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[Sunday, June 1st 2014  1st EDITION  7:39 A.M.]

Alaska U.S. Senators Mark Begich and Lisa Murkowski respond to soldier exchange.
The prisoner released Saturday from captivity of Taliban forces, Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, was stationed at Alaska’s Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson when he was captured five years ago during a deployment to Afghanistan. President Barack Obama approved the exchange for five Afghan detainees held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Senator Begich said in a release, "As we all join the Bergdahl family in welcoming this news, we must not forget those service members who remain POW/MIA and their families and we continue to keep them in their prayers.”

Senator Murkowski stated, "He was always a concern and a topic of conversation in my talks with Alaskans, even as recently at the military gatherings on Memorial Day."

GOP lawmakers: Prisoner exchange violated law
WASHINGTON (AP) — Two Republican lawmakers say President Barack Obama violated U.S. laws when he approved the exchange of an American soldier believed held by Islamist insurgents for five years for five Afghan detainees held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Congressman Howard "Buck" McKeon of California and Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma said Saturday in a statement that Obama is required by law to notify Congress 30 days before any transfer of terrorists from the U.S. detention facility.

In response, the White House says that officials considered what they called "unique and exigent circumstances" and decided to go ahead with the transfer despite the legal requirement.

McKeon is the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. Inhofe is the ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Sexual abuse of a minor
The Ketchikan Police Department served an arrest warrant Friday morning on 43 year old Jonathan Hayward for sexual offenses committed in Juneau and Ketchikan. He is being held on $200,000 bond.

Hayward is charged with five counts of Sexual Abuse of a Minor in the First Degree, an unclassified felony, for crimes against a now seven year old girl. The offenses took place over two years starting when the girl was just five years old. Hayward was additionally charged with four counts of Unlawful Exploitation of a Minor, a class B felony, and ten counts of possession of child pornography, a class C felony.

The investigation involves multiple electronic devices that are being analyzed with assistance from officers involved in the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. JPD has one detective working with that task force coordinating with other task force members to conduct searches of various devices. Additional charges are anticipated as those searches are continuing in Anchorage.

Hayward was lodged at the Ketchikan Correctional Center and was scheduled to make his first court appearance in Juneau telephonically Friday afternoon.

JPD says this case came to their attention in April of 2014 when the young girl made a spontaneous disclosure in front of a medical provider who was providing care for the young girl’s babysitter. The medical provider made a complaint to the Office of Children’s Services, who notified law enforcement. During the investigation the girl told a child interviewer that she did tell an adult about the abuse before she made the disclosure in the medical office but that adult did not take action and the abuse continued.

JPD reminds residents that sexual abuse of children is happening regularly in Alaska and all disclosures of abuse from children should be reported immediately so claims can be investigated. When abuse is reported, law enforcement and child protective services officials coordinate with each other to make sure the child is in a safe place and not available to the alleged abuser. The investigation will then begin to verify or disprove the allegations.

Fairbanks assault sentence slightly reduced
FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) — A Fairbanks man whose 50-year prison sentence for sexually abusing a young girl was overturned last year will remain behind bars for decades to come.

The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports that a Superior Court judge ruled that Joseph Turney will serve another 41 years in prison.

Turney, now 44, was arrested in January 2009. He pleaded no contest to abusing one victim from age 11 to 18.

The 50-year prison term was overturned last year when an appellate court ruled the lower court made a mistake in applying an aggravating factor when issuing the sentence.

The case was sent back to the lower court for Friday's resentencing.

Juneau water level update
The City and Borough of Juneau water supply continues to be below normal levels.

The turbidity, or sediment in the water, has dropped to acceptable levels and the CBJ Water division has begun to fill the Salmon Creek storage tank. It will take several days to fill the tank and residents are asked to continue to observe voluntary water conservation through the weekend.

The turbidity level and water levels are expected to be back to normal on Monday. However, if additional turbidity issues arise it could require voluntary water conservation in the future.

Juneau-Douglas City Museum Reopens as of Monday June 2nd
The Juneau-Douglas City Museum opens for visitors Monday after a month’s closure due to the start of the installation of a new heating, ventilation and air conditioning system (HVAC). Although work on this project will continue throughout the summer, the majority will happen in the basement or outside the building and so will have minimal impact on visitor’s enjoyment of the exhibits in the galleries.

The Museum is especially excited to share with the public their two special summer exhibits:

The Empty Chair, The Forced Removal and Resettlement of Juneau’s Japanese Community, 1941-1951 and Outside My Window, an exhibition of quilts that reflect life lived in the City and Borough of Juneau.

Also worth a visit are their continuing exhibits which include the Montana Creek Fish Trap, the digital stories kiosks found in the Politics, Personalities & Power gallery, hands-on mining and hydropower displays and more.

Summer walking tours happen every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at 1:30 pm through the end of September and a new offering, History Storytime, open to children and their caregivers happens every Tuesday at 11 am.

Farmers markets, in Alaska?
(ABC News) The feds are trying to bring the "locavore" movement to cold weather states.

ABC's Joan Bennett reported, " You don't think of Alaska as being the bread basket of America, but the federal government is trying to boost farm yields in states with short growing seasons, like Alaska, by funding seasonal high tunnels: tall hoop houses that cover crops, planted in the ground or in raised beds. The special greenhouses, for small farms, can extend the growing season for a month on either end, meaning, sweet corn, tomatoes eggplant and other veggies that don't thrive naturally in Alaska, will be available, locally. High tunnels are also being used to extend growing seasons in state like Michigan."

Wife almost hits husband with vehicle, man rips off door, man threatens to kill girfriend
There were three recent arrests in Juneau for Domestic Violence.

Monica Fields, placed her husband in fear of imminent physical injury by almost striking him with a vehicle Thursday around 7:00.  According to a Juneau Police bulletin, she also damaged property inside the residence in the 9900 Block of Steven Richards Memorial Drive.

There was another domestic dispute reported in Junea early Friday morning around 2:00 in the 6500 block of Glacier Highway.  A 26 yo male caused approximately $200 damage to his girlfriends trailer by punching holes in the walls and tearing a door off one of the bedrooms.

Then Friday morning around 4:30 in the 4500 Block of Chelsea Ct., Juneau Police say Daniel Michrowski was arrested for placing his girlfriend in fear by telling her he wanted to kill her.

Ketchikan warrant arrest
Alaska State Troopers in Ketchikan served a warrant on a man wanted for two previous Misconduct Involving a Controlled Substance II charges totaling $10,000.00.

44 year old John D. Murphy of Ketchikan was arrested without incident at his residence on Knudson Cove Road.

Murphy was taken to the Ketchikan Correctional Center.

