Alaska News

Retired Detective Discusses ‘Finding Bethany’

APRN Alaska News - Thu, 2014-04-10 17:27

Retired Anchorage Detective Glen Klinkhart has written a true crime memoir called Finding Bethany. The story reveals the years of work it took Klinkhart and others within APD to find the killer of Bethany Correira, a young woman from Talkeetna who had moved to Anchorage for college and in 2003 was murdered by Michael Lawson, the man who managed the apartment building where she lived. Klinkhart says he also wanted to tell the stories of the dedicated people who helped solve the case in big and small ways.

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April 14th, Monday, at Little Italy Restaurant, 2300 East 88th Avenue, Anchorage, Alaska, 5pm to 9pm

April 25th, Friday at Blue-Hollomon Art Gallery, 3555 Arctic Blvd., Anchorage, Alaska, 5pm to 9pm

April 26th, Saturday at the Anchorage Senior Center Activity Center, Giant Book Sale, 1300 East 19th Avenue, Anchorage, Alaska, 11am to 4pm

Saturday May 3rd, Barnes and Noble Bookstore, Anchorage,  noon to 4pm

May 31st, Saturday, at Arctic Rose Gallery and Art Center, 423 West 5th Avenue, Anchorage, Alaska, 3pm to 6pm

Categories: Alaska News

Alaska News Nightly: April 10, 2014

APRN Alaska News - Thu, 2014-04-10 17:18

Individual news 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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House Debates Limiting Medicaid Funding For Abortions

Alexandra Gutierrez, APRN – Juneau

Debate is underway in the Alaska State House on a bill that would put limits on state Medicaid payments for abortions.

Sponsor Wants Vote On Judicial Council Issue

Alexandra Gutierrez, APRN – Juneau

The sponsor of a constitutional amendment to reconfigure the Judicial Council says he wants a vote on the bill, even if the outcome is not guaranteed to be favorable.

Sen. Pete Kelly, a Fairbanks Republican, has been trying to shore up support for Senate Joint Resolution 21 since Monday, when the measure was initially scheduled to appear on the Senate floor.

Geraghty Testifies On Tribal Law And Order Commission Report Findings

Joaqlin Estus, KNBA – Anchorage

State Attorney General Michael Geraghty again testified before a legislative committee this week to respond to a national report that singles out Alaska for its high rates of violence against Alaska Natives, especially Native women. The Indian Law and Order Commission report was deeply critical of Alaska’s law enforcement and judicial system. But the state’s Geraghty says the Indian Law and Order Commission is trying to impose lower 48 solutions that won’t work in Alaska.

Army Sets New Protocols During Fire Season

Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks

The Army has a new protocol for live ordnance training during times of high wildfire danger. Army artillery practice sparked the Stewart Creek 2 wildfire that burned east of Fairbanks though much of last summer. The 87,000 acre blaze forced evacuations and cost more than $20 million to fight.

Exit Exam Bill Could Bring Diplomas To More Students

Angela Denning, KFSK – Petersburg

Graduation time is just around the corner and for most seniors that means walking a stage and accepting a diploma. But a few students a year in Petersburg do not receive a diploma because they don’t pass a test. A bill making its way through the state Legislature would change that. House Bill 220 would repeal the High School Graduation Qualifying Exam.

Assembly Passes Anti-Smoking Law

Rachel Waldholz, KCAW – Sitka

The Sitka Assembly passed a controversial amendment Tuesday night, tightening the city’s anti-smoking laws. The question before the assembly was whether children should be prohibited from entering any business that allows smoking — even for a non-smoking event. The decision came down to different interpretations of what voters intended nearly a decade ago.

Fairbanks Will Help Fund New Mental Health Drop In Center

Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks

The City of Fairbanks will help fund a new mental health drop in center.  Earlier this week, the city council approved $58,000 for the Northern Door Clubhouse.

Retired Detective Discusses ‘Finding Bethany’

Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage

Retired Anchorage Detective Glen Klinkhart has written a true crime memoir called Finding Bethany. The story reveals the years of work it took Klinkhart and others within APD to find the killer of Bethany Correira, a young woman from Talkeetna who had moved to Anchorage for college and in 2003 was murdered by Michael Lawson, the man who managed the apartment building where she lived. Klinkhart says he also wanted to tell the stories of the dedicated people who helped solve the case in big and small ways.

