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Get Alaska statewide news from the stations of the Alaska Public Radio Network (APRN). With a central news room in Anchorage and contributing reporters spread across the state, we capture news in the Voices of Alaska and share it with the world. Tune in to your local APRN station in Alaska, visit us online at APRN.ORG or subscribe to the Alaska News podcast right here. These are individual news stories, most of which appear in Alaska News Nightly (available as a separate podcast).
Updated: 30 min 55 sec ago

Delving Into Anchorage’s Mayoral Runoff Election

Fri, 2015-05-01 09:00

With just a few days left before Anchorage voters head to the polls Tuesday for a runoff election to pick a new mayor the race is intensifying. On April 7th, Ethan Berkowitz and Amy Demboski took the most votes in the city-wide election.  For the most part the campaigns were cordial, with the candidates sparing on policy disagreements, but respectful of one another. But in the last week or so new issues have been quickly popping up—both personal and policy related. Today we’ll be sorting through the mayor’s race stories appearing online and in the news , getting a handle on what coverage is substantial, and what’s superficial.

HOST: Zachariah Hughes

GUESTS:

KSKA (FM 91.1) BROADCAST: Friday, May 1 at 2:00 p.m. and Saturday, May 2 at 6:00 p.m.

Alaska Public Television BROADCAST: Friday, May 1 at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, May 2 at 4:30 p.m.

Categories: Alaska News

Alaska News Nightly: April 30, 2015

Thu, 2015-04-30 19:34

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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Legislature Votes To Allow Hearings Outside Of Juneau

Alexandra Gutierrez, APRN – Juneau

While Gov. Bill Walker has ordered the Legislature hold its special session in Juneau, lawmakers may have found a workaround: He can’t control where they hold their committee meetings, or how often they have their floor session.

Mat-Su Gets First Look at Borough’s FY16 Budget

Ellen Lockyer, KSKA – Palmer

Matanuska Susitana Borough officials got an early look at the Borough’s FY 2016 spending plan  Thursday. Borough manager John Moosey opened the discussion, saying the budget would be “very conservative”, compared with previous years.

ASD’s revised budget cuts 57 filled positions

Anne Hillman, KSKA – Anchorage

The Anchorage School District plans to cut 57 currently-filled positions next year because of a $16.7 million dollar budget cut from the state legislature. That includes 37 classroom teachers and 12 literacy coaches.

Death Toll Now at 2 in Shooting Near Talkeetna

Phillip Manning, KTNA – Talkeetna

Alaska State Troopers say that both men involved in a shooting on April 18th have died. Troopers say that 57-year-old Billy Kidd of Willow died of his injuries in an Anchorage hospital. Previously, Kidd had been listed in critical condition. The other man, 33-year-old Andre Lafrance died at the scene of the incident, and was identified shortly thereafter.

 U.S. House Panel Advances Fisheries Law

Liz Ruskin, APRN – Anchorage

In Congress Thursday the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee moved a bill to renew the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the nation’s bedrock fisheries law. The sponsor, Alaska Congressman Don Young, says the law has kept foreign fishing fleets off America’s shores and sustained healthy fisheries.

UAF Steps Into Spotlight Amid Arctic Council Transfer

Tim Ellis, KUAC – Fairbanks

Now that the United States has assumed chairmanship of the Arctic Council, UAF’s top two administrators say the University of Alaska Fairbanks will play a central role in carrying out the U.S. agenda in the region.

Kick The Bucket: With Fleeting Funding, Projects Die

Joaqlin Estus, KNBA – Anchorage

Even rural communities that have raised the money to build modern sanitation systems face the threat of their ultimate failure due to the lack of funding for operations and maintenance, wiping away whatever health gains were achieved.

Campaign Silent On Revelations Of Military Service, Divorce

Zachariah Hughes, KSKA – Anchorage

New documents are coming to light that complicate the biography of Anchorage mayoral candidate Amy Demboski.

Red Chris Mine Inches Forward After Settlement

Katarina Sostaric, KSTK – Wrangell

A British Columbia mine upriver from Wrangell and Petersburg is one step closer to full production after reaching a benefits agreement with a First Nation group.

YWCA Alaska Holds Summit On Gender Pay Gap

Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage

YWCA Alaska is holding a Gender Pay Equity Summit Friday in Anchorage to focus attention on the wage disparity between men and women in Alaska.

Categories: Alaska News

U.S. House Panel Advances Fisheries Law

Thu, 2015-04-30 17:36

The U.S. House Natural Resources Committee today passed a bill to renew the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the nation’s fundamental fisheries law. The sponsor, Alaska Congressman Don Young, says the law has kept foreign fishing fleets off America’s shores and sustained healthy fisheries.

