Alaska News

Borough To Ask Ferry Debt Forgiveness

APRN Alaska News - Fri, 2014-08-22 16:38

 The Matanuska Susitna Borough is appealing to top US officials to resolve the Borough’s 12 million dollar ferry debt.

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According to Borough manager John Moosey, the Borough Assembly on Thursday directed him to enter into negotiations with federal officials over the resolution of the debt the Borough owes the Federal Transit Administration. Moosey says that US Secretary of Transportation, Anthony Foxx, was in Wasilla about a week ago, and met privately with Borough officials.  Moosey said Friday that “he opened the door for us to have that meeting in discussion with his staff in seeking a resolution to this matter”.

 The U.S. Navy built the 80 million dollar ferry as a prototype, and the Borough was given the ship free of charge, but with federal grant money restrictions attached. The Borough failed to initiate ferry passenger service across Knik Arm from Port MacKenzie to Anchorage, and now the FTA wants it’s money back.

Borough Assemblyman Jim Sykes says about four million dollars out of the 12 million in ferry grants was used to build a ferry terminal building at Port MacKenzie. He says the Borough may have to foot that bill.  Sykes says  it’s his hope that the FTA will see that the Borough has done everything it could to resolve the ferry problem.

“We made a good faith effort to make this project work, and it is simply beyond our authority to force other governments or other entities to do stuff that’s not under our authority. We can’t force Anchorage to build a place to land the craft. It is a project that involves several jurisdictions, and we really can do what we can do, but that’s not going to result in a completed project. So, I am hoping that the federal government will see that we have made a good faith effort. “

The Borough’s plan to use the ice breaking ferry for transportation across Knik Arm hit a snag when the city of Anchorage and the Borough could not agree on a site for an Anchorage dock for the ship.

 

Categories: Alaska News

ENSTAR Strike Finishes Second Week, No End In Sight

APRN Alaska News - Fri, 2014-08-22 16:36

The ENSTAR strike has lasted two weeks, and there’s no end in sight. Local workers are picketing in front of ENSTAR offices around Anchorage and around the Kenai Peninsula. They’re having a dispute with the management over retirement benefits for both present and future workers. 

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Strikers picket in front of the ENSTAR operations center in midtown Anchorage. (Hillman/KSKA)

A couple dozen workers stand in front of the ENSTAR Operations Center in Anchorage holding signs and waving to passing cars. Some of trucks and cabs honk in support.

The strikers aren’t allowed to talk to the media and refer all questions to Local 367 Business Manager Greg Walker.

Walker says the 120 operating members are striking to protect their pensions. He explains that the company only wants to provide 401(k)s for new hires and current employees are worried that they’ll cut their pension plans next.

“The pension plan is well-funded. They’ve gotten great returns on the pension plan investments, so it’s not costing the company any money. Our position is that defined benefit plan provides a well-rounded future for anyone who retires with ENSTAR.”

The union and the company had come to a tentative agreement on the issue earlier this month, but the operating workers voted it down and decided to strike. The clerical workers did not.

Walker says the union has also filed charges against the natural gas company with the National Labor Relations Board. They allege the company hasn’t provided accurate information about the pension plan and they are discriminating against employees who filed actions against them under the National Labor Relations Act.

ENSTAR representatives declined to talk about the strike or the negotiations. The only comment on how the company is being affected comes from their automatic answering service.

“Our ENSTAR offices are temporarily closed to walk in customers,” the recorded voice says when you dial their main number.

That means you have to pay your bill online, by mail,  or over the phone.

Walker says the workers are in it the for the long-haul and haven’t given up hope that the strike will be effective.

“Members are strong as ever. The community support is incredible. And we’re going to continue to fight.”

But he says they would all rather be back at work. Temporary hires from Michigan are currently filling their slots. Walker says the union members have agreed to return to work in the case of an emergency. Two left the picket line to help contain a gas leak last week.

Categories: Alaska News

Fairbanks City Hall Renamed for Pat Cole

APRN Alaska News - Fri, 2014-08-22 16:35

Fairbanks City Hall now bears the name of a former employee who died after four decades of local government service.

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Categories: Alaska News

Alaska News Nightly: August 22, 2014

APRN Alaska News - Fri, 2014-08-22 16:35

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 Seafood Industry Asks for Retaliatory Ban on Russian Imports

Lauren Rosenthal, KUCB – Unalaska

It’s been two weeks since Russia banned imports of American food products into its country. Now, Alaska’s seafood industry is asking the U.S. government to strike back.

Commerce Sec. Pritzker Visits Alaska – Talks Salmon, Infrastructure

Steve Heimel, APRN – Anchorage

Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker has spent the week in Alaska talking with staffers in the various federal agencies she’s in charge of, for instance the Census and the Bureau of Standards, and some more significant ones, like the Economic Development Administration and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. But Pritzker’s influence in the Obaama cabinet goes beyond those agencies.

Mat-Su Borough To Ask Feds For Ferry Debt Forgiveness

Ellen Lockyer, KSKA – Anchorage

The Matanuska Susitna Borough is appealing to top U.S. officials to resolve the Borough’s $12 million ferry debt.

Walker Wins Primary… For Libertarian Senate Nomination

Alexandra Gutierrez, APRN – Anchorage

Walker had been a registered Republican until this spring. He hasn’t campaigned or raised any money. He hasn’t even joined the Alaska Libertarian Party Facebook page. So, when Walker got 2,600 votes – more than Fish and Kohlhaas combined – it was not expected.

