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Anchorage Ride-Sharing Debate Continued

Dozens of cabbies lined before the Anchorage Assembly Tuesday night, many of them upset over the presence of the ride-sharing company Uber.

UBER began service in Anchorage more than a month ago.  Drivers use their own cars to pick up passengers using the company’s App.  Proceeds from the fare go to the drivers and Uber which operates in more than 200 cities and 40 countries.

Critics say Uber violates Title 11, which governs taxi permits and licensing throughout Anchorage.

"We have to have regulation, everything has to have regulation, permit holder Linda Taylor told the Assembly.  “Just to come in here like the spandex cowboy and say that's the way it's going to be, that's just not going to work."

Uber is hoping to work out a compromise with the Assembly and the taxi cab drivers so it can continue to operate in Anchorage.

“Uber is very different than a taxi, it is still taking someone from point A to point B, however these are non-commercial vehicles on the road 24-7, we do not wait in taxi zones,” said General Manager Brooke Steger.

Public hearings on whether Title 11 should be changed to accommodate Uber will continue November 18th.

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State: flu will be more common than Ebola

Health officials say there is a deadly virus sweeping across our country and it's not Ebola, it's influenza. 

The State of Alaska is recommending everyone to get their flu vaccine as soon as possible. 

"The number of people we will see affected with Ebola will be low. Whereas people becoming ill with influenza and potentially becoming hospitalized and dying from influenza is very high," says Chief of Epidemiology Dr. Joe McLaughlin. 

According to Mclaughlin Alaska has already seen a handful of flu reports. While flu season typically peaks in January and February he says it's not uncommon to see reports in October. 

The flu vaccine is available in both nasal spray and an injection. Dr. Mclaughlin says neither will cause you get sick from the flu but since they each take a few weeks to build immunity in your body you may contract the virus anyways. 

That's why he recommends getting vaccinated early. Dr. McLaughlin says influenza is highly contagious.

"If someone were to cough or sneeze in your general vicinity, say within 3 to 5 feet of you, you can become infected that way," said McLaughlin.

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Mat-Su Borough superintendent suspends military recruiting in schools

The Mat-Su Borough School District temporarily suspended military recruitment in its schools, a day after the Anchorage School District did so in response to findings of misconduct by Alaska National Guard recruiters. MSBSD spokesperson Catherine Esary says in a Tuesday statement that the decision by Superintendent Dr. Deena Paramo followed “the recent reports of allegations of misconduct by Alaska Army National Guard recruiters on schools campuses in Anchorage.” Paramo mirrored language used by ASD Superintendent Ed Graff Monday, when he said his district was “currently reviewing our practices around all staff concerning student safety.” “We value the partnership with our military,” Paramo said in the statement, “but we feel it is prudent to review procedures in the interest of establishing consistency and expectations.” Leaked military reports on investigations into the Alaska National Guard’s Recruiting and Retention Battalion include a series of claims involving recruiter Sgt. 1st Class Shannon Tallant -- such as trying to date a high-school freshman, who later got into his car when she was 17 but jumped out as he tried to take her to his home. Paramo says school officials met Tuesday to consider the decision after word came down of Anchorage's suspension of military recruiting in schools, but the Mat-Su decision was ultimately based on "the idea that an individual caused this, but a system is responsible for it."

"All this information that's coming out -- not just the sexual assaults, but that it's reached recruiters," Paramo said. "There seems to be a system problem with the (Alaska) National Guard that's affecting our kids."

According to Paramo, leaked reports that recruiters encouraged underage drinking and had sex with women inside a recruiting station at the Dimond Center mall in Anchorage also played a role.

"What was reported at (the Dimond Center) hit especially close to home," Paramo said.

Tuesday's suspension will also affect Army recruiters from West Point touring the state this week.

Recruiters have been contacted to meet with Paramo, in a schedule beginning next week. Paramo said she hopes to allow the military back onto campus but didn't have a timeframe for when that would happen, pending discussions with individual recruiters.

"That really depends on the conversations we have next week," Paramo said. This is a developing story. Please check and the Channel 2 newscasts for updates.

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Elders & Youth: Meet 5 young people thinking about Alaska's future

Meet five of of the young people in Anchorage today for the First Alaskans Institute Elders & Youth Conference. We asked the delegates, ages 11 to 23, to tell us about their hometowns, the biggest problems facing rural Alaska and how they plan to make things better.