Sitka Coast Guard rescue
A Coast Guard Air Station Sitka helicopter crew medevaced a 68-year-old man who fell ill aboard the 35-foot fishing vessel Northern Star docked in Point Baker on Prince of Wales Island, Thursday.

The crew landed on a nearby beach and brought the man aboard where he was transported to Sitka and transferred to commercial emergency medical services for further transport to advanced medical care.

Coast Guard 17th District command center received the request for medevac from the mariner via VHF radio. The man reported the vessel was tied to the dock but there were no EMS available in the area.

Due to the mariner’s remote location, the watchstanders directed an Air Station Sitka Jayhawk crew that was already in the air for training to support the medevac request.

Coast Guard to conduct dockside safety exams for Bristol Bay, Alaska, salmon fishery
ANCHORAGE, Alaska — The Coast Guard will offer courtesy dockside examinations of commercial fishing vessels in Bristol Bay in anticipation of the 2014 Bristol Bay salmon fishery

The fishery is slated to begin June 1 with the majority of the fishing taking place from June 15-July 15.

The Coast Guard anticipates sending examiners to Dillingham and King Salmon June 9 to begin public outreach and encourage dockside exam participation June 9-20. Examiners will also be available in Egegik from June 9-13.

During the fishery, the Coast Guard will work with the Alaska State Troopers to enforce federal boating and commercial fishing vessel requirements.

Boat owners should signal examiners when they are ready for an exam by running a ring buoy up high on the mast in a highly visible location. Fishermen can also sign up for an exam by calling Sector Anchorage, at 907-428-4154, or by speaking directly with one of the Coast Guard examiners working in Dillingham and King Salmon's harbors.

These free exams give fishermen an opportunity to find and address any safety issues that may be present before they get underway. The examiners will not issue fines or other penalties for any problems they discover at the dock. The exams focus on safety and address items such as flares, charts, navigational signals, fire extinguishers, emergency position indicating locator beacons and the serviceability of immersion suits.

“It's better and safer to identify any problems your vessel might have during an examination than to have it present itself once you're underway,” said Chief Petty Officer Jon Jones, commercial fishing vessel safety coordinator Western Alaska.

To better prepare for a vessel examination, operators should visit and complete a checklist generator that will provide a detailed pre-examination checklist.

The number of lives lost during Alaska fisheries has been in decline since the adoption of the Commercial Fishing Vessel Safety Act of 1988. The leading cause of fatalities in the commercial fishing industry is drowning due to the loss of a fishing vessel. However, falling overboard is still a serious concern. The extremely cold temperatures of Alaskan waters coupled with weather conditions and vast distances from shore are a deadly combination.

Cost of Funny River wildfire: $6.1 million so far
KENAI, Alaska (AP) — The cost of battling the 300-square mile Funny River wildfire has climbed to $6.1 million.

The Peninsula Clarion reports Saturday that the 10-day effort to control the wildfire has taken 760 people, but plans call to begin phasing out crews this week. At least four of the 17 crews will leave in the next few days. The fire was helped by rain last week.

According to Alaska Interagency Incident Management team financial data, fire operations cost $1.13 million and $1.05 million a day at its peak last Saturday and Sunday. That figure has since fallen to about $750,000 a day by Tuesday. Nearly one-quarter of operational costs have been spent on air support for the ground crews, including the costs of fire retardant, helicopter support, water-scooping planes and fixed-wing aircraft.

Unmanned aircraft assists Funny River Fire efforts
An unmanned aircraft from the University of Alaska Fairbanks is assisting firefighting efforts at the Funny River Fire near Kenai, Alaska.

Early Friday morning, a team from the university's Alaska Center for Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration flew a ScanEagle aircraft over the fire. The aircraft, equipped with infrared image sensors and cameras, found about 15 hot spots within the fire perimeter.

“It was invaluable because it can fly at night to look for hot spots in the cooler evening hours,” said Celeste Prescott, public information officer with Alaska Interagency Incident Management Team. “The only other aircraft that could do that, which would be manned, would have to come from the Lower 48.”

The ScanEagle was also able to map the fire boundaries more accurately because it can fly at a lower altitude than manned aircraft, Prescott said. The aircraft is scheduled to fly again Friday evening. Operations are based on a private airstrip on Funny River Road.

The ScanEagle, which is launched via catapult and landed with a catch wire, will also be used to identify threats to people and structures, as well as identify more hot spots and fire boundaries.

The Funny River Fire started May 19 and has rapidly grown to over 193,000 acres with 759 personnel working the wildfire. The fire was 46 percent contained as of Friday morning.

Low-level eruption at Alaska's Pavlof Volcano
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Authorities at the Alaska Volcano Observatory say elevated surface temperatures suggest the Pavlof Volcano is having a low-level eruption with lava at the surface.

They said Saturday that satellite imagery shows a steam plume and a pilot reported a gas and ash plume drifting north about 8,000 feet above sea level.

The 8,262-foot volcano is one of the state's most active volcanoes. It is located about 625 miles southwest of Anchorage.

An eruption last year prompted regional airlines to cancel flights to nearby communities.

Fairbanks North Star schools promoting Gaborik
FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) — The Fairbanks North Star Borough School Board has scheduled a Tuesday vote to make Karen Gaborik the interim superintendent.

Gaborik became acting superintendent in April after the school board voted to place Superintendent Pete Lewis on administrative leave.

After a month of investigation, the board told Lewis it intends to terminate his contract.

The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports that the board placed Lewis on leave as it began an internal investigation into the district's handling of complaints about inappropriate conduct by employees. The investigation began shortly after a tutor at Hutchison High School was charged with sexually abusing a student.

Lewis has called for arbitration with the board, which is still pending.

Winds knock out power to most of Anchorage area
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Strong winds on Saturday caused widespread power outages in Anchorage and the Matanuska Valley.

The Anchorage Daily News reports that gusts of winds knocked down power lines around the city.

Municipal Light and Power spokeswoman Ronnie Dent said between 70 and 80 percent of Anchorage was without power Saturday morning. She did not have an estimate of how many homes and businesses were affected.

Chugach Electric Association spokesman Phil Steyer says about 4,000 homes and businesses served by the Turnagain and Spenard substations had lost power.

The National Weather Service has issued a high-wind warning for the Matanuska Valley, where a south wind was gusting between 40 and 60 mph.

Delta Junction man charged with eluding, assault
WASILLA, Alaska (AP) — A 31-year-old Delta Junction man has been charged with assault, eluding, reckless driving, providing false information and violating probation after a car chase near Wasilla.

