Alaska News

Alaska News Nightly: July 23, 2014

APRN Alaska News - Wed, 2014-07-23 18:08

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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Kuskokwim Fishers: Stop Commercial Openings, Call in Feds

Daysha Eaton, KYUK-Bethel

The Kuskokwim River Salmon Management Working Group wants the state to end to all commercial openings for the remainder of the summer.  The say despite unmet subsistence needs the state has allowed commercial salmon openings. Some upriver fishermen are fed up with the state, and want the Federal Subsistence Board to manage the river from here on out.

Community Protests Enstar Rate Volatility

Anne Hillman, KSKA-Anchorage

Community members packed the hearing room of the Regulatory Commission of Alaska Wednesday morning in Anchorage. They pushed for consistent gas pricing from Enstar in response to a recent big jump in rates.

Judge Rules In Favor of Commercial Set Netting Ban

Alexander Gutierrez, APRN-Juneau

A superior court judge has ruled in favor of an initiative to ban commercial set netting for salmon in urban areas. Earlier this year, Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell blocked the initiative sponsors from collecting signatures to appear on the ballot, based on a recommendation from the Department of Law that the measure would qualify as an unconstitutional appropriation. The state also argued that such an initiative would count as an allocation to sport fishermen and that it would erode the power of the Board of Fisheries.

State Releases New Guidelines for Mercury and Fish

Joaquin Palomino, KSKA-Anchorage

The state Epidemiology office has released a new mercury contamination risk determination for Alaska fish. The new guideline basically increases the number of Alaskan fish that they say can be eaten safely and without restriction. Ali Hamade, Environmental Public Health Manager for the state, says Alaska fish has a lot going for it.

Arctic Birds Show More Signs of Mercury

Thea Card, KDLG-Dillingham

A new study from the journal Waterbirds shows there’s an increasing amount of mercury occurring in birds in Alaska’s Arctic coast.

Canadian Environmental Officials Give OK to Mine NE of Ketchikan

Ed Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska-Juneau

Canadian environmental officials just gave provisional approval to a controversial mine planned for an area northeast of Ketchikan. Their counterparts in British Columbia have done the same.

New App Out for Cup’ik Language

Charles Enoch, KYUK-Bethel

The Cup’ik language is about to get its biggest audience yet. A new app has been developed to help Cup’ik students learn their language and show it off to the world.

Dee Daniels Teaching Jazz to Fine Arts Campers

Robert Woolsey, KCAW-Sitka

The Dee Daniels Vocal Jazz Workshop is underway this week in Sitka.  For the last two years, Daniels has interrupted her touring and teaching schedule to live at the Sitka Fine Arts Camp, and coach a half-dozen students of widely-ranging ages and ability.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Alaska News

Kuskokwim Fishers: Stop Commercial Openings, Call in Feds

APRN Alaska News - Wed, 2014-07-23 16:08

Fishers line up to unload at tender, Kelly-Mae near Napaskiak on Friday, July 18 during a six-hour commercial opening for chum salmon. (Photo by Sophie Evan)

The Kuskokwim River Salmon Management Working Group wants the state to end to all commercial openings for the remainder of the summer. The say despite unmet subsistence needs the state has allowed commercial salmon openings. Some upriver fishermen are fed up with the state, and want the Federal Subsistence Board to manage the river from here on out.

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Bev Hoffman is co-chair of the Kuskokwim Salmon Working group, a group of stakeholders in the fishery that’s advising managers. On Monday she sent a letter to Department of Fish and Game Commissioner Cora Campbell asking her to stop all commercial fishing on the river and in Kuskokwim Bay.

“We have supported openings in other years,” Hoffman wrote. “But with the situation this year, every fish is precious. And here on the lower river we’re able to use the chums quite easily. They’re beautiful, they’re silvery, they’re fresh. Further up the river where they see the effects of whatever we’re doing down here, they just were frustrated so I supported a no commercial opener this year.”

State management biologist Aaron Potter said the department is transitioning to coho (silver) salmon management and will not hold any more commercial openings until they determine there’s a surplus of cohos. That’s after 18,000 chum salmon, 2,500 sockeyes, and 5,000 silvers and 29 kings were caught in commercial nets.

On July 9 the working group voted against a commercial opening because they said subsistence needs had not yet been met, particularly upriver. Only one member of the group dissented.

