Alaska News

Legislature making little public progress

It’s been more than two weeks since the Legislature was scheduled to finish its session. But not only have lawmakers not finished their work, there’s been little progress recently – at least in public. There have been no public meetings on the contentious oil and gas tax bill. And no recent meetings on the state budget or making changes to the Permanent Fund.

Liquor store opens in Bethel – first in 40 years

AC Quickstop opened Bethel’s first liquor store in more than four decades on Tuesday. A line of about 10 people were waiting for the doors to open.

Researchers analyzing ash over Kodiak

Researchers are trying to determine whether strong winds blowing over the Valley of 10,000 Smokes on the Alaska Peninsula can transport dangerous amounts of ash into the Kodiak environment.

Fatal plane struck eagle before crash

New evidence indicates a plane that crashed April 20 near Birchwood hit a bald eagle. Four died in the accident.

Sitka property hit by landslide still taxable

A Sitka property wiped out by last year’s deadly landslide is still taxable, at least according to city code. The Sitka Assembly met Monday as the Board of Equalization, to hear an appeal from the owner of a home on Kramer Avenue. The home was demolished in the August 18th landslide, killing three men working on the subdivision.

Dry conditions spark Wasilla wildfire

A grass fire near Wasilla was reported by a pilot about 3:00 pm Wednesday. The fire had burned into the trees and had spread to about 15 acres later in the afternoon.

Alaska News Nightly: Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Legislature making little public progress; education bill dies in House; educators debate rural school challenges; NTSB says plane hit eagle before crashing; wildfire spotted near Wasilla; Sitka property hit by landslide taxable; liquor store opens in Sitka; researchers assessing ash over Kodiak

Educators debate responses to challenges facing rural schools

Many if not most of Alaska's rural schools are not working. Low student performance and high teacher turnover are just two of more obvious indicators of problems in these mostly Native school districts. Those working in the schools say it's time for radical changes.

Far-ranging education bill fails in House

A wide-ranging education bill emphasizing local and parental control has died after a vote in the state House on Wednesday.

Big Lake Comprehensive Plan tests gravel plan

Dozens of Big Lake residents lined the hallways of the Matanuska Susitna Borough Assembly chambers Tuesday night to let their voices be heard in an argument over a local gravel pit.

US won’t support trade ban on polar bear products

The United States recently announced it will not support an international ban on the trade of polar bear products at an upcoming meeting on endangered species. In a statement released last week, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says it remains concerned about the commercial use of polar bear hides, but it says it won’t encourage the ban.

Warming ocean temps shellfish poisoning can linger year-round

With warming ocean temperatures, the risk for paralytic shellfish poisoning can linger all year round. And Alaska has only one FDA-certified laboratory to test commercial shellfish.

Tribal organization wants to expand service programs

Southeast Alaska's largest tribal organization wants to expand its service programs. Part of the effort could be funded by profits from a business it's about to purchase.

Alaska News Nightly: Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Legislature OKs funds for Wells Fargo building; Paramo selected new ASD superintendent; Mat-Su looking for new superintendent; UAS prof in fair condition after bear mauling; Juneau Assembly Oks new pot rules; warming ocean temps raise concerns over shellfish poisoning; couple finds creative solution to Juneau housing shortage; tribal organization wants to expand programs; researchers want to expand roe markets

Researchers want to expand markets for roe

Researchers in Kodiak want to open up new markets and expand existing ones for a popular fish product. This delicacy is what you might imagine people at cocktail parties eating over stock market discussions. It’s also good with tortilla chips: roe.

UAS prof mauled by bear in fair condition

The University of Alaska professor who was mauled by a bear near Haines a couple weeks ago is now in fair condition at Providence Hospital in Anchorage. On April 18, 35-year-old Forest Wagner was attacked by a brown bear sow with at least one cub.

Paramo selected as new Anchorage Schools superintendent

Deena Paramo, the current superintendent at the Mat-Su Borough School District, is chosen to lead the state's largest school district.

Legislature OKs up to $12.5M for new LIO site

The Legislative Council approved spending up to $12.5 million to buy the Walls Fargo Bank building in Anchorage’s Spenard neighborhood on Monday. The building would be used for legislative offices and to provide a venue for public testimony.

