Alaska News

2014 Primary Election – Contested Races

APRN Alaska News - Tue, 2014-08-12 12:41

For the 2014 Primary Election, candidates from all contested Senate and House districts in the Municipality of Anchorage and the Matanuska-Susitna Valley were invited to participate.

Find the entire playlist by clicking on the “Playlist” button at the top left of the video player.

Categories: Alaska News

2014 Primary Election – Unopposed Candidates

APRN Alaska News - Tue, 2014-08-12 11:47

For the 2014 Primary Election, all unopposed candidates from Senate and House districts in the Municipality of Anchorage and the Matanuska-Susitna Valley were invited to record a 2-minute statement.

Find the entire playlist by clicking on the “Playlist” button at the top left of the video player.

Categories: Alaska News

Alaska News Nightly: August 11, 2014

APRN Alaska News - Mon, 2014-08-11 18:06

Individual news stories are posted under APRN News. You can subscribe to APRN’s news feeds via email, podcast and RSS.

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Mayor Vetoes Labor Compromise

Alexandra Gutierrez, APRN – Juneau

Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan struck down the substitute for Anchorage Ordinance 37 on Monday afternoon.

Russia’s Import Ban Hits Alaskan Seafood Industry

Lauren Rosenthal, KUCB – Unalaska

Alaska’s seafood industry is getting caught in the middle of a power struggle between Russia and western nations.

Bethel Investigating Police Brutality Charge

Daysha Eaton, KYUK – Bethel

A woman from Arizona who works as a professor doing seasonal research in the Y-K Delta says she witnessed an arrest of a citizen by a Bethel Police Officer and she alleges police brutality. City leaders say they’re investigating.

Feds Issue Report on 2013 Dillingham Crash 

The Associated Press

Federal investigators have concluded two Anchorage commercial pilots failed to maintain minimal clearance while circling the Dillingham airport before they died in a 2013 crash. A National Transportation Safety Board report out Monday also faults the air traffic controller who issued ambiguous instructions and didn’t notice the plane’s descent to a dangerous altitude.

Village Fire Crews Heading to Lower 48 to Fight Fires

Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks

Alaska village-based firefighting crews are heading south to fight blazes in the Lower 48.  Alaska Division of Forestry spokesman Sam Harrel is tracking the deployments, which began over the weekend with crews from the communities of Delta Junction, Kaltag, Fort Yukon, Venetie, Koyukuk and Galena.

Ft. Wainwright Closes Area East of Eielson for Training

The Associated Press

Fort Wainwright officials have closed the Yukon Training Area east of Eielson Air Force Base to public use through Aug. 23. Military-training exercises will be ongoing there until the 23rd.

Alaska Exceeds Canadian Chinook Escapement Goal, Decline Remains a Mystery

Emily Schwing, KUAC – Fairbanks

The Yukon River Chinook salmon run is nearly complete according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.  It is the first time in roughly eight years that escapement goals lined out in a treaty between Alaska and Canada have been met.

Search for Missing Fisherman Called Off

Phillip Manning, KTNA – Talkeetna

The search for a missing fisherman around Willow Creek was called off on Saturday.  Jerry Warner of Missouri was last seen on August 3rd walking upstream from an RV campground for a solo fishing trip.  The Alaska State Troopers describe Warner as an experienced outdoorsman, but say that he did not have survival gear or a cell phone with him when he was last seen.

Troopers Find Body of Missing Bethel Man

Daysha Eaton, KYUK – Bethel

Alaska State Troopers found the body of Nick Cooke near Tuntaltuliak Friday.  They received a report from the tribal police officer from Tuntutuliak that a body had been located on the bank of the Kuskokwim River just south of the Kialik River.

Six-Day Marathon: Chugging Along Indoors

Monica Gokey, KSKA – Anchorage

August is a popular time for hitting the trails around Anchorage. But for an elite group of ultrarunners, this week is all about taking their sport indoors. Nearly 50 people from all over the world are chugging away in the Alaska Dome, trying to log as many miles as they can in six days.