ENSTAR Strike Finishes Second Week, No End in Sight

Anne Hilleman, KSKA – Anchorage

The ENSTAR strike has lasted two weeks, and there’s no end in sight. Local workers are picketing in front of ENSTAR offices around Anchorage and in Homer. They’re having a dispute with the management over retirement benefits for both present and future workers.

Fairbanks City Hall Renamed for Pat Cole

Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks

Fairbanks City Hall now bears the name of a former employee who died after four decades of local government service.

300 Villages: Chitna

This week we’re heading to Chitna, a town of about 125 people on the Copper River. Judy Block is the administrator of the Chitna Traditional Indian Village Council.

AK: Juneau Entrepreneurs Bring Basil To The Masses

Lisa Phu, KTOO – Juneau

Its prime time for gardens in Alaska and there are plenty of plants and veggies that thrive this far north. Basil, though, is not one of them – it needs more heat and sun – two things that are especially hard to find in the Southeast rainforest of Juneau. But two local guys have figured out a unique way to bring basil to the masses.

Categories: Alaska News

Coexisting with Wildlife

APRN Alaska News - Fri, 2014-08-22 12:00

Wildlife managers always give the same advice – let wildlife stay wild. They say do not feed the animals, do not let your pets go after them, and do not allow them to become habituated to humans. But what if the wildlife comes to you? And your pets?

HOST: Steve Heimel, Alaska Public Radio Network

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LIVE Broadcast: Tuesday, August 26, 2014 at 10:00 a.m. on APRN stations statewide.

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Categories: Alaska News

A Partnership of Language and Love: Reflecting on The Life of Dick Dauenhauer

APRN Alaska News - Fri, 2014-08-22 09:43

Russian Orthodox funeral services are pending for former Alaska poet laureate Richard Dauenhauer who died on Tuesday.

Dauenhauer was known for many things, including poetry, translation and teaching. He was also the husband of Tlingit scholar and Alaska writer laureate Nora Marks Dauenhauer. For more than 40 years, they had a partnership of marriage and scholarship.

Dick and Nora Dauenhauer at St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church on April 24, 2011. (Photo by Brian Wallace)

Dick Dauenhauer was teaching folklore at Alaska Methodist University in the early 1970s when he met student Nora Marks.

Her friend Rosita Worl, now president of Sealaska Heritage Institute, was also a student.

“Her and Dick just hit it off. I think they had the same kind of sense of humor as I recall. And that was when their work started,” Worl says.

Dauenhauer and Marks married on November 28, 1973. She was 15 years older.

“They became quite a team. He had the technical knowledge of languages and stories and he was an educator, and she had all the traditional knowledge of Tlingit and it was a great combination,” Worl says.

Born in Syracuse, New York in 1942, Dick Dauenhauer had been a linguist for most of his life. He earned degrees in Slavic Languages and German. He translated poetry from Russian, Classical Greek, Swedish and Finnish. In 1969, he moved to Alaska to teach at Alaska Methodist University, now known as Alaska Pacific University.

Dauenhauer and Marks spent a few years at the Alaska Native Language Center at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. In 1983, they moved to Juneau. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, they worked at Sealaska Heritage Foundation in Juneau, now known as Sealaska Heritage Institute.

They co-authored Tlingit language books and developed teaching materials. With the publication of Beginning Tlingit, Worl credits the couple for popularizing the language’s written form.

Nora and Dick Dauenhauer in Sitka in May. (Photo by Emily Forman/KCAW)

“What he and Nora did was bring the orthography to everyday use. They made that available to the students of the language,” Worl says.

They collected hundreds of recordings documenting Tlingit history, culture and language. They co-edited the four-volume series, “Classics of Tlingit Oral Literature“, and received American Book Awards for two volumes.

Juneau playwright and screenwriter Dave Hunsaker based his play “Battles of Fire and Water” on the tri-lingual volume, “The Battles of Sitka, 1802 and 1804.”

“But really the book of ‘Tlingit Oratory’ was, to me, stunning. And by that time I had been adopted by the Tlingit. I had lived here in Juneau for 30 years and I felt like I knew a lot about the culture and when that book came out, I realized I didn’t know anything about the culture,” Hunsaker says.

Hunsaker says through translated speeches of Tlingit elders, the Dauenhauers revealed the complex and poetic oral tradition of the Tlingit culture.

“They recognized that these are not charming campfire Indian lore stories; these were world literature. And they treated them as world literature. And the way they rendered them and the way that they’ve been published so we can all now read them forever, they, by God, are world literature,” Hunsaker says.

Between their joint books and separate volumes of creative writing, Dick and Nora Dauenhauer have produced an abundant body of work. But their partnership held much more.

“It’s one of the great love affairs of any life that I know anything about. They never got past the hand holding stage,” Hunsaker says.

Hunsaker has been friends with the Dauenhauers for about 40 years. Throughout that time, he says they always acted like newlyweds.

“In spite of age difference, in spite of their incredibly different backgrounds, I just saw them be always fascinated with each other,” Hunsaker says.

At home a day after Dick Dauenhauer died, Juneau playwright Dave Hunsaker flips through his copy of “Anóoshi Lingít Aaní Ká/Russians in Tlingit America: The Battles of Sitka, 1802 and 1804.” (Photo by Lisa Phu/KTOO)

In 2005, Dick Dauenhauer was appointed President’s Professor of Alaska Native Languages and Culture at the University of Alaska Southeast. Chancellor John Pugh says the couple spearheaded the creation of the program.