Nastasha ‘Jackie’ Levi with the Village of Lower Kalskag, about 100 miles upriver from Bethel does not think there should be commercial openings until subsistence needs are met for the Native people along the entire river.

“A lot of our people are still fishing,” Levi said. “There’s even some families that are just gonna start fishing. Most of our residents have not met their needs. We haven’t been seeing the number of fish that this Bethel Test Fishery is saying is coming up here. When there’s a commercial fishing we know in two days, more or less, that we’ll hardly see any fish,” Levi said.

Subsistence fishers are relying more heavily on chum harvests this year and many say coho or silver salmon will be needed to meet needs.

Some communities want the federal managers back in control.

The Villages of Lower Kalskag and Napaimute passed resolutions Monday requesting the Federal Subsistence Board take special action and, once again exert federal jurisdiction for management of the fishery. Federal officials had managed the king run after a request by Napaskiak traditional council.

Fish and Game’s Aaron Potter said if there is a harvestable surplus of fish, he is required by law to open for commercial fishing once escapement goals are met.

“Part of our mandate is to provide that opportunity,” Potter said. “We had a processor that was interested in buying. We had fishermen that were interested in fishing. We had our surplus. We had opportunities in that back end of the chum salmon run before the coho really started getting into the system. We would be doing a disservice to commercial fishermen in that entire industry if we did not provide a harvest opportunity,” Potter said.

In the letter addressed to Commissioner Campbell, Hoffman noted that Coastal Villages Region Fund loses millions subsidizing the commercial fishery.

Commissioner Campbell’s office said she was out on travel. Jeff Regnart, the Director of Commercial Fisheries with ADF&G answered for her, saying he had received Hoffman’s letter.

“We recognize the working group and their concerns” Regnart said. “We participate in all the working group meetings. We understood where their stance was on commercial opportunity, subsistence needs being met, during the meeting. This letter reiterates that. Sometimes we’re not always on the same page. But never stops us from continuing to work to be on the same page,” Regnart said.

Managers have held three commercial chum salmon openings on the Kuskokwim River, from Bethel downstream to the mouth since July 14. And there have been more than a dozen commercial openings for chum and sockeye salmon for the Kuskokwim Bay districts since the fishery opened earlier.

The Kuskokwim Working Group meets Wednesday (July 23) afternoon.

Categories: Alaska News

Community protests Enstar rate volatility

APRN Alaska News - Wed, 2014-07-23 16:07

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Community members packed the hearing room of the Regulatory Commission of Alaska Wednesday morning in Anchorage. They pushed for consistent gas pricing from Enstar in response to a recent big jump in rates.

People packed the room to listen to Enstar’s explanation of the precipitous rate increase.

About 90 people filled the seats and stood in the hallway to tell theRCA their concerns about Enstar’s recent rate increase. The company is charging about 50% more for each unit of gas they sell from July to September. Resident Terry Saldana says she wants to know why.

“I understand that prices are going to fluctuate and go up and down but 48% to a newly retired person has a great impact on my budget.”

Carolyn Gardner testified before the Commission. She says she’s mad, and she wants the Commission to fix the volatility in prices. ”I think they should reconsider their okay of it. I mean it’s a ridiculously high increase.”

The RCA approved the increase in June.

Enstar representatives spoke before the commission and explained the jump in prices, called the Gas Cost Adjustment. Basically, Enstar over collected money from customers in the first quarter and then under collected in the second quarter. Enstar is not legally allowed to profit from selling gas.

In the past, the natural gas company only adjusted their rates once per year. Now they do it every three months because they have different types of contracts to buy gas from the producers, like Hillcorp and Bucaneer.

Enstar spokesman John Sims says that to make the rates more consistent throughout the year, they have to ask the RCA to change the rules that regulate how much they can charge for gas. ”So that’s one of the things we’re going to look at. we;re going to look at how that might impact our gas supply contracts, how it could impact our deliveries, and how it could impact the customers.”

Sims says in the meantime, customers can use Enstar’s budget billing system. Then, their bill would be exactly the same every month.

During the hearing the RCA discussed the possible need to investigate the way Enstar determines their Gas Cost Adjustment. In the end, they decided to give Enstar a few weeks to fix the volatility problem on their own. They will take up the issue again at the end of August.

