Alaska News

Alaskans March In Anchorage To Support Justice For All

APRN Alaska News - Sat, 2014-12-06 19:44

Supporters of justice for all march through downtown Anchorage

Carrying signs and chanting “Hands up, don’t shoot” and “Black lives matter” a crowd of more than 150 Alaskans marched peacefully through downtown Anchorage Saturday afternoon to draw attention to issues of racial inequality and justice, after the shooting of an unarmed black man in Missouri and the choking death of another black man in New York ended with no charges for the officers involved.

Alaskans march for justice in downtown Anchorage

The group of racially diverse Alaskans left from the parking lot of the NAACP offices around 2:15 Saturday afternoon. The crowd, filling the sidewalk and spread out for more than a block chanted in time to a drum carried by Anchorage resident Cal Williams and waved to drivers who honked, waved and occasionally cheered out their vehicle windows. The group ended up back at the NACCP office parking lot, where hot chocolate was offered to ward off the afternoon chill.

Supporters of justice for all people gather in the NAACP parking lot after a march through downtown Anchorage

Alaskans march peacefully through downtown Anchorage on Saturday afternoon to support equal justice for all.

Categories: Alaska News

Anchorage DJ Held on $25,000 Bail for Child Pornography Charges

APRN Alaska News - Fri, 2014-12-05 18:20

The state’s request for a $25,000 bail is high, and comes with additional conditions. Photo: Zachariah Hughes, KSKA.

An Anchorage DJ is charged with five felony counts related to child pornography. The case highlights Alaska law enforcement’s push to keep up with cyber crimes in a rapidly evolving digital environment.

At a pre-trial arraignment Friday in Anchorage, James Laplante, who goes by “Jimmy O’Brien” on his KASH 107.5 FM morning show, a judge reviewed charges connected with possession and distribution of sexually explicit images, as well as enticement of a minor.

According to charging documents filed by the State Department of Law, officers with the Anchorage Police Department’s Cyber Crimes division received two tips from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children about possible activity in the Anchorage area. Following the reports, APD eventually requested warrants to search online services Instagram, Gmail, and KIK–a messenger app–connected to Laplante, as well as IP addresses registered with both his home and work. The state District Attorney’s Office claims more than 1,000 explicit images were also found on an external hard-drive, and that during an interview with law enforcement after his DJ shift, Laplante admitted to storing images on his iPhone 6 Plus and work computer.

In the last 15 years the department’s cyber crimes division has had to become more proactive, said Glen Klinkhart, a retired Anchorage detective who now runs a digital consulting firm.

“APD started leading the forefront here in Alaska to go out there and do these cases,” Klinkhart explained, “whether it’s file sharing of child pornography, or online enticement .”

Finding evidence in online trafficking cases is time consuming. Encryption and constantly changing distribution practices make child pornography a moving target for officials to combat. And given the number of crimes against minors in Alaska, agencies have had to be strategic in picking where and  how to intervene.

“We have a terrible amount of child abuse in the state,” said Klinkhard. “You mix that with technology, and it’s not uncommon that we have so many of these particular cases that come up. It’s a mile wide and a mile deep, and we can only work so much. It’s a target-rich environment, is what we say.”

Bail was set at $25,000 for Laplante, along with conditions that he have no contact with any jueveniles, or use any device that can connect to the internet. His next court appearance is on Tuesday in Anchorage.

 

Categories: Alaska News

Fire Destroys Kivalina’s Only Store

APRN Alaska News - Fri, 2014-12-05 17:06

A fire destroyed Kivalina’s only store early Friday morning, leaving the Northwest Alaska village of 400 without all the food and supplies that were stored there.

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Colleen Swan with Kivalina’s volunteer fire department says she got the call around 1 o’clock this morning, but when firefighters arrived, the blaze had already engulfed the roof. Nothing could be done to save the store, so responders focused on preventing the fire from spreading to nearby buildings. Troopers are traveling to Kivalina to investigate the cause.

