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APD investigates Sunday morning shots-fired reports


Anchorage police responded to nearly half a dozen incidents involving shots fired early Sunday, with officers using riot gear to disperse a 200-person Downtown block party and finding a pool of blood near a gas station. APD spokeswoman Anita Shell said police don’t believe any of the five separate incidents are related. The series of reports began with a 2:30 a.m. shots-fired call from the vicinity of 3rd Avenue and E Street. As officers arrived, they noticed an “unsanctioned street party” near the intersection of 4th Avenue and D Street. “A Cadillac Escalade was parked in the area with music blaring as about 200 people took to the streets dancing and shouting,” Shell wrote in a statement on the shootings. “When officers told the vehicle owner to turn off the music, the crowd became unruly toward police.” Shell said the group ultimately forced APD to issue a request for backup, summoning all officers except those assigned to Eagle River. “They were in the parking lot, spilling out onto the sidewalk and onto the street,” Shell said. “People became very unruly toward police, banging on cars -- that’s when we called all officers to the scene.” Units from the University Police Department and Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport Police responded, bringing the total count of officers present to 22. Police were able to disperse the party over the course of about an hour, with no injuries reported; Two partygoers, Christopher Raduege and Morgan Hough, were arrested for failure to disperse and disorderly conduct. “We were way outnumbered, 200 people to 20 people, so we donned riot gear, formed a line and asked people to disperse,” Shell said. Shell said no tear gas or less-lethal weapons were used during the incident. It’s the first time she can remember APD employing riot gear since February 2003, during the Fur Ball youth riot at the Egan Center during that year’s Fur Rendezvous. “It’s very, very rare that we have to don riot equipment,” Shell said. “We were just protecting ourselves.” At 4 a.m. officers headed to a second call at the College Gate neighborhood, after a pair of homes were struck by gunfire in a two-block area. “Two homes about a block from each other were struck by gunfire; one at the 3800 block of Gardner Street, the other at the 5200 block of Sharon Street,” Shell wrote. “No injuries were reported in either shooting but there was damage done to the homes.” Shell said a window at one of the struck homes was broken, although police haven’t confirmed whether it was hit by a gunshot. “Those are believed to have been done by the same person or group,” Shell said. “People were inside both homes.” Seven minutes after the College Gate call, police were informed of a disturbance with shots fired in the Spenard area, near the intersection of Wyoming and Oregon Drives. “There, officers discovered a house party with about two dozen teens in attendance, but the persons who fired the shots had fled the scene,” police wrote. “Officers arrested Anthony Dawn Mahle-Sounthone, age 22, for disobeying a lawful order of a police officer and Sengtavent Choumkhammany, age 18, for disorderly conduct.” Shell said at least eight people were cited at the party for being minors consuming alcohol. It’s not clear whether the men arrested were involved in the initial fighting reported. “It looks like there were several subjects in a disturbance at the party location,” Shell said. “There were two dozen people there -- two were adults.” At 4:37 a.m., officers received a report from Downtown of blood and glass in an alley behind a Chevron gas station at 6th Avenue’s intersection with Ingra Street. Police found what Shell described as a “good-sized pool of blood” at the scene, as well as shell casings and “shattered glass that appears to be from a vehicle.” No witnesses have come forward, however, and police haven’t found either the victim or a vehicle. “There’s definitely a victim,” Shell said. Less than an hour later, at 5:15 a.m., police received a report from a local hospital of a man with an apparent gunshot wound to his hand he claimed had been inflicted by a nail gun earlier in the morning. “It is unknown if he may have been a victim of earlier shootings that occurred overnight or if this was a separate unreported incident,” Shell wrote. “His injuries are not life-threatening.” Shell declined to identify which hospital the man showed up at, but said officers don't believe his shooting is related to the earlier call from 6th and Ingra. While a bullet wasn’t recovered from the man’s hand, she said officers had cause to doubt the man’s story. “He’s lying to us,” Shell said.

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4.12 earthquake hits two miles south of Soldotna


An earthquake hit two miles south of Soldotna and ten miles southeast of Kenai at 8:32 am on Sunday. The estimated magnitude of the earthquake is 4.12 ML according to the Alaska Earthquake Center website.

Soldotna Police Dispatch says there are no reports of damage.

