Alaska News

SE Tribal Organization Gets Feds Backing for Energy Upgrades

APRN Alaska News - Fri, 2015-03-20 13:57

Southeast Alaska’s largest tribal organization is getting $500,000 from the federal government to make energy efficiency upgrades to its Juneau headquarters.

The Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska hopes to reduce energy use by 30 percent and save about $15,000 a year with the improvements to the Andrew Hope Building.

The tribe will match the federal government’s half-million dollar investment in the project, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. The agency this week announced $6 million will go to 11 organizations nationwide through its Tribal Energy Program.

The Andrew Hope Building is about 41,000 square feet and was built in 1983.

The Central Council is the tribal government for more than 29,000 Tlingit and Haida Indians worldwide.

Tribal officials could not be reached for comment.

Categories: Alaska News

Streff Takes Command of National Guard

APRN Alaska News - Fri, 2015-03-20 13:53

A new Alaska Army National Guard commander is taking the helm in the weekend ceremony at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.

Col. Joseph Streff will take over from Brig. Gen. Mike Bridges at a ceremony beginning at 2 p.m. Sunday.

Officials say Streff has been with the Guard for more than 27 years.

Streff is the first new commander under the administration of Alaska Gov. Bill Walker.

The Guard is emerging from an investigation of alleged sexual misconduct among its ranks. The issue played a high-profile role in the 2014 gubernatorial race, which was under way during the release of a scathing federal report of sexual misconduct and fraud within the Guard.

Categories: Alaska News

Medicaid Expansion And The State Budget

APRN Alaska News - Fri, 2015-03-20 13:00

State leaders need to cut the budget without hurting the economy and find new sources of revenue. In a time of fiscal deficit, what do lawmakers think of Medicaid expansion and other ideas that impact the budget?  What will it take to stabilize Alaska’s financial future?

HOST: Lori Townsend

GUESTS:

  • Senator Berta Gardner, minority leader
  • Representative Steve Thompson, House finance co-chair
  • Callers statewide

PARTICIPATE:

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LIVE Broadcast: Tuesday, March 24, 2015 at 10:00 a.m. on APRN stations statewide.

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Categories: Alaska News

Diversity In Anchorage

APRN Alaska News - Fri, 2015-03-20 09:00

(Photo by Josh Edge, APRN – Anchorage)

Today’s topic is diversity in Anchorage. We’ll start with how the community and the state became home to so many people from different cultures then dive into what that means for Anchorage today – how do we maintain our cultural diversity while also building a healthy, unified community.

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HOST: Anne Hillman

GUESTS:

  • EJ David, Associate Professor of Psychology, UAA
  • Vivian Melde, Cultural Divers

KSKA (FM 91.1) BROADCAST: Friday, March 20 at 2:00 p.m. and Saturday, March 21 at 6:00 p.m.

Alaska Public Television BROADCAST: Friday, March 20 at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, March 21 at 4:30 p.m.

Categories: Alaska News

Out With The Old, In With The New: Up-And-Comers Outpace Longtime Career Mushers

APRN Alaska News - Fri, 2015-03-20 07:03

Wade Marrs at the 2015 Iditarod ceremonial start. (Photo by Josh Edge, APRN – Anchorage)

For decades, a few big name mushers have dominated the standings in the Iditarod, but after decades of racing, many of them are reconsidering their priorities. Professional mushing may be in the midst of a “changing of the guard” as a small group of young mushers start to post top finishing times.

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When Wade Marrs crossed the finish line of this year’s Iditarod, he was covered in sweat and panting. He was trying for the fastest run time between Safety and Nome.

“The dogs just looked really good and so we thought we’d do it for fun,” he said.

Dallas Seavey won the 2015 Iditarod. (Photo via KNOM)

The Iditarod Trail Committee gives an award for the fastest time between the race’s final checkpoint and the finish line. As of Thursday evening, Marrs was still holding on to the honor, having beat Nicolas Petit by one second.

But in the future, the 24-year has loftier goals.