“And we’re trying to maintain the integrity of the original act by adding some smaller changes, and (among) the smaller changes are flexibility,” he told the committee.

The bill has alarmed some fishermen and conservationists. They say the bill undercuts a key element of Magnuson-Stevens: That fisheries managers act on science. Several Democrats on the committee voiced that argument, too.

“H.R. 1335 would take us back to the dark ages by gutting science-based requirements to rebuild overfished stocks and to set annual catch limits,” said  Rep. Raul Grijalva of New Mexico, the committee’s top Democrat.

Among the new flexibilities, the bill removes the requirement of a 10-year stock assessment period for rebuilding depleted fisheries. Young says some regions of the country lack enough scientific data to adhere to rigid rules, and he says management councils should be able to respond more quickly to dynamic situations.

Another controversial measure Young added to the bill says the regional fisheries management councils are responsible for reviewing environmental impacts and no separate agency review is required. Critics say that would weaken a bedrock environmental law known as NEPA, the National Environmental Policy Act. Young says he’s trying to avoid duplicate reviews, and remove opportunities for lawsuits.

“I’m trying to keep the legal beagles out of the fishing industry, where they’ve used the legal beagles for the environmental community to impede the fishing process and the proper harvesting of the fish and healthy stocks. And they’ve done that,” Young said.

That provision is likely to disappoint tribal advocates in Alaska who claim federally managed fisheries are damaging salmon runs important to subsistence. Last year, the Association of Village Council Presidents, Kawarek, Tanana Chiefs Conference, and the Yukon River Drainage Fisheries Association  wrote a letter asking Young to leave the NEPA process as it is because it gives tribes a stronger voice in fisheries management.

Chris Oliver, executive director of the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council in Anchorage, says he doesn’t think the bill would erode the fundamentals of the Magnuson Stevens Act, although he says his council is fine with the existing law.

“We don’t think the changes they put in the act are really likely to have any effect on how we manage fisheries in the North Pacific,” Oliver said. “I think it could allow for some legitimate flexibility  in other regions — and even perhaps in future situations in the North Pacific — without eroding the basic underlying conservation measures” of the law.

Young says he’s still working on additions to the bills concerning subsistence and the Community Development Quota program, so the bill is likely to be revised before the full House votes on it.

Categories: Alaska News

ASD’s revised budget cuts 57 filled positions

Thu, 2015-04-30 17:17

Superintendent Ed Graff discusses budget amendments due to $16.7 million funding cut. Hillman/KSKA

The Anchorage School District plans to cut 57 currently-filled positions next year because of a $16.7 million funding cut from the state legislature.

Superintendent Ed Graff presented the cuts to the media Thursday afternoon. They include 37 classroom teachers, 12 literacy coaches, and all of the pilot programs focused on early learning and updating science teaching tools.

Graff says they didn’t want to eliminate anything. “But when you get to this point of $17 million that you have to cut on top of the reductions that we already had to address the prior years, there’s no way around it. It’s going to have an impact on everything we do.” Especially students.

The school board must vote on the cuts on Monday even though the state’s budget has not been signed by the governor. They are required to inform tenured teachers about layoffs by May 15 and other staff by the end of the school year.

The revised budget also eliminates the 20 new positions the board added into next year’s budget to reinstate middle school elective teacher team planning time as well as three maintenance positions, supplies, and technology upgrades.

“So we’re going to have to reverse all of those things we planned for, and prepared for, and the students expected, and the community expected. We need to figure all of that out. We’re moving in the wrong direction.”

They will maintain the sports programs and instructional support for English Language Learners and Special Education.

ASD also plans to go forward with the school renovations funded by the recently approved school bonds, despite confusion over whether or not it will be partially reimbursed by the state. State Attorney General Craig Richards recently wrote a letter to the governor saying the bill passed by the legislature that ends school bond reimbursement is retroactive. That means no bonds passed after January 1, 2015 will be reimbursed even though the law doesn’t take effect until 90 days after it’s signed.

Graff says the district does not interpret the law that way and is still seeking reimbursement.

Categories: Alaska News

Military Construction Bill Has Money for F35s at Eielson AFB

Thu, 2015-04-30 17:12

The U.S. House today passed a military construction bill that includes $37 million  for buildings at Eielson Air Force Base to support  two squadrons of F-35s. They include an F-35 flight simulator and alterations to an operations and maintenance unit. A final basing decision for the F35 squadrons is expected next year.

Also included in the spending bill, according to Congressman Don Young, is  $34 million to demolish and replace a boiler at Eielson’s heat and power plant. In addition, the bill has $7.8 million to improve the fitness center at Fort Greely, a building that Young’s office says dates to 1956. The bill next moves to the U.S. Senate.