Alaska State Troopers say Jeremy Joel Fish was subdued with a stun gun and taken into custody,

Troopers late Thursday afternoon stopped Fish's vehicle for an equipment violation and suspected drug activity. Troopers say he gave them a fake identity card and fled.

A 20-minute chase culminated with Fish fleeing on foot. He was hit with the stun gun and arrested.

Troopers say Fish nearly hit an officer with his vehicle, nearly rammed a patrol car, drove recklessly and put a passenger in fear of being killed.

Fish is being held without bail at a jail in Palmer.

Campaign reports missing laptop with donor info
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — The campaign of Alaska gubernatorial candidate Byron Mallott is reporting that a laptop computer with donor financial information is missing.

The laptop was determined to be missing Wednesday night from the Anchorage campaign office.

Campaign adviser Bruce Botelho (boh-TEL'-oh) says the laptop had been in a restricted area at the back of the office.

He says a back door had not been properly latched and someone may have come in while volunteers were in the front, public area.

The computer contained copies of checks and credit card numbers with addresses and security codes.

The computer was shut down and password protected.

The campaign on Thursday sent letters to more than a thousand contributors recommending they monitor their accounts.

Anchorage police are investigating the incident.

Yukon man discovers den of wolf pups near edge of Alaska wildfire
ANCHORAGE, Alaska - A Yukon firefighter who stumbled upon a den of wolf pups on the edge of a forest fire in Alaska says he can't believe the attention the story is getting.

Mark Fletcher says he spotted one of the cubs and then called in a biologist from the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge for help.

He says a biologist climbed into the den and pulled out five puppies, some of which had a previous encounter with a porcupine.

An Alaska Fish and Game official said it appears the porcupine may have entered the den to escape the fire. The mother was nowhere to be found.

Fletcher says the story has gone global and he's seen versions emerge in Europe and across the United States.

Fletcher, who normally fights fires out of the Haines Junction, Yukon, fire base had been seconded to help fight a large wildfire on Alaska's Kenai Peninsula.

State seeks to intervene in EPA case
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — The state of Alaska is seeking to intervene in a lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency over a process that could result in an agency veto of the proposed Pebble Mine project.

The group behind the mine, Pebble Limited Partnership, sued last week, alleging EPA had exceeded its authority by initiating a process that could result in development being prohibited or restricted.

EPA began the process after concluding this year that large-scale mining in the Bristol Bay watershed posed significant risks to salmon. But officials worry that EPA will kill the project before mine plans are finalized or permits are sought.

The state is seeking to intervene as a plaintiff, in support of Pebble.

Attorney General Michael Geraghty says a pre-emptive veto would set a dangerous precedent.

UPDATE-Search for missing Juneau hiker called off
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Alaska State Troopers say an extensive search for a missing Juneau hiker has been called off.

Troopers announced the search suspension Thursday, saying a missing persons case will remain open on 48-year-old Sharon Buis.

Buis was reported missing Saturday night.

Troopers say Buis was supposed to meet a companion Saturday morning for a planned group hike on the Mount Roberts trail.

The woman's car was found at the Mount Roberts trailhead.

Still no sign of missing Kotlik boy
BETHEL, Alaska (AP) — An extensive search for a missing 4-year-old Kotlik boy has turned up no sign of him.

The search for Terrell Hunt now stretches to Norton Sound.

The boy has been missing since May 19. The search for him has involved boats and airplanes, as well as search dogs and underwater cameras.

Kotlik Search and Rescue said last week that the boy had been playing with friends by a slough near his home when he slipped and fell into the water.

Volunteers are still looking for the boy. However, they say Alaska State Troopers are planning to wind down efforts soon.

Update:  Delta's back, hires 27 from Juneau
Not only is
Delta Airlines back in Juneau, they've hired 27 local people.  The company announced that it would reinstate seasonal service to Juneau back in December. They flew in Thursday night.

Mayor Merrill Sanford and other officials were at an inaugural flight ceremony Thursday night to accept a check from Delta for $10,000. Mike Medeiros with Delta was a speaker at a CBJ Assembly meeting recently, where many citizens spoke on the need to keep Augustus Brown Pool open. That's when he surprised the crowd with Delta's donation.

Delta will be flying Boeing 757's in and out of Juneau International Airport. These planes have doors five feet higher than those on Alaska Airlines’ 737's and with the airport equipped for the smaller planes, prep work included the purchase of an updated jet bridge. It cost the airport $177,000, including installation, but they saved money buying a used one. A new jet bridge and installation would have cost over $1 million.

JIA is hoping to be reimbursed by the FAA for the jet bridge project. "It’s not set up to turn a profit.", said Airport Manager, Patty deLaBruere.

An additional baggage scanning machine has also been secured. Plus the airport has been working to expand the ticket counter and create more office space for Delta.

The first flight out left at 6:00 A.M. Friday.  Delta is the first new airline JIA has seen in almost 20 years. Alaska Airlines has serviced Juneau since the 1930s.

Delta VP on why they gave the $10,000
Mike Medeiros of Delta Airlines was in Juneau last night to welcome the first Delta flight to JIA in almost 20 years.

He also presented a $10,000 check to CBJ officials to help save the Augustus Brown pool.

Medeiros explained how the idea began. He came to the CBJ meeting, because Delta was coning to town, but he noticed something when he arrived. There were a lot of people there. He wasn't sure if this was "normal", so he asked people around him, and they told him about the Augustus Brown Pool and the lack of funds to keep it open. He was struck by the intensity of the residents, who would be affected, if the pool were to close.

As he was speaking at the meeting, the idea came to him for Delta to donate in an effort to try to save the pool. Medeiros says in so many other markets around the globe, they are more than a carrier that serves through our flights. They serve through their people, through their resources and volunteering. We wanted to be a good community partner in Juneau.

Work begins on Juneau bridge replacement
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Construction has begun in preparation for a new Mendenhall River bridge that will replace Juneau's historic Brotherhood Bridge.

Plans call for the old bridge to be removed and disposed by the end of the year.

The new, wider bridge will be able to handle an expected 50 percent increase in traffic over the next 75 years.

Work currently being done involves steel pieces that are being driven into the river bottom for a work trestle.

Senior project manager John Smithson with Orion Marine Contractors says the trestle will cross the river and serve as a platform for equipment used in constructing the replacement bridge.

State Department of Transportation engineering manager Greg Lockwood says the half-century old Brotherhood Bridge does not meet current code.

UPDATE: Juneau bear activity picking up, bear family on Subaru in Auke Rec Area
The Juneau bear activity is slow, but will be picking up in the next couple of months. That's according to Stephanie Sell, Acting Area Biologist with the Department of Fish and Game.

