Jill Burke

Alaska’s top military official, Adjutant General Col. Laurie Hummel, has tapped U.S. National Guard Lt. Forrest Dunbar to help overhaul the state’s code of military justice.

A 2014 Democratic candidate for U.S. Congress, Dunbar announced Monday he is leaving the law firm Stoel Rives LLP to accept an assignment with the guard. Headed to Juneau on Wednesday, Dunbar, a weekend warrior now going on full-time duty, will work with soldiers, legislators and staff to continue military reforms underway since September, when a federal investigation uncovered numerous failures within the guard including the state’s weak, outdated code of military justice...

Jill Burke

The daily cycle of a newborn is monotonous and unyielding: Sleep. Cry. Eat. Poop. Repeat.

Parents beaming with joy and love will keep at it, day after day, hour after hour. Yet there is no escaping just how difficult it can be to keep up with the tiny new creature they have welcomed into their home. The mounting, inevitable lack of sleep makes an already tough job even more difficult.

For families who can afford it, help may be a mere phone call away. Bleary-eyed, sleepy parents, say hello to the night nanny -- a caregiver who takes care of a baby's overnight needs and offers new parents some much-needed nocturnal respite. The idea has been gaining ground in the U.S. for years, but as with many trends, Alaska is a little behind the curve...

Jill Burke

Super-fit Iditarod dogs may be as famous as the human mushers who accompany them to the finish line in Nome – and even more accomplished. One given name is enough for these incredible dogs, but like LeBron and Magic, the most famed become household names like Granite, Maple and Zorro, lead dogs that follow in the footsteps of the legendary Balto. These elite animal athletes possess physical traits that allow them to race across Alaska in less than nine days...

Jill Burke

In the heart of downtown Anchorage, Dianne and David Tydings are the memory keepers of a unique part of Alaska’s history. Over a span of 25 years they’ve tended to soup cooked in giant steam kettles and loaves of bread in the kitchen of their ground floor eatery, Dianne’s Restaurant, housed in the Robert B. Atwood Building, Anchorage office of administration after administration of hungry Alaska governors.

As the Tydings recall, Gov. Tony Knowles was a loyal chowder man. Gov. Frank Murkowski always sent someone to go through the food line for him and used the time saved to visit with people in the restaurant. Veggie trays and salads were Gov. Sarah Palin’s go-to meal. Gov. Sean Parnell had a habit of a half turkey sandwich with no mayo...

Jill Burke

Alaska’s first-ever female National Guard commander lived the women’s rights movement as a young military cadet -- breaking ground at West Point in the 1970s, two years after Congress forced the nation’s military academies to open their doors to women.

Now, decades later, with the American Civil Liberties Union pushing to expose gender bias at the academies in an effort to eliminate it, Col. Laurie Hummel sees continued room for improvement, in particular with the quota systems employed by the academies to select students...

Jill Burke

Two men who led the Alaska National Guard through its recent scandal and re-organization will leave the organization in May.

Meanwhile, a state figure outside guard ranks, but prominent within the state’s anti-violence, anti-sexual assault “Choose Respect” campaign who had contact with guard victims and had also voiced concerns to at least one state executive, has mysteriously moved on.

Murmurs about the retirements of Brig. Gen. Mike Bridges and Brig. Gen. Timothy O’Brien began to circulate in the days prior to Thursday, the first day on the job for incoming Adjutant General Col. Laurie Hummel...

Jill Burke

Anchorage Democrats Rep. Chris Tuck and Sen. Bill Wielechowski are heading to Juneau with plans to beef up Alaska’s Uniform Code of Military Justice. The effort is intended to improve the culture within the Alaska National Guard, which came under heavy criticism in 2014 by federal investigators for leadership failures.

“By adding and changing the Uniform Code of Military Justice, we would be creating a criminal justice system within the guard,” Wielechowski said in a press conference Thursday at the Anchorage Legislative Information Office...

Jill Burke

When Jessica McDonnell decided to use cloth diapers on her son, she didn’t know it would lead her into the world of business and ultimately, a storefront of her own just off the Parks Highway in Wasilla.

What started as a quest to cloth diaper her child has evolved into a hands-on boutique where the natural parenting baby products that line the shelves are as much of a draw as the personal connections that are made there among parents who come to explore cloth diapering.

“The biggest misconception is that it is going to be difficult. It’s not. It is super easy,” McDonnell said during a recent afternoon interview at her store...

Jill Burke

The hacking cough. The sneezing. The sore throat. If you’re among the people who are trying to fend off these and other symptoms, you’re not alone.

The flu has made its way into more Alaska households than usual for the start of the holiday season.

The 405 cases already identified so far this month are “by far the highest number of confirmed flu cases we’ve seen in November in the past four years,” Dr. Michael Cooper, program manager for the state’s infectious disease program, said in a statement released Tuesday.

What’s not yet known is whether this is an early peak to the flu season or a very high low point in a season that could prove to be one of the worst in recent years...

Jill Burke

More than a month after suing Gov. Sean Parnell for the release of public records related to problems in the Alaska National Guard, plaintiffs Alaska Dispatch News and Alaska Public Media have received more than 2,000 pages of documents, but the heavily redacted material sheds little light on how Parnell and his staff addressed guard-related complaints.

On Oct. 9, the attorney general agreed to rolling production of the desired records. When that didn’t happen, the news outlets sought relief in court. On Oct. 30, Alaska Superior Court Judge Greg Miller ordered the state to begin daily production of the records sought until Election Day...

Jill Burke

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