Authorities recover body under Gold Creek overpass

first_imgJuneau | Public Safety | Southeast | SyndicatedAuthorities recover body under Gold Creek overpassJuly 14, 2015 by Jeremy Hsieh, KTOO Share:Flowers in the fence over the Gold Creek bridge on Monday. (Photo by Elizabeth Jenkins/KTOO)Authorities recovered a body Tuesday morning under the Gold Creek overpass downtown.Juneau police identified her as Macaria Wallace, age 51, of Kake.Police do not suspect foul play.Indigents often use overpass as shelter. Mariya Lovishchuk, head of The Glory Hole emergency shelter and soup kitchen, confirmed Wallace had used her organization’s services.Flowers were left on the fence Monday overlooking the bridge.Share this story:last_img read more

Sunken tug Challenger to be raised and destroyed

first_imgEnvironment | Juneau | Military | Public Safety | TransportationSunken tug Challenger to be raised and destroyedFebruary 5, 2016 by Matt Miller, KTOO Share:Coast Guard Cmdr. Patrick Hilbert describes how the 96-foot tug Challenger will be raised from the bottom of Gastineau Channel. (Photo by Matt Miller/KTOO)Salvage operations are getting underway to raise the large World War II era wooden tug that sank in Gastineau Channel last September.U.S. Coast Guard Cmdr. Patrick Hilbert, incident commander for the operation, said the sunken vessel poses a substantial threat to the environment.A dive support vessel positions itself above the wreck of the tug Challenger in Gastineau Channel. (Photo by Matt Miller/KTOO)A containment boom still encircles the area above the wreck, across the channel from the Juneau Yacht Club. Hilbert said a small amount of sheen — what they call unrecoverable oil product — appears at the surface every day. There could be as much as 9,500 gallons of fuel and lube oil still on board the vessel.“It’s a very beefy tug,” Hilbert said. “That was one of the reasons why, during efforts in September and early October, when diving on the vessel and trying to remove the fuel at the time, we were not successful in getting all of the fuel off the vessel.”After contractors Global Diving & Salvage and Southeast Alaska Lighterage finish their dive assessments planned for this week, a crane will be barged in over the wreck.“They’ll be taking the steps to rig the vessel such that they’ll be able to refloat the vessel or dewater it close to refloating, then tow it to another area here in Juneau ultimately, then, to remove any oils or hazardous materials on board,” Hilbert said.Hilbert hopes to have the vessel raised and dismantled within two months. Any wood contaminated with fuel oil will be disposed according to hazardous materials procedures.The $900,000 operation will be covered by the national Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund. Authorized by the Oil Pollution Act following the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill, the fund is largely maintained with an 8 cent per barrel tax on oil imports. Hilbert said Capt. Shannon Greene, commanding officer for Coast Guard Sector Juneau, started working on a plan to tap the fund since the Challenger sank in September. Coast Guard Commandant Paul Zukunft, approved Greene’s plan in mid-January.The top of the Challenger protrudes above the water in September 2015. (Photo by Matt Miller/KTOO)Hilbert said federal authorities will seek reimbursement from the owner.The Juneau Police Department has loaned their mobile incident command center for Coast Guard personnel to monitor the salvage operation from the Yacht Club parking lot.Hilbert said they’ll have a marine mammal specialist on site at all times to monitor potential impacts to local species, and they’ll place a deflection boom to protect the Douglas Island Pink and Chum facility in case of an unplanned discharge.For now, traffic in Gastineau Channel will not be restricted, but Hilbert said they will likely establish a no-wake zone during the actual salvage operation.Share this story:last_img read more