Johnson, Stoltze Square Off in Valley Senate Race

Ellen Lockyer, KSKA – Anchorage

Former state representative Bill Stoltze is eyeing a new state senate seat.  The District F seat will include the Eastern Anchorage suburbs of Peters Creek and Chugiak, as well as the greater Palmer area and outlying communities to the North.  But current Palmer mayor DeLena Johnson has thrown her hat into the ring and now the two Republican candidates will face off in the upcoming  August 19 primary.

 

Categories: Alaska News

Search for Missing Fisherman Called Off

APRN Alaska News - Mon, 2014-08-11 17:05

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The search for a missing fisherman around Willow Creek was called off on Saturday.  Jerry Warner of Missouri was last seen on August 3rd walking upstream from an RV campground for a solo fishing trip.  The Alaska State Troopers describe Warner as an experienced outdoorsman, but say that he did not have survival gear or a cell phone with him when he was last seen.

The six-day search included troopers, Matanuska-Susitna Borough emergency responders, and volunteers from a number of search and rescue groups.

About 40 people were searching for Warner at one point using dogs, ATVs, boats, and a helicopter, but no sign of him has been found.

Troopers say that they will analyze and respond if any new clues to Warner’s location are found.  His photograph and description have been added to the Alaska State Trooper website along with more than 90 other missing persons.

Categories: Alaska News

Troopers Find Body of Missing Bethel Man

APRN Alaska News - Mon, 2014-08-11 17:04

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Alaska State Troopers found the body of Nick Cooke near Tuntaltuliak Friday.  They received a report from the tribal police officer from Tuntutuliak that a body had been located on the bank of the Kuskokwim River just south of the Kialik  River.

“Troopers were able to respond and collect the remains have been sent to the state medical examiners office for positive identification,” said Megan Peters, a spokesperson for the Alaska State Troopers.

“At this point we do believe that the remains belong to a man that was the subject of a search and rescue that began on October 25th of last year.”

The family confirmed the body found was the body of Bethel man, Nick Cooke.

Because of protocol, the remains were sent to the State Medical Examiner’s office for positive identification. No foul play is suspected.

Nick Cooke and Jim Lee Napoka were last heard from on October 22nd. They were headed to Tuntutuliak for a funeral and never made it. Freezing weather halted the search in November. Napoka is still missing.

Cooke is the brother of Bethel Native Corporation President and Alaska Federation of Natives Co-Chair, Ana Hoffman.

The family of Nick Cooke says they are preparing for a burial service in Bethel later this week.

Categories: Alaska News

Six-Day Race at the Alaska Dome Goes Heavy on the ‘Ultra’

APRN Alaska News - Mon, 2014-08-11 17:02

 

Ultrarunner Traci Falbo set both a world record and an American record for most distance covered indoors by a woman during a 48-hour race. Falbo clocked nearly 245 miles before collapsing on the track.
Photo by Jeff Genova Photography.

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It was almost eleven at night on a Wednesday in the Alaska Dome last week and Willow, Alaska resident Dave Johnston had been running for nearly three days. Some of that time has was spent hunched over the toilet, puking. Multiday ultrarunning is extremely hard on athletes.

“Stomach’s finally starting to feel better… now it’s just time to run,” Johnston says as he makes his way around the track.

Johnston recovered from his rough start. By Friday, Johnston was in second place, trailing the leader by less than 20 miles.

And the competition was stiff — a lot of the most prominent ultrarunners from throughout the world were logging laps at the Alaska Dome last week. Forty-eight hours into the event, Indiana-based runner Traci Falbo set a world record for most distance covered indoors during a 48-hr. run — she ran almost 243 miles before collapsing on the track.

The six-day ultra event is called “Six Days in the Dome.” It’s just like it sounds: runners log as many miles as they can in six days. It sounds crazy. And it kind of is.

“This is what we’ve chosen to do with our vacation time and our extra dollars,” says Ed Ettinghausen. He placed seventh overall.

