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AK Beat: Troopers seek missing traveler

Alaska Dispatch

Troopers seek missing Arizona man: The Alaska State Troopers are asking the public for information about an Arizona man last seen when he checked into a Fairbanks area hotel Dec. 10. AST said hotel staff at Pike’s Waterfront Lodge contacted them on Dec. 20 after finding Keith Stompro’s belongings inside his hotel room. Troopers said Stompro rented a car in Anchorage and was making the 365-mile drive northeast to Fairbanks on Dec. 10 when he hit a herd of caribou near Cantwell, totaling the vehicle. AST said Stompro got a ride to Fairbanks, checked into Pike’s, and has not been seen since Dec. 14. Anyone with information about Stompro is asked to call the Alaska State Troopers in Fairbanks at (907) 451-5100.

Correction: This article originally reported that Stompro has not been seen since Dec. 10.

Armed standoff ends with man in custody, infant unharmed: Anchorage police said Friday morning they had arrested 35-year-old Jeremiah Hancotte, who had barricaded himself inside an apartment on the 800 block of West 11th Avenue late Thursday night. Hancotte was found asleep on the floor when officers made entry into the apartment just after midnight, ending a four-hour standoff that began with a call for help at 8 p.m. APD said an unidentified woman was allowed to leave the apartment when officers first arrived on scene, but Hancotte, who was allegedly armed with two handguns, kept the infant inside with him as officers surrounded the building and blocked nearby roads. Hancotte has been charged with kidnapping, assault, reckless endangerment, being a felon in possession of a firearm and criminal impersonation -- APD said Hancotte had someone else’s identification on him when he was arrested. APD spokesperson Jennifer Castro said Hancotte also has an outstanding felony warrant from another state. The infant was found unharmed.

Unhealthy air prompts Fairbanks air quality warning: With cold temperatures gripping the region, Fairbanks residents were warned Thursday of increasingly poor air quality in the region. The city is expected to see highs of 30 to 43 below zero Friday, and with that comes a strong inversion trapping air pollutants in the Tanana Valley. The Fairbanks North Star Borough listed air quality as "unhealthy" Friday, warning residents to limit prolonged exertion, particularly people with respiratory or heart disease, the elderly and children. The Fairbanks area experienced its first 40 below zero temperatures of the season starting Christmas Eve. That shouldn't last too much longer, though -- the National Weather Service reports some snow Saturday morning and temperature highs of 5 to 15 below zero. 

Puppy's first howls: There’s not much to add to the cuteness on display here, other than a bit of background information. The puppy howling here for the first time -- a 20-day-old Alaskan malamute/Siberian husky -- is named Belka, which a Huffington Post piece notes is Russian for “squirrel.” In comments below the YouTube video, the apparent owners of the puppy note that they live in Churchill, Manitoba, Canada’s polar bear capital, and Belka’s mother, Laika, is normally pretty quiet, “and usually only barks when a Polar Bear is near our yard.”

Quantifying military contributions to Alaska's economy: Alaska’s economy is often likened to a three-legged stool; a third of the state’s economy is supported by petroleum, while other industries -- mostly those that rely on resource extraction, such as mining, fishing and timber -- make up another third. The final third is spending by the federal government, and 60 percent of that is spending on defense, according to a new report on the military’s impact on Alaska’s economy by Alaska Economic Trends, the magazine published by economists with the state’s Department of Labor and Workforce Development. The contribution is significant; "We 'export' defense," as one headline in the report puts it. Despite the economic impact of defense spending, Juneau’s KTOO reports that the 31,000 or so active-duty members of the military and their dependents in Anchorage make up just 10 percent of the population of Alaska’s largest city. The percentage is higher in the Fairbanks North Star Borough, where, according to the Associated Press (citing the Kodiak Daily Mirror), nearly 23 percent of the population is employed by the military or a military dependent. Read the full piece (as a PDF file) here.

A closer look at Interior’s Sally Jewell: Earlier this week Interior Secretary Sally Jewell made headlines in Alaska for denying a proposed land swap that would’ve made way for a road through the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge from King Cove to Cold Bay -- and drawing harsh criticism from Alaska politicians for doing so. Now, the woman who replaced Ken Salazar in April 2013 is the subject of a Washington Post profile. The Izembek road gets a small mention in the piece, which focuses on her unusual background. Unlike previous Interior secretaries, who’ve mostly been Western politicians, Jewell is a petroleum engineer turned banker turned CEO of outdoor retailer REI.