SportsFans and mushers celebrate the end of the 2016 Yukon QuestFebruary 22, 2016 by Molly Rettig, KUAC Share:2016 Yukon Quest Champion Hugh Neff watches Native dancers perform at the finish banquet in Whitehorse Saturday night. (Photo by Molly Rettig/KUAC)Mushers and fans gathered over the weekend to celebrate the completion of the 2016 Yukon Quest in Whitehorse. The event was highlighted by awards and stories from the trail.About a dozen Tlingit dancers paraded onto the stage in fur, feathers, and traditional clothing to congratulate Hugh Neff for winning the Yukon Quest. They thanked him for mentioning Alaska’s Native people when he came across the finish line first. Neff was impressed.“I’m a Native at heart and I’m a wolf at heart,” Neff said. “It was like a dream popping out of my heart that I got to see flowing around me.”The 48-year-old Tok musher is a long-time Quest veteran. Throughout the race, he repeatedly acknowledged Alaska Natives such as George Attla and John Baker for teaching him how to mush and for producing his line of dogs. Neff said his popular brown dog named Lester is an Inupiaq Eskimo dog.“I really take pride to be running dogs that are created by some of the greatest dog minds in the world,” said Neff. “I’m just lucky all I have to do is play with them and love them.”In a speech to the crowd, Neff said he runs the Quest every year to race against himself.“It’s not about trying to win this thing. It’s trying to be a better musher, being a better northerner,” Neff said.A couple of hundred guests showed up at the awards banquet in Whitehorse Saturday. After racing all the way from Fairbanks, mushers were treated to a big buffet, can-can dancers and lots of prizes.This year’s Yukon Quest contained the usual excitement of a thousand-mile sled dog race. There were midnight chases, moose attacks, and miles of bumpy jumble ice, broken sleds and an epic storm.“We all have stories,” an attendee proclaimed.Third-place finisher Allen Moore talked about an upgrade he had made to his sled that backfired. He wanted to add some extra stopping power to go down Eagle Summit, so he rigged up a system to lower chains onto his runners with a string. It was working fine until he encountered knee-deep overflow on a creek and had to sit down on the back of his sled.“When I did this I didn’t realize I stuck my foot through this cord, now something’s got me hogtied and I’m going through this water and I turn over in the water, laying in the water with the sled over sideways,” Moore said. “The dogs look back at me, what are you doing?”Runner-up Brent Sass won 4 ounces of gold for being the first musher into Dawson. Sass, Neff, and Moore have chased each other for years. At one point early in the race, they all stopped at a trail cabin to rest around the same time.“All three of us are standing there looking at each other, like, ‘What’s your next move gonna be’”, said Sass.He said it was fun competing against friends.“It’s amazing it can be such a competitive sport and atmosphere and to be joking around with guys you want to beat,” Sass said.Sass said he loves the Quest because it’s always a challenge.“After having such a great race last year, and having such a difficult race this year, every year is different and that’s what keeps us coming back,” Sass said.Gaetan Pierrard won the Red Lantern award, a tradition that started so the last-place competitor would have light on the trail. The Yukon resident had a good attitude about the prize.“A souvenir for my first Quest,” Pierrard said. “At least I have something.”He was happy to finish because the race could have ended a lot earlier. On the first day, he broke his main line and almost lost his team. Pierrard said he learned a lot from the Quest but isn’t sure he’s ready for another.“I’m just (enjoying) right now and live the moment and not think about the future too much,” said Pierrard.Japanese musher Yuka Honda said she was happy with her ninth-place finish. She has finished the Quest before, but this one had a special meaning.“This time, I was just thinking about my mom so much because she just passed away,” Honda said.Her mother asked her to run the Quest again because it had been a dream of Honda’s for so long.“I try for my mom this time,” said Honda. “Kind of special this year.”Nineteen-year-old Laura Neese won the sportsmanship award for helping out other mushers and bringing joy to the trail.“It was a joy to be out there with all you guys and travel and get to know you,” Neese said. “It’s a great race and thank you so much.”The final competitors to take the stage were George Costanza and Stevie Ray Vaughn. Neff’s two lead dogs each received a bright golden harness and a plate of raw beef.Share this story:
Share this story: Juneau | Local Government | SoutheastJuneau’s League of Women Voters hosts mayoral debateFebruary 25, 2016 by Elizabeth Jenkins Share:Mayoral candidates Karen Crane and Ken Koelsch at the Juneau League of Women Voters debate. (Photo by Jeremy Hsieh/KTOO)Juneau’s mayoral hopefuls Ken Koelsch and Karen Crane attended a packed debate hosted by the League of Women Voters Wednesday. The program opened with two Thunder Mountain High School students introducing the candidates, who were questioned about the economy, housing, homelessness, addiction, marijuana ordinances and a growing senior population. Thunder Mountain High School and the League of Women Voters contributed to the crowd sourced list of questions.Juneau voters will elect a new mayor in the special election March 15. If you missed the debate, you can listen to the full recording here:Audio Playerhttps://media.ktoo.org/2016/02/MAYORAL-DEBATE-2-24-16-1.mp300:0000:0000:00Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.