One volunteer firefighter was medevaced after being sprayed with flame retardant, but has since returned home uninjured.

Swan says the village’s entire stock of food and supplies was destroyed, though hardware and non-food items stored separately in a warehouse were not damaged.

Categories: Alaska News

Juneau Schools To Replace Controversial Texts With Local History

APRN Alaska News - Fri, 2014-12-05 17:03

Juneau Schools Superintendent Mark Miller reads his decision in the company of three guests – Marcelo Quinto, Charlotte McConnell and Katherine Hope – who attended Native boarding schools as children. (Photo by Lisa Phu/KTOO)

Juneau Schools Superintendent Mark Miller says the district will remove four controversial readers from the elementary school language arts curriculum. He announced his decision at a press conference Thursday at the Zach Gordon Youth Center.

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Back in August, community members raised concerns about texts depicting Alaska Native and Native American tragedies. The readers were called distorted, inaccurate and insensitive. A district committee reviewed the curriculum materials and voted 7-2 to remove them from classrooms.

Superintendent Mark Miller didn’t announce his decision alone – he brought along three Native elders who had all attended Native boarding schools.

Charlotte McConnell was 7 when her mother died and her father sent her and her siblings to boarding school.

She was told by her aunt, “‘You can’t speak no Tlingit, you got to speak English, you’re going to school.’ And so that’s where I got understanding English only.”

McConnell attended schools in Juneau, Seward, Wrangell and Sitka.

The loss of cultural identity at Native boarding schools is one of the experiences depicted in the McGraw-Hill Reading Wonders curriculum. Others were the Trail of Tears and the excavation of Native burial grounds.

Miller says the readers don’t meet the needs of Juneau students, but he thinks it’s positive the curriculum includes instructional time for understanding Native experiences.

“I am calling on the community to come together with the school district to document and tell your truth. Come into our classrooms. Help us teach our children about our local history,” Miller says.

Most copies of the readers will be returned to the publisher, he says, and replaced with materials developed by the district in collaboration with Goldbelt Heritage Foundation and Sealaska Heritage Institute. A few copies will be kept at the district office for students who wish to read them.

He says understanding culture and race is an important part of any student’s education.

“Whether in Ferguson, Mo., Juneau, Alaska, or anywhere in between, difficult conversations and debates need to occur. We are all products of both our own personal experiences as well as those of our ancestors. Academic institutes, by their very nature, are an important forum in which to have these conversations and debates,” Miller says.

Paul Berg is a curriculum developer and cultural specialist at Goldbelt Heritage Foundation. His report on the readers was the formal complaint that led to their removal. He said the texts misrepresented the historical reality and marginalized the experiences of the victims. Berg is pleased with Miller’s decision.

“It’s an opportunity to confront some uncomfortable historical facts and historical realities and it’s an opportunity to bring about healing, healing within the Native community but also within the non-Native community,” Berg says.

Freda Westman is Grand President of theAlaska Native Sisterhood. For her, the decision was the only one Miller could’ve made.

“This was not a Native issue; it was an issue for all children. All Alaskans want their children to be educated correctly and be given the information no matter what, but it depicts it truthfully. That’s what history is about,” Westman says.

She’s grateful for all the community members – Native and non-Native – who came together to make sure the materials were removed.

“We have been fighting these battles for a long time. Over 40 years, I’ve been doing this,” Westman says.

She hopes the district and the Alaska Native community will work together more closely from now on.

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story said Juneau School District will be working with Sealaska to develop replacement materials. The district will be working with Sealaska Heritage Institute. 

Categories: Alaska News

Land Conservation Project Preserves Over 1,000 Acres Of Eklutna Land

APRN Alaska News - Fri, 2014-12-05 17:02

Eklutna, Inc. and the Greatland Trust have partnered on a land conservation project that will preserve over 1,000 acres of Eklunta, Inc. owned land for subsistence use.

