Alaska News Nightly: February 20, 2014

Individual news stories are posted on the APRN news page. You can subscribe to APRN’s newsfeeds via emailpodcast and RSS. Follow us on Facebook at and on Twitter @aprn.

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Legislators Say No To Energy Break

Alexandra Gutierrez, APRN – Juneau

State lawmakers will not be getting a spring break this year.

Democrats Offer Their Own Education Package

The Associated Press

Alaska Minority Democrats today offered their own education package that includes an increase in base student allocation and allows charter schools to be located within neighborhood schools when space is available.

Incorporated in the set of bills will be an increase of the base student allocation to $404 per student, a one-time grant of $500 for charter schools to assist with startup costs, and a requirement for traffic control at and around school zones.

Democratic lawmakers hope the allocation increase will hold off teacher layoffs for next year.

The bills will be introduced Friday, more than a third of the way into the session. Sen. Berta Gardner, a Democrat from Anchorage, says of the timing: good things take a long time to happen.

Dry Well Forces Buccaneer to Abandon West Eagle #1

Aaron Selbig, KBBI – Homer

The oil and gas drilling out East End Road in Homer is over.  Buccaneer has declared a dry hole and has no more plans to explore there. Still at issue is Buccaneer’s future and what obligation the state has to foot the bill for the dry hole. The state also financed an offshore drilling rig that is now Buccaneer’s major asset.

Alaska Supreme Court Hears Oral Arguments On Parental Notification Law

Josh Edge, APRN – Anchorage

The state Supreme Court heard oral arguments on Wednesday in a lawsuit that halted a voter-passed law requiring health care providers to notify parents of minors before performing abortions.

Accuser Absent at Tosi APOC Hearing

Daysha Eaton, KSKA – Anchorage

Mao Tosi’s campaign for an East Anchorage Assembly seat was under scrutiny by Alaska Public Offices Commission Officials on Thursday. They held a hearing to address allegations of 15 violations filed in a complaint Tuesday.

Walter Soboleff: ‘He Fed The Spirit Of People From Many Walks Of Life’

Casey Kelly, KTOO – Juneau

A bill to establish Walter Soboleff Day in Alaska cleared a state House committee on Thursday, after lawmakers on the panel heard heartfelt testimony from the late Tlingit elder’s friends and family.

The bill does not have any more committee stops before a vote on the House floor.

Iron Dog Racers Depart Nome

Anna MacArthur, KNOM – Nome

Early Thursday, pairs of snow machines began zipping out of Nome to continue the second leg of the 2014 Iron Dog Snow Machine Race.

First Section Of Denali National Park Road Remains Open

Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks

The first section of the road into Denali National Park is open. The 90-mile road is usually closed beyond the park entrance area during the winter, but as of this past weekend, it’s being kept plowed to mile 12 at the Mountain Vista rest area.

Anchorage Police Nab $400K In Drugs

The Associated Press

A California man faces federal charges after Anchorage police arrested him trying to retrieve cocaine and heroin that had been shipped to a motel.

Twenty-seven-year-old Markee Allen is scheduled to appear in U.S. District Court in Anchorage on Friday on drug possession and distribution charges.

Police say employees at the downtown Motel 6 called, saying Allen had boxes delivered after he checked out Wednesday. Federal charging documents say Allen checked back into the motel and tried to retrieve the packages.

Officers contacted him, and canine units indicated the packages held drugs. Police got a search warrant for the packages, and say they found a kilogram of cocaine and a half-kilogram of heroin.

Police say it has a street value of $400,000.

Trial Delayed In Coast Guard Shooting Case

The Associated Press

The trial of a Kodiak man charged in the fatal shooting of two men at a Coast Guard station has been postponed.

James Wells’ trial was to have started Monday, but has been postponed until March 31.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin Feldis says the trial in Anchorage will likely take several weeks.

Federal prosecutors will not seek the death penalty if Wells is convicted.

Wells is charged in the shootings of Coast Guardsmen Petty Officer 1st Class James Hopkins and retired Chief Petty Officer Richard Belisle in April 2012.

The 62-year-old Wells faces six felony charges: two counts each of first-degree murder, murder of a U.S. officer and use of a firearm in a violent crime. He has pleaded innocent to all the charges.

Salty Dog Rally Swaggers To Southeast This Summer

Shady Grove Oliver, KSTK – Wrangell

The Salty Dog yacht rally is coming to Alaska this summer. Wrangell is the official end point of the rally and will be the hub of boats and merriment for four days in June.