Sell says we're having typical bear sightings in locations people would expect, such as out on the bypass. Plus there have been some bears getting into garbage in the downtown area.

She says sows will be kicking out the cubs soon and the calls will increase as we begin to see yearlings running around downtown.

There haven't been any reports of aggressive behavior towards people but those mama bears could get aggressive with the cubs. Sell said, "The mom's going to make it pretty clear she doesn't want them around and she's ready to move on, so she's going to be kind of aggressive to them, slapping them around a little bit. That's pretty normal behavior."

As for tips on dealing with the local bear population, Sell advises to keep an out for sows with cubs and give them as much space as possible. Keep garbage contained and if you see a bear definitely don't run from it. If bears become a problem, contact the Department of Fish and Game.

The picture of the bear family on the vehicle was taken recently in the Auke Rec area and is from the the Department's Facebook page. 

Predator-control effort aims to boost moose
FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) — State wildlife biologists have again killed dozens of bears in an effort to increase the number of available moose for subsistence hunters in part of the western Interior.

The Department of Fish and Game says it's too early to draw firm conclusions. But the department says data gathered this spring shows higher moose calf survival during the past year.

The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports the predator-control project was requested by villagers and endorsed by the Board of Game.

This year, biologists shot and killed 64 bears along the Kuskokwim River near the village of Sleetmute. They killed 89 bears last year in an area wildlife officials say used to have the best moose hunting in that game unit.

Meat from the bears was shared with local villages.

Docks and Harbors says no to Aurora Harbor boat shelter
Port Director Carl Uchytil says that at Thursday night's regular Docks and Harbors Board Meeting, the board approved the bylaws update which will be presented to the Assembly for final approval and rejected the opportunity to purchase a boat shelter at Aurora Harbor.

There will be a joint Docks and Harbors Assembly Meeting on Monday June 2nd at 5:30 in Assembly Chambers to discuss various projects and opportunities for future growth with the Docks and Harbors Department.

Murkowski: VA problems 'far larger than 1 man'
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Alaska's senior U.S. senator says the structural problem within the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is "far larger than one man."

Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski was reacting to Friday's resignation of VA Secretary Eric Shinseki.

She said in a statement that if true reform is to be enacted and felt within the VA, "Shinseki should be the first of many, many more to depart the agency."

The resignation comes amid allegations of problems, including delayed medical care, at VA facilities nationwide.

Murkowski and Democratic Sen. Mark Begich had reserved judgment on Shinseki and not called for his resignation.

Begich said Shinseki's resignation won't fix the reported problems. He said he would demand answers so the VA nationally can achieve the kind of progress he says has been seen in Alaska.

Young supports medical marijuana provision
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — U.S. Rep. Don Young has voted with the majority to approve a provision that would block the federal government from interfering with states that allow use of medical marijuana.

The Alaska Republican was a co-sponsor to the amendment, offered as part of a larger spending bill that passed the House.

Young called it a states' rights issue.

In a letter to Republican colleagues, excerpted by his office, Young said the vote would allow them to show their constituents they are serious when they cite the importance of the 10th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The 10th Amendment refers to states' rights.

Alaska was among the first wave of states to approve a medical marijuana law.

Fairbanks suspect in pipeline case to be released
FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) — A Fairbanks man charged with lying to the FBI about the 1978 bombing of the trans-Alaska pipeline has been released while he awaits trial.

The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports Federal Magistrate Judge Scott Oravec agreed to allow 61-year-old Phillip Martin Olson to be released to his home.

Olson was ordered to wear an electronic monitoring device and was to be released after an ankle monitor arrived from Anchorage.

Charging documents say Olson in November told the FBI that he placed the bomb on the pipeline. The bomb exploded in February 1978 and caused a leak of up to 588,000 gallons of crude oil.

The statute of limitations has expired on bombing counts. Olson is charged with lying last year about the involvement of a second person in the incident.

Earthquake felt in northwest Alaska village
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Seismologists say a light earthquake was felt in a northwest Alaska village.

The Alaska Earthquake Center says the 4.7 magnitude earthquake occurred at 10:27 p.m. Thursday in the Brooks Range region of the state.

The quake was located 18 miles northeast of the village of Noatak (NO'-uh-tack), where it was felt.

There are no immediate reports of damage.

Man with hand injury crashes driving to hospital
SITKA, Alaska (AP) — A man with a hand injury crashed his car while driving himself to the hospital in Sitka.

Police say the man apparently passed out at the wheel and crashed his Ford Explorer Wednesday morning.

The Daily Sitka Sentinel says the man's vehicle had crossed the center line on Sawmill Creek Road before plunging down a roadside embankment, striking a parked vehicle and the Northern Southeast Regional Aquaculture Association building.

Police say the man had injured his hand at a Burkhart Street workshop and was driving himself to the hospital.

The man sustained minor facial injuries in the crash. He was taken to Sitka Community Hospital for treatment of his injuries and released later Wednesday.

Both vehicles were totaled.

The cause of the crash is under investigation.

Veteran Alaska journalist Tkacz found dead
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Bob Tkacz (tuh-KOTCH'), a veteran freelance journalist known for his aggressive questioning of political leaders, has died. He was 61.

Juneau police spokeswoman Erann Kalwara confirmed the death. She said Tkacz was found by someone who worked in his building.

A health department spokesman said the body was discovered Tuesday and sent to the state medical examiner.

Tkacz covered the Legislature and specialized in writing about the commercial fishing and seafood industries. Besides writing for other outlets, he had his own publication, Laws for the SEA.

He was known for his sharp, dogged style of questioning. Word of his death brought kind remembrances from politicians and fellow reporters.

Retired public radio reporter Dave Donaldson said Tkacz did what other reporters should do every day and did it well.

Anchorage Superior Court opening
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — The Alaska Judicial Council is meeting next week to interview and nominate candidates for an opening on the Anchorage Superior Court.

There also will be opportunity for the public to weigh in on the applicants on June 5. The applicants are Elizabeth Brennan, Michael D. Corey, Roberta C. Erwin, Cynthia Franklin, Josie Garton and Jonathan Woodman.

Fairbanks suspect in pipeline case to be released
FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) — A Fairbanks man charged with lying to the FBI about the 1978 bombing of the trans-Alaska pipeline has been released while he awaits trial.

The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports Federal Magistrate Judge Scott Oravec agreed to allow 61-year-old Phillip Martin Olson to be released to his home.

Olson was ordered to wear an electronic monitoring device and was to be released after an ankle monitor arrived from Anchorage.

Charging documents say Olson in November told the FBI that he placed the bomb on the pipeline. The bomb exploded in February 1978 and caused a leak of up to 588,000 gallons of crude oil.