Share this story: Six years ago, Miller ran as a Tea Party-style Republican and beat Murkowski in the primary. Murkowski retained her seat, though, by mounting a write-in campaign for the general. By then, Miller’s campaign was sinking under a pile of revelations about his past, and the handcuffing of a news reporter at one of Miller’s campaign events by men acting as Miller’s security guards.In his emailed announcement of his candidacy, Miller accuses Murkowski of being too liberal and said he’s running to offer voters a real choice.Other candidates in the race include Independent Margaret Stock and Democratic nominee Ray Metcalfe. Federal Government | PoliticsJoe Miller will run as Libertarian against U.S. Sen. MurkowskiSeptember 6, 2016 by Liz Ruskin, Alaska Public Media Share:Joe Miller in 2010. (Creative Commons photo by Ryan McFarland/www.zieak.com)Fairbanks attorney Joe Miller announced Tuesday that he will challenge U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski after all.Miller said Libertarian nominee Cean Stevens has withdrawn from the race and her party’s leadership agreed to let Miller appear on the general election ballot in her place.
Transportation | WeatherJuneau family leaves Orlando on last flight out ahead of Hurricane MatthewOctober 9, 2016 by Matt Miller, KTOO Share:Rolling cumulus is visible from the Loews Sappire Falls Hotel in Orlando, Florida. (Photo courtesy Ryan Stanley)Meadow Stanley dons a poncho to protect herself from Death Eaters and cloud bursts. (Photo courtesy Ryan Stanley)Cloud bursts greeted the Stanley family during their visit to Orlando, Florida. (Photo courtesy Ryan Stanley)Emergency alert received on smart phones. (Screen capture courtesy Ryan Stanley)Cumulus visible during a walk in Orlando. (Photo courtesy Ryan Stanley)A surge pricing notice issued by Uber in Orlando, Florida. (Screen capture courtesy Ryan Stanley)Laura Hosey watches the television news on Thursday morning roughly 9 hours before their flight departed. (Photo courtesy Ryan Stanley)Flight status board at Orlando International Airport at 1 p.m. Thursday. Red status indicate cancelled flights. (Photo courtesy Ryan Stanley)Passengers are checked in to their flights at Orlando International Airport at 1 p.m. Thursday. (Photo courtesy Ryan Stanley)The last Alaska Airlines flight out of Orlando International Airport on Thursday. (Photo courtesy Ryan Stanley)12345678910
Alaska’s Energy Desk | Environment | State GovernmentBill would make it easier to pass on information about contaminated sites in AlaskaApril 14, 2017 by Rashah McChesney, Alaska’s Energy Desk – Juneau Share:Contaminated snow-covered tundra on April 29, 2014, from a BP Exploration Alaska spill in Prudoe Bay, Alaska. (Photo courtesy Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation)From leaking pipelines and polluted aquifers, to broken septic tanks and abandoned military equipment, there are more than 2,200 open cases of contaminated sites in Alaska. A new bill that that is making its way through the state House, would require full disclosure of contamination on the deed of a property before it can be sold.Audio Playerhttps://media.ktoo.org/2017/04/13-covenants.mp300:0000:0000:00Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.They’re called environmental covenants and Alaska is one of just seven states that doesn’t have laws on the books that make sure contamination is fully disclosed at the time of a property sale.Kristin Ryan, the spill response director for the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation has the perfect example of what can happen without environmental covenants: When a gas station in Anchorage closed and the owners pulled their tanks out of the ground, they found that fuel had leaked into the dirt around the foundation of a building on the property. The only way to clean up the dirt, was to remove the foundation of the building. “So we agreed, and this is very common, we agreed to allow the responsible party to leave the dirt in place,” Ryan said.The state put a restriction on the property that said if the foundation was ever removed, the dirt would have to be cleaned up. But, then the site was sold several times. And two years ago another person bought the property. Ryan says the new owner “took the building down, was unaware of the restriction, spread the dirt everywhere and built a Subway restaurant.”Now, the owner of the restaurant has to deal with clean-up on the property. A covenant could have changed that. There are disclosure laws in Alaska already, but Ryan says that they aren’t always followed. There’s even an online database where the state keeps detailed logs of the types of contamination and cleanup efforts. “So the information is out there for people, but who goes and looks at our database when they’re buying property? I mean, it’s not common,” Ryan said. “We talk to realtors and remind them to do that, and title companies and mortgage lenders, but it still isn’t a guarantee that that information is communicated.”The new law would allow the state to put a covenant right on the deed of the property. Republican Senate Majority leader Peter Micciche is carrying the bill this session. It’s gotten broad