Categories: Alaska News

FEMA Head Meets With Mat Su Officials

APRN Alaska News - Thu, 2014-04-10 11:47

A year and a half ago, a series of severe windstorms hammered Southcentral Alaska. The first toppled hundreds of trees in Anchorage, but a later storm combined with torrential rains to swell rivers and creeks in the Matanuska Valley.

 Well over one hundred Valley homes were damaged and several  were declared a total loss. The Borough  received an emergency declaration in the wake of the storm, and FEMA representatives soon arrived on scene to assist those who filed damage claims. But there have been glitches. In a meeting with FEMA adminstrator Craig Fugate, Mat Su Borough manager John Moosey said the Boro is still facing challenges due to the spread of the damage. During the storm, pockets of flooding affected the Borough from Talkeetna to Palmer

“..and it was unusual, because usually you have flooding in a smaller area. The Borough is the size of West Virginia, and it occurred in a large portion.”

 ”We are going to be hurting if we don’t correct the glitches going forward”,  Moosey told a group of Borough and FEMA officails.

 Casey Cook, the Borough’s emergency response manager, outlined some problems with 2012 flood response paperwork and building plans.  Cook said it was not possible to meet a FEMA three year deadline, due to Alaska’s extremely short building season. To which Fugate responded:

 ”So I’m wondering if this is something we’re driving on our end, or is this something internal. Because, I’ve got projects that go far past three years.” 

Fugate said FEMA allows extensions in paperwork and reporting all the time.

 Fugate told them thatthe Sandy Recovery and Improvement Act of last year made changes to the Stafford Act.  The Stafford act is the 1988 legislation that provides the legal authority for the federal government to provide assistance to states during major disasters.  Fugate said the changes  to the law   simplify the  repayment and reimbursement  process. Prior to the changes, FEMA could only reimburse actual costs, not cost estimates.

“Congress gave us new authorities under the Sandy Recovery Improvement Act. Where instead of now having to do everything [based on] actual cost, give me an estimate on the project. We agree that this will be for projects over a million dollars. If we agree to that, we write the project worksheet, obligate the funding at the front end, and we are done.”

 Fugate said, now if repairs cost less than estimated, the saved dollars can be used for disaster mitigation, rather than returned to FEMA.

Cook told Fugate that, during the flood emergency, the Borough spent 100 thousand dollars on emergency responders’ pay, but did not get reimbursed under the FEMA rules. FEMA does not reimburse normal working hours for Borough staff, but does reimburse overtime hours for emergency work, Fugate explained.

One big problem the Borough faces is the available flood plain mapping data.  It is not up to standard with the Lower 48,   Moosey said.

“We are behind on that, and so the new laws really don’t match up well, and kind of put people in tough spots and having to spend additional personal funds to try to correct something that should be corrected already. I think the staff will take a look at that. I believe and after our conversation that they understand what our needs our , our concerns and how we are different and how we are behind at times. “

 The Borough is relying on flood plain maps that are no longer accurate, Moosey said.  Insurance companies want accurate data when assessing flood insurance costs.  Homeowners who applied for FEMA assistance in 2012 got a nasty shock when they were informed what flood insurance costs would be if they rebuilt in a flood plain.  Up to date mapping helps to determine exactly where those flood plains are.

 Borough emergency manager Cook said that the FEMA rule  changes only apply to a few small projects  the Borough is completing.

Categories: Alaska News

Microphones Cut During Senate Hearing On Oil Production

APRN Alaska News - Wed, 2014-04-09 22:45

After rejecting a request that oil industry experts be required to testify under oath, the Senate Resources Chair cut off microphones when the Minority Leader attempted to explain why he thought the request was appropriate.

Sen. Cathy Giessel, an Anchorage Republican, said it was “inappropriate” and “unprofessional” of Sen. Hollis French to “spring an under-oath requirement on invited citizens” during a Wednesday hearing of the Resources Committee. Representatives from Exxon, BP, ConocoPhillips, and Repsol were there to give updates on how their work was proceeding under a new oil tax regime.