The statute of limitations has expired on bombing counts. Olson is charged with lying last year about the involvement of a second person in the incident.

Woman says she played dead in Alaska bear attack
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Jessica Gamboa grew up hearing you should play dead during a bear attack, and she did just that when she was pummeled by a brown bear that left her bloodied on a remote road at a military base in Alaska.

That action likely saved her life.

Gamboa says in a videotaped interview at her hospital bed that she surrendered to the bear during the attack May 18 at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage. Gamboa, of Sacramento, California, is married to a soldier there.

The Army on Thursday released the interview of Gamboa and a combat medic who rescued her after the mauling.

Gamboa and her husband were jogging at the sprawling base they became separated. The mauling left her with lacerations to her neck, arms and legs, and neck fractures.

Testing underwater turbines in Alaska
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A company that builds underwater turbines powered by tides is preparing to test a river version in Alaska.

Ocean Renewable Power says it will install its RivGen Power System in the Kvichak (KWEE'-jak) River to generate power for the village of Igiugig (ig-ee-AH'-guk).

Company officials estimate it will provide up to half of Igiugig's electricity.

Predator-control effort aims to boost moose
FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) — State wildlife biologists have again killed dozens of bears in an effort to increase the number of available moose for subsistence hunters in part of the western Interior.

The Department of Fish and Game says it's too early to draw firm conclusions. But the department says data gathered this spring shows higher moose calf survival during the past year.

The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports the predator-control project was requested by villagers and endorsed by the Board of Game.

This year, biologists shot and killed 64 bears along the Kuskokwim River near the village of Sleetmute. They killed 89 bears last year in an area wildlife officials say used to have the best moose hunting in that game unit.

Meat from the bears was shared with local villages.

Revised Ferry Schedules
Ferry schedules have been revised for the LeConte, which will continue to sail its winter schedule through June 8, providing service to northern Southeast Alaska, and for the Malaspina, which will provide service to Bellingham, Wash. through June 6.

These schedules have been revised to accommodate passengers until the federal capital improvement project for the Columbia is complete and the vessel returns to service.
For ferry schedule information, please visit

Property owner holds thieves at gunpoint
WASILLA, Alaska (AP) — Two people suspected of attempted theft in Wasilla were held at gunpoint by the property owner until Alaska State Troopers arrived.

Troopers say 18-year-old Colton Renfro of Wasilla was arrested Wednesday night with a 20-year-old woman. Troopers say the homeowner caught the duo trying to steal parts from vehicles stored on the property.

Firefighters report more progress on Kenai fire
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Alaska wildfire officials are reporting the Funny River Fire at just more than 300 square miles as light rain and high humidity continue to aid in suppression efforts.

The Alaska Interagency Management team reports the fire is now 46 percent contained, meaning fire breaks that likely cannot be crossed by flames have been established around nearly half the fire.

The human-caused fire on the Kenai Peninsula began May 19. It's being fought with 760 people.

An air quality advisory for southcentral will remain in place through 4pm Friday. The Dept. Environmental Conservation says air quality from Kasilof to Cooper Landing will range from very unhealthy to good, depending on wind patterns and fire behavior.

In smoke impacted areas, the DEC says people with respiratory or heart disease, the elderly and children should avoid heavy physical activity, while everyone else should limit heavy activity.

Tom Lavagnino with the team said they made public safety the top priority, "West end and some of the south along the lake, of course, is pretty secured, no fault from us, so we're looking very confident here on the west edge near the communities."

Lower Skilak lake campground remains closed.

The fire has burned four remote cabins but has mostly been confined to the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge.

Officials say several days of heavier rain will be needed to alter overall fire activity and smoke from inside the perimeter could continue into summer.

Begich reserving judgment on Shinseki
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — U.S. Sen. Mark Begich is reserving judgment on whether Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki should resign amid allegations of problems, including delayed medical care, at VA facilities.

Begich told reporters problems found within the VA system in Arizona are outrageous, and people responsible should be held accountable. He said if the situation is found to be more widespread, "everywhere from top down needs to be dealt with."

But he said a focus needs to be on fixing the problem and ensuring veterans receive care. He said just getting rid of people doesn't do that.

The Alaska Democrat is seeking re-election in what's expected to be a hotly contested race. The Karl Rove-backed Crossroads GPS launched an ad suggesting Begich hasn't done enough in response to problems within the VA.

Governor signs legislation creating more job opportunities for Alaskans with disabilities
Governor Sean Parnell signed legislation Thursday to create more job opportunities for Alaskans with disabilities.

By making Alaska an “Employment First” state, House Bill 211 ensures that state agencies and school districts prioritize employment as a first option for individuals with disabilities.

Governor Parnell said. “It ensures Alaskans with disabilities have a right to contribute their talents in our workplaces. All Alaskans will benefit as a result of Alaska becoming an ‘Employment First’ state.”

Representative Charisse Millett's bill passed the Alaska Legislature unanimously, and included the House Majority Women’s Caucus as co-prime sponsors.

Millett said, “What we have with Employment First is the epitome of a win-win. You have the state delivering more efficient services at less cost, and people who need these services having better outcomes as a consequence."

Southeast Alaska schools leverage new technologies
Five school districts in Southeast Alaska have selected GCI SchoolAccess to support their unique technology programs and deliver advanced learning opportunities to their students. These new contracts are with Annette Island School District, Chatham School District, Klawock City School District, Southeast Island School District and Sitka School District.

GCI SchoolAccess’ Senior Director Dr. Pam Lloyd said, “We need to provide students with access to information no matter their zip code. GCI SchoolAccess is committed to delivering outstanding support and leading-edge technology to all communities, even those in the most remote areas of our great state.”

Annette Island School District, Sitka School District and Klawock City School District will receive high-speed Internet from GCI SchoolAccess. Chatham School District will implement a video conferencing network to support real-time distance learning across the district. Southeast Island School District will deploy Internet across its seven sites as well as distance learning capabilities across the school district.

World No Tobacco Day Saturday
World No Tobacco Day is Saturday and the World Health Organization is calling on countries, states and local communities to raise taxes on tobacco, estimating that an increase in tobacco taxes by 50 percent worldwide would reduce the number of smokers by 49 million within the next three years and ultimately save 11 million lives.

Dr. Ward Hurlburt, Alaska’s chief medical officer, said, “As tobacco taxes go up, death and disease go down.”
Local cigarette and tobacco taxes bring in about half a billion dollars in annual revenue and work effectively to reduce smoking rates, especially among youth.

Alaska has a $2.00 per pack tax on cigarettes, and some individual communities place an additional tax on tobacco products.

