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From Our Listeners

  • The public is invited to an Easter Sunday service at 10am at the Haines Christian Center. A...

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Alaska and Yukon Headlines

Wasilla man leads officers on high-speed chase after colliding with troopers

Thu, 2014-04-10 19:56
Wasilla man leads officers on high-speed chase after colliding with troopers Two Alaska State Troopers were hit by a Wasilla man trying to evade officers. Michael Joseph Ingersol was arrested Thursday morning after leading troopers on a high-speed chase through the Mat-Su. April 10, 2014

Prosecutor in Kodiak murder trial focuses on nail that flattened defendant's tire

Thu, 2014-04-10 19:55
Prosecutor in Kodiak murder trial focuses on nail that flattened defendant's tire Two neighbors of James Michael Wells testified Thursday that they thought it was a strange time of day to see the defendant driving toward his home. Their sightings were about 20 minutes before two bodies were found.April 10, 2014

Geraghty Testifies On Tribal Law And Order Commission Report Findings

Thu, 2014-04-10 17:33

State Attorney General Michael Geraghty testified before a legislative committee this week to respond to a national report that singles out Alaska for its high rates of violence against Alaska Natives, especially Native women. The Indian Law and Order Commission report was deeply critical of Alaska’s law enforcement and judicial system. But the state’s Geraghty says the Indian Law and Order Commission is trying to impose lower 48 solutions that won’t work in Alaska.

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Army Sets New Protocols During Fire Season

Thu, 2014-04-10 17:32

The Army has a new protocol for live ordnance training during times of high wildfire danger. Army artillery practice sparked the Stewart Creek 2 wildfire that burned east of Fairbanks though much of last summer. The 87,000 acre blaze forced evacuations and cost more than $20 million to fight.

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Exit Exam Bill Could Bring Diplomas To More Students

Thu, 2014-04-10 17:31

Graduation time is just around the corner and for most seniors that means walking a stage and accepting a diploma. But a few students a year in Petersburg do not receive a diploma because they don’t pass a test. A bill making its way through the state Legislature would change that. House Bill 220 would repeal the High School Graduation Qualifying Exam.

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The high school is especially quiet. Red signs are posted on the outside of the library doors and several classrooms.

High School Principal, Rick Dormer, says large groups of 10th graders are getting tested in the classrooms and smaller groups are in the library. The signs help others know to stay out because a quiet environment is important.

“You can see we have big red signs, ‘Testing, Do not Disturb’,” Dormer says, “We’re in the middle of it here today and kids are in a room and it’s three hours and it’s make it or break it. And we’ve had kids really crying before the test, crying after the test. It’s high stress, it’s high-stakes.”

There’s a lot riding on this test and students feel the pressure. If they don’t pass it, they don’t graduate with a diploma.

“And they must pass in three areas, reading, writing and mathematics. And they must pass it with a certain score that’s set by the state to earn their diploma,” Dormer says. “So despite anything that a student may or may not do, if they complete all graduation requirements, which has happened here in Petersburg, and do not pass this particular exam in the State of Alaska, we cannot give them a diploma in Petersburg High School. Rather, they get what we call a certificate of completion that is not equivalent.”

The certificate does not hold the same weight as a diploma. Students who want to further their education after high school can’t qualify for financial aid.

Sonya Stein is the Director of the Student Financial Assistance Office at the University of Alaska Anchorage.

“The federal department of education requires that a student has a high school diploma or its equivalent in order to be federal financial aid eligible,” says Stein.

An equivalent would be the GED or the General Education Development, which would require students to pass another test.

The exit exam has been required in Alaska for a decade. It was established through state law before the No Child Left Behind Law prompted other standardized tests.

There’s no middle ground with the exit exam.  . .either you pass it or you don’t.

Principal Rick Dormer says it can be heart breaking.

“I can tell you we’ve had two students who have not passed the test by one point, one section by one point,” Dormer says.

In both cases, the school paid some extra money to appeal the results to the state’s education department but it didn’t work.

“We don’t believe that’s the best assessment of a kid’s knowledge of what they know,” Dormer says. “Really any testing is there just as a measure to see what they know and then you build on it and so we don’t agree that high stakes testing is the best measure of what a kids knowledge is and whether or not they deserve a diploma. I think it’s a much more complicated than a one shot test.”

House Bill 220 would work retroactively, so past students who received a certificate instead of a diploma because they didn’t pass the test would be able to get a diploma. They’d just have to request it.

So far the bill hasn’t seen much opposition. It passed the House with a vote of 32 to 5. The Parnell administration and the Education Department support getting rid of the test as well.