The estimated average cost of natural gas for 2014 will be slightly higher than in was in 2013, but it’s still much lower than in 2009.

Categories: Alaska News

Judge Allows Set-Net Ban Initiative To Move Forward

APRN Alaska News - Wed, 2014-07-23 16:06

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A superior court judge has ruled in favor of an initiative to ban commercial set netting for salmon in urban areas.

Earlier this year, Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell blocked the initiative sponsors from collecting signatures in their effort to appear on the ballot. The decision was based on a recommendation from the Department of Law that the measure would qualify as an unconstitutional appropriation. The state also argued that such an initiative would count as an allocation to sportfishermen and that it would erode the authority of the Board of Fisheries.

Superior Court Judge Catherine Easter dismissed those arguments, finding that the initiative does not qualify as a give-away program and that it is a permissible regulatory measure.

The Department of Law is currently reviewing the decision to see if an appeal is appropriate. The Division of Elections will begin preparing signature booklets in the meantime.

The initiative is being sponsored by the Alaska Fisheries Conservation Alliance, with the aim of getting it on the 2016 ballot. It is backed by key sportfishing interests, including real estate developer and major political funder Bob Penney. The group argues that set net gear should be prohibited to reduce the number of king salmon taken by the commercial sector.

The measure would shut down the commercial set netters who operate on Cook Inlet, the only region in the state that would be practically affected by the ban.

Categories: Alaska News

State Releases New Guidelines for Mercury and Fish

APRN Alaska News - Wed, 2014-07-23 16:05

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The state epidemiology office has released a new mercury contamination risk determination for Alaska fish. The new guidelines basically increase the number of Alaskan fish that can be eaten safely and without restriction.

Ali Hamade  Environmental Public Health Manager for the state, said Alaska fish has a lot going for it health-wise:

The benefits are really huge in terms of nutrients and if you catch the fish yourself there’s the sport benefit, there’s the cultural benefit,” Hamade said. “…so we really hope that people continue to make good fish consumption choices.”

In addition to the fish already on the unrestricted consumption list—including all types of Alaskan Salmon— the new guidelines determined that lingcod, certain rockfish and eight other fish species can be safely eaten by kids and women of child bearing age without restriction.

Categories: Alaska News

More Mercury Found in Arctic Birds

APRN Alaska News - Wed, 2014-07-23 16:04

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A new study from the journal “Waterbirds” shows there’s an increasing amount of mercury occurring in birds in Alaska’s arctic coast.

Categories: Alaska News

Tourist Train Derails in Skagway; Injuries Minor

APRN Alaska News - Wed, 2014-07-23 16:04

A tourist train derailed Wednesday afternoon north of Skagway and initial reports stated some passengers received minor injuries.

The White Pass Yukon Railroad runs scenic train tours between Skagway and Carcross, Yukon. Railroad president John Finlayson confirmed the derailment and said the company was still investigating the cause. He said did not want to comment on any injuries while passengers were being treated and evaluated.

Coast Guard Spokesman Kip Wadlow said Air Station Sitka helicopters were put on standby to assist, but were not called out.

Bartlett Regional Hospital in Juneau was notified and went into incident command about 3:45 p.m., according to spokesman Jim Strader. Shortly before 4:30 p.m., Strader said Bartlett received notification to stand down.

Skagway municipal officials and Skagway fire and police departments on Wednesday referred all questions about the incident to White Pass.

Skagway tourism director Buckwheat Donahue said he was told the incident took place near Summit Lake along the border with Canada. He said he was also told by White Pass representatives that trains were cancelled the rest of Wednesday and possibly part of Thursday.

The railroad was built in 1898 during the Klondike Gold Rush. Now it services as one of Skagway’s primary scenic attractions for visitors, traveling over White Pass between Skagway and Carcross, Yukon.

Categories: Alaska News

Canadian Environmental Officials Give OK to Mine NE of Ketchikan

APRN Alaska News - Wed, 2014-07-23 16:03

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Canadian environmental officials just gave provisional approval to a controversial mine planned for an area northeast of Ketchikan. Their counterparts in British Columbia have done the same.

Fisheries, tribal and other activists on both sides of the border say this is one of the last chances for critics to let Canadian officials hear their opposition.