Martha Pearson, SEARHC Health Promotion Director, said, "For communities in Southeast Alaska it is a win-win. When prices are higher, adults are more likely to quit and youth are less likely to start."

Murkowski on LNG
U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski today (Thursday) issued the following statement on the Department of Energy’s proposal for considering liquefied natural gas export applications:

Multiple studies have confirmed time and again that the nation as a whole would benefit in both security and economic terms as a result of selling American gas to our friends and allies overseas.

Name of helicopter pilot killed in crash released
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Anchorage police have released the name of the pilot of a helicopter that crashed at the Birchwood Airport in Chugiak.

Police say the pilot was 62-year-old Thomas Moore of Anchorage.

Moore was flying a Robinson R-44 Wednesday afternoon when the aircraft crashed and became engulfed in flames. A bystander was taken to a hospital for treatment of burns sustained while he was trying to rescue Moore.

The bystander's name has not been released.

The cause of the crash is under investigation.

Alaska earthquake felt in interior community
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Seismologists say a minor earthquake in Alaska was felt in some communities in the state's interior.

The Alaska Earthquake Center says the 3.2 magnitude quake occurred 17 miles northeast of North Pole shortly after 8 a.m. Thursday.

The earthquake was felt in North Pole, Fairbanks and Salcha areas.

There are no immediate reports of damage.

6 Native corporations to fight oil tax referendum
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Six Alaska Native corporations have pledged at least $500,000 to fight efforts to repeal the state's new oil tax structure.

The coalition, "No One on One," is joining other business-supported organizations in opposing the referendum, scheduled for the August primary ballot. Another group, the oil-industry backed "Vote No on One," has reported raising at least $9.5 million so far.

The Anchorage Daily News reports some of the Native corporations have substantial oil-field business. Representatives of all six corporations say the tax cut is promoting job growth and oil industry investment.

The president of the Alaska Federation of Natives says that group doesn't plan to take sides in the oil tax debate. A spokesman for Juneau-based Sealaska Corp. said it won't join the coalition.

JPD Memorial Day / Graduation Weekend breakdown of incidents
Juneau Police provided added coverage this past Memorial Day / Graduation weekend.

Thirteen additional officers were on duty and the CBJ's Mobile Incident Command Vehicle was parked out the road, staffed continuously through the holiday hours.

Incidents over the holiday included:
65 Traffic Stops
1 Assault
5 Domestic Violence Assaults
5 DUI Arrests
2 DWOL Citations
1 Minor Consuming
and 1 Traffic Accident

Lieutenant Dave Campbell says the Juneau Crime Line is continuing the increase of the normal DUI Reward from $100 to $200 for this last weekend of May.

Sitka man found dead on trail

SITKA, Alaska (AP) — Police are investigating the death of a 52-year-old Sitka man whose body was found on a local trail.

The Daily Sitka Sentinel says Gregory Killinger had apparently gone on a day hike on the Mount Verstovia trail when he died, apparently of natural causes.

The body of the longtime U.S. Forest Service was found Sunday evening on the trail by another hiker who was heading down the mountain.

Sitka police chief Sheldon Schmitt says the body has been sent to the state medical examiner's office in Anchorage. Schmitt says there is nothing suspicious about the death.

Update: Shootout with Trooper
The name of the Alaska State Trooper involved in the shootout on the Sterling Highway near Cooper Landing on Sunday has been identified as Trooper Kevin Gill, who has been an Alaska State Trooper since August 2013 and is currently assigned to the Soldotna Patrol Unit. The incident is still under investigation by the Alaska Bureau of Investigation.

There were no injuries in the incident where 30 year old Timothy J. Lange of Anchorage fired at Trooper Gill when approached. The trooper was responding after reports of a suspicious man with a handgun alongside the Sterling Highway near mile 55. Trooper Gill returned fire and ultimately took the man into custody.

Lange has numerous charges against him including attempted murder.

Near miss reported between passenger jet, airplane
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The National Transportation Safety Board is reporting a "near miss" between an Alaska Airlines passenger jet and a cargo plane over Anchorage's Fire Island south of the city's main airport.

Agency spokesman Clint Johnson says the Alaska Airlines flight inbound from Portland, Ore., was starting to land at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport just after 3 p.m. Tuesday when air traffic controllers gave instructions for a "go-around."

The order was given to avoid an Ace Air Cargo Beechcraft 1900 prop-jet taking off for Sand Point from the airport's north-south runway.

Johnson says the passenger jet veered right and the cargo plane turned in the same direction. The aircraft passed within a quarter-mile of each other at the same elevation.

The Alaska Airlines jet, Flight 135, landed safely.

Hagel speaks at Elmendorf-Richardson
JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska (AP) — Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel says it was not clear yet how many troops the U.S. will use to battle terrorists in Afghanistan in the coming two years.

But during a stop at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson he expressed some confidence that the Afghan forces will improve enough to secure and govern their own country.

Circle man charged with felony assault-DUI
FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) — A 26-year-old Circle man has been charged with felony assault following a traffic crash that left a passenger paralyzed.

The News-Miner reports Nolan Iver Peterson also is charged with DUI. The passenger told Alaska State Troopers that he and Peterson had been drinking and that he let Peterson drive back because he was less incapacitated.

High School Vandalism
A 17 year old male was found by Juneau Police painting graffiti on the parking lot of Thunder Mountain High School early Wednesday morning around 1:00.

According to a police bulletin, he was was released to his parent.

Action urged to resume China shellfish trade
SEATTLE (AP) — Washington state's congressional delegation and others are urging action by the U.S. to allow shellfish exports to resume to China.

The Chinese government announced Friday it would lift the five month-long ban on live shellfish from U.S. West Coast waters. But for trade to resume, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration must put in place new procedures to monitor and certify shellfish.

The ban affected geoducks and other bivalves from Alaska, Washington, Oregon and northern California.

A bipartisan group of legislators from those states urged NOAA in a letter Wednesday to swiftly finalize testing protocols. Washington U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, Rep. Derek Kilmer and Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler were among those who signed the letter.

NOAA said Friday it will continue to work with partners to finalize arsenic testing methods.

Parnell: No vetoes in budget bills
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Gov. Sean Parnell is signing budget bills totaling $12.8 billion for next year, saying the state is on sound financial footing.

Parnell said lawmakers had worked to reduce unrestricted general fund spending from more than $7 billion in 2014 to $5.9 billion for next year. The state still shows a budget deficit of $1.4 billion for next year, according to Parnell's budget office.

The deficit for the current year, which ends June 30, is $1.7 billion.

Parnell issued no vetoes, noting in a speech to an Anchorage Rotary group that lawmakers had met a spending limit. He said he has worked with legislators to be "wise stewards" of the public treasury.