When French – an Anchorage Democrat — asked for a chance to respond, he was again denied.

GIESSEL: As the chair it is my decision, and I’ve gotten a legal consultation on that.
FRENCH: I guess I’ll just — As a point of person privilege I will say that …
GIESSEL: Sen. French, you are out of order.
FRENCH: The only …
GIESSEL: Brief at ease.
FRENCH: I’m going to keep talking …

What followed was a half-minute of silence on the Legislature’s official recordings of the proceedings, even though French continued to address the committee and its audience in the room.

French and Giessel later sparred on the Senate floor, through a pair of seething speeches.

In his address, French said his request complied with statute, even if that statute was rarely used. He also argued that the state has historically been too trusting of the oil industry.

“What does it say about us when we think it is unprofessional to use these statutes in the furtherance of our duties, of our obligations as Alaska state legislators?” French asked the body.

Giessel responded by pointing out that the last time the statute to compel testifiers to speak under oath was last used in 1997.

“I think that if we distrust the citizens who are coming, than we need to execute a different process. But simply asking for informational reports to a committee does not justify placing them under oath,” said Giessel.

Giessel also noted that it was “unfortunate” that the tension between the two senators had come to a verbal “duel” on the floor.

Categories: Alaska News

State Senators Prefer To Leave Minimum Wage Question On Ballot

APRN Alaska News - Wed, 2014-04-09 19:48

While a minimum wage bill that could pre-empt a ballot initiative is on the fast track in the Alaska State House, Senate leadership says the idea is unlikely to get traction in their body.

Sen. Lesil McGuire, an Anchorage Republican who is in charge of scheduling bills, says some members of her caucus feel the question of raising the minimum wage is best left to voters.

“The public is fundamentally suspicious of the Legislature interceding on a minimum wage bill, because we did this in the past and we changed it,” says the Rules Chair.

Majority Leader John Coghill, a North Pole Republican, also expressed doubt that the bill would advance in the Senate at a press availability on Tuesday.

The last time a minimum wage initiative was certified to appear on the ballot, the Legislature kept it off by passing their own version. A year later, they gutted the legislation by removing a provision that pegged the minimum wage to inflation.

The House held its first and only hearing on the bill on Wednesday, and initiative supporters were blunt in their testimony that they did not trust the Legislature with this issue. The House could hold a vote on their bill as early as Thursday.

Categories: Alaska News

Troopers Name Two Pilots Killed In Crash Near Bethel

APRN Alaska News - Wed, 2014-04-09 17:32

Two pilots are dead after a fiery plane crash Tuesday night just outside Bethel.

Alaska State Troopers have identified the pilots who were onboard the Hageland Cessna 208 Caravan as Derrick Cedars, 42, of Bethel and Greggory McGee, 46, of Anchorage.

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Ravn Alaska spokesperson Steve Smith confirms the downed plane was a Hageland training flight.

 “We are sending an investigator from the Anchorage office of the NTSB. His name is Chris Shaver. We also have two other individuals who are going to be joining the investigative team, one investigator from the Federal Aviation Administration, the FAA as well as an additional investigator from a technical side from Cessna aircraft,” Clint Johnson, Chief of the Alaska Regional Office of the National Transportation Safety Board, said. ”Hopefully they’ll be on site there later this afternoon and possibly make it to the accident site tonight to at least start their on scene potion of the investigation.”

 Troopers say the crash happened just after 6 p.m. Within the hour a pilot reported burned wreckage near Three Step Mountain close to a fishing weir. The Alaska Army Guard in Bethel dispatched a Blackhawk helicopter with local fire personnel and Alaska State Troopers on board in an attempt to locate survivors.

Troopers arrived on scene and observed a large debris field and the willows around the crash site were burned and charred.  Troopers were able to locate remains in the wreckage. They’ll return to the crash site Wednesday to further investigate as well as continue recovery efforts.

Next of kin for the pilots have been notified.

Hageland Aviation flies under the banner of Ravn Connect, a company operated by Ravn Alaska, formerly known as Era Alaska.

Four people died in November when an Era Cessna 208 Caravan passenger flight crashed outside St. Mary’s. The exact cause of that crash has not been determined.