Categories: Alaska News

New App Out for Cup’ik Language

APRN Alaska News - Wed, 2014-07-23 16:02



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The Cup’ik language is about to get its biggest audience yet. A new app has been developed to help Cup’ik students learn their language and show it off to the world.

When you’re searching for the newest iPad app you may be surprised to find one in an Alaska Native language. But that’s what you’d get when you download a version of the ‘Milly, Molly’ storybook series.

“Milly and Molly climb up onto the seat by Apakcuaq, ‘Hello!’ Says Apakcuaq.”

Those are the voices of Cup’ik narrator Rebecca Nayamin, Ignatius Chayalkun, and Lillian Olson from the story ‘Milly, Molly and Bertie;’ or ‘Mil’iq, Maaliq and Apakcuaqlu’ Cup’ik.

The story has been translated into several languages, and now Cup’ik. The new app was developed with a language innovation grant from the Association of Alaska School Boards.

Dr. Robert Whicker is the Consortium for Digital Learning Director. He says some they’re looking for ways to preserve and maintain Alaska Native languages.

“Now we have 20 Alaskan Native languages, some on the verge of being very endangered and some on the verge of disappearing,” he said. “And we’re seeing a strong interest at the State level and also the Federal in the preservation of these languages.”

That is why they awarded the grant to the Kashunamiut School District. It is a single site school district for Chevak, Alaska; one of two villages along the Bering Sea where Cup’ik is still spoken. The village is remote: about 500 miles from the Alaska road system.

Whicker and other members of the AASB traveled to Chevak, to assist with the recording. But decided they could save time and money by producing it at a location better suited for such an undertaking.

“We saw real quickly, that this was going to take a long time if we were going to do it the way we did it then,” Whicker said. “We decided that we should send the three speakers to the New Zealand recording studios and they would just hammer these books out within a week. I just think this was a very heroic trip. People we’re basically travelling halfway around the world to preserve their language for their children.”

Three months after the recording was completed at Kiwa Digital, the Cup’ik versions of the ‘Milly, Molly’ series are now available in the iTunes store.

The app is considered as an interactive book with features such as full word for word narration. Also an added feature of word pronunciation when a word is tapped, and syllable pronunciation when a word is double-tapped. Whicker said they’re being downloaded worldwide.

“They’re being downloaded in Russia, they’re being downloaded in Europe, they’re being downloaded on the East Coast of the United States,” he said. “Why? I’m not really sure but there’s an interest in learning and seeing how other people communicate in their native language.”

Along with the ‘Milly, Molly’ series, two more books narrated and illustrated by Alaskan Native students are also available on the app store.

To check the app out, type out any variation of the word Cup’ik into the iTunes Store search bar.

Or visit AASB’s CDL site.

 

Categories: Alaska News

Dee Daniels Vocal Jazz Workshop Gets Underway

APRN Alaska News - Wed, 2014-07-23 16:01

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The Dee Daniels Vocal Jazz Workshop is underway this week in Sitka.  For the last two years, Daniels has interrupted her touring and teaching schedule to live at the Sitka Fine Arts Camp, and coach a half-dozen students of widely-ranging ages and ability.

Categories: Alaska News

DOL Leader: Alaska Model for Job Training

APRN Alaska News - Wed, 2014-07-23 16:01

Alaska has model job training and employment programs, according to the head of the U.S. Department of Labor.

Earlier this week Secretary Tom Perez visited facilities in Fairbanks and Southcentral Alaska. He said the Alaska Job Corps Center in Palmer stands out. There, young people learn job skills in areas such as accounting, construction, and nursing.

“When we went to the Job Corps in Palmer, one of my best memories is an employer who has hired over a dozen Job Corps graduates and every single one of them has been a home run for him,” Perez said.

Perez praised the Fairbanks Pipeline Training Center, where labor unions and the state of Alaska have partnered up to train pipefitters, laborers, operators, and teamsters. He said he met several veterans there, and, with Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK) held a roundtable in Anchorage with others.

“We also met and learned from so many veterans about what we can do to make veterans – who do so much for us day in and day out, defending our nation – can have these pathways to a middle class civilian life where they’re able to realize their highest and best dreams,” Perez said.  And we do a lot of work at the Department of Labor to connect that when they’re leaving service to good middle class jobs.”

