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From Our Listeners

Alaska and Yukon Headlines

Fairbanks utility seeks to reassure steamed customers

Thu, 2014-01-02 20:13
Fairbanks utility seeks to reassure steamed customers Customers alarmed at the prospect of an immediate 95 percent rate hike in the cost of steam heat in Fairbanks can rest assured that rates would be increased gradually, the utility says.January 2, 2014

Anchorage author uncovers true origins of the Klondike gold rush

Thu, 2014-01-02 20:10
Anchorage author uncovers true origins of the Klondike gold rush In a forthcoming book, Deb Vanasse reveals that a Tagish First Nations brother and sister did not get the credit -- or the financial rewards -- that they deserved for their roles in history. January 2, 2014

Homer bird puts record-breaking 'Big Year' over the top

Thu, 2014-01-02 20:09
Homer bird puts record-breaking 'Big Year' over the top A Massachusetts man's Homer sighting of a rustic bunting -- a bird native to Asia and rarely seen in North America -- helped him spot a record number of birds in North America in 2013.January 2, 2014

Exxon, Chevron Spend Big Against Oil Tax Referendum

Thu, 2014-01-02 18:41

Photo courtesy of the Department of Natural Resources.

Exxon and Chevron have made major contributions to a campaign that wants to preserve a controversial oil tax law that passed this year, according to recent filings with the Alaska Public Offices Commission.

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Exxon gave $350,000 to the group “Vote No On One” in December, matching contributions previously made by fellow North Slope producers BP and ConocoPhillips. Chevron, which has a smaller footprint in Alaska, gave $150,000.

“Vote No On One” was created in October. Their goal is to defeat a referendum that would repeal Gov. Sean Parnell’s signature oil tax system, which caps the rate at 35 percent per barrel and amounts to a tax cut when oil prices are high. The law’s supporters argue it will spur production on the North Slope, while critics have characterized it as a “giveaway” to industry.

So far, the oil industry has put $1.6 million toward fighting the tax referendum, and most of that money has been spent on advertising. Only one group from outside the oil industry has contributed to “Vote No on One” — the Greater Fairbanks Chamber of Commerce gave $10,000 to their campaign on December 20.

Referendum sponsors have not had the same financial success. “Vote Yes! Repeal the Giveaway” has taken $90,000 from small donors, and they spent most of their funds on their signature-gathering campaign.

The referendum is scheduled to appear on the August primary ballot.

New Energy Politics Changes Likely To Affect Alaska

Thu, 2014-01-02 18:40

In Washington, at both the White House and in Congress, 2014 brings changes to the politics of energy that are likely to affect Alaska.

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New Mat-Su Trooper Unit Gets First Arrests

Thu, 2014-01-02 18:38

A new Alaska State Trooper crime unit in the Matanuska Susitna Borough area has already nabbed its first criminals. In mid December, Troopers announced a new property crimes unit, to start work on January first of this year.

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Expansion Planned For Nome Graveyard

Thu, 2014-01-02 18:36

A recent draft report prepared by the Fairbanks-based company Northern Land Use Research Alaska found what is likely about a hundred unmarked graves in Nome’s cemetery. The company conducted a Ground Penetrating Radar Analysis of the areas around Nome’s existent graveyard as part of a planned expansion for the grounds. Josie Bahnke is Nome’s city manager and says the cemetery expansion is steadily moving forward.

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Alaska Air National Guard Finds Missing Snowmachiner

Thu, 2014-01-02 18:35

The Alaska Air National Guard was called to Bristol Bay Wednesday night to help look for an overdue snowmachiner from Koliganek.

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Climate Change, Arctic Activity Expected To Multiply Pollutant Concentrations

Thu, 2014-01-02 18:33

Climate change and increased Arctic activity are projected to offset declines in toxic human emissions. A recent study from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology predicts warmer temperatures will cause contaminants stored in the earth to re-emit back into the atmosphere. In addition, increases in Arctic vessel traffic and oil and gas drilling will multiply pollutant concentrations.