“Hopefully one day we’ll win this thing but for now we just keep improving, that’s our main goal,” he said.

Marrs is among a group of twenty-somethings who are starting to show off what their dog teams can do. This year’s champion Dallas Seavey is 27-years-old. He has been working for the last two years to build the kind of dogs that can win regardless of trail conditions, weather or musher error.

“This is kind of the beginning of that team. They’re very young,” Seavey said. “So this is the first team that pretty much everyone was born and raised in our kennel rather than the purchased dogs that we have been racing.”

He has posted top-five finishes the last five years in a row. But Seavey’s success can’t be credited solely to how he has raised his dogs. The animals he has purchased have come from champion kennels like Jeff King’s.

Jeff Kings team ate “like pigs” in Kaltag on Saturday night. (Photo by Emily Schwing)

“I wrestled little Dallas Seavey when he was about nine years old and I’d pin him on the carpet and threatened to give him a noogie,” King said. “The Seavey boys took my girls to the prom.”

King has been racing dogs in the Iditarod for more than three decades. This year, he returned to try for a fifth championship, but mid-way through the race, he says he realized another win was unlikely.

“Once first wasn’t in reach realistically, for my energy or my dogs or the rate I wanted to go, I felt very comfortable just cooking along and my next goal might be to see how many times I can make the top-10 and then maybe another decade of top-20s – I don’t know.”

At 59-years-old, King is the oldest musher to finish among this year’s top-10. He’s not the only long-time musher that’s starting to realize just how hard it might be to keep up with competition that’s decades younger.

“I fall in the old school category now, sadly,” Aliy Zirkle said. She is 45-years-old and has run a team in every Iditarod for the last 15 years.

Aliy Zirkle talks briefly with her mom at the Iditarod finish line. She carried a picture of the two of them in a sled bag for 1000 miles because her mother couldn’t be in Nome this year. (Photo by Emily Schwing)

“I don’t have that twenty-some energy, I don’t have that twenty-some drive,” she said. “I have the, hopefully, the savvies and smarts of a 45-year-old woman and the twenty years of education that I can still stay in front of these young bucks, but I do not have the energy or the strength.”

Many mushers have talked about reevaluating their priorities this year. Like the two years previous, Martin Buser led the pack for the first half of the race, but in Huslia, he said he’d let his competitive nature get the best of him.

“The dog team can’t win,” he said. “I’ve made enough mistakes in this race so far, that I should just get to the finish line.”

At the back of the pack, his 25-year-old son is driving a team of puppies. But the older Buser wonders whether it’s a good idea for someone his son’s age to pursue a career in competitive mushing.

“If the new normal is glare ice bare ground, travelling 150 miles to run 50 miles by dog team and then drive home 150 miles by truck, if that’s the normal, he’s smart enough to see that – and he’s not the only competitive team in the up-and-coming ranks – is it really worth it spending 365, every penny, every hour, every bit of energy on just driving dogs?” Buser said.

But for guys like Wade Marrs, doing anything else probably isn’t an option.

“We definitely are going to be with it for quite a while, so it just depends,” Marrs said. “As long as we continue to do good and have fun with it, then we’ll keep doing it.”

Categories: Alaska News

Alaska News Nightly: March 19, 2015

APRN Alaska News - Thu, 2015-03-19 17:55

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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Support For Daylight Saving Bill Falls Back

Alexandra Gutierrez, APRN-Juneau
After sailing through the Senate, a bill to exempt Alaska from daylight saving time has lost momentum in the House.

Pentagon Prodded To Study Native Contracting Reform

Liz Ruskin, APRN-Washington
Alaska’s Congressional delegation and a dozen other lawmakers are asking the Defense Secretary to study how contracting reform has hurt Alaska Native corporations and tribally owned businesses.

Native Corp Plans Liquore Store for Bethel

Ben Matheson, KYUK-Bethel
Bethel could see its first liquor store in four decades if the Bethel Native Corporation goes ahead with plans to open a package store and itclears regulatory hurdles.

