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From Our Listeners

Alaska and Yukon Headlines

Statoil awarded exploration license off Greenland

Tue, 2014-01-07 20:29
Statoil awarded exploration license off Greenland Exploration rights off Greenland are added to Statoil's leases and licenses for territory off the coasts of Norway, Russia, Canada and Alaska.January 7, 2014

Judge Sen Tan To Retire

Tue, 2014-01-07 18:53

Judge Sen Tan has announced that he will be stepping down from the bench.

In a brief letter sent yesterday, the Anchorage Superior Court judge informed Gov. Sean Parnell that his retirement would be effective on July 1. Tan did not give a specific reason for leaving his post or supply information on his future plans.

Tan has served as a superior court judge since 1997. Larry Cohn, who directs the Alaska Judicial Council, says Tan earned high marks through his career.

<<18s “Judge Tan has consistently received very high ratings from those who are most familiar with his professional work as a judge, including attorneys, and law enforcement officers, and court employees, and jurors,” says Cohn.

While Tan was respected in the legal world, a conservative advocacy group campaigned for his removal in 2012. Alaska Family Action urged voters to oppose Tan’s retention because of a ruling concerning abortion that he made in the late 1990s. Tan ultimately secured 55 percent of the vote.

Cohn doesn’t think that Tan’s retention should have been politicized.

“To those critics who are dissatisfied with the content of decisions he’s made, we strive to have impartial and fair judges and independent judges who follow the law. And the law is not necessarily popular.”

The Alaska Judicial Council will be taking applications for the judgeship through February 7. The group plans to provide its recommendations to the governor in June.

Polar Star Called Off After Ice-Bound Ships Get Free

Tue, 2014-01-07 18:42

The Coast Guard icebreaker Polar Star is standing down from a rescue mission in Antarctica on Tuesday after the vessels it was going to assist broke free on their own.

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The Polar Star had been called in to clear a path for two ice-bound vessels: a Russian research ship and a Chinese icebreaker. The Polar Star departed Australia for Antarctica on Saturday and would have arrived on scene Jan. 12.

Allyson Conroy, the Coast Guard’s chief warrant officer for the Pacific Area, says the stranded ships got favorable winds Tuesday and were able to break out of the ice on their own. She says the ships are now in open water.

That means the Polar Star’s services are no longer needed.

Conroy says the icebreaker will now continue on to its primary mission in Antarctica — to resupply the U.S. Antarctic Program’s McMurdo Station. It’s the first time the cutter has returned to Antarctica since 2006.

The Polar Star is the Coast Guard’s only active heavy-duty icebreaker. It recently had a major overhaul, and it made a stop in Unalaska last June before undergoing ice trials in the Arctic. It’s homeported in Seattle.

Small Plane Makes Emergency Landing On Anchorage Road

Tue, 2014-01-07 18:35

Crews load the Cessna 172 Cutlass onto a tow truck. Photo by Josh Edge, APRN – Anchorage.

A small plane had to make an emergency landing on Tuesday afternoon on a street in East Anchorage.

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Photo by Josh Edge, APRN – Anchorage.

Anchorage Police Department Lieutenant Mark Thelen says the pilot of the Cessna 172 Cutlass experienced engine trouble shortly after taking off from Merrill Field.

“They basically flew right up Boniface here in case they lost power completely; they didn’t wanna have to go over houses and whatnot, so in case they had to come down on a road,” he said. “They got down to this point here and they just couldn’t keep it in the air any longer and set it down on the roadway.”

APD says neither the pilot or the two passengers were injured, and the plane did not hit any vehicles as it landed.

The NTSB is investigating the incident.

Murkowski Calls For End To Crude Export Ban

Tue, 2014-01-07 18:33

Sen. Lisa Murkowski today called for lifting the decades-old ban on crude exports.

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Photo by Josh Edge, APRN – Anchorage: Senator Lisa Murkowski

In a speech to the Brookings Institution, she said the oil boom in North Dakota and elsewhere in the Lower 48 calls for a wholesale review of the energy export rules.

“The regulatory edifice that governs the export of American made energy is antiquated and at times … absurd,” she said.

She says if the country doesn’t act, the light oil flowing from North Dakota will create a glut on the market, while most of the nation’s refineries are set up to handle heavier crude from the Gulf of Mexico.

She’s not proposing comprehensive energy export legislation. She says the executive branch has the authority to change the rules, but she says she can introduce smaller targeted bills if needed.

New Rules Adopted For Abortion Payment Conditions

Tue, 2014-01-07 18:32

State regulations take effect next month that further define what constitutes a “medically necessary” abortion for purposes of receiving Medicaid funding.

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Notice was sent to the state health department Tuesday. The new rules, blasted by critics as unconstitutional, take effect Feb. 2.

The new certificate to request Medicaid funds features two boxes.

The provider would have to certify the pregnancy was the result of rape or incest or the abortion was performed to save the woman’s life. Or, the provider would have to indicate an abortion was medically necessary to avoid a threat of serious risk to the woman’s physical health from continuation of her pregnancy.