“They just were really the heart and soul of the Alaska Native Language program,” Pugh says.

Pugh says up to that time, other UA faculty members had studied the language, but the Dauenhauers wanted to make sure it was spoken.

“That was the real change in terms of not being an academic language but trying to actually think about how we might have the speakers that we presently have and have them really be able to transfer the language to younger people who would carry the language forward and it could be a living language, continue as a living language,” Pugh says,

Assistant Professor Lance Twitchell now heads the Alaska Native Languages degree program at UAS. He says it’s been an honor to know and work with Dick and Nora, “and see how they operate just as poets and artists and linguists and anthropologists and just wonderful human beings. And I had the chance to tell both, ‘If I’m one-tenth of what you are, I’m pretty happy with the way my life went.’”

When Dick Dauenhauer passed away August 19 at the age of 72, he and Nora were nearing the end of a multi-decade project – a collection of Tlingit Raven stories.

Categories: Alaska News

Walker Wins Primary … For Libertarian Senate Nomination

APRN Alaska News - Thu, 2014-08-21 20:47

Bill Walker was the first candidate to make an appearance at Anchorage’s Election Central on Tuesday night. He strolled in with an entourage ready to cheer his bid as an independent gubernatorial challenger. And when the votes were tallied, the Walker name did come out on top – only, it was for the Libertarian nomination for the U.S. Senate race. APRN’s Alexandra Gutierrez reports the victory of an unknown by the name of Thom Walker has puzzled the Libertarian party.

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The Libertarian Senate primary was supposed to be a race between two former party chairs: conservative Mark Fish and the more liberal-leaning Scott Kohlhaas. And then there was candidate Thom Walker.

Walker had been a registered Republican until this spring. He hasn’t campaigned or raised any money. He hasn’t even joined the Alaska Libertarian Party Facebook page. So, when Walker got 2,600 votes – more than Fish and Kohlhaas combined – it was not expected.

Thom Walker, left, will be appearing on the same ballot as Bill Walker in November. (UAF/Bill Walker for Governor campaign)

“When I walked into the convention center and saw that, I thought, ‘Wow, this is just crazy,” says Michael Chambers, the chair of the Alaska Libertarian Party.

Chambers was pretty confused, until he realized that Thom Walker shared a last name with another candidate for statewide office – that is, Bill Walker, an independent candidate for governor who has spent more than $100,000 on signs, internet advertising, and traditional media buys.

Chambers thinks all that promotion of the Walker name may have something to do with the outcome of the Libertarian race. The Libertarians hold an open primary with the Democratic and Alaska Independence Parties, so anyone can vote in their race – including people who aren’t familiar with Libertarian Party workings.

“I appreciate voters, but they’re not all necessarily versed on who’s who,” says Chambers.

Because Bill Walker is running for governor without a party affiliation, he won’t appear on the ballot until the November general election. But campaign manager Nancy Peterson says she’s aware of voters who wanted to fill his name in this go-round.

“We’ve actually had several calls from some of our supporters who said, ‘Hey, I forgot the Bill wasn’t on the primary, and when I got to the voting booth, his name wasn’t there. So, I voted for the only Walker that was on the ballot,’” says Peterson.

Since Bill Walker’s advertising might have had something to do with Thom Walker’s win, the former plans on looking at the latter’s district results to see if it tells them anything about their advertising.

Thom Walker lives in Fairbanks and he handles operations for a University of Alaska research station in the foothills of the Brooks Range, but there’s no surge in the Interior that suggests voters were specifically casting ballots for him. Instead, the 35-year-old candidate’s biggest support comes from the Kenai Peninsula, Kotzebue, and parts of Anchorage.

Pollster Marc Hellenthal says the surprise Walker win could have some bearing on the general election. He agrees that Bill Walker’s name recognition probably rubbed off on Thom.

“The ordinary general voting public aren’t prepared to take a quiz on the people that they’re going to vote for, and they can easily be confused,” says Hellenthal.

Hellenthal points to another case of namesakes on this year’s ballot: the two Dan Sullivans. He says when former Natural Resources Commissioner Daniel Scott Sullivan first announced his bid for U.S. Senate just a few months after Anchorage Mayor Daniel Albert Sullivan filed for the lieutenant governor’s race, he saw evidence in his polling that the two Republicans were getting mixed up.

And on the subject of Senate candidate Dan Sullivan, Hellenthal thinks Thom Walker’s nomination could be welcome news to the campaign. Walker’s victory lays to rest any speculation that the Libertarian Party could swap out their candidate for Tea Party favorite Joe Miller, who had been previously been supported by one of the Libertarian candidates and who came in second in Tuesday’s Republican primary. And because Bill Walker is running as an independent and has courted voters outside of the Republican Party, Hellenthal says the other Walker could end up pulling votes in the Senate race from incumbent Democrat Mark Begich.

“[Thom]‘ll end up garnering some votes — from just his name Walker — which may be more moderate or Democratic,” says Hellenthal.

Libertarian Party chair Michael Chambers believes the benefits of Thom Walker’s candidacy to Republicans make the situation look like dirty tricks. Chambers suggests it’s possible that Thom Walker is a plant, and he doesn’t intend to support Walker at this time. Chambers adds that he’s reached out to Walker multiple times over the past three months, and none of his calls have been returned.