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The land is a prime area for hunting, berry picking and fishing and contains high quality salmon and migratory bird habitat.

Eklutna CEO Curtis McQueen says the deal helps balance growth and development in the Valley with land conservation and cultural values. He says the land is “conserved for future generations of Eklutna people.”

The lands will remain under Eklutna Inc. ownership for use by shareholders, but public recreation access through permits will continue. Phil Shepherd is executive director of the Greatland Trust.

“We’ve been working with Eklutna four years now on a number of projects throughout their holdings, and they are voluntary agreements that place their lands in conservation status,” Shepherd said.

Shepherd says the conservation agreement, although voluntary, is a legal agreement between a landowner and the land trust that permanently restricts future development and subdivision on the lands.

“The funding comes from a variety of sources, grant funding, and we also get funding from wetland mitigation,” Shepherd said. “We pool all those funds together and use the funds to purchase the conservation easement and then put together a land management fund.”

Shepherd says the land management fund is accessible to both Eklutna and the Trust.

Categories: Alaska News

Santa Steers Blackhawk Sleigh to Newtok

APRN Alaska News - Fri, 2014-12-05 17:01

Operation Santa Claus traveled to Newtok, AK on December 4, 2014. (Photo by Ben Matheson / KYUK)

Christmas is still three weeks out, but Santa Claus made an early visit to Newtok Thursday with the help of the Alaska Army and Air National Guard.

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The explanations for why Santa is on a different schedule range from needing reindeer rest to a new global delivery scheme, but in any case he’s with the Alaska Army National Guard as they launch a Blackhawk helicopter loaded with presents to Newtok. 45 minutes later, the payload for Operation Santa Claus is here.

The community of nearly 400 located west of Bethel and is eroding into the Ningaluk River, but for the students lined up in the school gym there was only one thing that matters. The kids chanted “Santa! Santa!”
A long line of kids waited to meet Santa and Mrs. Claus and get a present. Grant Kashatok, the Newtok Principal, explains the excitement’s been building for weeks, but not without some pause.

“We have a lot of skeptics out there. A lot of them are going to say ‘Are you for real?’ That kind of thing,” said Kashatok

Indeed, six year old Nevaeh George and her classmates had a few questions.

“We’re thinking it’s fake,” said George.

That fact may not be confirmed until closer to Christmas. Dina Banez, co-chair of the Operation Santa Claus Board, says the event is only possible with the support of a long list of businesses and non-profits, presumably run by elves.

“Every child from kindergarten to high school, will get a backpack. Inside are school supplies; papers, pens, highlighters, a water bottle, some trinkets along the way,” said Banez.

Plus the presents, and new books. To top it off, Rich Owens, the self-described Chief Ice Cream Tester for Tastee Freez in Anchorage is dishing out ice cream Sundays.

“It’s been intense, it’s been great. We’ve whipped out about 240 in 40 minutes,” said Owens.

The partnership between the Guard and Santa has been going for 58 years. In 1956, St. Marys was the first community to receive a boost from the Alaska Air National Guard. Brigadier General Tim O’Brien is the Commander of the Alaska Air National Guard.

“We have armories in almost all of the outlaying communities across the state. And we’re always looking for more goods folks. But there are your neighbors, these are your friends and neighbors,” said O’Brien.

Monica Kasayuli sat in the bleachers and enjoyed the afternoon with her kids.

“This is the happiest of their lives,” said Kasayuli.

The ice cream and presents are no doubt real. But is Santa in three weeks early? After most of the town had already sat down with Santa this reporter approached Mrs. Claus and her husband on behalf of the curious students.

“Just take your hand right here, shake his hand. What’s that feel like? Is that real?”, she asked. “And his heart’s as big as they come,” said Claus.

Shishmaref was also slated for a visit from Operation Santa Claus this weekend.

