Alaska News

Mallott Leaving Sealaska To Focus On Campaign

APRN Alaska News - Tue, 2014-05-06 11:07

Bryon Mallott will leave Sealaska’s board of directors next month to spend more time campaigning for governor.

He’s served on the Juneau-based regional Native corporation’s governing body – or been its CEO – since 1972.

Mallott, a Democrat, is all but assured to challenge Republican Gov. Sean Parnell in the November general election.

 

Byron Mallott, Democratic candidate for governor, will leave Sealaska’s board next month to concentrate on his campaign. (KTOO News)

In a press release, he said he would complete his term, which ends at the corporation’s June 28th annual meeting. But he will not seek re-election to the board.

Sealaska Chairman and former state Sen. Albert Kookesh says the board supports Mallott’s decision.

“I think it was good step that he took to, one, allow him to concentrate on the governor’s race and, two, open it up for shareholders so he didn’t just hold onto his seat and have to give it up after that if he got elected,” he said.

Mallott could not be immediately reached for comment.

When Sealaska board incumbents leave, they often step down before the next election. The board then appoints a replacement, who can run as an incumbent.

Mallott’s decision leaves an open seat with no heir-apparent. That eases the way for other candidates. They include a recently-announced slate of shareholders with business experience outside the corporation.

“The people who are running on that slate have good intentions,” Kookesh said. “They want to run a clean race and I commend them for that. But we also have people who are independents who are running. And you have to commend them and recognize their want to be involved too.”

Sealaska will distribute ballots to its almost 22,000 shareholders on May 15th. They must be cast by June 26th.

In addition to Sealaska service, Mallott’s been Yakutat and Juneau mayor, Alaska Permanent Fund executive director and Alaska Federation of Natives president.

Categories: Alaska News

Weather Forces Alaska Airlines Flight To Land At JBER

APRN Alaska News - Mon, 2014-05-05 18:30

An Alaska Airlines flight from Chicago to Anchorage took an unexpected detour to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson on Monday afternoon.

“As Flight 139 was preparing to land in Anchorage, a fog bank rolled in and the pilots elected to land at Elmendorf Air Force Base,” Nancy Trott, a spokesperson for Alaska Airlines, said.

Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson is an alternate airport for air traffic, if needed.

Passengers were transported to the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport by bus.

The plane refueled at JBER and made the short flight back to the Anchorage airport on Monday afternoon.

Categories: Alaska News

Alaska Villages Find Success With Wind-Diesel Energy Combination

APRN Alaska News - Mon, 2014-05-05 17:54

It’s hard to use wind as a main power source because it fluctuates. But four small Alaskan villages have succeeded in creating an innovative wind-diesel system that works even in harsh, variable weather conditions.

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Categories: Alaska News

Oil Producers Get Break On Alaska Property Taxes

APRN Alaska News - Mon, 2014-05-05 17:54

Public documents show Gov. Sean Parnell’s administration worked out a deal with Alaska’s major oil producers that allows the companies to withhold tens of millions of dollars in property taxes.

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The Anchorage Daily News says the 2013 deal occurred after producers disagreed with the state board that set the value of the trans-Alaska pipeline.

The deal was negotiated after an attorney for the oil pipeline owners complained in a June 2013 email that the State Assessment Review Board set the value for the pipeline too high, raising the tax bill for oil companies.

The deal to give oil companies at least a temporary break emerged in public view in April when some of the municipalities that receive property taxes on the pipeline appealed the state’s 2014 valuation.

Categories: Alaska News

State Hurrying To Update Rural Infrastructure Before Federal Dollars Diminish

APRN Alaska News - Mon, 2014-05-05 17:54

Federal money for rural infrastructure is drying up, and state agencies are overhauling projects while they still can. With Alaska’s brief construction season about to begin, state officials are hurrying to bring airfields, roads, and other Bush infrastructure up to standard before funds get scarce.