Categories: Alaska News

Murkowski Signs Onto ‘Regulatory Fairness Act’

APRN Alaska News - Wed, 2014-04-09 17:30

Leaders in the Bristol Bay area say they’re upset U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski has co-sponsored a bill that would undo their biggest regulatory success in fighting the Pebble Mine project.

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Categories: Alaska News

State Suspends Funding For New Anchorage Tennis Complex

APRN Alaska News - Wed, 2014-04-09 17:30

The State is looking into the legality of using money earmarked for building repairs to construct a new tennis complex in Anchorage. APRN’s Alexandra Gutierrez reports that the multi-million-dollar grant was suspended after Mayor Dan Sullivan’s opponent in the lieutenant governor’s race called the decision into question.

From here on out, Alaskans might consider substituting the phrase “political football” with “political tennis.”

Debate has raged for months over whether lawmakers knew they were funding the construction of a new sports facility in Anchorage when they voted to give the city $37 million for “deferred and critical maintenance” to aging public buildings. Now, the state Division of Community and Regional Affairs is referring the grant to the Department of Law for review, and freezing the money until they get confirmation that it’s being used correctly.

The decision comes after Sen. Lesil McGuire, an Anchorage Republican, raised the issue with the governor on Monday after getting an opinion from the Legislature’s legal division that the grant was suspect.

“If we set a precedent that says ‘critical and deferred maintenance,’ and allow local communities to then use it for whatever they want, including building new facilities, which we know are going to require more money both in the building and the maintenance and other things, then we are not doing our jobs,” says McGuire.

According to the grant agreement, the state authorized funding for the Anchorage Museum, the Egan Center, the Sullivan Arena, and the Anchorage Center for the Performing Arts. The grant also funds upgrades to the Dempsey Anderson Complex, including the addition of a tennis facility. Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan has argued that language should allow the city to put $4.4 million of that grant toward the construction of a new standalone sports complex.

McGuire thinks it does not. She says the suspension should encourage more transparency in funding requests.

“It sends a signal statewide that when you ask for money that it’s going to be a rigorous process – that it’s got to be for what is clearly allocated,” says McGuire.

Members of the Democratic Minority believe suspending the grant is long overdue. Earlier this week, they tried repealing the tennis money by offering an amendment to the operating budget, but McGuire was the only member of the Majority to support the idea.

Sen. Bill Wielechowski, of Anchorage, also points out that Democrats asked for legal review of the appropriation back in December.

“When we put the legal opinion out, why wasn’t there any sort of action then? Why did it take four months for a Republican to put the legal opinion out and get some action?”

For his part, Sullivan stands by the use of the money for the new sports complex, and is disappointed that the suspension could stall work on all of the buildings included in the grant. He also believes that the group who originally lobbied for the grant did so in an appropriate way.

“The Alaska Tennis Association did everything they were supposed to do. They got community council support. They got support from organizations that would be users of the facility. They got a legislator to champion the grant,” says Sullivan. “So, they’re the ones that are being hurt by this, and that’s unfortunate.”

The tennis issue has also been a key divide between Sullivan and McGuire in their separate efforts to secure the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor. Sullivan won’t say if he personally thinks this has anything to do with the campaign.

“Some people have said it’s pretty transparent, but I can’t read the hearts and minds of other folks,” says Sullivan. “So we’ll let others speculate about that.”

McGuire says she’s sensitive to how her status as a candidate and her status as a senator relate to the tennis question, but making sure state money is used appropriately is part of her responsibility.

“When you’re running against somebody, and they have a different position than you, that’s going to be something that people bring up,” says McGuire. “I’ve tried really hard this session to keep my Senate hat on and to keep the work of the Senate at the forefront, and this is the work of the Senate.”

The state is hoping to complete the legal review and resolve any questions surrounding the grant before the end of the legislative session this month.

Categories: Alaska News

UAF Med Students Inject Wrong Substance

APRN Alaska News - Wed, 2014-04-09 17:29

Some University of Alaska Fairbanks students received doses of a substance not approved for humans or animals. The medical course students were practicing giving injections.

