Alaska News

Alaska News Nightly: Monday, May 23, 2016

Lawmakers have rather slow, short first day of special session; cost for day one of special Legislative session: $520,000; BP announces sale of midtown Anchorage building; UAF works to reduce rural energy costs; Yukon king salmon run predicted to be weaker than average this year; Juneau breaks ground on its new homeless housing initiative; leaner ferry budget could lead to selling of ferry Taku; navigating race as a family Download Audio

Former Anchorage prosecutor sentenced for biggest wire fraud in state history

Former Anchorage resident and former municipal prosecutor Mark Avery was sentenced Monday for 160 months for the wire fraud and money laundering of about $52 million. This marks the largest wire fraud and money laundering conviction by amount ever prosecuted in Alaska.

Cost for day one of special Legislative session: $520,000

Personnel and per diem costs tallied for the recently ended extended legislative session --so far-- total about $520,000. Download Audio

Navigating race as a family

Two white parents adopted three black children. This is the story of a father and his oldest son. Download Audio

Special session off to slow start, despite looming deadlines

Gov. Bill Walker called the Legislature back to work after it failed to pass a budget by the constitutional deadline last week. Lawmakers now have 30 days to try to accomplish what they couldn't do in the last four months: pass a budget and make some progress on closing the state's $4 billion deficit. Download Audio

BP announces sale of midtown Anchorage building

BP announced Monday that it’s selling its midtown Anchorage building. In a statement, the company says the sale will “reduce costs and free up capital, allowing BP to focus on its core business.” BP will become a tenant in the building rather than the owner, in what the statement describes as a “real estate transaction.” Download Audio

Observation group launches info hub on Cook Inlet beluga whales

The Alaska Ocean Observing System recently rolled out a new information hub that’s all about beluga whales. The Cook Inlet Beluga Ecosystem Portal is a one-stop shop for beluga data that its creators hope will help scientists and the public make more informed decisions in the future.

UAF works to reduce rural energy costs

Electric energy is a fundamental factor of modern life. But in rural Alaska the cost of keeping lights on and machines running is extraordinarily high, putting villages at an economic disadvantage. Last week a federal administrator passed through the University of Alaska Fairbanks to review a project that aims to draw down energy costs in smaller communities. Download Audio

Scientists across fields focus on Aleutians

For years, Debbie Corbett was regional archeologist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. She retired in 2013 and began freelancing. She also started working on organizing a forum for scientists doing research in any field - as long as it was centered on the Aleutian Islands.

Leaner ferry budget could lead to selling of ferry Taku

Next winter’s ferry schedule will be leaner than this year’s, and that was pretty lean. It’s the result of budget cuts, which could lead to the sale of the ferry Taku. Download Audio

Legislature convenes for special session

Alaska lawmakers are back at work Monday after failing to pass a budget by the constitutional deadline last week. It’s the first day of a special session called by Governor Bill Walker.

Scientists use deer pellet DNA to study populations in Southeast Alaska

Deer populations around Petersburg’s Mitkof Island have been low in recent years. Hunters are only allowed to shoot one buck in a two-week open season in October. Keeping track of the population is difficult in a mountainous terrain covered in forest. Now, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game is using DNA studies to help fill in the gaps.

Totem pole fragments provide lost details

Ketchikan Museums staff has been working to catalog, document and store totem pole fragments that have been in the museum’s collection for 40 years. The fragments can provide details lost on many of the larger poles.

Alaska News Nightly: Friday, May 20, 2016

Person of interest in Gambell woman's disappearance dies by suicide; legislation in motion to grant tribal entities health care facilities; State, Southeast Conference agree to rework ferry system; flights grounded for Obama stop in Alaska; Mat-Su school board selects new superintendent; new tribal court programs aim to reduce recidivism; geologists look at possibility of tsunami-inducing megaquakes; BBAHC on the frontlines against bed bugs in rural Alaska; AK: Palmer, where the bison roam; 49 Voices: Greg Martinez of Anchorage

Mat-Su school board selects new superintendent

The Matanuska Susitna Borough school board has announced a replacement for outgoing school superintendent Deena Paramo. Download Audio

Person of interest in Gambell woman’s disappearance dies by suicide

A body found outside the Bering Sea island community of Gambell has been identified as a missing village woman. Download Audio

Flights grounded for Obama stop in Alaska

Aviators in Southcentral Alaska are being asked to observe a temporary flight restriction Saturday evening during a brief presidential visit. Download Audio

Tudor, Old Seward intersection closed through at least part of Saturday

The intersection of Tudor Road and the Old Seward Highway will remain closed through at least part of Saturday as crews repair a broken water main.

