Juneau residents call for increasing
education and revenue sharing funding
Juneau residents provided the House Finance Committee an earful
today (Tuesday) on its proposed $9.1 Billion operating budget for
next fiscal year.
They included School Board member Andi Story who called for
increased funding for education.
She told the committee if funding is not increased the school
district will be cutting $4.7 Million which will eliminate 34 jobs.
Story said the school district has cut $11.5 Million and pared 100
jobs in the last five years.
Jennifer Lindley, member of the Juneau School District's Budget
Committee, said it has been a daunting task cutting the budget. She
said they are being forced to choose between keeping teachers
employed or purchasing new curriculum. She told the panel they need
City and Borough of Juneau Finance Director Bob Bartholomew
addressed the committee's decision to reduce municipal revenue
sharing. In the case of Juneau, he said it would be a loss of
He said that funding is currently allocated to road maintenance. The
reduction in that work which would be necessary he says would add to
the local government's deferred maintenance challenge.
Bartholomew also urged committee support for the $3 billion that the
Governor proposed be transferred from savings to help pay down the
state's unfunded pension liability.
The committee dropped the Governor's request from the operating
Lawmakers have not yet decided how to address that issue. Committee
Co-Chair Alan Austerman invited Bartholomew back to testify on what
ever piece of legislation they offer on that issue.
Mayor questions ability to increase CBJ
education funding if local cap is expanded
The Juneau Assembly is supporting the local school district in its
call for additional state funding of education.
But it would, in turn, raise the level of funding the local
government could contribute to the district.
Mayor Merrill Sanford was asked on Action Line Wednesday about the
prospect of lifting the ceiling on the local cap.
He assumes the Assembly would try to fund to the cap. In the past,
the mayor says they have always funded to the cap and beyond.
But if it means another three to four million dollars in the next
two year budget cycle, the mayor said he's not sure they could do
that given the budget challenges the Assembly faces.
House Finance balks over planned
exiting exit exam
BY MIKE COPPOCK, Associated Press
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — The House Finance Committee expressed concern
Tuesday over how the Alaska Department of Education and Early
Development would terminate the high school exit exam under a bill
The bill, sponsored by Rep. Pete Higgins, a Republican from
Fairbanks, would phase out the high school exit examination. It
would also give 2,272 Alaskans holding a letter of achievement until
June 2015 to take the test. It would cost the state about $1.4
million to extend the contract with the company that performs the
Rep. David Guttenberg, a Democrat from Fairbanks, said the students
in question already have met curriculum requirement. That means they
could receive a diploma without taking the test, and that could save
the state money.
The bill was held by the committee.
Concerns that bill could create new
BY MIKE COPPOCK, Associated Press
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Members of the House Education Committee have
expressed concerns that allowing for non-profits and others to
authorize charter schools could lead to more school districts.
The bill, from Republican Rep. Lynn Gattis, would grant chartering
authority to government agencies, education-related nonprofits and
accredited post-secondary institutions. Currently, the authority
rests with local school districts.
Gattis told the committee her intent was to debate aspects of her
bill and take from it elements that can be incorporated into Gov.
Sean Parnell's omnibus education bill, also before the committee.
Rep. Paul Seaton, a Republican from Homer, said Gattis' bill would
create new school districts.
Both bills remain in committee.
Committee advances bill rejecting pay raises
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — The House Finance Committee has advanced a
bill that would reject pay raises for the governor, lieutenant
governor and main department heads.
SB125 was moved from committee without objection Tuesday.
The bill would reject pay raises that were recommended by the State
Officers Compensation Commission as a way for those offices to catch
up with pay increases for other executive-branch employees.
It has already passed the Senate.
House committee moves officer firearms bill
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — The House Finance Committee unanimously moved
a bill Tuesday allowing for village public safety officers to carry
a firearm while on duty.
The bill, sponsored by Rep. Bryce Edgmon, a Democrat from
Dillingham, was in response to an officer being killed in the line
of duty last year.
If passed, the program for sending the village officers through the
Alaska State Troopers Academy in Sitka could begin as early as March
The officers are employees of nonprofits and are not state
employees. They are under the supervision of the Alaska State
Troopers. Under the bill, nonprofits are allowed to have their
officers carry firearms.
The role of a village officer is seen as a first responder to a
village's emergency needs.
The bill moves to the House Rules Committee.
