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From Our Listeners

Alaska and Yukon Headlines

The Big News Stories of 2013

Fri, 2013-12-27 13:00

One year ago Shell Oil’s drilling rig had not gone aground and changing the state’s oil tax regime was just the Governor’s dream.  Nobody expected Congress to be so gridlocked that budget sequestration would kick in, and the prospects for the Affordable Care act were not good.  A lot has changed.

HOST: Steve Heimel, Alaska Public Radio Network



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LIVE Broadcast: Tuesday, December 31, 2013 at 10:00 a.m. on APRN stations statewide.

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Arctic Sea Ice Volume Up 50%

Fri, 2013-12-27 12:33

The volume of sea ice in the Arctic is 50 percent higher than it was last fall, satellite measurements show.

In October 2013, the European Space Agency satellite CryoSat measured 9,000 cubic kilometres of sea ice on the Arctic Ocean, said an ESA news release Monday. At the same time of year in 2012, it measured just 6,000 cubic kilometres — a record low.

The satellite, launched in 2010, is designed to measure sea ice thickness across the Arctic Ocean, allowing scientists to monitor changes in volume and not just surface coverage.

Despite the short-term rebound, sea ice volumes remain low compared to historical averages, scientists say.

“It’s estimated that there was around 20,000 cubic kilometres of Arctic sea ice each October in the early 1980s, and so today’s minimum still ranks among the lowest of the past 30 years,” said Andrew Shepherd, a co-author of the study, in a statement. Shepherd, who is a researcher at University College London, was part of a team that presented the study last week at the American Geophysical Union’s annual meeting in San Francisco.

Both the surface coverage and volume of Arctic sea ice are monitored by scientists as climate indicators.

In September, the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Centre reported that Arctic ice cover at its summer minimum this year was 5.1 million square kilometres. That was also up 50 per cent from last year’s record low, but the sixth lowest on record. The seven lowest levels have all been recorded in the last seven years.

Coverage vs. Volume

Ice floes float in Baffin Bay between Canada and Greenland above the Arctic circle on July 10, 2008. The seven lowest levels of sea ice cover have all been recorded in the last seven years. Photo by Jonathan Hayward, Canadian Press.

Scientists had noticed that generally, since CryoSat was launched in 2010, Arctic sea ice volumes haven’t varied as much from year-to-year as sea ice coverage.

Because of that, they hadn’t expected an increase in volume comparable to the increase in surface coverage, said Rachel Tilling, lead author of the new study, in a statement.

“But it has been, and the reason is related to the amount of multi-year ice in the Arctic,” added Tilling, a researcher at the U.K.’s Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling.

Multi-year ice survives more than one summer without melting and is considered an indicator of “healthy” Arctic sea ice cover, the ESA reported.

About 90 per cent of the increase in sea ice volume this year is from the growth of multi-year ice, which now averages about 20 per cent or 30 centimetres thicker than last year, the release said.

Last week, the NOAA issued its annual Arctic report card, which found that Arctic temperatures in 2013 were cooler compared to the past six years, although they remained warm compared to the 20th century.

“The Arctic caught a break, if you will, in 2013,” said Martin Jefferies, the University of Alaska geophysicist who edited the report card, at the AGU conference. “But one year doesn’t change the long-term trend toward a warmer Arctic.”

With a file from The Associated Press

In My Family: I’m Happy

Fri, 2013-12-27 12:26

Sage Worl teaches Raven how to say I’m Happy in the Tlingit language.

Appeals Court Reinstates Charges In Fishing Case

Fri, 2013-12-27 11:45

The state appeals court on Friday reinstated charges of excessive fishing against a former state senator and two others.

Albert Kookesh

A wildlife officer in August 2009 cited former lawmaker Albert Kookesh, D-Angoon, and others for catching more sockeye salmon than allowed under a subsistence fishing permit.

The men challenged the citations, and a district court sided with the men. The court said the Board of Fisheries should have set limits and not delegated that authority to the Department of Fish and Game.

The appeals court disagreed, saying the Board of Fisheries has the authority to enact regulations and delegate that authority.

The cases against the fishermen will return to district court.

Woman Seeks To Have Arrest Scrubbed From Records

Fri, 2013-12-27 11:44

A woman is suing the Municipality of Anchorage, claiming she was falsely arrested for drunken driving after she refused to give her phone number to a police officer.

The Anchorage Daily News reports Nancy Means is seeking to have the municipality scrub any evidence of her arrest.

Officer David Burns saw a minivan with hazard lights flashing Nov. 25, 2011. He found Means and three passengers in the disabled minivan.
Burns said he smelled a slight odor of alcohol. He sought and received her license and insurance information, but she refused when he asked for her phone number.

Burns then arrested her for operating a vehicle under the influence. A later breath test listed her blood-alcohol level at .000.

City attorney Dennis Wheeler says the arrest was proper.

State Issues Air Quality Advisory For Fairbanks

Fri, 2013-12-27 11:39

The state has issued an air quality advisory for the Fairbanks area through Saturday.

The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports cold air and temperature inversions are behind the poor air quality.

The advisory from the state Department of Environmental Conservation covers Fairbanks, North Pole and surrounding areas.

It also deems the air quality in Fairbanks as “unhealthy,” the third-worst category behind “very unhealthy” and “hazardous.”

People with respiratory or heart disease, the elderly and children should avoid prolonged exertion. Others should limit any prolonged exertion.