The bill is sponsored by Representative Pete Higgins, a Republican from Fairbanks.

Sitka Assembly Passes Anti-Smoking Law

Thu, 2014-04-10 17:29

The Sitka Assembly passed a controversial amendment Tuesday night, tightening the city’s anti-smoking laws. The question before the assembly was whether children should be prohibited from entering any business that allows smoking — even for a non-smoking event. The decision came down to different interpretations of what voters intended nearly a decade ago.

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It was the fourth time the Assembly had discussed the amendment, which pitted anti-smoking advocates against those who felt, in the words of one member of the public, “You’re going a little too far…You’re micromanaging things that a parent should do. So let’s do city things, and let parents do parent things.”

In 2005, Sitka voters passed a law that barred children from entering businesses that allow smoking. This past December, the American Legion, a private club that allows smoking, hosted a Christmas party for kids – but didn’t allow smoking at the event. The Legion asked the city attorney whether the party was legal. She said it was.

In response, Mayor Mim McConnell and Assembly Member Phyllis Hackett sponsored an amendment to clarify the intent of the 2005 law. The new language makes it clear that if a business allows smoking, then kids can’t enter, even for a smoke-free event.

That prompted protests from the Legion, and the Assembly sent the issue to the Health Needs and Human Services Commission. The commission voted unanimously in favor of the amendment. They cited, in particular, the possible health hazards of third-hand smoke, or the chemicals that can remain in walls and furniture after a room has been used for smoking.

But both McConnell and Hackett argued that all of these issues – third-hand smoke, public health, assembly overreach and even Christmas parties – were beside the point. Voters already settled these issues when they passed the law in 2005, Hackett said. The assembly’s job was simply to honor the voters’ original intent.

“The issue here, which I know some people are having a hard time understanding or choosing to believe, but the issue here is about intent, and it’s about the intent of the ordinance that was passed,” Hackett said. “And it was passed overwhelmingly by the voters.”

Assembly Members Mike Reif and Matt Hunter, however, insisted it wasn’t so easy to tell what voters intended nearly a decade ago. Reif pointed out that third-hand smoke, for instance, wasn’t even part of the debate in 2005.

“I personally really don’t know the intent of the voters in Sitka back in 2005,” Reif said. “It’s very cloudy trying to speculate what the intent was of all those voters.”

All the same, Reif said he felt he had a clearer sense of the voters’ will now.

“I do think that if we put this to the vote of Sitkan voters today, that they would pass this, they would want to see this banned,” Reif said. “I’ll support it because that’s what I think the majority of Sitkans want.”

Hunter, meanwhile, spoke at length about how his thinking on the issue had changed.

“I’ve publicly gone back and forth on this issue and I’m still conflicted on it,” Hunter said, adding that he had consulted the original 2005 ballot. “The language as it’s written, the whole reason for doing this amendment to change the language, is because the language is unclear. And to me it means that, what people voted on, it’s very easy for people to interpret it in many ways.”

He said he thought the issue should be put to a vote once again.

“I am going to not support this ordinance because I feel that this is an issue that really needs to go to the people to decide,” he said. “And while I have no intention of exposing myself or those I love to first-, second- or third-hand smoke, I also am very sensitive to the personal responsibility issue.”

In the end, Hunter was the only vote against the amendment. Assembly Member Pete Esquiro had agreed with Hunter during earlier meetings, but he voted yes, without offering any other comment.

Fairbanks Will Help Fund New Mental Health Drop In Center

Thu, 2014-04-10 17:28

The City of Fairbanks will help fund a new mental health drop in center. Earlier this week, the city council approved $58,000 for the Northern Door Clubhouse.

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Retired Detective Discusses ‘Finding Bethany’

Thu, 2014-04-10 17:27

Retired Anchorage Detective Glen Klinkhart has written a true crime memoir called Finding Bethany. The story reveals the years of work it took Klinkhart and others within APD to find the killer of Bethany Correira, a young woman from Talkeetna who had moved to Anchorage for college and in 2003 was murdered by Michael Lawson, the man who managed the apartment building where she lived. Klinkhart says he also wanted to tell the stories of the dedicated people who helped solve the case in big and small ways.