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Categories: Alaska News

‘Second Shake’ Rattles Noatak, Northwest Brooks Range

APRN Alaska News - Mon, 2014-05-05 17:54

Just two weeks after the strongest earthquake in the region in more than 30 years, residents of Noatak and others near the far western edge of the Brooks Range felt another series of powerful quakes over the weekend.

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Mike West is a state seismologist and director of the Alaska Earthquake Center in Fairbanks. He says the 5.5 magnitude quake that struck at 12:57 a.m. Saturday May 3 came nearly two weeks to the day after an even stronger 5.6 quake on April 18.

“There were quite a number of earthquakes all through Saturday that were part of this aftershock sequence of this second earthquake,” West said.

Saturday’s quake was just that: an earthquake, not an aftershock from the April temblor.

“That’s a little weird for us because it doesn’t fit the aftershock paradigm,” West said. “It’s as large as the original earthquake … and was followed by its own series of aftershocks.”

Those aftershocks were similarly strong, with seven rated a magnitude four or stronger. West said the two strong quakes, both followed by powerful aftershocks, are likely caused by the same geological forces.

“It’s important to think of this as a sequence,” West emphasized. “Stress was building up through the normal movement of plate tectonics, and that needed to be relieved. The earthquake on April 18th, (Saturday)’s earthquake, all the aftershocks from both of those, are all sort of part of this process.”

Like April’s quake, the Saturday event was felt about 20 miles to the south in Noatak, at the giant Red Dog zinc mine, and even in Kotzebue. Despite the power of the “second shake,” West said there’s no danger beyond frayed nerves on the horizon. Nonetheless, he said the Earthquake Center is visiting Noatak and Kotzebue this week to install seismology equipment for better observation of the activity.

“We have plans right now to install probably two seismic stations in an around the source of the earthquake,” West said Sunday. “This is driven not so much by a concern of things to come, but we just want to be prepared, and frankly, better understand why these earthquakes occurred in the first place.”

The last time the region saw seismic activity on par with these two most recent quakes was back in 1981, when West said a 5.5 quake struck in roughly the same area about the same distance from Noatak.

Categories: Alaska News

Burst Water Pipe Likely Cause For Skagway Ferry Dock Sinking

APRN Alaska News - Mon, 2014-05-05 17:54

Western Marine Construction began working early Tuesday to refloat the dock. (Photo courtesy Jeremy Stephens, Alaska DOT&PF)

State transportation officials agree that a burst water pipe likely caused the Skagway ferry dock to sink last month. Repairs continue in hopes of getting the dock operational and returning ferry service to the Southeast community within the next week.

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The state is making repairs and some modifications to the dock now that it’s floating again.

Department of Transportation spokesperson Jeremy Woodrow says it’s not yet known how much the salvage and repairs from the sinking will cost the state.

Woodrow says the state is hoping to resume ferry service to Skagway on May 11. A final decision on that timeline will be made later this week, he said.

Categories: Alaska News

Juneau Considers Solutions To Housing Shortage

APRN Alaska News - Mon, 2014-05-05 17:53

City officials are hoping to address Juneau’s longstanding housing shortage by opening more public land to development.

The Juneau Planning Commission recently recommended about 150 acres of city-owned land on Pederson Hill be rezoned to allow a residential neighborhood to be built. The idea is to copy the early 20th century-style subdivisions of downtown Juneau and Douglas. But not everybody is happy about the proposal.

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Categories: Alaska News

Alaska News Nightly: May 5, 2014

APRN Alaska News - Mon, 2014-05-05 17:19

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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Oil Producers Get Break On Alaska Property Taxes

The Associated Press

Public documents show Gov. Sean Parnell’s administration worked out a deal with Alaska’s major oil producers that allows the companies to withhold tens of millions of dollars in property taxes.

Alaska GOP Aims To Block Party Coups

Alexandra Gutierrez, APRN – Juneau

The Alaska Republican Party has taken measures to prevent a takeover by libertarian and Tea Party activists. The new rules say a person has to be registered as a Republican for at least four years before seeking a top leadership position, and they require all candidates for the party’s statewide offices to be vetted by a special committee before they can run. The rules were adopted on Saturday, at the Alaska Republican Party’s biannual convention.

