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Suzanna Caldwell

For the last week, from Shungnak all the way down to Kotzebue, people are reporting dead fish washed up on the banks of Northwest Alaska's Kobuk River in astonishing numbers. The fish appear to have been healthy and unspawned. Some have mysterious white welts dotting their backs.

Carolyn Ballot, mayor of Ambler, said when she first heard about the fish, she suspected bears were pulling salmon out of the water, which is nothing unusual. But the huge number of fish washing ashore quickly became concerning. She wondered whether warm weather in the region was causing the die-off.

“There is something going on,” she said...

Suzanna Caldwell

CAPE THOMPSON -- At the Project Chariot site, rusted-out pipes, wires and even a rotting fire extinguisher have lain on the tundra for more than 50 years, the last remnants of a plan to blast out a deep-water port in the Northwest Arctic using nuclear explosives.

And those last bits have left people who live in the region frustrated.

"It's a cover-up," said Point Hope Mayor Jack Schaefer, who has long been critical of the government's attempts to clean up the site over the last two decades...

Suzanna Caldwell

KOTZEBUE -- When it’s sunny and temperatures are in the 70s, it’s not hard to imagine the Chukchi Sea is the Mediterranean.

It helps that the sea wall, with its paved walkways and sleek railing, makes the town feel a bit more like a resort than the hub community of 10 villages in the Northwest Alaska Arctic.

The sea wall runs for about a half-mile down the shoreline, looking out over Kotzebue Sound, paralleling the aptly named Shore Avenue. It was constructed in 2012 at a cost of $34 million to help offset coastal erosion and protect the community from encroaching sea ice...

Suzanna Caldwell

NEWHALEN -- George Hornberger is a man on a mission: Get his tiny community totally off of diesel fuel power generation.

Hornberger’s background isn’t in electricity. For years he was a bush pilot for Iliamna Air Taxi, flying people between remote communities in the Bristol Bay region. It’s probably fairer to say his background is in efficiency.

After retiring from flying, he admitted he was frustrated after learning that the electric cooperative wasn’t running effectively. So he went to his longtime friend, INN Electric Cooperative board president Tinny Hedlund, and told him if he couldn’t get anyone to run the hydro plant, he’d do it himself...

Suzanna Caldwell

NEWHALEN -- George Hornberger is a man on a mission: Get his tiny community totally off of diesel fuel power generation...

Tara Young,Suzanna Caldwell

When it comes to campaigning for U.S. Congress, Forrest Dunbar got a little desperate, in a way most young, single people can relate to.

He considered starting an online dating profile.

His idea? Creating a profile under the name “Horace Gunbar.” His profession? “Definitely not running for congress.” His profile pic? Dunbar (or technically Gunbar) wearing a fake felt mustache.

His hope was a journalist might encounter the profile on OKCupid and give it a write-up. The idea was squashed, Dunbar said in an interview earlier this month, ultimately seeming a little too goofy even for a campaign that has prided itself on being playful...

Suzanna Caldwell

In the almost 20 years Alaska Common Ground chair Cliff Groh has been involved in the organization, he has spent a lot of time organizing, participating and moderating debates.

So when it came time to find an Alaskan willing to argue against Ballot Measure 3, an initiative that could increase Alaska’s minimum wage, he was surprised to find it was a challenge to come up with participants.

“It’s usually not this hard,” Groh said...

Suzanna Caldwell

NEWHALEN -- Things are quiet on the north shores of Iliamna Lake.

Gone are the early mornings when dozens of trucks and four-wheelers would commute from the communities of Newhalen and Iliamna to the Pebble Partnership offices, located about 5 miles north of Newhalen, to prepare for exploration work at the site of the proposed Pebble mine. Also gone are the numerous helicopters, which each day would zoom from the Iliamna airport, a mere 18 miles from the proposed mine site...

Suzanna Caldwell

Anchorage’s first pop-up restaurant has deflated.

Harvest Restaurant announced on its Facebook page that it would be closing up shop after a mere two months in business.

In a Facebook post, the restaurant’s owners -- Nathan Dolphin-Chavie and Josh Plesh -- said they came to the restaurant’s location Wednesday to find a sign on the door from the municipal health department saying the building was closed and could not be used to serve food.

In the post, the pair said they thought they had valid permits needed to serve food through their sub-lease, though that was later found to be incorrect...

Suzanna Caldwell

The Alaska Supreme Court has ruled that same-sex couples are entitled to benefits when their partner dies, despite a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.

In an opinion Friday, the state’s high court overturned a decision by the Alaska Workers’ Compensation Board that denied death benefits to Deborah Harris after the death of her partner, Kerry Fadely.

Under state statute, only “widowers and widows” are eligible for the benefits, according to the compensation board, which acts independently from the state as a quasi-judicial body overseeing workers’ compensation claims. The board found that since widows and widowers are only the product of marriage, which is illegal for same-sex couples in the Alaska, they denied Harris the benefits...

Suzanna Caldwell