Categories: Alaska News

Campaign Silent on Court Documents Showing Military Service, Divorce, Forgery

Thu, 2015-04-30 17:03

New documents are coming to light that complicate the biography of Anchorage mayoral candidate Amy Demboski.

Court records show Demboski was enlisted in the Air Force shortly after high school, which she did not previously mention in detailed interviews about her resume. The documents, included in a post on the blog Mudflats Thursday, reveal she was involved in divorce proceedings that ended in 1997. The documents include an order invalidating an earlier proceeding because of a forged signature.

The campaign does not have a statement regarding the documents, according to spokesman David Boyle.

Demboski has publicly referred to military values and family as part of her campaign and approach to policy.

Categories: Alaska News

Legislature Takes Vote To Allow Hearings Outside Of Juneau

Thu, 2015-04-30 16:50

While Gov. Bill Walker has ordered the Legislature hold its special session in Juneau, lawmakers may have found a workaround: He can’t control where they hold their committee meetings, or how often they have their floor session. APRN’s Alexandra Gutierrez reports that the Republican majorities have moved to take a recess, while continuing their committee work on the road system.

Since the special session went into effect on Tuesday, the issue of where and when the session is held has taken up about as much time as anything on the session agenda. On Wednesday, the governor denied a request from legislative leadership to relocate the session to Anchorage. And now, on Thursday, the House and Senate voted to stop holding floor sessions in Juneau for the next two weeks.

“As the governor, he can call us in here,” said House Speaker Mike Chenault, in an interview. “But he can’t tell us where our committees are going to meet.”

House Speaker Mike Chenault says the resolution allows the finance committees to hold hearings in Anchorage, something they could not do without a recess. Under the Legislature’s rules, they must meet in the main House and Senate chambers and hold floor sessions as a whole body every three days at minimum. That basically chains the Legislature to Juneau.

House Majority Leader Charisse Millett carried the resolution to waive that rule.

“What it means is we won’t have House floor sessions until the 12th — that’s all this means,” said Millett. “Every other business will continue on, but we won’t come to this floor and push buttons when we don’t have a budget bill in front of us.”

The budget is one of three items on the special session agenda, with Medicaid expansion and a bill establishing a sexual abuse prevention program in schools making up the rest of the call.

Millett noted that negotiations on a budget have been at a stalemate. Right now, the legislature was only able to reach an agreement to pay for government operations through the fall. The Republican Majority needs some Democratic support to get access to the state’s rainy day fund, but the House Democratic Minority has made Medicaid expansion a condition of their vote.

“It’s an impasse,” said Millett. “A lot of times, when you’re negotiating contracts, what do you do, Mr. Speaker? You take a break, right? Take a break. Cool off. And so, what we’re asking to do is not take a break, but we’re asking to change the conversation from here to Anchorage, or on the road system somewhere where we can all talk about what’s happening.”

The divide on the recess resolution broke on caucus lines. Some Republicans noted that construction was being done on the Capitol building, making for less than ideal working conditions. With heavy machinery beeping in the background, Juneau Democrat Sam Kito said that the city had other venues available if needed. He added that lawmakers should be able to reach an agreement on a budget if they just stick around a little longer.

“I think we are down to the last couple of items in negotiations for the operating budget,” said Kito. “I don’t think that we need to take any kind of a roadshow out there right now.”

But Rep. Bennie Nageak, a Barrow Democrat who caucuses with the Republican majority, emphatically disputed that. Since Nageak is not in leadership or on the finance committee, he says he’s had to miss part of whaling season all to sit on the sidelines.

“We’ve been here for a few days. Nobody’s budging, and nothing is being done,” said Nageak. “And right now, in my hometown, and all along the coast, from Barrow to Point Hope, they’re doing a thing that we’ve been doing generation upon generation. And I’m missing that.

The resolution passed 24 to 13 in the House, and 15 to 5 in the Senate.

In a press conference, Gov. Bill Walker said he would not take further action on the session’s location. He did, however, say he was disappointed.

“I’m disappointed so many are leaving at a time I think we are so close to a resolution,” said Walker

Walker noted that if the state does not manage to pass a fully funded budget that pays for government for the whole year, Alaska’s credit rating could be at risk.

Categories: Alaska News

Rural Alaska Communities Struggle To Keep Water And Sewer Systems Running

Thu, 2015-04-30 11:54

Kivalina City Manager Janet Mitchell says the city’s long-time water plant operator is the only person who knows all the weak points, quirks, and band-aid fixes at the plant. “If he leaves,” said Mitchell, “I quit. It’ll be just hopeless.”
Joaqlin Estus KNBA

Even rural communities that have raised the money to build modern sanitation systems face the threat of their ultimate failure due to the lack of funding for operations and maintenance, wiping away whatever health gains were achieved.

The Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation Environmental Health and Engineering Department provides technical assistance to water treatment plant operators in the region. Here’s a bit of the conversation during a recent teleconference.

“I don’t know if any of them are working,” said one of the operators. A YKHC employee replied, “Yeah, it’s just that temperature sensor on … “

One of the issues that comes up is the lack of funding for minor repairs.

“If we could spend a thousand dollars to save 24, that’d be great,” the conversation continued.

Big savings could be achieved by cutting energy use – 40 percent of operating costs.

Kwethluk, also in southwest Alaska, is getting a new piped water and sewer system. At the new Kwethluk water plant, YKHC Remote Maintenance Worker Bob White says new boilers used to heat water there use about half as much fuel as older ones, but he says they’re out of reach for many villages.

“Sometimes they just don’t have the cash to make the jump to buy into the new equipment, to buy the new controls,” said White. “This thing has a little computerized control that automatically has turned the boiler temperature down because it’s warmer out today.”

Back in 1995 the southwest Alaska village of Tuntutuliak got a new water and sewer system too. Villagers saw dozens of homes fitted with tanks to store water and waste. Workers could deliver water and pick up sewage in tanks hauled by snow-machines or ATVs.

But resident Robert Enoch says water delivery stopped a few years ago.

“The water delivery vehicles, the haul tanks, don’t work anymore. The only thing that works is the sewer haul, the pump-out systems.”

That leaves villagers hauling water or ice for household use… and cutting back to less water use than needed for the frequent hand washing needed to prevent the spread of viruses and bacteria.

Labor makes up 44 percent of operating costs so the village hired only part-time workers. It charged people about five percent of the median household income. In some villages fees are as much as seven percent. Urban Alaskans pay less than one percent. But without the economies of scale that come with larger populations, the village couldn’t replace equipment.

And rural systems are aging out. Gavin Dixon is Rural Energy Project Manager for the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium. Speaking to legislators from rural Alaska, he said the average age of rural water plants is 23 years, more than their expected design life of 20 years.

“A lot of these systems are already at the end of their useful life,” said Dixon. “There’s some of these plant operators that don’t even want to open or close a valve because of the fear it could result in a catastrophic issue there.”

YKHC Environmental Health and Engineering Director Brian Lefferts says the state government already supports energy, communications, and infrastructure. The only public utility, he says, that isn’t subsidized is water and sewer.

“If we had something like power cost equalization for sanitation,” said Lefferts, “where people could pay rates similar to what they pay on the road system or in the rail belt communities. We’d have a lot more systems that are online and not struggling with the problems that they have now.”

The state has long shared oil revenues with municipalities, and in many small towns and villages, those revenues make up the lion’s share of local budgets. But with the price of oil half what it was a year ago, legislators have taken steps to end the municipal revenue sharing program that got its start in 1970, further reducing available funds for water and sewer operations and maintenance.

There’s got to be a better way. We’ll hear about some proposed alternatives in the next segment of “Kick the Bucket.”

Categories: Alaska News

Troopers: Both Men Involved in Talkeetna-Area Shooting Have Died

Thu, 2015-04-30 10:39

The Alaska State Troopers say that both men involved in an overnight shooting on April 18 have died.

Troopers say that 57-year-old Billy Kidd of Willow died of his injuries in an Anchorage hospital.  Previously, Kidd had been listed in critical condition. The other man, 33-year-old Andre Lafrance died at the scene of the incident, and was identified shortly thereafter.

According to the Trooper report, Kidd called 911 shortly before 1:00 am on Saturday, April 18, and reported that he had just killed someone.

It took Troopers hours to find the scene in the Montana Creek area by using information from Kidd’s cell provider. When they arrived, Lafrance was deceased, and Kidd was in critical condition. Based on the investigation so far, Troopers believe that Kidd shot and killed Lafrance, then shot himself.

No information on events leading up to the shooting has been released as of Thursday morning.

Troopers say that the next of kin for both Billy Kidd and Andre Lafrance have been notified.

Categories: Alaska News

City Council Protests Two Liquor Store Licenses

Thu, 2015-04-30 09:27

It’s been four decades since Bethel had a liquor store, and for now that status will continue. The Bethel City Council voted Tuesday to protest two liquor store license applications from the Bethel Native Corporation’s Bethel Spirits and the Alaska Commercial Company. The debate now leaves city hall as citizens gear up for a new advisory vote.

Council members cited the loud public outcry against having easier access to alcohol, a five-year-old public vote, as well as violations or possible violations of rules against being too close to churches and schools. When the debate entered the weeds, Council member Chuck Herman added a line to the resolution saying the exact distance not the issue.

