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CHARGES: Driver in Friday's hit-and-run left because he didn't know what to do

The driver involved in the hit-and-run accident that took place near Barnes and Noble, Friday, has been arraigned for charges in relation to the crime, Saturday afternoon.

51-year-old Charles Carney Jr. was charged with the felony of leaving the scene of the accident without assisting the injured. According to charging documents, Carney did not help the victim, 23-year-old Desiree Lamont, because "he did not know what to do."

Officials say in the charging documents that witnesses saw Carney hit Lamont, Friday, as she was skateboarding near the entrance of a parking lot near Barnes and Noble. Carney was attempting to exit the parking lot and move on to A Street at the time. 

"It was reported that Carney exited his vehicle and walked back to Ms. Lamont as she lay on the ground, then reentered his vehicle and drove away," officials wrote in the charging documents.

Carney, who said at his arraignment that he is an employee of Anchorage School District and works on noon duty, is being held at Anchorage Jail with bail set at $30,000. 



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Police: Saturday afternoon West Anchorage shooting leaves one man injured

Anchorage police are currently investigating a shooting that took place Saturday afternoon in a West Anchorage parking lot near the Bear Tooth restaurant, that left one man wounded. 

Police received reports around 1:04 p.m. that the shooting occurred in a parking lot at the 1300 block of West Northern Lights Blvd. 

"According to witnesses, there was a disturbance between two groups of people in a parking lot when several shots were fired," police wrote. 

Police say that one man was struck in the leg by the gunfire and was taken to a local hospital for treatment by his friends. 

"The group of people responsible for the shooting fled the scene in a vehicle," police wrote. 

No vehicle or suspect description is available at the time and no arrests have been made. 

Police seek public help with the investigation and ask that anyone with any information about the shooting should call Anchorage Police at 786-8900 or make an anonymous tip at 561-STOP.



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School districts seeking teachers may have to recruit more students to keep schools open

Recruiters for school districts across the state were busy Friday and Saturday trying to hire teachers at the annual Alaska Teacher Placement job fair.

While recruiters were looking for teachers, at least two school districts say they may have to close two schools because of low enrollment numbers.

Representatives from the Kuspuk School District said this time at the fair, they were trying to fill fourteen positions.

Phyllis Evan, a school board member for the district said a school in Stony River began last year with 14 students, but may have to close since it's ending the year with 8 of them after several families moved away.

"It's always gonna be an issue when the count goes below 10 'cause we will have to really think if it'll stay open or close," Evan said.

Residents of Cold Bay said at the last town meeting they learned their school may no longer receive state funding because there are only four students enrolled out of the minimum requirement of 10 students.

Kerry Burkhardt, the school principal in Cold Bay said she currently wears multiple hats in the community and the impacts of losing the school could be huge.

"Out here people say if you close the school it kind of is death to the community, it's hard on the community," Burkhardt.

According to Burkhardt, the school is more than a place where students learn in the community.

"In many, many rural settings in Alaska the school is the center and the heart of the community," Burkhardt said.

Candace Schaack, who has lived in the community for the past 14 years said she's concerned a school closure would mean the community would also lose its ability to attract more families to the area that could potentially raise enrollment numbers.

"There are so many employment opportunities out here right now and people are looking at these jobs and looking at it going uhh if there's not gonna be a school we're not gonna come out," Schaack said.

Schaack said if there wasn't a school in Cold Bay, she wouldn't be able to move to another community where her two-year-old daughter could get an education when she's old enough.

Shane Watson, a resident of Cold Bay said the school is a center where community members meet for events, like basketball, Eskimo kick ball, and aerobics.

Watson said families without access to a public school would have a difficult time finding the means to do homeschooling.

"For some parents that are working full time, it would be very difficult for them to home school their child to provide that same quality of education," Watson said.

Budkhardt said it would cost roughly $211,000 to keep the school open.

While some districts are trying to find enough teachers and students, there's no denying some tough choices still remain.

