Ellen Lockyer, KSKA - Anchorage
elockyer (at) alaskapublic (dot) org | 907.550.8446 | About Ellen
A state Superior Court decision could sidetrack state administration plans to change water protection statutes. Earlier this week, the court decided in favor of the Chuitna Citizens Coalition in a case involving what is termed “instream flow” rights to Middle Creek, on the West side of Cook Inlet. The Coalition filed for instream flow rights in 2009, saying that wild salmon populations in the creek need to be protected. But the state Department of Natural Resources failed to process the application. Later, DNR approved a temporary water use permit for PacRim Coal to remove water from the same creek, with the Coalition application pending, so the Coaltion appealed to the courts. The court has decided that DNR failed to follow its own rules.
Alaska has one of the fastest growing senior citizen populations in the country, yet affordable housing for seniors is at a minimum. In December, a group of state and community leaders got together in Anchorage to discuss options for providing senior housing to meet growing demand. As KSKA’s Ellen Lockyer reports, the Alaska Senior Housing Summit has outlined the challenges ahead and the strategies needed to overcome them.
Alaska has one of the fastest growing senior citizen populations in the country, yet affordable housing for seniors is at a minimum. In December, a group of state and community leaders got together in Anchorage to discuss options for providing senior housing to meet growing demand. The Alaska Senior Housing Summit has outlined the challenges ahead and the strategies needed to overcome them.
Alaska’s Redistricting Board is awaiting the outcome of a United State Supreme Court case that could remove some federal restrictions from state redistricting plans. Wednesday, the nation’s highest court heard arguments over whether states with a history of discrimination need to get Department of Justice approval for state voting maps. Although the federal Supreme Court case was brought by an Alabama county, it has implications for Alaska. The state of Alaska filed a brief in support of the plaintiffs, while the Alaska Federation of Natives filed a brief in support of the federal government.
What do Alaska’s judges do when they are not sitting on the bench? Do they ponder weighty tomes, or engage in deep discussion about the legal issues of the day? Maybe some of them do that, but KSKA’s Ellen Lockyer found that quite a number of Anchorage judges get together and play ukulele’s for after hours fun.
Ever wonder what all those Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race volunteer checkers eat? Well, APRN’s Ellen Lockyer found out during a visit to an Anchorage warehouse where supplies were getting packed up for flights to Skwentna, Nome and other checkpoints along the thousand mile trail.
Rick Swenson won’t make the trip to Nome this year. Race officaials say Swenson withdrew from the Iditarod on Thursday. Swenson, the only five-time champion in the history of the race, cited personal reasons.
Alaska’s Redistricting Board met Tuesday in Anchorage to consider its options in the wake of an Alaska Supreme Court ruling requiring a revision of the 2012 redistricting plan. The Court allowed the current plan to be used in only last November’s general election, but has required the Board to redraw the plan so it is in line with the Alaska Constitution. The Board has filed a motion for a reconsideration.
A federal judge has denied a bid to block the Port MacKenzie railroad spur project. Monday U.S. District Court Judge Ralph Beistline handed down his decision, saying that extensive environmental studies were conducted over a period of years regarding the project, and that the benefits of the project are great, while further delay in construction would not be in the public interest.
Oral arguments were heard Thursday morning in federal district court in Anchorage on a challenge to a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers wetlands permit. The case centers on whether or not federal agencies have complied with Clean Water Act requirements for wetlands protection measures in approving the proposed Port MacKenzie railroad spur.
Two identical bills in the state house and Senate seek the creation of a state fund to supplement toll revenue shortfalls related to the Knik Arm Bridge in the initial years after the bridge is constructed. That is, if the bridge linking Wasilla and Anchorage ever becomes reality. There are still serious concerns about the cost of the bridge.
Arguments will be heard this week in federal District Court in Anchorage regarding wetlands permits for the Port MacKenzie rail spur. The environmental group Cook Inletkeeper has filed suit in an attempt to block the link between the port and Houston. The Matanuska Susitna Borough is behind the rail spur project, although the Federal Surface Transportation Board must approve it.
The state’s long held dream of an Arctic deep water port has moved one step closer to reality. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released a draft report Wednesday that names the Nome/Port Clarence region as the best location for the port. It will be the subject of an upcoming feasibility – level study which will help further determine a site.
The Matanuska Susitna Borough is offering to give away the ice breaking ferry “Susitna.” Borough officials want to give away the ship to federal, state or local governments, because it is costing the Borough too much money to maintain it.
Matanuska Valley’s dairy industry has shrunk to two farms since the shutdown of the Matanuska Creamery in December. A new dairy enterprise may keep both of them afloat for the time being.
Project Homeless Connect is a one-day, one-stop opportunity for homeless individuals to access state and city resources aimed at helping them find shelter and services. Anchorage’s outreach took place Tuesday, but homelessness is no longer a big city problem. Smaller communities are facing a need to serve a transient and needy population without the facilities or budget to do so.
When the Matanuska Creamery closed its doors on Dec. 30, it left more than 15 people without jobs, and it left a debt to the state of about $900,000. The Creamery’s closure marked the end of a dream of establishing a viable dairy industry in the Valley.
Thursday, Federal wildlife officials announced an agreement that could lead to the re-introduction of Wood Bison into Alaska. Larry Bell, a Fish and Wildlife Service assistant regional director for external affairs, says a special rule has been drafted that would designate re-introduced Wood Bison as a “non-essential, experimental population”, which means land the animals occupy would not be designated as critical habitat.
An ordinance restricting the size of power generation facilities in the Matanuska Susitna Borough may get a re-write. The move to re-visit the law sparked debate at Tuesday night’s Borough Assembly meeting. An opponent of the move says it opens the door for possible coal-fired power generation in the Borough down the road.