Huggins defends committee assignment process
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Senate President Charlie Huggins says
committee assignments for bills are not based on who is sponsoring
Senate Minority Leader Hollis French last week raised the issue of
French noted that his proposed constitutional amendment to strike
down Alaska's ban on same-sex marriage received three committee
referrals, compared with two for proposed constitutional amendments
on education and a change in the makeup of the Alaska Judicial
French also noted the gas line bill received two committee referrals
in the Senate.
In response to a reporter's question Tuesday, Huggins said people
who want to be victims can characterize themselves as victims.
French said he didn't see the news conference. But he said nearly
all bills that have been referred to three committees have come from
Measure to eliminate film production tax
credit panned during committee testimony
A piece of legislation proposing to repeal the state's film
production tax credit attracted the wrath of Alaska filmmakers
during a House Finance Committee hearing this morning.
They included Cinematographer Steven Rychetnik of Sprocket Heads in
He says such a move could be viewed by studios and producers who
want to work in Alaska as risky, confusing, and unsure.
Rychetnik added that he'll be in Los Angeles in two weeks time to
talk to studios and producers about projects they want to bring to
Alaska, but he's not sure what to tell them.
The Finance Committee held HB 112 for further discussion.
Application deadline extended for
Tongass Advisory Committee
The Alaska Region of the Forest Service has extended the deadline to
submit applications to serve on Tongass Advisory Committee.
The agency's Wendy Zirngibl says it's been extended until March
14th, but its not due to a lack of interest.
She says they are getting a good amount of interest.
The Federal Register Notice appeared slightly ahead of schedule, so
she says they lost about a week of outreach time at the beginning of
the application period. Zirngibl says the extension is intended to
make up for that lost time.
In addition there was some confusion as to whether people needed to
submit an electronic or hard copy application. She says they wanted
to make sure that those applications coming in by mail get to the
office in Petersburg by the deadline.
The focus for the group will be to provide input to Tongass Forest
officials as they work on an amendment to the forest plan that's
going to bring into consideration the management of young growth.
The Forest Service has established a goal of moving to a program
that is predominately second growth management within 10 to 15
They're looking applicants with diverse interests and identified 5
They are federally recognized tribes, Alaska Native organizations
and Alaska Native corporation representatives; national and regional
environmental conservation organizations; timber industry
representatives, federal, state and local government officials; and
representatives of other commercial users.
Additional information, including how to apply, is available on the
agency's web site.
Juneau man arrested for obscene calls
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Juneau police say a five-month investigation
has led to the arrest of a Juneau man for allegedly making obscene
phone calls to female employees at various locations in the city.
23-year-old William T. Hitchens was arrested Monday on multiple
counts of misdemeanor harassment for obscene calls to a Juneau
elementary school, a public library, and the Juneau Empire.
Prosecutors allege they have linked the three cases from October
through January by phone records from communications providers.
An employee at the newspaper told authorities that the voice sounded
like a relative's ex-boyfriend.
Police followed up on the lead, contacting Hitchens at his
The public defender's office told The Associated Press that Hitchens'
attorney, Tom Wagner, is out of town and wasn't available for
PRAC elects officers
The CBJ Parks and Recreation Advisory Board elected officers at its
meeting Tuesday night.
Jeff Wilson was re-elected chair. Kate Walters was selected first
vice chair. Chris Mertl was tapped as second vice chair.
Parks and Recreation Director Brent Fischer says Mertl provided an
update on the proposal for a Juneau Park Foundation that is in the
Members listened to a presentation from the Goldbelt Heritage
Institute on its plans for the erection of two totem poles at
Savikko Park in Douglas and two wood carvings to be placed at
Incubation building at Petersburg hatchery
Fire destroyed the main incubation building of the Crystal Lake Fish
Hatchery in Petersburg Tuesday claiming all its coho salmon eggs and
more than a million Chinook salmon eggs.
Petersburg Assistant Fire Chief David Berg told KTUU-TV that
firefighters kept the blaze from spreading to fuel tanks.
No one was injured.
The cause is under investigation by the State Fire Marshall.
Light quake felt in Anchorage
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A light earthquake has been felt in
Anchorage and nearby communities.
The Alaska Earthquake Center says the Tuesday evening quake had a
preliminary magnitude of 4.4. The center says it was also felt in
Eagle River, Wasilla, Willow and Talkeetna. There were no immediate
reports of damage.