Mat-Su school district searching for Paramo’s replacement

Susan Pougher, President of the Mat-Su school board, says when Dr. Deena Paramo was selected as one of two finalists for the Anchorage superintendent position, Mat-Su offficials started looking ahead.

Juneau Assembly approves new pot licensing rules

The Juneau Assembly approved new guidelines for a city pot license on Monday. Those seeking to cultivate commercial marijuana will have to apply for the $250 license, in addition to state’s.

Sitka Tribe opens biotoxin lab to monitor PSP

With warming ocean temperatures, the risk for paralytic shellfish poisoning can linger all year round. And Alaska has only one FDA-certified laboratory to test shellfish. There are no labs to protect those digging for their dinner, but that may soon change.

With ‘stuck’ housing market, a Juneau family lives aboard

Alaska’s capital is one of the most expensive places to live in the nation. With no roads in or out, the city has been dealing with a “stuck” housing market. A report commissioned by the City and Borough of Juneau says 1,000 affordable rental units are needed to keep up with the demand. Juneau’s housing market is especially tough for people living on low incomes. But one Juneau family is taking matters into their own hands and challenging the convention of what makes a house a home.

‘Most Likely to Succeed’ author encourages education innovation

An advocate for a revolution in education has been touring the nation and recently spent eight days visiting Alaska schools. Ted Dintersmith is a former venture capitalist turned education innovation enthusiast.

Alaska News Nightly: Monday, May 2, 2016

Moda Health leaving AK individual health market; Legislature making slow progress on criminal bill; new GOP chair calls for unity, but fault lines still show; jury selection starts in Kangas trial; AK floats new rules for pot; Quintillion continues work on cable project; fog delays Bethel liquor store opening; education innovation enthusiast touring AK

GOP supports mandatory drug-testing for welfare applicants

The Alaska Republican Party wants to require drug testing for welfare recipients. That’s one of the new planks it added to the party platform at its convention in Fairbanks over the weekend.

New GOP chairman calls for unity, but party fault lines still show

While Republicans nationally are divided for and against Donald Trump, the discord at the state convention in Fairbanks this weekend had a more local flavor. New party chairman Tuckerman Babcock asked fellow Republicans to let go of their grudges, which weren't far below the surface.

Legislature makes slow progress on criminal sentencing overhaul

Lawmakers found they had less room and not enough desks or phones to go around on Monday. That’s because they’re sharing space in Juneau’s Bill Ray Center while the Capitol is being renovated.

Jury selection starts in Kangas murder trial

Jury selection began Monday in Fairbanks for the trial of a Tanana man charged with killing two Alaska State Troopers. Nathaniel Kangas, 22, is charged with the May 1, 2014 murders of Sergeant Scott Johnson and Trooper Gabe Rich.

Moda Health leaving Alaska individual health market in 2017

One of the two companies offering individual health insurance policies for Alaskans on the federally facilitated health insurance marketplace has announced that it will be withdrawing from that market next year. Monday's announcement by Moda Health would leave Premera Blue Cross Blue Shield as the only company providing individual health insurance policies in the state.

Ferry fares rise for third time in a year

Beginning in May, it will cost 14 percent more to take the ferry to and from the Lower 48. The fare boost is part of another round of Alaska Marine Highway System tariff increases. Officials said they’ll increase income and help equalize rates across all routes.

Alakanuk man arrested after hitting brother-in-law with ax

A man from the Western Alaska village of Alakanuk is in custody after striking his brother-in-law in the head with an ax.

Hiker dies after fall in Denali National Park

A hiker died last week in Denali National Park. Searchers discovered the remains of 24-year-old Michael Purdy Sunday near the north end of Savage River Loop Trail.

Alaska floats rules for pot use at certain shops

The board tasked with regulating Alaska's nascent marijuana industry has approved draft regulations for how customers will be allowed to consume pot they buy in certain retail stores on site.