Ettinghausen was dressed like a jester, and he brought six different jester outfits to the race — one for each day. His wife and daughter were sleeping at one end of the track while he doggedly put one foot in front of the other with a smile on his face, bells bouncing atop his jester hat.

There’s another guy here from Brazil who ran a hundred and forty-two miles on the first day of the race. You can tell people were equally impressed-slash-appalled by the feat. By Wednesday night, he was out of the race, sleeping on a high jump mattress to recover.

David Johnston of Willow, Alaska was just one of three Alaskans to compete in “Six Days in the Dome.” He earned a reputation among other racers as “the smiley Alaska guy.”
Photo by Jeff Genova Photography.

One of the race organizers, Zane Holscher of North Carolina, says this motley crew of nearly 50 is actually one of the most elite packs of ultrarunners worldwide.

“To do this on this track, day after day, and when you sleep you get so tight and then come out and have to run again. I can’t tell you the level of people we have here — mental toughness, physical toughness, it’s unbelieveable,” Holscher says.

So how’d they end up in Alaska?

“Turns out, there’s only a couple of facilities like this in all of North America with a 400m track indoors. Most are 200 or 300m.”

The race organizers wanted an indoor, temperature-controlled, element-free track that would allow the runners to simply run.

“And this turned out perfect because everyone in Alaska wants to be outside int he summer instead of summer, and we wanted to be inside. So kind of supply and demand. We were able to work out something great with the Dome, and I can’t say enough abvout how great this facility is,” Holscher adds.

The Dome also doubled as a hotel for the race. At one end of the track runners set up camp. Sweaty clothes were draped over hurdles to dry. Athletes were curled up on high jump mats that double as beds.

Ed Ettinghausen takes a break from the race at a make-shift camp at one end of the track. Ettinghausen runs to raise awareness on the importance of organ donors. You can find his website at https://www.facebook.com/groups/RunJesterRun/.
Photo by Jeff Genova Photography.

And the event even served its own food. Three meals a day.

“Eggs, bacon, PopTarts, oatmeal, PopTarts… looks like they’re having PopTarts at every meal.”

There’s even sushi on the menu plan.

After six sleepless days and nights, the race finished on Sunday morning. Race organizer Joe Fejes of Atlanta, Georgia took first, having logged five-hundred and eighty miles. For the women, Liz Bauer logged 425 miles for the win, and sixth place overall. No runners broke the 600-mile goal the cash prize was contingent on.

Categories: Alaska News

Johnson, Stoltze Square Off in Valley Senate Race

APRN Alaska News - Mon, 2014-08-11 17:01

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Former state representative Bill Stoltze is eyeing a new state senate seat.  The District F seat will include the Eastern Anchorage suburbs of Peters Creek and Chugiak, as well as the greater Palmer area and outlying communities to the North.  But current Palmer mayor DeLena Johnson has thrown her hat into the ring and now the two Republican candidates will face off in the upcoming  August 19 primary.

Categories: Alaska News

Mayor Vetoes Labor Compromise

APRN Alaska News - Mon, 2014-08-11 16:14

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After months of compromise between the Anchorage Assembly and public employee unions, the city’s voters may still end up deciding on a controversial labor law due to a mayoral veto.

Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan struck down the substitute for Anchorage Ordinance 37 on Monday afternoon. AO-37, which the mayor championed, prohibited the municipality’s unions from striking, capped pay raises, and put limits on collective bargaining. The law was panned by labor, and a campaign to repeal it collected 20,000 signatures to get their referendum on the ballot.

The ordinance that was passed last week was an effort to avoid that outcome, and it got rid of some elements of AO-37 that labor found unpopular. But the compromise only passed seven to four, one vote short of being able to override a mayoral veto.

The assembly has the option of rejecting the veto at a special meeting on Tuesday night, if they are able to secure the eighth necessary vote. If they cannot, AO-37 will remain law until the repeal question is put to voters in November. Mayor Sullivan, who is running for lieutenant governor, is expected to appear on the same ballot.

