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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 52 sec ago

Anchorage Assembly Member Pushes For Pot Ban In Municipality

Mon, 2014-12-01 17:08

The Anchorage Municipality may use its leverage as the state’s population center to influence how laws on commercial marijuana take shape in the year ahead.

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Anchorage Assembly member Amy Demboski is behind a proposed ordinance that would ban the sale and cultivation of marijuana in the city. Nation-wide pot is in legal limbo: voters in states and cities are opting for legalization, but the at the federal level it’s still a controlled substance. Those inconsistencies could get very tangled when it comes to entities like banks and highways, which operate locally but have federal standards. Like, say, if you use a federal highway to deposit cash you made selling commercial marijuana, are you or your bank breaking federal laws on money laundering and illegal transport? See how quickly this get’s tricky?

Demboski believes its prudent to let other communities in Alaska test the waters on commercialization first:

“To me this is just a wait-and-see approach. In no way is this advocating for a ban on personal use of marijuana at all,” Demboski said. “All I’m saying is before we get into a commercialized industry that’s still federally illegal, we need to understand and make sure there’s no federal impacts when it comes to millions of dollars in transportation dollars.”

Because of its population, Anchorage is the largest potential market in the state for regulated marijuana, and Demboski thinks leveraging that influence can help residents and the city set better terms in the implementation phase.

“I think by opting out now what it does is it gives the citizens of Anchorage the opportunity to really be a loud voice in the development of these regulations,” Demboski said. “I think you’ll see the marijuana industry, I think you’ll see the state regulators come to the city of Anchorage and say ‘what is it you’re concerned about’ as we move forward, and ‘what is it that Anchorage needs in order to move forward with this potential industry.’”

But not everyone agrees that a local ban is a wise strategy. Proponents of the Ballot 2 initiative that passed this November say Demboski’s ordinance ignores the will of the majority of voters.

“For the Anchorage Assembly to consider opting out now is, we think, irresponsible and wildly premature,” Demboski said.

Bruce Schulte is spokesman for the Coalition for Responsible Cannabis Legislation. Given that under the state’s timeline for implementation it will be another 15 months before commercial terms are set and permits accepted, no one knows yet what the rules will look like.

“Because those governing bodies have no more information to work from than the voters did on November 4th,” Schulte said.

Schulte and his organization are not pushing for every community in the state to allow pot. He says Ballot Measure 2 specifically includes the option for local bans, the same way many communities across Alaska have voted to go dry or damp. But Schulte says what’s at stake is making an informed decision on what exactly is being banned, and what “wait-and-see” actually means.

“Local communities have the option to opt out, and it’s expected that some will. If they feel that marijuana is overly burdensome, well they have that right,” Schulte said. “As does the municipality of Anchorage. We just feel that it’s irresponsible to do so now. We think the prudent this is do is wait and see what the state-wide regulations look like before making that determination.”

Demboski’s ordinance, which is co-sponsored by Assembly member Dick Traini, will have a public hearing during the Assembly’s regular meeting on December 16th.

Categories: Alaska News

Native Municipal Leaders: Pot-Legalization Law Could Harm Youths, Communities

Mon, 2014-12-01 17:07

Alaska Native municipal leaders say a new state law that will legalize the use and sale of marijuana could damage people in communities. Last week they told an Anchorage attorney who’s researched the law that the tax it authorizes won’t raise enough money to repair that damage.

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Attorney Matt Singer says he’s been getting questions from local-government officials about the new pot-legalization law. And he got a lot more from a roomful of the officials Thursday during a session sponsored by the Alaska Municipal League.

Alaska Native leaders weren’t happy to hear Singer’s answer to a question on whether communities can ban the personal use of pot.

“So, you cannot declare a dry village, the way you can with alcohol,” he said.

North Slope Borough Assemblyman Forrest Olemaun said after the session that he and most other Native leaders oppose the law because of the damage substance abuse has inflicted on indigenous peoples.

“For many years, we’ve been dealing with the social aspects of alcohol and drug abuse,’” Olemaun said. “And my concern (is) the legalization of marijuana may lead to more use, more abuse.”

North Slope Borough Mayor Charlotte Brower says legalized pot could jeopardize the borough’s efforts to keep young people away from drugs so they can qualify for good-paying jobs with industries that prohibit their use.