Alaska Villages Find Success With Wind-Diesel Energy Combination

Joaqlin Estus, KNBA – Anchorage

It’s hard to use wind as a main power source because it fluctuates. But four small Alaskan villages have succeeded in creating an innovative wind-diesel system that works even in harsh, variable weather conditions.

‘Second Shake’ Rattles Noatak, Northwest Brooks Range

Matthew Smith, KNOM – Nome

Just two weeks after the strongest earthquake in the region in more than 30 years, residents of Noatak and others near the far western edge of the Brooks Range felt another series of powerful quakes over the weekend.

Warm, Dry Weather Prompts Southeast Alaska Fire Warning

Ed Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska – Juneau

A fire warning issued last week for northern Southeast Alaska has been expanded to the whole region.

Breakup Underway Along Yukon River

Emily Schwing, KUAC – Fairbanks

Breakup along the Yukon River is underway. Warm temperatures over the weekend and low water levels mean river ice is rotting in place before it has a chance to jam up.

State Hurrying To Update Rural Infrastructure Before Federal Dollars Diminish

Zachariah Hughes, KNOM – Nome

Federal money for rural infrastructure is drying up, and state agencies are overhauling projects while they still can. With Alaska’s brief construction season about to begin, state officials are hurrying to bring airfields, roads, and other Bush infrastructure up to standard before funds get scarce.

Burst Water Pipe Likely Cause For Skagway Ferry Dock Sinking

Margaret Friedenauer, KHNS – Haines

State transportation officials agree that a burst water pipe likely caused the Skagway ferry dock to sink last month. Repairs continue in hopes of getting the dock operational and returning ferry service to the Southeast community within the next week.

The state is making repairs and some modifications to the dock now that it’s floating again.

Department of Transportation spokesperson Jeremy Woodrow says it’s not yet known how much the salvage and repairs from the sinking will cost the state.

Woodrow says the state is hoping to resume ferry service to Skagway on May 11. A final decision on that timeline will be made later this week, he said.

Alaska Airlines Center Adds New Dining Option

Josh Edge, APRN – Anchorage

With around four months left until it’s slated to open, the University of Alaska Anchorage is tweaking the design of its new sports complex. The university has decided to add a new restaurant in an effort to draw in the surrounding community.

Juneau Considers Solutions To Housing Shortage

Casey Kelly, KTOO – Juneau

City officials are hoping to address Juneau’s longstanding housing shortage by opening more public land to development.

The Juneau Planning Commission recently recommended about 150 acres of city-owned land on Pederson Hill be rezoned to allow a residential neighborhood to be built. The idea is to copy the early 20th century-style subdivisions of downtown Juneau and Douglas. But not everybody is happy about the proposal.

Categories: Alaska News

Alaska Airlines Center Adds New Dining Option

APRN Alaska News - Mon, 2014-05-05 16:05

(Photo by Josh Edge, APRN – Anchorage)

With around four months left until it’s slated to open, the University of Alaska Anchorage is tweaking the design of its new sports complex.

The university has decided to add a new restaurant in an effort to draw in the surrounding community.

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Though much of the finishing work remains, the interior of the Alaska Airlines Center is beginning to take shape.

From the newly-installed floor of the performance gym, which is lit largely by natural light streaming in through a number of massive windows, you get a good idea of just how central it is to the building’s design. Two levels of stadium seating – capable of holding about 5,000 spectators – surround the floor.

Coaching offices overlook the gym. And, peering up to the top floor you can see five hospitality suites with a prime view of the court. According to Tlisa Northcutt, the director of development for Seawolf athletics, those suites aren’t the only thing occupying the arena’s upper-most level.

“There’s also a restaurant going in that will be like 360 days a year; it’s not just for campus, it’s really meant to be kind of an addition for the community in this area,” she said. “It’ll be known as Varsity Sports Grill.”