Army Investigating Stryker Brigade For Allegations of Racist Behavior

Tim Ellis, KUAC-Fairbanks
Army investigators are looking into a Stryker Brigade soldier’s allegations of racist behavior by some members of his unit. A U.S.

Tanana Chiefs Says DOJ Tracking Fairbanks Four Case

Tim Ellis, KUAC-Fairbanks
A member of the Tanana Chiefs Conference Native Justice Task Force says the federal Department of Justice is tracking the case of the Fairbanks Four. That’s the four Alaska Native men who the task force and others say were wrongfully convicted of killing a teenager in Fairbanks in 1997.

That ’70s Home: How AHFC is Trying to Update Alaska’s Aging Housing Supply

Casey Kelly, KTOO-Juneau
More than half of all homes in Alaska were built in the 1970s and ‘80s.That’s according to an Alaska Housing Finance Corp. report released last year that highlighted the need for improvements to the state’s aging housing stock.

Mat-Su Continues Funding for Ferry Storage

Phillip Manning, KTNA-Talkeetna
This week, the Mat-Su Borough Assembly went through the quarterly process of approving the next three months of funding for storage and maintenance of the MV Susitna, which currently amounts to about $18,000 per month.

UAS Expanding to Wrangell

Katarina Sostaric, KSTK-Wrangell
The University of Alaska Southeast will have a full-time presence in Wrangell starting this spring. UAS will base a tech prep regional coordinator in the Wrangell Public School District, and officials hope the new arrangement will expand opportunities for students and adults.

Food Bank Needs More Space to Meet Higher Demand

Kevin Reagan, KTOO-Juneau
The Southeast Alaska Food Bank hopes to expand its facilities to accommodate growing demand. The nonprofit has doubled its inventory in recent years and is lacking the freezer space to preserve it all.

Categories: Alaska News

Mat-Su Continues Funding for Ferry Storage

APRN Alaska News - Thu, 2015-03-19 17:41

This week, the Mat-Su Borough Assembly went through the quarterly process of approving the next three months of funding for storage and maintenance of the MV Susitna, which currently amounts to about $18,000 per month.

The Susitna was meant to be used as a ferry between the Mat-Su Borough and Anchorage across Knik Arm. But that project never came to fruition and the borough has been trying to sell it. The borough has an interested buyer located outside the United States. Mat-Su Borough Manager John Moosey says that means going to the federal government, who built the vessel, for permission.

Because this is a U.S. Navy prototype, primarily designed for battle missions, that it was potentially thought could be used as a ferry, we have to go through these extra hoops,” Moosey said. “A second thing is, as far as export license, when you sell outside of [the] Continental United States, you need permission to do that.”

The Borough received $12 million in grant funding from the Federal Transit Administration. Since the boat was never put into service as a ferry, the federal government is asking for that money back. John Moosey, Borough Attorney Nicholas Spiropoulos, and Borough Assembly Member Steve Colligan recently went to Washington D.C. to speak face-to-face with the FTA.

“I really don’t think they are looking for a pound of flesh, or to financially hurt us, but they have some, I think, responsibilities and obligations. So, trying to ferret through not hurting the Mat-Su Borough financially versus ‘Hey, we are also accountable for these grants,’ is really pretty much, I think, what’s going on here.”

John Moosey says the borough hopes to hear back soon on whether or not it has permission to sell the M/V Susitna to a foreign entity.

Categories: Alaska News

Native Corp Plans Liquor Store for Bethel

APRN Alaska News - Thu, 2015-03-19 17:16

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Bethel could see its first liquor store in four decades if the Bethel Native Corporation goes ahead with plans to open a package store and it clears regulatory hurdles.

 

Categories: Alaska News

Support For Daylight Saving Bill Falls Back

APRN Alaska News - Thu, 2015-03-19 17:10

After sailing through the Senate, a bill to exempt Alaska from daylight saving time has lost momentum in the House.

