to lead Juneau's hospital
The Bartlett Regional Hospital Board of Directors has hired a chief
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
The water was about waist deep. The Trooper was able to apprehend
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
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
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
Parent members must have a son or
daughter enrolled at JD in the 2014-15 school year. Community
members may or may not have a student enrolled at JD.
Interested people should submit a
brief letter of intent to the JDHS main office by 3:45 on Friday,
May 2. Details and a form are available at
Elections will be held at the monthly
May Site Council meeting, Monday, May 5, 5-7 pm in the JDHS library.
Nominees are invited to give a brief statement and participate in
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.
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 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
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
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
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.
Kansas church plans Alaska Native center
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
The Anchorage Daily News says the plans are triggering talk of a
counter protest, prompting a Facebook group to launch for that
The Westboro flyer says there is nothing "appealing or holy about
the 'heritage' of eleven 'distinct cultures' or 'diverse population'
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
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
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
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.