Categories: Alaska News

Russia’s Import Ban Hits Alaskan Seafood Industry

APRN Alaska News - Mon, 2014-08-11 16:12

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Alaska’s seafood industry is getting caught in the middle of a power struggle between Russia and western nations.

Photos taken during the 2006 biennial survey of the Aleutian Islands, Leg 1 on F/V Gladiator, 1 June to 25 June 2006. N. W. Raring, Field Party Chief.

Ever since Russia seized part of Ukraine this winter, sanctions against it have been stacking up. Now, Russia’s fighting back by banning food imports from the United States and a handful of other countries.

Alaska shipped almost $9 million worth of pollock to Russia last year. Some of it went to fast food chains, including McDonald’s. A significant chunk of it is used for making surimi — better known as fake crab.

At least one shipment of surimi was on its way to Russia when the ban came out on Thursday. Undercurrent News reports that the fish could get diverted to South Korea or another eastern market.

That’s got some American fishing advocates fired up. A former U.S. Congressman has started the “Just Say Nyet” campaign, seeking a corresponding ban on Russian fish coming into the States.

But it’s slow going: As of Friday afternoon, his petition to the federal government had only gathered 18 signatures.

Categories: Alaska News

Bethel Investigating Police Brutality Charge

APRN Alaska News - Mon, 2014-08-11 16:10

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A woman from Arizona who works as a professor doing seasonal research in the Y-K Delta says she witnessed an arrest of a citizen by a Bethel Police Officer and she alleges police brutality. City leaders say they’re investigating.

Categories: Alaska News

Feds Fault Pilots, Controller in 2013 Dillingham Crash

APRN Alaska News - Mon, 2014-08-11 16:09



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Federal investigators have concluded two Anchorage commercial pilots failed to maintain minimal clearance while circling the Dillingham airport before they died in a 2013 crash.

A National Transportation Safety Board report out Monday also faults the air traffic controller who issued ambiguous instructions and didn’t notice the plane’s descent to a dangerous altitude.

The Ace Air Cargo plane crashed March, 8, 2013, about 20 miles northeast of Dillingham in southwest Alaska.

Categories: Alaska News

Village Fire Crews Heading to Lower 48 to Fight Fires

APRN Alaska News - Mon, 2014-08-11 16:08

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Alaska village-based firefighting crews are heading south to fight blazes in the Lower 48.  Alaska Division of Forestry spokesman Sam Harrel is tracking the deployments, which began over the weekend with crews from the communities of Delta Junction, Kaltag, Fort Yukon, Venetie, Koyukuk and Galena.

Categories: Alaska News

Ft. Wainwright Closes Area East of Eielson for Training

APRN Alaska News - Mon, 2014-08-11 15:42

Fort Wainwright officials have closed the Yukon Training Area east of Eielson Air Force Base to public use through Aug. 23. Military-training exercises will be ongoing there until the 23rd.

Post officials say in a news release that the quarter-million area training range is off-limits to all. They say people who’ve had regular access through the area to get to private or leased property must use an alternate route.

Training under way in the Yukon Training Area includes joint exercises with Army personnel as part of the latest Red Flag training round that began this week.

Meanwhile, Stryker Brigade soldiers from Wainwright are conducting exercises in the Donnelly Training Area, south of Fort Greely.

Categories: Alaska News

Alaska Exceeds Canadian Chinook Escapement Goal, Decline Remains a Mystery

APRN Alaska News - Mon, 2014-08-11 08:39

The Yukon River Chinook salmon run is nearly complete according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

It’s the first time in roughly eight years that escapement goals lined out in a treaty between Alaska and Canada have been met.

This year, managers up and down the Yukon River set restrictions on both commercial and subsistence harvest of King salmon. They were hoping to see up 55,000 fish to pass into Canada.

Numbers recorded through the first week of August show that more than 60,000 King salmon have passed the sonar counter at Eagle.

“This is not a good year, but with all the efforts by everybody, I think we’re continuing to put fish on the spawning ground and hopefully that holds us over until the production trend changes,” Fred Bue, the Yukon Area In-season Manager for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, said.