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Categories: Alaska News

Statewide Smoking Ban Gains Traction In Senate

APRN Alaska News - Wed, 2014-04-09 17:28

A proposal that would ban smoking in most public places in Alaska is making headway in the state Senate. Senate Bill 209 passed out of the Senate State Affairs Committee last week.

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The bill would ban smoking in office buildings, sports arenas, taxicabs, bars and restaurants, among other public places.

Many places in Alaska, including Anchorage, Juneau and Bethel, already have similar bans. As a result of those bans, nearly half of Alaska’s population is already affected by a workplace smoking ban.

Soldotna Senator Peter Micciche is the bill’s sponsor. He told the Senate State Affairs Committee Thursday that normally, he a “small government kind of guy.” In this case, however, he feels it’s appropriate for the government to get involved to protect the health of workers.

“Just as it’s appropriate for government to set safety standards in automobiles, electrical codes for wiring (and) requirements for infant and child carrier seats,” he said.

Micciche says the state takes on much of the economic costs associated with second-hand smoke, which he said kills more Alaskans each year than automobile accidents. He also made the point that second-class cities and unorganized boroughs in Alaska do not have the legal authority to enact their own smoking bans.

But most importantly, Micciche said the issue is for him, a very personal one. He spoke about his father, who passed away from a smoking-related illness.

“My father made his personal choices,” said Micciche. “But my siblings and I didn’t. I’m the lucky one of the three. They all had respiratory issues from living through second-hand smoke effects.”

Micciche said more than 400 businesses and organizations have signed on in support of his bill. Committee Chairman Fred Dyson said most of the comments his office has received about the bill have also been supportive of the state doing something.

Larry Hackenmiller testified from Fairbanks on behalf of the Interior Cabaret, Hotel, Restaurant and Retailer’s Association. He said Fairbanks rejected a similar law. He also took issue with some of the numbers put forward about hazards related to second-hand smoke.

“There is no hazard to second-hand smoke in a workplace … period,” said Hackenmiller.

Gary Superman owns the Hunger Hut bar in Nikiski. He called the smoking ban an infringement on his rights as a business owner. Superman described his bar as a “blue-collar tavern” that would be “irreparably harmed economically” by the ban.

Kenai businessman John Parker spoke in favor of the proposed ban, saying it would “level the playing field” for business owners on the Kenai Peninsula who may be afraid that banning smoking would give a leg up to their competition. More importantly, Parker said that customers and employees have a fundamental right to smoke-free air.

A couple of amendments have been proposed to the bill. One would include the use of e-cigarettes in the ban. The other would set up an appeal process for businesses who would like to “opt out.”

The bill also provides an “opt out” clause for local municipalities, which would be granted only if a local election is held and a majority of voters choose to exempt themselves from the smoking ban.

After nearly an hour of testimony, SB 209 passed out of the Senate State Affairs Committee. It heads now to the Health and Social Services Committee. A companion bill is also working its way through the Alaska House.

Categories: Alaska News

Howard Weaver Speaks On Anchorage Daily News Sale

APRN Alaska News - Wed, 2014-04-09 17:27

There are still a lot of unknowns about how the sale of the Anchorage Daily News to Alaska Dispatch will play out. But former Anchorage Daily News writer and managing editor Howard Weaver is thinking a lot about that question. Weaver wrote the book “Write Hard, Die Free” about the Anchorage newspaper wars in the 1970′s and 80′s.

Weaver says he was saddened to learn about the sale of the Daily News.

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Categories: Alaska News

Where No Shop Class Has Gone Before

APRN Alaska News - Wed, 2014-04-09 17:26

Metlakatla Science teacher Jason Pipkin watches as the printer creates metric screws for a quadcopter his students are building. (KCAW photo/Robert Woolsey)

This is not your grandfather’s shop class.

Late last month a group of high school and college shop teachers and a few of their students gathered for a three-day workshop in Sitka’s state-of-the-art Design and Fabrication Lab.

The use of 3D printers and other computer-controlled equipment has revolutionized shop, and turned one of the most remote classrooms in the building into the coolest place in school.

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KCAW – Tell me your name, where you’re from, and what you’re doing here.
Neibergall – John Neibergall, Sherwood High School. I’m helping some teachers and students get into digital design and fabrication.