Recorded at 6:13 p.m. Alaska time, the quake was centered 22 miles
north-northwest of Hatcher Pass at a depth of about 24 miles. That's
about 60 miles north-northeast of Anchorage.
KTUU-TV reports that one resident reported a swinging chandelier and
pots and pans rumbling against a kitchen wall.
The Alaska Earthquake Center monitors earthquakes in Alaska. It's a
cooperative program of the Geophysical Institute of the University
of Alaska and the U.S. Geological Survey.
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This
material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or
Kawasaki absence causes stir at Capitol
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — The absence of a Fairbanks
lawmaker from the state Capitol on Wednesday caused a bit of a stir.
Democratic Rep. Scott Kawasaki, like a number of other lawmakers,
was gone to attend a meeting of The Energy Council in Washington,
D.C. But he did not have an excused absence.
House Minority Leader Chris Tuck called it a technicality.
He said he signed off on Kawasaki's travel request last month but
someone in Kawasaki's office didn't turn the paperwork in to the
majority. Tuck said "everybody" knew Kawasaki planned to be gone.
Republican Rep. Mike Hawker, who was chairing House Resources
Wednesday, said Kawasaki "led us all to believe" he would be present
for a quorum. Four other committee members had excused absences
Wednesday, and a planned hearing was not held.
Carpeneti opposes Judicial Council change
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — A former Alaska Supreme
Court chief justice says he doesn't see a need to change the state's
constitution to alter the makeup of the Alaska Judicial Council.
Walter Carpeneti told the House Judiciary Committee there's a heavy
burden on those who want to change the constitution to show there's
a problem. He says he doesn't see one here.
The committee is considering HJR33, which proposes doubling from
three to six the number of non-attorney members on the council. It
would keep at three the number of attorneys on the panel.
Supporters say this would increase the public voice on the panel.
Critics say it could politicize the process by increasing the number
of appointees chosen by the governor.
Council responsibilities include nominating to the governor
candidates for judicial vacancies.
Senate Judiciary hears from NRA about campus guns
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — The Senate Judiciary
Committee on Wednesday heard testimony from the National Rifle
Association on a bill that would change current practice and allow
people to carry concealed firearms on University of Alaska system
NRA spokesman Brian Judy addressed arguments that have been made by
University of Alaska President Pat Gamble over not allowing firearms
Judy said both the U.S. and Alaska constitutions allow an individual
the right to bear arms for self-protection. He wondered by what
right the university, a state entity, can't disavow that.
Gamble attended but didn't speak. He is scheduled to give testimony
next week, when the bill will be heard again.
The bill is sponsored by Sen. John Coghill, a Republican from North
Guitars stolen from home in Fairbanks
Alaska State Trooper are investigating the report
of a burglary at a Sun Way residence in Fairbanks.
Three guitars were stolen between the hours of 8 am and noon on
If anybody has information about this incident please call AST at
Driver runs off road onto frozen Chilkat River
A Whitehorse woman drove off Haines Highway and
onto the frozen Chilkat River.
Briana MacKay, 31, reported that she had lost control of her vehicle
and driven off the roadway near mile marker 20 of the Haines Highway
around 9am Tuesday.
Alaska State Troopers confirmed there were no injuries and that the
vehicle was not leaking any fluids into the river.
Investigation showed MacKay lost control on a patch of ice in a
curve and left the roadway, sliding upright down the embankment onto
the ice. The vehicle was recovered without incident.
The Alaska State Troopers remind travelers to be mindful of changing
roadway conditions based on temperature changes and weather. Also,
while much of the Haines Highway is currently dry pavement, many
shaded areas continue to be ice covered.
Sterling Highway crash near Anchor Point
ANCHOR POINT, Alaska (AP) — A 51-year-old Homer man suffered
life-threatening injuries in a Sterling Highway crash near Anchor
Alaska State Troopers say a southbound small truck driven by Mark
Shufelt collided Monday afternoon with a northbound sedan. Both
vehicles left the west side of the road and rolled multiple times.
Shufelt was not wearing a seat belt and was ejected from the pickup.
He was flown to Anchorage in critical condition.
Two Ninilchik men were in the sedan.
The driver, 56-year-old Donald Krech, and the passenger, 54-year-old
Timothy Johnson, wore seat belts and sustained injuries that
troopers say are not life-threatening.
