More police officers will be patrolling downtown Anchorage late at night when the bars let out, starting this weekend.
Officers will patrol in cars and on foot downtown overnight on the weekends.
Mayor Dan Sullivan says he directed more police downtown during during bar break to deter crime and to increase safety. The decision came after a string of violent crimes in the downtown area this year followed by meetings about the problem with the Police Chief and groups representing downtown businesses.
The decision means at least eight more officers will be on the night shift downtown. The patrols start Friday, Nov. 15.
Would tribal law enforcement jurisdiction help address the social and cultural problems in rural Alaska? It has been debated for decades, and now a congressionally-mandated panel says it’s the only way to go. But, a Supreme Court ruling says there is no Indian country in most of the state.
HOST: Steve Heimel, Alaska Public Radio Network
- Troy Eid, Chairman, Indian Law and Order Commission
- Callers Statewide
- Post your comment before, during or after the live broadcast (comments may be read on air).
- Send e-mail to talk [at] alaskapublic [dot] org (comments may be read on air)
- Call 550-8422 in Anchorage or 1-800-478-8255 if you’re outside Anchorage during the live broadcast
LIVE Broadcast: Tuesday, November 19, 2013 at 10:00 a.m. on APRN stations statewide.
The Fairbanks North Star Borough Assembly voted during their regular meeting Thursday to approve a land exchange sale between the Borough and Chena Hot Springs Resort.
It’s a deal that’s been in the works for more than a decade. It stalled earlier this year after a disagreement over the appraised value of the property.
Assemblyman Michael Dukes has been unhappy with the negotiations to sell nearly 1,500 acres of Borough property to Chena Hot Springs Resort for most of the year.
“I cannot support it based on all the shenanigans,” he said. “Even just the appearance of shenanigans in my opinion at this point.”
Resort owner Bernie Karl originally agreed to purchase the land at fair market value. The property was appraised at $390 per acre in the spring, but Karl told the Assembly he didn’t believe he was getting a fair deal.
In July, Borough Mayor Luke Hopkins’ administration proposed an ordinance that applied a credit of more than $282,000 to the total purchase price for improvements and access easements.
Dukes says the credit fundamentally changes the terms of the original purchase agreement.
“The whole reason this land sale exchange has gone forward as an exchange was because there was something being offered and it was the easements,” he told the Mayor. “The access at no costs to the borough, meaning they weren’t going to get a credit for it.”
Lance Roberts offered an amendment to raise the purchase price of the land based on his estimation that trail improvements made by the Resort, would directly benefit Chena Hot Springs.
“There’s going to be more public out there using those trails and this is going to get the resort more business because of a better trail system out there,” Roberts said.
The amendment failed after a lengthy debate.
John Davies pointed to the Resort’s reputation arguing that what’s good for the Resort is also good for the Borough.
“The role that Chena Hot Springs has played in increasing winter tourism in this town is in no small measure due to the marketing and attraction that the Karl’s have created out there at the Hot Springs,” Davies said.
In his closing remarks, Presiding Officer Karl Kassel told the assembly he believes negotiations went poorly, but he doesn’t think either party could have fared better.
“The bottom line for me is that we’ve gotten to what I feel is probably a fair price for the property and it’s within our best interest to move forward even though I’m not happy about the process of how we got here,” Kassel said.
The Resort will pay more than $297,000 for the land with 10 percent down at 6 percent interest over 15 years. The Borough will survey the boundary at a cost of $15,000.
The Alaska State Troopers’ largest patrol vessel is back in service after an engine upgrade in its home port of Dutch Harbor. The patrol vessel Stimson was out of commission for 10 days earlier this month during the overhaul.
Skipper Troy Magnusen says the patrol vessel’s engines were well past their prime.
“One of our engines was about 800 hours over rebuild time, and the other was about 1800 hours over,” he says.
So Magnusen says the engines were upgraded piece-by-piece while the vessel was in port. The project cost about $175,000.
There were no impacts to patrols, though the maintenance work did keep the troopers from helping respond to a maritime disaster — the grounding of the fishing vessel Arctic Hunter on November 1st.
Now that they’re up and running, Magnusen says the Stimson has one patrol left this year — though he couldn’t say when or where to avoid tipping off fishermen who might be breaking regulations.
“We do a lot of the Bering Sea patrols, for the king crab, opilio,” he says.
Next year, they’ll be back on their other beats.
“We do the Bristol Bay red salmon season in the summertime. We enforce the … Sand Point/False Pass area, for cod and salmon,” Magnusen says. “We run out to Adak a couple of times a year to do cod out that direction and also for the caribou season, the hunting season that they have out there, [and] search and rescues if needed.”
Even though there’s plenty of work for the Stimson in Western Alaska, the engine maintenance project reignited rumors that the troopers wanted to move the vessel elsewhere.
Operations commander Burke Waldron says it’s staying put for now. But he says there is some truth to those rumors.
“We are constantly evaluating where our boats, both large and small, airplanes and people are stationed, and if we can be more efficient or better serve the state by moving those assets or resources around,” Waldron says.