Sherwood High is outside of Portland, Oregon.

Neibergall – You got an idea, you want to make a model or an output of something in three dimensions — whether you build it in wood, metal, plastic, 3D print it. You have to visualize it, and then you get to print it. You have an output of a product in your hand. And that’s what get kids excited.

Read a story about a recent project created by shop students in the Sitka Design and Fabrication Lab.

Yes, digital fabrication gets kids excited. But in this workshop the teachers can barely contain their enthusiasm.

My name is Pat Kraft. I’m one of the instructors at Portland Community College, in Portland. I grew up in an era where Star Trek was, you know — Star Trek was young, I was young, and the thought of having a replicator, where you could put something in there and create something just like it.

And now they have the tools to create just about any kind of machine part. Even parts that are not for machines.

Winship — I’m Kent Winship with Bristol Bay/Dillingham campus, UAF
KCAW — What are you working on right now?
Winship — This is a scan. We’ve got a fetal orca whale that swam up the Freshwater River. Two parents, and one of them was pregnant. So we’ve got the fetus. It’s mostly cartilage. And we’re going to try to scan it, and then print it out in plastic before we lose those cartilage parts.
KCAW – Scan it how?
Winship – A laser scanner than can measure a surface at 20,000 points per square inch. It will record it and put it into a CAD — computer aided drafting program — and we can actually print it out in plastic. And were even talking about trying to mill it out of a CNC mill out of bone or something.

CNC stands for computer numerical control. Besides a pair of 3D printers, this lab has a CNC vinyl cutter, and a laser engraver. What’s got these guys most excited is not necessarily the ability to make a whale fetus, it’s about trying to make that fetus, and failing.

Neibergall and Kraft are pioneering the integration of technology into shop class. They say repetition is education.

Neibergall — Kids are afraid to fail, and this forces them to fail — or fail forward, if you will. If it doesn’t work, you can tweak it…
Kraft — Failure’s okay. Because that’s part of the improvement process.
Neibergall — Because that’s what industry wants: People who aren’t afraid to fail forward. Reinvent. Remodify. And make it right. And it might take four or five iterations. But we can do it quickly.

“I failed…”

Randy Hughey is the recently-retired wood shop teacher at Sitka High. He wrote the grants for Sitka’s Fab Lab and helped a local grant writer, Lily Herwald, develop the proposal for this workshop.

Hughey has microwaved some chocolate chips, with unfortunate results.

“Well, I was just trying to melt chocolate to put into this mold that John has made.”

Digitally fabricated custom candy bar molds. This technology gives kids the ability to aim for the stars, but a prom date is not a bad start.

Neibergall — What my kids did is made prom invitations for the young ladies, wrapped it up in chocolate, and it said Prom? on it.
KCAW — Wow!

For a moment, it sounds like the shop class I remember. But it’s not. John Neibergall assures me that I’m looking at a different sort of future for technical education.

KCAW — Shop used to be the dark space at the end of the hall.
Neibergall — Dumping grounds? That’s the term we tend to say. But now the creative piece that is driving the economic recovery is manufacturing. And if we can get young people excited about that and see the career potential, that’s what’s going to help us get out of our slump, if you will.
KCAW — It comes back to Star Trek, eventually.
Neibergall and Kraft — Right!

Categories: Alaska News

Alaska News Nightly: April 9, 2014

APRN Alaska News - Wed, 2014-04-09 17:19

Individual news 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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Troopers Name Two Pilots Killed In Crash Near Bethel

Ben Matheson, KYUK – Bethel

Two pilots are dead after a fiery plane crash Tuesday just outside Bethel.

Murkowski Signs Onto ‘Regulatory Fairness Act’

Liz Ruskin, APRN – Washington DC

Leaders in the Bristol Bay area say they’re upset U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski has co-sponsored a bill that would undo their biggest regulatory success in fighting the Pebble Mine project.

Legislature Suspends Anchorage’s Tennis Court Grant

Alexandra Gutierrez, APRN – Juneau

The State is looking into the legality of using money earmarked for building repairs to construct a new tennis complex in Anchorage. The multi-million-dollar grant was suspended after Mayor Dan Sullivan’s opponent in the lieutenant governor’s race called the decision into question.

UAF Med Students Inject Wrong Substance

Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks

Some University of Alaska Fairbanks students received doses of a substance not approved for humans or animals. The medical course students were practicing giving injections.

Statewide Smoking Ban Gains Traction In Senate

Aaron Selbig, KBBI – Homer

A proposal that would ban smoking in most public places in Alaska is making headway in the state Senate. Senate Bill 209 passed out of the Senate State Affairs Committee last week.

Howard Weaver Speaks On Anchorage Daily News Sale

Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage

There are still a lot of unknowns about how the sale of the Anchorage Daily News to Alaska Dispatch will play out. But former Anchorage Daily News writer and managing editor Howard Weaver is thinking a lot about that question. Weaver wrote the book “Write Hard, Die Free” about the Anchorage newspaper wars in the 1970′s and 80′s.

Weaver says he was saddened to learn about the sale of the Daily News:

Where No Shop Class Has Gone Before

Robert Woolsey, KCAW – Sitka

This is not your grandfather’s shop class.

Late last month a group of high school and college shop teachers and a few of their students gathered for a three-day workshop in Sitka’s state-of-the-art Design and Fabrication Lab.

The use of 3D printers and other computer-controlled equipment has revolutionized shop, and turned one of the most remote classrooms in the building into the coolest place in school.

Categories: Alaska News

Sponsor Of Judicial Council Amendment Set On Getting Floor Debate

APRN Alaska News - Wed, 2014-04-09 16:24

(Skip Gray/Gavel Alaska)

The sponsor of a constitutional amendment to reconfigure the Judicial Council says he wants a vote on the bill, even if the outcome is not guaranteed to be favorable.

Sen. Pete Kelly, a Fairbanks Republican, has been trying to shore up support for Senate Joint Resolution 21 since Monday, when the measure was initially scheduled to appear on the Senate floor. A vote on a the amendment has since been delayed three times, because Kelly is shy the two-thirds approval needed for passage.

“If the rules are you can’t debate if you don’t have the 14, then not only is the issue struck down by one person, but the discussion about it,” says Kelly.

SJR 21 would make two major changes to the commission tasked with vetting and nominating judges. It would increase the number of political appointees on the Council, so that they would outnumber the attorney members two-to-one. It would also require the attorney members to be subject to confirmation by the Legislature. Kelly believes this will lead to more public oversight of the judiciary, while critics say it would politicize it.

It is extremely rare for the Legislature’s political leaders to let a measure come to a vote without knowing that its passage is guaranteed. Earlier this session, a constitutional amendment to allow the use of public funds at private schools was scheduled for a vote, but then pulled from consideration because of insufficient support.

Categories: Alaska News

Troopers Name 2 Men Killed In Alaska Plane Crash

APRN Alaska News - Wed, 2014-04-09 09:58

Alaska State Troopers say the remains of two pilots have been found in the wreckage of a small commercial plane that crashed near a Southwest Alaska town.

The pilots who died in the crash Tuesday evening near Bethel are identified as 42-year-old Derrick Cedars of Bethel and 46-year-old Greggory McGee of Anchorage.

The burned wreckage of the Cessna 208 operated by Hageland Aviation was found near Three Step Mountain.

Responders found the remains of the men in the wreckage.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the crash, which occurred during a training flight.

The NTSB also is investigating the crash of another Hageland Aviation Cessna 208 last November. Four people were killed and six injured in the crash of that commuter flight.

Hageland Aviation is part of Ravn Alaska.

Categories: Alaska News

Plane Down Near Bethel, Two Reported Onboard

APRN Alaska News - Tue, 2014-04-08 21:52

A Cessna 208 with two pilots on board has crashed outside of Bethel.

Ravn Alaska spokesperson Steve Smith confirms the downed plane was a Hageland Aviation training flight with two pilots on board, and no passengers.

State Troopers say the plane was overdue just after 6:00 p.m. Tuesday and within the hour a local pilot reported seeing burning wreckage to troopers.

Clint Johnson, the Chief of the Alaska Regional Office of the National Transportation Safety Board, says a report came in of smoke on the horizon.