“I just want to make it very clear our protest stands based us as a community being opposed to it, and not based on any technical violations,” said Herman.

The vote was 4 to 3. Herman, along with council members Fansler, Albertson, and Springer voted to protest the BNC application. All but mayor Rick Robb voted to protest the AC store, which is located across the street from two churches.

BNC is proposing to put a package liquor store in a the Kipusvik building, the former site of Swanson’s grocery store. (Photo by Geraldine Brink / KYUK)

The state’s Alcoholic Beverage Control board will take up applications this July. They are required to honor protests from governing bodies unless they are found to be arbitrary, capricious, and unreasonable.

Bethel Native Corporation President and CEO Ana Hoffman insisted the proposed store is legally situated, and argued that what Bethel has now is not working.

“The presence of illegal sales is undeniable and not a cent of the sales is taxed. We have quite possibly created the most unhealthy environment imaginable. Unlimited importation and no mechanism for legal sales. Allowing for the issuance of a liquor license enhances control and regulation over the current system of chaos,” said Hoffman.

As Bethel is wet, any business can apply for a license and people can import as much as they want. More than five years since the last advisory vote on liquor sales the council will ask again in October. That’s the guidance that council member Zach Fansler wants.

“I think the proper form for the pulse is what we have before us, the democracy we have is a vote. I think it’s important that we go forth right now with the information we have now and protest, and let the people empower themselves, make their decision as a community and move forward from that point when we find out what the people want,” said Fansler.

Last time, in 2010, citizens rejected the idea of five types of liquor licenses, with 63 percent opposed and 37 percent in favor of a liquor store. The most popular option was a city-run store, which is not feasibly with Bethel’s current status. The vote this fall will not ask that question, but it will ask citizens to approve a 12 percent alcohol tax.

Mayor Rick Robb supports local sales and said the recent widespread vocal opposition may not be fully representative.

“Whatever happens, I think a lot more people are going to vote for some form of legal sales than they did five years ago,” said Robb.

Robb and the council will have their answer when the public votes on October 6th.

Categories: Alaska News

Public Broadcasting Budget Cut Almost 25 Percent

Thu, 2015-04-30 09:25

Alaska’s public broadcasters dodged a bullet when the legislature’s regular session ended Monday.

House and Senate negotiators decided on a 23.5 percent budget reduction. A proposed cut more than twice that size could have forced at least five stations off the air. It also would have dramatically reduced programming at other outlets.

Juneau’s KTOO building houses radio, online and TV operations funded in part by the state. Legislative budget cuts will hit public broadcasters throughout the state beginning in July. (Photo by Heather Bryant/KTOO)

Gov. Bill Walker on Tuesday released a new operating budget for lawmakers to consider in a special session he called. But it didn’t include any change in public radio or TV funding.

Officials say cutting almost a quarter of stations’ state appropriations will have significant impacts.

Tom Abbott, general manager of Petersburg’s KFSK-FM, says he expects to maintain local staff and programming.

“We’re going to stick with our mission, [and] that first and foremost is our local service. That will direct us toward loss of network programing. And that, of course, will be noticeable, it will be significant, it will be some favorite programs,” he says.

Those include “Prairie Home Companion” and “This American Life.” He says National Public Radio shows, such as “All Things Considered,” will continue.

Other stations throughout Alaska face similar challenges. The state helps fund about 25 radio and three TV operations.

Stations also receive financial support through memberships, underwriting, fund-raisers and grants.

KFSK’s Abbott says he hopes to raise more money locally. But he worries that could be difficult when popular shows are cut.

“I would hope that that is minimal. And that people will understand the situation that we’re in and that keeping the local system intact is our priority. Network programming can come back. Personnel can’t, necessarily,” he says.

Abbott says his station will hold community meetings to discuss its budget plans.

At one point, the Senate proposed a 60 percent funding cut, which would have ended local service at some smaller stations.

Alaska Public Broadcasting Commission member Brenda Hewitt, in an earlier interview, said those stations provide an essential service.

“We could listen to national news and we could know what was happening in the nation. But you wouldn’t know what’s happening locally. Or if you cut out state broadcasting you don’t know what’s happening in the state,” she said.

The legislature’s final budget eliminated earlier language directing state money toward smaller, rural stations

Categories: Alaska News

Proposed Changes To US Fishing Laws Spark Conservation Row

Thu, 2015-04-30 09:17

A proposed update to federal fishing laws is sparking a debate among fishermen and conservationists about whether the changes will undo years of work to rebuild key fish populations.

Alaska Republican Don Young is proposing several changes to the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act that he says will give fishery managers more flexibility in rebuilding fish stocks. But some fishermen and environmentalists say Young’s proposal creates dangerous exemptions from catch limits that are designed to prevent overfishing.