She says the borough will continue to drug test its employees and maintain a drug-free workplace.

“We will continue to do that until we are forced in courts that (rule) that we are doing something illegal,” Brower said.

Singer told the municipal leaders that nothing in the law will change drug-free workplace policies. But He said both public and private employers will have to make it clear to workers that the new law does not exempt them from such policies.

Olemaun says he’s also concerned that the $50-per-ounce excise tax that the law requires to be levied on the sale of pot won’t raise enough money to pay for increase drug-treatment and rehabilitation that he believes will be needed.

“My fear is that’s not going to be enough to deal with the negative social impacts,” he said, “and if there’ll be a mechanism in place to adequately fund agencies that are having to deal with this, whether it be state, local or tribal.”

Singer says the municipal officials should be talking about that with their legislators, who can increase that tax and make other changes in the law.

“Any ballot initiative can be amended by the Legislature immediately,” he said. “So the Legislature could start tinkering with this as soon as it goes into session. And the Legislature has the right to repeal, or vacate a ballot initiative after two years.”

Singer said afterward that the new law raises many questions that will have to be answered by the courts.

“Ballot Measure 2 marks a major change in Alaska law. And any time there’s a change, it creates uncertainty,” he said. “And so I expect there’ll be litigation, and disputes.”

Singer says the litigation may delay the part of the law dealing with the production and sale of marijuana. He says the part of the law allowing personal use will go into effect by March 1st.

Categories: Alaska News

Experimental Pollock Seine Fishery Opens in Cook Inlet

Mon, 2014-12-01 17:06

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game is conducting a test fishery for walleye pollock using seine gear that starts today and runs through February.

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Bycatch is always a concern.

“It is the highest priority for us to not catch king salmon,” says Fish and Game groundfish management biologist Jan Rumble.

Because seining for pollock hasn’t been done here before, extra precautions are in place to make sure it’s done right.

“We will have observers on every trip that goes out to go try to catch pollock with seine, there will be one of our observers on board to monitor what is coming up in the net besides pollock,” says Rumble. “Then, if there’s too many king salmon coming up in the nets, there’s a large possibility that we will stop this experiment immediately.”

But if things go right, the test fishery will run for about three months. Then, the results of the experiment will likely go before the Board of Fish for review in March 2015.

According to the ADF&G release, one main purpose is simple – to test the effectiveness of using purse seine gear to fish for pollock, instead of the typical trawling.

But Rumble says this is one step in a larger effort to evaluate the viability of adopting a state guideline harvest level pollock fishery in the Gulf of Alaska.

“People are interested in having state waters fisheries so that we can still maintain smaller fleets of people who have access to fisheries without having permits,” says Rumble.

As the federal pollock fishery goes to a catch shares program, there’s been interest among fishermen to see more state waters open up.

“There’s a big push with fishermen to have some fisheries that are not already spoken for, that you can enter as a young fisherman,” says Rumble. “You don’t have to buy a permit; you can just sign up and try out the fishery and see if you’re good at it, see if you can make part of a living doing it.”

That’s been some of the feedback garnered at meetings of the Gulf of Alaska Pollock Workgroup.

According to Rumble, in the last meeting cycle, there was a proposal before the Board of Fish to establish a state waters pollock fishery management plan.

Rather than take action on it, it formed the working group. It’s made up of federal fisheries managers, ADF&G, fishermen in existing pollock fisheries, and fishermen interested in developing fisheries.

It’s taking a closer look at how a state-GHL fishery would maximize the use of Gulf of Alaska pollock resources while maintaining environmental protections.

Rumble says after a meeting earlier this year, Kodiak’s ADF&G biologists sought out fishermen for test seine and jig fisheries. There was a lot of initial interest, but when it came time to assign commissioner’s permits, no one showed up. Rumble says she understands why.

“You know, it’s a risk, right? What if they don’t catch anything? I mean, they’re probably going to invest some gas and time and money in their nets to do this fishery and if they come out and they don’t make any money, it’s a little bit of a risk,” says Rumble.

Now, biologists are trying again in Cook Inlet. They’ve already got a number of fishermen signed up. Rumble says it’s a reflection of changing times in this area.