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Celebration of life planned for missing Juneau hiker


A celebration of life has been planned for a Juneau hiker who went missing earlier this year. The ceremony honoring Sharon Buis is scheduled for Monday evening in Juneau. The 48-year-old Buis went missing in late May. The experienced outdoorswoman did not show up for a scheduled hike and her car was found at the Mount Roberts trailhead. Searches of trails in the area were conducted by the Alaska State Troopers and volunteers. Juneau police have kept the matter open as a missing-persons case. The Juneau Empire reports that Buis' family has invited community members who knew Buis and those involved in the search to Monday's ceremony.

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Walker names Natural Resources, Revenue commissioners


Gov.-elect Bill Walker has picked Mark Myers to be his Natural Resources commissioner.

Walker also announced Randall Hoffbeck as his choice for Revenue commissioner.

Myers is a former director of the state Division of Oil and Gas who most recently has served as vice chancellor of research at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

Hoffbeck formerly served as a petroleum property assessor for the state and as a North Slope Borough finance director.

Walker takes office Dec. 1.

Myers would replace Joe Balash, a key figure in efforts to advance a major liquefied natural gas project. Hoffbeck would replace Angela Rodell.

Outgoing Gov. Sean Parnell said he will not request the resignations of the current commissioners. He said it will be up to Walker, if Walker wants to do that.

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Troopers: Man drives car into ditch, offers passersby 'cold beer'


A man who Alaska State Troopers accuse of driving his car into a ditch on Hatcher Pass Road was offering cold beer to passersby shortly before being arrested.

25-year-old Troy Hepola was drunk at the time, just after midnight Friday, according to troopers.

A beige 2005 Honda Accord was in a ditch near mile 14 of the road.

Hepola was arrested there without incident and remanded to Mat-Su Pretrial Facility where he was held in lieu of $500 bail.

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Old drug causing a new epidemic.


Substance abuse is a problem in many communities across the state and now an old drug is causing a new epidemic.

In this story:

- Heroin is a destructive and addictive drug. According to experts, it's making its way into rural communities like Nome by air and by water.

- Nome Mayor Denise Michels knows how destructive the drug can be after watching her nephew, Derek, struggle with addiction.

- There are no drug treatment center in Nome and the waiting lists for other facilities across the state are long.

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A country divided: How Alaskans view Obama's immigration reform


President Obama's speech on immigration Thursday night sparked cheers and criticism across the country as well as an immediate response from immigrants living illegally in Alaska.

- Within minutes of the president's speech, the Alaska Immigration Justice Project received dozens of calls from immigrants around the state seeking advice. - Alaska immigration officials say that "it's critical to understand this is not amnesty, this is not a pathway to citizenship. This is a temporary reprieve from deportation for three years." - Former Anchorage Assemblyman says the executive order could create a second class of citizen and open the door for more benefits for illegal immigrants.

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Special Olympics three-day statewide bowling tournament


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Spotlight on Youth: East High School water project


A group of East High School students are turning what some may consider a simple task into a worldwide life changing project.

In this story:

- Students are building their own two-inch soy wax filled Water Pasteurization Indicator to learn about water purification and sanitation, while also helping those in need.

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Second time is (hopefully) the charm for Anchorage Port upgrade


Mayor Dan Sullivan and executive members of the Anchorage Port Modernization Project introduced their top choice for a concept design of the Anchorage Port.

The port was originally to be upgraded when construction started in 2006. Cost overruns and design flaws interrupted the project. The update was suspended in 2011 and in 2012, the municipality took over project management. The municipality went back to the drawing board and on Friday the Anchorage Port Modernization Project presented its favored concept plan.

"This is a project too important to fail," Sullivan said after the presentation to Anchorage assembly members. More than 90 percent of consumer goods used in Anchorage pass through the port. Goods that pass through this point are also used by 87 percent of the state's population, according to information provided by the Port of Anchorage.

Anchorage assembly members say they're pleased with the concept. "Concept D" was the least expensive and had the fastest completion date. Anchorage Assembly member Jennifer Johnston said this time around, planners learned lessons from the last port upgrade project. One concern is how the project will be funded. Johnston noted the city may have to take out loans.

Sullivan said he visited Washington D.C. to look at different funding options. He also said he expects a large portion of the bill to come in from the State of Alaska. "Quite frankly, it's probably going to be our friends at the state of Alaska who will be the primary funders," he said.

Anchorage assembly member Tim Steele said that following a previously failed project is a little nerve wracking, but he thinks city management will change things. "We got a second shot," Steele said, "and this one will work."

Click here to see the plan for the port here

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Kodiak, Juneau among 5 most expensive cities in U.S. to buy a turkey


HONOLULU — Residents of Hawaii pay the highest prices in the nation for their tasty birds and fixings on Thanksgiving, and Alaska feasts are almost as expensive.