House wants details on impacts of oil, gas tax changes

first_imgEnergy & Mining | North Slope | Politics | Southcentral | State GovernmentHouse wants details on impacts of oil, gas tax changesFebruary 19, 2016 by Andrew Kitchenman, KTOO and Alaska Public Media Share:The trans-Alaska pipeline in the northern Brooks Range of Alaska in June 2007. (Public domain photo by U.S. Geological Survey)As Alaska’s Legislature digs through Gov. Bill Walker’s budget proposal, a prime focus is the overhaul Walker put forward for oil and gas taxes.By reducing tax credits and increasing minimum production taxes, Walker aims to shave $500 million off the state’s budget shortfall.House members question whether Walker’s administration has done enough analysis of the oil and gas tax changes – as well as other tax increases the governor has proposed.Speaker of the House Mike Chenault, a Nikiski Republican, said it’s important for legislators to study economic models showing how the changes will affect the state.Rep. Mike Chenault, R-Nikiski, at a House Majority press availability Feb. 18, 2016. (Photo by Skip Gray/360 North)“They were told basically they have no modeling – or that they were working on modeling. Well, it’s hard to put together a tax bill if you don’t have modeling,” Chenault said.The state didn’t conduct statistical modeling before Walker proposed the tax changes.State Revenue Commissioner Randall Hoffbeck said officials focused on the fact that the state is committed to paying oil and gas companies more in tax credits than it has to spend.But state officials did talk with oil and gas company executives about which tax credits were most effective.Hoffbeck said the process of deciding how to change tax credits had three steps.“One is, you know, which credits didn’t necessarily work the way they were intended. Either they didn’t get used or really the return on the credits weren’t all that we had hoped that they would be,” Hoffbeck said. “And secondly, you know, which credits worked really well, and may have accomplished their purpose. And then, of course, the remaining is the credits that are still seen as critical moving forward.”Speaker Chenault is not convinced. He said the fate of Walker’s proposed tax increases depends on the information the House receives.“How those come out – which ones  pass or not I can’t tell you until we at least hear them, understand them, make sure the administration understands the consequences of the actions that we take as far as public policy for the state of Alaska — and that’s going to take time,” Chenault said.Hoffbeck said more information will be available next week on the economic effects of the tax changes.Share this story:last_img read more

Rep. Eastman is sole lawmaker to vote against honoring black soldiers

first_imgHistory | Interior | Military | Southcentral | State GovernmentRep. Eastman is sole lawmaker to vote against honoring black soldiersApril 6, 2017 by Andrew Kitchenman, KTOO and Alaska Public Media Share:Historian Lael Morgan said the 10,000 U.S. soldiers who built the Alaska Highway included about 3,500 African-American troops, who mainly worked from Alaska southward into Canada. (Photo by U.S. Army/University of Alaska archives)All but one lawmaker voted to back new legislation that names Oct. 25 as African American Soldiers’ Contribution to Building the Alaska Highway Day.All 19 senators who were present and 39 of the 40 House members voted for Senate Bill 46.Rep. David Eastman, R-Wasilla, left, speaks during a House Minority press availability on Thursday. Eastman defended his vote against African American Soldiers’ Contribution to Building the Alaska Highway Day. (Photo by Skip Gray/360 North)Wasilla Republican Rep. David Eastman on Wednesday was the only lawmaker to vote no.He said the state shouldn’t single out black soldiers.“To create a new state law before there’s been an opportunity to recognize all Alaskan veterans who gave their lives building the highway – I think it’s premature,” Eastman said.Researchers found that many black soldiers helped build the highway in 1942, six years before the military was integrated.Palmer Republican Rep. DeLena Johnson said the bill recognizes that African-Americans were singled out for unfair treatment.“We should recognize mistakes that we’ve made in the past and to ignore them would be a mistake,” she said.Johnson noted that many black soldiers who wanted to fight in World War II weren’t allowed to do so. She added that those who built the highway contributed to Alaska’s history.“The racial division was already made,” she said. “The government made that racial division.”Eastman said two wrongs don’t make a right. He replied to a question from a reporter about his views on race by citing his service in the Army and Army Reserve.“I wore a green uniform for 12 years and green was what we looked at,” he said. “The rest we didn’t, and it worked very well.”The bill now heads to Gov. Bill Walker’s desk for his signature.Share this story:last_img read more

Why isn’t Gastineau Channel navigable all the way through?

