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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: 18 min 10 sec ago

“Stop the Violence” Walk Asks Community to Pay Attention

Sun, 2015-08-09 22:36

Rally goers ask the community to stop the violence on Sunday afternoon. Hillman/KSKA

After two recent shooting deaths of local teenagers, more than 60 people marched through the rain in East Anchorage on Sunday afternoon to raise awareness of violence in the community.

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The crowd sang “Keep calm everybody, and put your guns away. Stop the violence!” The sentiment was echoed on their matching black t-shirts as they marched near the site where 19-year-old Preston Junior Clark Perdomo was shot dead last week.

Among the crowd was resident Allie Hernandez, who moved to Anchorage in 1997 because it was a safe place to raise her kids. She says now, she’s scared.

“This is why we’re walking,” she says between deep breaths. “We have a lot of parents here walking because we’re scared for our kids. We don’t want to see them dead. We don’t want to bury our kids no more. So if we have to walk five miles or six miles, even though I’m not in shape, girl, we’re doing it!”

Summer Yancy walked wearing a set of charms representing friends and family who were impacted by violence. She said Anchorage is so close-knit that everyone is affected by the recent shootings. One way to stop it is to speak candidly with youth about gun violence.

“Let’s have real scenarios of what this looks like when you’re in a real situation,” she said, when talking about ways to facilitate an effective conversation. “With[in] a group of kids and there’s one person in that group that wants to be irresponsible with their gun and all the sudden everybody is sucked in… it can happen to very good kids as well.”

Nineteen-year-old Brennan Gregiore-Girard said he grew up on the east side of town and gun violence doesn’t faze him.

The attendees of the Stop the Violence rally pose for a photo. Hillman/KSKA

“I mean when I hear about it, it doesn’t shock me any more, which is sad to say because we shouldn’t be in an environment where kids should feel that way, but it’s the sad truth.”

He said he thinks kids need to take responsibility for their actions and for the situations they place themselves in.

“I’ve always felt like I could talk things out. My mom raised me that way and my dad raised me that way. And I’ve always wrestled and done combat sports, so it’s not one of those things where I’m scared and all that,” he explained. “But why should I put my hands on someone to stop the violence? Because when you kill someone, you’re not only killing them.” You’re killing a piece of everyone they knew, he said.

The community group We Are Anchorage organized the walk to show a unified front for saying no to violence. They hope to encourage people to start actively watching out for their communities and speaking up.

Categories: Alaska News

Freeride Tour To Come Back to Haines in 2016

Fri, 2015-08-07 17:03

Snowboarder Flo Orley in the Haines competition. (Dom Daher/Freeride Facebook) Shared via KHNS.org.

An international free skiing and snowboarding competition that took on Haines slopes this year in its first-ever Alaska stop is coming back next year. The Freeride World Tour officially announced the 2016 schedule in late July.

The competition wasn’t easy or cheap for Freeride organizers. Unpredictable weather conditions caused three delays. It raised fears that the athletes had come all this way for an event that wouldn’t happen. But after about two weeks of waiting, skies cleared and the competition happened March 23nd.

“Haines is by far the most expensive stop for them,” said Haines Borough Tourism Director Leslie Ross.

She says Freeride spent about a million dollars on the Haines competition. Many of the competitors and organizers are European, making travel expensive. And the mountains aren’t accessible by ski lifts or hiking – all the participants needed to be helicoptered in.

Because it’s so expensive, Ross says the financial side of the Freeride’s next visit to Haines is up in the air.

“So they still are looking for sponsorships,” she said. “They haven’t received that much at all.”

Ross says she and the chamber of commerce are looking for local and regional businesses that could sponsor parts of the Haines visit. She says Freeride is also continuing to look for sponsors, and that they have a contingency plan to compete in British Columbia if the finances don’t work out.

Ross explains why the organizers are trying again for Haines despite the obstacles.

“Our mountains and our snow. We’re becoming world-known for our snow and our skiing. And this is definitely a push again that the athletes want to come here.”

“I think it’s every skier’s dream to once at least come here and ride these incredible mountains,” said one of those athletes — Swedish skier and 2012 Freeride champion Reine Barkered.

When Barkered and the other athletes, organizers, video and broadcast production staff, and other personnel were in Haines, they added up to more than 100 people. For some local businesses, it was a welcome influx of customers in the off-season.

“You know a fair amount of businesses close down in the winter or have significantly reduced hours because there is not enough business for them to stay open,” said Chamber of Commerce president Kyle Gray. “I mean, if we can have an event or something like that that gives more businesses a reason to stay open, that’s just more money we’re gonna be able to make as a community.”