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April 14th, Monday, at Little Italy Restaurant, 2300 East 88th Avenue, Anchorage, Alaska, 5pm to 9pm

April 25th, Friday at Blue-Hollomon Art Gallery, 3555 Arctic Blvd., Anchorage, Alaska, 5pm to 9pm

April 26th, Saturday at the Anchorage Senior Center Activity Center, Giant Book Sale, 1300 East 19th Avenue, Anchorage, Alaska, 11am to 4pm

Saturday May 3rd, Barnes and Noble Bookstore, Anchorage,  noon to 4pm

May 31st, Saturday, at Arctic Rose Gallery and Art Center, 423 West 5th Avenue, Anchorage, Alaska, 3pm to 6pm

Alaska News Nightly: April 10, 2014

Thu, 2014-04-10 17:18

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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House Debates Limiting Medicaid Funding For Abortions

Alexandra Gutierrez, APRN – Juneau

Debate is underway in the Alaska State House on a bill that would put limits on state Medicaid payments for abortions.

Sponsor Wants Vote On Judicial Council Issue

Alexandra Gutierrez, APRN – Juneau

The sponsor of a constitutional amendment to reconfigure the Judicial Council says he wants a vote on the bill, even if the outcome is not guaranteed to be favorable.

Sen. Pete Kelly, a Fairbanks Republican, has been trying to shore up support for Senate Joint Resolution 21 since Monday, when the measure was initially scheduled to appear on the Senate floor.

Geraghty Testifies On Tribal Law And Order Commission Report Findings

Joaqlin Estus, KNBA – Anchorage

State Attorney General Michael Geraghty again testified before a legislative committee this week to respond to a national report that singles out Alaska for its high rates of violence against Alaska Natives, especially Native women. The Indian Law and Order Commission report was deeply critical of Alaska’s law enforcement and judicial system. But the state’s Geraghty says the Indian Law and Order Commission is trying to impose lower 48 solutions that won’t work in Alaska.

Army Sets New Protocols During Fire Season

Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks

The Army has a new protocol for live ordnance training during times of high wildfire danger. Army artillery practice sparked the Stewart Creek 2 wildfire that burned east of Fairbanks though much of last summer. The 87,000 acre blaze forced evacuations and cost more than $20 million to fight.

Exit Exam Bill Could Bring Diplomas To More Students

Angela Denning, KFSK – Petersburg

Graduation time is just around the corner and for most seniors that means walking a stage and accepting a diploma. But a few students a year in Petersburg do not receive a diploma because they don’t pass a test. A bill making its way through the state Legislature would change that. House Bill 220 would repeal the High School Graduation Qualifying Exam.

Assembly Passes Anti-Smoking Law

Rachel Waldholz, KCAW – Sitka

The Sitka Assembly passed a controversial amendment Tuesday night, tightening the city’s anti-smoking laws. The question before the assembly was whether children should be prohibited from entering any business that allows smoking — even for a non-smoking event. The decision came down to different interpretations of what voters intended nearly a decade ago.

Fairbanks Will Help Fund New Mental Health Drop In Center

Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks

The City of Fairbanks will help fund a new mental health drop in center.  Earlier this week, the city council approved $58,000 for the Northern Door Clubhouse.

Retired Detective Discusses ‘Finding Bethany’

Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage

Retired Anchorage Detective Glen Klinkhart has written a true crime memoir called Finding Bethany. The story reveals the years of work it took Klinkhart and others within APD to find the killer of Bethany Correira, a young woman from Talkeetna who had moved to Anchorage for college and in 2003 was murdered by Michael Lawson, the man who managed the apartment building where she lived. Klinkhart says he also wanted to tell the stories of the dedicated people who helped solve the case in big and small ways.

New-wave Finnish icebreaker can operate sideways with asymmetrical hull

Thu, 2014-04-10 16:13
New-wave Finnish icebreaker can operate sideways with asymmetrical hull The Finnish-designed ship, built by a Russian-Finnish joint venture, uses the side of its hull to clear out wide paths through the ice.April 10, 2014

Penalty levied against driver involved in fatality

Thu, 2014-04-10 13:48
The Crown has stayed charges against the driver of the semi truck that crushed Integra Tire technician Denis Chabot in 2011,

The climate is heating up, students confirm

Thu, 2014-04-10 13:46
Using data gathered from century-old White Pass and Yukon Route railway logbooks, Yukon College students have confirmed the territory is indeed getting warmer.

Pair charged with offences involving drugs, a weapon

Thu, 2014-04-10 13:44
Two Whitehorse residents remain in jail after being arrested Tuesday on drug charges, obstructing a police officer and carrying a concealed weapon.

Mushing series concludes with thriller

Thu, 2014-04-10 13:16
Musher Jon Lucas wrapped up his season with the most important race win of all – the last one.