bipartisan support so far, though Micciche says the title puts some people off at first. “Some people in this building get concerned anytime they see the word environmental in something,” he said. “It takes a few minutes to explain the value. That, in this case, it’s good for everyone.”So far, opposition to the bill has come primarily from the Department of Defense. The Air Force regional environmental office wrote to Micciche, saying it couldn’t comply with the new law. There are federal laws that don’t allow covenants to be placed on federal land. Micciche says he was expecting to hear from the federal government. “We feel they should be held at the same standard,” Micciche said. “And we think it’s important and as you can imagine in this building a note from the feds in opposition to a bill is not always a bad thing. And I don’t say that lightly, it just happens to be the case.”Other states that have enacted similar bills have found a way around the federal laws. Colorado put an environmental restriction clause in its environmental covenants bill. And Ryan says that it’s a critical addition to Alaska’s bill because most of the state’s open contaminated sites are on federal property. The bill sailed through its first House committee on Tuesday and is headed into another. “The only roadblock that I see is time. I know of no opposition. It was 19-1 in the Senate. I expect it to be probably 40-zip in the house. It’s a good bill,” Micciche said.It looks as though lawmakers will likely extend their stay in Juneau past their Sunday deadline. The environmental covenants bill has a hearing scheduled for Monday, after the conclusion of the 90-day regular session. Share this story:
Public Safety | Southcentral | TransportationSmall aircraft crashes near Mile 90 of Parks HighwayApril 17, 2017 by Phillip Manning, KTNA-Talkeetna Share:A Cessna 182E Skylane that crashed Saturday afternoon near Mile 90 of the Parks Highway. (Photo courtesy Katie Dietrich)A Cessna 182E Skylane crashed Saturday afternoon near Mile 90 of the Parks Highway.Emergency crews responded about 4 p.m. to a crashed aircraft, including Alaska State Troopers and personnel from multiple EMS divisions in the Upper Valley.The fixed wing, single-engine aircraft is registered to Robert Hill of Naknek, Alaska, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.The pilot, later identified by Alaska State Troopers as Ronald Scott Hernandez, 51, of King Salmon, was transported from the scene of the crash to Mat-Su Regional Medical Center, Palmer, by ambulance, and was reportedly conscious at the time he was taken from the scene.Hernandez suffered minor injuries, troopers said.The crash caused a power loss to about 2,600 customers, Matanuska Electric Association Inc. confirmed. It was able to re-route electricity for about 1,500 of its members within two hours.Final repairs were completed early Sunday morning.Share this story:
Alaska Native Arts & Culture | Alaska Native Government & Policy | Arts & CultureKeynote speakers announced for Elders and YouthSeptember 26, 2017 by Zachariah Hughes, Alaska Public Media Share:Liz Medicine Crow, president and CEO of First Alaskans Institute, and board chair Willie Hensley give opening remarks at the 33rd annual Elders and Youth conference in Fairbanks. (Photo by Jennifer Canfield)The First Alaskans Institute has announced the keynote speakers for the 2017 the 34th Elders and Youth Conference, which begins Oct. 16, just ahead of the Alaska Federation of Natives in Anchorage.The elder keynote address will be given by Clare Swan of the Kenaitze Indian Tribe, a long-time advocate for Native fishing rights in Cook Inlet and on the Kenai Peninsula.Swan also served on the board of directors for CIRI, the regional corporation for Cook Inlet.The youth keynote speaker is Chris Agragiiq Apassingok of Gambell on St. Lawrence Island.The 16-year-old gained notoriety earlier this year when he landed a harpoon strike on a whale during a successful subsistence hunt.An online backlash ensued after a radical animal rights activist criticized the teenager online, sparking national attention.First Alaskans Institute also is hosting a private dance party with Canadian First Nation’s DJ group A Tribe Called Red during the conference. It’s the group’s second time performing in Alaska.Share this story:
Environment | Interior | Local GovernmentFairbanks council OKs stipend over contaminated waterSeptember 28, 2017 by Tim Ellis, KUAC-Fairbanks Share:Fairbanks City Engineer Jackson Fox says the city has tested more than 160 wells around the city-operated Regional Fire Training Center, and in areas downgradient from the RFTC, for the presence of perflourinated compounds. Many have shown levels of PFCs that exceed the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s Lifetime Health Advisory level, which can harm human health. (Graphic by Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation)The Fairbanks City Council on Monday approved an ordinance that’s intended to help provide drinking water for property owners in an area on the city’s south side who’ve lost the use of their wells because of groundwater contamination.Mayor Jim Matherly said it’s only the first step toward