At a press availability on Thursday, House Speaker Mike Chenault said there was uncertainty regarding the bill’s fate.

“Me, personally? I kind of support it,” said Chenault. “But how it’s going to do in the House, I can’t tell you.”

The bill would make it so Alaskans do not need to move their clocks forward in the springtime, and then back again in the fall. Because that would cause Alaska to be five hours behind the East Coast for much of the year, there is also a provision that would allow the state to petition for a time zone change covering all or part of the state.

The bill was popular in the Senate, earning the vote of all but four members. Supporters pointed to health benefits that come from abandoning daylight saving time. But Chenault, a Nikiski Republican, has heard more opposition to the bill recently.

“Now that it’s moved over to the House, it seems like there’s numerous people — business people — calling and having concerns,” said Chenault.

Most of the opposition has come from Southeast. Because it is at the eastern end of the Alaska time zone and the sun sets earlier in the region, the loss of an hour of light in the evening would be noticeable in the summer. The tourism and aviation industries have said it would affect their operations, by reducing shopping and flying hours.

But there also recreational concerns. Chenault noted that rifle range hours could be cut. Anchorage Republican Lance Pruitt listed a few more impacts.

“Golfers will lose an hour in the summer,” said Pruitt. “And I know this seems silly, but we’re about to mess with football.”

The bill has been referred to two committees in the House, but has not yet been scheduled for hearings.

Gov. Walker has not offered a position on the bill.

Categories: Alaska News

UAS Expanding to Wrangell

APRN Alaska News - Thu, 2015-03-19 17:02

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The University of Alaska Southeast will have a full-time presence in Wrangell starting this spring. UAS will base a tech prep regional coordinator in the Wrangell Public School District, and officials hope the new arrangement will expand opportunities for students and adults.

Categories: Alaska News

Tanana Chiefs Says DOJ Tracking Fairbanks Four Case

APRN Alaska News - Thu, 2015-03-19 17:01

A member of the Tanana Chiefs Conference Native Justice Task Force says the federal Department of Justice is tracking the case of the Fairbanks Four. That’s the four Alaska Native men who the task force and others say were wrongfully convicted of killing a teenager in Fairbanks in 1997.

“They stated that they’re aware of the case, and they’re monitoring it. And are waiting for a decision to be made. And if that decision warrants their involvement, they’ll take action,” said task force member Shirley Lee. She outlined the status of efforts to get the state to review the case of the Fairbanks Four on Tuesday, during the Tanana Chiefs Conference’s annual convention at the Westmark Hotel.

Categories: Alaska News

Army Investigating Stryker Brigade For Allegations of Racist Behavior

APRN Alaska News - Thu, 2015-03-19 16:52

Army investigators are looking into a Stryker Brigade soldier’s allegations of racist behavior by some members of his unit. A U.S.

The allegations were outlined in a story posted today to the Army Times’ website. The story cites an NCO with the 25th Infantry Division’s 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team at Fort Wainwright.

According to the Times’ story, the staff sergeant says soldiers with the platoon created a weekly opportunity to racially slur fellow soldiers during a weekly event the sergeant says was known as “Racial Thursdays.”

The Times story says he was informed when he showed up for duty with the platoon that Racial Thursday is, quote, “a tradition” with the unit.

The sergeant says it allowed soldiers with the platoon to, quote, “say any racist remark you want without any consequences” to soldiers who’ve been designated as the recipient of that week’s derision.

The Times story says the sergeant had served 10 years in the Army, and asked not to be identified. The NCO told the Times that he’d filed an equal opportunity complaint against his platoon leader, who he said encouraged participation in “Racial Thursdays.”

U.S. Army Alaska spokesman Lt. Col. Alan Brown says officials with the platoon’s brigade launched an inquiry into the allegations last week after receiving an “informal complaint” about the behavior.

Brown declined to talk on tape, but he said in an e-mail that, “The command is extremely sensitive to any complaints that involve equal opportunity or discrimination and will investigate every allegation.”