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‘Targeted Hunt’ Aims For Moose Near Roadways

Thu, 2014-01-02 18:32

Matanuska – Susitna Borough drivers run down hundreds of moose each year on their travels to and from Anchorage. Now a special hunt, called a “targeted hunt” allows winter hunting to reduce the number of moose near roadways. The hunt was established by the state Board of Game in 2011.

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The hunt was established by the state Board of Game in 2011.  Palmer area state wildlife biologist Todd Rinaldi [ rin ALD ee] says the hunt is targeting ” nuisance moose”

“Whether its an injured moose that had an issue with breaking an ankle, or was involved in an automobile collision and is spending a lot of time around humans. It may be a cow and a calf that is excessively aggressive, or it may be a moose that has been harassed by dogs and since has become more defensive around people.”

 Nuisance moose tend to hang out around cleared roadways, or in people’s back yards. When moose congregate around highway corridors, some motorists are injured or killed when they hit the 900 pound animals.

 Rinaldi  says motorists kill 280 moose a year, normally, but during winters of extremely deep snow, that number can double.

 Rinaldi says more than a thousand hunters have signed up for this year’s winter hunt, which starts on January 6. Two hundred permits will be issued for Unit 14 A and an additional 100 permits for Unit 14 B. This is how it works. Each week, eight hunters will be assigned to a designated road corridor where moose vehicle collisions are high. Only shotguns and bows can be used.

“Some of these hunt areas that we have designated at high areas of moose collisions are actually on the edges of city limits or in developed neighborhoods. So we use shotguns, ten gauge and twelve gauge only, because of their reduced velocity as well as bow and arrow, so that if the opportunity arose, we could direct hunters into some of these more developed areas or into some of these areas where firearms are restricted.”

He says officials collect data indicating areas of high collision rates from the state, and further analyze those areas for hunt suitability. They are Knik Goose Bay Road, Pittman Road in Wasilla, the Parks Highway north of Big Lake and the Glenn Highway between Palmer and Sutton

“We’ve really been focusing on mitigating moose-vehicle collisions over the last year, and that’s why the hunt is expanded a little bit more. Because it’s been demonstrated over the last two winters that hunters can go out on the landscape and harvest moose along roadways in a very effective and safe manor. “

 He says there is no data available yet to indicate that the hunt is actually reducing moose-vehicle accidents. That data will be ready in a year or two.

Last winters hunt harvested 148 moose. Rinaldi says Unit 14 A is over populated with moose, and the extra hunt keeps the population down.

 Eligible hunters needed to have applied by the end of last October for a permit, and successful applicants were required to have completed a state hunter education program. Hunters on private land must have the permission of the land owner.

The department and Alaska Wildlife Troopers will conduct random checks to ensure hunters comply with permit conditions and conduct themselves in a safe manner.

 

 

Yukon Commercial Fishermen May Be Able To Use Purse Seine Gear

Thu, 2014-01-02 18:28

As fish managers attempted preserve the Yukon River king salmon last summer, commercial chum fisherman tried out some new gear. They used dip nets and beach seine gear by emergency order during the many king salmon closures. They brought in nearly 200,000 fish, but some say that’s not enough for their income, or for the future of the fishery.

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Alaska News Nightly: January 2, 2014

Thu, 2014-01-02 18:22

Individual news 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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Exxon, Chevron Make Big Contributions To Preserve New Oil Tax Law

Alexandra Guiterrez, APRN – Juneau

Exxon and Chevron have made major contributions to a campaign that wants to preserve a controversial oil tax law that passed this year, according to recent filings with the Alaska Public Offices Commission.

New Energy Politics Changes Likely To Affect Alaska

Liz Ruskin, APRN – Washington DC

In Washington, at both the White House and in Congress, 2014 brings changes to the politics of energy that are likely to affect Alaska.

