Alaska News

Bon Voyage, Susitna

Mat Su's unused ferry is heading South.

Budget to defer 5 jets, but Air Force general ‘excited’ for F-35s in Alaska

President Obama’s 2017 Air Force budget would slow the pace of buying F-35s, the new fighter jet slated for Eielson Air Force Base. But the Air Force chief of staff still speaks highly of the plan to keep them at the Fairbanks base.

AK court system planning more budget cuts

Alaska Supreme Court Chief Justice Craig Stowers says the court system has taken steps to cut costs. In the annual State of the Judiciary address to a joint session of the legislatureon Wednesday, he said the courts plan on more cuts. Download Audio

Sen. Olson joins majority caucus

The Senate’s already large majority grew even bigger today. Senator Donny Olson joined the majority caucus. The move by the Golovin Democrat means that sixteen of the twenty senators are in the majority. Olson says he’s honored to join the majority and will lend a strong voice for rural Alaskans. Download Audio

Presidential race heads to Alaska in March

Alaska’s major parties will pick their candidates on different days. The Republicans will choose theirs on March 1st, also known as Super Tuesday. That’s because it’s the day that the largest number of delegates will be picked this year. Download Audio

Young: FAA privatization bill harms Alaska air travel

A U.S. House bill would turn air traffic controllers into employees of a non-profit corporation. Surprisingly, the air traffic controllers’ union supports it. Alaska Congressman Don Young says the bill would also undermine Essential Air Service. Download Audio

Rep. Nageak’s nephew killed in police shooting

There was an officer involved in a fatal shooting in Barrow early Wednesday morning. According to the North Slope Borough Mayor’s office, the incident happened around 4:00 a.m. A North Slope Borough Police Officer was responding to a call for assistance when the shooting took place. The Mayor’s office identified the victim as Vincent Nageak III, the nephew of State Representative Ben Nageak (D-Barrow).Download Audio

Sitka settles with tasered student

Sitka has settled out of court with a high school student who was tasered in the city’s jail in 2014. Franklin Hoogendorn will be paid $350,000 by Sitka’s insurance carrier. Download Audio

Pletnikoff family takes city to court

The Pletnikoff family on Tuesday filed suit in Kodiak Superior Court against the city, the police department and two of the three officers involved. Download Audio

Salard sentenced to 20 years in prison

Former Wrangell doctor Greg Salard was sentenced Tuesday to 20 years in prison for receipt and distribution of child pornography. Salard, 54, will also have a lifetime of supervised release after prison and a $25,000 fine. He was sentenced in U.S. District Court in Juneau. Download Audio

The nitty-gritty rules that will shape Anchorage’s cannabis industry

Assembly members in Anchorage have passed a bundle of rules that will shape the business landscape for the state’s largest commercial cannabis market in the months ahead. Download Audio

Alaska News Nightly: Wednesday, Feb. 10 2016

State courts planning more cuts; Olson joins senate majority; Presidential race turns to AK in March; House bill shifts FAA workers to non-profit; Pletnikoff family takes city to court; Wrangell doctor sentenced on porn charges; pot groups getting on same regs page; Sass first to Dawson City; turning ideas about race into art. Download Audio

Turning ideas about racial equity into art

Anchorage graffiti artist Bisco transformed ideas about racial equity into art during a two-day summit.

Report: Trees in Kodiak borough parcel likely to die

An assessment into the damage from the August 2015 Twin Creeks fire on land owned by the Kodiak Island Borough has determined that many of the area's trees will likely die.

Ahtna announces purchase of sand, gravel, asphalt company

An Alaska Native regional corporation says it has acquired a sand and gravel company in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough.

Sass leads Yukon Quest mushers into Dawson

Brent Sass covered the 150-mile distance from Eagle to Dawson in two runs. He said his team was feeling better in Eagle after starting the race with some stomach issues.

Dozens turnout to testify against Homer pot prohibition ordinance

It was standing room only at the start of Monday evening’s Homer City Council meeting where dozens of people showed up to testify about an ordinance that would ban all commercial cannabis activity in Homer. Most who testified were against the ordinance introduced by Homer City Council Members Heath Smith and Gus Van Dyke.

Bethel man sentenced to 20 years for murder of Leann Berlin

A Bethel judge sentenced 28-year-old Mark Charlie Jr. of Bethel to serve 20 years for the murder of Leann Berlin, a 26-year-old originally from Kasigluk.