Categories: Alaska News

Pentagon prodded to Study Native Contracting Reform

APRN Alaska News - Thu, 2015-03-19 15:47

Alaska’s Congressional delegation and a dozen other lawmakers are asking the Defense secretary to study how contracting reform has hurt Alaska Native corporations and tribally owned businesses. The lawmakers sent letters this week to Secretary Ash Carter about the 2010 rule change, known as “Section 811.”

The reform came amid a massive boom in Native contracting that critics called scandalous. Under the 8(a) program of the Small Business Administration, disadvantaged businesses can get government contracts without competing for them. For tribes and Alaska Native corporations, Congress abolished the normal $4 million contract cap. That launched a boom worth several billion dollars at its peak in 2010. A slew of negative media and government reports followed, and Congress demanded a change.

But the reform, Section 811, is having more than its intended effect, says Kevin Allis , executive director of the Native American Contractors Association.

“Although on its face it would seem to make sense, the way that it’s actually been implemented it’s been to the detriment to Native American-owned federal contractors,” he said. “They’re actually not awarded these contracts anymore.”

Section 811 requires agencies to supply justification and approval for non-competitive 8(a) contracts worth over $20 million. But Allis says the attention has scared some agencies off dealing with Native 8(a) contractors entirely, and others interpret the $20 million threshold as a cap. He says Native contractors have signed very few contracts above that level since the rule went into effect. Allis says ANCs and tribally-owned firms need to do business on a large scale because they are trying to improve entire communities.

“The awards that made a measurable difference have evaporated, and that’s why it’s so painful to us,” he said. “It’s not saying that we deserve bigger contracts because of the historical relationship that tribes have with the country …. No — In order for this program to work, which was the design, those larger procurements had a place.”

His trade association wants Congress to modify the rule, and he hopes a Pentagon study of the effects of Section 811 will help make their case. Congress actually mandated the study already, and the deadline was this week.

 

 

Categories: Alaska News

Campbell To Serve as Interim Director of DOT Southcoast Region

APRN Alaska News - Thu, 2015-03-19 14:20

A Department of Transportation insider is the new manager of the agency’s division overseeing Southeast Alaska.

Commissioner Marc Luiken on Tuesday announced Rob Campbell will fill in as interim director of DOT’s Southcoast Region. That includes Southeast, plus coastal Southcentral and Southwest Alaska. Campbell already directs the department’s Central Region, which includes Anchorage and the Matanuska-Susitna Borough.

Luiken says expanding the job will help integrate agency offices.

“What we’re trying to do is create a more unified department, a department that functions as a single entity instead of separate silos that have certainly evolved over time.”

The position has been open since Gov. Bill Walker removed Al Clough during a conflict over the Juneau Access Road.

Luiken says a separate Southcoast Region director will be named at a later date.

Campbell filled in as director of the Department of Transportation’s Northern Region before taking the Central Region post.

Luiken says that experience will help break down barriers.

“By having Rob do a similar assignment down here in the Southcoast region, I see a huge benefit in the same way that we saw with the northern region and the central region, to bring our organization together as a single organization.”

Southeast used to be a separate region. A department-wide reorganization merged it with the other coastal areas last year.

Luiken announced the appointment at the Southeast Conference’s Mid-Session Summit in Juneau

Categories: Alaska News

I Am An Ice Fisherman

APRN Alaska News - Thu, 2015-03-19 11:32

Elmer Brown knows that it takes patience, and a willingness to weather the cold, to catch sheefish on Kotzebue Sound.

Categories: Alaska News

Iditarod Front-Runners Looking Forward To Time Away From Competition

APRN Alaska News - Thu, 2015-03-19 08:11

Aliy Zirkle talks briefly with her mom at the Iditarod finish line. She carried a picture of the two of them in a sled bag for 1000 miles because her mother couldn’t be in Nome this year. (Photo by Emily Schwing)

The top-10 Iditarod mushers have arrived safely in Nome and their sled dogs are tucked in for a long rest in the dog yard. For most of the front-runners, a top-10 finish is nothing new.

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When Aaron Burmeister arrived in Nome, he received a warm welcome from his hometown. He rode the runners with his 6-year-old son Hunter for the final stretch down Front Street and crossed under the burled arch in third place.

“We’re happy, very, very happy,” he said. “The team did incredible. We had a fantastic race from start to finish.”

Aaron Burmeister in Kaltag. (Photo by Emily Schwing)

Of his 15 Iditarod finishes, this is Burmeister’s fourth in the top-10. It’s also a career best.

“I’m just honored I was on the runners this year driving them to Nome,” Burmeister said.

But he wasn’t ready to commit to another run down the trail next year. Burmeister says he’ll reevaluate his priorities and his kennel first.

“My little man here is 6-years-old and my daughter is two, and my wife – they haven’t seen their dad a whole lot the last few winters,” Burmeister said. “So, it’s time I spent a little bot of time with the family and do some other things. I’ll certainly be back but there’s other things in life besides Iditarod.”

Jessie Royer also finished with a career best in fourth place.

“Well you always try to do your best,” she said. “I’ve been top-10 before, this is my first top-5, so that’s pretty exciting. I just come into this race every year just to do the best I can with this team.”

Before she took off from White Mountain, she said she was looking forward to crossing the finish line so she could get some sleep. Beyond that, she says she has plans to travel with her dog team, but only for fun.

“I’m excited – not excited for the winter to be over, but I’m going to do some spring camping trips with the dogs after this and just go have so fun with them and not worry about all the serious training,” Royer said. “We’re going to go up to the Brooks Range and go caribou hunting and just fun stuff now.”

Jeff King, who finished in 7th place this year, will run one last race next month before he also takes his dog team out for a less competitive adventure.

King: “I’m taking the team up to the Brooks Range to go caribou hunting with my future son in law… I’m going to have a little talk with him and a gun and a dog team out in the woods.”
Reporter 1: “Is that a threat?”
Reporter 2: “Or a promise?”
King: “…both!”

This was King’s 23rd complete Iditarod. He has finished 19 of those races in the top-10.

“A few first for me, for sure, and after this many years of racing, they’re harder to come by…spectacular northern lights around Galena, got chased by a seal, and saw a wolverine today,” King said. “Going to Huslia was a first, and Koyukuk was really fun, so lots of wonderful memories for this trip.”

Jeff Kings team ate “like pigs” in Kaltag on Saturday night. (Photo by Emily Schwing)

Early in the race, he had the makings of winning team, but by Unalakleet, King decided to slow down. He hinted that his days of hard-core racing might be behind him.

“I enjoy not being in quite as big a rush. I really do,” he said. “I don’t want to rush my whole life. I like to do a great job with the dogs, I enjoy travelling by dog team so much, it’s such a huge part of my life and I don’t want to rush it.”

But one musher who would have liked to arrive in Nome a little faster is Aliy Zirkle.

A large crowd gathered to cheer on her team as they sped under the burled arch in fifth place.

A tearful Zirkle greeted her lead dogs, taking a moment with one in particular: Scout.

“In the dog yard, he’s the fun police,” she said. “He doesn’t like a lot of other dogs having fun around him. He’s that way on the trail. He’s all business. He’s a fantastic guy.”

Zirkle broke away from media to greet her fans, shaking hands, giving and receiving hugs and chatting with the crowd as her dog team jumped in harness and begged to go.

She didn’t comment on whether she will return for another Iditarod, but her husband Allen Moore is still out on the trail, driving a team of up-and-coming young puppies.

Categories: Alaska News

Dallas Seavey Predicts His Winning Team Will Be Back

APRN Alaska News - Wed, 2015-03-18 18:29

Photo courtesy of KNOM, Nome.

 

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Dallas Seavey is the winner of the 2015 Iditarod. This is his third win in four years. The 27-year old musher says he’s not the only young member of his team. Many of his dogs are only three years old.

Some sled dogs can race beyond the age of eight. Seavey says his team has a long future of competitive mushing ahead.

“You’re going to see these guys coming back again and again and again,” Seavey said. “That’s our focus is consistently being in the top.”

The repeat champion says he has enjoyed his previous wins, but he says this year’s championship is particularly meaningful.

Other top finishers included:  Mitch Seavey,  Aaron Burmeister, and Jessie Royer.

Categories: Alaska News

Alaska News Nightly: March 18, 2015

APRN Alaska News - Wed, 2015-03-18 17:54

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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Dallas Seavey Predicts His Winning Team Will Be Back 

Emily Schwing, APRN Contributor

Dallas Seavey is the winner of the 2015 Iditarod. This is his third win in four years.  The 27-year old musher says he’s notthe only young member of his team.  Many of his dogs are only three years old.

MDA Boss Favors Radar Over Missile Site In East

Liz Ruskin, APRN-Washington, DC

The director of the Missile Defense Agency on Wednesday suggested Alaska’s Fort Greely should remain central to the nation’s ground-based missile defense operations, at least in the near term. In Congress, some members have cheered the idea of a new missile site in the East, an idea the Pentagon is studying.

Murkowski: No Confidence In USFS Plan In Tongass

Liz Ruskin, APRN-Washington, DC

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski says she doesn’t see any good news for the families in Southeast Alaska that still depend on the harvest of Tongass timber. She says nothing Congress does seems to increase the national timber harvest, and Murkowski told Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell at a budget hearing on Wednesday she’s not confident the transition to second-growth in the Tongass will work.

House Pushes Back Deadline for Financial Disclosures

The Associated Press

The Alaska House has passed legislation pushing back the date by which legislators and other public officials must file annual financial disclosures. HB 65 would move the filing deadline from March 15 to May 15. A minority-led effort to keep the reporting deadline for legislators as March 15 failed.

Walker, Mallott File Income Reports

The Associated Press
Gov. Bill Walker and his wife each reported income of between $100,000 and $200,000 for the sale of their law firm. The information is included on the financial disclosure Walker filed Sunday. The Walkers each reported between $200,000 and $500,000 in capital gain on the sale of business properties. Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott reported at least $1 million in income upon resigning from the Alaska Air Group board.

Wishbone Hill Coal Project Draws Lawsuit

Ellen Lockyer, KSKA-Anchorage
The Trustees for Alaska are going back to court to fight a federal okay for coal mining at Wishbone Hill in Palmer.  Trustee attorneys filed a lawsuit in federal court in Anchorage on Wednesday on behalf of the Castle Mountain Coalition and other groups opposed to coal mining in the area.

Mat-Su Assembly Rejects Pot Vote

Phillip Manning, KTNA-Talkeetna
The Mat-Su Borough Assembly unanimously opposed Mayor Larry DeVilbiss’ request for an advisory vote on banning commercial marijuana operations in unincorporated areas of the Valley.

State Pulls Funds for Knik Arm, Juneau Access Road from STIP

Ellen Lockyer, KSKA-Anchorage
The state has amended a transportation plan to delay two large projects.  Funds for the Knik Arm Crossing and the Juneau access road have been pulled from the 2012- 2015 Statewide Transportation Improvement Program, or STIP.

Sac Roe Herring Fishery Quieter This Year

Rachel Waldholz, KCAW-Sitka
The Sitka Sound sac roe herring fishery is a quieter affair this year, as the fleet conducts its first fully cooperative fishery since the mid-90s.

Officials ID Port Accident Victim

Zachariah Hughes, KSKA-Anchorage
Officials have identified the victim of a fatal accident at the Port of Anchorage last Friday as Charlie Tom “WD” James, Jr.

Food: Source of Comfort or Division?

Anne Hillman, KSKA-Anchorage
Is food a source of comfort–or division? How can it be used to spark conversations about global conflicts? Those are the questions Anita Mannur is asking in her upcoming talk called “Kitchens in Crisis” at the University of Alaska Anchorage. Mannur is a professor of Asian & Asian American studies at Miami University in Ohio. She says her research looks at ways in which food can bring people together, or push them apart.