It’s unclear why the King salmon population has been in decline for years. Bue says biologists do have a theory for this year’s uptick in returning Chinook.

“One indication is that five year old age class is fairly strong and in 2009, we had a fairly good escapement that year,” he said. “So, we are anticipating the six year olds to be fairly good next year.

“Females tend to be six year old fish, so we’re hoping to get a higher percentage of females in the return next year.”

More females means more fish eggs, which could potentially mean more fish in the future. King salmon are just now arriving at their Canadian spawning grounds. Bue says the Department of Fish and Game is working with Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans on how best to manage them.

“Roughly half the Chinook salmon spawn in Canada and so a lot of the information we get we need to share with both harvest on both sides of the border and the escapement and what gets into the spawning grounds that’s the biology of the fish that we’re seeing in the returns,” Bue said. “Alaska is only a portion of the story and Canada is the other half so we need to combine our information.”

Canadian managers have also imposed commercial and subsistence harvest restrictions on King salmon. With more than 95 percent of this year’s kind salmon having already passed through Alaska, restrictions in Alaska’s portion of the Upper Yukon have been lifted.

Categories: Alaska News

Red Flag Military Exercises Begin at Eielson

APRN Alaska News - Mon, 2014-08-11 08:28

Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska’s interior has kicked off its third series of Red Flag exercises of the year.

The exercises taking place at the 65,000-square-mile Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex began Friday.

The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports that air operations will be conducted until Aug. 22 out of Eielson, as well as Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage.

The exercises will include drills from U.S. and allied pilots, air crews and support personnel.

The entire Yukon Training Area will be closed through Aug. 23 because of the training events. People with regular access through military lands must use an alternate route to leased or private properties.

Categories: Alaska News

North Slope Borough Leaders Getting Pay Raises

APRN Alaska News - Mon, 2014-08-11 08:24

North Slope Borough’s mayor and at least 10 other leaders are getting big raises.

Alaska Dispatch News reports that Mayor Charlotte Brower will see her salary jump by about $24,000 to more than $222,000. That’s roughly $90,000 more than Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan makes.

Other borough leaders are getting raises of up to 19 percent.

Officials say the raises are long overdue. Brower told Borough Assembly members she sought higher pay for department heads in order to attract key employees who could make more money working for other agencies and corporations in the oil-rich North Slope region.

The North Slope Borough serves seven villages and the city of Barrow, with about 9,700 residents spread across an area the size of Minnesota. The communities can only be reached by plane. The Department of Defense ranks Barrow as one of the costliest places to live in Alaska.

Categories: Alaska News

Pilot Killed, Passenger Injured in Big Lake Crash

APRN Alaska News - Mon, 2014-08-11 08:23

Alaska State Troopers say a pilot is dead and his passenger is being treated for life-threatening injuries after a plane crash at the Big Lake Airport north of Anchorage.

The single-engine Piper Comanche suffered some kind of engine trouble after taking off Sunday just before 2:30 a.m. Investigators say the pilot, 50-year-old Christopher Cyphers, of Anchorage, tried to return to the airport for an emergency landing, but the plane struck a tree.

Cyphers was killed and the passenger was taken to an Anchorage-area hospital.

Categories: Alaska News

Woman charged with negligent homicide for killing child on bike

APRN Alaska News - Fri, 2014-08-08 17:20
Her Yang Thao was charged Friday with criminally negligent homicide for hitting and killing a four-year-old girl who was riding her bicycle in Anchorage in May. The 47-year-old woman is accused of talking on her cell phone and speeding when she ran over the girl who was riding with her sisters in the Dimond Estates Mobile Home Park. Thao stopped her car after the accident and cooperated with the police. Police did not find any evidence of intoxication. If found guilty, Thao could face up to four years in jail. On Thursday, a driver who struck and killed another cyclist while allegedly driving under the influence was charged with manslaughter. Alexandra Anne Ellis struck and killed Jeffery Dusenbury on July 19. Under Alaska law, manslaughter is a class A felony and has harsher punishments than criminally negligent homicide, which is a class B felony. Vehicle drivers have killed three people on bicycles in Anchorage this year.
Categories: Alaska News