Obama budget reveals Alaska flashes

President Obama delivered his final budget to Congress this morning. It has a picture of Denali on the cover, and several big-ticket Alaska items among its pages. Download Audio

Fairbanks woman sentenced for mishandling tribe’s funds

A Fairbanks woman is facing 90 days home confinement and three years’ probation for mishandling federal funds meant for a local tribe. The Healy Lake Tribe says it will take months before it can recover. Download Audio

Alaska News Nightly: Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016

Fed budget includes AK projects; Port Clarence land transferred; presidential race heads to AK in March; Fairbanks woman sentenced; crew maps polar bears; Sass maintains Yukon Quest lead; new SNAP app unveiled; new exhibit highlights AK modern art. Download Audio

Sass leads Yukon Quest mushers out of Eagle

Frontrunners in the Yukon Quest are running toward the race’s halfway point at Dawson City, Yukon. Defending Quest champion Brent Sass continues to lead the race. The Eureka musher was in an out of the Eagle checkpoint first this morning, after 4 hours of mandatory rest. Download Audio

New Sitka library opens

The renovated and enlarged Sitka Public Library is now open for business, with thousands of books having been moved back from temporary quarters on the Sheldon Jackson campus. Residents showed up in force to check out the new digs last week. Download Audio

‘Kill the Indian’ challenges artistic boundaries in Alaska

Three provocative new exhibits at the Anchorage Museum showcase changing boundaries within Alaska's contemporary art scene.

Crew maps polar bear dens on Alaska’s North Slope

Each winter, when the tundra freezes, the North Slope gets busy. It's the travel season, the time of year when oil producers can put in ice roads and move heavy vehicles over the frozen ground. But before any of that can happen, one task comes first: looking for polar bears. Download Audio

Obama transfers Port Clarence land to Bering Straits Native Corporation

President Obama signed the Coast Guard Authorization Act last night, transferring 2,500 acres of federal land at Port Clarence to local, state, and federal stakeholders. Located 120 nautical miles northwest of Nome, Port Clarence has long been left out of discussion as the location for the nation’s Arctic deep draft port. Download Audio

Grand jury indicts Juneau murder suspect

A former Juneau resident arrested last month in the Palmer area has been indicted on murder charges. A Juneau grand jury handed up an indictment on Friday charging Nora Edith Thomas, 28, with two counts of second degree murder.

U.S. Marine Mammal Commission visits Nome to share new research

Alaska’s marine mammal population is stressed, according to the U.S. Marine Mammal Commission. One member of the federal agency will share new research on marine mammal health and discuss how the commission is helping conserve animals like walrus and seals on Monday in Nome.

Tribal, non-tribal voices discuss VAWA across jurisdictions

The first day of the Violence Against Women Act, or VAWA, training began Monday in Bethel. The three-day session marks the first VAWA training in the state since Alaska’s Attorney General, Craig Richards, issued an opinion last summer that law enforcement must uphold tribal protection orders the same as state orders.

Alaska News Nightly: Monday, Feb 8, 2016

Legislature to focus on budget; ANC buys part of gas field; MODA gets OK to continue selling insurance; Angoon calls for help with mercury levels; AMHS benefits more than Southeast, Southwest; Dillingham police get body cam upgrade; Sass takes Yukon Quest lead; youngsters learning trapping tradition Download Audio

House passes resolution to focus on budget

Lawmakers have talked about focusing on the state budget since their session began three weeks ago. But on Monday, they took action to make it official. The House passed a resolution that limits committees to working on bills that raise or spend state revenue. This new rule will remain in place until the House passes a budget. Download Audio

Anchorage to buy ConocoPhillips gas field for $152M

After months of closed door meetings, the city has worked out a deal to buy a section of the Beluga River Unit owned by ConcoPhillips since the 80s. Download Audio

Agreement allows Moda to keep selling health insurance in Alaska

The Division of Insurance announced an agreement with insurer Moda Health Monday, that will allow the company to stay on the individual and group markets in Alaska. Download Audio

Angoon calls for help after discovering high mercury levels in subsistence seal

The City of Angoon believes high levels of mercury have been discovered in subsistence food caught near Hawk Inlet and that Hecla’s Greens Creek Mine could be responsible. Download Audio

Dillingham Police get a body cam upgrade

An independent investigation this week concluded that Kodiak police officers responded “professionally” within the scope of their authority when they pepper sprayed an autistic man September 16 in Kodiak. The incident caused uproar this fall, and again last month when Kodiak Police released video footage of the encounter. And it’s one of a slew of recent incidents involving police force that have led many Americans to demand measures like equipping officers with body cams. Download Audio

New, easy tool to check SNAP eligibility could help Alaska’s economy

If everyone who was eligible for SNAP benefits applied for the program, $65 million would be added to the state's economy. A new tool makes checking eligibility easy. Download Audio