addressing the mounting costs of the contamination problem.Audio Playerhttp://media.aprn.org/2017/ann-20170926-02.mp300:0000:0000:00Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.The council voted 5-1 to approve an amended ordinance that would provide a $2,500 stipend for two years to help pay water bills for property owners along 30th Avenue near the Regional Fire Training Center, who until recently had used their wells for drinking water.Councilwoman Valerie Therrien said she voted no because she didn’t believe the ordinance would do enough to compensate those residents fairly for the loss of their drinking water supply.She said, “$2500 just isn’t enough to me.”Therrien proposed paying the water bills for property owners who were most affected by the contamination for five years.The other council members rejected that motion over a concern it would cost the city too much, but agreed to her amendment to set the stipend at $2,500 – not up to $2,500.Councilman Jerry Cleworth said the city had to draw a line somewhere.“All I can say is it’s a compromise,” Cleworth said, “It probably won’t make very many people happy.”The ordinance authorizes appropriating $100,000 for the stipends.Councilman David Pruhs, who along with June Rogers co-sponsored the ordinance, said the city in part modeled the stipend after the system North Pole set up earlier this year to help its residents deal with groundwater contamination caused by a chemical substance that leaked from an oil refinery in that city.“Their stipend was $2,000 over a two-year period,” Pruhs said. “We took their stipend and increased it.”City Engineer Jackson Fox told Pruhs that since the Fairbanks officials learned about the contamination last year, the city has paid more than $3 million to survey the problem and clean up around the training facility. That amount also covered the cost of connecting 20 properties with the area water system operated by Golden Heart Utilities, and for providing drinking water to those and another 20 properties in the area that have yet to be hooked up.“We could be looking at connecting another 25 or so homes next summer,” Fox said.Fox told the council that each hookup will cost the city $35,000.Pruhs used that figure to estimate the total amount the city will have pay in the coming year to mitigate the problem.“We’re looking at basically 65 to 70 homes, not including a water stipend at $35,000, added on to the $3 million that we’ve already spent,” Pruhs said. “We’re looking at (a total of) $5.5 million.”Cleworth said that equates to about a $1.5 million increase in the city’s property tax, that’s why the council must move quickly to limit payouts and other costs and to recover compensation from the manufacturer of the firefighting foam and other parties.“We need to get something done by next May,” Cleworth said. “Or else the residents are going to be hit with a mill-and-a-half of property tax increase.”Therrien asked City Attorney Paul Ewers whether he’s been notified of any legal claims filed against the city over the contamination issue.“We don’t have any lawsuits that were filed,” Ewers said. “We’ve had basically claims inquiries, and (we’re) just starting those discussions.”Matherly told council member the city must talk with officials from other agencies that have used the training center about their possible liability.He said he talked about that with Gov. Bill Walker last week while he was in town.Share this story:
Alcohol & Substance Abuse | Health | Marijuana | Nation & World | NPR NewsOpioid use lower in states that eased marijuana lawsApril 2, 2018 by Richard Harris, NPR Share:Medical marijuana is dispensed in Takoma Park, D.C. in 2014. (Photo by Evelyn Hockstein/The Washington Post/Getty Images)Medical marijuana appears to have put a dent in the opioid abuse epidemic, according to two studies published Monday.The research suggests that some people turn to marijuana as a way to treat their pain, and by so doing, avoid more dangerous addictive drugs. The findings are the latest to lend support to the idea that some people are willing to substitute marijuana for opioids and other prescription drugs.Many people end up abusing opioid drugs such as oxycodone and heroin after starting off with a legitimate prescription for pain. The authors argue that people who avoid that first prescription are less likely to end up as part of the opioid epidemic.“We do know that cannabis much less risky than opiates, as far as likelihood of dependency,” says W. David Bradford, a professor of public policy at the University of Georgia. “And certainly there’s no mortality risk” from the drug itself.The National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine says there’s good evidence that cannabis is effective at treating pain for some conditions. So Bradford and three colleagues — including his scientist daughter — decided to see whether people who can get easy access to medical marijuana are less likely to get prescription opioids. The answer, they report in JAMA Internal Medicine, is yes.