As Project Chariot Clean-Up Ends, Legacy Lingers for Point Hope

APRN Alaska News - Fri, 2014-08-08 16:50

During the Cold War, the U.S. Atomic Energy Agency made plans to detonate nuclear bombs a few dozen miles from Point Hope. The idea–part of Operation Ploughshares–was to make an Arctic deep draft port by harnessing war-time technology for civil engineering projects with strategic value. Strong opposition from Point Hope halted those plans, but not before secretive experiments were conducted.

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The staging ground for a final clean up of the Project Chariot Site, 23 miles from Point Hope. Photo: Zachariah Hughes, KNOM.

 

This summer, state and federal agencies are cleaning out what they hope are the last remnants from Project Chariot’s legacy, even as residents of Point Hope say they still feel left out of the conversation about what happens on their land.

On Wednesday, The U.S. Department of Energy brought a small group of reporters to see the bare-bones camp where remediation work began in July. At the Cape Thompson site, a few tents are clustered behind rows of Connex trailers, backhoes and four-wheelers buzzed about, and the workers piling bags of dirt for removal all carry either 12-gauge shotguns or holstered .44′s as bear protection. Some have both. The operation is costing around $3,000,000, and the whole point is removing soil that was tainted with diesel when a series of test-wells were dug in the early-60s.

“It’s important for us as an organization, and it’s important for me personally,” said Mark Kautsky in the back of an all-terrain vehicle bouncing from one site station to another. Kautsky has overseen the Chariot site for DOE’s Office of Legacy Management, and worked on its clean-up since 2009. “I want to make sure that the community understands that we take this seriously, and that we want to do everything we can to right the wrongs that have been done over the years.”

Remediation work includes cutting and capping pipes extending as far as 1,200 feet underground that were used to gather environmental data. Photo: Zachariah Hughes, KNOM.

Kautsky sees DOE’s work not just as the environmental task of shipping out fuel-tinged soil, but also rebuilding the trust-relationship with the community of point Hope.

“The wrongs that we’re talking about [are a] lack of adequate communication, a bully approach to doing the projects without consultation, without informing the citizens of what’s going on over here,” Kautsky continued.  “And what we’re trying to do is just heal that wound, and do what we can to improve the relationship.”

Though atomic bombs never went off, for decades the government was highly secretive about what did happen at Cape Thompson. And even what is known can seem troubling.

“They were called scaling tests, done with high explosives,” Kautsky explained, responding to a query on lingering suspicions detonations took place. “That question about whether nuclear devices were ever brought to the site or not is one we’ve looked into very closely. And there was never the kind of equipment that would have been necessary to actually drill a hole that was the size that was required to put a nuclear device into. So no, these weren’t nuclear materials that was shipped up here–conventional high explosives.”

John Halverson monitors contaminated sites for the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, which also looked into Chariot’s records. From Halverson’s perspective, the department’s standards for cleaning up all the known contaminants will be met this summer.

“For the clean-up work this should be the end of anything that’s planned,” Halverson said as the group approached the site of the Charlie test well. “There will still be some documentation as far as where the bore-holes are planned. But there’s been a lot of record reviews, and a lot of work done to try and identify all the potential problems. And from information that’s available we think that this’ll be the end of the clean-up work.”

Agencies visited Point Hope in March to discuss plans for the season’s work at Chariot, and they are heading back in a few weeks, once the project’s done.

But leaders in Point Hope say this is just more of the same.

“We don’t want to hear it by word of mouth. We want to see,” said Steve Oomittuk, sitting at home in Point Hope, the second-floor room filled with family pictures, art work, and DVDs. “I don’t know of anyone from our community working over there to watch, just to make sure this is happening.”

Last year, Oomittuk retired from a decade as mayor of Point Hope, and does not believe the government has earned back enough trust to be believed at face value. He and others note that when it comes to Chariot, Point Hope has repeatedly been consulted either late or after work already took place, only to find out more for themselves later on.