Cheryl Katzeek is the front office manager at Captain’s Choice Motel, which rented out 32 of their 40 rooms to Freeride participants.

“It was really great for us and we’re glad to hear that they’re coming back,” Katzeek said.

The other four stops in the Freeride 2016 tour are in Europe – Andorra, France, Austria and Switzerland. The date currently scheduled for Haines is March 17, 2016.

Categories: Alaska News

Alaska News Nightly: Friday, August 7, 2015

Fri, 2015-08-07 16:59

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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Newtok Tribal Governance Dispute Settled By Federal Panel

Daysha Eaton, KYUK – Bethel

A federal appeals panel has sided with the new leaders in a tribal power dispute that has complicated efforts to relocate a badly eroded village in western Alaska.

Budget Cuts Tighten Local Law Departments in Southeast

Angela Denning, KFSK – Petersburg

Fewer crimes in Petersburg could be prosecuted in the near future. At least that’s what the Petersburg Borough fears might happen with budget cuts to the regional D.A.’s office.

3-Year-Old Child Shoots, Kills Himself In Anchorage Home

Associated Press

Officials say a 3-year-old boy shot and killed himself inside an Anchorage home.

Troopers Puzzle Over Plane Found On Knik Mudflats Sans Pilot, Passengers

Associated Press

A small airplane was found Friday morning on Knik Arm mudflats near a small Anchorage airport but state and federal authorities say they don’t know who was on board.

Juneau Swimmers Bring Home Gold From Special Olympics World Games

Lisa Phu, KTOO – Juneau

Two Juneau swimmers returned from the Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles with five medals.

Special Olympics Athlete Returns Home in Kodiak to Fanfare

Kayla Desroches, KMXT – Kodiak

Twenty-seven-year-old Kodiak resident Brittany Tregarthen represented the United States in powerlifting at this year’s Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles.

Unified Voice Needed for Federal Response to BC Mines

Ed Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska – Juneau

Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott says Alaskans need a unified voice to push the federal government to question mines across the border in British Columbia.

AIDEA Shares Info On 16 Interior Energy Project Proposals

Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks

The Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority has released some details on proposals to supply natural gas to the Interior Energy Project.

SEC Charges Miller Energy Execs With Cooking the Books

Associated Press

Miller Energy Resources Inc. and two of its former executives have been charged with inflating the values of the company’s oil and gas properties in Alaska by more than $400 million.

AK: Like A Seafaring Santa, Kachemak’s Mailman Always Hits His Route

Shady Grove Oliver, KBBI – Homer

Like many rural areas, the south side of Kachemak Bay doesn’t get traditional mail service. Instead, its communities rely on a mail boat to deliver to small postal drop offs. It’s the kind of job that attracts a special type of person who’s willing to make the trek across the bay, rain or shine, snow or ice, twice a week, every week, year-round. There the mailman takes the shape of a 60-something ex-fisherman who’s been on the job for nearly 30 years.

49 Voices: Brandon Hall From Resolution Brewing Company in Anchorage

Anne Hillman, KSKA – Anchorage

This week we’re talking with Brandon Hall, the head brewer at Resolution Brewing Company, which opened a few months ago in Anchorage’s Mountain View neighborhood, who first came to Alaska with the Air Force after college.

Categories: Alaska News

Newtok Tribal Governance Dispute Settled By Federal Panel

Fri, 2015-08-07 16:39

A federal appeals panel has sided with the new leaders in a tribal power dispute that has complicated efforts to relocate a badly eroded village in western Alaska.

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Tom John, a tribal administrator with the new council, called Newtok Village Council, says he learned of the decision via email this morning and it’s a relief.

“Yesterday, August 6th [they] finally made their decision who is [the] legitimate Newtok tribal government. I’m very elated to here, finally – I’ve been concerned, worried, couldn’t sleep. Hopefully I’ll have a good night sleep tonight.”

The Interior Board of Indian Appeals stepped in to review a 2013 ruling by the Bureau of Indian Affairs that said the sitting tribal council no longer represented the Yup’ik community of Newtok for bureau funding purposes.

The old council appealed the decision, which gave local power to a new group that claimed to be the rightfully elected council. The appeals board says in its Thursday decision that the old faction “failed to submit any evidence in support its own claim of continuing authority.”

The power dispute stalled millions of dollars in government funds for the flood-prone village’s efforts to move to higher ground. John says now the hard work begins.

“Pretty soon we will have a Newtok planning group meeting at Anchorage with different agencies, with state agencies, federal, FEMA and all the agencies that we’ve been meeting [with] in previous years. I think we’ll have more positive attitude getting funds to make this relocation happen.”

Andy Patrick, who leads the Newtok Traditional Council was contacted for this story but he refused to comment.

Categories: Alaska News

3-Year-Old Child Fatally Shoots Himself In Anchorage Home

Fri, 2015-08-07 16:37

Officials say a 3-year-old boy shot and killed himself inside an Anchorage home.

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Police received a call just after noon on Wednesday reporting the shooting at a home in southeast Anchorage. The child was pronounced dead at the scene.

Investigators concluded the child fatally shot himself with a gun he found inside the home.

No charges have been filed, but the case has been sent to the District Attorney’s Office for review. There were three adults in the home at the time of the shooting.

Categories: Alaska News

Two Icebreakers, One Port, Two Very Different Missions

Fri, 2015-08-07 16:36

The Fennica heads north. Photo: John Ryan/KUCB.

Shell Oil’s Fennica icebreaker departed Dutch Harbor for the Chukchi Sea on Thursday afternoon. That’s a day and a half after it arrived from Oregon.

The Fennica’s now headed north, on the 1,100 mile voyage to Shell’s drill site.

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The Fennica’s arrival in the Chukchi Sea has been delayed by about a month, after it ran aground in Dutch Harbor on July 3. It then went through repairs and protests in Portland.

The Fennica has to be in place in the Chukchi Sea before the Interior Department will let Shell drill into oil-bearing rocks beneath the sea floor.

Interior Department officials said they expect to quickly approve the deeper drilling once the Fennica and its safety equipment are on site.

But there’s another icebreaker sitting in Dutch Harbor.

The Coast Guard vessel Healy readies itself for a northward trip in the name of science. Photo: John Ryan/KUCB.

It’s the Healy, the Coast Guard’s largest ship. It’s scheduled to depart on Sunday on its way to the North Pole. It’s helping an international team of scientists study the rapidly changing chemistry of the Arctic Ocean.

Phoebe Lam is part of that team. She’s a geochemist from the University of California at Santa Cruz. The scientists will bring up water samples from the depths to see just what the Arctic Ocean is made of.

“I’m measuring particles and the chemical composition of particles. A biologist would call them plankton, a geochemist calls them particles. It’s the same thing — it’s just stuff in the ocean.”

….So is a whale just a really big particle?

“Yes. I hope not to get them because they’re hard to process.”

Lam says studying chemistry is like doing forensics. It helps you understand what happened when you weren’t there to see it yourself.

Sceintists can use obscure elements and isotopes to figure out questions like how fast the Arctic Ocean is taking up industrial greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere.

This is the Healy’s second Arctic mission this year.

The first mission focused on testing equipment practicing search and rescue in polar conditions.

The Coast Guard only has two icebreakers in working condition. But it’s trying to expand its capabilities in the Arctic.

Captain Jason Hamilton says the mission in July encountered more sea ice than they were expecting, so the Healy detoured to the west.

“One of first rules of icebreaking is if you can avoid it, avoid it. When you break ice, it’s more fuel. It is harder on the hull; it’s slower. So if you can take the path of least resistance, you take the path of least resistance.”

This week, the National Snow and Ice Data Center reported that the overall area of Arctic sea ice for July was below average. The center says the Northern sea route across the Arctic is now open.
The Healy is one of three icebreakers cruising the Arctic for science this summer. The international collaboration also includes scientists on board Canadian and German icebreakers.
They aim to get a baseline of conditions in the Arctic before the expected increase in shipping and resource extraction brings more pollution to the relatively pristine region.

Categories: Alaska News

Troopers Puzzle Over Plane Found On Knik Mudflats Sans Pilot, Passengers

Fri, 2015-08-07 16:35

A small airplane was found Friday morning on Knik Arm mudflats near a small Anchorage airport but state and federal authorities say they don’t know who was on board.

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Alaska State Troopers in Palmer took a call just after midnight reporting a downed airplane west of Birchwood Airport. The airport is near Anchorage’s north border.

The Alaska Rescue Coordination Center launched airplanes to search and the small airplane was found at 6:10 a.m. about two miles northeast of the Birchwood Airport.

No pilot or passengers were with the downed airplane.

Troopers say the downed airplane may have left from the McGrath area. No flights have been reported as overdue. Troopers say a search is continuing.

Categories: Alaska News

Special Olympics Athlete Returns Home in Kodiak to Fanfare

Fri, 2015-08-07 16:33

Brittany Tregarthen and Dan Canavan. Kayla Desroches/KMXT

Twenty-seven-year-old Kodiak resident Brittany Tregarthen represented the United States in powerlifting at this year’s Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles. She went from winning gold on the state level to earning recognition on the world level. And with so many competitors from around the world and even more people in the audience, she says this went through her mind before the competition.

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“I felt very nervous in the first place,” she says. “But I actually remembered something what my best friend named Jason Gaysheen, from Omaha, Nebraska, he told me on the phone once that ‘You can do this’ and I actually did it.”

She won a silver for benchpressing 110 pounds, fourth-place for deadlifting 160, and she also brought back a bronze in squats and a second bronze in the combination of lifts overall.

And she says she got a surprise after flying back into Kodiak Monday night.

“When I got home, everyone in Kodiak was at the airport, and they were hearing – waiting for me to come in – they were hearing clank, clank, clank of my metals,” says Tregarthen. “And I got a special gift, and it was amazing. I can’t believe it.”

That was another surprise from Dan Canavan, the Special Olympics volunteer community director in Kodiak.

“I got this picture frame from Dan,” says Tregarthen. “And it has my photos on it and red roses, flowers, stuff, and I didn’t realize the whole crew was there.”

Canavan says the Special Olympics mirror the source of its name closely. The competition is fierce, and the athletes bring impressive talent from their various countries.

“I think what it did was raised that awareness that through sports, that we are serious athletes, competing at a very high level and really vital members of the community,” says Canavan. “I think Kodiak gets that and they support us in a big way.”

He says the local Special Olympics athletes will work towards qualifying for the next World Games.

Categories: Alaska News

Unified voice needed for federal response to BC mines

Fri, 2015-08-07 16:32

Guy Archibald of the Southeast Alaska Conservation Council, left, discusses issues with Sitka Mayor Mim McConnell, right, during Thursday’s transboundary mine meeting in Juneau. (Photo by Ed Schoenfeld/CoastAlaska News)

Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott says Alaskans need a unified voice to push the federal government to question mines across the border in British Columbia.

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Addressing a Thursday meeting of tribal, business and conservation leaders, he said the state will share its knowledge and ask for input on mines near rivers that flow into Alaska.

He said it’s time for more than words:

“You can scream, all you want. You can go to the governor. … But that’s not the way we should do it. We’ve had too much of that,” Mallott says.

Critics accuse state officials of keeping them in the dark about B.C. mining projects, which they say will threaten Southeast fisheries.

They’ve also asked the state to push the federal government to bring the issue before the International Joint Commission, which addressed U.S.-Canada water disputes.

Commission expert David La Roche said that’s unlikely, because Canada has shown no interest. But he said a U.S. State Department request for a panel examination would catch their attention.

“Not because you’re going to get one. But because it would finally and officially serve notice that the U.S. federal government is really taking this issue seriously, which has yet to occur.”

Mallott met this summer with U.S. and Canadian officials and said they viewed the transboundary mine issue as local, not international.

But he told those at the meeting that the state will keep trying, as well as push for more access to British Columbia’s permitting process.

“We will be fully engaged. But this administration wants to be in constant touch with the voice of Alaska’s people. And in this instance, with those [in] leadership, individuals, institutions that are in this room.”

He didn’t define how that would work. But he said he looked forward to finding way to combine efforts.

At a meeting with Southeast tribal leaders the previous day, he offered direct involvement with the state’s transboundary mine task force.

We’ll have continuing coverage of the issues raised at the meetings in future reports.

Categories: Alaska News

Budget Cuts Tighten Local Law Departments in Southeast

Fri, 2015-08-07 15:25

Fewer crimes in Petersburg could be prosecuted in the near future. At least that’s what the Petersburg Borough fears might happen with budget cuts to the regional D.A.’s office.

Everyone knows the story by now. Very low oil prices caused state budgets cuts in all branches of government.

What that means for prosecuting crime in Southeast was conveyed in a recent e-mail from Juneau’s District Attorney, James Scott, to local police departments. He said the state attorneys will still look at each crime on a case by case basis but minor mistakes in reports will likely put the case to the bottom of the pile.

James Scott is a District Attorney in Juneau. Photo/Lisa Phu, KTOO

“So what I find myself and what other lawyers find ourselves doing is taking that file that has the minor mistake in it that in the past we would have rectified in an afternoon and putting that file aside and turning our attention to another file that doesn’t have that mistake and that needs to be processed in a timely manner,” Scott said.

Scott said he’s not being critical of local law enforcement offices—he knows everyone is busy—but he wants officers to know how they can help prevent hang ups.

Petersburg Borough Manager, Steve Giesbrecht, conveyed the message to the borough assembly at their last meeting.

“They don’t have the staff and will make decisions based on—even if it’s a good case—if it takes a lot of work and is not significantly important, they will dismiss it,” Giesbrecht said.

The Department of Law cuts include three full-time positions in Southeast: an assistant D.A. in Juneau, a law office assistant in Juneau and an assistant in Sitka. That leaves just three lawyers in Juneau to prosecute cases in Southeast.

Petersburg Assemblyman, John Havrilek, pressed the borough manager for what it might mean locally.

“Is it like there are arrests that the police aren’t going to make for certain things,” Havrilek asked, “or what’s that picture look like?”

Giesbrecht said that Petersburg has a great relationship with Scott but with his office being so short-staffed he’s going to find it difficult to maintain his presence here.

“He’s very clearly said, ‘Look, I’m not going to make as many trips to Petersburg. In fact, there may be long periods of time where I’m not available to come’,” Geisbrecht said.

Kelly Swihart, Petersburg’s Police Chief, said the reality is that Scott lost a third of his attorney staff and 50 percent of his support staff.

“So, cuts are going to have to be made somewhere,” Swihart said. “We’re kind of waiting to see how it shakes out.”

Swihart said, so far, no Petersburg cases have been declined but he would like to follow Scott’s suggestions and do more preparation locally before submitting cases to Juneau. He said they recently consulted with a retired prosecutor on a complicated case to make sure they were on track.

“So if we can get all those boxes checked before we send a case to the D.A.’s office hopefully there will be less questions later and that dismissal rate won’t go up,” said Swihart.

And essentially it’s up to the local PD as to what gets sent to Juneau. Not everything constitutes a crime.

“There are cases where we can write a simple ticket, they go pay their fine at the office and they’re done with it rather than go through that criminal process,” Swihart said.

In the Juneau D.A.’s office, Scott is trying to continue to do his work as usual even though his caseload went up one-third overnight.

“We have more balls in the air than we’re used to,” Scott said. “I’ve been with the Department for about 17 years and I’ve just never seen a situation where we have as much work as we have and as little staff as we have to handle it but so far we’re getting by.”

Department of Law budget cuts haven’t just hit Southeast Alaska. The D.A. office in Barrow was closed down and cases from that region are now being prosecuted in Fairbanks.

Another safety measure that Petersburg is looking into in light of budget cuts is a Neighborhood Watch-Crime Stoppers program. That would allow local residents to voluntarily watch for crime in their neighborhoods. Assemblyman John Havrilek is spearheading the effort. He would like to get training for residents who are interested in participating.

Categories: Alaska News

Gov. Walker visits Haines to discuss lands into trust issues with Chilkoot Tribe

Fri, 2015-08-07 13:25

Alaska Governor Bill Walker visited Haines Thursday to talk with the Chilkoot Indian Association about lands into trust issues.

Gov. Walker traveled to all corners of the state this week, visiting Akiachak, Tuluksak, Chalkyitsik, Barrow and Haines. Those towns are home to the four tribes and one individual who are plaintiffs in a decade-old lawsuit over the right of Alaska tribes to put lands into trust.

In 2006, the Akiachak Native Community, Chalkyitsik Village, Chilkoot Indian Association, Tuluksak Native Community, and Alice Kavairlook sued the Department of Interior over regulations that prohibited Alaska tribes from applying to put their lands into federal trust – something tribes in the Lower 48 can do.

In 2013, a U.S. District court agreed with the plaintiffs, saying the practice discriminates against Alaskan Tribes. The Department of Interior agreed with that decision in 2014. But the state of Alaska, under the Parnell administration, did not. The state filed an appeal to the decision.

Gov. Bill Walker in Haines Thursday. (Emily Files-KHNS)

Walker is facing a deadline in a few weeks to decide on whether to continue with or drop that appeal.

“I inherited that litigation so I’m trying to decide what’s the most appropriate path forward,” Walker said.

In his tenure so far, Walker has put off deciding whether to continue the appeal. If he were to drop it, Alaska tribes would soon be able to apply for lands trust status. Walker asked for a six-month delay in the case, and then a 30-day extension. Walker says he doesn’t think he’s likely to get more time.

“All week we’ve been around the state visiting with tribes that are involved in that issue,” Walker said. “And we’re doing that largely, almost predominantly, for one reason – to listen and to hear and have a consultation, have a discussion and hear why is that important to them.”

“It’s so important. I can’t even describe how important it is,” said Chilkoot Indian Association Tribal Administrator Harriet Brouilette.

“It weighs really heavy,” Brouilette said. “It weighs heavy on my heart. This is the land of my people. And we’re struggling to retain it. We’re struggling to hold on to a very small part of what was once ours — the places we went to subsistence hunt, and gather and fish.”

Brouilette says for the Chilkoot Tribe, the ability to put lands into trust is about protecting the land they have left. She says that encompasses the land where their tribal office is located and the Chilkoot Estates subdivision. The tribe is not necessarily going to put that land into trust, but Brouilette says they want the option because it’s their right. She says much land has been taken from the tribe over the years.

Harriet Brouilette is tribal administrator for Chilkoot Indian Association. (Emily Files-KHNS)

“At one time this entire valley, down to Excursion Inlet and further, belonged to the Chilkoot people. And as European explorers began to discover this area, they began to take possession of the land.”

Walker wouldn’t say if he is leaning one way or the other on whether he might drop the state’s appeal. But he says conversations with people like Brouilette will factor into his choice.

“For me it’s a matter of gathering information and most importantly it’s listening to what people have to say,” Walker said. “And we’ve heard some very heartfelt statements about their past, their generation, where they want to go, their concern about their children, their grandchildren. You can’t replace that with any amount of reading of legal briefs.”

Walker says one concern he has about allowing Native tribes to put lands into trust is giving more power to the federal government.

“I like decisions made as close to home as possible,” he said. “Decisions made in Washington D.C. about land use in Alaska, I’m concerned about that, quite honestly.”

For Brouilette, it’s about giving power to Native tribes. She doesn’t want things like this to continue happening:

“My father, his family is from Yandeist-aki, which is at 4 mile, where the airport is now,” she said. “He used to fish at 4 mile and was pushed out by newcomers. Then he started fishing at 7 mile and was pushed out there. And then he was pushed out at 8 mile. That’s just an example, one person. You think of all the Native families in this community that are trying to live a traditional lifestyle, live our lifestyle – it’s nearly impossible now.”

Brouilette says she couldn’t tell what choice Walker would end up making, but the fact that he sat down and talked with the Council impressed her. She says it shows that Walker is trying to understand what the issue means to the tribes who have fought for the right to put lands into trust for decades.

Categories: Alaska News

Wild food and its role in Alaska culture

Fri, 2015-08-07 12:00

Berry picking, salmon fishing and preparations for fall hunting are in full swing and Alaskans are putting up food for winter. Whether canned, dried, fermented or smoked – wild foods go hand in hand with the culture and traditions of the north.

HOST: Lori Townsend

GUEST:

  • Suanne Unger, author
  • Leslie Shallcross, UAF Cooperative Extension

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LIVE Broadcast: Tuesday, August 11, 2015 at 10:00 a.m. on APRN stations statewide.

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Categories: Alaska News

49 Voices: Brandon Hall from Resolution Brewing Company in Anchorage

Fri, 2015-08-07 11:02

This week we’re talking with Brandon Hall, the head brewer at Resolution Brewing Company, which opened a few months ago in Anchorage’s Mountain View neighborhood, who first came to Alaska with the Air Force after college.

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Categories: Alaska News

Nome man arrested after police, troopers find $22k stash of heroin, meth

Fri, 2015-08-07 10:42

An Alaska State Trooper cruiser parked on Nome’s Front Street in January 2015. Photo: Matthew F. Smith, KNOM file.

More than $20,000 in heroin and methamphetamine have been taken off the streets after the arrest of a Nome man in a significant drug bust by Alaska State Troopers and the Nome Police Department.

Galen Milligrock, 38, was arrested Wednesday, Aug. 5, on multiple felony drug charges.

Court documents reveal an investigation going back to mid June, when police and troopers first contacted Milligrock through what Nome Police Chief John Papasodora called “undercover purchases” of drugs, including heroin. Arresting documents state Milligrock “handed [police] a vial” containing a small amount of meth, leading investigators to follow up with a search warrant for his East 5th Avenue home.

In the search, police and Troopers say they found five vials of heroin and “a small bag” of crystal meth. Court records, however, show Milligrock wasn’t arrested after the June search of his home—but that wasn’t the end of the investigation, which eventually led to what police and troopers say was Milligrock’s “drug stash” found “off of an ATV trail within the city limits of Nome.”

An affidavit from a Nome police officer states the stash held more than 21 grams of heroin, with each gram “packaged for sale.” The stash also held a clear glass vial filled with 1.2 grams of meth, or roughly five doses on the street.

Chief Papasodora in an email wrote in a Thursday email the 21 grams of heroin could be sold on the street as more more than 200 individual doses of the drug.

“It’s a lot, and especially a lot for a community the size of Nome,” said Captain Jeff Laughlin, the commander of the Trooper’s Statewide Drug Enforcement unit.

“If you associate a gram, you know kind of the size of a sugar packet, right? So, the last pricing I got that’s pretty accurate for western Alaska is, generally a gram [of heroin] is going for about $1,000. So, approximately $22,000 worth for [approximately] 22 grams.”

Investigators interviewing Milligrock wrote in papers submitted to the court that he admitted the drugs belonged to him, and allege Milligrock confessed to officers that “he sells heroin in Nome.”

In all he faces seven felony counts for misuse of a controlled substance, including two second-degree charges.

In his first court appearance Thursday, to formally hear the charges against him, Milligrock requested a court-appointed attorney and pleaded not guilty to all charges. Bail was set at $15,000 dollars. Milligrock remains in custody at Nome’s Anvil Mountain Correctional Center.

The Nome Police K9 unit with K9 “Icon” was cited by Chief Papasodora as “an instrumental part in the seizure.” Nome’s only K9 officer died unexpectedly last month while undergoing emergency surgery. Chief Papasodora didn’t provide specifics of the K9 unit’s involvement in Milligrock’s but wrote simply that “we will really miss Icon.”

Milligrock’s criminal history includes three separate felony convictions in 1996 on felony burglary, theft, and criminal mischief charges in Nome, and one felony conviction for escape in Anchorage.

His arrest is the latest in an ongoing collaboration between Troopers and Nome police that’s resulted in the heroin-related arrest of two Nome residents in December, a second couple arrested in January for allegedly selling meth, the indictment ofa fifth person in February on 11 drug charges related to heroin and meth, and most recently, a trio of arrests in March that saw three men arrested on a combined 22 felony drug charges related to selling heroin, prescription pills, marijuana and other narcotics.

Categories: Alaska News

Sleetmute man arrested for alleged ax assault

Fri, 2015-08-07 10:16

A Sleetmute man was arrested Wednesday. (Photo from Bing Maps)

State Troopers arrested a Sleetmute man Wednesday who reportedly attacked a man with an ax the night before. Aniak troopers arrested 25-year-old Kristopher Gregory.

According to a trooper dispatch, Gregory in the early morning hours struck a 56-year-old man with his fists.

The victim says Gregory then grabbed an ax. In a struggle, the victim was able to soften the blow to his head, but was still injured.

Troopers say alcohol was involved. Gregory faces a felony assault charge and was arraigned this morning. He will be in court August 14th.

Categories: Alaska News

Subsistence harvest of the Emperor goose to open in 2016

Fri, 2015-08-07 10:11

Emperor Goose. (U.S. Fish & Wildlife photo)

Next year Alaska will likely see a subsistence hunt of the Emperor Goose for the first time in 30 years.

According to a report by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, the Emperor goose population had dropped to 42,000 due to harvest and predation by the time the species was closed to hunting in 1987.

Patty Schwalenberg is the Executive Director of the Alaska Migratory Bird Co-Management Council. She says Alaska Native groups have been asking for the goose harvest since 2012.

“The areas that have requested the harvest are the ones where the Emperor goose occurs,” said Schwalenberg. “So it’s the Kawerak Region in Northern Alaska, Association of Village Council Presidents in Western Alaska, the Bristol Bay region in Southwest Alaska, and Kodiak and the Aleutian Chain.”

Schwalenberg says the latest count by Fish & Wildlife exceeded 80,000 birds, the threshold for considering an open hunt season.

It’s yet uncertain just what that season will look like, but Schwalenberg says an overall limit has been set.

“Unfortunately, contrary to what the traditional methods are, there will be a harvest limit of 3500 birds,” she says.

The native caucus of the AMBCC will meet in Anchorage August 13 and 14 to discuss how to allocate and regulate the harvest.

Schwalenberg says the proposed subsistence hunt will go to public comment period this fall.

Categories: Alaska News

Ketchikan borough considers body cameras for animal control

Fri, 2015-08-07 10:03

The Ketchikan Gateway Borough’s Department of Animal Protection is considering equipping field officers with body cameras.

The Ketchikan Daily News reports that the department is involved with a committee review of both the Pat Wise Animal Shelter and the department’s policies.

Animal protection officers issue fines, respond to complaints and investigate allegations of abuse. Some officials say those interactions with the public can leave pet owners growling.

Assistant Borough Manager Deanna Garrison called some citations “explosive.”

Still, other committee members worry body cameras would lead to a hostile work environment because of the constant surveillance.

Garrison said after a committee meeting Wednesday that a proposal to use body cameras would go before the Borough Assembly for a public process and vote maybe before the end of the year.

Categories: Alaska News

Barge brings tsunami, other marine debris to Seattle

Fri, 2015-08-07 10:03

A barge carrying hundreds of tons of marine debris collected on shorelines in Alaska and British Columbia has arrived in Seattle for sorting and recycling.

Volunteers are being organized to help sort, a process that could take weeks. Whatever can’t be recycled will be taken by train for disposal in Oregon.