Part of the business philosophy of Gulliver’s Books in Fairbanks, is to pay employees more than the minimum wage. Perez said a higher wage puts more money into the economy, and makes a middle-class lifestyle possible:

“Because no one who works a full-time job should have to live in poverty,” he said. “And there are so many Alaskans here who are doing just that. The minimum wage does not sustain a life here in Alaska or across the country and especially with the cost of living here.”

In Anchorage, Perez learned about the job assistance programs offered by Cook Inlet Tribal Council.

Holly Morales is director of the Employment and Training Services department there. She said CITC staff outlined to Perez the comprehensive range of services the agency offers to Alaska Native and American Indian people, helping with everything from bus passes and vouchers for clothing, to training for nurses and iron workers:

“We have a system here where we’re able to consolidate certain funding from federal agencies that allow us to serve that participant with wraparound,” Morales said. “Basically they walk in our door and we provide them with almost all the services they need within our capabilities. We may have to refer them out, but we try to provide they with everything they need to get the job that they want.”

Morales said she welcomes a slight increase in job training funding at the start of the federal fiscal year in October. “There’s always room for opportunity for us to provide more training if we had more dollars,” she said. “Only so much you can do when there’s such high demand. There’s always room for us to provide additional training.”

 

Categories: Alaska News

Number of Tourists Visiting the Last Frontier Sets Record

APRN Alaska News - Wed, 2014-07-23 15:53

Alaska has set a record for the number of tourists visiting the nation’s northernmost state.

The State Division of Economic Development in a release says Alaska had 1.96 million visitors between May 1, 2013, and April 30, 2014.

That beats the previous mark by 5,000 visitors set during the 2007-2008 year.

There were 1.8 million visitors last year.

Commerce Commissioner Susan Bell attributes the increase to increased cruise ship calls in Alaska, and new national and international air service routes. The state also instituted an advertising campaign aimed at winter travelers.

Categories: Alaska News

Same-Sex Marriage Arguments Scheduled

APRN Alaska News - Wed, 2014-07-23 15:19

Arguments are scheduled for October in a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Alaska’s ban on same-sex marriage.

Five same-sex couples, four married outside of Alaska and one unmarried couple, sued to overturn the ban in May. Alaska voters approved a constitutional amendment in 1998 defining marriage as between one man and one woman.

The state, in its response, said Alaska isn’t required to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states. State attorneys also argue that Alaska, as a sovereign state, has the right to define and regulate marriage.

Categories: Alaska News

Assembly approves tax abatement for Fairview

APRN Alaska News - Tue, 2014-07-22 23:03

Anchorage’s Fairview neighborhood now has a new tool to encourage development – a tax abatement incentive. The Assembly voted unanimously to approve the measure on Tuesday night.

Part of Fairview, including the area between Ingra and Gambell, is known as being deteriorated—the infrastructure is old and the buildings are falling apart. Chronic inebriates frequent the area.

To change that, area businesses and residents proposed creating a tax abatement.

“How it works is if a developer needs to put in public infrastructure as part of the project–a new waterline, sewer line, storm drains, roads, all of those things that are owned by the public–they would be able to write those off against their property taxes until it was paid off,” explained Fairview Business Association Project Manager Paul Fuhs. “After that they would pay full assessment on their property.”

To encourage developers to build high-density housing, the municipality will offer a full construction write-off.

Fuhs said the age and expense of replacing the current 50-year-old infrastructure deters investment in the area. This will fix that, and could change the neighborhood in other ways as well.

“We also hope that changing the architecture of the area and what’s there will change the way people behave. And right now, if it’s kind of skuzzy this is where people will hang out to drink and deal drugs and prostitution. So by changing the physical character of it, we’re going to change the real character of our neighborhood.”

Local business owner Heidi Heinrich glowed with happiness after hearing the Assembly pass the measure. “It’s so encouraging and leaves us so fulfilled to move on and do more.”

She said that includes solving the problem of chronic inebriates in the community.

The tax abatement plan was modeled on a similar project in Tacoma, Washington that led to increased multifamily housing and tax income to the city.

The municipality’s lawyer said it’s unclear if creating the tax abatement area in Fairview will set a precedent and necessitate that the Assembly give other deteriorated areas the same benefits.

Categories: Alaska News

Alaska News Nightly: July 22, 2014

APRN Alaska News - Tue, 2014-07-22 18:09

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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Former Bethel Foster Parent  Sentenced 66 Years for Child Sexual Abuse

Ben Matheson, KYUK – Bethel

Former Bethel foster parent Peter Tony will spend the rest of his life in prison.  Tony was sentenced Tuesday to 66 years in jail with no parole for three consolidated child sex abuse counts in which he pleaded guilty.

Fundraising Results Released for Alaska Races

Alexandra Gutierrez, APRN – Juneau

With the primary election a month away, fundraising totals are out for all candidates for statewide and legislative races.

Critics Say Canadian Mining Projects Could Damage Regional Fisheries

Ed Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska – Juneau

Canadian investors are putting millions of new dollars into mining projects near the Southeast Alaska border. They include the K-S-M and Tulsequah Chief prospects, which critics say could damage regional fisheries.

Cyclist Death Investigation Underway While Friends Mourn

Ann Hillman, KSKA-Anchorage

Three bicyclists have been killed by vehicles in Anchorage this year. The most recent was 51-year-old Jeff Dusenbury, who was hit by a pickup truck in South Anchorage Saturday. Fellow cyclists are mourning his death and waiting for the outcome of the district attorney’s investigation.

Denali Climbing Season Ends, Summits Down

Phillip Manning, KTNA – Talkeetna

Denali climbing season has ended, and the numbers are not impressive.  This year had the lowest summit percentage in over 25 years.  A number of factors played into the lack of summits.

Dipnetters Try Their Luck On The Kenai River

Annie Feidt, APRN – Anchorage

The state’s largest personal use fishery is happening on the Kenai River. Dipnetters from across the state are crowding onto the north and south beaches at the mouth of the river hoping to fill coolers with sockeye salmon.

Categories: Alaska News

Former Bethel Foster Parent Sentenced 66 Years for Child Sex Abuse

APRN Alaska News - Tue, 2014-07-22 16:11

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Former Bethel foster parent Peter Tony will spend the rest of his life in prison.  Tony was sentenced Tuesday to 66 years in jail with no parole for three consolidated child sex abuse counts in which he pleaded guilty.

Categories: Alaska News

Mallott Raises Most Funds, But Parnell Maintains Biggest Bank Account

APRN Alaska News - Tue, 2014-07-22 16:05

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Democratic candidate for governor Byron Mallott was the top fundraiser this reporting period, but Republican incumbent Sean Parnell maintains the most money going into the general election.

Mallott has raised $297,000 since February, with $55,000 coming from the Alaska Democratic Party and another $50,000 coming from his own pocket. Parnell hauled in $286,000 in that same period, including a $100,000 contribution from the Alaska Republican Party. Independent candidate Bill Walker raised $259,000, with $170,000 of that self-financed.

While Mallott brought in the most money, he also spent the most. His campaign used $277,000 since November, and is left with just $55,000 in the black. The Parnell campaign has $447,000 going into November, while Walker has $116,000 left to spend between now and the general.

Mallott’s biggest single expense was a polling contract with the Mellman Group, a D.C.-based political consulting firm. Much of his campaign income has gone to staffing and office expenses, and little has gone toward advertising. The Mallott campaign put $7,000 toward signs and $545 on Facebook advertisements. The campaign issued a press release attributing the amount of cash on hand primarily to travel, but just 6 percent of expenditures went toward airfare, hotel, or car rental.

The Walker campaign spent slightly less than Mallott, using up $268,000 of their funds. Walker has put the bulk of his money toward advertising, spending $44,000 on TV ads on KTUU Channel 2 in Anchorage and another $15,000 in the Fairbanks and Juneau television markets. His campaign has also spent nearly $30,000 on campaign signs and $23,000 on Facebook advertising.

The Parnell campaign used up just $170,000 of its war chest, dividing up its expenses between staffing, polling, and social media advertising.

The other candidates in the governor’s race – Republican challenger and Tea Party activist Russ Millette, Republican Gerald Heikes, Constitution Party candidate J.R. Myers, Libertarian Care Clift, and Democrat Phil Stoddard – raised $15,000 combined.

Both Parnell and Mallott may see a slight – even substantial – financial boost once the lieutenant governor nominees are selected in the party primary.