Susitna-Watana Dam Timeline Pushed Back

Tue, 2014-01-07 18:31

Due to hefty cuts in Governor Parnell’s proposed capital budget, the Susitna-Watana Hydroelectric Project is having its timeline pushed back by four months.

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Buccaneer Seeks New Revenues In New Year

Tue, 2014-01-07 18:30

Just weeks after top executives for Buccaneer Alaska were fired, the company is making moves to shore up its financial situation.

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Technology Gives Exhibit Statewide Presence

Tue, 2014-01-07 18:29

This week, you can travel to the Anchorage museum without going further than the local public library.

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Era Alaska Changes Name To Ravn Alaska

Tue, 2014-01-07 18:28

The umbrella brand Era Alaska brought together Hageland Aviation, Era Aviation, and Frontier Flying Service five years ago. That’s history now.

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Era Alaska is no more. It’s now Ravn Alaska. That is, R-A-V-N. CEO Bob Hajdukovich says the name fits what the company is setting out to do.

“The bird raven really covers the whole state of Alaska, it’s prolific, it’s smart, it’s strong, it’s efficient, all the things we want to be. In that regard it was like the perfect mascot, for lack of a better word,” said Hajdukovich.

The name change has been in the works for several months. When Era came together in 2009, there was and one for helicopters and one was for the airlines. Last January, the independent Era helicopters went public and began to advertise nationally.

“So the confusion between the two names came to a discussion point where it just made sense to try to change our name because we had become more than what Era was originally and the history of Era,” said Hajdukovich.

The state department of transportation must approve the registration and then Era can do business as Ravn Alaska. There will be a logo of a raven in flight. Passengers will see those on the aircraft tails over the next 12 months.

Ravn is the name to remember, but the companies that make up the Ravn family retain some identity, at least on paper. Era Aviation’s corporate name is now Corvus airlines. That’s actually latin for Raven. And Frontier Flying Service and Hageland Aviation are now flying as Ravn Connect. That reflects the nature of smaller commuter aircraft trips.

The change comes as many are still struggling with the aftermath of the fatal crash of a Cessna 208 outside St. Mary’s. Hajdukovich says the name change is unrelated.

“That hit us close to home it was a personal even for a lot of our company. We don’t want to diminish the trauma and anxiety. From that timing standpoint, it’s just awkward. But we’ve been planning this for the last eight months certainly,” said Hajdukovich.

People can contact the airline at its usual phone numbers, and atflyravn.com.

Why The Capital City Isn’t As Likeable As It Should Be

Tue, 2014-01-07 18:27

Photo by Jason A. Howie/Flickr Creative Commons.

The City and Borough of Juneau has yet to join the more than one billion users on Facebook, though other governments use social media regularly. While city employees may be personal users, most don’t use it in a professional capacity to push information or interact with the public. But the city of Juneau is beginning to develop a social media policy.

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“We’re kind of in this, like, social media limbo right now,” says Laurie Sica, clerk for the City and Borough of Juneau. She’s helping to develop a social media policy, and admits she has a lot to learn:

“I’m learning how to use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn – what else – Instagram, Pinterest. There’s just tons of them. I’ve just been trying to get up to speed so that I can speak intelligently about it and how it’s used. These things change so fast, it’s like, ‘Ah.’”

Until the City and Borough of Juneau has a social media policy, city departments are not to open accounts on sites like Facebook and Twitter. Those that already use social media, like Juneau Public Libraries and Eaglecrest ski area, can continue to do so.

Sica says there’s a lot to consider when developing a social media policy for government use, like how much staff time should be allocated to using it, “What happens if staff update the city’s twitter account from home? ‘Oh my gosh, they’re working, we’ll have to pay them.’ That kind of stuff, you know.”

Juneau Public Libraries Director Robert Barr doesn’t consider social media much of a time suck for his staff.

“It’s not a whole lot of effort on behalf of staff. We just kind of lump it in to our typical promotional efforts. This is just one more check box on the list. Just do a quick post on Facebook,” he says.

The public libraries system has had an internal social media policy since June 2011. It has a Facebook page, a Twitter account, and a blog.

City manager Kim Kiefer knows it’s time for Juneau to establish a policy that allows other departments to be active online.

“We’re behind the curve for sure with social media. In government we need to try and reach out to everybody in the community and I think we’re probably missing a group of the population because they don’t go to juneau.org to get information. They want it yesterday and I don’t know that we’re providing it in a way that they can get it.”

The City of Fairbanks has had a social media presence since March 2010, and an internal city policy for six months. Public information officer Amber Courtney says the social media policy makes sure all information is shared in a positive and honest manner, “It’s just ensuring that we have a level of trust with the people who are sharing the information, to make sure that our tone is always professional and respectful, that we’re cognizant of the things we’re sharing and how they’re going to impact the public. For example, we definitely don’t want people sharing photos of accident scenes where somebody might have been injured.”

In Fairbanks, the city, police department,emergency communication center, and mass transit are all on Facebook. Other departments that want to set up an account must get approval from the mayor.

The push for Fairbanks to get on social media stemmed from attending FEMA workshops. Courtney learned that the public relied on Facebook and Twitter to get information from the government about disasters and emergencies.