Jack Schaefer is the Tribal president and current mayor in Point Hope, and since the early-90s has poured over records and classified documents trying to figure out for certain what happened at Chariot.

“There’s still eight boxes that need to be declassified,” Schaefer said in his office within the domed Qalagi building.

For Schaefer, the paper-battles over declassification are not just quibbles about the historical record. He wants to know if materials brought to the site can explain the elevated levels of stomach and throat cancer that killed many in Point Hope in the years after the Chariot experiments.

“I was hoping that you would talk to some of those that were still alive, that had witnessed some of the stuff—I don’t know if you’ve been able to do that?” Schaffer asked, slightly slowing the frenetic clip of his speech. “We lost a lot of people, and so we don’t have very many witnesses in regard to that.”

Oomittuk has spent most his life whaling, and said that if the community is unsure–or can’t trust–what the government did, then there is insecurity over whether subsistence foods are safe to eat.

“We always believe that the animals gave themselves to us. That made us who we are as a people. Our identity. Our food source. Our clothing. Our shelter,” Oomittuk explained. “That Cape Thompson area is very vital to us.”

Schaffer was not certain when exactly DOE is expected to arrive in Point Hope for their final update. But he said certain steps still have to be met for any of their claims to be credible.

“I do hope that a trust-relationship is mended, and that there is more transparency, and that we do get the complete set of declassifications, and deal with it on a government-to-government basis,” he explained.

There will probably always be disagreements over what exactly the coded and complicated troves of documents related to Project Chariot actually show. But for leaders in Point Hope to still not trust or be up to speed on what is going on now means Chariot’s legacy isn’t over yet.

Categories: Alaska News

With Capitol renovations on schedule, contractors get more work

APRN Alaska News - Fri, 2014-08-08 16:49

The Alaska Legislative Council approved an additional $650,000 to its $5.8 million Capitol building renovation contract on Thursday.

Demolition of the north wall of the west wing of the Capitol will proceed this fall, instead of in 2015. The updated contract won’t change the overall scope of the renovations in Juneau.

Listen now: 

This was the view from Rep. Alan Austerman’s fifth floor Capitol office in June. (Photo courtesy Legislative Affairs Agency)

This summer’s work was focused on the west wall of the Capitol along Main Street. That’s where scaffolding’s been up all summer. The work has been as much about discovering the integrity of the 84-year-old building’s structure, as it is about making it earthquake resistant.

Wayne Jensen is the project architect. He told the Legislative Council, which manages the legislature’s budget and support staff, that the contractors are on schedule and the work has gone well this summer.

“The concrete frame that was exposed is in good shape,” Jensen said. “We found there’s some discrepancy in the plumbness of the building, that the concrete was out of plumb a little bit.”

In other words, the walls weren’t quite vertical.

“And we’re able to deal with that. So all in all, things have gone well.”

Jensen told legislators that doing extra work this season will save time and could save the state money.

It also resolves the contractors’ concern about a possible conflict next year. Demolishing the north wall of the west wing while masonry work is underway on the new and improved west wall would be bad.

Jon Pulver is Dawson Construction’s project engineer.

“And the problem is, if you’re doing that, and you have masons that make it up, essentially, if they catch us as we’re going around and demoing, then we’ll have to hold them off because you can’t have that vibration going through and having the brick and the fresh mortar with vibration,” Pulver said.

The mortar could set improperly, according to Dawson.

The overall Capitol renovation is expected to be complete in 2016. The contractors are working their way around the Capitol clockwise, rebuilding exterior walls. Work will continue to be scheduled around the winter legislative sessions.

In addition to the earthquake improvements, the project will also expand the building into the courtyard and replace the heating system.

Contractors completed the first phase in 2013. It focused on the main entrance of the Capitol, making the marble steps, marble columns and the portico the columns supported structurally sound. They had all become very vulnerable to collapse in an earthquake.

 

Categories: Alaska News
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