Aleutians East Borough School District superintendent, Michael Seifert declined to comment on the potential closure on Saturday, but he reiterated the board has not made any final decisions.

A school board meeting is scheduled for April 7, where it's anticipated a decision will be made.



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Back from Afghanistan, Army helicopters may help civilians

FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) — Sixteen Army Black Hawk helicopters are back in Alaska and ready to help with civilian medical emergencies after spending nine months in Afghanistan.

The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner (http://bit.ly/1MgUB22 ) reports the military helicopters supplement Alaska's civilian fleet of about two dozen medical helicopters operated by private companies including Life Flight, Life Med and Guardian.

In the Interior, the Alaska State Troopers also have one Fairbanks-based helicopter that can transport patients in an emergency.

The U.S. Army recently signed a memorandum of understanding with the Air Force's Rescue Coordination Center in Anchorage that will send Fairbanks-based soldiers to more civilian emergencies.

Helicopter crews from Fort Wainwright's Company C, 1st Battalion, 52nd Aviation Regiment trained Wednesday at the scene of a mock car crash on the Elliott Highway.

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Information from: Fairbanks (Alaska) Daily News-Miner, http://www.newsminer.com



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UPDATE: Police identify victim of Friday's hit-and-run; driver charged

UPDATE March 28, 11:30 p.m.: Police have identified the victim of Friday's hit-and-run as 23-year-old Desiree Lamont, Anchorage police wrote in a press release Saturday morning. The victim's next of kin have been notified.

Police arrested 51-year-old Charles Carney Jr., the driver of the green Ford Explorer that hit Lamont, Friday, and have charged him with leaving an accident without assisting the injured.

Carney's bail has been set at $30,000 and is being held at Anchorage Jail where he awaits his Saturday afternoon arraignment. 

ORIGINAL STORY: A driver leaving the parking lot of a Midtown store hit and killed a woman who was skateboarding, then drove away, according to the Anchorage Police Department.

The driver of a green Ford Explorer was exiting the Barnes & Noble parking lot, entering the northbound lanes of A Street, and did not look left to see that a skateboarder was legally moving along the sidewalk, said Sgt. Cameron Hokenson.

Hokenson said the skateboarder did nothing wrong. The driver sped away and failed to stop and help, the officer said.

However, witnesses were able to jot down the license plate number and provided that to police, who tracked the suspect to his or her house.

No details were immediately released about the driver, but police confirmed the suspect was in custody.

Police re-opened the far left northbound lane of A Street to traffic at Benson Boulevard at about noon. The other three lanes remain closed as police investigated.

Three weeks ago, a man was struck by a sports utility vehicle and died at the intersection of Benson and New Seward Highway, within two blocks of the Friday crash.



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'We must do better,' reasons behind Alaska's rape kit backlog

The Alaska Crime Lab is currently sitting on sexual assault kits that haven't been completed after a year and a half, and now lawmakers in Juneau are looking at ways to develop a plan to get them tested. In this story: -- The Alaska Crime Lab has a backlog of 150 sexual assault evidence kits waiting to be fully analyzed. -- Over the years losing staff, advancements in technology and a two-year training process for new hires have added to the backlog. -- Sexual assault kits are not tested on a first-in, first-out basis, instead, the Department of Law prioritizes which cases are most critical to keep prosecution moving forward.



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House panel moves bill addressing municipal marijuana regs

JUNEAU — A bill addressing how municipalities regulate marijuana businesses has moved out of a House committee.

The House Judiciary Committee moved a new version of Rep. Cathy Tilton's bill, which would help define a municipality's role in regulating marijuana businesses, set a maximum household limit of 24 marijuana plants and add marijuana clubs to the list of regulated marijuana businesses.

Some committee members wanted to amend the bill to set a lower household limit, but that effort failed.

Under the bill, a municipality could also develop some criminal penalties for marijuana, and established villages could choose to prohibit marijuana businesses through an election or ordinance.