Despite the mass of debris collected, the president of the cleanup organization coordinating the project says it represents a small percentage of the cleanup work that remains.

Some of the debris collected likely was swept to sea by the 2011 tsunami in Japan.

But marine debris in general, including rubbish like plastics and fishing nets, is an ongoing environmental problem.

Categories: Alaska News

Juneau first stop on gay cruise’s trip around Alaska

Fri, 2015-08-07 10:00

On Monday afternoon, nearly 2,000 people arrived in Juneau for their first stop on the 30th anniversary RSVP Vacations cruise. The cruise line caters exclusively to gay and lesbian people.

The Southeast Alaska LGBTQ+ Alliance, also known as SEAGLA, hosted an event for cruise patrons at the Imperial Saloon downtown. Nearly 200 patrons mingled, drank and played billiards during the two-hour event.

RSVP patrons enjoy the drag performances during Monday night’s event. (Photo by Lakeidra Chavis/KTOO)

“It’s just important to remember that we are in the community, that we’re neighbors, but also to welcome people who are traveling, who might be looking for community,” says Lauren Tibbitts-Travis, SEAGLA outreach coordinator.

She helped organize the event.

“It’s one thing to go somewhere that you’ve never been and see the sights, but if you’re going there [and you] immediately identify with [the place], that makes it a much better experience. That’s what we’re trying to do at these events,” Tibbitts-Travis says.

SEAGLA decordated the outside of the Imperial with various gradient flags from the LGBT community, including the pride, bisexual, transgender, leather, bear flags. Photo: Lakeidra Chavis/KTOO

This week’s cruise will take tourists to Glacier Bay, Sitka, Ketchikan and Victoria, British Columbia. Although the passengers are predominantly male, the cruise caters both to gay and lesbian people.

Ticket prices ranged from $900 to almost $3,000. Joe Fallon and his husband David Rodes says the cruise was worth it.

“We’d never been to Alaska and we’d always wanted to do an Alaska cruise, but a straight cruise never seemed like that much because we figured we’d be with a lot of old people,” Fallon says.

Fallon and Rodes, who are both in their late 50s, decided to take the cruise to celebrate paying off their mortgage.

“We met working in the same shopping center when we were like 17 and 18 years old.” Fallon says.

They’ve been together for 39 years, says Rodes.

Both men says they’re most excited to see Glacier Bay.

For 47-year old Sam Wilson, he decided to go on the cruise because it’s something his best friend has always wanted to do.

“He actually wanted to go for a very long time, and we finally found time to go. We travel a lot, this is like my fourth cruise. I did a couple in the Caribbean and a Mediterranean one, so this was like on the bucket list — definitely one to come and see,” Wilson says.

Wilson and his friend have traveled everywhere from Egypt to Greece. He says the cruise is like a party every night and there’s always a chance to meet new people.

Halfway through the event, four local drag performers took the dance floor to entertain the crowd. Performer Vanessa LaVoce-Kellie — who preferred to be identified by her stage name — was one of them.

For her the event symbolized a larger effort to create a more inclusive community.

“I performed tonight because there’s not very many opportunities to do drag here in Juneau; it’s been getting a lot better. We’ve been having more exposure, but any chance that I get to step out in face and give somebody a show, I’ll take it,” La-Voce-Kellie says.

For LaVoce-Kellie, the bigger the drag queen presence in Juneau, the better.

“These events give people that safe place, and help us to build the conversation for more acceptance and tolerance. The more you can do for love the better,” LaVoce-Kellie says.

The cruise left late Monday night to travel to its next destination, Sitka, before making a stop in Glacier Bay.

Categories: Alaska News

The changing roll of the military in Alaska

Fri, 2015-08-07 08:00

Today we’ll be discussing the changing role of the military in Alaska. The state has unique training grounds and conditions, and that’s no small part of why it hosts the kind of large-scale exercises we’ve seen this summer. But recently announced reductions in Army personnel at Joint-Base Elmendorf-Richardson in the years ahead, as well as a growing focus on the Pacific theater are complicating Alaska’s place in the military.

HOST: Zachariah Hughes

GUESTS:

  • Colonel Michael Forsyth, Chief of Staff, Alaskan Command
  • Bill Popp, President and CEO, Anchorage Economic Development Corporation

LINKS:

  • If you want to see the full Mayor’s Roundtable event hosted by the Cook Inlet Historical Society, watch here

KSKA (FM 91.1) BROADCAST: Friday, August 7, at 2:00 p.m. and Saturday, August 8 at 6:00 p.m.

Alaska Public Television BROADCAST: Friday, August 7, at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, August 8 at 6:00 p.m.

 

Categories: Alaska News

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