Northcutt says the grill will be open for lunch and dinner daily, and should seat approximately 100 people at its indoor tables.

Team locker rooms are nearing completion. (Photo by Josh Edge, APRN – Anchorage)

“There’s also a lovely patio; it’s amazing; it has a great view,” Northcutt said. “It will actually be able to expand the seating for most of the year. They’re looking at putting propane heaters and that sort of thing out there too.”

The patio – which faces the Chugach Mountains to the east – should fit around 80 people.

The restaurant is a late addition to the arena’s original design, and was approved by the University of Alaska Board of Regents in April.

Bill Spindle is the vice chancellor for administrative services at UAA.

“It’s not the classy brew pub where they’re brewing their own beer, but it has a lot of the characteristics of a brew pub,” Spindle said. “It’ll be something like if you went to the Glacier Brewhouse, it’ll be something similar to that.”

“It’s a place where you can have a really good meal and a drink if you want.”

Though the restaurant will have some food options for students, its focus is to bring in others who live and work in the surrounding area.

Beer and wine will be for sale at the restaurant, which, according to Spindle, marks a shift in UAA’s alcohol policy.

“The University has not allowed alcohol on campus except for specific restricted events, so we have redone our policy and got approval from the chancellor for the arena only, to have beer and wine at particular events,” Spindle said.

In addition to allowing the sale of beer and wine at the Varsity Sports Grill, the new policy will also enable alcohol sales at athletic events, though details about that process are still in development.

UAA Athletic Director Keith Hackett hopes the restaurant will help make the new sports center into a community destination.

“When people come to sporting events, 75 percent of them go out to dinner before or after an event, so, what our hope is, is that those people that are going out to dinner choose to come to the Varsity Sports Grill,” Hackett said.

The restaurant will be operated by NANA Management Services.

Spindle says the Alaska Airlines Center is still on track to open Sept. 5.

Categories: Alaska News

Alaska GOP Aims To Block Party Coups

APRN Alaska News - Sun, 2014-05-04 16:15

The Alaska Republican Party has taken measures to prevent a takeover by libertarian and Tea Party activists.

The new rules say a person has to be registered as a Republican for at least four years before seeking a top leadership position, and they require all candidates for the party’s statewide offices to be vetted by a special committee before they can run. The rules were adopted on Saturday, at the Alaska Republican Party’s biannual convention. Party Chair Peter Goldberg says the changes are a reaction to a coup staged by a group of Ron Paul supporters at the 2012 convention.

“Two years ago, people that were not Republicans were registering to become Republicans on the day of their district conventions and participating,” says Goldberg. “That’s really not appropriate.”

The insurgents elected a libertarian-leaning chair and vice chair, but the Alaska Republican Party’s old guard kicked them out of office last year.

Very few of those insurgents were present at this year’s convention, which was held in Juneau. But the 2016 convention will happen in Fairbanks, making an influx of dissidents more likely.

If that happens, Goldberg says the new rules will make it harder for party outsiders to seize control.

“That’s all it is — just to make sure that the people that participate as Republicans really, in their hearts, are Republicans, and they’re not just showing up to try and change the course of the party,” says Goldberg.

The convention delegates adopted the changes with significant support, but not without protest.

Lance Roberts, a delegate from Fairbanks, was part of the 2012 takeover, and he repeatedly tried to amend the new rules. He believes Republican moderates are trying to shut out the rightwing.

“I think it’s completely the wrong direction,” says Roberts. “We should be more open, more honest, and we should be inviting of these people.”

In addition to changing party rules, the convention delegates condensed the Alaska Republican platform. Sections on education and crime were streamlined, and specific provisions on school vouchers, embryonic stem cell research, assisted suicide, and the teaching of creation science were removed.

There was also a failed effort to strike language opposing the expansion of gay rights, with a third of the party delegates voting to take those sections out of the platform.

The Alaska Republican Party also passed a resolution opposing a ballot initiative to regulate marijuana like alcohol, with support from 75 percent of the delegates.

Categories: Alaska News
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