“You know, 20 years ago, we had a big shellfish fishery here for Tanner crab, for Dungeness, for shrimp,” says Rumble. “Basically, there’s been a switch from that kind of shellfish to Pacific cod and pollock. So, people will tell you, if you interviewed a fisherman right now, even the sport fishermen, they would tell you there’s tons of pollock in this bay.”

The harvest limit comprises some of the quota left over from the federal fishery. 220,000 pounds are available before December 31st. Then another 220,000 are available until February 28th.

Categories: Alaska News

Wrangell Hospital Project Closes Contracts, Starts Fresh

Mon, 2014-12-01 17:05

The City and Borough of Wrangell and the Wrangell Medical Center closed a settlement this month with a company formerly contracted to help finance a new hospital building. After the hospital project stalled in 2012 with more than a million dollars spent on contracts, city and hospital officials are hoping for a fresh start.

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Wrangell Borough Assembly and Wrangell Medical Center board members approved the settlement with InnoVative Capital at a special executive session, a closed-door meeting.

Wrangell Borough Manager Jeff Jabusch said the settlement allowed both parties to walk away from the agreement.

“The monies that we had already paid to InnoVative Capital, they were allowed to keep those. But we didn’t have to pay any additional funds, or there was no money that changed hands at all with the settlement,” Jabusch said. “So that was important to us.”

Jabusch said InnoVative Capital was paid about $900,000 to help finance the hospital project. The company secured a $24 million loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for hospital construction due to start in 2011. But the loan was not used, and it is no longer valid.

Jabusch said about $600,000 was paid to American Health Facilities Development for bid coordination services. That brought the total spent on contracts for the original hospital project to at least $1.5 million.

“And there were two construction contracts that we just basically received letters, and if we didn’t take any action there was nothing really we paid them. The only ones we paid were [American Health Facilities Development] and InnoVative Capital,” Jabusch said.

Jabusch said the work done under those two contracts is probably not applicable to the current hospital project. But he said some of the work done by InnoVative Capital to get the USDA loan could speed up the intense process of applying for a new loan in the future.

The contracts for $1.5 million were a source of controversy in 2012. Petitioners cited the contracts as one of three reasons for a hospital board recall election that year. They alleged the board violated Wrangell’s municipal code by authorizing the former hospital CEO to enter two contracts for a borough-owned building.

Wrangell officials declined to comment on the legitimacy of those contracts because of a settlement with the former CEO.

Wrangell Medical Center CEO Marla Sanger said the settlement with InnoVative Capital allows more flexibility in decision-making for the hospital project.

“It just seemed like it was time to start fresh and think about what kinds of financial services would we need now going forward, because things have changed, and it might be something completely different. So now we have that option,” Sanger said.

Sanger said she is trying to secure pre-development help for the hospital project.

Federal stimulus money made the old USDA loan possible. Sanger said even though those funds are no longer available, the USDA regional director has shown support for the project.

“We’ve had a site visit from him as well as the state engineer, and they seem very favorable toward what we’re trying to do,” Sanger said. “It will depend on whether we can show that we’re financially ready to make a loan application like that.”

Alaska Director for USDA-Rural Development Jim Nordlund confirmed the USDA’s support for the project and encouraged Wrangell to submit a new loan application.

The Borough Assembly listed the hospital project fourth in its capital budget requests to the governor and legislature this year.

A project team was formed early this year that includes Jabusch, Sanger, and others from the borough, hospital and Alaska Island Community Services.

The team has been working on a conceptual design that would join the new hospital building to the existing AICS clinic.

Categories: Alaska News

New Palmer Landfill Proposal Up For Public Comment

Mon, 2014-12-01 17:04

The Matanuska-Susitna Borough Planning Commission will hear public comment Monday on a proposal to locate a new landfill in the Palmer area.

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Central Monofil Services has requested a permit for a so-called monofil to be used for construction debris only. It is Central Monofil’s second request for a permit. A year ago, the Mat-Su Borough planning commission turned down the company’s application.

Palmer resident Stephanie Nowers says the landfill permit is not a good idea. Nowers says certain types of toxins – such as benzene and arsenic – can leak out of landfills and could threaten local water sources.

“And what we are seeing in this proposal is not any sort of recognition of those impacts or the near source of water on this property,” Nowers said. “There’s an aquifer that feeds our area wells and water. And so we are really concerned about these materials getting into our water and we are not seeing protection from this company in terms of a liner or a ground water monitoring plan.”

The proposed debris dump is in a gravel pit near the Glenn Highway. Central Monofil owner Shane Durand did not return calls for comment.

In 2013, Central Monofil was issued three citations by the Mat-Su Borough for illegally dumping debris in the gravel pit, for operating without a permit, and for creating a public nuisance. But John Klapperich chair of the Borough’s planning commission, says the company has been working with the Borough since then on a new application.

“And this is a resolution that has never been brought to us, so anything in the past is not part of this application this evening,” Klapperich said.

The public hearing is set for 6 p.m. at the Mat-Su Borough chambers.

Categories: Alaska News

Dementia Risk Increases With Age

Mon, 2014-12-01 17:03

Baby Boomers, like everyone else, know that avoiding tobacco use, watching their weight, exercising, and staying mentally active, contribute to longer life. However, researchers recently announced findings that show there may be a downside to living longer.

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Categories: Alaska News

Buying A Landmark

Mon, 2014-12-01 14:56

(Photo courtesy Great Land Trust)

Today we’re buying a landmark, trying to anyway. Kim Sollien is the Mat Su Program Director for Great Land Trust, a conservation group. She said they didn’t realize the Butte was privately owned until just this year.

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“And so we were like ‘wow, that’s a surprise, we thought that was already public.’ Because the Mat Su Borough maintains a trail to the top,” Sollien said.

The borough does own part of the Butte, but not the top of it. The summit is owned by the Mental Health Trust.

“There’s a mixture of land owners. The Mat-Su borough has about 80 acres on the northwest side. And a couple of other farmers like the reindeer farm have a good portion of one side of the Butte, and a couple of other private land owners have another side. So, it’s a mix,” Sollien said.

(Photo courtesy Great Land Trust)

Great Land Trust is only interested in preserving the top of the Butte.  If they’re able to raise the money to purchase it, they’ll create a conservation easement on it, protecting from future development.

“Even though the summit of the Butte is the destination for hundreds and hundreds of hikers every year, it could because it’s owned by a private entity and doesn’t have a conservation easement on it, it could be developed as a cell tower farm,” Sollien said. “Or someday it could be feasible to mine it for granite and sell that for who knows what.”

Although Great Land Trust is responsible for the fund raising, the campaign has drawn in some private citizens, including Dan McDonough, a resident of Butte and creator of the Facebook Page “I Helped Buy the Butte.” McDonough says he’s hiked the Butte hundreds of times.

“I’ve hiked it at midnight to look at the northern lights, I’ve hiked it during the Lunar Eclipse, early in the morning for sunrises, we’ve brought Santa Clause out there and taken pictures of Santa up there. It definitely seems to be a center point of activity for us,” he said.

(Photo courtesy Great Land Trust)

McDonough even started a weekly Butte hike. He says his group has been meeting up every Monday morning for more than a year now. He started the group after realizing how many people he knew had just given up on hiking.

“A lot of people that have done it are people that have gotten away a little bit from the outdoors,” McDonough said. “They did it when they were younger, and they let a bunch of time lapse and now that they’re older they say ‘I’m out of shape and it’s going to take me forever.’ It seems to be those types of people, but after they’ve done it a couple times they’re hooked.”

(Photo courtesy Great Land Trust)

McDonough says that’s what makes the Butte so special. Just about anyone can do it, and the payoff at the top is well worth the hike. And Kim Sollien with Great Land Trust couldn’t agree more.

“The Butte hike is iconic. You can see the Knik Glacier, Matanuska River, Downtown Palmer, the farms, Knik Arm, Pioneer Peak, it’s just spectacular,” Sollien said. “And it’s really accessible for almost everyone so we would love to have everyone who loves the Butte, and has hiked the Butte to join us to help us buy the Butte so it can be protected forever.”

Sollien says they’ve raised roughly half of the $180,000 needed to buy the summit.

Categories: Alaska News

What Does Ferguson Mean to Alaska?

Sat, 2014-11-29 12:00

Even before the announcement was made about the Grand Jury in Ferguson, Missouri, the Governor had declared an emergency for the area, buildings were boarded up and schools were closed in anticipation of a violent reaction. Police were ready in full military gear. In the aftermath, protests continue and questions arise. What do Alaskans think about Ferguson and the militarization of the police?

HOST: Steve Heimel, Alaska Public Radio Network


  • Charles D. Hayes, Autodidactic Press
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LIVE Broadcast: Tuesday, December 2, 2014 at 10:00 a.m. on APRN stations statewide.

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Categories: Alaska News

Parnell to Walker: Use Guard Bureau Reform Recommendations

Fri, 2014-11-28 17:12

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Governor Sean Parnell has just a few more days on the job. Governor-elect Bill Walker will be inaugurated during a ceremony in Juneau at 11:30 on Monday morning.

Parnell has been Alaska’s governor a little over five years. He was sworn into office on July 26, 2009, after Sarah Palin resigned earlier that month. Parnell says he doesn’t know what’s next for him, but he expects to keep working on the issues his administration prioritized.

“Whether it’s resources and energy, whether it’s domestic violence, public safety arena,” he said. “You’ll likely see me continue to engage in those areas. Those reflect my heart and my passion for Alaska and I’ll look for ways to continue that service.”

Parnell lost to Walker in a close race – the candidates were separated by about 6,000 votes. But he says he doesn’t want to look back and consider what might have cost him the election.

This year, Parnell spent a lot of time defending the actions he took to address the sexual assault scandal in the Alaska National Guard. Parnell says he’s spoken to Governor-elect Bill Walker and urged him to use the National Guard Bureau recommendations for reform as his roadmap forward on the issue:

“If what has been learned is just allowed to rest and we let the cover come back over it all that doesn’t help anybody,” he said. “So this is one of those key areas that requires immediate attention and that’s exactly what I’ve communicated to the governor elect.”

Parnell says in the short term he’s looking forward to spending time with his first grandchild, a boy named Rowan, who was born on November 18th.

“When the world goes upside down and inside out all you have to do is hold a newborn and everything is made aright,” he said. “And that’s been my experience. It just puts life back into perspective and makes you thankful.. and that’s really how I leave office, that’s how Sandy leaves as first lady is we are so thankful for the opportunity to have served.”

Parnell says he doesn’t have any words of advice for Walker but he wishes him the best as he takes over the governor’s office.

Categories: Alaska News

Juneau Coming Closer to Providing Housing for Homeless

Fri, 2014-11-28 17:05

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Juneau is getting closer to becoming the third community in Alaska with a Housing First project to provide the chronically homeless with housing. Organizers told the Juneau Assembly on Monday that the project is moving from the concept stage to the design stage.

Categories: Alaska News

North Pole Looking at Increasing Sales Taxes

Fri, 2014-11-28 17:02

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The North Pole City Council is looking at increased sales taxes. Mayor Bryce Ward has proposed the hikes to cover an anticipated $180,000 revenue shortfall. The public turned out in opposition to the tax increases at a City Council meeting Monday night. But the council plans to reconsider the mayor’s proposal next week.

Categories: Alaska News

Warm Temps Mean More Salt on Fairbanks’ Roads

Fri, 2014-11-28 17:01

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Warmer than normal temperatures this fall are allowing expanded use salt to combat icy roads in Fairbanks. Salt is more effective in some conditions and less expensive.

Categories: Alaska News

AK: Amazon in the Arctic

Fri, 2014-11-28 16:59

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Black Friday kicks off the rush of holiday shopping, and its also given rise to a fraternal twin of sorts, Cyber Monday. But there’s one place you might not expect online retail to be turning into a fact of life: Bush Alaska. High freight costs have long been a fact of life in communities off the road system, but in the last few years eCommerce sites have started treating rural areas as a potential market.




Categories: Alaska News

300 Villages: Nunapitchuk

Fri, 2014-11-28 16:58

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This week, we’re heading to Nunapitchuk, a city of about 450 people near Bethel. Frank Sume works for the Planning and Zoning office in the city of Nunapitchuk.

Categories: Alaska News

Alaska News Nightly: November 28, 2014

Fri, 2014-11-28 16:55

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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EPA Regs Hit Fishing Industry, Unless Congress Meets Deadline

Liz Ruskin, APRN-Washington

Federal lawmakers return to Washington next week for the final days of the 113th Congress.  They have to pass a budget or a “continuing resolution” by December 11th to avoid a government shutdown. Alaska’s fishing industry is watching another deadline approach: Dec. 18th. On that date tough new EPA regulations apply to commercial fishing boats, unless Congress intervenes.

Parnell To Continue Working On Issues

Annie Feidt, APRN-Anchorage

Governor Sean Parnell has just a few more days on the job. Parnell has been Alaska’s governor a little over five years. He was sworn into office on July 26, 2009, after Sarah Palin resigned earlier that month. Parnell says he doesn’t know what’s next for him, but he expects to keep working on the issues his administration prioritized

Walker To Be Sworn In Monday

Jeremy Hsieh/KTOO

Gov.-elect Bill Walker and Lt. Gov.-elect Byron Mallott will be sworn into office Monday at Juneau’s Centennial Hall. The public inauguration ceremony begins at 11:30 a.m. and is expected to last about an hour.

Juneau Coming Closer to Providing Housing for Homeless

Casey Kelly, KTOO – Juneau

Juneau is getting closer to becoming the third community in Alaska with a Housing First project to provide the chronically homeless with housing. Organizers told the Juneau Assembly on Monday that the project is moving from the concept stage to the design stage.

North Pole Looking at Increasing Sales Taxes

Tim Ellis, KUAC – Fairbanks

The North Pole City Council is looking at increased sales taxes. Mayor Bryce Ward has proposed the hikes to cover an anticipated $180,000 revenue shortfall. The public turned out in opposition to the tax increases at a City Council meeting Monday night. But the council plans to reconsider the mayor’s proposal next week.

Warm Temps Mean More Salt on Roads

Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks

Warmer than normal temperatures this fall are allowing expanded use salt to combat icy roads in Fairbanks.  Salt is more effective in some conditions and less expensive.

Alaskan Writers Push To Finish A Novel In A Month

Anne Hillman, KSKA – Anchorage

Nearly 500 Alaskans are trying to write an entire novel this month. They’re participating in November National Novel Writing Month, a worldwide movement aimed at getting people writing. KSKA’s Anne Hillman spoke to some of the writers gathered at Anchorage’s Loussac Public Library.

AK: Amazon in the Arctic

Zach Hughes, KSKA – Anchorage

Black Friday kicks off the rush of holiday shopping, and its also given rise to a fraternal twin of sorts, Cyber Monday. But there’s one place you might not expect online retail to be turning into a fact of life: Bush Alaska. High freight costs have long been a fact of life in communities off the road system, but in the last few years eCommerce sites have started treating rural areas as a potential market.
300 Villages:  Nunapitchuk

Ashley Snyder, APRN Intern

This week, we’re heading to Nunapitchuk, a city of about 450 people near Bethel. Frank Sume works for the Planning and Zoning office in the city of Nunapitchuk.






Categories: Alaska News

Walker To Be Sworn in Monday

Fri, 2014-11-28 14:42

Gov.-elect Bill Walker and Lt. Gov.-elect Byron Mallott will be sworn into office Monday morning at Juneau’s Centennial Hall. The public inauguration ceremony begins at 11:30 and is expected to last about an hour.

There will be seating available in the main ballroom for nearly a 1,000 people.

Alaska Airlines is adding an extra Anchorage-to-Juneau flight Monday morning to accommodate inauguration traffic. Lindsay Hobson is Walker’s daughter and a campaign spokeswoman: “This is the first time in state history where we have had both an Alaskan-born governor and lieutenant governor serving together,” Hobson said.

“You know, I think there’s going to be a lot of energy, a lot of excitement. And also, it is our first nonpartisan administration in Alaska history. And the only nonpartisan governor in the United States right now. So it will be certainly one to remember.”

After the ceremony, Hobson says Walker and Mallott will head to the third floor of the Capitol building to physically assume their offices. Walker plans to stay in the Governor’s Mansion Monday night.

Categories: Alaska News

North Pole Suing Over Groundwater Pollution

Fri, 2014-11-28 10:33

The city of North Pole is suing two recent owners of an oil refinery over groundwater pollution.

The lawsuit blames current refinery owner Flint Hills Alaska Resources and previous owner Williams Alaska Petroleum for releasing hazardous substances into the groundwater beneath the refinery.

Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports the lawsuit filed Wednesday identifies sulfolane as one of the substances. The lawsuit says the contamination has made groundwater unfit for human consumption.

Flint Hills spokesman Jeff Cook says the company has no comment. Williams Alaska representatives couldn’t immediately be reached for comment on the Thanksgiving holiday.

The lawsuit says the contamination has damaged the local real estate market and development efforts, resulting in revenue losses.

Categories: Alaska News

Two Injured in Small Plane Crash

Fri, 2014-11-28 10:23

Alaska State Troopers say two people were injured in a small plane crash on the west side of Cook Inlet.

Troopers spokesman Tim DeSpain says the plane went down Thursday across the inlet from Nikiski, on the Kenai Peninsula.

National Transportation Safety Board Alaska Chief Clint Johnson tells KTUU-TV the Piper PA-18 Super Cub crashed at an airstrip at about noon. He says preliminary information indicates a loss of engine power.

Johnson says both people aboard were injured, one with serious injuries and the other with minor injuries.

Central Emergency Services spokesman Brad Nelson says the two patients were taken to Central Peninsula Hospital in Soldotna.

The NTSB is investigating.

Categories: Alaska News

Hoonah to Start on New Cruise Ship Dock

Fri, 2014-11-28 10:19

Construction of a new cruise ship dock near Hoonah is expected to begin next year.

Capital City Weekly reports Anchorage-based Turnagain Marine construction on Monday won the $23.7 million contract to design and build a 400-foot floating dock at Icy Strait Point, a southeast Alaska cruise ship destination.

Icy Strait Point is owned by Huna Totem Corp., the village Native corporation for Hoonah, a largely Tlingit community of about 765 people.

Corporation president and CEO Larry Gaffaney says construction likely will begin in the first quarter of 2015.

The move forward comes after years of debate over whether to locate the dock at Icy Strait Point or nearby Shaman Point.

The project is being funded through $14.4 million in state grants, with the rest paid by the corporation.

Categories: Alaska News

Anchorage Residents Demonstrate in Solidarity with Ferguson, MO

Wed, 2014-11-26 19:49

People gathered in downtown Anchorage to show their solidarity with the community of Ferguson, Missouri.

About 25 people stood on the corner of C and 7th in downtown Anchorage on Wednesday evening holding signs reading “Black lives matter” and “His name was Michael Brown.” They gathered to stand in solidarity with the people of Ferguson, Missouri. The white police officer who shot an unarmed black teenager in August was acquitted earlier this week. The ruling set off renewed protests and riots in Missouri and around the country.

Michael Patterson put out the call for the gathering on Facebook. He says the shooting of the teen, Michael Brown, impacts him personally and highlights racism against all people of color.

“I’m African-American and I live in a country where property is valued over my life and over my people,” he says.  “And I think particularly in Alaska there’s a historical precedence of taking people’s land and then developing it and disenfranchising them from the democratic process.”

Patterson says the reaction of protestors and rioters around the country is understandable. Michael Brown’s shooting was a tipping point. He says the rioters are following a historical precedent.

“Everyone talks about the Boston Tea Party like it’s a great thing. It’s literally the same thing that’s happening” right now in response to the ruling in Ferguson, he says. “People are revolting against the system by destroying property because property is valued more than human life in this country.”

Community member Arenza Thigpen Jr. attended the event. He says the police and justice systems need to change or protests and riots will continue. He suggests starting Community Review Boards to examine police actions, even here in Alaska.

“Allow the community to be involved in a way that has not really been touched off yet. Because after all, police are protecting that community and those residents need to be involved in the process of determining if action was sufficient.”

Thigpen says he thinks race relations between African-Americans and the police are better in Anchorage than in other areas, but he still thinks there needs to be more cultural training within the force.

Many participants said they were at the event because they thought Alaska Natives were sometimes treated unfairly by law enforcement agents in Anchorage. They said all inequalities in the state needed to be addressed.

Categories: Alaska News