Young is defending his bill. He says the changes allow fishery managers to address the economic needs of fishermen.

The changes are the subject of a House Committee on Natural Resources meeting on Thursday. The bill, which could be amended during the meeting, does not yet have a companion in the Senate.

Categories: Alaska News

Moose Deaths By Trains Hit 10-Year Low Due To Light Snowfall

Thu, 2015-04-30 09:16

Light snowfall kept moose deaths by train to a 10-year low this winter.

The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports the animals have an easier time getting out of the way of oncoming trains when the tracks are clear.

Numbers released by the Alaska Railroad and the state game and fish department show 24 moose were killed this winter compared to 292 in 2011-2012, a year of record snowfall in Southcentral Alaska.

Categories: Alaska News

Bethel City Council Votes To Deny Liquor Licenses

Wed, 2015-04-29 18:39

It’s been four decades since Bethel had a liquor store, and for now, that status will continue. The Bethel City Council voted Tuesday to protest two liquor store license applications from the Bethel Native Corporation’s Bethel Spirits and the Alaska Commercial Company.

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Council members cited the loud public outcry against having easier access to alcohol, as well as possible violations of rules against being too close to churches and schools.

When the debate entered the weeds, Council member Chuck Herman added a line to the resolution:

“I just want to make it very clear our protest stands based upon us as a community being opposed to it and not based on any technical violations.”

The vote was 4 to 3.

The state’s Alcoholic Beverage Control board is required to honor protests from governing bodies unless they are found to be arbitrary, capricious, and unreasonable.

Bethel Native Corporation President and CEO Ana Hoffman insisted the proposed store is legally situated and argued that what Bethel has now is not working.

“The presence of illegal sales is undeniable and not a cent of the sales is taxed. We have quite possibly created the most unhealthy environment imaginable. Unlimited importation and no mechanism for legal sales. Allowing for the issuance of a liquor licenses enhances control and regulation over the current system of chaos.”

In an October non-binding advisory vote, Bethel citizens will weigh in on whether they support several categories of liquor licenses. In the same election, they can approve a new 12 percent alcohol sales tax.

Categories: Alaska News

Anchorage Men Arrested For Stabbing Moose To Death

Wed, 2015-04-29 18:34

Three Anchorage men are under arrest and charged with cruelty to animals, wanton waste and tampering with evidence in a bizarre moose killing in a city park. 25 year old Johnathon Candelario, 28 year old James Galloway and Nick Johnston, 33, were seen by witnesses attacking a young moose with a knife Tuesday evening. Witnesses called police, but when APD officers arrived, the animal was dead.

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APD spokeswoman Anita Shell says the officers located the suspects near the scene. They were wearing bloody clothes and matched witness descriptions. Shell said the witnesses who called police say the men were jumping on the animal and stabbing it with a large knife.

“I have never seen anything like this in my time at the police department. It is very unusual for somebody to attack a large animal such as a moose like they did.” Shell said.

Witnesses told police that the moose was not aggressive, nor did it provoke the attack.

The incident occurred about 7:20 p.m. Tuesday on a public bike path south of Russian Jack Springs Park, in East Anchorage.

The three men are being held in the Anchorage Correctional Complex. The moose meat has been salvaged by a local charity.

Categories: Alaska News

Alaska News Nightly: April 29, 2015

Wed, 2015-04-29 18:27

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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Walker Denies Request To Move Special Session To Anchorage

Alexandra Gutierrez, APRN – Juneau

For days, the executive and legislative branches have been stuck on  education funding, Medicaid, and the fundamental responsibility of paying for government. Now, they are disagreeing on where they want to disagree.

As PAC Money Pours Into Runoff, Some Numbers Still Missing

Zachariah Hughes, KSKA – Anchorage

Candidate Ethan Berkowitz has an overwhelming lead in terms of donors and funds, but with no polling data released by either campaign, the results are difficult to predict.

EPA Head: Alaska ‘Uniqueness’ Could Mean Immunity From CO2 Rule

Liz Ruskin, APRN – Anchorage

The White House is reviewing a highly controversial EPA rule on streams and wetlands. Sen. Lisa Murkowski pressed the EPA boss on it, saying it has Alaskans from all sectors worried.

Bethel City Council Votes To Deny Liquor Licenses

Ben Matheson, KYUK – Bethel

It’s been four decades since Bethel had a liquor store, and for now, that status will continue. The Bethel City Council voted Tuesday to protest two liquor store license applications.