The new version also changed language to clarify that the state could still enforce marijuana regulations.

The bill also would ban public consumption of marijuana.



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Oil council: Shale won't last, Arctic drilling needed now

A U.S. Energy Department advisory council says the U.S. should immediately begin a push to exploit its enormous trove of oil in the Arctic waters off of Alaska, or risk a renewed reliance on imported oil in the future. The study released Friday says that in order for the U.S. to keep domestic production high and imports low, oil companies should start probing the Artic now because it takes decades of preparation and drilling to bring oil to market. ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson is chairman of the study committee and spoke to The Associated Press. He said it will take 20 to 40 years for Artic oil resources to become available. Environmental advocates say the Arctic ecosystem is too fragile to risk a spill, and cleanup would be difficult or perhaps even impossible because of weather and ice.



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Dropped dog tags led to Fairbanks soldier's arrest in armed robberies

Fairbanks police investigating a recent armed robbery got a lucky break in the case when they found the suspect's military dog tags lying on the ground at the crime scene, charges say.

Pvt. Keith Downing, 23, faces two counts of first-degree robbery and one count each of third-degree and fourth-degree theft. Downing was a soldier at Fort Wainwright and has since been discharged. Police were first called to robbery in a parking lot on the 3400 block of Rewak Drive at about 1:15 a.m. on Dec. 21, near the Show Girls Strip Club. Two men there told officers they had been walking through the lot when two black males, armed with a shotgun and pistol, pulled up in a silver Volkswagen Jetta and demanded their belongings, according to a Dec. 22 criminal complaint written by Fairbanks Police Department Detective Alana Malloy.

One victim struggled with the shotgun-wielding man, and didn’t hand over anything. The other victim tried to run away but was caught by the man with the pistol, who “grabbed him around the neck and had the gun to his head," police say.

The second victim handed over a $700 Samsung smartphone and about $30 in property, before their assailants left. As police responded to the first call, they received a report of a similar robbery from a man near the Golden Nugget Hotel at 900 Noble St., off Airport Way about two miles east of Rewak Drive. The victim in that stick-up handed over a cellphone and cigarettes worth about $40 to two black males in a four-door sedan, possibly with Alaska license plate GFD903, charges say.

The men were armed with a pistol and shotgun, with a white male driving the vehicle, police were told. As officers converged on the two calls to find the vehicle, Officer Duwayne Allen returned to Rewak Drive and helped document the crime scene outside the Showboat.

There he found "a necklace with rings, keys and a set of dog tags on it," Malloy wrote.

“The necklace was not frosted over and appeared to have not been on the ground for very long," he wrote. "On the dog tags was the name Keith Downing.”

Officers who visited Downing’s listed address at Fort Wainwright, on the 3200 block of Neely Road, found a four-door gray Jetta in the driveway, with Alaska license plate ESD903. Police stopped both Downing and the man to whom the vehicle was registered in the area, with Fort Wainwright military police taking Downing to the provost marshal’s office. The Jetta’s owner said Downing had shown up at the apartment on the evening of the 20th, with a pistol and shotgun he said he had recently bought. Downing asked to borrow the Jetta overnight, and the owner agreed. “(The vehicle owner) stated that Downing returned at about 1:45 a.m. and said something about robbing people,” Malloy wrote. “(He) noticed that Downing had a white Samsung phone with him.” Downing also allegedly asked if he could leave the weapons at the apartment, a request the Jetta’s owner granted despite it being in violation of Fort Wainwright regulations. At detectives’ request the owner searched the apartment, finding a Glock .45-caliber pistol and a 12-gauge pump-action shotgun as well as business cards belonging to the second victim in the Rewak Drive robbery. Inside the Jetta, the owner found a box of 12-gauge shotgun slugs, as well as a Dec. 12 receipt from Alaska Fast Cash, made out to Downing for a Glock .45-caliber pistol and a Catamount 12-gauge pump-action shotgun. “The bill of sale was stamped ‘layaway receipt,’” Malloy wrote. “The receipt showed that Downing had paid $620 of the $625 due.” According to Malloy, the first victim in the Rewak Drive robbery identified Downing from a photo lineup as the man with whom he had fought over the shotgun. An FPD detective also compared Downing’s shoes to photos of footprints from Rewak Drive. “They were very similar with many common characteristics to include size, shape of lugs on the soles, number of spaces on the soles and a triangle shape in the middle of the length of the shoe,” Malloy wrote. When police spoke with Downing, he categorically denied driving or using the Jetta, as well as any involvement in the Dec. 21 armed robberies. “When asked about the dog tags, he stated that he must have left them in (the Jetta owner’s) car,” Malloy wrote. “He stated something to the effect that maybe (the owner) threw them on the ground.” Fairbanks NBC affiliate KTVF reports that Downing was discharged from the Army as of his arraignment Monday morning. Fairbanks police told KTVF that both the driver and the alleged second assailant had been located; both were soldiers, but neither has been charged. Editor’s note: Information that would identify the victims has been omitted from this story.



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International Airport Road sees 2 extrication crashes overnight

Anchorage police say two separate crashes along International Airport Road overnight Thursday involved vehicles traveling at right angles to each other, with medics having to remove people trapped in both wrecks. According to a Friday statement from APD spokeswoman Jennifer Castro, the first crash occurred just before 11:30 p.m. Thursday. A 2012 Ford F-250 pickup truck, which was making a left turn from International to head north on C, collided with a white 1997 Ford Expedition. “The driver of the Ford Expedition was extricated from the vehicle and transported to a local hospital to be treated for his injuries,” Castro wrote. “The driver of the Ford truck was checked by medics on scene and released. Alcohol was believed to have been a factor by the driver of the Ford Expedition in the crash.” A Channel 2 photographer at the scene saw one person being extricated from an SUV, with one of the vehicles involved appearing to be totaled. Police spent much of the night cleaning up glass and debris from the road.

The second crash, just before 4 a.m. at West International and Arctic Boulevard, involved a white 2007 Chevrolet Impala sedan headed west on International and a 2003 blue Chevrolet Silverado pickup traveling south on Arctic. “The passenger in the Impala was seriously injured in the collision, extricated from the vehicle and transported to a local hospital,” Castro wrote. “The female driver in the Impala was transported to a local hospital with non-life threatening injuries. The driver of the Silverado was not seriously injured in the collision.” APD dispatchers said that the collision temporarily closed eastbound traffic on International, with the road reopened by 5:30 a.m. Castro said Friday afternoon that any charges against the Expedition driver in the Thursday crash are pending further investigation. “He’s in the hospital and we’re still investigating, but we have reason to believe he was under the influence of alcohol,” Castro said. She said both wrecks remain under investigation, with no arrests or charges made in either one.

"They were pretty intense crashes," Castro said. Channel 2’s Chris Klint, Rick Schleyer and Garrett Turner contributed information to this story.



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New evidence has revitalized the search for missing mother

A recent discovery has breathed new life into the search for Jael Hamblen, a 20-year-old mother who was last seen Oct. 11 near Trailside Loop in South Anchorage.

About two weeks ago, hikers walking along a trail in Chugiak found a purse buried in the snow. Inside, friends told KTUU, the hikers found personal belongings and a document that specifically identified Hamblen.

At this time Anchorage police have not confirmed or denied the recovery of this evidence.

...

Hamblen's friend says it was found on a trail near Chugiak, but APD asked us to not reveal the location because of their concerns about jeopardizing the investigation.

"Finding something like that in a strange area is not necessarily a good thing, but it gives us a hope," said Lissa Lake, the mother of Hamblen's best friend. "I have never lost hope, I am waiting for Jael to walk through my door with her big smiley face."

Police ask anyone with information about Hamblen's disappearance to call dispatch at 786-8900 or to remain anonymous call Crime Stoppers at 561-stop.



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Ketchikan authorities release name of man killed in fire

Ketchikan fire authorities have identified a man killed in a residential fire as 60-year-old George Mather Jr. Ketchikan radio station KRBD reports Mather died of smoke inhalation in the Monday morning fire. Mather lived at the home. The cause of the fire has been blamed on faulty electrical wiring. Ketchikan Fire Chief Abner Hoage says an autopsy by the state medical examiner's office found high levels of carbon monoxide in the victim's blood. Hoage says the home had a smoke detector, but the battery had been removed from it. Hoage says the fire appeared to have smoldered for a long time. He says a working smoke detector likely would have alerted Mather.



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Police investigate complaints of drone following Eagle River children

Parents in Eagle River have complained to police about a small drone aircraft that they say has been spotted this week following school children and hovering near homes. The reports highlight growing concern over laws that govern how and where drones can be used in Alaska.

Concerned grandparent Patricia Bailey said her experience with the aerial intruder began Tuesday, when she saw the drone hovering above her and 2-year-old granddaughter as they stood in their driveway.

After speaking with other parents, Bailey learned that the craft, which she described as “a very elaborate drone” -- a quadcopter model equipped with a camera in a ball turret -- had also been spotted outside windows of homes in the area.

Bailey said the final straw came when she spoke with children returning home from Eagle River Elementary School. “One of them asked, ‘Did you see the drone?’” Bailey said. “I asked, “What drone?'"

"'The one that followed us home.’” “That’s what got me fired up,” Bailey said. When Bailey and other parents called Anchorage police, she said they were told that the letter of the law bars firing guns at drones, but that they were within their rights to throw rocks and fire slingshots at the device if they felt threatened.

Anchorage police spokeswoman Anita Shell says police took one call each Monday and Tuesday about the drone from residents near Eagle River Elementary. She said several people had apparently decided to have one person call police on behalf of the group.

“There were two separate calls that neighbors (made), about a drone following children home or near windows,” Shell said.

Police told the parents involved that they spoke with the drone’s operator and gave him a “very stern talking-to” about their concerns, Bailey said.

When the man complained about the potential risk of damage to his expensive drone, she said, officers told him that the best way to keep his drone safe was by not flying it over other people’s property. Bailey said the intervention by officers on parents’ behalf had an apparent effect when people next saw the drone Wednesday. “It wasn’t following kids,” Bailey said. “It was over the school, but it was high up.” Shell said police did speak to the drone operator but did not talk about specifics of the exchange.  “We did make contact with the drone owner,” Shell said. “He was using the drone to practice for some upcoming business venture.” Police would not identify the drone operator Thursday, because Shell said he wasn’t arrested or charged after officers contacted him. “He wasn’t committing a crime,” Shell said. “There wasn’t anything we could do but advise him of the neighbors’ concerns about following children home or flying near windows.” Since then, Shell said, “We haven’t received any other complaints on him.”

Channel 2 on Thursday visited the operator's residence, as identified by Bailey, but an occupant said the man was not at home.  With the Federal Aviation Administration taking the lead in the emerging field of legislation governing drone use, Shell said the Eagle River incident highlighted the lack of local rules doing so. “It’s not a city law, it’s not a state law,” Shell said. FAA spokesman Allen Kenitzer said in a Thursday email that the agency is investigating this week’s Eagle River incident. The FAA is also looking into another Anchorage drone incident, involving a craft which entered airspace at Merrill Field. One section of FAA regulations concerning drone use quoted by Kenitzer offers stern consequences for encroaching on manned aircraft, warning that the agency “may take enforcement action against anyone who operates a (drone) in a way that endangers the safety of the national airspace system.” The excerpt doesn’t directly address privacy concerns, however, citing a list of do’s and don’ts released by the agency in June. “In the notice, the FAA restates the law’s definition of ‘model aircraft,’ including requirements that they not interfere with manned aircraft, be flown within sight of the operator and be operated only for hobby or recreational purposes,” FAA officials wrote. “The agency also explains that model aircraft operators flying within five miles of an airport must notify the airport operator and air traffic control tower.” Privacy is being addressed on the state level, however, with lawmakers taking increasing interest in how to protect people from encroachments by drones. Ginger Blaisdell, the chief of staff for Rep. Shelley Hughes (R-Palmer), said Thursday that Hughes’ office was aware of the Eagle River incident and had spoken with Bailey. Blaisdell said in an email that flying a drone up to someone else’s window doesn’t currently violate state law unless there are other factors.

