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Get Alaska statewide news from the stations of the Alaska Public Radio Network (APRN). With a central news room in Anchorage and contributing reporters spread across the state, we capture news in the Voices of Alaska and share it with the world. Tune in to your local APRN station in Alaska, visit us online at APRN.ORG or subscribe to the Alaska News podcast right here. These are individual news stories, most of which appear in Alaska News Nightly (available as a separate podcast).
Updated: 15 min 10 sec ago

Fishermen Receive Fine, Probation For Fishing Violations

Tue, 2014-08-05 17:36

Two fishermen recently learned that commercial trolling out of season – even by a single day – can be expensive.

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The captain and crewman of the fishing vessel Chief Joseph pleaded guilty in a Sitka courtroom last week to charges of fishing during closed season and unlawful possession of fish. Judge Leonard Devaney sent the vessel owner – 49-year-old Jeffrey Angelo of Samoa, California – to jail for five days and ordered him to pay over $6,000 in fines. The crewman, Alec Hurst, received a suspended jail sentence and a $1,500 fine. Alaska Trooper Sgt. Aaron Frenzel said that cases of pre-season fishing such as this are relatively rare.

On June 30, Alaska Wildlife Troopers came upon Angelo and Hurst at anchor in Still Harbor, on the southwest corner of Baranof Island, with evidence of recent fishing on deck. According to the Troopers’ report, Angelo and Hurst knowingly fished 12 king salmon in Whale Bay the day before the king season opened on July 1.

Wildlife troopers escorted the Chief Joseph back to Sitka and ordered Angelo to deliver the caught salmon to a processor, forfeiting $691 in proceeds to the state. Both men were then allowed to fish in the opening.

Angelo was also cited for failing to display his commercial numbers on the boat and sentenced to three years’ probation. 29-year-old Hurst – a resident of Fort Bragg, CA – was placed on probation for two years.

The same day he sentenced the Chief Joseph crew, Judge Devaney ordered 23-year-old Douglas McNamee to pay $1,500 in fines by August 8th for tampering with someone else’s shellfish pots and furnishing sport-caught shellfish to a client.

Categories: Alaska News

Begich Calls For Park Service To Honor Aleut Internment

Tue, 2014-08-05 17:35

Sen. Mark Begich wants the National Park Service to include sites where Alaska Native peoples were forcibly relocated during World War II.

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Begich introduced a bill Thursday, asking the Department of the Interior to study the cost and feasibility of adding Aleut internment-related sites as one or more units of the parks system.

Kashega Village on Unalaska Island was deserted after residents were forcibly relocated during WWII. (Courtesy: UAA Archives)

The bill is called the Aleut Confinement and Relocation Sites Study Act. In a press release, Begich says it’s aimed at remembering a part of American history that has long been “swept under the rug.”

Begich is asking for a three-year study about incorporating sites in Southeast where hundreds of Unangan peoples were interned: Funter Bay, Burnett Inlet, Killisnoo, Ward Lake and the Wrangell Institute.

The relocated people spent two years at those sites, amid poor conditions and sickness. About 75 of them died.

The bill also covers the former Aleutian villages from which the people were taken: Makushin, Biorka and Kashega, all on Unalaska island, as well as the village of Attu.

The bill says those villages “were so depopulated and so significantly damaged by miliary [sic] activity and weather that the villages effectively could not be resettled after World War II.”

Begich’s office says the bill could lead to authorizing the Park Service to buy associated lands from current owners. The bill has the support of the Aleutian Pribilof Islands Association. It’s been referred to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.

Categories: Alaska News

Alaska Territorial Guard ‘Wall of Honor’ Dedicated in Bethel

Tue, 2014-08-05 17:34

The Alaska Territorial Guard Memorial Park Wall of Honor was dedicated August 1, 2014. (Photo by Ben Matheson / KYUK)

Volunteers working at Bethel’s Alaska Territorial Guard Memorial Park are one step closer to completion. On Friday afternoon, local organizers and state military leadership dedicated the recently completed ‘Wall of Honor.’

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The wall lists the names of 1-thousand, 435 members of the Territorial Guard who served from 31 Yukon Kuskokwim Delta villages. Buck Bukowski is a member of the ATG Park Committee and says the recognition is overdue.

“They were unpaid, all they got a rifle they had to turn back in when they were done, and no recognition until just a few years ago when most of them were already dead,” said Bukowski.

The Alaska Territorial Guard was formed in 1942 in response to the attack in Hawaii and occupation of some Aleutian islands. Members supplied all of their own gear and food, with no pay. Over 6,000 largely Alaska Natives members served the country until the ATG disbanded in 1947.

Major General Thomas Katkus is Commissioner of Alaska Department of Military and Veterans Affairs and the Adjutant General in charge of the Guard in Alaska. He says today’s military stands on the shoulders of those who came before.