A Moving Target: Postal Inspectors Root Out Liquor By Mail

Ben Matheson, KYUK – Bethel

A small team of federal law enforcement agents with the United States Postal Inspection Service is working to keep alcohol out of the mail. It’s one of the oldest law enforcement agencies in the country, a group with a unique mission that chases after each suspicious package.

Kick The Bucket: Lack Of Funding Hampers Development Of Modern Sanitation In Rural Alaska

Joaqlin Estus, KNBA – Anchorage

Most of us have never lived with without running water at home. Today, we’ll learn about some people who are just getting used to it, and others who would like to get used to having running water.

Anchorage Men Arrested For Stabbing Moose To Death

Ellen Lockyer, KSKA – Anchorage

Three Anchorage men are under arrest and charged with cruelty to animals, wanton waste and tampering with evidence in a bizarre  moose killing in a city park

‘Story Map’ Reveals Hidden Lives Of Anchorage Bears

Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage

A new map from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game offers a bear’s eye view of Anchorage. The “story map” draws on data and video collected from nine bears- six black and three brown- who wore cameras on special collars

Categories: Alaska News

Story Works Alaska gives high schoolers a voice

Wed, 2015-04-29 17:40

Regan Brooks teaches about storytelling as Service High student Kevin Goodman listens. Hillman/KSKA

Think about being sixteen, in high school, and standing in front of a group of friends and strangers telling a story. Your story. That’s what a new Anchorage organization called Story Works Alaska is teaching local students to do while helping them build community at the same time.

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20 years ago, when Regan Brooks was in high school, a teacher gave them each an assignment — tell a story about yourself. Brooks can’t recall what she wrote about. What she really remembers is a story a classmate told.

“She shared a story in front of our whole class that,” Brooks pauses, thinking of the best explanation. “Abolished all my assumptions about her. And really made me realize there’s this person there haven’t ever bothered to get to know that I wanted to get to know more.”

Brooks says storytelling helps people see each other differently and through that new level of understanding, builds community.

So that’s the task she and a group of teachers and volunteers have given more than 700 students in Anchorage — tell your story. Brooks launched the project in February of 2014 and since then has visited five of the city’s high schools. She recently led a workshop at Service High in Anchorage.

Hauling chairs, Brooks moves out into the hallway with a group of students and prepares to listen to their stories and give them feedback. But first, some quick advice:

“You want to try to begin your story without the word ‘so’ and end it without saying ‘And yeah…'”

With that, 11th grader Kevin Goodman launches into a tale about the first time he went hunting with his father.

“It all started on a muggy morning when we drove seven hours up to Paxson, which is about 70 miles from Glennallen,” Goodman starts as he incessantly clicks on his pen.

He tells about camping in the rain, wading through cold streams with jagged rocks, and trying in vain to find a moose.

“And you know that scene in ‘Lord of the Rings’ where everybody has to duck because of all the birds flying over their heads?” he asks the listeners. “Well, it was kind of like that except we had a gun and we shot them.”

Goodman says he chose to share that story because it sparked his imagination and was an important turning point in his life.

“It was my first big, week-long hunting trip. It was kind of a coming of age, I guess, for me. Because my dad’s pretty strict on what your capabilities have to be on hunting.”

And then the group of listening students and story coaches start giving feedback: this detail is great, you didn’t stutter at all, but maybe you should change some things…

“How can you tell the story in a way so that when you get to the ending we all go, ‘Oh, that’s right! They didn’t get the moose but sounds like they still had a great time!” asks story teller Jack Dalton. “Or, ‘They didn’t get the moose, but I can only imagine all those ptarmigan!'”

English teacher Lisa Wiley says that’s part of the reason she wanted to get her students involved with Story Works — so they could get feedback from other people.

“I can never get outside perspective on their work within my classroom. It’s always me as the audience,” she says. “So this raises the level, the audience is now other people. Students respond differently to that. They are trying harder because there are strangers looking at their work.”

The project is also teaching them reading, writing, and public speaking, all required topics in an English class.

Two weeks after the story coaching workshop the students preformed for each other, some enthusiastically, some with a bit of hesitation. But Wiley’s already ramping up for next year, ready to have her students tell stories all over again.

Categories: Alaska News

EPA Head: Alaska ‘Uniqueness’ Could Mean Immunity From CO2 Rule

Wed, 2015-04-29 17:28

The EPA is working on a Clean Air Act regulation that would require Alaska to lower the amount of greenhouse gases emitted from power plants by 26 percent. But  EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy today said her agency will seriously consider exempting the state entirely.

The EPA says it’s giving states a lot of latitude in deciding how to achieve their targets. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, though, said at a hearing in Washington today that no about of flexibility will make the rule workable in Alaska. Alaska’s limited grid is unconnected to any other states’, so some of solutions Lower 48 states might employ aren’t available. McCarthy told the senator she understand that.

