Alex DeMarban

A small state program that supporters call "wildly successful" and has helped Alaska schools win grants to grow their own crops and purchase food from local farmers probably won’t survive the Legislature’s budget ax.

But Alaska Farm to School -- on track to lose all its state funding as lawmakers are making cuts to reduce a $3.5-billion budget hole -- just might live on in diminished form.

State managers say they’ll try to win federal funds to pay for the program’s two positions, temporarily keeping it alive for perhaps another year or longer...

Alex DeMarban

Deep in the throes of a tumultuous legislative season, Gov. Bill Walker said Wednesday he may call a special session on Medicaid expansion and announced that his administration would soon organize a conference so Alaskans can consider all options -- including new taxes and using Permanent Fund earnings -- to balance the state’s massive budget deficit.

In a speech at Commonwealth North in Anchorage, Walker also said he will likely veto a legislative measure seeking to limit his options on a natural gas pipeline because it will harm Alaska’s chances to get natural gas to world markets with an economic plan...

Alex DeMarban,Dermot Cole

Former U.S. Sen. Mark Begich of Alaska will provide consulting services to a top legal firm focused on American Indian and Alaska Native matters.

The Northern Compass Group, the consulting company Begich created after losing his re-election bid to Republican Dan Sullivan last fall, will work with the law firm of Sonosky Chambers Sachse Miller & Munson.

The firm is based in Washington, D.C., with offices in Anchorage and Juneau. It's Begich's third announced client, with more clients to be announced in the near future, he said.

“We are excited because they represent a lot of Alaska tribes, and as a senator and Anchorage mayor I did a lot of work with tribes,” Begich said.

Begich would not say what he’s being paid for his services...

Alex DeMarban

State regulators will consider whether tens of millions of dollars in potential profits from an unexpected discovery of natural gas should be used to help lower gas and electric bills in Southcentral Alaska.

The Regulatory Commission of Alaska said recently it will investigate how money from a sale should be used, following a surge of comments on the topic...

Alex DeMarban

Saying he’s personally troubled by the lack of a broad discussion about Alaska's fiscal crisis, the head of a prominent think tank wants to see a statewide conference involving Alaskans and leaders discussing budget reductions and new ways of generating revenues, including through taxes or the Permanent Fund's earnings.

So far, the solution to the state’s massive deficit has centered primarily on emergency cuts by the administration and the Legislature. Some say that's a necessary first step before the state begins looking for new taxes...

Alex DeMarban

ConocoPhillips Alaska on Monday said it will move ahead with a development expected to add up to 8,000 barrels of crude to the trans-Alaska pipeline each day, crediting Alaska tax reform, despite low oil prices that have delayed projects around the world.

But the announcement comes amid rumblings of layoffs on the North Slope, including at the field where the project is located, Kuparuk, about 40 miles west of Prudhoe Bay...

Alex DeMarban

One dynasty ended but another may be just beginning.

The Barrow Whalers -- with two star freshmen who play like seniors -- shattered Monroe Catholic’s hopes for a championship four-peat Saturday night at the Sullivan Arena in Anchorage. And with their 50-40 victory, they won their first boys state crown in history.

“It’s never been done before, but we finished it today,” said Barrow coach Jeremy Arnhart, as some of his Whalers let out full-throated screams after the game.

“It’s a joy to reward them with this,” Arnhart said, referring to the “Whaler Nation” fans, roaring as he spoke, who have long waited for a title...

Alex DeMarban

The Barrow boys are back in the state finals following a decade-long drought, after they shut down one of the state’s top teams and all but silenced their biggest threat.

On Saturday, they’ll face three-time defending 3A boys champion Monroe Catholic after they rolled over Grace Christian 48-42.

“We just had a couple more weapons than they did and we took advantage of them,” said Monroe coach Frank Ostanik, referring to some of his top players.

As for Barrow, they beat powerhouse Anchorage Christian 50-40, but the Whalers won’t be celebrating until it wins the crown, said coach Jeremy Arnhart...

Alex DeMarban

In a bruising match against a relentless Barrow squad, Marian Wamsley left no doubt why she was named 3A girls player of the year, engineering a fourth-quarter rally that would give Valdez its first trip to the championship match in more than a decade.

Valdez, ranked second in the state by coaches, will face the top-ranked Sitka Wolves after they beat the Hutchison Hawks 49-36 in state semifinals action Friday. The title game will be Sitka’s first since 2012, when it lost to Galena in overtime.

During the Valdez game, Wamsley broke through a screaming wall of in-your-face pressure from the Whalers, hammering in 21 points and muscling down 13 rebounds to power the Buccaneers to a 53-45 victory.

Barrow made them earn every point...

Alex DeMarban

Large-school March Madness Alaska began with a bang early Thursday, with two of the state's most-watched players headlining the tournament’s opening games at Sullivan Arena.

On the main court at 8 in the morning was West Valley junior Ruthy Hebard, getting looks from two college recruiters sitting in the audience.

She led the top-ranked Wolfpack to a 50-37 victory over the Thunder Mountain Falcons from Juneau, scoring 12 points and yanking down 20 rebounds.

The 6-foot-3 center has been getting attention from colleges since the end of her freshman year, and Hebard considers the recruiters friends when they call to talk about school, her family, whatever...

Alex DeMarban