“Those guys were here in a threatened environment, you look at the technology in those days before cell phones, before internet before the ability to communicate as quickly and rapidly as we do today. They stood there with an unknown threat coming and banded together, and basically were prepared to defend their communities,” said Katkus.

Organizers say there is work to be done on a 2-thousand foot walking trail on the tundra, plus more landscaping and potentially a gazebo to cover a picnic area. A tall bronze statue of a guard remember in a parka watches over the wall and veterans cemetery. The park includes large garden boxes and flags for each community.

Committee Co-chair Dave Trantham says the group is trying to get an old artillery gun for the site. He told a story about how the guard tricked Japanese spy planes.

“They cut driftwood and stuck it in the mud to represent an artillery pieces. I want to ask one question if may. Did the Japanese invade this part of the county? Uh uh,” said Trantham.

The state Department of Military and Veterans Affairs contributed 140-thosuand dollars for the project, while local companies and organizations donated many thousands more in materials and work. General Katkus says Bethel’s park stands out in the state.

“They capitalize with the good ideas, they get the community behind a very small amount of resourcing and together come up with a project that that is greater as a whole than the sum of the resources sent out here. It’s just incredible what they’ve been able to do with it,” said Katkus.

The Alaska Territorial Guard Park is located on Tower Road near the airport. Organizers say it’s scheduled to be done in time for Pearl Harbor Day.

Categories: Alaska News

Former Haines Exchange Student Now Living In War Zone

Tue, 2014-08-05 17:33

From his bedroom window, Haytham Mohanna took this photo of Israeli flares about a week ago. (Photo by Haytham Mohanna)

Just days after exchange student Haytham Mohanna made the long journey from Southeast Alaska to his home in the Gaza Strip, the conflict between Israel and Hamas escalated into war.

Haytham lived and studied in Haines through a U.S. Department of State program that brings students from Muslim countries to America.

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Two months ago, 17-year-old Haytham Mohanna was kayaking in Sunshine Cove and hiking to the Mendenhall Glacier ice caves in Juneau.

Now, Haytham is home in Gaza City spending his summer break in a war zone.

“Every minute we are expecting a bomb. When we hear a near bomb, we are saying that our house is going to be the next one,” Haytham says.

His family has an emergency bag packed with their identification and other important documents. If they get a call that their house will be bombed, they’re ready to evacuate.

Haytham Mohanna attended Haines High School during last school year. (Photo by Lisa Phu/KTOO)

“My family is lucky ‘til now that nobody died and they didn’t see anyone dying,” Haytham says.

At the moment, he is living with 14 people – his parents, grandmother, three siblings and his aunt’s family.

“Her house kind of is near the tanks and the bombs, so she’s scared and ran away from there and she came to our house,” Haytham says.

His parents and siblings sleep on the floor, while his aunt’s family shares the six beds in the house. It’s crowded, but up to 50 people have stayed in the house during other wars. This is Haytham’s third.

Haytham says they haven’t had electricity for more than a week. His family has their own gas-run generator, which they turn on to charge flashlights, laptops and phones. They also use it to pump water to the house.

Without a refrigerator, Haytham’s father takes the risk of going to the market a few times a week.

“In the U.S. we had fulltime electricity, we have water all the time, we have freedom to go anywhere. But here, I can be scared to go out to get the trash out of the house and I’ll be scared if I’m going to go to our neighbors’ to drink some tea or something. It’s really hard to get out, even from the house,” Haytham says.

The last time Haytham went outside was more than 10 days ago during a ceasefire. It lasted six hours.

“I went to hang out with my friends. We tried to go and get a haircut but the places were very crowded so we didn’t have a haircut,” he says.

Everyone was in the streets.

“People were happy, you know, just going out from their houses. Not really happy, just relief, you know,” he says.

Haytham says days pass inside the house doing nothing and he loses track of the date. He only sleeps between 5 and 10 a.m. when bombs are less frequent. He says there are more bombs at night.

Inside, Haytham says his family still occasionally laughs.

“But it’s not the laugh that comes from the heart. We just laugh to let my 6-year-old brother to laugh and feel that he’s safe and we’re not in danger,” he says.

Haytham has mixed feelings toward the U.S. due to its relationship with Israel. The U.S. provides Israel with $3 billion in foreign military financing annually, according to the Department of State.

Haytham misses living in Haines, but he says, “I can’t really wish to be there right now. My country now needs me. If everyone wishes to be outside, nobody is going to be in Gaza. There should be people staying in Gaza so they can protect it and after the war, they can build it.”

Haytham is supposed to start his senior year of high school at the end of the month. But, he says, schools have delayed opening. Even if the war ends soon, it’ll still take time to repair.

