APRN Alaska News

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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: 25 min 21 sec ago

DEBATE FOR THE STATE: GOP US Senate Candidates

Tue, 2014-08-12 13:25

Meet two of the candidates running for the GOP nomination for US Senate, Joe Miller and Mead Treadwell on Wednesday, August 13 in Debate for the State.

Dan Sullivan was invited but chose not to take part in the debate.

The program starts at 7:00 p.m. on Alaska Public Media, KSKA radio and many APRN stations.

Moderator: Lori Townsend. News director. Alaska Public Media-APRN

Panelists: Dan Bross. Reporter. KUAC

Liz Ruskin. Washington, DC correspondent. APRN

Categories: Alaska News

Alaska News Nightly: August 11, 2014

Mon, 2014-08-11 18:06

Individual news stories are posted under APRN News. You can subscribe to APRN’s news feeds via email, podcast and RSS.

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Mayor Vetoes Labor Compromise

Alexandra Gutierrez, APRN – Juneau

Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan struck down the substitute for Anchorage Ordinance 37 on Monday afternoon.

Russia’s Import Ban Hits Alaskan Seafood Industry

Lauren Rosenthal, KUCB – Unalaska

Alaska’s seafood industry is getting caught in the middle of a power struggle between Russia and western nations.

Bethel Investigating Police Brutality Charge

Daysha Eaton, KYUK – Bethel

A woman from Arizona who works as a professor doing seasonal research in the Y-K Delta says she witnessed an arrest of a citizen by a Bethel Police Officer and she alleges police brutality. City leaders say they’re investigating.

Feds Fault Pilots, Controller in 2013 Dillingham Crash

The Associated Press

Federal investigators have concluded two Anchorage commercial pilots failed to maintain minimal clearance while circling the Dillingham airport before they died in a 2013 crash. A National Transportation Safety Board report out Monday also faults the air traffic controller who issued ambiguous instructions and didn’t notice the plane’s descent to a dangerous altitude.

Village Fire Crews Heading to Lower 48 to Fight Fires

Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks

Alaska village-based firefighting crews are heading south to fight blazes in the Lower 48.  Alaska Division of Forestry spokesman Sam Harrel is tracking the deployments, which began over the weekend with crews from the communities of Delta Junction, Kaltag, Fort Yukon, Venetie, Koyukuk and Galena.

Ft. Wainwright Closes Area East of Eielson for Training

The Associated Press

Fort Wainwright officials have closed the Yukon Training Area east of Eielson Air Force Base to public use through Aug. 23. Military-training exercises will be ongoing there until the 23rd.

Alaska Exceeds Canadian Chinook Escapement Goal, Decline Remains a Mystery

Emily Schwing, KUAC – Fairbanks

The Yukon River Chinook salmon run is nearly complete according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.  It is the first time in roughly eight years that escapement goals lined out in a treaty between Alaska and Canada have been met.

Search for Missing Fisherman Called Off

Phillip Manning, KTNA – Talkeetna

The search for a missing fisherman around Willow Creek was called off on Saturday.  Jerry Warner of Missouri was last seen on August 3rd walking upstream from an RV campground for a solo fishing trip.  The Alaska State Troopers describe Warner as an experienced outdoorsman, but say that he did not have survival gear or a cell phone with him when he was last seen.

Troopers Find Body of Missing Bethel Man

Daysha Eaton, KYUK – Bethel

Alaska State Troopers found the body of Nick Cooke near Tuntaltuliak Friday.  They received a report from the tribal police officer from Tuntutuliak that a body had been located on the bank of the Kuskokwim River just south of the Kialik River.

Six-Day Marathon: Chugging Along Indoors

Monica Gokey, KSKA – Anchorage

August is a popular time for hitting the trails around Anchorage. But for an elite group of ultrarunners, this week is all about taking their sport indoors. Nearly 50 people from all over the world are chugging away in the Alaska Dome, trying to log as many miles as they can in six days.

Johnson, Stoltze Square Off in Valley Senate Race

Ellen Lockyer, KSKA – Anchorage

Former state representative Bill Stoltze is eyeing a new state senate seat.  The District F seat will include the Eastern Anchorage suburbs of Peters Creek and Chugiak, as well as the greater Palmer area and outlying communities to the North.  But current Palmer mayor DeLena Johnson has thrown her hat into the ring and now the two Republican candidates will face off in the upcoming  August 19 primary.