“If he can’t even answer simple inquiries like, ‘Where is he?’ ‘Is he a real person?’ then how can I support a candidate who is a Manchurian candidate?” asks Chambers.

Thom Walker also didn’t return messages left by APRN. A source close to Walker explained that he had left for an extended float trip through the Endicott Mountains on Wednesday, and will be off the grid for the duration. He adds that Walker was the first Libertarian candidate to file paperwork, and decided to run because no one else had put their name in at that point. His friend describes Walker as an avid outdoorsman who regularly handles logistics for remote trips, which may account for the absenteeism. Walker is reportedly aware that he won the nomination, and he too was surprised by the result.

Officials with the Alaska Republican Party not only deny involvement – they say they’re ignorant of the situation entirely. Former chair Randy Ruedrich says he’s “flattered” that Libertarians believe he could engineer their primary outcome, but that he cannot take credit for this case. He adds that if one were to plant a Walker in the race, it might be smarter to draft a “William” or “Billy Ray” from the 200 registered Republicans with the last name.

Current chair Peter Goldberg also says he’s never heard of Thom Walker.

“At this point, I haven’t paid squat attention to the Libertarians,” says Goldberg.

The runner-up candidates are trying to take the shake-up in stride. Mark Fish says the loss to Walker was unexpected and disappointing. Fish adds he would still be interested in the party’s nomination, if Thom Walker returns from his float trip and agrees to step down before the September 2 candidate substitution deadline.

“It’s up to the Libertarian board to choose its replacement, and if they wanted to choose me, I think it’s a natural choice as the next guy in the vote count,” says Fish. “I would be happy to carry the message forward.”

Scott Kohlhaas has a different strategy.

“I’m thinking of changing my name to ‘Sullivan.’”

Categories: Alaska News

Alaska Serial Killer Robert Hansen Dies at 75

APRN Alaska News - Thu, 2014-08-21 17:43

Convicted Alaska serial killer Robert Hansen, who hunted down women in the Alaska wilderness in the 1970s as Anchorage boomed with construction of the trans-Alaska oil pipeline, died Thursday. He was 75.

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Alaska Department of Corrections spokeswoman Sherrie Daigle said Hansen died at Alaska Regional Hospital after being in declining health for the past year.

Hansen was convicted in 1984 after confessing to killing 17 women, mostly dancers and prostitutes, during a 12-year span. He was convicted of four of the murders in a deal that spared him having to go to trial 17 times.

The Anchorage baker also confessed to raping another 30 women in that time.

Hansen was the subject of a 2013 film titled, “The Frozen Ground,” which starred Nicolas Cage as an Alaska State Trooper investigating the slayings. Actor John Cusack portrayed Hansen.

Hansen was serving a 461-year sentence in Alaska.

Categories: Alaska News

Anchorage Attorney Hired in Cases Against Bethel Police

APRN Alaska News - Thu, 2014-08-21 17:42

The city of Bethel has hired an Anchorage law firm to represent them in recent cases involving the Bethel Police Department.

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Interim City Manager, Greg Moyer, confirms that the city has hired the law firm of Ingaldson, Maassen & Fitzgerald to represent the city in cases involving allegations of police brutality and an officer-involved shooting.

A woman from Arizona made allegations that she had witnessed an officer using excessive force with an Alaska Native man on July 12th.
And on August 15th a Bethel Police Officer shot a man wielding a bat during a confrontation in a neighborhood. The man who was shot, Aaron Moses, is reportedly recovering at Alaska Native Medical Center in Anchorage.

Bill Ingaldson is the attorney with the firm who is representing the city. He says the city has received notice that a family has retained an attorney.
Bethel police are investigating both cases. State Troopers are also investigating the shooting.

Categories: Alaska News

Yukon River Kings In Jeopardy Despite Meeting Escapement Goal

APRN Alaska News - Thu, 2014-08-21 17:41

Yukon River king salmon continue to show symptoms indicative of low production. Unprecedented fishing restrictions in Alaska this summer allowed over 64,ooo kings to cross the border into Canada. That was enough to surpass an escapement goal, but it doesn’t tell the whole story.

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Categories: Alaska News

AFP Targets Begich Absenteeism in $1M Ad Buy

APRN Alaska News - Thu, 2014-08-21 17:40

Americans for Prosperity announced today it has paid more than $1 million to run a TV ad attacking incumbent Mark Begich for missing votes in the U.S. Senate. The ad features Steve Perrins, a reality TV personality and owner of Rainy Pass Lodge.

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“Last year, Mark Begich missed more votes than 80 percent of all of the U.S. Senators. 80 percent of them!” says Perrins in the ad. “Why can’t Mark Begich show up, when it’s time to vote?”

The central fact cited in the ad is accurate. Last year, according to the GovTrack website, Begich failed to vote 12 times, putting him in the bottom 20 percent of the Senate for attendance.  That, though, was the best attendance record of the Alaska delegation to Congress. Begich missed 4 percent of the Senate votes last year. Sen. Lisa Murkowski missed 6 percent, and Congressman Don Young missed 13 percent of House votes.

So far this year, however, Begich has missed 34 votes. Murkowski has missed 16 and Young just nine.

Americans for Prosperity, a conservative group founded by one of the billionaire Koch brothers, says the ad is set to run statewide for several weeks. AFP is also the group responsible for one of the earliest anti-Begich ads of the campaign, featuring a Maryland actress in a kitchen.