Related content:
Differences between U.S. & Gaza Strip? Weather and freedom
Origami peace peacock finds a home in the state capitol
Forum@360: Middle East to Southeast
Haytham Mohanna on Photography

Categories: Alaska News

Russian Adventure, Games and a Walrus Skin Boat Become Lifelong Memories for Alaska Native Family

Mon, 2014-08-04 17:23

Andy Piscoya (right) faced Russian musher, Michael Telpin (left) during the innaugural Beringia Arctic Games. (Photo by Emily Schwing, KUAC – Fairbanks)

An Alaska Native family recently traveled to Russia’s Far East to take part in a gathering of indigenous people from seven nations throughout the circumpolar north. The three participated in Native games, music and the celebration of traditional culture in a tiny coastal village along the Bering Sea.

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On a recent summer Saturday, Alaska Native Elder Kooper Piscoya joined a wild, cheering crowd to watch teams of men and women row giant, handmade walrus skin boats across the flat water of a protected bay off the Bering Sea coast. He says he once got to ride in a boat just like one of these when he was a kid, growing up in Nome.

“A guy named Dominic would bring the tours down to the Snake River and take them on boats rides in the skin boat all the time,” he remembers. “That was pretty neat to see.  A lot of tourists would come down and hop in the skin boat and go for a skin boat ride.”

Piscoya was in the tiny village of Novoye Chaplino in Russia’s Chukotka Region to see his children, 22-year-old Megan and 19-year-old Andy compete in the skin boat races as well as other events at the inaugural Beringia Arctic Games.  He says skin boat races haven’t happened near Nome since his grandfather’s time.

“Watching these two Megan and Andy skin boat race it was like a great feeling to see them do something like my grandpa did.” He smiles, boradly. “It was awesome. I was so happy!”

This was the second time Megan and Andy have visited Chukotka.  In 2011, they went to a small town called Lavrentiya, more than 100 miles north of Novoye Chaplino. That’s where they met their Russian relatives.

“When we went there, it was two days after we came and Lavrentiya and Megan was going upstairs and they stopped her,” explains Andy. “They had a translator and said ‘we’re relatives,’ and all of that. We have a cousin. He’s probably 20 years old.”

“We went over to his place and had dinner a couple of times,” Megan remembers. “and his mom, our Auntie, made us dinner and had us just lounge around the house and it was rally nice and she really loved it even though we couldn’t speak to each other,” she says.

Very little English is spoken in Chukotka, but that doesn’t seem to phase either of the Piscoya kids. Andy says this year, he reconnected with some of the friends he first made three years ago.

“I recognized our old captain of our row boat,” he smiles. “I looked towards him and he looked at me and he got a bog smile on his face and walked over and shook his hand and I hung out with him and drank some tea.”

Andy had a successful run in a wrestling match during this year’s games. He came to within two points of beating a well-known Russian musher from the region. His sister Megan was also successful in competition. She finished second overall in the one arm reach, a game of agility and precision.

“I actually haven’t done that event since high school,” she laughs. “I was really surprised I was able to do it too.” Dad, Kooper cuts in.  “I was so happy to watch her compete and Andy in his wrestling.  I was overjoyed.”

Kooper Piscoya wasn’t able to take part in the games for health reasons, but he says he used to play them all the time. “I did it a long time ago in high school. I did the seal hop, kneel jumps, one foot high kick, stick pull…,” he said, listing off his favorites.

It’s not often that families like the Piscoyas’ are able to travel to places as remote as Chukotka.  A visa can cost up to roughly $400 dollars. Visitors – even Russian citizens – need a formal invitation from the government and that’s on top of the cost to charter a flight from Nome to Chukotka’s capital, Anadyr. Kooper Piscoya almost didn’t make the trip this summer, but daughter Megan says she was relentless.

“I asked him so many times.  ’How come you don’t want go? How come you don’t want to go?’ He was in the kitchen and I was in the living room and I texted him after I had asked him in person and he was like ‘No, I don’t need to go. ‘What’s in Russia?’ I guess he finally found out what’s in Russia,” she said, smiling.

This year’s Beringia Arctic Games were so popular among the visitors and locals who took part, that they are likely to happen again next year. Organizers have announced that the Governor of the Chukotka Region has agreed to allow the games to take place in the village of Lorino in 2015.

Categories: Alaska News

Voting Season Begins For Alaska Primary Election

Mon, 2014-08-04 17:22

The August 19th primary is 15 days away, but voting opens Monday for early absentee, special needs and electronic transmission voting State Elections director Gail Fenumiai says the state has set up polling places across Alaska for registered voters.

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Categories: Alaska News

GOP Candidates for U.S. Senate Debate Abortion, Social Issues

Mon, 2014-08-04 17:22

Republican Senate candidates debate social issues

The three Republicans vying to run against U.S. Sen. Mark Begich met today in an Eagle River church to debate social issues in a forum sponsored by Alaska Family Action. All three took anti-abortion, conservative positions but, judging by the applause, this was Joe Miller’s crowd.