The Elders & Youth Conference began Monday and launches the largest gathering of Alaska Natives in the state. The Alaska Federation of Natives conference begins 8:30 a.m. Thursday. With Alaska about to choose new statewide leaders and the most expensive political battle in state history now bombarding airwaves, the Friday candidate forum is expected to be among the main events.

Read the conference agenda here. 

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Butane hash oil concerns

Opponents of legalizing marijuana show off what they say is one of the dangerous consequences of pot legalization.

In this story: -Vote No on 2, Big Marijuana Big Mistake, brings up a Captain in the Aurora Colorado Fire Department, to demonstrate the dangers of butane hash oil explosions. - Since pot was legalized in January, Colorado has seen more than 30 confirmed explosions, a number more than doubled in 2013. -Vote Yes on 2, the campaign to regulate marijuana like alcohol, says the regulation of marijuana will provide a disincentive to making hash oil at home. -Hash oil, which is primarily used by medical marijuana users, is said to be easier on the lungs and easier to control the dosage.

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Decorative tusks, bone taken from Juneau thrift shore

JUNEAU — Church officials have reported the theft of ivory elephant tusks and whale bone from a thrift store in Juneau.

The Holy Trinity Episcopal Church runs the downtown shop and reported the theft to police Saturday.

The Juneau Empire reports the tusks were described as being carved with lines of little elephants. The whale bone bore a carving of an Alaska Native woman holding a child.

Lt. David Campbell, a police spokesman, said the tusks were being sold at the shop for $150 each and the whale bone for $450. He said police had no leads and had found no signs of forced entry.

Church Administrator Alison Talley said the store normally does not experience much theft. But she said someone recently stole a homemade donation box.

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Palins describe Anchorage brawl in police recordings

Bristol Palin describes being dragged through the grass and called a series of obscenities during a massive brawl last month in recordings of Anchorage police interviews obtained by KTUU and CNN through records requests.

Audio Clip One

"A guy comes out of nowhere and pushes me on the ground, takes me by my feet in my dress -- in my thong dress in front of everybody -- [and says] 'Come on you c***, get the f*** out of here. Come on you s***, get the f*** out of here," she said.

No charges were filed as a result of the September brawl.

(Editor's Note: The following audio clips contain language that some may find offensive.)

Other people interviewed by police described the Palins as instigators in a brawl that also reportedly included Track Palin and his father, Todd, fighting several men.

They said Bristol Palin punched Klingenmeyer several times before he restrained her.

Klingenmeyer said he'd approached Todd Palin to say that "your daughter's out of line" and that he should get the situation under control. That didn't happen.

Audio Clip Two

"I told 'em all to get the hell out of here and go home," he said.

He said the altercation with Bristol Palin started after she insisted she was going to beat another woman up.

"I said 'this is my house, we're not having this,'" Klingenmeyer said. "She freakin' goes, 'I'll kick your a**.'"

He said Bristol Palin punched him several times, and then he grabbed her fist, made a motion that isn't described verbally, and then she "fell down."

Audio Clip Three

Sarah Palin can apparently be heard in the background during some of the interviews. At one point, she complained that her children were being "made to feel like the bad guys."

She also criticizes Klingenmeyer, saying: "What would he be doin' pushin' girls around, though?"

Matthew McKenna, whose birthday was the reason for the party, told police that people had gotten "drunk and stupid" -- and that he had video of the altercation, but wouldn't share it.

"I know everyone here, and it's just an unfortunate deal," he said.

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AST: Woman held, assaulted for days by Soldotna man

A man has been charged with kidnapping and assaulting a woman for days inside a Soldotna home, with Alaska State Troopers catching up to him after a local search. Court records show that 47-year-old Soldotna resident Charles Brady has been charged with two counts of second-degree assault, plus one count each of fourth-degree assault, kidnapping and interfering with the report of a domestic-violence crime. All are classified as domestic-violence crimes. In a Tuesday AST dispatch troopers say they were informed of a disturbance at a home off the Kenai Spur Highway at about 12:45 p.m. Thursday.

According to AST spokesperson Beth Ipsen troopers, as well as Central Emergency Services medics, responded and spoke with the victim but didn't find Brady at the home.

"She called 911 after she was able to get a phone; (Brady) left about the same time," Ipsen wrote in an email Tuesday night.