Republican lieutenant governor candidate and Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan has $15,000 going into the primary. He faces a nominal challenge from Kenai Republican Kelly Wolf, who has raised $50. Once the Republican nominee is selected, his funds are effectively merged with the gubernatorial candidate.

In the Democratic primary race for lieutenant governor, State Sen. Hollis French has raised $62,000 and Mat-Su teacher and political newcomer Bob Williams has brought in $30,000 since February. Williams has spent most of his funds, while French has held onto the bulk of his money. French has $69,000 still left on hand, exceeding the amount held in Mallott’s account.

Categories: Alaska News

Critics Say Canadian Mining Projects Could Damage Regional Fisheries

APRN Alaska News - Tue, 2014-07-22 16:04

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Canadian investors are putting millions of new dollars into mining projects near the Southeast Alaska border. They include the K-S-M and Tulsequah Chief prospects, which critics say could damage regional fisheries.


Categories: Alaska News

Cyclist Death Investigation Underway While Friends Mourn

APRN Alaska News - Tue, 2014-07-22 16:03

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Three bicyclists have been killed by vehicles in Anchorage this year. The most recent was Fifty-one-year-old Jeff Dusenbury, who was hit by a pickup truck in South Anchorage Saturday. Fellow cyclists are mourning his death and waiting for the outcome of the District Attorney’s investigation.

Three men sit on a grassy knoll above a pile of flowers marking the spot where their friend was killed just two days before. They chat about Jeff Dusenbury’s kindness – he was always willing to fix a kids bike. They talk about his passion for the sport.

“I got a call today from a friend of Jeff’s who said he was worried that no one’s going to want to ride with him anymore because Jeff was always the one who would call him and want to go for the ride,” said  Peter Van Tuyn.

As he speaks, three boys bike past. “They’re just having fun on a summer afternoon biking three miles an hour down this road. You know, Jeff was the safest cyclist – is it fair to say guys? – that we knew. He was always safety conscious, helmet, aware. And these kids are just doing what kids do. And if the same thing had happened here, you’re talking three kids. There’s no distinction between Jeff and that. It’s a tough thing.”

On Saturday morning Dusenbury was biking to meet Van Tuyn for a long ride. Decked out in his bright pink and blue gear and his helmet, he pedaled toward a short dirt path at the dead end of 84th Avenue. At the same time, a 17-year-old girl backed a pick up truck down the street, struck Dusenbury and fled the scene.

Police are still investigating the incident and say it could take up to six more weeks while they wait for toxicology reports and collect evidence. Then it’s up to the District Attorney’s office to decide if the driver will be charged.

Clint Campion with Anchorage DA says fatalities from bicycle-vehicle collisions are investigated in the same way as other traffic collisions. They collect information on how the vehicle was moving, if the people involved were impaired, and their histories.

“Normally we’re analyzing whether someone acted recklessly or with criminal negligence,” he explains. And if we believe that they did, then that’s going to rise to the level of a criminal offense. If someone was simply negligent and it doesn’t rise to the level of a criminal offense, then we may not charge them.”

Campion can’t talk about the inquiry into Dusenbury’s death. But he says sometimes investigations take months, which can be very hard on people who are grieving. The death of another cyclist, killed on Northern Lights in January, is still under investigation. Campion says it’s too soon to say if charges will be brought in either case.

Back at the memorial site, Darren Marin reflects on the lessons of his friend’s death for both cyclists and drivers. “Everybody needs to just slow down. Just slow down and don’t be in a rush and be aware of what you’re doing.”

But Mike Vania says, the tragedy won’t stop them from biking. “You gotta get on that bike and keep pedaling because we know Jeff would. If it happened to one of us, he’d be torn up, but we know he would ride. And we would want us to keep riding.”

“Oh, absolutely,” chimes in Marin.

About 700 cyclists die in vehicle collisions each year in the United States. That’s about 2 percent of vehicle related fatalities.

 

Categories: Alaska News

Denali Climbing Season Ends, Summits Down

APRN Alaska News - Tue, 2014-07-22 16:02

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Denali climbing season has ended, and the numbers are not impressive.  This year had the lowest summit percentage in over 25 years.  A number of factors played into the lack of summits.

Categories: Alaska News
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