“There are substantial reductions in opiate use” in states that have initiated dispensaries for medical marijuana, he says.The researchers studied data from Medicare, which mostly covers people over the age of 65. (It was a convenient set of data and available to them at no cost). They found a 14 percent reduction in opioid prescriptions in states that allow easy access to medical marijuana.They estimate that these dispensary programs reduced the number of opioid prescriptions by 3.7 million daily doses. States that allowed homegrown marijuana for medical use saw an estimated 1.8 million fewer pills dispensed per day. To put that in perspective, from 2010 to 2015 Medicare recipients received an average of 23 million daily doses of opioids, the researchers say.Because opioid use nationwide was rising during the study period, their estimate of reduced uses reflects a slowing of the increase, rather than an actual decline in opioid use in these states, Bradford says.The analysis found a correlation and can’t prove that marijuana use led to a reduction in the growth of opioid use. There might be other factors at work.Even so, the findings suggests that expanding access to medical marijuana could help ease the opioid epidemic.Hefei Wen at the University of Kentucky College of Public Health was lead author on another study in the same journal that reached similar conclusions. Wen, with Jason Hockenberry at Emory University, used Medicaid data. Medicaid is primarily a health insurance program for low-income people.The authors write that laws that permit both medical marijuana and recreational marijuana for adults “have the potential to reduce opioid prescribing for Medicaid enrollees, a segment of population with disproportionately high risk for chronic pain, opioid use disorder and opioid overdose. Nevertheless, marijuana liberalization alone cannot solve the opioid epidemic.”Bradford agrees that medical marijuana laws could have a role to play. “But it is not without risks,” he says. “Like any drug in our FDA-approved pharmacopeia, it can be misused. There’s no question about it. So I hope nobody reading our study will say ‘Oh, great, the answer to the opiate problem is just put cannabis in everybody’s medicine chest and we are good to go.’ We are certainly not saying that.”One concern is marijuana use might encourage people to experiment with more dangerous drugs. Dr. Mark Olfson, a professor of psychiatry and epidemiology at Columbia University, authored a study that found marijuana users were six times more likely than nonusers to abuse opioids.“A young person starting marijuana is maybe putting him — or herself at increased risk,” Olfson says. “On the other hand there may be a role — and there likely is a role — for medical marijuana in reducing the use of prescribed opioids for the management of pain.”This is a question of balancing risks and benefits. And that’s difficult to do with the current studies based on broad populations — and in this case, populations that are not representative of the at-risk population as a whole.Olfson says what they really need is studies that follow individuals, to see whether marijuana use really does supplant opioids. It’s hard to do study in this area because the federal government regards marijuana as a very dangerous drug and puts tight controls on research.“That does make this a difficult area to study, and that’s unfortunate because we have a large problem with the opioid epidemic,” Olfson says “And at the same time, with an aging population, we have lots of people who have pain conditions and who will benefit from appropriate management.”You can contact Richard Harris at [email protected] 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.Share this story:
Gardentalk | Juneau | OutdoorsGardentalk — Prepare the way for perennials, national primrose showApril 20, 2018 by Matt Miller, KTOO Share:Primroses and daffodils simultaneously bloom in a North Douglas flower bed. (Photo by Matt Miller/KTOO)Embrace the rain.The Captial City’s recent rain doesn’t just knocks down the dust and alleviates recent dry conditions, Master Gardener Ed Buyarski said.It also accelerates the melting of snow still present in some Juneau yards and gardens.He also recommends removing the plastic or spruce bough covers protecting bulbs and perennials from the winter’s cold temperatures.Buyarski also gives us a preview of the National Primrose Show and Conference that runs May 4-6 in Juneau. Primrose show viewing at Centennial Hall is free, but there is a fee for admission to lectures, workshops and other conference events.You can see a schedule and register online (closes April 21) by going to eventbrite.com and search for “Juneau, AK Primrose Show.” There will also be registration at the door.Buyarski also encourages Juneau gardeners to submit their primroses for the show. He has some quick hints for slowing down or speeding up the blooming process so it peaks during the weekend of the show. Listen to the April 19 edition of Gardentalk:Audio Playerhttps://media.ktoo.org/2018/04/garden041918.mp300:0000:0000:00Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.You have a gardening question? Go to this page and ask away. We’ll have an answer for you in an upcoming segment.Close-up of tiny primrose flowers as they bloom in a North Douglas garden. (Photo by Matt Miller/KTOO)Share this story: