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From Our Listeners
Alaska and Yukon Headlines
Bill Would Eliminate Ferry Workers’ Cost Of Living Adjustment
Alexandra Gutierrez, APRN – Juneau
For almost 40 years, ferry workers who are Alaska residents have gotten a cost-of-living adjustment, allowing them to be paid more than those who don’t live in the state. Now, a bill getting rid of that salary bonus is moving through the Legislature. And the way it’s advanced has raised a few hackles.
Legislature Considers Changing Autopsies In Rural Alaska
Ben Matheson, KNOM – Nome
When a person dies under suspicious or unusual circumstances, the state has an obligation to make sure that evidence is processed and that they can protect the victim and their family. In rural Alaska, that means sending the body to the medical examiner’s office in Anchorage. If the legislature acts on a bill this year, part of that examination could take place locally.
Burmeister Leads Mushers Into Cripple
Emily Schwing, KUAC – Fairbanks
Nome Musher Aaron Burmeister has the Iditarod lead. He pulled into the remote checkpoint of Cripple at 3:25 this afternoon. Jeff King followed 40 minutes later. A number of mushers appear to be taking their 24 hour lay overs in Takotna, including Aliy Zirkle, Robert Sorlie and Dallas and Mitch Seavey.
UAA Panel Discussing Pros, Cons Of Pot Legalization
Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
Tonight the University of Alaska Anchorage will feature a panel discussion on the pros and cons of legalizing marijuana. Last night we brought you the perspective of a legalization advocate and this evening we offer the opposing side. Dean Guaneli is a retired assistant attorney general for Alaska. Guaneli says there is confusion over the current law regulating marijuana here. He says because of the privacy clause in the state constitution, a 1976 decision by the Alaska Supreme court made it impossible for the state to enforce the law for small amounts in one’s home. But he says in 2006, the legislature clearly re-criminalized marijuana.
Infusion Suite Opens At Ketchikan Hospital
Leila Kheiry, KRBD – Ketchikan
Chemotherapy patients at PeaceHealth Ketchikan Medical Center have a brand-new infusion suite for their treatments. The center opened last week with a special ceremony, and the first patients tried it out on Tuesday.
Nome Business Owners Prepare For Iditarod Influx
Anna Rose MacArthur, KNOM – Nome
Mushers are racing towards Nome. And so are the tourists. A small business owner is gearing up to capitalize on the influx.
Trapper Creek Man Survives Snowmachine Crash Thanks to His Dog
Phillip Manning, KTNA – Talkeetna
Dogs are an integral part of many people’s lives in Alaska, and Otis Orth, from Trapper Creek man has even more reason to be grateful to his four-legged companion.
After Perfect Season, Kodiak Girls, Set Sight On Regions
Brianna Gibbs, KMXT – Kodiak
The Kodiak High School girls basketball team wrapped up an undefeated regular season over the weekend. The Lady Bears are ranked number one among large schools in Alaska, and will be looking to advance to the state championship tournament with a good performance at regionals this weekend.
The last time Coach Amy Fogle wrapped up an undefeated season, her team, the Kodiak High School boys, went on to win the state championship in the year 2000.
Early spring is a popular time for the Eklutna Traverse, a 38-mile trip that lets skiers and mountaineers travel along the Eklutna Glacier all the way to Girdwood. But the glacier is changing. What does a melting glacier mean for an infamous Alaska adventure?
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Several inches of fresh snow coat Anchorage roadways and that’s causing problems for drivers.
Jennifer Castro is a spokesperson for the Anchorage Police Department. She says police have been responding to accidents since early this morning.
“A lot of the accidents started up around 5 a.m. this morning and as of 11:30 this morning we’ve responded to 71 accidents, five accidents with injuries and 29 vehicles in distress. Now there isn’t just one area that we’re seeing to be a really bad, bad area. These accidents are occurring all over Anchorage,” Castro said. ”The best advice that we offer to people is to just go slow and anticipate adding in some more time to get wherever you need to go.”
Forecasters expect snow to continue falling overnight with around six inches total accumulation.
Nikolai is one possible stop for Iditarod mushers to take their mandatory 24-hour rests, and some did just that after pulling into the Kuskokwim River community on Tuesday.March 5, 2014
In the aftermath of Tuesday’s rough run through the Dalzell Gorge and into Nikolai, many Iditarod mushers have had to act fast to change their race plans.
It was a late night in McGrath as mushers trickled in to the eighth checkpoint on the trail. A bruised and battered Hans Gatt was in good spirits, but he says rough runs have affected his game plan.
“I’m a little bit behind, but we’ll see after the 24 what’s going,” he said.