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Miller doesn’t believe in exceptions to an abortion ban, even when a woman becomes pregnant as a result  rape or incest.

“This is the barometer of ‘We the people,’” he said. “Are we going to protect the most defenseless, or are we going to give platitudes?”

The audience at Community Covenant Church cheered and applauded.

Mead Treadwell says the issue is personal with him.

“My mom got pregnant in college. Abortion was available then, but I stand in front of you today because mom and dad chose life, and I thank god every day that she did,” Treadwell said.

Treadwell says abortion should only be allowed if both the mother and baby would otherwise die. Dan Sullivan says he would allow a rape and incest exception.

“That does not mean I’m supportive of abortions in those situations, but because they’re such horrendous situations and support for the victim in those kind of situations of rape and incest is also very important, from my perspective that’s something that the family should be making the decision on,” Sullivan said.

Miller had the other two on the defensive for blocking an anti-abortion initiative in state government. Lt. Gov. Treadwell and Sullivan, a former state attorney general, say the measure they ruled against conflicted with existing law.

“Was that a hard decision to make? Yeah,” Sullivan said. “Did I feel I had fidelity to the law? What I was supposed to do as attorney general? Yes. Sometimes these are difficult choices.”

Treadwell challenged Miller to draft a better initiative than the one he had to turn down.

“If it passes muster, that initiative could move forward, but Joe, you just can’t criticize people for following the law,” Treadwell said.”We followed the law!”

Miller had a ready response: “You know, we’ve heard that argument before, ‘I was just following orders.’”

The candidates all says they are against amnesty for illegal immigrants, against allowing gay marriage and against legislation that would roll back the Supreme Court’s decision in the Hobby Lobby case. Miller is running far behind the other two in the polls, and in campaign contributions. In his closing statement, though, he suggested those present give to the family of Rick Shields, a Palmer conservative activist who died a few days ago. Miller, who says he’s the only non-millionaire in the race, managed to turn the plea into a subtle dig at his rivals.

“Of course, Dan doesn’t need your money, and Mead’s spending his own, and you know that my campaign functions on sweat equity. But please don’t give to our campaigns today. If you came here with a checkbook to write out to one of these candidates give it to the Shields,” Miller said.

During Treadwell’s closing statement, Miller supporters passed out a two-year-old press release from the ACLU highlighting that Treadwell allowed transgender Alaskans to change the gender category on their drivers’ licenses.

This was a pre-Primary debate, so Democrat Mark Begich wasn’t represented. His campaign issued a written statement afterward characterizing the forum as contest “over who would be most effective at denying women access to birth control or cutting funding for women’s reproductive health services.”

Categories: Alaska News

Troopers Looking for Missing Missouri Man on Willow Creek

Mon, 2014-08-04 17:20

The Alaska State Troopers are looking for a missing fisherman in the Willow Creek area.

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Jerry Warner. (Photo courtesy Matanuska-Susitna Borough)

According to the troopers, 71 year old Jerry Warner of Missouri left the Willow Creek Resort at about 11:00 am on Sunday to go fishing by himself.  He planned to be away for a few hours. When he did not return by 7:30 pm, the troopers were contacted and a search began. On Sunday night, teams on foot as well as a Mat-Su Borough boat searched the creek until midnight, but found no sign of Jerry Warner.

On Monday morning the search resumed with the addition of an Alaska State Trooper helicopter and four search and rescue dog teams. As of late Monday morning, no sign of Warner has been discovered.

According to the troopers, Warner was carrying only a fishing pole, and has no survival gear with him.

Categories: Alaska News

21 Mushers Add Their Names To 2015 Yukon Quest Roster

Mon, 2014-08-04 17:19

The headquarters of the Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race in both Alaska and Canada were buzzing Saturday with talk of snow and mushing.

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Two-time champion Allen Moore plans to return.

“We’re gonna do the same that we’ve done every year,” he says. “Hopefully we’ll have a good chance at the end. There’s lots of people that will have a good chance to win, but everything has to line up, as you know.”

But Moore can’t run the exact same race he has the last four years. This year, mushers and dogs will see a mandatory 36 hour layover at the race’s midway point in Dawson City reduced by 12 hours. Two hours have been added to another mandatory stop at the checkpoint in Eagle, and teams will take two additional six hour layovers at a checkpoint of their choosing in the first and last third of the race. Moore says the new rules shake up his tried-and-true race strategy.

“I’ll probably have to add rest at other places, probably,” he says. “We did set a record pace a couple years ago when we were coming this direction.”

But in 2013, race official diverted the trail around American Summit near Eagle. Evenso, Moore says a pace that fast will require rest somewhere, regardless of whether its mandatory or not.

So far, 21 mushers have add their names to the roster.