“And so I thought, ‘Well, we definitely need to kick that into gear and start building our audience so that should something untoward happen, we have access to as many people as possible and I know that that information goes exponentially. There’s 44,000 people within a 10-mile radius of where I sit that have a Facebook account so if I can get to ten percent of them, that’s amazing, because it just goes from there,” Courtney says.

The City of Fairbanks has more than 340 likes on its Facebook page, which Courtney hopes will grow to at least ten times that. She says posting information about snow removal doubled thecity’s Twitter followers, now at more than 800. Courtney will soon have more time to grow the audience on both sites. Her job duties have recently shifted to make social media a primary responsibility.

A sampling of social media sites geared for Juneau residents:

State pushes Susitna-Watana dam timetable back by more than a year

Tue, 2014-01-07 17:48
State pushes Susitna-Watana dam timetable back by more than a year While the Parnell administration is proposing a 90 percent cut in state funding on the Susitna-Watana Hydro Project, the schedule to file for a license has slipped by more than a year, with more time needed to complete 58 studies.   January 7, 2014

Election Law Revision Before Assembly

Tue, 2014-01-07 17:46

A new version of Anchorage Election law, or Title 28, will be before the Assembly at their next meeting. Officials began reviewing the law after problems with an election in 2012.
The rewrite comes after polling places ran out of ballots in 2012, even though the turnout was expected to be high and extra ballots had been printed, but not quickly distributed to polling sites. The result was long delays or citizens being turned away. Deputy Clerk Amanda Moser says the clerk’s office worked closely with the election commission along with the department of law for about a year to streamline the voting process.

“So for example, if a voter is unexpectedly out of state we’ve increased the amount of time to request a ballot by fax. And we’ve also increased opportunities should there be an emergency situation to allow the clerk to make quick decisions to allow for more voting opportunities.”

Moser says a new section in the law empowers the clerk to extend voting through a judge instead of going to the Assembly if something extraordinary happens on election day. In 2012, other problems arose when some people voted on photocopied ballots which were not counted as official ballots. The rewrite allows photocopied ballots to be counted if they’re used in the future. Moser met with the Assembly and the Election Commission Monday to review the change. Assembly members’ were focused on a small section of the code that bans poll watchers from using electronic devices in polling locations. Moser says the clerks office is concerned about the possibility of poll watchers recording confidential information at polling places.

“It’s not saying that poll watchers can’t have electronic devices. It’s just preventing the use actually in the physical polling location. And the concern from the clerk’s office and from the election commission is just the confidential information.”

Information like social security numbers and signatures – which are required to file question and absentee ballots. Citizen observers of the recount process, Moser says, will still be allowed to take photos and video. In addition, many changes were made for clarity, to modernize language, to making the code gender neutral and more accessible to citizens. The Assembly meeting on Tuesday, January 14th is the last chance for the public to weigh in on changes to Anchorage election law.

Jurisdiction over traditional territory demanded

Tue, 2014-01-07 15:15
The White River First Nation (WRFN) has put the Yukon government on notice: provide White River with the same jurisdiction over its traditional territory that the government has provided the Ross River Dena Council or go to court.

Black Street project offers lessons, council told

Tue, 2014-01-07 15:12
It’s been more than a year since Black Street received a make-over, with new water and sewer mains, pavement and a roundabout, among other features.

Plane Lands On Anchorage Street Median

Tue, 2014-01-07 15:10

Anchorage police say a plane with three people on board made an apparent emergency landing on the median of a major street.

Police spokeswoman Anita Shell says there were no injuries in the incident reported at 1:09 p.m. Tuesday. But she says the lanes closest to the median were blocked where the landing occurred at Boniface Parkway south of DeBarr Road.

Shell says she does not know what kind of plane is involved in the incident.

Searches for two missing men wear on

Tue, 2014-01-07 15:10
The whereabouts of two Whitehorse men who went missing in December remain unknown, the RCMP said today.

No serious injuries in plane crash on Anchorage street

Tue, 2014-01-07 14:48
No serious injuries in plane crash on Anchorage street

No one was injured when a red and white Cessna crashed onto Anchorage's Boniface Parkway about 1 p.m. Tuesday. Anchorage police and firefighters responded to the scene immediately. 

January 7, 2014

Officials examine Cessna after hard landing in middle of Anchorage street

Tue, 2014-01-07 14:38
Officials examine Cessna after hard landing in middle of Anchorage street A small plane made an emergency landing on a busy Anchorage roadway Tuesday afternoon, but the minimal damage and lack of injuries means it may not qualify as an accident under NTSB standards.January 7, 2014

Faces of Alaska: Martin Buser

Tue, 2014-01-07 14:26

Four-time Iditarod champion Martin Buser, has become an Alaskan icon through his exploits behind a dogsled team.

While much has been written about the Swiss-born musher, many have never heard the story of Buser deciding to make a life for himself and his family in Alaska and his long road to becoming a U.S. citizen.

Alaska Public Media’s Lori Townsend sat down with Buser at Happy Trails Kennel in Big Lake, Alaska to talk about what it takes to build a career and business around mushing.

TV: Monday, January 13 @ 8 PM