They were taken to South Peninsula Hospital in Homer.
The cause of the crash has not been determined.
Mallott campaign seeks fundraising guidance
BECKY BOHRER, Associated Press
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — The campaign of Democrat Byron Mallott is
seeking guidance on fundraising under a law that bars gubernatorial
candidates from soliciting or accepting contributions in Juneau
while the Legislature is meeting.
Mallott lives in Juneau and has a campaign office, bank account and
A draft advisory opinion from the Alaska Public Offices Commission
says calls from Juneau to individuals outside the city and borough
during session are permissible but calls to individuals in Juneau
aren't. It also says calls not soliciting money are allowed.
The draft opinion says the campaign can accept contributions sent to
its Juneau mail box or bank account that originated outside Juneau
but those made by individuals in Juneau during session would have to
The draft is subject to consideration by the commission.
UPDATE: Flint Hills objects to state
stance on cleanup
FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) — The chief executive officer of the company
that owns North Pole Refinery says the state's position on a cleanup
of contaminated soil will make it impossible to find a buyer.
Flint Hills last month announced it would close the refinery.
Gov. Sean Parnell in a letter to Flint Hills Resources said the
state will hold the company liable for the cleanup of sulfolane
contamination but will not hold a refinery buyer liable.
The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports Flint Hills Resources CEO
Brad Razook replied to Parnell by letter Tuesday.
Razook says the state position makes a sale impossible because it
would be it would be difficult to distinguish between new and old
He says Flint Hills would be liable for anything spilled by new
(Fairbanks Daily News-Miner)
Begich doesn't support a carbon tax
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — U.S. Sen. Mark Begich's campaign is running
radio ads taking aim at the brothers behind Americans for
The conservative group last month began running an ad that said
Begich is on record supporting a carbon tax and urging Senate
Majority Leader Harry Reid to make it a priority. That claim stemmed
from a 2010 letter Begich signed with 11 other senators.
Begich said he doesn't support a carbon tax. Two fact check
organizations found the ad distorts or exaggerates Begich's
Charles Koch and David Koch back Americans for Prosperity and are
leaders of Koch Industries Inc., which recently announced plans to
close the Flint Hills refinery at North Pole.
Begich's campaign in its ad refers to them as "billionaire
outsiders" who turned their backs on Alaska.
Young defends bypass mail in rural Alaska
Alaska's congressional delegation is disputing an oversight
committee's label of bypass mail as a "broken system."
That was the title of a hearing on capitol hill Tuesday aimed at
trimming the 76-million dollars in annual subsidies to commercial
air carriers that deliver freight in rural Alaska instead of the
House Oversight Committee Chair Darrel Issa compares the amount to a
new "bridge to nowhere" every six years.
But Congressman Don Young says the committee is picking at "peanuts"
when the Postal Service's operating debt totals 15 billion dollars.
Young and Senators Lisa Murkowski and Mark Begich also argued that
bypass mail works well and is far from broken.
(KENI Radio - Anchorage)
Geraghty pushes back on EPA process
BECKY BOHRER, Associated Press
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Alaska Attorney General Michael Geraghty is
pushing back against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency over a
process that could lead to development of a massive gold-and-copper
prospect in the Bristol Bay region being restricted or prohibited.
EPA announced Friday it was exercising a rarely used authority under
the Clean Water Act as a way to protect a world-premiere sockeye
In a letter to agency officials, Geraghty called EPA's actions
premature and said "good cause" existed to stop the clock on a
15-day response period until permit applications for the proposed
Pebble Mine are submitted and reviewed.
EPA said the process allowed the state and others to show no
"unacceptable adverse effects" to water resources would result from
mining-related discharges or actions could be taken to prevent
Man credits dog for saving life after
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A 52-year-old Alaska man says his dog saved
his life after a snowmobile crash left him injured in the woods.
The Anchorage Daily News says Otis Orth of Trapper Creek was rescued
more than 24 hours after he crashed the snowmobile Sunday in the
Orth says his 2-year-old golden retriever, Amber, kept him warmer
then he would have been alone. He was injured, unable to move, in
temperatures below freezing.
On Monday afternoon, the dog went barking to nearby snowmobilers.