That's according to an analysis by the personal finance website NerdWallet.

Most food has to be flown or shipped into both states.

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reports that Hilo and Honolulu were the top two most expensive markets out of 264 in the study.

Kodiak, Alaska took third place and Juneau, Alaska took fifth place behind Truckee, California.

The findings are based on a study by the American Farm Bureau that includes a shopping list of turkey, bread stuffing, sweet potatoes, rolls with butter, peas, cranberries, a tray of carrots and celery. It also includes a pumpkin pie with whipped cream, coffee and milk.

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Bartlett High sees surge in number of AP students


More students at Bartlett High School are taking Advanced Placement (AP) courses and successfully passing the AP exams. In the past five years, Bartlett has seen a 91 percent increase in the number of students with AP test scores of a 3 or higher (graded on a scale of 1 to 5).

Staff say the school has focused on encouraging all students to participate in AP courses and take the exam afterward. A score of at least 3 amounts to college credit. According to Curriculum Principal Sean Prince, the class itself is a benefit, even before students take the exam.

"Even if you don't score a 3 or higher, you have a higher probability of graduating from college if you've taken at least one to two AP classes in your high school career," said Prince. "We're looking at getting every kind of kid walking the halls at Bartlett into an AP class."

Bartlett High is also one of two local high schools to receive a National Math and Science Institute Grant. This is the second year of the threeyear grant that allows for special training for AP teachers, prep classes for students, and another incentive -- $100 awarded to students for each exam they pass in English, math or science.

"That's a more immediate gratification that the kids can see in their hands and see that their hard work is actually paying off for them," said Janel Walton, an instructor for AP Literature and Composition.

Bartlett offers 13 Advanced Placement Courses. AP Physics teacher Mark Youngblood says his physics class has tripled the number of students this year than he had last year. The classes are also becoming more diverse, a reflection of Bartlett's student population -- one of the most diverse in the United States.

Typically, AP classes are taken by socioeconomic groups that are more likely to be college-bound, said Walton. She adds that her AP Literature class has many students from various ethnic backgrounds. "They speak multiple languages sometimes which is a challenge when you're taking an English AP course. But they're an amazing group of kids that are absolutely intent on preparing themselves for college."

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Fairbanks man accused of soliciting someone to kill federal officers


A man in custody at the Fairbanks Correctional Center is accused of soliciting someone to murder federal officers.

Guy Christopher Mannino, 56, has been held in the Fairbanks facility since October 2013 and is currently awaiting sentencing on various weapons and tax charges.

"Mannino plead guilty in March 2014, to three felony firearms charges for unlawfully possessing and transferring a machine gun equipped with a silencer, as well as an additional felony count of concealing assets from the federal bankruptcy court," the U.S. Attorney Alaska office wrote in a release.

He has been in custody awaiting sentencing on those charges, with sentencing scheduled for Dec. 1, but on Friday a new charge was leveled.

A single-count indictment accuses Mannino of soliciting someone to kill unnamed federal officers.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Bottini told the grand jury the law provides for a sentence of up to 20 years, a fine of $250,000 and up to five years of supervised release, according to the release.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and Alaska State Troopers conducted the investigation leading to the indictment in this case.

Bottini and U.S. Attorney Karen Loeffler said the office could not provide comment or additional documentation until the case proceeds.

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The Covenant House Alaska raises awareness and surpasses fundraising goal


Thirty business executives participated in the sleep-out, spending 12 hours outside in tents and cardboard boxes the way homeless youth had to when figuring out how to stay warm.

- Organizers of the event say this year was warmer than in years past for the vigil, and out of the 19 participating Covenant Houses across the country, only Florida was warmer than Alaska.

- Of the participating Covenant Houses, Anchorage's facility was the first one to meet its goal of raising $150,000 and also surpass it by the highest percentage, organizers said.

- The Covenant House raised more than $200,000. The money will go toward operating the programs to help homeless youth.

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Higher education on low budgets


Known for leading the world in Arctic studies, the University of Alaska Fairbanks is trying to up its profile in the higher learning community.

"You're reputation ultimately is what brings in your students." President Pat Gamble told a group of Rotarians in Palmer Thursday.

Gamble says the University of Alaska's system faced a third straight year of operating budget cuts.  Courses at UAF could be on the chopping block to save money, but Gamble wouldn't speculate on which ones.

