Tim Ellis, KUAC - Fairbanks
Tim Ellis is a reporter at KUAC in Fairbanks.
Investigators are trying to determine what sparked the fire that destroyed a maintenance building at a North Pole cement plant on Monday morning. No one was injured, but the owners of HC Redi-Mix are feeling the pain of a multimillion-dollar loss caused by the fire – which not only destroyed the building, but also several pieces of heavy equipment inside.
Climate change is causing Arctic sea ice to melt rapidly and recede, opening up vast stretches of Arctic waters for shipping and resource development. In response, a group of state legislators and others is working on a policy they hope will help shape Alaska’s policy for managing those changes – and influence the federal government’s broader national Arctic policy.
The Cold Climate Housing Research Center in Fairbanks moved ahead Wednesday on a project that will demonstrate how solar energy can be collected year-round and used to heat a commercial building without fossil fuels, like heating oil. The project is being funded by one of the world’s biggest fossil-fuel companies.
It’s been four months since the nation’s biggest wireless carrier began doing business in Alaska. And despite predictions that Verizon would shake up the state’s wireless market, its role has so far been limited to providing high-speed data service in urban areas. The company plans to enter the Alaska market in a bigger way next year.
Proposition 1 asked voters to OK the sale of about $37.2 million in bonds to replace Ryan Middle School. According to unofficial results, 60 percent of voters said yes, passing the measure by nearly 2,000 votes. Prop 2 passed by an even wider margin, with 65 percent of votes cast in favor, unofficially. That measure will raise $19.4 million to repair and renovate five other district schools.
New federal regulations on coal fired energy should not affect’s Golden Valley Electric Association’s re-start of the Healy Clean Coal plant. GVEA President and CEO Cory Borgeson expects the plan to purchase and operate the long idled facility to remain on track.
Fort Wainwright’s garrison commander is retiring from the Army, after 28 years in uniform. A base spokesperson says Col. Ron Johnson’s decision is not related to a statement he made in July that Army training sparked this summer’s Stuart Creek 2 wild fire near Fairbanks.
The severe drought that’s gripped the Interior for most of the summer finally broke over the weekend. Rains fell throughout the region for the first time in some areas since early July. But it’s probably too little and too late for most farmers, especially those who own livestock, who’ve have had to resort to costly measures like irrigating and importing hay from Canada and the Lower 48.
The mayor of North Pole is expressing concern about a proposal by the Fairbanks Borough Mayor to expand the city’s water system into areas where an industrial solvent has contaminated groundwater. Meanwhile, two state environmental officials say they strongly support another proposal to quickly begin cleanup of sulfolane-contaminated groundwater in the North Pole area.
The commander of the Army National Guard unit that operates the missile-defense facility at Fort Greely has been suspended over allegations of sexual misconduct at the base – and accusations he failed to address the problem.
An Interior Alaska militia group gathered over the weekend near Delta Junction. The Central Alaska Militia’s leader says the group is not associated with the defunct Fairbanks based Alaska Peacekeepers Militia. That group’s leader Schaeffer Cox, was sentenced to 26 years in prison, earlier this year, for plotting to kill government officials.
Civilian workers at Alaska’s military installations are being formally notified that they’ll be required to take up to 11 days off work, unpaid, by Oct. 1, to comply with federal budget cuts mandated through the “sequester” process.
A Canadian mining company is pulling out of an exploration project near Tok. The move comes as the price of gold has fallen about 15 percent from unprecedented highs in recent years, and may signal a slowdown in the mining industry.
A Delta Junction-area farmer is cleaning up from a barn fire that killed hundreds of chickens and other livestock that provided most of her livelihood. Brandy McClean is seeking help in an effort to save her business.
U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced on Friday, a buildup at the missile-defense base at Fort Greely in response to threats by North Korea. The announcement has generated cautious enthusiasm about an economic boost in the Delta Junction area.
Alaskans and conservationists worldwide are mourning the passing of Ginny Wood, who died Friday at age 95. A memorial service will be held early next month for the Alaskan pioneer, aviator, world traveler and environmentalist.
The hill where the University of Alaska Fairbanks sits is again being recognized by its Athabascan name. A Native elder is calling it an important first step toward restoring many Athabascan place names around Fairbanks.