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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: 54 min 53 sec ago

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

GUESTS:

  • 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

Tennis Courts Re-Appear As the Assembly Approves a $472 Million Budget for Anchorage

Wed, 2014-11-26 18:31

The Anchorage Assembly passed its 2015 budget at a midday meeting Wednesday. And with very few amendments or changes made, many assembly members said it was one of the smoothest budget cycles they have been a part of.

“Mr. Mayor,” said Assembly Member Bill Starr, “you’re getting very good at preparing budgets and moving public service. You reached out to your department directors early on, you told us you were going to, you tasked them with areas to scrub in the budget.”

The Assembly voted unanimously to adopt the $471,988,261 budget.

However,  there points of discussion in which assembly members were frustrated that municipal spending is not keeping up with Anchorage’s expansion, and the need for services arising subsequently. An amendment to add three staff members to animal control, for example, was introduced by members Elvi Gray-Jackson and Dick Traini.

“Since ’99 things have not been static in Anchorage,” Traini said. “As the father of the dog parks I get calls all the time, from people who could not get someone there from animal control to take care of something at the dog parks.”

That amendment failed, even after an attempt to cut the proposed amount from $273,976 down to $100,000.

The assembly also took up a resolution from the city’s finance department that sets out broad six-year goals for budgeting. Assembly member Paul Honeman spoke out against what he saw as an irresponsible push to slim budgets without expanding sectors like public safety, which he believes are already stretched too thin–as evidenced by the response to an “unsanctioned dance party” late Saturday night downtown that drew security staff from the airport and University of Anchorage to assist APD officers.

“We cannot continue to do what we’ve always done, we’re going to come up short every time,” Honeman explained. “When you look at public safety, strengthening public safety, nowhere in there does it say update or upgrade out staffing to meet the objectives of the community as it has grown. I just, for principal, I’m not going to be able to support this six-year-fiscal plan.”

The only surprise in the budget voting was a last minute push concerning tennis courts. And it passed. The assembly voted on a request for $600,000 to the Legislature in Juneau that would go towards adding what Mayor Dan Sullivan described as an “open air translucent fabric” over the six courts at East High School, which would keep rain from hampering the tennis season. Assembly members objected to the late inclusion of the request, particularly given last year’s budget battles over tennis courts, but since it may end up near the bottom of the city’s priority list for capital requests could do very little, and passed 10-to-1.

Categories: Alaska News

Alaskan writers push to finish a novel in a month

Wed, 2014-11-26 16:05

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

 

http://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/26-NaNoWriMo.mp3

For the most part, the room of writers at the library is pretty quiet. Teens and adults holding laptops and tablets sit at tables and lounge on the bench, occasionally chatting. Except for Abby Foster, who plunks away on the old school typewriter she calls Gus. This is the seventh time she’s participated in National Novel Writing Month, affectionately called NaNoWriMo. She says Gus helped her surpass her goal of writing 50,000 words this month.

“It gets rid of the inner editor when I’m using it so I can just keep typing,” she says while typing.  ”And there’s no delete key.”

Foster volunteers with the non-profit called NaNoWriMo, which runs the novel writing competition and coordinates events like the Write-ins at the library. She says it takes a lot of things to get people through the process.

“A little bit of craziness…” she says.  ”A lot of people swear by caffeine. I swear by chocolate. But probably the best thing to have if you want to do a novel in a month is support.”

Part of Foster’s role is to provide support to a group of teens she’s been volunteering with through different youth writing groups.

One of those teens is high school senior Zach Butch. He’s working on a graphic novel about the unplanned misadventures of four goofy friends trying to save an artifact from a corrupt government. He’s a little sensitive about his progress.

“Are you trying to insinuate that I haven’t been keeping up with my word count at all?” he says when asked how he’s progressing.

Butch admits he hasn’t been, but that’s not his goal. He says he’s working hard on a project he put aside when he was 14 and he’s having fun doing it.

Eighth grader Max Kelchner takes his 20,000 word count more seriously since he signed a contract with himself to do it. He says he’s almost finished writing his novel about a boy who is writing a novel. It’s like a book within a book.

“There are quite a few parts where it’s funny,” he says. “It’s heartfelt.”