"Is it photographing you and sharing those images publicly?" Blaisdell wrote. "That could result in the drone operator stretching the limits of the law by stalking, harassment, sending an explicit image of a minor, or other privacy protections already in state law." Hughes is entering her third year as a member of the Unmanned Aircraft Systems Legislative Task Force, a group which includes lawmakers as well as representatives from the FAA and the state Department of Public Safety. The task force's discussions accompany a rising wave of drone activity on the Last Frontier, with the FAA naming Alaska one of six states where it plans to develop test sites for drones in 2013 and the University of Alaska conducting drone research at an in-state flight range. Despite that uptick in unmanned flights, Blaisdell said state activity on drone bills has been limited since last year, when then-Gov. Sean Parnell signed into law a bill governing the use of drones by law enforcement. She also cited the FAA's lead on drone rules as a factor.

“We haven’t put together another actual bill this year,” Blaisdell said. “They’re really the ones establishing the regulations for drone use.”

Despite that uptick in unmanned flights, Blaisdell said state activity on drone bills has been limited while the task force is working on state privacy guidelines.

"As the Task Force continues to work on privacy issues, we are finding that Alaskans have many protections already in statute," Blaisdell wrote. "Education is key to understanding what is right and wrong when using a drone."

As lawmakers continue to work on laws, Blaisdell asked Alaskans to use common courtesy when they use drones.

"As a general rule of thumb, if you would not be in a certain place or photographing something in person, you probably shouldn’t be doing it with a drone," Blaisdell wrote. Back in Eagle River, Bailey said keeping drones like the one spotted this week from following her children is a victory in itself. “As long as he stays high in the sky, I’m OK with him,” Bailey said. Editor's note: The sequence of events in Patricia Bailey's account of encounters involving the drone Tuesday has been corrected, and Ginger Blaisdell's comments regarding state drone regulations have been clarified.

Channel 2’s Dan Carpenter contributed information to this story.



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Convictions of protesting Kuskokwim River fishermen upheld

The Alaska Court of Appeals has upheld the convictions of 13 Kuskokwim River fishermen for catching king salmon using prohibited nets. In June 2012, about 60 fishermen fished on the Kuskokwim River in violation of an emergency closure by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. Rather than pay a fine, 22 of the fishermen took the charges to trial, arguing that their religious practice compelled them to fish for kings. The District Court found that the Yup'ik fishermen did indeed have a religious interest in fishing for king salmon, but that the state's interest in preserving the resource outweighed that interest. The fishermen were found guilty. Thirteen of them appealed their convictions and asked for a religious exemption. The Court of Appeals considered the Frank decision, which allowed an Athabascan man to hunt a moose out of season to provide for a funeral potlatch. In the fishing case, the court weighed Fish and Game's ability to manage the fishery for sustained yield against granting a religious exemption for the Yup'ik fishermen. The court found that the two cases differed in their impacts on the wildlife resource. The harvest of a moose in the Frank case was found to have minimal impact to the overall moose population. On the Kuskokwim River, however, the court found that granting a religious exemption for all Yup'ik subsistence fishermen who shared similar religious beliefs would greatly impact the escapement numbers of the king salmon run. The Alaska Court System has posted the full text of the Court of Appeals' decision (PDF).