The total spending authorization for next year is $12.8 billion. That compares to $13.2 billion for the current year.

Man arrested for disorderly conduct while impeding sidewalk
59 year old Daniel Bennett was arrested for Disorderly Conduct Wednesday afternoon around 2:00, as he sat on the corner of Ferry Way and S. Franklin Street, impeding the sidewalk.

A Juneau Police bulletin said alcohol was not a factor.

Man's caught lingcod siezed
Alaska Wildlife Troopers, Sitka Post say 59 year old Joe Quinn of Pelican retained two lingcod near Yakobi Island. The bag limit is one.

Troopers seized one lingcod. Quinn was cited with bail set at $160 in Sitka District Court.

Auke Bay charter vessel charged with more lines than paying clients A
California man was found in Auke Bay on Wednesday with four fishing lines in the water, but with only two paying clients on board.

28 year old Jordan Davis was cited with operating more fishing lines from than clients and is to appear in Juneau district court in July.

Democrat launching 'Republicans for Begich'
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Democratic U.S. Sen. Mark Begich is launching "Republicans for Begich" as part of his campaign's outreach effort.

Campaign spokesman Max Croes says the group is in keeping with other subsets of supporters, like "Women for Begich," ''Alaska Natives for Begich" and even "Pilots for Begich."

He says these are individuals willing to help with grassroots activities, like reminding friends to vote and sharing messages from the campaign.

Croes said there are Republicans who have known and supported Begich for years.

Three high-profile Republicans are vying to take on Begich. They are Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell, Joe Miller and former state Natural Resources Commissioner Dan Sullivan.

Begich pokes fun at Sullivan in new TV spot
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Democratic U.S. Sen. Mark Begich is poking fun at one of his Republican rivals, suggesting Dan Sullivan's campaign spots show how effective Begich has been.

Begich's latest ad shows him at Anchorage's Dena'ina Center, where Sullivan shot an ad saying Alaska needs "real results, not just talk."

As mayor of Anchorage, Begich says he got the center built. He says a steel plant featured in another Sullivan ad has more business because, as senator, he got the Obama administration to allow more drilling.

Begich then suggests other places in which he says he's gotten results that Sullivan could use for future ads.

Sullivan spokesman Mike Anderson says if Begich wants to take credits for his "alleged accomplishments," he should own up to a record as mayor that included "irresponsible spending."

Wolf pups rescued from wildfire
Responding to a report of an animal den with living occupants found in the smoldering debris of the Funny River Horse Trail Wildfire on Tuesday, an Alaska Department of Fish and Game Wildlife biologist and firefighter rescued five live wolf pups. A sixth pup was found deceased.

Ongoing firefighting activity made the return of adult wolves unlikely, so department staffers in Anchorage found a temporary home for the pups at the Alaska Zoo.

The pups are currently in quarantine and their health is being monitored. Initial examination indicated the pups are about five weeks old and have sustained injuries from porcupine quills.

Meanwhile, arrangements for permanent placement in authorized zoo or wildlife facilities are being made.

Rain, cool temperatures slow wildfire growth
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The fire burning on Alaska's Kenai Peninsula grew by only two square miles Tuesday as light rain and cooler conditions aided firefighters.

Alaska Interagency Incident Management personnel report the Funny River Fire has burned 286 square miles, mostly in the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge.

The human-caused fire began May 19.

Crews continue to focus on direct suppression on the north, west and south edges of the fire.

Firefighters say the fire in the northeast corner has reached areas burned in 2005, which is helping to stop expansion.

Firefighters continue to protect cabins and other structures on the south shore of Skilak (SKEE'-lak) Lake, the Killey River and the east shore of Tustumena (tus-too-MEE'-nah) Lake.

Across Cook Inlet, firefighters have declared the Tyonek (teye-OH'-nek) Fire has been contained.

Gov's office tries to ID boy in Kennedy photo
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Gov. Sean Parnell's office is looking for help identifying a boy in a photo found in the attic of the governor's mansion.

The black and white photo shows the boy with John F. Kennedy. Parnell spokeswoman Sharon Leighow says the governor's office thinks the photo may have been taken in 1958 or 1960, when Kennedy, then a U.S. senator, visited Alaska.

She said there were no markings on the back of the photo, which was framed, and that the Alaska State Museum has been unable to identify the boy or venue.

Leighow said the office knows the boy is not a son of the late-Mike Stepovich, who was one of Alaska's last territorial governors, or state Sen. Dennis Egan, whose father, William, was the first governor at statehood.

Fishery disaster funds to be distributed in Alaska
BETHEL, Alaska (AP) — More than $20 million in federal fishery disaster funds will be distributed in Alaska in response to poor king salmon runs in recent years.

KYUK says federal officials and 11 groups have worked out how some $20.8 million in disaster funds will be split.

The Yukon-Kuskokwim region will receive a little more than $9.6 million of those funds and Cook Inlet will get slightly more than $11.1 million.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration spokeswoman Julie Speegle says funds can be used for efforts to restore the fishery, prevent similar failures or help affected communities. NOAA oversees the National Marine Fisheries Service.

Speegle says the funds are expected to go through several approval steps before they are released in the fall.

Sealaska names Mallot President/CEO
Juneau, Alaska—The Sealaska Board of Directors announced Tuesday that it has appointed Anthony Mallott President and CEO, effective June 28, 2014. Mallott previously held the position of treasurer and chief investment officer at Sealaska.

Since joining Sealaska in 2006, Mallott has been responsible for setting the direction of the treasury activities of the company and the management of corporate investment funds. During his tenure, Sealaska’s investment portfolios have undergone significant growth.

Sealaska has created a five-year strategic plan to realign its operations based on Native values, and has been working aggressively to build a group of sustainable businesses that meet operational objectives and return value to tribal member shareholders.

Last October, Sealaska announced the retirement of President and CEO Chris McNeil Jr. in June 2014 after 13 years in the role.

School spokeswoman: Gun cases cause for concern
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — A spokeswoman for the Juneau School District says two recent cases of students bringing guns to school are cause for concern.

Kristin Bartlett says she considers the district to be safe. But she says this would be a good time to review safety procedures to ensure schools are running regular drills and to make sure students and families understand the expectations for acceptable behavior at school.

Bartlett is compiling data to see if there has been an increase in the number of weapons brought to school.

On May 17, police responded to a local middle school, where they say a 13-year-old had brought a BB gun to detention. Last week, police arrested a 17-year-old boy accused of bringing a pistol to Thunder Mountain High School.

Kauai man pleads guilty in death of girlfriend
LIHUE, Hawaii (AP) — A 27-year-old former Alaska man has pleaded guilty in the stabbing death of his girlfriend in Hawaii.