“It concerned me a little bit, I hadn’t heard a lot about it, so it kind of shed a lot of light on that, I had no idea about it, but maybe it pushed me a little more to go out of state," said Colony High School Senior Mari Marvel.

Marvel says she's leaning toward attending Wyoming or Idaho, because she can't find the kind of program she wants to study in Alaska.

Gamble says the administration's main focus over the next few years will be retention and recruitment.  He also wants University of Alaska to work closer with all of the state's school districts to ensure a smooth transition for students leaving high school and entering college.

Gamble says University of Alaska's board of regents approved this year's budget.  He says it is the third highest expenditure in the state of Alaska.

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New regulations for Arctic shipping near adoption


The International Maritime Safety Committee is set to vote on the first phase of the Polar Code in London on Friday. It’s a document years in the making that includes safety provisions for ships navigating arctic waters.

The International Maritime Organization has recognized that the uniquely sensitive and harsh environments of the arctic demand specific regulations for safe shipping.

While the first phase of the document contains specific rules governing ship safety, many environmental safeguards are not included, “That would come in the second step.

Those issues are a little more contentious, particularly the issues of black carbon, heavy fuel oil and air pollution from ships,” said Inuit Circumpolar Council-Alaska President, Jim Stotts.

Pacific Environment’s Kevin Harun is attending the meeting and says in an email, “While there are provisions to require navigators to limit entry into ice, we remain concerned that ships that are not ice-strengthened or specially designed to withstand ice will still be to operate in ice.”

Phase one of the Polar Code will be implemented in 2015. Phase two of the Polar Code is at least one year from adoption.

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For illegal immigrants in Alaska, a life of constant fear


Hundreds of illegal immigrants in Alaska live in fear of deportation. 

In this story: - An illegal immigrant living in rural Alaska for years explains what it's like to live a life in legal limbo. - She also explains why she understands and agrees with the anger towards illegal immigrants around the country. - Immigration officials say immigrants are often contributing members of the community, but live each day in fear of deportation.

...

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Jealousy, drug dealers blamed in alternate theories on 2012 murder


Prosecutors said a 24-year-old Anchorage man accused of shooting his ex-girfriend and leaving her naked in a ditch in 2012 was consumed by jealously. A defense attorney countered that the pair were in love and the woman might have been killed by drug dealers.

The remarks came in opening statements for the murder trial of Bukurim Miftari, who is accused of killing 30-year-old Kristen Reid.

Reid was gravely injured with a gun shot wound to her head, when police found her. She later died from the injury. The state is charging Miftari with first and second degree murder, kidnapping and evidence tampering.  Prosecutor Laura Dulic described the murder as a crime of "infatuation." Defense attorney George Dozier said Miftari and Reid were in a loving relationship but she had chosen a "dangerous lifestyle as a drug dealer," later adding that the crime scene was "almost staged."

Police found Miftari's Tahoe abandoned on Fairbanks Street and his gun thrown in a nearby dumpster. Prosecutors said cell phone records that will be presented as evidence during the trial, place Miftari in the same area as the crime.

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Kenai Peninsula lynx hunting, trapping on hold


KENAI — Hunting and trapping of lynx is on hold in the Kenai Peninsula until about 2020.

The Peninsula Clarion says the Alaska Department of Fish and Game sent a reminder to hunters and trappers earlier this month about the closure.

The closure of two game units on the Peninsula deviated this year deviates from the way the lynx season has been restricted in previous years.

Lynx are roughly on a six-year abundance cycle in the region, with populations tied to snowshoe hare numbers.

Fish and Game biologist Jeff Selinger says lynx hunting was allowed in past years even though trapping season was closed because most of the animals were taken by trapping and snaring.

But now there is a higher percentage of lynx being shot rather than trapped or snared.

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Body found near Anchorage park ruled a homicide


 The state medical examiner says a woman found dead near a northeast Anchorage park was the victim of a homicide.

The body of 54-year-old Irma Williams was found on Oct. 15 by a passer-by near Lions Park in the Mountain View neighborhood.

Anchorage police say they took a call Sept. 30 from Williams' family saying she had not been seen for a few weeks. She previously had been in regular contact.

Police are not releasing details on how she died but are asking people for information on her whereabouts before Sept. 30.

Police previously said Williams was a frequent visitor to Mizelle, Lions and Davis parks and often rode a blue bicycle that may have been equipped with a white basket. 

She was not considered a vulnerable adult.

Police ask that if you have any information about where she was prior to September 30th to call 786-8900 or Crime Stoppers at 561-STOP 

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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