Kelchner offers solid advice for people pursuing writing.

“Put your work into sections maybe, words a day, words a week. For some people that are really have a bunch of ideas going through their head that disappear quickly, you should really write them down.”

Alana Terry, who has already published several novels, says the great thing about NaNoWriMo is that you have a support group and it forces you to really just write.

“I think when I’m writing by myself it’s fairly easy to daydream or wander or say, ‘Hey I’m going to go research this.’ When you’re doing it and paying attention to the word count and the time frame, you just get it out.”

The program started in 1999. So far this month, Alaskan participants have written nearly 7.8 million words.

 

Categories: Alaska News

Industry Blames Pirate Fishing as Red King Prices Drop

Wed, 2014-11-26 15:55

The Bering Sea red king crab fleet finished catching 10 million pounds of quota last week — and they’re facing some lackluster prices as the crab goes to market. It could be due to higher catch limits in Alaska and Russia.

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There’s also the problem of pirates. Illegal crab harvesting is declining, but industry groups say it’s still their biggest concern.

Crab economics can be a tricky business. Take it from Jake Jacobsen, who heads up the state’s biggest crab harvesting collective, the Inter-Cooperative Exchange.

“Supply is really the thing that drives the market, and the Japanese exchange rate is pretty close up there too,” he says. “And then, of course, the quality of the crab and other issues all factor in.”

Dockside prices for Alaskan red king crab were down as much as a dollar this season, to around $6.10, according to the state Department of Fish & Game.

There are plenty of reasons why that could be: like the higher quotas in Alaska and Russia, and currency values giving big Japanese importers a better deal in Russian rubles than in dollars.

And Jacobsen says Alaska’s fleet had another problem this year: unexpected barnacles on some of their catch.

“Those crab don’t typically receive the same price as a clean-shell crab,” he says. “So there’s a little bit of a discount there.”

But it’s all secondary to what he says is still the biggest problem for Alaska: illegal fishing and overharvesting by pirate boats in Russia.

Years ago, Russian pirates caught and delivered more than four times as much king and snow crab as the country’s legal harvest limit. Since then, that number’s declined to its lowest point in a decade, says Heather Brandon of the World Wildlife Fund.

“But even in the last year that we have data for, which is 2013, there was still about a 69 percent harvest over the legal catch,” she says. “So we can see from trade data that there’s still a huge amount of illegal crab entering the market from Russia.”

Brandon co-authored a recent WWF report on illegal crab fishing. It calls for countries that import and export crab to work on stamping out pirate fishing — like by asking for more documentation as the crab makes its way from dock to market. One agreement between Russia and Japan will do just that starting in December.

Japan takes most of Russia’s exports, due to proximity — but plenty of Alaska’s catch winds up there too. That leaves American consumers buying crab that’s estimated to be 40 percent illegal. Jake Jacobsen, with the harvester co-op, says it’s tough to verify where the product comes from:

“The boats that supposedly made the landings are fictitious. They’re signed with names of captains that don’t exist,” he says. “All the documents look legal because they’ve been professionally forged.”

That’s why groups like his are pushing for stricter labeling and tracking requirements. And as always, they want customers to buy domestic. They say Alaska’s fishery is better regulated, better documented and more sustainable than any other.

Of course, that makes it more expensive than illegal crab, too. Mark Gleason is the president of the Alaska Bering Sea Crabbers, which estimates Alaska has lost $600 million to pirate crabbing since 2000.

“The people that I represent — they’re capitalists. We thrive on competition. We’re very proud of the product that we produce, and we will put that product up against anyone’s,” Gleason says. “But it’s gotta be a level playing field in terms of the competition. We all need to be playing by the same rules. We all need the same opportunity to bring our product to market. And we welcome the competition with the legal production — it’s just the pirates that have a leg up.”

Still, Gleason thinks it’s possible to stop illegal crab fishing. He points to signs of progress — more international cooperation and regulatory support from lawmakers, who groups like his have been lobbying. And there’s last year’s lower illegal harvest, too.

But what about this year? It’s kind of a wild card, since there’s also more legal crab on the market than in the past. Heather Brandon, with the WWF, says she isn’t sure if higher legal quotas will make for less pirate fishing. And she won’t get to find out for about a year.