Categories: Alaska News

AK: Drumline

APRN Alaska News - Fri, 2014-12-05 17:00

(Photo by Anne Hillman, KSKA – Anchorage)

Imagine you’re in middle school. You don’t love math or history or any other subject. But there’s this thing you look forward to everyday after school. It’s called drumline. And a teacher at Clark Middle School thinks it can help kids learn about music and teach them some other skills too.

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After the bells rings one fall afternoon, kids flood out of Clark Middle School. But about 30 of them stay behind in the multipurpose room, preparing to practice.

They set down their backpacks, chat with their friends and strap on their drum sets. Some heft mighty bass drums while others grab sets of shiny brass cymbals. The band director walks in and within seconds the students are transformed from talkative kids to attentive musicians.

“Up then down then up again after the next paragraph and before “leading the quad..,” the director says.

(Photo by Anne Hillman, KSKA – Anchorage)

Clark Middle School has the only drumline in Anchorage, though other schools are thinking of starting them. A drumline is the percussion section of a marching band, but at Clark they play alone. The program began last year, and students can’t wait to sign up.

During practice kids sit at tables until it’s their turn to play. The school doesn’t have enough of the four different types of percussion instruments for everyone. Even in the cavernous room, the sound is overwhelming.

Leading the quad drum section is a slight, soft spoken boy named Zaci Charles. He says he’s not really into any school subjects.

“Uh… I don’t like none. I don’t really like…none,” he said.

But Zaci loves drumline, “It’s just fun. You don’t have to – there’s really no rules, just make it sound good.”

He plays the quads, a set of four drums that, unlike the other drums, have various tones and pitches.

“It’s like more complex than the other drums and stuff like that. And I like it,” he said.

Zaci also likes teaching his fellow students how to play and keeping them in line. He may not like school, but he says he wants to go to college at North Carolina A&T because of their nationally known drumline.

His friend, 8th grader Vincent Miller, plans to join him. He’s not very excited about school either, but drumming is his passion. He’s the lead snare drummer.

Vincent says he picked it because it’s like hitting a table. Vincent and Zaci have written songs together and taught them to the rest of the drumline. Vincent also offers words of wisdom.

“Like say you’re doing a stick flip, the more you worry about it, the more chance you’re gonna drop it,” he said. “If you just breathe and do it without thinking about it, you have less of a chance of dropping it.”

Band Director Adrian Carroll says the drumline kids are motivated student leaders; he’s just there to give some guidance.

“There’s no students that work harder than the students involved in drumline and some of them – they just have such a passion and fire for music,” Carroll said.

Carroll says drumline teaches the students life skills, like decision making and confidence. He’s used drumming and marching bands to inspire students in Montana, Texas, and even Costa Rica. He says for students who don’t know much about music, he has them drum to the rhythm of words.

“If it’s a five, use hippopotamus or you use hamburger if they’re doing 16th notes. So you use little words like that,” Carroll said. “Things they can relate to, that they know. and they’re like ‘oh let me just beat the drum to this beat, this word’ and it tricks them into playing music without them realizing it.”

Drumline has inspired some students to join Carroll’s band class. He says that can lead to a little chaos. Drumline is about playing as loud as possible to be heard across a football field, though in Anchorage they’re more likely to be seen at ribbon cuttings and community events. Carroll often has to remind students that band class is comparatively sedate.

“They’re breaking out the drumline dynamics and playing forte, and I’m like “alright! We’re back into a concert setting so we need to bring the volume level, let’s bring that down to a one. My amp goes one to ten. Let’s turn it to an eleven after school,” Carroll said.

In the multipurpose room, he lets the kids make some noise, then teaches them to turn it into music.

Categories: Alaska News

300 Villages: Noorvik

APRN Alaska News - Fri, 2014-12-05 16:59

This week, we’re heading to Noorvik, a town of about 650 people, located near Kotzebue in Northwest Alaska. Bobby Wells is a lifelong resident and acting administrator of Noorvik.