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Bill would name wilderness area for late Gov. Hammond

Alaska's U.S. senators have introduced legislation to rename a wilderness area after the late former Gov. Jay Hammond. The bill, from Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, would name 2.6 million acres of wilderness in Lake Clark National Park and Preserve as the Jay S. Hammond Wilderness Area. The wilderness area is about 60 percent of the park's total acreage. Murkowski, in a release, said Hammond was one of Alaska's truly great statesmen. As governor, she said Hammond balanced resource development with environmental concerns. Sullivan called Hammond one of Alaska's great public servants and Lake Clark National Park and Preserve one of Alaska's great places. He said he's proud to help ensure Hammond's legacy lives on for future generations in a place Hammond loved.



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Anchorage police wrangle runaway mini horses

Anchorage police had an equestrian experience in East Anchorage Friday morning, finding and recapturing a pair of miniature horses. In a Twitter message about the horses Friday, APD shared a photo of three patrol officers with the horses. “Some interesting runaways patrol came across this morning!” police wrote. “They were found grazing in a median & safely returned home.” APD spokeswoman Jennifer Castro said police were first informed of the loose horses at about 5:30 a.m. Friday. A subsequent caller reported “little horses running around around, a black one and a white one” in the vicinity of Boniface Parkway and Northern Lights Boulevard. “It sounds like a passerby saw these two horses grazing on grass in a median near Boniface and Northern Lights,” Castro said. Police in the area were able to safely round up the horses. “We were able to take these horses into custody, and then we were able to reunite them” with their owners, Castro said.

Friday's call isn't the only time Anchorage police have had to rein in stray horses. Several full-size horses escaped from a South Anchorage business on April Fools Day in 2013, briefly galloping along the Seward Highway in midday traffic before officers recaptured them near the Dimond Center mall. Castro said the horses had apparently escaped from their owners' corral overnight, but wandered only a few blocks from their home. “You can call it our runaway juveniles for the day,” Castro said.



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JBER 'potential bomb threat' ends after brief road closures

A now-canceled “potential bomb threat” Friday morning on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, which briefly closed roads but not the base’s main gates, remains under investigation. Staff Sgt. William Banton said Friday morning that a threat notification had been terminated as of shortly after 10 a.m. The incident apparently occurred at a construction site on base, where three or four new dormitories were being built. A civilian Army Corps of Engineers employee called base officials at about 7:45 a.m. to report finding a spray-painted message on a building that said “bomb inside,” Banton said. The incident closed roads on base in the area of 5th Street and D Street, as well as between 1st Street and 6th Street, for about an hour. JBER was planning to issue a statement later Friday on the incident, according to Banton.



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Alaska marks 51 years since Good Friday earthquake

Fifty-one years after the Good Friday earthquake, a survivor of the temblor which killed more than 130 people has named March 27, 2015 “1964 Alaskan Earthquake Remembrance Day.” Gov. Bill Walker’s office announced that state flags are at half-staff Friday to mark the loss of life in the 9.2 earthquake, which struck at 5:36 p.m. Alaska time on March 27, 1964. The earthquake and the tsunami it generated leveled Chenega, destroyed Anchorage homes, and damaged Valdez so severely that the town was moved to a nearby site. Last year, Walker spoke with Channel 2 about his memories of that fateful day as a 12-year-old boy. While he had hoped to spend the day at the local dock, Walker’s father instead took him and his brother inland to help collect sand -- an errand which saved Walker’s life when everyone at the dock died that evening. Walker, recalling the earthquake in his office’s Thursday statement, called it “a day I will never forget.” “Our small town lost more than 30 people that day,” Walker said. “The earth shook with tremendous force, whipping large trees back and forth, and triggered a giant local tsunami that completely took out the dock. I urge all Alaskans to get their emergency plans and kits prepared, as the next big one is not a matter of ‘if’ but ‘when.’” Walker’s story of surviving the disaster, as well as many others from across Southcentral Alaska, are compiled in Channel 2’s 50th-anniversary special Unstable Ground.



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Lawmakers discuss Alaska Code of Military Justice

Lawmakers heard an update on efforts to draft new rules for the Alaska National Guard. Lt. Forrest Dunbar talked about efforts to update a code of military justice in Alaska during a House Military and Veterans Affairs Committee meeting Thursday. The current code dates to territorial days.

Dunbar said the Guard currently has three options for disciplining members: letters of reprimand and similar actions, administrative separation and prosecution under state law. The Guard would like two more options: nonjudicial punishments, including fines and suspensions, and court-martial. The Guard and lawmakers are working on developing those options through HB 126. Thomas Brown, an aide to Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux, said work on the bill will likely continue this summer so that a bill can pass early next session.



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Sweet success; all 100 wood bison make it to Shageluk unharmed

History was made in Shageluk this week. The population more than doubled as the small community of 70 welcomed a hundred wood bison onto its lands.

North America's largest land mammal disappeared from Alaska more than a century ago but thanks to a small herd of 13 transported from Canada in 2003 to the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center in Portage, wood bison are now able to roam in their natural U.S. habitat once again.

"Holy, it's huge," said one student from Holy Cross as a civilian C-130 landed on the small runway in Shageluk Tuesday afternoon. Students and staff traveled 57 miles, or about two hours, on snow machine just to witness the wood bison's arrival.

It's hard to imagine there were more than a dozen adult wood bison on board the plane.

"It's almost surreal, I keep having to pinch myself," said Cathie Harms, a biologist with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

For Harms, it's been a long time coming.

"We've been at this project for more than 23 years, for all practical purposes, but we only got the go ahead last October," said Harms.

Sunday was the first day wood bison from the AWCC were loaded into specially made "bison boxes" and transported to Lynden Air Cargo in Anchorage.

Two flights a day carrying two bison boxes were flown to Shageluk from Sunday to Tuesday.

From Anvik, Holy Cross, Shageluk and Grayling, it's been a regional effort.

"It was like a dream to begin with and the dream came true," said Carl Jerue from Anvik.

Jerue was one of the representatives from each surrounding village for the project. He said eight years ago he and a group of other representatives traveled to villages, that's how the conversation of introducing wood bison into the region started.

"There's like this real good feeling to see them coming out of there and they survived the trip out here, I think they'll survive for generations and generations," said Jerue.

"People are like where's Shageluk on a map?" said Marlene Madros. "We're such a tiny little community."

For the introduction, Shageluk was chosen for its habitat, lack of potential conflict for mining and the support from the community.

"Everybody has a part, it's nice to see everyone all happy, we're all happy and outgoing and you can just feel it," said Madros.

From the heavy lifting to the transportation of food, it literally took a village for the project to happen.

"I guess probably everybody's watching us; they are going to say 'you guys can do it, we can do it' so it's going to be interesting," said Arnold Hamilton from Shageluk.

"I was like a 4-year-old inside, like oh my gosh that's a bison in the wild, not in a zoo," said John Eller, a teacher from Holy Cross.

The wood bison were released into temporary pens. The animals will remain there until they get acclimated to the area. Once set free, the wood bison will start the journey to the Innoko Flats about 5 miles away.

By Tuesday evening, the final flight carrying the bison boxes arrived in Shageluk. The final count of wood bison in the village is 100.

It's a cause for celebration.

"They're in phenomenal shape," said head biologist of the project, Tom Seaton. "The Wildlife Center spent quite a bit of effort to get them in condition before they came out and they came out really well." Seaton said the relocation process was almost flawless.

"There's a body score from one to five and most of them are four's," said Seaton.

After the 100th wood bison is unloaded, Harms calls officials at the AWCC.

"You guys must have done a great job loading them because they sure look good," said Harms on the phone.

It's come full circle for Harms; a 23-year dream is finally reality.

"It's been a lot of work, I think everybody's very happy with the outcome so far," said Harms.

For the wood bison, it's the end of a life behind a fence and the start of something new; living free and wild.

A herd of adult male wood bison will be barged to the region sometime this summer.

Once released, it will be at least three years before residents of the region will be able to hunt the animal for subsistence.



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