Mushers must stop for 24 hours before they get off the Yukon River in Kaltag, roughly 630 miles into the race. Many have a rough plan for where they will stop, but Gatt hadn’t yet decided by McGrath, 300 miles in.
Schwing: “Are you going to 24 in Takotna?”
Burmeister: “ I don’t know yet.”
Takotna is the next stop. It can get busy as teams pile in for a long rest. Some will stop up the line in Ophir. That will be a new move for Paul Gebhardt, who says he is looking for a change of pace after 16 previous Iditarods.
“I’ve never done this before, so I thought I just try and push it a little bit farther up the trail,” he said.
Gebhardt wants to break his runs up differently. After Takotna, the run between Ophir and Cripple is one of the longest, so a well-rested team will likely fare better. He says where he takes his 24 hour rest really isn’t up to him.
“It doesn’t depend on if I get sleep between now and then or not. That doesn’t matter,” Gebhardt said. “It’s all about what the dog team looks like.”
But others are determined to follow their plans to a tee.
An energetic dog team literally dragged two-time champ Robert Sorlie through McGrath, their tails wagging as they flew by.
“I’m on schedule,” he said.
Mitch Seavey’s dogs weren’t nearly as boisterous, but they were certainly alert as he took off for parts beyond.
Schwing: “Have you had to adjust your plan at all?”
Seavey: “Nope. Same as I wrote it down.”
The next stretch of trail through the Interior will provide a bit of a respite from the rough-going route as teams drop on to the Kuskokwim and cover some river miles into Takotna.
The Iditarod trail continued to claim victims through Tuesday. Reports of everything from broken ankles to broken hands came filtering back from Rohn and Nikolai.
It will take a combination of resilience and persistence for mushers to keep moving down the trail.
Before mushers ever left Willow, four-time champion Jeff King predicted more than a few teams would never make it past Nikolai.
“There will be some race ending circumstances for some of the teams early in the race,” he said.
King was correct. Reports from Rohn include stories of a broken hand, a broken ankle, and numerous tales of broken and battered sleds. But none of that has stopped Aliy Zirkle.
“It will take a little bit, it will take a broken limb for me to get out of this race, which I can’t, I won’t say won’t happen,” Zirkle said.
Her team seemed nearly unscathed as they passed quickly through McGrath. In fact they really didn’t want to stop at all. They pulled hard as Zirkle put her full weight on the sled brake. They let her stay only long enough to sign out of the check point.
Sonny Lindner arrived first in McGrath, chased by a bright red helicopter. He says the trail was smooth and soft compared to what teams battled earlier in the day.
“I like this trail better than yesterday’s,” Lindner said.
That’s because there is actually snow on the trail into McGrath. Lindner says it’s purely luck that kept his sled together and his body intact.
“Most of that trail, there was no control, you just had to try and hang on and not hit anything big,” he said.
But Lindner says communication with his team did break down a little bit.
“Every time you say ‘easy,’ usually in fall training you do it in fall training to mean ‘slow down,’ but there ‘easy’ meant ‘hey the sled’s going to hit you at 80 miles an hour now, so you better get out of the way, so now they’ll hear it and want to take off,” Lindner said.
He says it will be another day or two before he knows what kind of effect a rough trail had on his team.
“We’ve got to look them over and see after running them over that stuff in the gorge and everything. I’m sure some soreness is going to show up….right there,” Lindner said.
He points to his own right knee and laughs. He admits his dogs are far more resilient than his 64-year-old body.
Even if they did make it past Nikolai, there are other mushers showing plenty of signs of wear and tear. Hans Gatt came into McGrath looking tired. He stayed only long enough to drop his snow hook and run down the street for a drop bag. Despite the jog, he’s in pain. He hit his head somewhere along the trail and is now taking ibuprofen for a sore neck.
“It’s just stopping 16 dogs with my head, you know didn’t help,” Gatt said.
Aaron Burmeister also winced as he dropped his hook and tried to pound it into the snow with his foot. He couldn’t hold his barking, jumping dogs by himself.
He reportedly has a torn ACL, so he can’t put his full weight on the brake. He didn’t say much as he blew through McGrath.
Schwing: “Are you feeling alright Aaron?”
Burmeister: “Oh, I’ll be alright.”
Burmeister took a few minutes to limp down his line of barking, jumping dogs and look them over before he eased himself back on the runners, grit his teeth and dropped down onto the Kuskokwim River.
Mushers are required to take a 24-hour rest somewhere along the trail before they get off the Yukon River in Kaltag. Many stop in Takotna, but a few might lay over early in McGrath depending on the state of their bodies and their equipment. Still others may opt to stop in smaller, quieter checkpoints like Ophir and Cripple.