“We find ourselves often talking about the uniqueness of Alaska,” McCarthy said.

McCarthy said the state’s request for an exemption would get “very serious consideration.” She said the EPA has left itself every ability to give such passes when appropriate, and said the senator should be “heartened” that the EPA wrote the rule in a way that acknowledges states like Alaska that have exceptional circumstances.

In Alaska, the rule applies to five power plants on the Railbelt grid. Critics say it would drive up rates in Fairbanks, which depends in part on a coal plant. But energy efficiency advocates argue Alaska could substantially cut emissions with incentives to lower consumer demand and improve the infrastructure of the grid. The latter is an expensive proposition the state has been considering for years.

Categories: Alaska News

As PAC Money Pours Into Runoff, Some Numbers Still Missing

Wed, 2015-04-29 17:15

With less than a week until Anchroage voters head to the polls to select a new mayor in a runoff election, hundreds of thousands of dollars are flooding the race. Candidate Ethan Berkowitz has an overwhelming lead in terms of donors and funds, but with no polling data released by either campaign, the results are difficult to predict.

According to the latest round of filings with the Alaska Political Offices Commission,  Berkowitz leads Amy Demboski by every fund-raising measure.

In terms of overall totals, the Berkowitz campaign raised $220,848.13 between March 29th and April 25th, more than twice the Demboski campaign’s reported income of $97,942.39.

And Berkowitz money came from a broader donor roll: around 1,4500 individuals. Demboski’s campaign collected donations from just over 400.

Many of Berkowitz’s donors are public employees donating individually. However, a Political Action Group called Berkowitz For A Better Anchorage made up of unions representing the fire and police departments, state employees, and teachers has raised $102,000, spending down $86,037.50 on local ads so far.

Four sitting members of the Anchorage Assembly made financial contributions the Berkowitz campaign, the body Demboski currently serves on. In earlier filings, Assembly Member Bill Evans donated to Demboski’s campaign. Mayor Dan Sullivan also made a $500 contribution to her campaign in April.

With just a few days left before Tuesday’s runoff, the Demboski campaign has $28,205.84 cash on hand (before $14,988.19 in outstanding debts), about a quarter of the $100,556.15 the Berkowitz campaign plans on spending down before the runoff on May 5th.

Both candidates have paid outside groups to collect polling data, but neither is saying what it’s turned up. Demboski’s campaign reports a $5,000 debt to Dittman Research for survey info. Campaign spokesperson David Boyle did not return requests for comment on what that research shows.

The Berkowitz campign lists “polling” as part of a $28,037.40 payment to Ivan Moore’s company, though a spokesperson for the campaign declined to specify further what the data show.

Categories: Alaska News

Walker Denies Request To Move Special Session To Anchorage

Wed, 2015-04-29 17:12

Gov. Bill Walker has denied a request from legislative leadership to relocate the special session to a different venue. APRN’s Alexandra Gutierrez reports.

For days, the executive and legislative branches have been stuck on education funding, Medicaid, and the fundamental responsibility of paying for government. Now, they are disagreeing on where they want to disagree.

“If they want to do Medicaid and Erin’s Law in Anchorage, that’s fine,” says Gov. Bill Walker. “But do not leave Juneau without a fully funded budget.”

In a letter to legislative leadership and then in a press conference with reporters, Gov. Bill Walker said he would not agree to give lawmakers a two-week recess followed by a change of venue.

Legislative leaders like Senate President Kevin Meyer have been pushing for a relocation since the special session gaveled in on Tuesday. The Anchorage Republican says there are logistical challenges to remaining in Juneau.

“The building’s under major construction. The staff is gone. Our files are gone. And we all have dirty clothes,” say Meyer.

Meyer says most of his suits were put on the ferry 10 days ago.

Given the stalemate on a number of policy questions, Meyer says his caucus would like a cooling period. He adds that requiring the Legislature to take up the budget again may backfire for the governor, who restored some money for education and public employee contracts on Tuesday.

“Okay, we’ll do the budget, but the results may not be any different,” says Meyer. “If anything, my guys — our caucus — we realize we have to get our spending in order first. So, you might actually see more reductions. We’re in no mood to add.”

But some Democrats, like House Minority Leader Chris Tuck, are supportive of the governor’s decision. He says a recess at this time is inappropriate.

“I have a brand new baby I’ve only spent a few hours with,” says Tuck. “If anybody wants to go home and be with their newborn, it’s me. I’m not interested in taking a vacation. A lot of people are saying, ‘Oh, everybody’s worn out.’ Worn out? We used to have a 120-day session here.”

No matter where the special session is held, a compromise seems elusive.

Categories: Alaska News

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