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Categories: Alaska News

Alaska News Nightly: December 5, 2014

APRN Alaska News - Fri, 2014-12-05 16:58

Stories are posted on the APRN news page. You can subscribe to APRN’s newsfeeds via emailpodcast and RSS. Follow us on Facebook at alaskapublic.org and on Twitter @aprn

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Gov to Release Parnell Budget Without Endorsements

The Associated Press

Gov. Bill Walker has released his predecessor’s budget without changes and without endorsement.

Walker Administration Preparing Energy Disaster Declaration

Alexandra Gutierrez, APRN – Juneau

When Bill Walker was running for governor, addressing the cost of consumer energy was a major part of his platform.

Anchorage DJ Arraigned On Child Porn Charges

Zachariah Hughes, KSKA – Anchorage

An Anchorage DJ has been charged with five felony counts related to possessing and distributing child pornography. The case highlights Alaska law enforcement’s push to keep up with cyber crimes in a rapidly evolving digital environment.

Fire Destroys Kivalina’s Only Store

Jenn Ruckel, KNOM – Nome

A fire destroyed Kivalina’s only store early Friday morning, leaving the northwest Alaska village of 400 without all the food and supplies that were stored there.

Anchorage NAACP Hosting Peaceful Rally

Anne Hillman, KSKA – Anchorage

The Anchorage NAACP is hosting a peaceful rally on Saturday in memory of two unarmed African-American men who were killed by police in the Lower 48 over the summer.

Juneau Schools To Replace Controversial Texts With Local History

Lisa Phu, KTOO – Juneau

Juneau Schools Superintendent Mark Miller says the district will remove four controversial readers from the elementary school language arts curriculum.

Back in August, community members raised concerns about texts depicting Alaska Native and Native American tragedies. The readers were called distorted, inaccurate and insensitive.

Land Conservation Project Preserves Over 1,000 Acres Of Eklutna Land

Ellen Lockyer, KSKA – Anchorage

An Alaska Native Corporation and the Great Land Trust Have Sealed a Conservation Partnership.

Santa Steers Blackhawk Sleigh to Newtok

Ben Matheson, KYUK – Bethel

Christmas is still three weeks out, but Santa Claus made an early visit to Newtok yesterday with the help of the Alaska Army and Air National Guard.

AK: Drumline

Anne Hillman, KSKA – Anchorage

Imagine you’re in middle school. You don’t love math or history or any other subject. But there’s this thing you look forward to everyday after school.  It’s called drumline. And a teacher at Clark Middle School thinks it can help kids learn about music and teach them some other skills too.

300 Villages: Noorvik

This week, we’re heading to Noorvik, a town of about 650 people, located near Kotzebue in Northwest Alaska. Bobby Wells is a lifelong resident and acting administrator of Noorvik.

Categories: Alaska News

NAACP to host peaceful rally remembering Mike Brown, Eric Garner

APRN Alaska News - Fri, 2014-12-05 16:36

The Anchorage NAACP is hosting a peaceful rally on Saturday in memory of two unarmed African-American men who were killed by police in the lower 48 over the summer. NAACP President Wanda Laws says Alaskans need to be part of the national dialogue about race relations and police actions.

“We’re not immune to that. We hope that it never happens here, but we need to recognize that there needs to be a national conversation. There are people who are frightened and also we need to raise awareness that there needs to be more communication, more understanding, and actually more community involvement.”

Laws says she thinks communication between the local police force and minorities is good in Anchorage. But she says continued open communication is necessary to maintain trust within the community and prevent tragedies.

The rally will start at 2 pm on Saturday in downtown Anchorage on 3rd and Cordova. The group is memorializing two men. Eric Garner was put in a chokehold by a police officer in New York City in July and died. Mike Brown was shot by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. Neither officer was indicted by grand juries. People nationwide are protesting the actions and the lack of indictments.

Categories: Alaska News

Walker Releases Parnell Budget As Placeholder

APRN Alaska News - Fri, 2014-12-05 16:10

Gov. Bill Walker has released his predecessor’s budget without changes and without endorsement.

Former Gov. Sean Parnell gave his budget to the Walker administration on Monday, and the Office of Management and Budget posted it on Friday.

Parnell’s budget would allocate $5.3 billion in state funding to operating expenditures, a cut of 4 percent over last year’s budget. The proposed amount for capital spending was also cut down to $200 million. Last year, Parnell first offered a budget with $400 million in capital spending, which then grew to $600 million after the Legislature added projects and Parnell signed the bill.

In a statement, Walker described Parnell’s proposal as a “starting point” to meet a budget deadline that comes two weeks after inauguration.

Pat Pitney, who was recently appointed Walker’s budget director, also said in a statement that the new governor plans to remove some of the capital projects included in Parnell’s budget. Walker has until February 18 to offer an amended budget.

With oil prices now below $70 per barrel, the state is expected to face a major revenue shortfall. If oil prices average $85 per barrel this year, the deficit is projected to exceed $3 billion.

Categories: Alaska News

Police and Deadly Force

APRN Alaska News - Fri, 2014-12-05 12:00

Unrest in Ferguson, MO in August 2014.(Photo via Loavesofbread/Wikimedia Creative Commons)

If you live in a high-crime neighborhood, even if you’re just visiting, you’re under increased risk of encountering a scared police officer if your skin is dark. Does urban Alaska have a chance to avoid the problems other cities are having that involve police and deadly force?

HOST: Steve Heimel, Alaska Public Radio Network

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Categories: Alaska News

Walker Administration Preparing Energy Disaster Declaration

APRN Alaska News - Fri, 2014-12-05 00:01

When Bill Walker was running for governor, addressing the cost of consumer energy was a major part of his platform. APRN’s Alexandra Gutierrez looks at his plan for the short term.

At an October debate in Fairbanks, Bill Walker made this commitment:

“The first thing I’ll do as governor, I will issue a declaration of disaster on the cost of energy in Interior Alaska.”

Walker was sworn in as governor on Monday. While he addressed the cost of energy in his inauguration speech, an economic disaster declaration for the Interior and for rural Alaska is still outstanding.

Grace Jang, a spokesperson for the governor, says his staff is currently working on the declaration, but it won’t be released this week.

“The reason it hasn’t been done right away is that he wants to have attached to the emergency declaration a clear pathway to an energy solution, and we’re in the process of looking into that,” says Jang. “He is very much aware of the promises he made during the campaign, and he will stick to those promises. The declaration is taking longer than planned because he’s working on finding a solution as well.”

Meanwhile, winter is setting in, and temperatures are starting to drop across the state. In the Fairbanks North Star Borough, the perennially high cost of heating oil is being blamed for a rise in home foreclosures, and the state is considering stricter rules on the use of wood stoves to reduce air pollution.

Borough Mayor Luke Hopkins participated in Walker’s consumer energy transition committee. He says that given the economic and health impacts of the high energy costs, a disaster declaration would be symbolically important to his community.

“We aren’t going to get the help from this FEMA group or that federal group because we’re saying our energy prices are high,” says Hopkins. “But what it does is it puts a marker, well planted, that everybody should be paying attention to.”

An economic disaster declaration would also enable — but not necessarily guarantee — state assistance for energy relief. Hopkins says one thing the state could do would be to create financial incentives for people to use heating oil — which is more expensive — over wood, if they have dual heating systems.

“The governor’s not going to come in necessarily with a wheelbarrow of, ‘here’s all your money,’ but there’s processes I think could be put in place,” says Hopkins.

Hopkins says he would like to see a sustained effort to bring natural gas to Fairbanks. If that happens, it would be the financial equivalent of paying $2 a gallon on heating fuel.

Jack Hébert, who runs the Cold Climate Housing Research Center and led Walker’s consumer energy transition committee, also believes the state is at a crisis point with its energy costs.

“Anyone living outside an area in this state that is not served by natural gas or hydropower is suffering,” says Hébert.

A drop in oil prices on the global market is expected to offer some relief to Alaska consumers. In Fairbanks, the price of heating fuel is hovering above $3.50 a gallon. Heating fuel prices have fallen below $3 per gallon in the Lower 48.

Categories: Alaska News

Alaska News Nightly: December 4, 2014

APRN Alaska News - Thu, 2014-12-04 17:47

Stories are posted on the APRN news page. You can subscribe to APRN’s newsfeeds via emailpodcast and RSS. Follow us on Facebook at alaskapublic.org and on Twitter @aprn

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Alaska Communications Sells Wireless Customer Base To GCI

Josh Edge, APRN – Anchorage

General Communications, Inc. – or GCI – will purchase Alaska Communications’ cell phone customer base. The $300 million purchase should be finalized by the end of March 2015.

Community Showing Support For Vandalized Anchorage Church

Ellen Lockyer, KSKA – Anchorage

An historic Anchorage landmark has been vandalized, and police are saying little about the incident.

DEC Gets Feedback on Fairbanks Air Quality Plan

Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks

State Department of Environmental Conservation officials have been in Fairbanks this week sharing information and taking public feedback on a plan for getting the area into compliance with federal air quality standards.

UAF Student Found Dead

Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks

A University of Alaska Fairbanks student is dead, the apparent victim of an accident.

State’s New Attorney General To Review Gay Marriage Case, Guard Issues

The Associated Press

Alaska’s new attorney general says he will view litigation over same-sex marriage in the state strictly along constitutional lines.

Alaska’s Top Military Commander Checks In After A Year On The Job

Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage

Alaska’s top military commander, Lieutenant General Russell Handy has been on the job here for more than a year. He’s overseeing ALCOM at a time when the U.S relationship with Russia has been frosty. In September, Russian military flights that were within 50 miles of the Alaskan and Canadian coast lines caused enough concern JBER sent F22s to intercept them. Lt General Handy says the Russian flights did not cross into the 12 mile international boundary zone and were not considered hostile.

Hoonah Sound’s Herring Spawn-on-Kelp Fishery Will Remain Closed in 2015

Robert Woolsey, KCAW – Sitka

The herring spawn-on-kelp fishery in Hoonah Sound will remain closed in the 2015 season – for the second year in a row. The Alaska Department of Fish & Game announced the closure this week.

Alexandria House Project Hits Permitting Snags

Annie Ropeik, KUCB – Unalaska

Plans to turn an old bar into a way to raise money for emergency housing in Unalaska are slowing down. That’s after the city discovered that the nonprofit Alexandria House had worked on the project all year without a building permit.

Bryan Bearss Named as Substitute for Injured Musher Karin Hendrickson

Phillip Manning, KTNA – Talkeetna

Iditarod musher Karin Hendrickson is on the road to recovery. She will miss the 2015 race, but her dogs will not.

Categories: Alaska News

Anchorage Police Investigate Church Vandalism

APRN Alaska News - Thu, 2014-12-04 17:26

An historic Anchorage landmark has been vandalized, and police are saying little about the incident. Late Tuesday afternoon, Anchorage police were contacted by a staffer at the Holy Family Cathedral regarding a burglary and vandalism that had taken place at the church that day.

Police say the vandals overturned pews, and the pulpit, and other furniture, broke statues and ripped out part of the churches audio system. It does not appear that there was forced entry into the church. Church staff believe the incident happened between 2:30 and 4:30 Tuesday afternoon.

APD spokeswoman Jennifer Castro says police are seeking more information on the case.

Father Steven Moore, with the Archdiocese of Anchorage, says that the vandalism appeared to be random.

“The police are still investigating, but it appears to be more an act of just kind of random, violent vandalism. It does not seem to be motivated by any anti-religious sentiment that we can discern, at least at this point. “

Father Moore  says he is not aware that anything was stolen.