The woman, who called AST from the residence, had apparently summoned help at the first opportunity she had to do so. “AST investigation revealed over several days (Brady) had assaulted a female at the residence,” troopers wrote. “Brady took the female’s phones and would not allow her to contact law enforcement and would not allow her to leave.” The victim was taken to Central Peninsula Hospital, for treatment of serious injuries troopers say she suffered during the assaults. Soldotna police helped troopers find Brady at another local residence, where he was taken into custody without incident at about 2:30 p.m. Thursday. He was taken to the Wildwood Pretrial Facility, where he was held without bail.

Earlier Tuesday Ipsen said that under state law, kidnapping can constitute confining a person in one location as well as abducting a person from one location to another. “If you prevent her from leaving -- if you lock the door, if you tie her up -- that counts as kidnapping,” Ipsen said. The Kenai court clerk’s office refused to provide a charging document for Brady by email or fax Tuesday.

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(UPDATED) APD chief: 'many investigative activities' related to Guard


Anchorage Police Chief Mark Mew on Tuesday responded to previous KTUU questions related to victims' concerns that APD is sharing the results of sexual assault investigations with the Alaska National Guard. 

Victims' advocates said they were worried that other victims would be afraid to report sexual assaults if police investigations fall into the hands of Guard employees. 

Police spokeswoman Jennifer Castro emailed the following response, attributed to Mew: 


Anchorage police have “many” investigations related to the Alaska National Guard under way, but can’t talk about any of them, said Anchorage Police Chief Mark Mew.

"There are many investigative activities related to the Guard matter underway at this moment,” Mew wrote in an email to Channel 2 News. “The APD looks forward to the time when it can explain to the public what it knows and has done with respect to the National Guard affair. We hope that time will be very soon, however, we cannot comment right now without jeopardizing current operations."

KTUU-TV obtained a February 2013 letter the National Guard sent to APD, requesting all police reports related to the Guard.

"I haven’t seen that document before,” Mew wrote. “But I do know that we have provided Guard investigators with one APD Sexual Assault report. My understanding is that they are using it to take administrative action against a Guard member.”

A Guard victim “provided her own APD report to AKNG command,” Mew wrote. “These are the only two APD Sexual Assault reports we believe the Guard possesses."

APD also gave the Guard “an inventory of other cases we have that involve the Guard in some way, but we did not provide the reports themselves."

Channel 2 News asked Mew whether sharing police investigations on sexual assaults would stop other victims from coming forward. Mew has not responded.

When asked why the Guard asked APD for police reports, spokesperson Candis Olmstead wrote:

"By regulation, military members are required to self-report civilian criminal allegations. Arrests, criminal activity and legal issues can affect security clearances, and limit access to sensitive information, property and equipment. This was not an effort to track down information about victims; it is a representation of our efforts to coordinate with law enforcement.”

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Woman, pickup sought after South Anchorage gunpoint carjacking

An armed woman who stole a pickup truck in South Anchorage early Tuesday is being sought by Anchorage police. APD spokeswoman Anita Shell said in a statement that the driver of the truck was looking for a parking space at about 12:30 a.m., at an apartment building on the 1700 block of Lore Road, when she saw the suspect -- described as a white woman in her twenties, standing about 5 feet tall -- approach the vehicle carrying a handgun. “At gunpoint, the suspect demanded the victim get out of her truck; the suspect then fled the scene in the stolen vehicle leaving the victim unharmed,” Shell wrote. Shell says the incident was first reported by the victim about 15 minutes after it occurred. “She called following the carjacking,” Shell said. All officers in town were alerted about the theft, but Shell said it wasn’t spotted Tuesday morning. She didn’t immediately know which way the suspect had headed after taking the truck. While APD didn’t have a picture of the pickup Tuesday, the statement included a detailed description. “The vehicle is described as a light gray 2001 GMC extended cab pickup truck, bearing Alaska license plate DZZ204,” Shell wrote. “The truck had a pink ‘907’ sticker on the rear window and an ‘Alaska Pride’ sticker on the tailgate. There was a large dent in the middle of the passenger side.” Anyone with information on the theft, or the whereabouts of the suspect or vehicle, is asked to call APD at 786-8900.

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Troopers respond to 2 Sterling Highway rollover crashes

Alaska State Troopers are responding to two single-vehicle rollover crashes on the Sterling Highway Tuesday morning amid slick road conditions. AST spokesperson Beth Ipsen said the crashes occurred near Mile 66 and Mile 53.5 of the highway. An ambulance was sent to the crash at Mile 53.5, near Cooper Landing. “One of them was minor (injuries), the other one we just don’t know,” Ipsen said. “It sounds like a back injury.” Ipsen didn’t immediately have the reported times of the two wrecks. She said the crash at Mile 66, which was listed at 8:53 a.m. on the state’s road conditions website, had blocked one of the highway’s two southbound lanes. “There’s reports that the roads are icy,” Ipsen said.

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Man fleeing from police arrested outside school

A Juneau driver fleeing from police at high speed was arrested after a crash in front of Juneau-Douglas High School. The Juneau Empire reports 42-year-old Jose Angel Munoz was arrested after a collision with an 82-year-old driver. Munoz was wanted on a warrant for drug and felony driving-under-the-influence charges. Police say an officer spotted Munoz and tried to make a traffic stop but Munoz drove into the neighborhood uphill from the high school. Munoz was descending at high speed and making a left turn in front of the school when he crashed. He was apprehended on foot. He was charged with felony drug misconduct, failure to stop at the direction of a police officer and failure to render aid. The woman in the other car was not injured.

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Plaintiffs challenging Alaska's ban on same-sex marriage tie the knot

In this video: Courtney Lamb and Stephanie Pearson, two of the plaintiffs who challenged Alaska's ban on same-sex marriage, tie the knot after a week of legal ups and downs.  The lawsuit that was resolved less on Oct. 11, when a federal judge ruled Alaska's ban unconstitutional. The fight is not over. Alaska's LGBT community says while marriage equality was a big step in the right direction, there is still a long way to go -- since there are still no anti-discrimination laws in Alaska.

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Autopsy being performed on Sitka drowning victim

An autopsy is being conducted on a man who drowned in the ANB Harbor in Sitka. The Daily Sitka Sentinel reports 41-year-old Richard T. Hatten was unresponsive when he was pulled from the water last Thursday. Friends found him in the water near the dock and pulled him out. Efforts to revive him were unsuccessful. Police say he was in the water for about an hour before his body was found. He had been staying on a boat in the harbor. Surveillance video at the harbor shows Hatten leaving the harbor and returning later. Police Lt. Jeff Ankerfelt says the video shows Hatten appearing unsteady on his feet before falling off the dock.

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Sen. Begich responds to attack ads

Who's telling the truth in all those political ads we've been seeing? What's said on TV or read in print could sway the election this November. On Monday Sen. Mark Begich made clear his objections to ads attacking his record while mayor of Anchorage.

He says there is a laundry list of things being made up including claims he cut police and fire department budgets and increased spending by nearly 50 percent. Begich says that when he was mayor public safety increased with more police officers and fire fighters.

The Sullivan for U.S. Senate campaign fired back saying Begich's office was investigated for fiscal mismanagement and he left the city millions of dollars in the red.

"We balanced the budged every single year, why because it's required by law and its the right thing to do so we balanced every single budget that was given to the assembly," said Begich.

In a press release the Sullivan Campaign said: "Mark Begich is trying to rewrite history and gloss over his disastrous record as mayor of Anchorage which included a $17 million budget deficit and abysmal job growth."

Begich says the deficit was a paper loss due to investments.

In other words, Begich says investments lost value because of the recession not because of a budget he made during his time as mayor.

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Parnell dismisses 3 high-level Alaska National Guard officers

Gov. Sean Parnell made three high-level personnel changes in the Alaska National Guard Monday, including formally dismissing an officer who had been previously asked to resign. According to a statement issued by Guard spokeswoman Lt. Col. Candis Olmstead, acting Guard leader Brig. Gen. Mike Bridges met with the officers, who were dismissed Monday in the building response to a National Guard Bureau report that outlined misconduct within the agency and mistrust of command by Guard members.

The Office of Complex Investigations reviewed allegations of sexual assault, hostile work environment, fraud and other misconduct and found a lack of accountability within the agency when misconduct was reported.

"Based upon the totality of the OCI report and findings," Olmstead wrote, Brig. Gen. Catherine Jorgensen was removed as chief of staff and land component commander for the Alaska Army National Guard. Her acting replacement is Col. John Woyte. Brig. Gen. Donald S. Wenke, the dismissed commander of the Alaska Air National Guard’s 176th Wing, was replaced by Col. Blake Gettys. Col. Edith Grunwald, the Alaska National Guard’s director of human resources, was replaced by acting director Lt. Col. Emma Thyen. Grunwald and Jorgensen had previously been asked to resign by Bridges, but Parnell expressed surprise earlier this month at the suggestion -- noting that all three had expressed interest in filling the vacancy left by the resignation of the Guard’s former leader, Adjutant Gen. Thomas Katkus. “These changes were made to help restore trust, and foster faith and confidence in the leadership of the Alaska National Guard,” Olmstead wrote. “Deliberate steps will continue to be made to improve the organization and its culture, and additional changes will take place as appropriate.”

In a written statement Monday night, Governor Parnell said, "Today I directed acting Adjutant General Mike Bridges to immediately remove three members of the Alaska National Guard leadership, as I have lost confidence in them.  Until recently, they were all active applicants in the process of selecting a permanent adjutant general, unlike two weeks ago when two were removed without consultation with the National Guard Bureau or the Office of the Governor."

Parnell added: "This is only the latest step in our effort to restore trust in Guard leadership. More changes are coming.  We are making good progress in the search for the new adjutant general with first-round interviews already underway this week.”

The news comes as the Guard releases additional information on a Sunday meeting Parnell held with Guardsmen on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, noting that it was closed to both the press and officers at the rank of colonel or above.

About 350 Guard members were present at the town-hall meeting at the JBER armory, with Parnell fielding questions from those present. Reporters were not allowed to attend the meeting. The state Department of Military and Veterans Affairs offered a summary of some of the questions and answered but the state has not provided a recording.

One Guardsman who asked how Parnell planned to protect those who reported abuse from retaliation received a pointed response from the governor, according to the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. “Your leadership is now on notice that I am watching everything they’re doing,” Parnell said. “I am finding out about many more personnel moves than I ever was before. I am working with the NGB in full partnership on those kinds of moves.”

The governor agreed with another soldier who told Parnell that the investigation “feels very political to me.” In his response to the Guardsman, the governor emphasized that “anybody that took advantage of another person” should be punished or imprisoned. “We’re in a really ugly time right now,” Parnell told the Guardsman, “and you’re right. It feels political because it is political. This is about working with you to make it right, right now, and forever more in the Guard.” Parnell also took on a third Guard member’s suggestion that the state adopt a formal Uniform Code of Military Justice for Guardsmen, who aren’t governed by the active-duty UCMJ but rather their states’ versions under Article 32 of U.S. Code. In his response, the governor said doing so would be a long-term project, but it’s one being considered by both the state and the NGB’s Office of Complex Investigations. “The review is ongoing, and the Legislature has to make changes so they will talk out those potential changes between January and May, but that could also be a rewrite that takes two years to do; that’s a very substantial rewrite of the statutes,” Parnell said. “It could be as quick as this spring.” In another Anchorage-based response to the Guard scandal, Anchorage School District said Monday night that Superintendent Ed Graff plans to meet with military recruiters next week to discuss allegations made in leaked military reports on the Guard investigations.

NOTE: An earlier version of this story attributed the dismissal of the Guard officials to a report that outlined allegations of sexual assault. The story has been clarified to say that the National Guard Bureau report also looked at other forms of misconduct.

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State ferry rescues 1 of 3 Canada boaters from sinking landing craft

The Alaska state ferry Malaspina is being credited for rescuing one of three Canadian men aboard a landing craft which sank early Saturday off British Columbia. Cpl. M.K. Poppy Hallam, with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Campbell River, said in a Monday statement that the privately owned 67-foot craft’s crew reported it was taking on water just after 2:45 a.m. Saturday. “The (landing craft) was on its way to Campbell River when it started taking on water,” Hallam wrote. “When it capsized, it was approximately 1/2 mile due north from the docks at the old mill.” Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities spokesperson Jeremy Woodrow says the Malaspina was on a routine trip from Bellingham, Wash. to Ketchikan at the time of the sinking. “The Malaspina received a (vessel in distress) call near Campbell River,” Woodrow said. “By the time it had arrived at the vessel, the vessel couldn’t be seen in the water.” The ferry’s crew deployed in a Zodiac inflatable boat and rescued one of the men, transferring them to the RCMP in an operation Woodrow said took a few hours. Hallam said other two crew members of the landing craft weren’t found, however, in “an extensive search by land, sea and ground.” Hallam said a remotely operated vehicle was sent to the landing craft Monday in water nearly 240 feet deep, but dive teams weren’t able to deploy. “The currents were just too strong, so they’re trying to do so tomorrow,” Hallam said. Tuesday’s objective will involve finding out if the landing craft contains the remains of the missing men. “They’re trying to determine whether the two bodies were on board, and whether they can recover them,” Hallam said. While the Malaspina’s involvement in the rescue “worked well” according to Hallam, she expressed regret that all of the landing craft’s crew weren’t recovered. “Unfortunately two people lost their lives, so that’s sad,” Hallam said.

