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AK Beat: Winter is coming, at least on the Dalton Highway

Alaska Dispatch

Wintertime weather on the Dalton: Alaska 511, the state Department of Transportation's roadway information website, broke the news Tuesday: Winter is coming. A portion of the Dalton Highway in Alaska's far north that cuts at high elevation through the Brooks Range reportedly had "snow and winter blizzard conditions" slowing drivers on Tuesday between Mileposts 241 and 247. Meanwhile, a little further north -- between Mileposts 284 and 356 -- things were even nastier, with reports of "snow, blowing snow, mud, slush and blizzard conditions" that was making driving very difficult through the stretch.

Good news for Gustavus: Residents of the tiny community of Gustavus in Alaska's Panhandle got at least a temporary reprieve from economic doom on Tuesday when it was announced the National Park Service had signed a contract to keep the Glacier Bay Lodge going for at least another two years. The lodge sits at the end of road that runs from the Gustavus airport through town. Tourism businesses in the community of Gustavus, population 430, were worried that if the only lodge within the 3.3-million-acre Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve closed airport traffic would drop so low that regular air service would be cancelled, and everyone would be out of business. U.S. Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, said in a press release that the new contract "gives us time to work on a long-term solution. Visitors to the park and lodge are the mainstay of the Gustavus economy, and even a short term closure would have a devastating effect on Gustavus families and businesses." The lodge is in need of renovation, and possibly a new business model to compete with cruiseships that have become the mainstay of Glacier Bay travel.

Joe Redington Sr. Senior High School? This week, the Mat-Su Borough School District School Board will consider what to name its newest junior/senior high school to be built in the Knik area, about 10 miles outside of Wasilla. But at odds is whether to name it after mushing legend Joe Redington, Sr. -- considered the "father" of the Iditarod Sled Dog Race -- or after the local Dena'ina Alaska Native people. The Redington moniker was supported by the school board earlier this month after the name won a district-wide poll, taking 57 percent of the vote. Superintendent Deena Paramo wrote in a memo to the board that naming the high school after a people instead of a single person is more appropriate for a high school and suggested that the board honor Redington by naming an elementary school after him.

No fifth murder charge for Active: Jerry Andrew Active, the 24-year-old man accused of killing two Anchorage grandparents and sexually assaulting a great-grandmother with dementia and a 2-year-old girl, will not face murder charges relating to the death of the 91-year-old great-grandmother, prosecutors reported Tuesday. According to a press release from the Alaska Department of Law, the elderly woman, identified only as Y.S., suffered a stroke and died of natural causes, and an additional homicide charge against Active was "not warranted." Active still faces 10 felony counts, including sexual assault charges related to the abuse of Y.S., and two counts each of murder in the first degree and murder in the second degree.

Operators are standing by: The Iditarod Summer Raffle, scheduled to conclude on Sept. 2, has thus far only mustered 700 ticket sales, according to an anxious email blast from race organizers for support:

To: [Recipients]
From: Iditarod.com
Subject: “Call Us Now”
Message: “With only 12 days left to sell the remaining raffle tickets, we need you to pick up the phone and purchase a ticket. ... We have 1,300 tickets remaining [and] every ticket must sell before the drawing on Sept. 2.” More.

Cruise ship stuck in Ketchikan: The Associated Press (via The Bellingham Herald) reports that the Celebrity Cruises ship Millennium has found itself stranded in port at Ketchikan after a problem developed with the ship's propulsion system. Cruise Critic reports that Celebrity Cruises is offering chartered flight service out of Ketchikan for the stranded passengers, as well as a full refund and a future cruise credit. The Millennium is the same vessel that wound up on an unexpected stay in Seward after another propulsion system problem earlier this month.