Devin Kelly

In a 7-4 vote, the Anchorage Assembly approved a 2016 city operating budget of nearly $481 million Tuesday night that made no changes to the latest version proposed by Mayor Ethan Berkowitz. Over several hours of debate, the Assembly rejected, sometimes narrowly, amendments proposed by more conservative members of the Assembly that aimed to cut spending. That included proposed cuts from Assembly member Amy Demboski to the travel, supply, equipment and furnishings budgets for various departments, and Assembly member Bill Starr's efforts to consolidate accounting positions across departments and reduce the number of long-range city planners. The Assembly also voted against Assembly member Bill Evans effort to cut funding for the mayor's community grant program. Evans said he did not think...Devin Kelly
In an on-scene news conference, Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz said Tuesday that the city’s downtown transit center has so many safety and crime problems that only a large-scale remodel can fix it. As if on cue, some of the regulars there interrupted the media event to pepper Berkowitz and one of his top officials with questions of their own and to complain in front of TV cameras that they came to the transit center because they had nowhere else to go. Berkowitz promised big changes, but not many details, before the somewhat remarkable dust-up in the lobby of the transit center. City officials have spent months examining how to change a pervasive atmosphere of criminal activity and an unwelcoming environment at the city’s central bus hub. At his meeting with reporters, Berkowitz said he...Devin Kelly
The Anchorage Assembly is scheduled to vote on a city budget of nearly $481 million Tuesday night that shaves several million off the city’s current spending but uses a bigger proportion of property tax revenue. Among other changes, the proposed 2016 budget from Mayor Ethan Berkowitz calls for $4.9 million for more police officers and firefighters. But the city earlier this year projected a $11.5 million revenue shortfall, in part because of cuts in state revenue. To cover the gap and also pay for public safety spending, the administration asked department heads to cut budgets by 2 percent, and the Assembly in early November approved increases to the amount of traffic tickets and fees for some city services. At the same time, the proposed budget calls for $11.4 million in increased...Devin Kelly
A citizen group is appealing the Anchorage planning commission’s decision to approve the extension of Elmore Road road through Anchorage’s University-Medical District. Members of the group Citizens for Responsible Development, which has spent the last two years fighting the project, gathered at City Hall Monday to file an appeal with the city Board of Adjustment. The appeal disputes findings the Planning and Zoning Commission made in approving the project , which would link Elmore Road and Bragaw Street, in early October. “The findings of the Planning and Zoning Commission (are) there to protect the city,” said Carolyn Ramsey, chair of Citizens for Responsible Development. “We don’t feel they followed through with that.” Ramsey said more than 60 people have donated money to help pay for...Devin Kelly
Before he left office June 30, former Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan rewarded two of his top executives with severance pay even though they should have had no expectation that Sullivan, facing a term limit, would have stayed in office any longer and kept them in their jobs. The severance pay, usually reserved for sensitive firings or abrupt departures, amounted to just under $10,000 for the two officials, Sullivan chief of staff Larry Baker and employee relations director Nancy Usera. Both were making more than $120,000 in salary plus benefits. Sullivan described the severance pay as a bonus for two hardworking employees. But experts said severance pay should be reserved for people who expected to stay in their jobs, not for those who resigned because their boss had to leave office. Usera,...Devin Kelly
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On Sunday, St. Mary's Episcopal Church will open a housing facility designed for communal living and the promotion of active lifestyles for seniors. Read more: Anchorage church opens senior housing
Devin Kelly
When St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Anchorage decided to build senior housing on its hill overlooking Lake Otis Parkway and Tudor Road, it chose an unusual design: windows that not only look outside from apartments but inside to a long hallway. It was part of an idea to maintain community among people who have been friends for decades. When the blinds are down, it means privacy, said the Rev. Michael Burke, the rector of St. Mary’s. “But if you open it up…” Burke rapped his knuckles on the glass. “Next thing you know, people are having coffee together, reading the newspaper and everything else.” Built-in opportunities for interaction are at the heart of the Thomas Center for Senior Leadership, a 15-unit apartment building recently completed on the St. Mary’s lot. Its communal structure is...Devin Kelly
A fresh layer of snow blanketed Anchorage and the Matanuska Valley during a fast-moving storm that extended into Saturday, prompting Anchorage officials to declare the city’s first “plow-out” of the season for early Sunday morning. Four to 9 inches fell in Anchorage and Eagle River between Friday and Saturday afternoon. Starting at 6:30 a.m. Sunday, the city’s public works department will be engaged in an all-hands-on-deck effort to plow all city-maintained streets in 72 hours, said Alan Czajkowski, public works director. The city declares plow-outs for accumulations of 4 or more inches. The plow-out begins once the snow has stopped falling, and main arteries get first priority for safety reasons, Czajkowski said. He said the public works staff plans to update an online map Sunday with...Devin Kelly
A backcountry avalanche warning was issued for Hatcher Pass this weekend as Anchorage residents woke up to piles of fresh snow. The Hatcher Pass Avalanche Center warned of dangerous avalanche conditions in the popular recreational area in the Talkeetna Mountains. The warning started at 6 a.m. Saturday and remains in effect until 6 p.m. Sunday. “Recent heavy snow combined with wind will likely create widespread areas of unstable snow,” forecasters said in a bulletin posted by the National Weather Service . “Backcountry travelers should stay off ... slopes steeper than 30 degrees" or the bottom of such slopes. Hatcher Pass has seen about 2 feet of fresh snow since Thursday. In both Anchorage and the Mat-Su Borough, Friday’s fast-moving storm dropped a half foot of new snow on average,...Devin Kelly
A high-level Anchorage Fire Department employee was placed on paid administrative leave this week pending an internal investigation. City officials said in a Wednesday memo that Aliesha Richards, the Fire Department’s finance officer, was being put on leave, and that the city was conducting an investigation. Neither city spokesperson Myer Hutchinson nor Fire Chief Denis LeBlanc would comment on the nature of the investigation, calling it a nondisclosable personnel matter. “Information has been received … which requires the municipality of Anchorage to conduct an investigation,” officials wrote in the memo, which was sent to all Anchorage Fire Department employees. The memo states that Richards is barred from access to city property, communication systems and networks. Employees were also...Devin Kelly