first_imgCurious Juneau stars you and your questions. Every episode we help you find an answer. Catch up on past episodes, or ask your own question on the Curious Juneau page.Sharon Van Valin, a resident of Douglas for about three years, also wrote in: “I’m curious about the Gastineau Channel. I know when I first came to Alaska in 1964 it seemed like it was a little bit deeper with more going on.”It probably was deeper back then since it had been recently dredged.“It was dredged initially in 1959 and ’60, but by 1962 there was already enough shoaling issued to limit the ability of vessels to use the channel,” explained Julie Anderson, chief of operations for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Alaska.Shoaling is the natural process of sediment filling in a channel over time.“The shoaling appears to be coming from the side slopes, they’re very unstable, so the material is slumping in and filling it back in,” Anderson said.A process called isostatic rebound, caused by the retreating glaciers, is also causing the land to rise.But Anderson said it’s the instability of the side slopes that’s the issue.In 1977, engineers proposed constructing a continuous dike to stabilize the channel’s side slopes. But that plan was written off as too costly.In 2000, the corps looked at it again. Cost estimates ran at about $16 million to build the dike and around $2 million a year for maintenance and dredging.“It’s not cost-effective. It just, it fills in faster than we can clean it out,” Anderson said.But dredging Gastineau Channel still had one true believer: Gov. Frank Murkowski. In 2006, he secured several million dollars from the legislature to try and resume dredging.“There’s an open question on whether it was a serious a proposal or whether Gov. Murkowski had an epiphany that we should open up channels when he was sitting on his boat,” said Juneau attorney Joe Geldhof. He was involved because he’s a past president of a citizens group that advises Fish and Game on the Mendenhall Wetlands State Game Refuge.Any dredging project would run straight through this protected area.“The trouble is when you’re the governor, some people pay attention to notions and whims and I think that’s what really happened,” Geldhof said. “Some of the staff in the governor’s office overreacted to what was really a goofball idea.”Jim Clark was Gov. Murkowski’s chief of staff. He said the governor supported dredging but the large expense and lack of support from the Army Corps of Engineers made attracting federal dollars difficult. So it never went anywhere.“It cratered,” Geldhof recalled. “Like a lot of peculiar ideas that float around the political sphere, it just died a quiet death.”These facts in hand, I circle back to our Curious Juneau question askers.“Well, I’m not surprised,” Flora said. “It makes sense to me but I was just curious if anybody had taken a serious look at it.”Van Valin was also pleased for the information: “I didn’t have an opinion on whether there should be dredging or not,” she said. “I was just curious and I really appreciate you looking into it and giving all this information about it.”Here’s an historical footnote: about $3 million of the unspent dredging money secured by Gov. Murkowski was never returned to state coffers.More than a decade later, the City and Borough of Juneau is using those funds to build a gravel road on the western part of Douglas Island. Work is just now wrapping up this summer. Curious Juneau | Environment | Juneau | TransportationWhy isn’t Gastineau Channel navigable all the way through?July 21, 2017 by Jacob Resneck, KTOO Share:On a clear, sunny day, a boat makes down the Gastineau Channel way on Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2016, in Juneau, Alaska. (Photo by Rashah McChesney/Alaska’s Energy Desk)Audio Playerhttps://media.ktoo.org/2017/07/170721DREDGING-CJ-podcast-mix.mp300:0000:0000:00Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.For most mariners Gastineau Channel is a cul-de-sac. Vessels coming into Juneau almost always have to exit the way they came in. The Douglas Bridge isn’t the issue – it’s just too shallow for most boats except small craft running at high tide.A pair of listeners recently wrote to Curious Juneau asking why Gastineau Channel is a dead-end for shipping.“We’ve got a canal or a channel and it goes up toward other communities but people who use that can’t go through it,” Joann Flora, a resident of the Mendenhall Valley said. “They come into Gastineau Channel and they have to turn around and go back and come around Douglas Island and it just seems to me like a tremendous waste of time and fuel if there was a way to get there – directly.” Share this story:last_img read more

Juneau woman reported missing after minor crash

first_imgCommunity | Juneau | Public SafetyJuneau woman reported missing after minor crashAugust 17, 2017 by Jacob Resneck, KTOO Share:Juneau police are looking for a 28-year-old woman who vanished August 13.Alexis Ashley Ehlers in an undated photo circulated by the Juneau Police Department on August 17, 2017. (Photo courtesy of Juneau Police Department)Juneau Police Lt. Kris Sell said that Alexis Ashley Ehlers of Juneau hasn’t been heard from since being involved in a minor fender-bender.“Ehlers has been distraught over personal issues and walked away from a very minor vehicle collision prior to the arrival of responding officers,” Sell said Thursday. “Ehlers has not communicated with her family since and they’re very concerned about her welfare.”Police request that anyone who sees Ehlers to contact the department at 586-0600.Share this story:last_img read more

Alaska senators fault Trump’s tack on racist rally

first_imgFederal Government | Nation & World | Public SafetyAlaska senators fault Trump’s tack on racist rallyAugust 18, 2017 by Liz Ruskin, Alaska Public Media Share:Alaska Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, pictured here at the 2015 Alaska Federation of Natives Convention, issued a second round of statements following white nationalist rallies in Charlottesville, Virginia. (Photo by Mikko Wilson/KTOO)Alaska’s U.S. senators have issued a second round of statements following the rally of white nationalists in Charlottesville, Virginia.This time their criticisms are aimed at President Donald Trump.Audio Playerhttp://media.aprn.org/2017/ann-20170817-01.mp300:0000:0000:00Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.“What the President said yesterday was wrong,” Sen. Lisa Murkowski wrote on Facebook Wednesday night, a day after the president’s news conference in Trump Tower. “There is no moral equivalence between those who are inciting hate and division, and those who took to the streets to make it clear that those views are unacceptable.”Murkowski previously condemned bigotry and anti-semitism, without mentioning Trump or his assertions that “many sides” were to blame for the violence.Sen. Dan Sullivan’s second Facebook post said, “Anything less than complete and unambiguous condemnation of white supremacists, neo-Nazis and the KKK by the president of the United States is unacceptable. Period.”The senators join a number of fellow Republicans in Congress who say the president should have condemned neo-Nazis and white nationalists more forcefully.This morning, Trump issued a series of tweets blasting his critics and lamenting the removal of Confederate statues from American cities.Alaska Congressman Don Young declined to answer a question during a press conference Thursday in Anchorage, with other Western state House members.“Congressman, we’d like to hear your thoughts on the events in Charlottesville,” a reporter asked.“We’re not on that subject right now,” Young said. “We’re talking about resources. I brought these people up to see it. They’ve seen it. Next!”Young’s spokesman later provided a written statement that said: “I stand united with Americans from across all corners and demographics of our nation in condemning the violence, hatred and bigotry in Charlottesville, VA.”Share this story:last_img read more

Up to 70 mph winds expected Sunday in Juneau

first_imgJuneau | WeatherUp to 70 mph winds expected Sunday in JuneauJanuary 27, 2018 by Adelyn Baxter, KTOO Share:The National Weather Service has issued a high wind warning beginning Sunday morning for Juneau. Wind gusts could be as high as 70 mph at times.Taku winds are expected to start increasing Saturday night, Juneau meteorologist Wes Adkins said, and will blow through the areas of Thane, downtown Juneau, West Juneau and Douglas. Adkins added that neighborhoods in Lemon Creek and near the Juneau International Airport also may experience about 40 mph winds. The wind may cause flying debris. “People should look around their yards, look around the parking lot if you’re a business,” Adkins said. “If you have anything in the wind-prone areas that could be lifted or transported in the strong gusty winds then you might want to pick that up or secure it.”Snowfall is expected Sunday evening with accumulations of about 2 to 4 inches possible, Adkins said. Drivers and pedestrians should exercise precaution. “In places like downtown Douglas, Thane, West Juneau, if you’re a pedestrian you could get some brief bouts of blowing snow and that has a tendency to make the visibility go way down,” he said. The warning lasts until 9 p.m. Sunday. Winds should die down by Monday night. Share this story:last_img read more

How did the Nunam Iqua boys get lost on the snowy tundra? They were chasing a fox.

first_imgSearch & Rescue | Weather | WesternHow did the Nunam Iqua boys get lost on the snowy tundra? They were chasing a fox.February 11, 2020 by Greg Kim, KYUK – Bethel Share:Irene Camille with her son, Ethan Camille, inside his hospital room at Alaska Native Medical Center in Anchorage. Ethan and his brothers left their home by snowmachine during a winter storm and ended up lost, 18 miles south of town. They weathered the storm for over 24 hours outside, until searchers found them huddled together in the snow. (Photo by Greg Kim/KYUK)Audio Playerhttps://media.ktoo.org/2020/02/200211-Fox.mp300:0000:0000:00Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.Lying on his hospital bed, 7-year-old Ethan Camille looks down at his hands. Nine of his fingers are wrapped in bandages.“I only remember a little bit,” he said. “The weather makes me forget some things.”Last week, Ethan and three other boys in his family from Nunam Iqua left their home by snowmachine during a winter storm and ended up lost 18 miles south of town. They weathered over 24 hours outside in freezing temperature before searchers found them huddled together in the snow. Searchers said they were lucky to be found alive.His mother, Irene Camille, sits beside him. She’s also the grandmother of the three other boys who were lost. Her memory of that day is clear — the day her son and grandsons left home and didn’t return.“That day was supposed to be a good day,” she said. “It was my birthday.”Both Irene and Ethan said the weather looked ugly that day.“How come you let us go outside?” Ethan asked his mom.Irene sighs. She’s been asked that question a lot since that day. Part of the reason, she says, is the boys had been staring at their phones all morning.“We don’t like them to be on their phones too much,” she said. “We like them to exercise and play in the snow and have fun outside.”And so, she took away their phones and sent them out. She checked outside her window every now and then to make sure she could see them.“Then we just…they just disappeared.” she said.Rescuers found lost Nunam Iqua children in a hole in the snow, huddled around the youngest childEthan says he and the boys had been riding their snowmachine around town for four or five hours. Just as they were about to head back inside, something appeared, that lured them away from home.“We found a real fox and we tried catch it, but it run away super far,” he said.Ethan and the boys chased the fox until they eventually caught up, and hit it with their snowmachine.Thinking it was dead, Ethan jumped off to pick it up. But the fox wasn’t dead. It bit Ethan twice. When it ran away, the boys continued to give it chase, driving miles and miles farther away from town.“So, that’s how we got lost. Cause we were trying to catch a fox to show my mom and my dad,” he said.The fox disappeared into the storm’s empty whiteness, which had worsened since they left home. That’s when Ethan says the snowmachine got stuck. 14-year-old Chris Johnson worked so hard to free the machine and pull the younger boys out of the deep snow that he suffered a hernia.Soon, they ran out of gas, and had no phone or compass. Still, the boys were determined to get home. They abandoned their vehicle and started trudging towards what they believed was Nunam Iqua.But they didn’t know which way to walk.At one point, Ethan stopped to go to the bathroom. As he took off his gloves, the wind snatched them out of his hand.The boys never found Ethan’s gloves. They were starting to lose their vision in the whiteness of the blizzard.“We almost got blinded,” he said. “We almost got white eyes. White eyes.”After four miles of walking, and no town in sight, Chris, the oldest, decided they should hunker down.“We tried to dig a hole, but it was too hard,” Ethan said.Ethan says he was originally on top of 2-year-old Trey Camille, below the older boys. But afraid Trey would suffocate, Ethan joined the outer ring of the huddle — gloveless — so that the baby could breathe.“And I got tired so I went to sleep I waked up here,” he said. “That’s all I can remember.”Irene said 8-year-old Frank Johnson was the only one who remained conscious through the night. She said Frank kept prodding the other boys, knowing that if they closed their eyes, they may not open them again.“At the last couple of hours, I think I almost lost hope,” she said.Ethan Camille, 7, succeeds in opening his soda bottle with his bandaged fingers. He and his brothers left their home by snowmachine during a winter storm and ended up lost, 18 miles south of town. They weathered the storm for over 24 hours outside, until searchers found them huddled together in the snow. (Photo by Greg Kim / KYUK)Miraculously, Herschel Sundown and searchers from Scammon Bay found the boys the next day around 4:25 PM. In a few hours, the boys would have faced their second night outside.Back in the hospital room, despite having nine of his fingers bandaged, Ethan insists on trying to open a coke bottle by himself.Irene says Ethan and the other boys will make a full recovery. And when they do… she says they can go right back out, into the storm.“I’ll never ever feel regret that they were outside in the storm,” she said. “I’ll always let them play out in the storm. That’s where they were born, that’s where they come from, that’s where they’re gonna be. There’s always gonna be a storm.”Irene says, if you don’t understand… that’s because Nunam Iqua is not your home.Share this story:last_img read more

Officials appeal to Alaskans for help as state reports 526 COVID-19 cases Sunday

first_imgSix of the new cases were found in nonresidents, while the rest were Alaskans.While the number broke Saturday’s record 355 cases, the Department of Health and Social Services attributed some of the new cases to a backlog in reporting because of the recent high numbers.The numbers follow more than a month of triple-digit daily case counts.While Anchorage continues to account for more cases than any other region, Western Alaska has seen alarmingly high rates. The Kusilvak Census area, which encompasses several villages at the Yukon River Delta in Western Alaska, has the tenth highest case rate of any county in the country over the past two weeks, according to rankings by the New York Times.A weekly summary from the Department of Health and Social Services also warned that the rate of case increases could be much faster than was originally thought. Accounting for data from the last week, the state could have its case numbers double every 22 days.The high case counts of the last month are putting a strain on several areas of the state’s COVID-19 prevention infrastructure. Contact tracing efforts have been stressed to the point where they are delayed in contacting Alaskans who have tested positive for COVID-19.Testing data also indicates that not enough testing is being done to accurately track the spread of COVID-19 in many areas, which means there could be many more positive cases than are reported. And hospital ICU capacity is also showing stress, with just 13 free ICU beds in Anchorage, where most of Alaska’s healthcare capacity is located. Community | Coronavirus | HealthOfficials appeal to Alaskans for help as state reports 526 COVID-19 cases SundayOctober 25, 2020 by Lex Treinen, Alaska Public Media Share:Alaska reported 526 positive COVID-19 cases in a single day, shattering the daily record for the second straight day, according to  state Department of Health and Social Services data.“Alaska, we need your help, we are on a fast acceleration,” wrote Dr. Anne Zink, Alaska’s chief medical officer in a Facebook post in advance of the new numbers. Share this story:last_img read more