The vandalism highlights a concern by church officials regarding the policy of leaving church doors unlocked.  He  says  that the church remains unlocked and open to the public during the day. Father  Moore says it is a challenge balancing the open door policy with risk to church property.  He says that any decision to change that policy is up to the staff at the cathedral.

“I think everybody would say, that the last option that we would pursue, the last thing that we would want to do is to not have the cathedral open or to restrict the opening of the cathedral. It is a discussion that we are having.”

Father Moore says, however, he is getting positive feedback from the community

“There’s been a real kind of outpouring of concern and an outpouring of people who appreciate the presence of the cathedral and the presence of the Dominicans and downtown and what they are doing, and really are concerned about it. And it’s coming from people from all kinds of faiths and no particular faith and they are concerned and upset. And that’s been really, a real encouraging thing.”"

The church’s location downtown is close to the city’s bus station and local businesses.

Holy Family Cathedral is the first church built in Anchorage, and will mark it’s one hundredth anniversary next year. The church was built in 1915, at the request of railroad workers. The landmark building once hosted Pope John Paul II during his historic visit to Alaska in 1981.

Categories: Alaska News

DEC Gets Feedback on Fairbanks Air Quality Plan

APRN Alaska News - Thu, 2014-12-04 17:10

State Department of Environmental Conservation officials have been in Fairbanks this week sharing information and taking public feedback on a plan for getting the area into compliance with federal air quality standards.

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Categories: Alaska News

UAF Student Found Dead

APRN Alaska News - Thu, 2014-12-04 17:09

A University of Alaska Fairbanks student is dead, the apparent victim of an accident.

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UAF spokeswoman Marmian Grimes says the body of the 48 year old male student, was found on a campus parking lot this morning.

“Police received a call shortly after 8:00 this morning. Someone was parked inthe parking lot and saw a man on the ground outside a vehicle there,” Grimes said. They responded and the man was deceased. It appears to be and accidental and self-inflicted gunshot wound.”

Grimes says the student’s name and hometown are being withheld until next of kin have been notified. She stresses that the investigation is just beginning. UAF Counseling has been notified and is available to help members of the university community.

Categories: Alaska News

State’s New Attorney General To Review Gay Marriage Case, Guard Issues

APRN Alaska News - Thu, 2014-12-04 17:08

Alaska’s new attorney general says he will view litigation over same-sex marriage in the state strictly along constitutional lines.

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Craig Richards also says he will review issues related to the Alaska National Guard, including ensuring that proper prosecutions were brought for wrongful behavior and the release of public records by former Gov. Sean Parnell’s administration was done diligently.

Richards is the former law partner of Gov. Bill Walker, who defeated Parnell and took office Monday. Walker announced Richards as his pick for attorney general last week.

Richards says that as a “law nerd,” there could not be a more fun job. He said it’s a great opportunity.

The appointment must be approved by lawmakers.

Richards’ legal experience includes areas of oil and gas and taxation.

Categories: Alaska News

Alaska’s Top Military Commander Checks In After A Year On The Job

APRN Alaska News - Thu, 2014-12-04 17:07

Alaska’s top military commander, Lieutenant General Russell Handy has been on the job here for more than a year. He’s overseeing ALCOM here at a time when the U.S relationship with Russia has grown frosty. In September, Russian military flights that were within 50 miles of the Alaskan and Canadian coast lines caused enough concern that F22s were sent from JBER to intercept them. Lt. General Handy says the Russian flights did not cross into the 12 mile international boundary zone and were not considered hostile.

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Categories: Alaska News

Hoonah Sound’s Herring Spawn-on-Kelp Fishery Will Remain Closed in 2015

APRN Alaska News - Thu, 2014-12-04 17:06

The herring spawn-on-kelp fishery in Hoonah Sound will remain closed in the 2015 season – for the second year in a row. The Alaska Department of Fish & Game announced the closure this week after forecasts for the area predicted herring numbers far below the threshold required for commercial harvest.

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Categories: Alaska News

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