CH2M Hill Selected to Rescue Anchorage Port Project

Daysha Eaton, KSKA – Anchorage

The Engineering firm CH2M Hill has been selected to manage the troubled Port of Anchorage project. The project was shut down after construction problems a few years ago and remains tied up in lawsuits, but today officials said it could be back on track again this year.

Legislative Task Force Clashes Over Education Funding

Alexandra Guiterrez, APRN – Juneau

Members of a legislative task force clashed over funding as they worked on a blueprint for addressing education in Alaska.

New Mat-Su Trooper Unit Gets First Arrests

Ellen Lockyer, KSKA – Anchorage

A new Alaska State Trooper crime unit in the Matanuska Susitna Borough area has already nabbed its first criminals.  In mid December, Troopers announced a new property crimes unit, to start work on January first of this year.

Expansion Planned For Nome Graveyard

Zachariah Hughes, KNOM – Nome

A recent draft report prepared by the Fairbanks-based company Northern Land Use Research Alaska found what is likely about a hundred unmarked graves in Nome’s cemetery. The company conducted a Ground Penetrating Radar Analysis of the areas around Nome’s existent graveyard as part of a planned expansion for the grounds. Josie Bahnke is Nome’s city manager and says the cemetery expansion is steadily moving forward.

Alaska Air National Guard Finds Missing Snowmachiner

Dave Bendinger, KDLG – Dillingham

The Alaska Air National Guard was called to Bristol Bay Wednesday night to help look for an overdue snowmachiner from Koliganek.

Climate Change, Arctic Activity Expected To Multiply Pollutant Concentrations

Anna Rose MacArthur, KNOM – Nome

Climate change and increased Arctic activity are projected to offset declines in toxic human emissions. A recent study from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology predicts warmer temperatures will cause contaminants stored in the earth to re-emit back into the atmosphere. In addition, increases in Arctic vessel traffic and oil and gas drilling will multiply pollutant concentrations.

‘Targeted Hunt’ Aims For Moose Near Roadways

Ellen Lockyer, KSKA – Anchorage

Matanuska – Susitna Borough drivers run down hundreds of moose each year on their travels to and from Anchorage.  Now a special hunt, called a “targeted hunt” allows winter hunting to reduce the number of moose near roadways.  The hunt was established by the state Board of Game in 2011.

Yukon Commercial Fishermen May Be Able To Use Purse Seine Gear

Ben Matheson, KYUK – Bethel

As fish managers attempted preserve the Yukon River king salmon last summer, commercial chum fisherman tried out some new gear. They used dip nets and beach seine gear by emergency order during the many king salmon closures. They brought in nearly 200,000 fish, but some say that’s not enough for their income, or for the future of the fishery.

CH2M Hill Selected to Rescue Anchorage Port Project

Thu, 2014-01-02 18:03

The Engineering firm CH2M Hill has been selected to manage the troubled Port of Anchorage project. The project was shutdown after construction problems a few years ago and remains tied up in lawsuits. but today officials said it could be on track again this year.

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Photo by Daysha Eaton, KSKA – Anchorage.

The role of the project manager will be to oversee the day-to-day operations of the construction project moving forward, setting timelines and benchmarks and selecting and supervising the work of subcontractors. CH2M Hill will not be involved in designing or building the port.

On the top floor of city Hall, Mayor Dan Sullivan said over the past few years his administration has been working to do several things:

“Determine what went wrong with construction; who’s responsible for what went wrong; what is the best path forward, including a review of the design parameters,” Sullivan said. “And then going forward putting together a team to make sure that as this project proceeds into the future that we’ve got the right team on board.”

The right team, Mayor Sullivan said is from CH2M Hill, a Colorado-based engineering firm with offices in Anchorage. The port project was started back in 2003 under Mayor George Wuersch and Port Director Bill Sheffield. The Design was approved in 2006 Under Mayor Mark Begich.

The Sullivan administration has led the push to get the Municipality reimbursed for it’s losses.