Categories: Alaska News

New Boat Lift Expected To Boost Wrangell’s Growing Marine Industry

Mon, 2014-08-04 17:18

Wrangell’s new boat lift is the second biggest in Alaska and is expected to boost the former logging town’s growing marine industry. Last week, the 300-ton lift tested its upper limit.

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Categories: Alaska News

New Eagle and Raven Totem Poles to Rise This Month

Mon, 2014-08-04 17:17

Haida carver T.J. Young carves fine details into an Eagle totem pole in progress. (Photo by Jeremy Hsieh/KTOO)

Haida carving brothers Joe and T.J. Young are back in Juneau to finish a pair of Eagle and Raven totem poles.

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About this time last year, the Hydaburg men and their apprentices were using axes and chainsaws to shape the red cedar logs. Friday, they were working with small hand tools.

“As you work your way, as you start roughing it out, you’ll start getting — the tools’ll get smaller and smaller and smaller,” says T.J. Young. “And you’ll do a lot more sharpening throughout the process.”

Sealaska Heritage Institute commissioned the new poles to replace the deteriorating, 36-year-old ones in front of the Gajaa Hít building off Willoughby Avenue.

Young says they’re working 12-hour days, but are on schedule. The new totem poles are supposed to be raised at the end of the month.

Categories: Alaska News

Wounded Warriors Go Fishing With Bethel Guide Company

Mon, 2014-08-04 17:16

National Guard members, Along with PBA’a Karl Powers deliver pizzas to the Wounded Warriors during their trip. (Photo courtesy of Papa Bear Adventures.)

Papa Bear Adventures in the Kuskokwim hub community of Bethel recently took six veterans on a rafting trip. The guiding company brought them down the Kanektok River near Quinhagak, a village about seventy miles southwest of Bethel, as part of the Wounded Warriors program. The group found relief from injuries on one of the premier fishing rivers in the world.

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Steve Powers runs Papa Bear Adventures. He says this trip is his company’s way of supporting service men and women.

“We try to do a trip with the Wounded Warriors each year, and take some wounded soldiers out to float down one of the rivers, to get the chance to go fishing to enjoy Alaska. My brother originally thought about it and we talked about it and we just felt like this was the right thing to do,” say’s Powers.

The Wounded Warrior Project is a national program with the sole purpose of honoring and empowering veterans of the United States Armed Forces who are hurt or injured in battle. Papa Bear guiding company has been taking Wounded Warriors on trips for five years.

One of those being honored is Alaskan Mike Buzinski. He served in the Air Force as a crew member on board a Boeing E-3. During his service he was stationed in Iraq. He says he was disabled after being diagnosed with tinnitus, a condition that causes constant ringing in the ears. He says though this is an annoying condition, he is more fortunate than others.

“My disability is very minor compared to some of the other guys that were in the army and the marines that went to Afghanistan, and had injuries from shrapnel and different disabilities created by the conditions on the ground,” say’s Buzinski.

Buzinski lives in Anchorage, but had never been to the Bethel area. He and a few other veterans anxiously wait at Papa Bears lodge on weather hold, because of fog. He’s eager to fish Pegati Lake at the headwaters of the Kanektok.

“I’ve never been out there, a couple of us have made it out there already and the rest of us are sitting here waiting for the fog to break so we can get out there and join em.”

Eventually the fog lifts. Buzinski and 5 other veterans are enjoy some lake fishing and then a seven day float trip down the Kanektok. When they return to Bethel they’re treated to a welcome back gathering and dinner at the local Veterans of Foreign Wars building.

There, they exchange many humorous stories such as some members falling off the raft. But perhaps the most interesting story of the trip involved a once in a lifetime delivery as recounted by veterans Patrick Upchurch and Thomas O’Brien.

“Karl from Papa Bear Lodge, and the National Guard came out and visited us on I think day 3, and brought us some pizza from Bethel, awesome pizza, so that was a pretty welcome surprise I mean,” says Upchurch. “Floating down the river and an Army Black Hawk comes soaring by, everyone’s looking around all confused, and then it lands and there’s Karl waiting for us to float right up to him,” says O’Brien.

Papa Bear’s Steve Powers hopes to continue giving warriors a chance to experience some of the best of what Alaska has to offer.

Categories: Alaska News

Alaska News Nightly: August 4, 2014

Mon, 2014-08-04 17:10

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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Alaska Native Family Takes Part In Circumpolar North Gathering

Emily Schwing, KUAC – Fairbanks

An Alaska Native family recently travelled to Russia’s Far East to take part in a gathering of indigenous people from seven nations throughout the circumpolar north.  The three participated in Native games, music and the celebration of traditional culture in a tiny coastal village along the Bering Sea.

Voting Season Begins For Alaska Primary Election

Joaqlin Estus, KNBA – Anchorage

The August 19th primary is 15 days away, but voting opens Monday for early absentee, special needs and electronic transmission voting State Elections director Gail Fenumiai says the state has set up polling places across Alaska for registered voters.

Republican Senate Candidates Debate Social Issues

Liz Ruskin, APRN – Anchorage

The three Republicans vying to run against U.S. Sen. Mark Begich met Monday in an Eagle River church to debate social issues in a forum sponsored by the Alaska Family Council. All three took anti-abortion, conservative positions, but this was Joe Miller’s crowd.

Anti-Marijuana Group Asks Muni To Pull Pro-Initiative Advertising

Alexandra Gutierrez, APRN – Juneau

The group Big Marijuana Big Mistake is taking issue with pro-marijuana initiative bus ads, and they’re asking the Municipality of Anchorage to intervene.

Troopers Looking for Missing Missouri Man on Willow Creek

Phillip Manning, KTNA – Talkeetna

The Alaska State Troopers are looking for a missing fisherman in the Willow Creek area.  According to the troopers, 71-year-old Jerry Warner of Missouri walked upstream from the Willow Creek Resort at about 11:00 a.m. on Sunday for a solo fishing trip.  He planned to be away for a few hours.  When he did not return by 7:30 pm, the troopers were contacted and a search began.

21 Mushers Add Their Names To 2015 Yukon Quest Roster

Emily Schwing, KUAC – Fairbanks

The headquarters of the Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race in both Alaska and Canada were buzzing Saturday with talk of snow and mushing.

New Boat Lift Expected To Boost Wrangell’s Growing Marine Industry

Katarina Sostaric, KSTK – Wrangell

Wrangell’s new boat lift is the second biggest in Alaska and is expected to boost the former logging town’s growing marine industry.  Last week, the 300-ton lift tested its upper limit.

New Eagle and Raven Totem Poles to Rise This Month

Jeremy Hsieh, KTOO – Juneau

Haida carving brothers Joe and T.J. Young are back in Juneau to finish a pair of Eagle and Raven totem poles.

Wounded Warriors Go Fishing With Bethel Guide Company

Charles Enoch, KYUK – Bethel

Papa Bear Adventures in the Kuskokwim hub community of Bethel recently took six veterans on a rafting trip. The guiding company brought them down the Kanektok River near Quinhagak, a village about seventy miles southwest of Bethel, as part of the Wounded Warriors program. The group found relief from injuries on one of the premier fishing rivers in the world.

Categories: Alaska News

Anti-Marijuana Group Asks Muni To Pull Pro-Initiative Advertising

Fri, 2014-08-01 19:54

(Photo provided by Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol)

The group Big Marijuana Big Mistake is taking issue with pro-marijuana initiative bus ads, and they’re asking the Municipality of Anchorage to intervene.

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On Monday, the first pro-marijuana ads of the campaign season started rolling around on city buses. They show a pint glass of beer, a tumbler of hard liquor, and then a cannabis leaf with the word “safer” written over it.

Then, on Wednesday, a bright red sticker was added, reading “Our opponents AGREE!” Those stickers were inspired by a comment Big Marijuana Big Mistake spokesperson Tom Tougas made at a recent debate in Soldotna.

TOUGAS: When you think of this initiative, and you say, ‘marijuana is safer than alcohol,’ and I don’t disagree with that …

That audio was released on Friday by the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, a group that’s sponsoring a ballot initiative to do exactly that. They saw it as a major concession to one of their key arguments, and thought it would fit well into their bus campaign.

Big Marijuana Big Mistake doesn’t agree. The marijuana opponents sent a letter to the People Mover Administration on later that afternoon asking that the red stickers be removed, calling them a “gross misrepresentation” of the anti-marijuana position.

Deborah Williams, the deputy treasurer of Big Marijuana Big Mistake, says that Tougas’ comments were taken out of context, and that he’s subsequently refuted them. (In a press release issued by the campaign on Thursday, Tougas stated “I believe that marijuana is a dangerous drug and am disappointed at this effort to misrepresent what I said.”) Williams adds that to suggest her group believes marijuana is safer than alcohol is “simply untrue.”

“They did not check with the coordinating committee of Big Marijuana Big Mistake,” says Williams. “If they had, they would know that the opposition does not agree with that, period, end of story. The signs need to come down because they represent a clear misstatement of fact.”

Big Marijuana Big Mistake did not check with their rivals about voluntarily removing their stickers before going to the municipality. But even if they had, the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol thinks it’s on more than solid ground with the stickers. Taylor Bickford is a spokesperson for the initiative, and he says it’s inappropriate for Big Marijuana Big Mistake to “engage in an effort to censor” their campaign.

(Photo provided by Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol)

“We wouldn’t be in this position if they hadn’t made the statements they made in a public setting,” says Bickford. “That’s ultimately what all this is based on. They actually accused us of lying and fabricating the statement. And that’s why we decided to release the audio, so that the public understands that this is a statement that was made by one of their spokespeople. It was not a lie. It was not fabricated. It happened.”

As the letter was sent Friday afternoon, the People Mover Administration did not respond to Big Marijuana Big Mistake before the close of the business day. The marijuana initiative will appear on the ballot November 4.

Categories: Alaska News

Sarah Palin Channel Kicks Off With Pro-Oil Tax Referendum Message

Fri, 2014-08-01 17:30

Less than a week after launching her own online subscription channel, former Gov. Sarah Palin is using the platform to call for the repeal of her successor’s oil tax law.

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“Oil is our product,” Palin tells the camera. “We have every right – and a responsibility – to value it appropriately, to demand a clear and equitable share of our oil’s value.”

The video is 18 minute long, and it’s one of the few free pieces of content on the Sarah Palin Channel. As Palin sits near Lake Lucille, she reiterates that she will vote yes on the oil tax referendum appearing on the August 19 primary ballot. Proposition 1 would scrap the tax ceiling that Gov. Sean Parnell put on oil production. It would also cause the state to go back to Palin’s system — known as “Alaska’s Clear and Equitable Share,” or ACES — where the tax rate goes up along with the price of a barrel.

Palin suggests that new law came about because the North Slope producers heavily influenced Parnell and the current Legislature. She also accused the oil companies of “crying poverty” and trying to “buffalo” voters with “multi-million-dollar propaganda campaigns.”

“Any longtime Alaskan sourdough knows that’s their [modus operandi] – it’s to be expected that they’d scare Alaskans into thinking that all our jobs are at risk if they don’t get every single thing they want,” Palin says.

The “No on 1″ campaign is not impressed. Spokesperson Willis Lyford says he only made it through the first few minutes of the video. He likens it to an “infomercial” on Palin’s legacy.

“She’s made noises about this in the past. ACES was her policy,” says Lyford. “So, it’s no surprise that she defends it.”

Palin only recently started talking about Parnell’s oil tax policy this summer. She remained silent on the issue when the Legislature passed the law last year.

Categories: Alaska News

Dan Sullivan Gets Negative On Mead Treadwell

Fri, 2014-08-01 17:28

In the campaign for the U.S. Senate, the Republican primary has taken a turn for the negative. Dan Sullivan has sent mailers to voters in Anchorage and Fairbanks bashing rival Republican Mead Treadwell.

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The flyers say Treadwell is a hypocrite because he criticizes the Obama stimulus bill but previously owned a million-dollar stake in a Baltimore-based company that won stimulus contracts.

Sullivan campaign spokesman Mike Anderson says Treadwell attacked first.

“The final straw for us occurred last month at the debate in Homer, when Mead used the same false attacks that Mark Begich and his liberal allies have been spouting on the airwaves,” Anderson said in a written statement.

At that debate, Treadwell said Sen. Mark Begich could win re-election if Sullivan wins the primary, because Begich had “successfully tagged” Sullivan as a “carpet-bagger.” Treadwell also told the Homer audience Alaskans are concerned about Sullivan’s lack of experience and his support for HB77, an unpopular bill to speed natural resource permitting.

“Quite frankly, once Treadwell started using the Democrats’ playbook, Dan had no choice but to respond,” Anderson said.

The mailers Sullivan sent say Treadwell benefitted from stimulus money through his stake in a Baltimore company called Ellicott Dredges. The company received nearly $6 million in stimulus funds. Treadwell was a board member of the company until 2009, when he resigned and sold most of his stock. CEO Peter Bowe says the allegation against Treadwell is off-base because most of the stimulus money — $4 million — was for a dredge the government bought, and Ellicott didn’t get that award until mid-2010, after Treadwell resigned from the board. The company also got nearly $2 million in stimulus funds as a grant to upgrade machinery in 2009, while Treadwell was on the board, Bowe says. He says that was a management decision and Treadwell had objected to the federal spending.

Treadwell, in his candidate disclosure statement, say he still owns shares in Ellicott worth over $100,000 (up to $250,000) and receives dividends of  at least $15,000. He remains on an advisory board for the company, for which he was paid more than $3,000. Bowe, the CEO, was Treadwell’s roommate at Yale and has contributed to his campaign.

Categories: Alaska News

Troopers Investigate Inmate Overdose at Juneau Prison

Fri, 2014-08-01 17:27

The Lemon Creek Correctional Center. (Photo courtesy Alaska Department of Corrections)

Two male inmates at Juneau’s Lemon Creek Correctional Center overdosed on drugs last week. Both men survived and are still in custody.

Now, the Department of Corrections and the Alaska State Troopers are investigating what happened.

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A prison officer discovered the inmates, who authorities aren’t naming, on July 24 at 3 p.m.