Steven M. Wilson pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the death of 21-year-old Kendra Elizabeth Lewis last year at a Kapaa condominium where they lived. Lewis was found dead April 26, 2013.

The Garden Island says prosecutors are planning to seek a 40-year minimum sentence. Wilson is scheduled for sentencing Sept. 10.

Wilson was formally of Anchorage and Lewis split time between Anchorage and Kauai. They moved to Hawaii at the beginning of last year.

Trans-Alaska pipeline assessed at $10.2 billion
FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) — Oil companies and Alaska municipalities have 30 days to decide whether to appeal a State Assessment Review Board decision to set the value of the trans-Alaska pipeline at $10.2 billion.

The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports the state assessor had put the value at $5.7 billion, a difference of nearly $4.5 billion.

Oil companies say the pipeline should be assessed at just $2.7 billion. Municipalities argued for an assessment of nearly $13.8 billion.

The board chose a figure closest to the municipalities' request.

The decision drew strong interest after Gov. Sean Parnell dismissed the board's former chairman, former Anchorage property assessor Marty McGee, and replaced him with a member with a lengthy career with the oil industry.

Oil companies have appealed the board's assessment for eight years.

Governor directs payment of health insurance for DPS personnel killed in line of duty

Governor Sean Parnell directed the Department of Public Safety on Friday to continue to pay health insurance premiums for the surviving families of personnel killed in the line of duty.

In the past year, four DPS employees have been killed in the line of duty: Trooper Tage Toll, Mel Nading, Sgt. Patrick Johnson, and Trooper Gabriel Rich.

The governor said. “While we will work next session to address the gaps in state law, I believe it is necessary to act immediately to secure health insurance for the survivors of these state heroes who have given their lives to protect the people of Alaska.”

Sitka Salmon Derby
8 year old Gemma Diehl came in during the last hour of the 59th Annual Sitka Sportsmen's Association Salmon Derby Monday - with the biggest King Salmon of the 3-day weekend - a 51.4 lb King to take the individual lead.

Gemma's mom, Sherry, had the biggest king salmon all weekend with a 48.4 lb king.....but that's a second place king salmon so far now that Gemma came in under the wire with her big catch.

Total pound leader is Brady Harang - with 9 king salmon weighing in at 174.8 over the three days of the tourney.

The final two days of the Sitka Salmon Derby are this coming Saturday and Sunday.

Some Anchorage fires started by cigarettes
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) -Anchorage fire officials say 13 of 21 fires over the past three weeks are the result of careless disposal of cigarettes. KTUU reports that authorities also have responded to blazes caused by children playing with fires. Fire officials say the fires have caused total estimated damage of $1.5 million.

Governor Sean Parnell visits wildfire area
Governor Sean Parnell on Sunday met with local, state and federal officials, and residents on the Kenai Peninsula while surveying the Funny River Fire. The governor received a briefing at the incident command post on the wildfire’s status and took an aerial tour of the affected areas. The governor also visited the marshaling area at the Soldotna Sports Center where Funny River Road residents were checking in after receiving evacuation notices.

Governor Parnell has committed all available state resources to help fight the wildfire that has scorched thousands of acres.  “I appreciate all of the agencies - local, state, and federal - who are working tirelessly to protect life and property,” Governor Parnell said. “I thank Kenai residents for helping their neighbors and heeding evacuation orders. I have directed all State assets to be deployed to help contain the fire.”

Residents can visit for more information.

Photos from the governor’s trip to Kenai are available at:

Joe Miller wins Alaska Republican Assembly straw poll
ANCHORAGE, Alaska – Over the weekend, U.S. Senate candidate Joe Miller handily won the Alaska Republican Assembly’s straw poll, garnering 76 percent of the vote, with Mead Treadwell taking 18 percent, and Dan Sullivan 6 percent.

The Republican Assembly conducted the poll at its annual convention, which took place in Wasilla on Saturday. Other winners of the poll included Ted Cruz for President, Sean Parnell for Governor and now Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan for Lieutenant Governor.

One of the featured speakers at Saturday’s Alaska Republican Assembly Convention included Rev. Rafael Cruz , the father of U.S. Senator Ted Cruz.

State investigating slingshot ride malfunction
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The state is investigating the malfunction of a slingshot-type carnival ride in Anchorage that left two men dangling high above the ground.

Authorities say the ride known as the "Ejection Seat" malfunctioned when one cable snapped. The men were rescued by Anchorage firefighters.

Police have said one of the men sustained injuries that appeared to be non-life-threatening.

KTUU reports the incident is being investigated by the mechanical inspection section of the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

The department's acting director, Al Nagel, says the ride will be completely inspected before it is allowed to be used again.

Committee chosen to review Tongass management plan
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — A 15-member advisory committee has been named by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to provide recommendations on changes in Tongass National Forest management.

CoastAlaska eports Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has told Tongass managers to begin changing from old-growth trees to younger harvests. Vilsack oversees the U.S. Forest Service.

The committee's goal is to find a compromise among environmentalists, loggers, tribal groups and government agencies for managing the country's largest national forest.

The transition goal for the young-growth model is between 10 and 15 years. Until then, the Tongass is expected to supply enough trees for a viable timber industry.

Members of the committee come from various sides of the timber issue.

Committee members and five alternates are set to begin meeting in July, with recommendations due in May 2015.

UPDATE:  Seal pup found in Auke Bay headed to Sea Life Center in Seward
After substantial human interaction, a harbor seal pup that was found at the Auke Bay boat ramp last week will be in the care of the Sea Life Center in Seward.

Julie Speegle with NOAA fisheries says the capture operation took about 20 minutes and the pup is in good condition as of Sunday.

Kate Savage, NOAA Marine Mammal Specialist and Veterinarian, said someone reported Thursday to have seen the pup being born and inadvertently chased away the mom. That person said the pup was in possible respiratory distress and they tried to help by cleaning it.

Savage and her team put signs in the area to warn people to not have contact with the seals and to put dogs on leashes, after there were at least two incidents involving dogs harassing the pup. Savage said they observed the area for bonding behavior from other seals, but determined the mother was not in the vicinity. With a high level of human activity expected in the Auke Bay area, marine mammal experts determined that it would be in the best interest of the pup to take it to the Sea Life Center.  After being trained to fend for itself, the pup will be released back into the Auke Bay area in about one year.

Savage advises that if you see a pup solo, it doesn't mean the animal has been abandoned. Mother seals will go forage for food and return, but could abandon a pup if it receives much human handling.

To report concerns about marine animals please call NOAA's 24 hour hotline at 1-800-853-1964.


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