 

Categories: Alaska News

Search for Missing Fisherman Called Off

Mon, 2014-08-11 17:05

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The search for a missing fisherman around Willow Creek was called off on Saturday.  Jerry Warner of Missouri was last seen on August 3rd walking upstream from an RV campground for a solo fishing trip.  The Alaska State Troopers describe Warner as an experienced outdoorsman, but say that he did not have survival gear or a cell phone with him when he was last seen.

The six-day search included troopers, Matanuska-Susitna Borough emergency responders, and volunteers from a number of search and rescue groups.

About 40 people were searching for Warner at one point using dogs, ATVs, boats, and a helicopter, but no sign of him has been found.

Troopers say that they will analyze and respond if any new clues to Warner’s location are found.  His photograph and description have been added to the Alaska State Trooper website along with more than 90 other missing persons.

Categories: Alaska News

Troopers Find Body of Missing Bethel Man

Mon, 2014-08-11 17:04

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Alaska State Troopers found the body of Nick Cooke near Tuntaltuliak Friday.  They received a report from the tribal police officer from Tuntutuliak that a body had been located on the bank of the Kuskokwim River just south of the Kialik  River.

“Troopers were able to respond and collect the remains have been sent to the state medical examiners office for positive identification,” said Megan Peters, a spokesperson for the Alaska State Troopers.

“At this point we do believe that the remains belong to a man that was the subject of a search and rescue that began on October 25th of last year.”

The family confirmed the body found was the body of Bethel man, Nick Cooke.

Because of protocol, the remains were sent to the State Medical Examiner’s office for positive identification. No foul play is suspected.

Nick Cooke and Jim Lee Napoka were last heard from on October 22nd. They were headed to Tuntutuliak for a funeral and never made it. Freezing weather halted the search in November. Napoka is still missing.

Cooke is the brother of Bethel Native Corporation President and Alaska Federation of Natives Co-Chair, Ana Hoffman.

The family of Nick Cooke says they are preparing for a burial service in Bethel later this week.

Categories: Alaska News

Six-Day Race at the Alaska Dome Goes Heavy on the ‘Ultra’

Mon, 2014-08-11 17:02

 

Ultrarunner Traci Falbo set both a world record and an American record for most distance covered indoors by a woman during a 48-hour race. Falbo clocked nearly 245 miles before collapsing on the track.
Photo by Jeff Genova Photography.

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It was almost eleven at night on a Wednesday in the Alaska Dome last week and Willow, Alaska resident Dave Johnston had been running for nearly three days. Some of that time has was spent hunched over the toilet, puking. Multiday ultrarunning is extremely hard on athletes.

“Stomach’s finally starting to feel better… now it’s just time to run,” Johnston says as he makes his way around the track.

Johnston recovered from his rough start. By Friday, Johnston was in second place, trailing the leader by less than 20 miles.

And the competition was stiff — a lot of the most prominent ultrarunners from throughout the world were logging laps at the Alaska Dome last week. Forty-eight hours into the event, Indiana-based runner Traci Falbo set a world record for most distance covered indoors during a 48-hr. run — she ran almost 243 miles before collapsing on the track.

The six-day ultra event is called “Six Days in the Dome.” It’s just like it sounds: runners log as many miles as they can in six days. It sounds crazy. And it kind of is.

“This is what we’ve chosen to do with our vacation time and our extra dollars,” says Ed Ettinghausen. He placed seventh overall.

Ettinghausen was dressed like a jester, and he brought six different jester outfits to the race — one for each day. His wife and daughter were sleeping at one end of the track while he doggedly put one foot in front of the other with a smile on his face, bells bouncing atop his jester hat.

There’s another guy here from Brazil who ran a hundred and forty-two miles on the first day of the race. You can tell people were equally impressed-slash-appalled by the feat. By Wednesday night, he was out of the race, sleeping on a high jump mattress to recover.

David Johnston of Willow, Alaska was just one of three Alaskans to compete in “Six Days in the Dome.” He earned a reputation among other racers as “the smiley Alaska guy.”
Photo by Jeff Genova Photography.

One of the race organizers, Zane Holscher of North Carolina, says this motley crew of nearly 50 is actually one of the most elite packs of ultrarunners worldwide.

“To do this on this track, day after day, and when you sleep you get so tight and then come out and have to run again. I can’t tell you the level of people we have here — mental toughness, physical toughness, it’s unbelieveable,” Holscher says.

So how’d they end up in Alaska?

“Turns out, there’s only a couple of facilities like this in all of North America with a 400m track indoors. Most are 200 or 300m.”

The race organizers wanted an indoor, temperature-controlled, element-free track that would allow the runners to simply run.