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5.18 magnitude earthquake shakes Fairbanks

A strong quake gave Fairbanks residents a shock Monday afternoon, with no initial reports of damage.

A magnitude 5.18 earthquake rattled the Fairbanks area at 4:37 p.m., according to the Alaska Earthquake Information Center.

Fairbanks Police Department dispatchers say they have received no damage reports after the quake.

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ASD head delays military recruiter visits, pending meetings over Guard reports

The Anchorage School District’s superintendent will meet with military recruiters beginning next week, in the wake of revelations about sexual abuse and underage drinking encouraged by Alaska National Guard recruiters. ASD spokesperson Heidi Embley says Ed Graff has scheduled the meetings with all recruiters -- not just those from the Guard -- after a wave of claims in partially leaked military reports on some recruiters. "We are currently reviewing our practices around all staff concerning student safety, including adult student boundaries as well as reporting concerns related to students," Graff told Channel 2 Monday. One recruiter, Sgt. 1st Class Shannon Tallant, faces claims that he tried to take a high-school freshman on dates, eventually luring her into his car for a ride to his home when she was 17 years old -- before she changed her mind and got out at a stop sign. In addition to accusations that he encouraged women to drink then sexually assaulted them, one soldier claimed Tallant reduced a high-school recruiting visit to bragging about prohibited behavior including DUIs he’d gotten away with. According to Embley, military recruiters can visit Anchorage schools four times a year, but any planned visits between Monday and the upcoming meetings will be canceled.

Graff says military officials have been cooperative and receptive to his requests for the meetings, which are expected to take place over the next few weeks. Channel 2's Adam Pinsker contributed information to this report.

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State accepts proposed cleanup plan for Flint Hills Refinery site

State officials have accepted a proposed plan to clean up environmental damage at a former refinery near North Pole, following reports of contaminated groundwater in the region.

The state Environmental Conservation Department on Monday announced acceptance of the cleanup proposal by refinery owner Flint Hills Resources. The plan calls for removal of toxic chemicals including sulfolane from the former refinery site. DEC spokeswoman Kristin Ryan says the site will be limited to industrial zoning in the future -- meaning that another refinery could be built there, but not a hospital or a school. “It’s just limiting the use to continued industrial use,” Ryan said. The refinery shutdown was announced in February, triggering job losses and other economic problems, according to Interior lawmakers. Homeowners say they can’t pick wild raspberries any more, due to sulfolane from the refinery which reached the water table and was detected in 2009. The state sued both previous refinery owner Williams and current owners Flint Hills Resources in March, with a July Superior Court decision denying an attempt by Flint Hills to seek damages from Williams over the site’s environmental issues. Cleanup measures under the approved plan will involve taking contaminated materials from the ground, as well as trucking out tainted soil. “They’re doing pump-and-treat systems to ensure these contaminants don’t leave the property,” Ryan said. “They’re going to be removing hot spots.” There isn’t any firm timetable for completion of a cleanup at Flint Hills, because Ryan says the plan involves continued monitoring by DEC until pollution levels fall below levels at which work is still required. “It’s sort of a wait-and-see,” Ryan said. “There’s several contaminants of concern -- sulfolane is the main one.”

Ryan said a copy of the plan is likely to be posted on the department’s Flint Hills website in “a matter of hours,” once state officials have formally signed off on it. According to Ryan, the plan only addresses cleanup of the Flint Hills property itself and not nearby contaminated wells. It does, however, accept a proposed plan under which Flint Hills will continue to provide safe drinking water for those affected. “It’s not a plan for reducing the sulfolane levels off-site,” Ryan said.

Flint Hills Resources spokesman Jeff Cook said he wasn't at liberty to divulge the cleanup's estimated cost, due to ongoing litigation with both Williams and the state, but noted that the company's expenditures to date have been significant.

"We've spent over $75 million to date, but the projections on that are confidential," Cook said.

According to Cook, Flint Hills Resources is awaiting a November report from the group Toxicology Excellence for Risk Assessment on its recommended cleanup level for sulfolane not at the refinery site. DEC said Monday that it was awaiting the TERA report to release a revised off-site cleanup level for sulfolane.

"It'll have a major impact if the assessment changes from 14 parts per million," Cook said. "We should know something by the end of the year on that."

Cook says his company is doing its best to deal with a situation that predated its involvement with the site.

"It was caused by a previous owner that's long gone; it was caused when the state owned the ground," Cook said. "We've been responsible in protecting the ground."



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