Freeride World Tour Comes to Haines

Emily Files, KHNS-Haines
Some of the best big mountain skiers and snowboarders in the world are in Haines this week for the Freeride World Tour. After taking on slopes in France, Andorra and Austria, the tour is holding its first ever Alaska stop.

Categories: Alaska News

Out North re-opens with “A Perfect Arrangement”

APRN Alaska News - Wed, 2015-03-18 17:34

After a two year hiatus, Out North Theater in Anchorage has re-opened. And their newest show harks back to their beginnings–raising awareness of new artists and social issues.

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“The Perfect Arrangement” starts out like the perfect 1950s sit-com. Three couples sit around a living room discussing hors-d’oeuvres and mixed drinks.

“Please everyone, eat up! If there are any of Norma’s canapes left over, I’ll eat every single one!” exclaims one character.

But the show soon takes a turn — the perfect couples have a dangerous secret. They are hiding their sexuality while others are being persecuted for that very same reason.

“Every poor bastard that you fire walks right by my desk, sobbing and destroyed,” exclaims one of the women. “And I sit there, staring at my wedding band, feeling every inch the fraud I am. And today that got to me, okay? When Oswald Mews, who you know is not a damn fag, walked out with his life in shambles, unemployable, fired for something that isn’t even true for him but is very true for us, it got me.”

Out North’s first production since their temporary closure deals with the Lavender Scare, when government employees were fired for being homosexuals. It’s being produced by Anchorage’s newest theater company, Walking Shadows. Company founder Krista Schwarting says “The Perfect Arrangement” is helping fill the gap of socially conscious productions in Anchorage. She says equal rights and treatment for LGBT community are still issues today.

“I’m still watching all of these debates happening of a marriage still being between a man and woman. Yes, we have come a ways. But we still have a ways to go.”

Out North Board President Caleb Bourgeois says the play fits the organization’s history and mission perfectly.

“Out North is this 30-year-old organization that started as an LGBT theater company, so producing plays that at that time really were not in public sphere, not in the public eye of Anchorage.”

Bourgeois says the organization took a break in 2013 because of financial troubles. The board laid off staff, reorganized and now they’re back, offering work space for artists and theater companies, and a radio station that plays local music and podcasts.

“But Out North is just special because it privileges the underdog and really gives that opportunity for the emerging artist or the underrepresented artist or person to be able to share their story and their voice.”

The west coast premiere of “The Perfect Arrangement” by Topher Payne starts in Anchorage Thursday night at Out North Contemporary Art House.

Categories: Alaska News

Wishbone Hill Coal Project Draws Lawsuit

APRN Alaska News - Wed, 2015-03-18 17:14

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The Trustees for Alaska are going back to court to fight a federal okay for coal mining at Wishbone Hill in Palmer. Trustee attorneys filed a lawsuit in federal court in Anchorage today (on Wednesday) on behalf of the Castle Mountain Coalition and other groups opposed to coal mining in the area. Vicki Clark is an attorney representing the plaintiffs.

“At this point, you know, folks have been very concerned about a big new coal mine that could go in right next door under a permit that was issued decades ago,” Clark said. “And they really want the opportunity to participate in making decision on that in in getting current information, and so our clients want to challenge that decision.”

The Castle Mountain Coalition filed the suit against the federal Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement [OSM] for its decision last November to allow Usibelli Coal to operate at Wishbone Hill. Plaintiffs allege the Wishbone Hill mining permits, now owned by Usibelli Coal, are expired.

The status of the mining permits has been in question for some time. But last year, the OSM upheld the state’s decision to renew the permits, while criticizing the state’s handling of the matter. OSM’s Robert Postal  said the state had erred by not officially terminating the permits in the first place.

The Castle Mountain Coalition represents about three thousand Matanuska Valley residents.

Categories: Alaska News

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