July 21, 2016

By Joaqlin Estus, KNBA - Anchorage

The rain is just the break needed to change the outlook for the McHugh fire south of Anchorage. Officials are now optimistic they can get the fire under control and protect nearby structures.

The Seward Highway is open but officials say it may be temporarily closed at any time to remove debris. Officials have closed turnouts in the area and ask motorists not to stop to watch or photograph the fire.

July 21, 2016

“Big Bob” Robert Aiken honored at World Eskimo Indian Olympics

By Robyne, KUAC – Fairbanks

By Joaqlin Estus

Gusts of 30 to 35 miles per hour have kept the McHugh Creek fire just south of Anchorage going, but light showers forecast for this afternoon are expected to help.

As of 7 p.m. Yesterday, the fire was 842 acres. Blackhawk helicopters have been dropping bucket-loads of water to keep it from moving closer to area structures. It’s about a mile from Potter Valley to the west and the Rainbow Valley subdivision to the east.

By Joaqlin Estus

Through the Alaska Native Science and Engineering Program, or ANSEP, middle-school students learn through hands-on activities that teach them science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). In a two-week academy they learned how to build a computer and test structures in earthquake simulations.

Fifty-six students are wrapping up a 5-day session in which they assemble motors, batteries and controls to create an unmanned aerial vehicle, otherwise known as a drone. Then they test them.

KNBA News - McHugh Fire update

Jul 20, 2016

by Zachariah Hughes, Alaska Public Media, and Joaqlin Estus, KNBA Anchorage

The McHugh wildfire continues to burn uncontained south of Anchorage.

Both lanes of the Seward Highway were opened last night [Tuesday]. Falling rocks, dense smoke, and fire activity near the road do create hazardous conditions so officials are asking people to avoid the area from Milepost 108 to 113.

Power outage affects tens of thousands in Anchorage

Jul 17, 2016

Tens of thousands of people in south, west, and midtown Anchorage were without power for less than an hour Sunday evening. Municipal Light and Power spokesperson Julie Harris says the outage started at the Southcentral Power Plant near Minnesota and International Airport Drive.

“The cause of why it tripped is still under investigation,” said Harris.

Electrical power companies along the railbelt from Homer to Fairbanks plug into the same grid. Julie Hasquet, a spokesperson for Chugach Electric spokesperson,  says the system was rebooted to prevent extensive damage.

By Emily Files, KHNS - Haines

A Haines tribe is calling a recent decision by a U.S. Court of Appeals a “historic victory.” The Chilkoot Indian Association was among five plaintiffs in a lawsuit challenging what is known as the “Alaska exception” – which prohibited Alaska tribes from placing their lands into federal trust. After years of litigation, including an appeal from the state, the federal court sided with the tribes. Alaska tribes can now petition for sovereignty over their lands.

By the Associated Press

The Alaska House has asked the Senate to meet in joint session to consider potential overrides of vetoes made by Gov. Bill Walker. House Speaker Mike Chenault says he sent a letter to Senate President Kevin Meyer asking for a joint session Friday. Chenault said he's not sure where the votes might be to try to override any particular veto. But he said there's enough interest on his side to at least hold a session to consider potential overrides.

By Wesley Early, Alaska Public Media

Tribes across the country would have new opportunities to reclaim lost artifacts under a new Senate bill. The Safeguard Tribal Objects of Patrimony, or STOP Act, would prevent the export of cultural and religious items.

Martin Heinrich is the junior senator from New Mexico who introduced the STOP Act to the Senate.

“It’s time to make sure that items that are deeply religious or deeply connected to individual tribes are respected, are not sold on the auction block,” Heinrich said.

Governor Bill Walker has signed into law a bill to cut down on the number of people in prison and the number of repeated returns to prison. The legislation is based on recommendations made by the Alaska Criminal Justice Commission. In a prepared statement, the Governor's office said the new law will put $99 million over six years into crime-reduction programs such as substance abuse treatment, pretrial services, and support for inmates re-entering society. The law is expected to reduce the state's prison population by 13 percent by 2024, saving the state $380 million.