AMHS report: Ferries boost Anchorage, Mat-Su economies too

Many people think the Alaska Marine Highway System only serves port communities in the Southeast and Southwest parts of the state, plus Prince William Sound. It turns out the Railbelt benefits, too. Download Audio

Sass takes Yukon Quest lead

Brent Sass is leading the Yukon Quest. He is followed by Hugh Neff, Ed Hopkins, Allen More and Matt Hall. The next section of trail takes teams along the Yukon River to the community of Eagle. Quest mushers made the daunting traverse of Eagle Summit on Sunday. Download Audio

Youngsters learning the trapping tradition

There’s a long tradition of trapping fur-bearing animals in Bristol Bay, and one group of Dillingham youngsters has been learning the ropes this winter. Download Audio

Bill would mandate repaying scholarships if recipients don’t graduate quicker

Lawmakers are considering a bill that would require students to repay state scholarships and grants if they fail to graduate within six years of starting their programs. Members of the House Education Committee on Monday questioned Rep. Tammie Wilson (R-North Pole/Fairbanks) about her bill.

Instead of budget cuts, Juneau school district asks ‘What can we add?’

The Juneau School District is facing a sixth year of budget cuts, and it’s handling the budget process a little differently than in recent years. Superintendent Mark Miller laid out the challenge at a public forum on the school budget last week. “If we rolled our current budget over into next year with nothing different, just rolled this year’s budget into next year and did exactly what we’re doing now, we’d be about $1.2 million short,” Miller said. In the past, the question was, what should we cut?

Feds fight fish fraud with new recordkeeping rules

The National Marine Fisheries Service announced last week that it is implementing a new tracking program for seafood imports to help combat illegal fishing and seafood fraud. Importers will have to track where fish were caught, the type of gear used and where it was landed. Director of the Office of International Affairs and Seafood Inspections John Henderschedt said the federal government wants a better record of who is catching seafood and where it’s landed before it shows up in U.S. stores.

Air Station Kodiak Helicopter Pilot Earns Distinguished Flying Cross

The Distinguished Flying Cross is America’s oldest military aviation award and none too easy to earn – it’s only awarded for remarkable acts of heroism. Like what happened south of Cape Cod, Massachusetts one February morning in 2015. A little after 8:30am, the same time many of us are getting to work, a helicopter team from Coast Guard Air Station Cape Cod hovered above a fishing vessel stranded in nine-foot seas and 40 mph winds with conditions worsening. One of the pilots – now based in Kodiak - won a Distinguished Flying Cross for his efforts that day.

Sitka residents celebrate grand reopening of library

The renovated and enlarged Sitka Public Library is now open for business, with thousands of books having been moved back from temporary quarters on the Sheldon Jackson campus. Residents showed up in force to check out the new digs Thursday night. Before the new Sitka Public Library opened its doors it was just a big building full of books. A beautiful building, but still just a building. It didn’t actually become a *library* until after the ceremonial ribbon cutting, when eager Sitkans streamed into the facility to get their first peek.

Edgecumbe to ANSEP: ‘It’s 70 years of tradition here’

The past three weeks have been turbulent at Mt. Edgecumbe High School in Sitka. The Alaska Native Science and Engineering Program, or ANSEP, has proposed turning the 70-year-old boarding school into an accelerated high school, with an emphasis on science and engineering. It all began when ANSEP founder Herb Schroeder presented his idea to lawmakers in January, as a draft piece of legislation. Now, Edgecumbe students and teachers, are asking questions about ANSEP’s motivations – and whether the plan would even work.

Bethel businesses submit new round of liquor license applications

The Alaska Alcoholic Beverage Control Board is considering two liquor license applications for Bethel next week: one for a package liquor store for Bethel Native Corporation’s subsidiary Bethel Spirits LLC and another for Fili’s Pizza restaurant.

Skagway assembly member signs guilty plea to federal tax charges, owes IRS $600,000

Longtime Skagway Assembly member and business owner Dan Henry signed a plea agreement Wednesday admitting guilt to federal tax charges and agreeing to pay $600,000 in restitution to the IRS.

Kodiak harbor shooting leaves 1 dead

One 28-year-old fisherman is dead and another is in custody after an early Sunday shooting in Kodiak’s Saint Herman Harbor.

Former tribal chief sentenced for embezzling over $100,000

A former Healy Lake Tribe first chief and administrator will spend up to 90 days on house arrest as part of her sentence for embezzling more than $100,000 in federal and tribal funds.

Alaska troopers: No plans to intervene in village dispute

Alaska State Troopers say they don't know who the rightful tribal leaders are in a western Alaska village, and they've taken no action weeks after a federal judge said the agency could use force to evict former leaders involved in a prolonged power struggle there.