“I’m really looking forward to looking at the 2014 data to understand that,” she says. “There are a lot of factors in play.”

That means it’s not clear if pirate fishing is to blame for this year’s lower red king crab prices in Alaska. Still, fishermen say they have to control what they can. The fleet can’t alter the laws of supply and demand. But they’ll still lobby to rid that supply of crab that shouldn’t be there.

Categories: Alaska News

Iditarod Musher Hospitalized After Vehicle Strikes Dog Team

Wed, 2014-11-26 15:54

On Tuesday, Iditarod musher Karin Hendrickson was injured when a Talkeetna woman lost control of her vehicle and struck the ATV that Hendrickson’s dog team was pulling.

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Alaska State Troopers received a call just before 7:30 Tuesday evening that a vehicle had struck the ATV ridden by musher Karin Hendrickson near Mile 91 of the Parks Highway. Troopers say that Mabel Quilliam of Talkeetna was driving northbound on the highway when her vehicle left the road and collided with Hendrickson’s ATV.

Karin Hendrickson leaving Willow during the 2013 Iditarod. (Photo by Josh Edge, APRN – Anchorage)

Hendrickson was being pulled by her sled dog team on a training run. Quilliam was not reported as being injured. Hendrickson was taken from the scene by Talkeetna EMS and eventually to Providence Alaska Medical Center in Anchorage. Maliko Ubl is Hendrickson’s handler. She says she spoke with Hendrickson on Wednesday about her injuries.

“I talked to her this morning. She sounds pretty good, but it sounds like she–something in her back is broken…and she also has a broken leg,” she said.

Shortly after the accident, word spread quickly on social media. The dog team got loose as a result of the collision, and Maliko Ubl says the Willow mushing community was quick to assist in rounding them up again.

“The mushing community really rallied around us and came out and helped. There were several people out with trucks and trailers, and the last dog finally showed up here, on her own, at about 6:00 this morning. She looks like she’s in really good shape.”

Maliko Ubl says that only two of the dogs showed any signs of injury.

“One dog, Spartan, had a pretty good laceration on his foot. And the, Fly, who has actually been Karin’s main leader up until this year…he looked like maybe he got wrapped up and drug a little bit, but no broken bones or anything like that – just some bruising and abrasions,” Ubl said.

The team has been checked by a veterinarian, and Maliko Ubl says they will likely get at least a few days of rest.

Early in her mushing career, Karin Hendrickson worked as a handler for Mat-Su Borough Assembly Member Vern Halter. Halter says he wishes Hendrickson well, and that the accident was a result of unfortunate timing.

“Karin is just exceptional. She works in Anchorage, full time job. She probably commuted home last night, got home 6:30 or 7:00…You can imagine, fifteen seconds either side of this,” Halter said.

The severity of Hendrickson’s broken bones is not publicly known. She is listed in “fair” condition by Providence Alaska Medical Center. Hendrickson is signed up for the 2015 Iditarod, and has run the race six times in the past. It’s not known yet whether her injuries will keep her from her seventh attempt next March.

Categories: Alaska News

Palmer Man Sentenced To 50 Years On Child Sexual Exploitation Charges

Wed, 2014-11-26 15:53

A Palmer resident has been sentenced to 50 years in federal prison on multiple charges of child sexual exploitation. Forty nine year old Robert Earl Cunningham, also known as “Bear” Cunningham and a registered sex offender, will serve the term concurrently with an 88-year state sentence.

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Cunningham was sentenced in Anchorage Tuesday by U.S. District Court Judge Sharon Gleason, to the maximum terms allowed on six counts of child sexual exploitation. The terms are 50 years on two of the counts and 30 years on four of the counts. The sentences are to run concurrently to each other, and to the state sentence.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Audrey J. Renschen, who declined to go on tape, says the state had already sentenced Cunningham on multiple charges of sexual abuse of a minor. According to an Alaska State Trooper dispatch, Cunningham was sentenced in September of this year under a plea agreement to the 88-year state sentence. Renschen says the federal charges stem from the use of materials shipped across state lines to produce child pornography.

Categories: Alaska News

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