Locals responded, bringing a generator and a hairdryer to keep Orth
warm in his wet clothes. Alaska State Troopers were among
responders, who transported Orth by helicopter to Providence Alaska
Orth is being treated for an injured neck, dislocated arms and
(Anchorage Daily News)
Canoe rescue in Homer
Alaska State Troopers
responded to a boater in distress in Kachemak Bay Monday night.
Mark Makris, age 27, of Anchorage, was attempting to reach Seldovia
from Homer by canoe.
Makris departed the Homer Harbor approximately around 5:30 Monday
evening with the intent of reaching Seldovia within five hours.
Troopers were able to locate and rescue Makris around 10:30 p.m. and
return him to the Homer Harbor without injuries.
Possibly stolen large green safe
found in Fairbanks
A Department of
Transportation employee discovered a large green Remington weapon
safe while removing snow from the shoulder of the road on the Elliot
Alaska State Troopers discovered someone forced the safe open and
its contents may be stolen.
Anyone with information regarding the theft of a safe matching the
description provided is asked to contact the Alaska State Troopers
Anchorage office heavily damaged by
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The Anchorage office of a nonprofit
organization has been heavily damaged by vandalism and a 17-year-old
boy is in custody in connection with the crime.
The Anchorage Daily News says the Fireweed Lane office of the
Muscular Dystrophy Association of Alaska was broken into on Sunday
Police say the office was smeared with blood, soaked with water and
strewn with shattered window glass and broken equipment.
Police say the suspect was found within an hour of the initial
report and he has been charged with felony counts of criminal
mischief and burglary. His name has not been released because he is
Kristin George, the organization's board president, says five
computer monitors also were destroyed, as well as phones and a
printer, artwork and medical supplies.
(Anchorage Daily News)
Juneau hosting Region V basketball
The Region V Basketball Tournament is underway in Juneau.
The Thunder Mountain Lady Falcons won Wednesday night, beating the
Juneau Douglas Lady Crimson Bears, 56 to 42. The Lady Falcons take
on Number One Ketchikan at 3:15 Thursday afternoon.
In 4A men's play, the Ketchikan Kings won over the Juneau Douglas
Crimson Bears, 50 to 38. Ketchikan advances to play number one
Thunder Mountain Thursday at 5 p.m.
Nome native grabs Iditarod lead
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Aaron Burmeister has the
lead in the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race,
Officials say in a release that Burmeister was the first musher to
reach the checkpoint in Cripple. He arrived just before 3:30 p.m.
For his efforts, he picks up $3,000 in placer gold nuggets for being
the first musher to reach the halfway mark of the Iditarod.
Burmeister is attempting to become the first Nome native to win the
The nearly 1,000-mile race began Sunday with 69 teams. It will end
in Nome some time next week.
As of Wednesday, 11 mushers have scratched and one was withdrawn
during difficult conditions early in the race. That leaves 57 teams
on the trail.
Injured Iditarod musher flown to Anchorage
hospital after harrowing ordeal
ANCHORAGE, Alaska - An Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race musher was flown
to a hospital after a harrowing ordeal that included crashing his
sled, hitting his head on a stump and later falling through ice and
breaking his ankle.
Scott Janssen, an Anchorage undertaker known as the Mushing
Mortician, was back home early Wednesday after getting a cast for
the broken bone he suffered on Tin Creek, about 40 miles from
According to Janssen's Facebook site, the ordeal started Tuesday
when he crashed his sled between the Rohn and Nikolai checkpoints,
hitting his head. He lay unconscious for more than two hours and
awoke to find his dogs huddled next to him.
After caring for his canines, Janssen fixed his sled and continued
on the trail.
But one of his dogs, Hooper, then got loose from the line and took
Janssen anchored his sled and tried to catch the animal. But he fell
through the ice shortly before Hooper returned to him.
Michigan city to strike ban on being
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — It's soon expected to be OK to be
willfully annoying in Grand Rapids.
The Grand Rapids Press reports that the City Commission is nixing a
38-year-old section of city code that states "no person shall
willfully annoy another person."
City Attorney Catherine Mish recommended repealing the language,
saying the wording is "unconstitutional in terms of being vague" and
"simply unenforceable." A final decision is expected March 11.
Even with the change, related crimes such as obstructing someone in
a public place or assault would still be on the books.
Mish has been scouring city code to find archaic rules.
Last year, rules that got a look included one prohibiting people
from riding horses on a sidewalk and another allowing jail time for
failing to return a library book.
(The Grand Rapids Press)