Fog delays Bethel liquor store opening

Weather conditions have delayed the opening of Bethel’s liquor store. Fog prevented Walter Pickett, AC general manager, from landing in Bethel Monday morning to give AC Quickstop its final compliance check before it opens what would be Bethel’s first liquor store in more than 40 years.

Alaska GOP names Babcock party chair

Tuckerman Babcock, a long-time Republican strategist and former aide to Gov. Wally Hickel, is the new chairman of the Alaska Republican Party.

Alaska News Nightly: Friday, Apr. 29, 2016

Impending crime bill looms as Legislature moves to temporary building; Juneau PD: Intoxicated driver rams Governor’s Mansion; Iditarod Committee: Beals will not compete in 2017 race following domestic violence charges; Fairbanks Republicans fight to become delegates; drug enforcement discussed at Mat-Su public hearing; ice jam on the Yukon releases; troopers investigate 2 caribou wanton waste cases; Bethel prepares for first liquor store in 4 decades; AK: With the 'Little a Triathlon', a father grieves and gives; 49 Voices: Jenna Holcomb of Anchorage Download Audio

Republicans in Fairbanks vie to be national delegates

A few hundreds Republicans are gathered in Fairbanks today for the state party convention. APRN’s Liz Ruskin is reporting from there. Download Audio

Video: Transforming Adults Only: A Neighborhood Interaction

Ice jam on the Yukon releases

An ice jam on the Yukon River below Eagle has released. National Weather Service hydrologist Ed Plumb said the jam in place since Tuesday, broke up early this morning. Download Audio

Drug enforcement discussed at Mat-Su public hearing

Few people turned out to testify at a public hearing on the Matanuska Susitna Borough budget in Wasilla Thursday night, but those who did outlined a disturbing trend. Download Audio

Iditarod Committee: Beals will not compete in 2017 race following domestic violence charges

The Iditarod Trail Committee Board released a statement today regarding rules related to musher conduct. Recent reports of domestic violence charges against musher Travis Beals have prompted Iditarod officials to disallow any 2017 application from Beals. Download Audio

AK: With the ‘Little a Triathlon’, a father grieves and gives

How do you begin to cope with the death of your child? J.T. Lindholm is answering that question, in part, by organizing a triathlon this summer.

Juneau PD: Intoxicated driver rams Governor’s Mansion

Juneau police arrested a man late Thursday night for driving while intoxicated after finding him and a dog in a vehicle stuck in construction fencing at the Capitol. Download Audio

Video: To recruit for cleanup, Unalaska kids rap, dance to ‘Paper Planes’

Sitka Tribe opens biotoxin lab to monitor PSP

With warming ocean temperatures, the risk for paralytic shellfish poisoning can linger all year round. And Alaska has only one FDA-certified laboratory to test shellfish. There are no labs to protect those digging for their dinner, but that may soon change.

Board creates new regulations on retail marijuana consumption

The board tasked with regulating Alaska's nascent marijuana industry has approved draft regulations for how customers will be allowed to consume pot they buy in certain retail stores on site.

Troopers investigate 2 caribou wanton waste cases

Alaska State Wildlife Troopers are investigating two cases of wanton waste of caribou in northwest Alaska. Download Audio

Sitka drivers told: Hands off your cell phone

Alaska banned texting while driving in 2008. The maximum penalty for a first time offense is $10,000, the highest in the country. And in Sitka, the Assembly cracked down on the issue even further. On Tuesday night, the group passed a law that would fine those caught with a phone in their hand while driving. The policy intends to reduce distracted driving, but it’s rules are of deep concern to some local taxi drivers.

Bethel prepares for first liquor store in 4 decades

Bethel’s first liquor store in over 40 years is set to open next week. AC Quickstop received the town’s first liquor license last fall after decades of restricted alcohol sales, and Walter Pickett, AC general manager, says the store could open as early as Monday. Download Audio

Gearing up for Alaska’s wildfire season

Fire season has already started. The mild winter and lack of snow in Southcentral Alaska has firefighters nervous about the tinder dry conditions in and around the state's largest urban center. Interior Alaska is also an area of high fire danger this spring. Green up is early, but how much would new growth slow a big burn?