State, Southeast Conference agree to rework ferry system

The state and a regional development group are combining forces to come up with a new business and management plan for the Alaska Marine Highway System. Download Audio

New tribal court programs aim to reduce recidivism

Two new tribal court programs are getting off the ground at Central Council Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska. They’re focused on reducing recidivism. Download Audio

AK: Palmer, where the bison roam

A new honor for the American bison.. it's now an official national mammal. Download Audio

49 Voices: Greg Martinez of Anchorage

This week we're hearing from Greg Martinez in Anchorage. Martinez is a UPS worker who moved to Anchorage from New York 12 years ago. Download Audio

The Permanent Fund and the budget

Lawmakers couldn't pass a budget plan during 121 days of regular session and will now try to break the gridlock in a special session. All current proposals include using permanent fund earnings to fill the deficit. But the idea of the permanent fund is that it will be...permanent and some Alaskans say, don't touch it.

Happy Cannabis moves forward with retail store construction.

The owner of Diamond C Café and Happy Cannabis is moving forward with construction of a proposed marijuana business in Wrangell’s commercial district. Owner Kelsey Martinsen hopes he will receive conditional use permits for cultivating and manufacturing marijuana marijuana, as well as a retail store.

Alaska News Nightly: May 19, 2016

Numerous bills remain up in the air as legislators prepare for special session; do Arctic villages need oil? Point Lay leaders say no; cruise ship towns concerned for financial future due to state budget proposals; Legislature passes bills for Alaska military projects; justice still sought a year after Kavairlook killing; federal grant helps Newtok village relocate due to erosion of Ningliq River; two schoolgirls win contest to name two new ferries Download Audio

Do Arctic villages need oil? Point Lay leaders say no

In Washington, both sides of any Arctic drilling dispute want to show they have locals on their side. Sen. Lisa Murkowski bolstered her case for more offshore leasing with the help of an Arctic Slope mayor. He testified that communities like his need the industry. But other Arctic residents sat in the back of the hearing room, passionately opposed to offshore drilling. Download Audio

Numerous bills remain up in the air as legislators prepare for special session

Governor Bill Walker called the Legislature into a special session that begins Monday to finish the work lawmakers failed to complete during the 121-day session that ended Wednesday. Download Audio

Cruise ship towns concerned for financial future due to state budget proposals

The Alaska Legislature failed to pass a budget Wednesday and will reconvene in special session next week. One proposal that was recently passed in conference committee and could come back in the special session has leaders in cruise ship port communities concerned. The measure would leave those towns without millions of dollars they normally receive from state head-tax revenues. Download Audio

Federal grant helps Newtok village relocate due to erosion of Ningliq River

Relocation efforts continue for what many consider America’s first climate refugees. Newtok, a community of over 300 people in Southwest Alaska, has been eroding into the Ningliq River for decades. This week the village received an almost million-dollar federal grant to help with its move. Download Audio

Yukon king salmon run predicted to be weaker than average this year

State and federal fishery managers have released the 2016 outlook for salmon runs in the Yukon River drainage. Download Audio

Two schoolgirls win contest to name two new ferries

The winners of Alaska’s "Name The New Ferry" contest didn’t know about it until they got a call from Gov. Bill Walker and Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott. Tuesday’s announcement revealed that one would be the Tazlina and the other the Hubbard. Download Audio

All caskets verified after confusion at Nome city morgue

Confusion at the city morgue caused a back-and-forth Tuesday between the Nome Police Department and the City of Nome.

Water main break on Tudor and Old Seward diverts traffic

A water main break at a busy midtown Anchorage intersection has stalled traffic, and fouled city streets. Anchorage police are warning drivers to avoid the Tudor Road and Old Seward highway area until further notice, and the traffic snarl my continue into commute hours.