Senate rankings for missed votes

Categories: Alaska News

Mat Su Borough Assembly Wrestles With Ferry Issue

APRN Alaska News - Thu, 2014-08-21 17:39

 The Matanuska Susitna Borough has until September 5 to repay more than 12 million dollars in federal grants related to the ferryboat “Sustina.”

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 The white elephant of a ferry that the Borough has been trying to sell or give away remains tied to a Ketchikan dock, while the Borough Assembly wrestles with what to do about the money owed to the Federal Transportation Administration.

 Matanuska Susitna Borough Assemblymembers met Thursday afternoon to reconvene an executive session regarding legal action on the ferry.  No word on the outcome of that meeting yet, but deputy Borough Mayor Ron Arvin said in a recent interview:

“And it is a travesty that those individuals that concocted this scheme back in the day, did it with blinders on,” Arvin says. “They had no fundamental comprehension that a ferry system would run at a cost. They were living under a dream, or an delusion, that a ferry system could run and support itself. And there is not one in the world that does that, they are all subsidized.”

Two weeks ago, the Borough received a letter from the Federal Transportation Administration, demanding repayment of the federal grant money that the Borough received to prepare the ferry for passenger service across Knik Arm from Port MacKenzie to Anchorage. That plan never materialized.

Categories: Alaska News

Anchorage Youth Court celebrates 25th anniversary

APRN Alaska News - Thu, 2014-08-21 17:38

The Anchorage Youth Court is getting old.  It’s celebrating it’s 25th birthday this week. The organization has shrunk over the years. The court now hears about 1/3 of the cases it did a decade ago. But it’s goal is the same — to give young people a second chance. 

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Fourteen-year-old Robert King doesn’t want to be a judge or a lawyer. But in 8th grade he had to take a law studies class.

“I didn’t even really like the law before that. But I got stuck with that class. And then the first day of school I thought, hey this class is cool,” he recalled.

Through the class King learned about the Anchorage Youth Court. If a juvenile is arrested for committing a crime, they can choose to go to a regular court or to be tried by other teenagers. Young people aged 12 to 18 serve as the attorneys and judges. They are trained to weigh different factors when hearing a case and choose a suitable sentence.

King passed the Youth Court Bar Exam, and now he serves as an attorney. He says his role at the court impacts the defendant’s future.

“We’re not like a place that we just send people and they get off lightly and just do some community work service hours. And then not have to have any record. This is serious. We’re giving you your one free chance of not having a conviction record.”

The Youth Court only hears misdemeanor cases of people who have pled no contest. Most cases involve shoplifting or possession of marijuana.

Retired youth court judge Sijo Smith, who is starting college this fall, says the clean record is important when applying for jobs and universities.

“You know that little box that asks if you’ve ever been convicted of a crime? If they complete the sentence, they can check that no. Which is really helpful for them. Because most of the defendants we get, it’s like a one time mistake and they know that it’s wrong and they know that they won’t do it again. So it’s really nice that they get a second chance. Which they get by coming through Youth Court.”

Smith explains that a panel of three judges hears the police report and arguments from both the prosecution and defense. They learn about the crime and about the defendant’s interests and history. She says all of that helps determine the sentence. They also factor in logistics, like if the person can drive. Then the judges explain their decision to the defendant and how the crime has affected the community.

“People who are your own age telling you something often have a lot more impact than adults telling you something,” she said. “For me, especially, you know.”

Youth Court Executive Director Rebecca Koford said the program has shrunk over the years. In the early 2000s they heard about 350 cases per year. Now, it’s down to 120, because juvenile crime rates have dropped by about half in Alaska. Koford said that’s partly because some big stores are no longer prosecuting juveniles. A 2012 Kids Count Alaska report said programs like the Youth Court can also take some credit.

Koford said the program is effective because it emphasizes restorative justice and making the community whole.

“You can’t undo a crime or a bad thing that’s happened, but you can take steps to try to make it right again,” she said. “So it’s about getting the defendant back on track. It’s about getting them to not get into trouble again, to be a contributing member of society, and to feel positively about their future community engagement.”

But the defendants are not the only ones who benefit. Robert King said he’s gained confidence, public speaking skills, and motivation.

“I’ve learned to become a better advocate in my community, about helping, and being a good person in the community.”

Since the court opened, 3,000 young people have volunteered.

Categories: Alaska News

Tlingit Expert, Linguist and Writer Dies at 72

APRN Alaska News - Thu, 2014-08-21 17:36

Tlingit expert, linguist and award winning writer Richard Dauenhauer passed away Tuesday morning at Bartlett Regional Hospital. He had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer about a month ago. Dauenhauer was 72 years old.

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He was married to Tlingit poet and scholar Nora Marks Dauenhauer. Together they authored many books, including the Classics of Tlingit Oral Literature series published by Sealaska Heritage Institute and University of Washington Press. They are two-time winners of the American Book Award.

He was poet laureate of Alaska in the 1980s and started teaching at the University of Alaska in 1984. In 2013, the University of Alaska Foundation honored him with the Edith R. Bullock Prize for Excellence for his contributions in preserving Alaska Native languages.

Assistant professor of Alaska Native Languages at UAS Lance Twitchell called Dauenhauer a “powerhouse” who merged the Tlingit world with the academic world.