The U.S. Department of Transportation Maritime Administration managed the previous project. CH2M Hill released a report earlier this year saying the previous project had failed because of a patented ‘open cell sheet pile’ design that crumpled or separated during construction. CH2M Hill purchased the now defunct Veco Corporation, which was involved in the work that had the problems and is now party to a lawsuit by city. But Mayor Sullivan says that won’t be a problem.

“We think we can compartmentalize that lawsuit,” Sullivan said. “Again it goes back to Veco before they were acquired by CH2M Hill. So we’re confident that we’ll be able to keep the lawsuit separate from any progress going forward on the construction and design.”

Sullivan says the next steps will be selecting a new design, and contractors to build it. CH2M Hill was selected Sullivan says, for their expertise and experience in building ports in areas with seismic activity.

Stacey Jones, a vice president with CH2M Hill who will lead the team says unlike the Maritime Administration, which was criticized for managing the project from afar, CH2M Hill will work closely with the Port of Anchorage, setting up and Anchorage office right in the Port to develop the new project.

“I believe one of the reasons that CH2M Hill was selected is because of extensive experience in managing projects,” Jones said. “We are ranked number one in the U.S. for project management as well as environmental management. We have the skills and the tools and the expertise to do this.”

She added that the previous ‘open cell sheet pile’ design will not be used again but did not specify what design her firm favors. The contract with CH2M Hill is for 30 million dollars over five years with the option for two extensions at 12 more million dollars each.

Design and and engineering work is anticipated to take 18-months to two years with construction likely beginning again in 2016. The selection of CH2M Hill will go before the Anchorage Assembly for approval at it’s Jan. 14tmeeting.

The municipality has been investigating problems with the port project since they arose 2009. They’ve spent upwards of 300 million public dollars on the project so far and are requesting 100 million more from the legislature this year.

Foes in court, friends in port? Anchorage hires CH2M Hill to oversee stalled project

Thu, 2014-01-02 16:30
Foes in court, friends in port? Anchorage hires CH2M Hill to oversee stalled project The Municipality of Anchorage has chosen a company to oversee work at its beleaguered port, but it's also a company Anchorage is suing over work already done on the project.January 2, 2014

Threat Level of Alaska Volcano Upgraded

Thu, 2014-01-02 15:57

Scientists have increased the threat level of Alaska’s Cleveland Volcano from yellow to orange.

The Alaska Volcano Observatory says the volcano appears to have kicked up to an elevated unrest. In the past six days, three brief explosions from Cleveland Volcano were detected.

The color designation indicates that sudden explosions could send ash above 20,000 feet, threatening international air carriers.
Cleveland is not monitored with seismic instruments. Observatory officials say minor ash plumes were observed in satellite data after two of the explosions. The height of the plumes is not known.

The volcano is located on an uninhabited island in the Aleutian Islands.

Last May the volcano experienced a low-level eruption. Cleveland’s last significant eruption before that began in February 2011.

Whitehorse Correctional Centre guard charged, held

Thu, 2014-01-02 15:03
A Whitehorse correctional officer is locked up in the same jail he was patrolling just last week.

Salvation Army reaches its Christmas goal

Thu, 2014-01-02 15:01
Once again, Yukoners have shown their generosity, coming through for the local Salvation Army’s Christmas fund-raising campaign.

Local author in the running for Stephen Leacock Award

Thu, 2014-01-02 14:57
Local author David Thompson likes to keep an eye out for any reviews of his latest book Haines Junction, which was published last year.

Art exhibit explores modernization of Native culture

Thu, 2014-01-02 13:48
Art exhibit explores modernization of Native culture Patrick Minock, January's featured artist at the Alaska Native Arts Foundation gallery, explores the evolution of Yup'ik culture through realist drawings.January 2, 2014

Mild winter puts bird migration on hold in Finland

Thu, 2014-01-02 13:38
Mild winter puts bird migration on hold in Finland The fall migration is delayed, and some birds are singing the songs normally heard in spring. January 2, 2014

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