Graham Nishikawa to lead guided ski

Thu, 2014-04-10 13:13
The Whitehorse Cross Country Ski Club is excited to welcome home Graham Nishikawa,

Children, husband, dogs -- the whole town must have winter flu

Thu, 2014-04-10 13:12
Children, husband, dogs -- the whole town must have winter flu This morning, my husband Chip woke up and groaned that he had caught the flu, but it felt like food poisoning.  Which brings us full circle. He is still in bed with a pillow over his head and Pearl is sleeping sympathetically in my spot.April 10, 2014

Rangers beat EDI to force final showdown

Thu, 2014-04-10 13:11
A goal less than a minute into last night’s oldtimer hockey game spelled trouble for EDI.

Yukon drops to 0-2 at broomball nationals

Thu, 2014-04-10 13:09
The Yukon Coates Lead Dawgs dropped two close games to open their round robin at the Canadian Senior Broomball Championship in Calgary yesterday.

FEMA Head Meets With Mat Su Officials

Thu, 2014-04-10 11:47

A year and a half ago, a series of severe windstorms hammered Southcentral Alaska. The first toppled hundreds of trees in Anchorage, but a later storm combined with torrential rains to swell rivers and creeks in the Matanuska Valley.

 Well over one hundred Valley homes were damaged and several  were declared a total loss. The Borough  received an emergency declaration in the wake of the storm, and FEMA representatives soon arrived on scene to assist those who filed damage claims. But there have been glitches. In a meeting with FEMA adminstrator Craig Fugate, Mat Su Borough manager John Moosey said the Boro is still facing challenges due to the spread of the damage. During the storm, pockets of flooding affected the Borough from Talkeetna to Palmer

“..and it was unusual, because usually you have flooding in a smaller area. The Borough is the size of West Virginia, and it occurred in a large portion.”

 ”We are going to be hurting if we don’t correct the glitches going forward”,  Moosey told a group of Borough and FEMA officails.

 Casey Cook, the Borough’s emergency response manager, outlined some problems with 2012 flood response paperwork and building plans.  Cook said it was not possible to meet a FEMA three year deadline, due to Alaska’s extremely short building season. To which Fugate responded:

 ”So I’m wondering if this is something we’re driving on our end, or is this something internal. Because, I’ve got projects that go far past three years.” 

Fugate said FEMA allows extensions in paperwork and reporting all the time.

 Fugate told them thatthe Sandy Recovery and Improvement Act of last year made changes to the Stafford Act.  The Stafford act is the 1988 legislation that provides the legal authority for the federal government to provide assistance to states during major disasters.  Fugate said the changes  to the law   simplify the  repayment and reimbursement  process. Prior to the changes, FEMA could only reimburse actual costs, not cost estimates.

“Congress gave us new authorities under the Sandy Recovery Improvement Act. Where instead of now having to do everything [based on] actual cost, give me an estimate on the project. We agree that this will be for projects over a million dollars. If we agree to that, we write the project worksheet, obligate the funding at the front end, and we are done.”

 Fugate said, now if repairs cost less than estimated, the saved dollars can be used for disaster mitigation, rather than returned to FEMA.

Cook told Fugate that, during the flood emergency, the Borough spent 100 thousand dollars on emergency responders’ pay, but did not get reimbursed under the FEMA rules. FEMA does not reimburse normal working hours for Borough staff, but does reimburse overtime hours for emergency work, Fugate explained.

One big problem the Borough faces is the available flood plain mapping data.  It is not up to standard with the Lower 48,   Moosey said.

“We are behind on that, and so the new laws really don’t match up well, and kind of put people in tough spots and having to spend additional personal funds to try to correct something that should be corrected already. I think the staff will take a look at that. I believe and after our conversation that they understand what our needs our , our concerns and how we are different and how we are behind at times. “

 The Borough is relying on flood plain maps that are no longer accurate, Moosey said.  Insurance companies want accurate data when assessing flood insurance costs.  Homeowners who applied for FEMA assistance in 2012 got a nasty shock when they were informed what flood insurance costs would be if they rebuilt in a flood plain.  Up to date mapping helps to determine exactly where those flood plains are.

 Borough emergency manager Cook said that the FEMA rule  changes only apply to a few small projects  the Borough is completing.

Teachers in remote northern communities face higher workloads, says Canadian study

Thu, 2014-04-10 11:38
Teachers in remote northern communities face higher workloads, says Canadian study Teachers in remote and rural communities work five more hours a week than their urban counterparts, the study found. April 10, 2014