“I remember telling him years ago and then I told him about a month ago that his work changed my life and put me on a path that I’m very thankful for and because of his work, I know what I’m supposed to be doing. And so, it’s amazing to have people like that close to you that can have such an impact on so many people in such a positive way,” Twitchell said.

This is a developing story from KTOO-Juneau. More details and stories from the life of Richard Dauenhauer are forthcoming.

Categories: Alaska News

Alaska News Nightly: August 21, 2014

APRN Alaska News - Thu, 2014-08-21 17:30

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 Serial Killer Robert Hansen Dies at 75

Associated Press

Convicted Alaska serial killer Robert Hansen, who hunted down women in the Alaska wilderness in the 1970s as Anchorage boomed with construction of the trans-Alaska oil pipeline, died Thursday.

Anchorage Attorney Hired In Cases Against Bethel Police

Daysha Eaton, KYUK – Bethel

Interim Bethel city manager Greg Moyer confirms the city has hired Anchorage law firm Ingaldson, Maassen & Fitzgerald to represent the city in cases involving allegations of police brutality and an officer-involved shooting.

Yukon River Kings Meet Escapement Goal, But Not Yet In The Clear

Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks

Yukon River king salmon continue to show symptoms indicative of low production. Unprecedented fishing restrictions in Alaska this summer allowed over 64 thousand kings to cross the border into Canada.

$1M Ad Buy Targets Begich for Absenteeism

Liz Ruskin, APRN – Anchorage

Americans for Prosperity announced today it has paid more than $1 million to run a TV ad attacking incumbent Mark Begich for missing votes in the U.S. Senate. The ad features Steve Perrins, a reality TV personality and owner of Rainy Pass Lodge.

Mat-Su Stares Down Deadline to Repay $12M For Failed Ferry System

Ellen Lockyer, KSKA – Anchorage

The Matanuska Susitna Borough has until September 5th to repay more than $12 million in federal grants related to the ferryboat “Sustina.”

A 25-year Look at the Anchorage Youth Court

Anne Hilleman, KSKA – Anchorage

The Anchorage Youth Court is celebrating it’s 25th Anniversary. The organization has shrunk over the years. The court now hears about a third of the cases it did a decade ago. But it’s goal is the same — to give young people a second chance.

Touring By Tesla: From The Mexico Border to Fairbanks

Jeremy Hsieh, KTOO – Juneau

Guy Hall is an electric car evangelist. He drove from the California-Mexico border to Fairbanks in a Tesla Model S, and stopped by KTOO in Juneau to let a reporter take his wheels for a spin.

Tlingit Expert, Linguist and Writer Dies at 91

Lisa Phu, KTOO – Juneau

Richard Dauenhauer, who passed away on Tuesday, is known for many things, including poetry, translation and teaching.

Ice Bucket Challenge Splashes Into Petersburg

Elizabeth Jenkins, KFSK – Petersburg

If you’ve spent any time on social media this summer, you’ve probably come across the Ice Bucket Challenge. It’s a fundraising effort for ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease. Now, the viral sensation is popping up in communities around Alaska.  KFSK’s Elizabeth Jenkins has this story in Petersburg where the term “ice bucket” is taken very literally.

 

Categories: Alaska News

Mat-Su Stares Down A Deadline to Repay $12M For Failed Ferry System

APRN Alaska News - Thu, 2014-08-21 16:59

The Matanuska Susitna Borough has until September 5th to repay more than 12 million dollars in federal grants related to the ferryboat “Sustina.”

The white elephant of a ferry that the Borough has been trying to sell or give away remains tied to a Ketchikan dock, while the Borough Assembly wrestles with what to do about the money owed to the Federal Transportation Administration.

Matanuska Susitna Borough Assemblymembers met Thursday afternoon to reconvene an executive session regarding legal action on the ferry, which has been tied to a Ketchikan dock for the past couple of years. No word on the outcome of that meeting yet, but deputy Borough Mayor Ron Arvin has said.

“It is a travesty that those individuals that concocted this scheme, back in the day, did it with blinders on! They had no fundamental comprehension that a ferry system would run at a cost,” Arvin says. “They were living under a dream, an illusion, that the ferry system could run and support itself. There’s not one in the world that does that; they are all subsidized.”

Two weeks ago, the Borough received a letter from the Federal Transportation Administration, demanding repayment of the federal grant money that the Borough received to prepare the ferry for passenger service across Knik Arm from Port MacKenzie to Anchorage. That plan never materialized.

Categories: Alaska News

Ice Bucket Challenge Splashes Into Petersburg

APRN Alaska News - Thu, 2014-08-21 16:55

If you’ve spent any time on social media this summer, you’ve probably come across Youtube videos of the Ice Bucket Challenge. It’s a fundraising effort for ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease. Now, the viral sensation is popping up in communities around Alaska.  In Petersburg, the term “ice bucket” is taken very literally.

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Everyone from Justin Bieber to Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell has been doused with water. “I think the funniest one I saw was Martha Stewart. She went and did the ice bucket challenge before she got her hair done. I thought that was cheating a little,” says Nancy Berg. She co-owns the Viking Travel agency with her husband and, together with their employees, they will each dump a five gallon bucket of water on themselves–with some local flair, of course. “So it will be ice with some ice from the cannery. We’re not even just doing water.”

They’re doing it to raise money for ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease which a neurodegenerative illness. Here’s how it works: people challenge each other to dump a bucket of ice water on themselves. “Supposedly if you don’t do the challenge, you’re supposed to donate, but I think everyone’s donating and doing it for fun.”

Most people are donating around $100 for the cause. The ALS Association has raised almost $23 million dollars this year, much of that attributed to the viral campaign. It’s significantly more than last year’s earnings of just over $1 million. Berg says she learned about the Ice Bucket Challenge while watching the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. “They got challenged by Justin Timberlake and I kept following who was doing it. Now every time I get on Facebook or somewhere on the internet I see some new celebrity.”

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski takes the plunge.

Viking Travel is challenging friends and local business in downtown Petersburg, but first they have to douse themselves. They line up on the sidewalk outside their office, buckets filled to the brim. They count down “3,2,1″ before dumping the slushy mixture of ice and water onto themselves.

Some critics of the Ice Bucket Challenge are calling it an of act of “slacktivism.” A viral sensation run amok without any long term commitment from its participants, but for the Petersburg Insurance Center, ALS affects someone the company knows. That’s why employee Katie Eddy says they’re accepting the challenge. “We have a fellow agent in Juneau and his brother passed away from the disease, so that’s why we’re doing it. Kind of in honor of his brother.”

Nancy Berg crosses the street to challenge Inga’s Gallery, a popular food truck in downtown. She approaches the window, telling the staff “you have 24 hours,” and they genially accept. The challenge has spread to other people and businesses in the community–ice buckets poised to drop.

If you want to see Viking Travel get soaked in the Ice Bucket Challenge, visit the company’s Facebook page.

Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell takes the challenge.

Categories: Alaska News

Touring by Tesla: From The Mexico Border to Fairbanks

APRN Alaska News - Thu, 2014-08-21 10:34

Seconds after Guy Hall pulled into a parking lot full of Subarus at KTOO in Juneau on Monday, five reporters were gawking at his sleek, red Tesla Model S.

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Hall is the president of the Sacramento Electric Vehicle Association. He spent 17 days driving from the California-Mexico border to Fairbanks, and now he’s on the return leg. Reporter Jeremy Hsieh hops in for a ride.

Guy Hall poses with a battery cell in hand. His Tesla Model S has more than 7,000 of the cells built into the undercarriage. It has a range of about 265 miles.
Photo by Jeremy Hsieh/KTOO.

“I’m driving Guy Hall’s Tesla. He’s a retired Hewlett-Packard research and development guy and an electric car evangelist. He’s got two more modest electric cars at home in Sacramento: a Nissan Leaf and a Chevy Volt,” Hsieh says.

But it’s the sporty, high-end Tesla that made the 3,400 mile journey north and has the wow factor.

“Punch it,” Hall says.

“Whoa. Wow. It’s pretty fun,” Hsieh says. “OK, I think I’ve got the Tesla grin. Alright, I’ve got to slow down so I don’t get pulled over.”

“I won’t say what the speed is that we saw that go up to, but it was worthy of a ticket-me-red color car,” Hall says.

There’s no fuel to pump, no engine to rev, no gears to shift, no transmission. Pressing on the accelerator translates into electrons moving at the speed of light to the electric motor driving the rear wheels.

Where you’d expect an engine compartment up front is a second trunk. Hall calls it “the frunk.” Another big difference is at start up.

“There you go, you’re now in drive. Do you hear that?” Hall says.

The windshield wiper makes more noise than the drivetrain. Almost no sound compared to a gas car.

Inside, a big touch screen panel in the center console breaks up the leather. It has controls for adjusting the suspension, handling, regenerative braking system, sunroof and more.

The battery is a heavy, flat panel that makes up much of the undercarriage. Its shape evenly distributes the weight and the location keeps the center of gravity low; that’s good for handling. The battery is actually made up of a series of more than 7,000 cells, each about the size and shape of a shotgun shell.

Hall says besides spreading the word, his trip was about seeing if an electric vehicle could even make it. His battery has a range of about 265 miles and charging stations are rare.

“But I was able to determine you can do it. There’s sources of electricity everywhere you go,” Hall says.

According to Tesla, a full charge would take more than 3 days from a standard 110-volt outlet. It takes about 9 hours through a less common 240-volt outlet. Beefy appliances like laundry dryers and water heaters use those in the house. Electric car owners get them installed in their garages.

The 240-volt outlet is also a common hookup for RVs. So on the road, Hall charged up at RV parks. He says he even traded rides for some charging time at industrial shops and garages along the way.

“I wanted to set a baseline of how long it takes to get from the Mexican border up to Fairbanks. And once that’s set, now others can try to beat it. And as someone gets a new record for it, trophy will go on to them and it’ll rotate around,” Hall says.

Right now, the only public charging station on Juneau’s isolated road system is at Alaska Electric Light & Power. But more are coming. The Juneau Economic Development Council helped raise $50,000 in grant money to build infrastructure supporting electric vehicles.

The council’s Zach Wilkinson says five two-outlet electric vehicle chargers are on their way to Juneau thanks to the grant. They’ll be installed at the Eaglecrest Ski Area, downtown parking garage, new Mendenhall Valley library that’s under construction, University of Alaska Southeast and Eagle Beach State Recreation Area.

And Wilkinson says there’s money to buy a few more single-outlet chargers for local businesses willing to pay the installation cost.

“Part of what we’re aiming for is to lead the nation in public charging stations per capita,” Wilkinson says.

By his math, Juneau would only need 14 outlets. Wilkinson says some may be in place and available for public use before the end of the year.