Legislation in motion to grant tribal entities health care facilities

A U.S. House committee held a hearing Wednesday on legislation that would transfer federal lands in Tanana and Dillingham to tribal entities for health care facilities. HR 4289 would convey 11 acres in Tanana to the Tanana Tribal Council. Council Secretary Dorothy Jordan testified before the House Indian, Insular and Alaska Native Affairs subcommittee in support of transfer of the former Indian Health Service hospital site. Download Audio

Congress passes bills for Alaska military projects

The U.S. House and Senate have passed appropriations bills that include numerous Alaska military construction projects. A release from Representative Don Young’s office lists projects slated for 5 sites, including over $213 million at Eielson Air Force Base related to the planned basing of F-35 fighter jets. The F-35 projects include aircraft hangars, as well as field training, munitions storage, and missile maintenance facilities. Download Audio

Justice still sought a year after Kavairlook killing

May 17 marked the one-year anniversary of the shooting death of John Kavairlook Jr. outside of the Rock n Rodeo Bar in Fairbanks. Download Audio

Governor calls special session after legislature fails to pass budget

Gov. Bill Walker has called the legislature into a special session to address the budget and other bills lawmakers failed to pass during the 121-day session that ended Wednesday.

Alaska News Nightly: Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Legislature looks to finish budget, but special session is likely; lawmakers take oil tax debate down to the wire; lawmakers move $13M from education to oil & gas tax credits; House slides $19M toward unpopular road project without long-term plan; next interim UAF chancellor will be internal candidate; Denali wolf killed in "no wolf kill buffer zone"; Secretary of Agriculture discusses wildfire season with regional forest officials; satellite used to record sea ice data malfunctions; body of missing man found in Ketchikan identified; after glitch, some Alaska seniors see benefit checks cut to $8; Qawalangin tribe discusses resources for the elderly Download Audio

House slides $19M toward unpopular road with no long-term plan

The House Finance committee added an amendment to its capital budget that gives the University of Alaska leftover funds to pursue developing the Elmore Extension into the U-Med district, a move widely opposed by community groups. Download Audio

Lawmakers take oil tax debate down to the wire

The Senate passed its version of the oil tax bill Wednesday, handing it off to the House with less than twelve hours left in the session. But the Senate legislation left out key elements of the House bill that passed last Friday. Download Audio

Body of missing man found in Ketchikan identified

The State Medical Examiner's Office has identified the body found underneath a fish processing plant in Ketchikan as that of a man who was reported missing in January. Download Audio

Legislature looks to finish budget, but special session is likely

The Legislature is preparing to vote on the capital and operating budgets Wednesday. But how the state will pay for the spending plans remains uncertain. And there’s much work left to do. So legislators expect Gov. Bill Walker to call them back into a special session. Download Audio

Lawmakers move $13M from education to oil & gas tax credits

State lawmakers cut education funding in the proposed budgets by nearly $13 million Tuesday night. They moved the money into the oil and gas tax credit fund. Download Audio

Secretary of Agriculture discusses wildfire season with regional forest officials

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack met with the nation's regional forest heads on Tuesday to discuss the upcoming wildfire season. This year is expected to be worse than average in the Southwest US, Alaska and Hawaii. Download Audio

Denali wolf killed in “no wolf kill buffer zone”

Another Denali wolf has been killed outside the National Park’s boundary. It’s the latest of several park based animals harvested in recent years on state land along the park’s northeastern edge. The kill occurred in an area long sought for protection by wolf advocates. Download Audio

Geologists look at possibility of tsunami-inducing megaquakes

In the next 50 years there’s a 9% chance of an Aleutian island earthquake so strong it could send a devastating tsunami to Hawaii. That’s according to researchers from University of Hawaii at Manoa. Download Audio

Mat-Su pot moratorium stalls growth of cannabis industry

Three steps forward, two steps back.. Mat-Su's tangled marijuana regulations take another U turn.

Next interim UAF chancellor will be internal candidate

The next interim chancellor of the University of Alaska Fairbanks will be either a current or former UAF employee. Download Audio

Juneau breaks ground on its new homeless housing initiative

In 2012, the Juneau Homeless Coalition identified 55 of the most vulnerable homeless people living in the community. Since then, nine have died. Download Audio

Why Eagle River 8th graders want more police

After diving into the data on crime rates across the Municipality of Anchorage, a middle school class decided police staffing levels are the main problem confronting residents. Download Audio