ATM Stolen From Palmer Restaurant

Fri, 2013-12-27 11:37

Alaska State Troopers say a privately-owned ATM was stolen from a Palmer restaurant.

The Anchorage Daily News reports the machine was taken from RW’s Hamburger House Saturday morning. It weighs about 200 pounds, and troopers suspect it would require more than one person to take it.

Restaurant employee James Tickney says burglars forced their way into the building’s back door and dragged the ATM about 25 feet outside.

He says there was about $4,700 in the ATM when taken.

Troopers ask anyone with information to call 907-745-2131 or Mat-Su Crime Stoppers at 907-745-3333.

Sitka Hospital CEO Announces Retirement

Fri, 2013-12-27 11:36

Sitka Community Hospital’s Chief Executive Officer, Hugh Hallgren, will retire in June after more than four years of service in Sitka. The hospital’s Board of Directors announced Hallgren’s retirement on Monday.

Hospital CEO Hugh Hallgren will retire in June. Photo from the Sitka Community Hospital.

In a news release, Board Chair Celeste Tydingco said, “Hugh’s leadership and vision for our hospital have been critical to the success we have enjoyed during his tenure.”

Hallgren can trace his healthcare career all the way back to 1973, when he decided against, what he says was the popular option at the time, selling soap for Proctor and Gamble.

“Well I started off getting a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Chicago,” said Hallgren. “And I felt at the time, being of that age group – the hippy age group, that my duty was to try to improve other people’s lives.”

Over four years ago, when Sitka needed a hospital CEO, Hallgren was looking for a new job. Hallgren says that the hard working, cooperative staff shared his values – namely, the patient should always come first. So, accepting the CEO position at SCH was a no-brainer.

Once Hallgren arrived, and got the chance to look under the hood, reality set in. He says, at the time, the hospital was in trouble. It was losing almost two million dollars a year. Hallgren says there was insufficient medical staff to efficiently address Sitkans’ needs. He set to work expanding the surgical service, reopening OB services, and recruiting physicians.

“We got general surgery back with Doctor Wein, thank goodness. We restarted obstetrics. You lose your surgeon it’s hard to do OB because you may need to do a cesarean section here and there,” said Hallgren.

Over the course of his tenure Hallgren recruited 14 physicians. About half are on the island full time and work at the Mountainside Family Healthcare clinic. The rest provide specialty care as needed – services like reconstructive plastic surgery, cardiology, and dermatology.

Hallgren says that the strategy has always been to find out what Sitkans need, and try to provide it on the island. He reports a 118% growth in patient visits since 2010.

Hallgren said, “what we see is the community responding to our ability to meet their health needs. So now, if you want to go to Seattle or anchorage to go shopping you can just go shopping you don’t need to add a physician’s visit to it.”

Rapid growth is the reason why SCH is working on building a second primary care clinic on the first floor of the hospital. The Board will continue efforts to raise the remaining funds required to open the new clinic.

Hallgren’s next destination is Yuma, Arizona, where his wife, Tanya, has taken a job treating US Marines with stress related mental health issues. Hallgren says that he is ready to pass off the baton: “It’s always good to leave before you’re asked to go. The best time to leave a party is when it’s going full blast.”

The SCH board will work with a hospital management advisory firm, Quorum Health Resources, to conduct a national search for a new CEO.

State Announces Pacific Cod Harvest Level for 2014

Fri, 2013-12-27 11:27

The state announced the 2014 guideline harvest levels for Pacific cod in the state-waters fisheries this week.

There will be about 17.86 million pounds of cod available for harvest, both in the Aleutian Islands state-waters fishery and in the new Dutch Harbor subdistrict.

In the Aleutians district, that’s about 12 percent less than last year’s harvest level.

The Aleutian district is divided into A and B season. A season will run Jan. 1 through June 9. Seventy percent of the harvest is reserved for A season — about 12.5 million pounds. The remaining 30 percent is for B season. That’s about 5.3 million pounds.

Fish not caught in A season will also roll over to B season — up to 70 percent of the total harvest level.

It’ll be the first year for the Dutch Harbor subdistrict, in waters a little less than 100 miles north of Unalaska. State groundfish management biologist Chuck Trebesch says the new subdistrict is an exclusive fishery for boats under 60 feet that are fishing with pot gear.

Vessels can only fish in one exclusive state-waters fishery at a time. The other exclusive fisheries near the Dutch Harbor subdistrict are Kodiak and the South Alaska Peninsula. Fishing in the new subdistrict wouldn’t shut a vessel out of the Aleutians fishery, or any other non-exlusive or federal fishery.

Trebesch says the Dutch Harbor fishery will open a week after the parallel federal fishing season ends. That’s the federal hook-and-line season for vessels under 60 feet. Trebesch estimates it’ll hit its quota in February or March. Then the Dutch Harbor subdistrict can open, with all of its harvest available immediately.

Trebesch says he has “high hopes” for the new fishery. He says he expects five to 15 boats to participate.

Mulcahy Stadium May Move

Fri, 2013-12-27 10:00

An $18 million project is on the drawing board for a midtown Anchorage ball field.  The city’s Mulcahy Stadium, long the home field for the city’s college baseball teams,  could be moved to make way for a parking lot,  if a city Parks and Recreation plan gets approval.

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AK Beat: Troopers seek missing traveler

Fri, 2013-12-27 08:27
AK Beat: Troopers seek missing traveler Keith Stompro, who was staying at a Fairbanks hotel, has not been seen since Dec. 14.December 27, 2013

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