Duff Mitchell is the vice president of the startup Juneau Hydropower, one of the local groups that chipped in for the grant. He’s been driving a Nissan Leaf since October and says electric cars are a great fit for Juneau.

“We don’t have range anxiety, it’s a lot cheaper and more effective to use electricity that’s home grown, sustainable, rather than importing other fuel sources into our community,” Mitchell says. “It leaves those dollars here, and also, leaves more money in a person’s pocketbook at the end of the month if they’re using electricity for their transportation needs.”

“I call it beer math-it costs me less than a 12-pack of beer to drive my car all month.”

The vehicles can be pricey. Teslas start around $71,000, the Nissan Leaf starts at $29,000 and the Chevy Volt at $34,000, though the IRS offers up to $7,500 in tax credits for buying an electric vehicle.

Mitchell and Wilkinson estimate there are about 20 electric cars in town now.

Categories: Alaska News

Begich Says ‘Bring it on’

APRN Alaska News - Wed, 2014-08-20 17:41

Sen. Mark Begich faced no serious challenger in Tuesday’s election, so he’s been out of the campaign spotlight in recent weeks. He told supporters at a luncheon in Anchorage that Sullivan and the rest of the Republican field pulled to a conservative extreme in the pre-Primary debates.

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“They have gone so far right, you can’t even describe what right is anymore,” Begich said.

Sullivan has said he wants abortion to be illegal, except in cases of rape or incest, or to save the mother’s life. He supports laws barring same-sex marriage and says the Supreme Court made the right call in the Hobby Lobby case, which allows certain employers to refuse insurance coverage for IUDs and other birth control methods they object to. Begich takes the opposite positions.

“You all know me. I’ve been pro-choice from day 1,” Begich told about 170 people at the fundraising event. “It is the women’s choice to make the choice about their healthcare. And we don’t need government telling you what to do with your bodies. And we don’t need Dan Sullivan to tell you what to do with your bodies.”

Begich has been under attack for allegedly taking undue credit for achievements of the entire Alaska delegation to Congress, and Sen. Lisa Murkowski demanded he take down an ad saying they work well as a team. Begich, though, listed what he says are his successes, such as building the military presence in Alaska, fully funding tribal healthcare contracts, opening the Arctic to offshore oil drilling, and expanding healthcare options for Alaska veterans.

“I’m proud of these accomplishments. I know my opponents are already churning up, ready to say, ‘We’re going to after Begich’s accomplishments,’” Begich said. “You bet. Bring it on. Bring it on. I’ll talk to you until you’re blue in the face about everything I’ve done to make Alaska a better place.”

The candidates and independent political groups have already spent more than $18 million on the race. For the primary, that comes out to about $115 per voter.

Dan Sullivan wasn’t available for an interview today. He didn’t talk to reporters on election night and had no public appearances today. His spokesman said Sullivan granted two print interviews but needed to rest his voice, which laryngitis has reduced to a whisper.

 

Categories: Alaska News

Alaska News Nightly: August 20, 2014

APRN Alaska News - Wed, 2014-08-20 17:40

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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Begich Says ‘Bring It On’

Liz Ruskin, APRN – Anchorage

Now that former DNR Commissioner Dan Sullivan has won the Republican Primary, U.S. Sen. Mark Begich knows who he’ll face in November. As APRN’s Liz Ruskin reports, he’s staking out his positions, with an emphasis on his record and abortion rights.

Oil Tax Referendum Opponents Declare Victory

Alexandra Gutierrez, APRN – Anchorage

A referendum to repeal Gov. Sean Parnell’s signature oil tax law is trailing by nearly 7,000 votes, and its opponents are now declaring victory.

Oil Vote Goes Down In State Record Books as the Most Expensive Issue Race

Alexandra Gutierrez, APRN – Anchorage

The referendum was the most expensive issue race over a ballot measure in the state history, with the oil industry putting in more than $10 million to defeat the measure. Referendum sponsors spent a fraction of that amount, with a little over half a million raised.

Report: Alaskans Aren’t All That Healthy

Joaqlin Estus, KNBA – Anchorage

According to the recently released “Healthy Alaskans 2020,” an assessment and strategic plan issued every decade, Alaskans aren’t all that healthy. A 15-page overview of Alaskans’ health status as of  2012 shows Alaskans are not doing as well as people in the U.S. overall in every category.

A Susitna Valley Farm Sells Its Produce Close to Home

Phillip Manning, KTNA – Talkeetna

Most food Alaskans consume comes from Outside.  There are quite a few producers who grow and sell locally, however.  Last week, KTNA’s Phillip Manning visited one farm that has been operating in the Upper Susitna Valley for the last thirty years.

Yup’ik Voters Give Ballot Translation Mixed Reviews

Charles Enoch, KYUK – Bethel

Alaska Native voters in the Yukon-Kuskokwim region of Western Alaska give the Yup’ik language primary ballot translations mixed reviews. All eight of the Yup’ik voters that KYUK talked with said they needed help understanding what they were voting on.

Indian Village Totem Poles Come Down in Juneau

Jeremy Hsieh, KTOO – Juneau

The two totem poles that stood for 36 years in Juneau’s old Indian Village have been hauled off.

Peninsula Women Swim Across Kachemak Bay

Quinton Chandler, KBBI – Homer

Early this past Sunday morning three Homer women joined the short list of athletes to successfully swim across Kachemak Bay.

Categories: Alaska News
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