“And this turned out perfect because everyone in Alaska wants to be outside int he summer instead of summer, and we wanted to be inside. So kind of supply and demand. We were able to work out something great with the Dome, and I can’t say enough abvout how great this facility is,” Holscher adds.

The Dome also doubled as a hotel for the race. At one end of the track runners set up camp. Sweaty clothes were draped over hurdles to dry. Athletes were curled up on high jump mats that double as beds.

Ed Ettinghausen takes a break from the race at a make-shift camp at one end of the track. Ettinghausen runs to raise awareness on the importance of organ donors. You can find his website at https://www.facebook.com/groups/RunJesterRun/.
Photo by Jeff Genova Photography.

And the event even served its own food. Three meals a day.

“Eggs, bacon, PopTarts, oatmeal, PopTarts… looks like they’re having PopTarts at every meal.”

There’s even sushi on the menu plan.

After six sleepless days and nights, the race finished on Sunday morning. Race organizer Joe Fejes of Atlanta, Georgia took first, having logged five-hundred and eighty miles. For the women, Liz Bauer logged 425 miles for the win, and sixth place overall. No runners broke the 600-mile goal the cash prize was contingent on.

Categories: Alaska News

Johnson, Stoltze Square Off in Valley Senate Race

Mon, 2014-08-11 17:01

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Former state representative Bill Stoltze is eyeing a new state senate seat.  The District F seat will include the Eastern Anchorage suburbs of Peters Creek and Chugiak, as well as the greater Palmer area and outlying communities to the North.  But current Palmer mayor DeLena Johnson has thrown her hat into the ring and now the two Republican candidates will face off in the upcoming  August 19 primary.

Categories: Alaska News

Mayor Vetoes Labor Compromise

Mon, 2014-08-11 16:14

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After months of compromise between the Anchorage Assembly and public employee unions, the city’s voters may still end up deciding on a controversial labor law due to a mayoral veto.

Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan struck down the substitute for Anchorage Ordinance 37 on Monday afternoon. AO-37, which the mayor championed, prohibited the municipality’s unions from striking, capped pay raises, and put limits on collective bargaining. The law was panned by labor, and a campaign to repeal it collected 20,000 signatures to get their referendum on the ballot.

The ordinance that was passed last week was an effort to avoid that outcome, and it got rid of some elements of AO-37 that labor found unpopular. But the compromise only passed seven to four, one vote short of being able to override a mayoral veto.

The assembly has the option of rejecting the veto at a special meeting on Tuesday night, if they are able to secure the eighth necessary vote. If they cannot, AO-37 will remain law until the repeal question is put to voters in November. Mayor Sullivan, who is running for lieutenant governor, is expected to appear on the same ballot.

Categories: Alaska News

Bethel Investigating Police Brutality Charge

Mon, 2014-08-11 16:10

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A woman from Arizona who works as a professor doing seasonal research in the Y-K Delta says she witnessed an arrest of a citizen by a Bethel Police Officer and she alleges police brutality. City leaders say they’re investigating.

Categories: Alaska News

Feds Fault Pilots, Controller in 2013 Dillingham Crash

Mon, 2014-08-11 16:09



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Federal investigators have concluded two Anchorage commercial pilots failed to maintain minimal clearance while circling the Dillingham airport before they died in a 2013 crash.

A National Transportation Safety Board report out Monday also faults the air traffic controller who issued ambiguous instructions and didn’t notice the plane’s descent to a dangerous altitude.

The Ace Air Cargo plane crashed March, 8, 2013, about 20 miles northeast of Dillingham in southwest Alaska.

Categories: Alaska News

Village Fire Crews Heading to Lower 48 to Fight Fires

Mon, 2014-08-11 16:08

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Alaska village-based firefighting crews are heading south to fight blazes in the Lower 48.  Alaska Division of Forestry spokesman Sam Harrel is tracking the deployments, which began over the weekend with crews from the communities of Delta Junction, Kaltag, Fort Yukon, Venetie, Koyukuk and Galena.

Categories: Alaska News

Alaska Exceeds Canadian Chinook Escapement Goal, Decline Remains a Mystery

Mon, 2014-08-11 08:39

The Yukon River Chinook salmon run is nearly complete according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

It’s the first time in roughly eight years that escapement goals lined out in a treaty between Alaska and Canada have been met.

This year, managers up and down the Yukon River set restrictions on both commercial and subsistence harvest of King salmon. They were hoping to see up 55,000 fish to pass into Canada.

Numbers recorded through the first week of August show that more than 60,000 King salmon have passed the sonar counter at Eagle.

“This is not a good year, but with all the efforts by everybody, I think we’re continuing to put fish on the spawning ground and hopefully that holds us over until the production trend changes,” Fred Bue, the Yukon Area In-season Manager for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, said.

It’s unclear why the King salmon population has been in decline for years. Bue says biologists do have a theory for this year’s uptick in returning Chinook.

“One indication is that five year old age class is fairly strong and in 2009, we had a fairly good escapement that year,” he said. “So, we are anticipating the six year olds to be fairly good next year.

“Females tend to be six year old fish, so we’re hoping to get a higher percentage of females in the return next year.”

More females means more fish eggs, which could potentially mean more fish in the future. King salmon are just now arriving at their Canadian spawning grounds. Bue says the Department of Fish and Game is working with Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans on how best to manage them.

“Roughly half the Chinook salmon spawn in Canada and so a lot of the information we get we need to share with both harvest on both sides of the border and the escapement and what gets into the spawning grounds that’s the biology of the fish that we’re seeing in the returns,” Bue said. “Alaska is only a portion of the story and Canada is the other half so we need to combine our information.”

Canadian managers have also imposed commercial and subsistence harvest restrictions on King salmon. With more than 95 percent of this year’s kind salmon having already passed through Alaska, restrictions in Alaska’s portion of the Upper Yukon have been lifted.

Categories: Alaska News

Russia’s Import Ban Hits Alaskan Seafood Industry

Mon, 2014-08-11 08:35

Alaska’s seafood industry is getting caught in the middle of a power struggle between Russia and western nations.

Photos taken during the 2006 biennial survey of the Aleutian Islands, Leg 1 on F/V Gladiator, 1 June to 25 June 2006. N. W. Raring, Field Party Chief.

Ever since Russia seized part of Ukraine this winter, sanctions against it have been stacking up. Now, Russia’s fighting back by banning food imports from the United States and a handful of other countries.

Alaska shipped almost $9 million worth of pollock to Russia last year. Some of it went to fast food chains, including McDonald’s. A significant chunk of it is used for making surimi — better known as fake crab.

At least one shipment of surimi was on its way to Russia when the ban came out on Thursday. Undercurrent News reports that the fish could get diverted to South Korea or another eastern market.

That’s got some American fishing advocates fired up. A former U.S. Congressman has started the “Just Say Nyet” campaign, seeking a corresponding ban on Russian fish coming into the States.

But it’s slow going: As of Friday afternoon, his petition to the federal government had only gathered 18 signatures.

Categories: Alaska News

Red Flag Military Exercises Begin at Eielson

Mon, 2014-08-11 08:28

Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska’s interior has kicked off its third series of Red Flag exercises of the year.

The exercises taking place at the 65,000-square-mile Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex began Friday.

The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports that air operations will be conducted until Aug. 22 out of Eielson, as well as Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage.

The exercises will include drills from U.S. and allied pilots, air crews and support personnel.

The entire Yukon Training Area will be closed through Aug. 23 because of the training events. People with regular access through military lands must use an alternate route to leased or private properties.

Categories: Alaska News

North Slope Borough Leaders Getting Pay Raises

Mon, 2014-08-11 08:24

North Slope Borough’s mayor and at least 10 other leaders are getting big raises.

Alaska Dispatch News reports that Mayor Charlotte Brower will see her salary jump by about $24,000 to more than $222,000. That’s roughly $90,000 more than Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan makes.

Other borough leaders are getting raises of up to 19 percent.

Officials say the raises are long overdue. Brower told Borough Assembly members she sought higher pay for department heads in order to attract key employees who could make more money working for other agencies and corporations in the oil-rich North Slope region.

The North Slope Borough serves seven villages and the city of Barrow, with about 9,700 residents spread across an area the size of Minnesota. The communities can only be reached by plane. The Department of Defense ranks Barrow as one of the costliest places to live in Alaska.

Categories: Alaska News

Pilot Killed, Passenger Injured in Big Lake Crash

Mon, 2014-08-11 08:23

Alaska State Troopers say a pilot is dead and his passenger is being treated for life-threatening injuries after a plane crash at the Big Lake Airport north of Anchorage.

The single-engine Piper Comanche suffered some kind of engine trouble after taking off Sunday just before 2:30 a.m. Investigators say the pilot, 50-year-old Christopher Cyphers, of Anchorage, tried to return to the airport for an emergency landing, but the plane struck a tree.

Cyphers was killed and the passenger was taken to an Anchorage-area hospital.

Categories: Alaska News

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