“When they investigated it they found what they believe was a Cessna 208 on the ground and it looks like there was a pretty substantial post crash fire, but we are very much in the formative stages,” Johnson said.

Trooper spokesperson Megan Peters says an Army National Guard Black Hawk helicopter responded with both troopers and fire personal on board and has located the wreckage.

Neither Peters nor Clint Johnson have information about the two pilots.

“This is an active rescue, at this point right now. Troopers have primacy, also the National Guard in Bethel. We wait until they’re done, and we take the investigation from there. At this point right now, it is an active search and rescue,” said Johnson.

An NTSB Investigator from Anchorage is traveling to Bethel Tuesday. Hageland Aviation flies under the banner of Ravn Connect, a company operated by Ravn Alaska, formerly known as Era Alaska.

Categories: Alaska News

Alaska Women’s Hall of Fame: Mary Jane (Evans) Fate

APRN Alaska News - Tue, 2014-04-08 18:02

Mary Jane Fate, a Koyukon Athabascan born in Rampart, labored tirelessly to improve all aspects of Alaska Native people’s lives. As one of the original Alaska Native Land Claims Settlement Act lobbyists, she worked with others to convince the White House and Congress of the fairness and justice in conveying 40 million acres and $1 billion to Alaska Natives through the passage of the Native claims act in 1971.

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For her full bio, visit the Alaska Women’s Hall of Fame website.

Categories: Alaska News

Alaska Women’s Hall of Fame: Beverly D. Dunham

APRN Alaska News - Tue, 2014-04-08 18:00

Beverly, “Bev”, Dunham is a pioneer in Alaska journalism and a tireless community advocate. She is described as being ahead of her time and a strong role model to many women and young girls growing up in Alaska.

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Categories: Alaska News

Alaska Women’s Hall of Fame: Eleanor Andrews

APRN Alaska News - Tue, 2014-04-08 17:58

Eleanor Andrews has been building the human infrastructure capacity of Alaska for nearly five decades. She has been a successful business woman, as the owner of the Andrews Group, and also has been a highly regarded public servant. But it is the effectiveness and sweeping nature of her advocacy on behalf of community that is most amazing. Andrews is most widely known as a “civic entrepreneur” – that is a person who inspires institutions, businesses and individuals to invest in the community at the same time that they being successful at their work.

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Categories: Alaska News

Alaska Dispatch To Buy Anchorage Daily News

APRN Alaska News - Tue, 2014-04-08 17:31

Alaska Dispatch is making an aggressive move to position itself at the forefront of the the state’s media landscape.

It announced Tuesday that it’s buying the Anchorage Daily News – Alaska’s largest newspaper.

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The $34 million dollar deal between Alaska Dispatch Publishing and the California-based McClatchy Company, which currently owns the 68-year-old, Pulitzer Prize-winning newspaper, was signed Tuesday morning..

“The whole idea behind this is to develop a much more comprehensive news product than what Alaska Dispatch or the Anchorage Daily News offer now that reaches all of Alaska,” Tony Hopfinger, the executive editor of Alaska Dispatch, said.

Hopfinger says he hasn’t spoken to Anchorage Daily News employees yet, and future changes to the staffing and structure of the company are uncertain.

“We will certainly merge the two companies together and there will be one, combined news operation,” Hopfinger said. “We can say that there will be one news website, but when that’s up and running and happens…I don’t know yet. And the paper will continue 7-days-a-week.”

Hopfinger says with the combined newsrooms, the goal will be for the Dispatch to delve into issues on a broader statewide level.

“That’s the first thing you’ll notice is we’ll have more people and a larger, healthier newsroom and then we’re also looking at trying to eventually get more people positioned in other bureaus around the state,” Hopfinger said.

He says the Dispatch has been looking for ways to improve its product and reach more Alaskans. And after tracking newspaper sales in the Lower 48, the Dispatch reached out to McClatchy in August last year.

“When we saw the Boston Globe and the Washington Post sell, and other newspapers, frankly, last year, it began to occur to us that there might be an opportunity here in Anchorage to combine forces and create a more comprehensive journalism operation,” he said.

The sale is expected to be finalized in early May.

Calls to the Anchorage Daily News were not returned by deadline.

Categories: Alaska News

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