Kodiak is the homeport for the P/V Woldstad. Together, the Woldstad and Stimson cover Western Alaska.
Waldron says it makes sense to keep the Stimson where it is — so it can focus on the Chain.
“Right now it’s suited well for the Aleutian chain and Bristol Bay and Arctic fisheries patrols. [It] also, you know, provides public safety services to the Aleutian chain,” he says. “Obviously if we move the boat away from that region, that would have additional costs for us, and travel time, to get to some of those patrols.”
With money tight in the state right now, that’s something the troopers are trying to avoid. With their latest investment in the Stimson, Waldron says the troopers should be able to get a lot more work out of the vessel.
Lower Kuskokwim school officials say it was a 2nd grade student with a lighter that caused the fire in a detached building’s bathroom.
The school will be disciplining the 2nd grade student according to the district’s policies.
“Typically that would be a suspension and the days would be the determining factor, it could go up to an include expulsion, but that would really depend on the age of the student and the conditions surrounding the event,” Jacob Jensen, the Lower Kuskokwim School District Superintendent, said.
No flames left the bathroom, according to the fire department, but the classroom suffered serious damage.
“There was quite extensive damage to the building, so we’re investigating what repairs might be necessary to bring it up to code, or if that building is even worth repairing or not,” Jensen said.
Jensen says that the teacher, Jill Hoffman, did an exemplary job of evacuating students and keeping everyone safe and calm. He says the response was textbook and the fire department put out the fire before it could spread beyond the bathroom. Jensen says incidents like this are something that the district is working to prevent.
“Obviously we’re not going to frisk every student that comes in the door. We’ve go to take into account that kids do things and don’t think about them. We’re going to be looking at protocols and policies and procures to see if there is something we can do in the future to prevent something like this,” Jensen said. ”But a lot of it has to do with awareness and talking to the kids and having the fire department is in there talking abut fire safety. And that we’re taking those lessons and making kids understand that fire is dangerous.”
The 2nd grade class is a bit in limbo at the moment, as students are spread amongst other classrooms while the school works to find a permanent solution.
Alaska’s congressional delegation is pushing for disaster funds related to 2012’s low Chinook runs on the Yukon and Kuskokwim rivers. Twenty-two new lawmakers are now included on a letter of support for $150 million in relief to be spread across other national fishery disasters.
The group now includes prominent East Coast senators like Charles Schumer and Marco Rubio. A total of 38 senators and house members are listed.
The $150 million have been included in a 2014 appropriations bill, but it has not been passed. The lawmakers say the money could be used in a variety of ways, including direct assistance to residents and scientific studies.
The funding would also covers disasters related to Cook Inlet salmon, plus Florida oysters, Mississippi blue crab, and lost fishing from Hurricane Sandy.
Bethel’s rural status is not immediately at risk. But once the population hits 7,000, it will be presumed to be non-rural unless it proves to have rural characteristics.
The federal subsistence board is in a multi-year process of reviewing how it decides which communities have the critical rural priority for accessing resources on federal lands as described under ANILCA.
That process was the subject of a meeting in Bethel Wednesday, but most people gave their thoughts on Bethel.
Alan Joseph said that the population thresholds are somewhat arbitrary.
“Say if the community became non-rural at 7,000 it would be like telling Yup’iks in Bethel that at 12 o’clock that that stop being Yup’iks,” Joseph said. ”You have to look at the way the people live and decide to keep it that way.”
There are communities above 7,000 people still considered rural, like Sitka and Kodiak. To remain rural, they have to show rural characteristics. Mary Gregory made the case that subsistence is at the core of many people’s lives.
“If you come to my house right now you will find 10 pikes hanging in my kitchen trying to dry out and a string of tomcods that are also hanging and my house smells like fish because I’m a 99.9 percent subsistence food user,” Gregory said. ”A lot of people are like that, especially the elderly people who live here.”
Ignacious Louie Andrew recognized that change has accelerated in recent years, but the basic native values are still strong:
“We have gone through a tremendous changes, but as we continue to change, subsistence traditional native practices and values will provide a continuity to the past,” Andrew said..
Bethel specifically sees a lot of turnover, according to Roberta Chavez.
“People come and go to bethel all the time you see them moving here, leaving here,” Chavez said. ”The people that remain have been here since time immemorial and they have the right to continue to live that way.”
There are a total of 10 meetings happening all around the state. Comments will be analyzed and brought to the Federal Subsistence Board. Steve Kessler works as the Forest Service’s subsistence program leader and says the comments are important to the process.
“Are these thresholds guidelines the correct ones to use, or should we be using something else,” Kessler said. “Should we be aggregating communities in some other way?”
“What does the public think the federal subsistence board and the secretaries of interior and agriculture ought to be using to determine which communities are rural?”
The board will meet in April and could propose changes to pass up to the Secretaries of Interior and Agriculture, who ultimately make the call. You can give comments by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. The deadline for comments is Dec. 2.