“The inmates were initially discovered by a corrections officer that was monitoring security cameras. The officers do routine checks on inmates every 30 to 40 minutes, but this officer was monitoring the security cameras, noticed that there was something that wasn’t quite right and went to go check on the situation,” says Sherri Daigle, deputy director of the Department of Corrections.

Daigle says she couldn’t specify exactly what the officer saw, nor could she say if the security cameras had caught events leading up to the overdose. She says that’s part of the investigation.

The two inmates were transported by ambulance to Bartlett Regional Hospital 30 minutes after they were found. One inmate was treated and returned to Lemon Creek Correctional Center that same day.

The other was medevaced to Anchorage Regional Hospital for further treatment two days later. On July 29, he was brought to the Anchorage Correctional Complex.

The two inmates had been found in separate cells of the 24-bed segregation unit. Daigle does not know how long they had been there before they overdosed.

DOC reported the incident to the Alaska State Troopers four days after it happened. Daigle says DOC doesn’t ordinarily involve the troopers when an inmate is transported to the hospital.

“The institution would have done their own investigation and then if it was deemed necessary to call the Troopers, they would do so after the fact,” Daigle says.

For this situation, troopers were called in because contraband was found. Daigle says contraband is an issue that prisons across the nation deal with on a daily basis, and Juneau’s prison is no different.

On the other hand, inmates overdosing is not common. Daigle says the last time it happened at Lemon Creek Correctional Center was in 2007.

The troopers responded to the overdose report on July 29. At the same time, they also responded to a different report of a male inmate that introduced drugs into the prison.

“As far as what kind of drugs, that needs to be tested to determine. And same with the controlled substance that the two overdosed on the 24th,” says trooper spokeswoman Beth Ipsen.

Ipsen says the two incidents are not related and no charges have been made in either case.

Categories: Alaska News

Former Creamery Executive Convicted in Fraud Case

Fri, 2014-08-01 17:26

A former executive of the now-defunct Alaska Creamery has been found guilty by a federal jury of making false statements to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

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Karin Olson was convicted Wednesday on two felony counts involving federally backed state loans to Valley Dairy, Inc. in Palmer.

Prosecutors say Olson submitted false statements to the USDA’s Rural Development Program.

Prosecutors say Olson also failed to alert the government that she knew her business partner, Kyle Beus, was diverting federal grant money from the dairy to a failing restaurant.

Beus pleaded guilty last year to charges associated with misusing federal grants.

Olson remains free on bail until her Oct. 24 sentencing. She faces more than 30 years in prison.

Categories: Alaska News

Alaska Man Missing in Costa Rica

Fri, 2014-08-01 17:25

A search is underway for an Alaska man missing in the jungles of Costa Rica. Cody Dial, 27 years old, the son of outdoorsman and Alaska Pacific University professor Roman Dial, hasn’t been seen for two weeks. According to Lynn Paulson, a spokesperson for APU, Cody Dial went missing while on a kayaking trip in Costa Rica’s Corcovado [core co VAY do] National Park.

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“I know the Red Cross is involved and the authorities in Costa Rica, I believe the police, I’m not sure if that is the full extent of the search but I know that it’s got both the Red Cross and the folks in Costa Rica searching, and of course, Roman has joined the search as well.”


APU’s Environmental Science Professor Roman Dial is in Costa Rica now to help search for his son.  Cody Dial was reportedly doing research in the remote jungle of the Park, located along the southwestern coast of Costa Rica. The younger Dial had enrolled in APU’s environmental masters program in January of this year.

“But he was on hiatus from the program. So, this was just an adventure he had undertaken on his own, it wasn’t directly related to his studies here, that I know of.”

His father, Roman Dial, has spent considerable time conducting research and leading student groupsin the Costa Rican jungle over the years.


Categories: Alaska News

Human Remains Found Believed to be Missing Brevig Mission Man

Fri, 2014-08-01 17:24

Search and rescue efforts for a young man in Brevig Mission have ended.

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“Last night Troopers in Nome were notified that a body–the human remains–were found about three miles west of Brevig Mission—it’s an area called Point Jackson. And the remains are believed to be Clarence Olanna,” said Elizabeth Ipsen, a public information officer with the Alaska State Troopers.

Olanna was reported missing by the VPSO office in Brevig Mission on July 15th. Clothes similar to the ones he was last seen wearing were discovered shortly afterwards by the shore.

Following Olanna’s disappearance search and rescue crews from Brevig Mission were assisted by volunteers from several different communities, coming from as far as Shishmaref to help out. Those volunteers continued working after State Troopers suspended their search on July 21st.

“A trooper is going to fly today to pick up his body, and bring it back to Nome where it’s going to be flown to the State Medical Examiner’s office in Anchorage for an autopsy,” Ipsen said.

Though the investigation is open, the Troopers report there are no “obvious signs of foul play.”

Categories: Alaska News

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