Suzanna Caldwell

Traffic along some of Alaska’s busiest roadways has steadily increased in recent years, but one thing that’s gone down: major-injury crashes in designated “safety corridors.” The safety corridors , noted by the innocuous orange-and-white signs dotting sections of four major Alaska roadways, might not look like much to drivers, but they’ve unobtrusively been improving highway safety in a major way. Since first being implemented along the Seward Highway in 2006, the four sections of road have seen dramatic declines in major-injury crashes. According to data collected by the Alaska Department of Transportation major-injury crashes are down an average of 41 percent in the safety corridors since the sections of road have been designated as such. It’s down slightly from previous years, when the...Suzanna Caldwell
ILIAMNA -- Authorities on Wednesday identified the pilot and six survivors of a Tuesday morning floatplane crash near the Southwest Alaska town of Iliamna as investigators continued to look into what may have caused the crash that left three others dead. National Transportation Safety Board investigator Millicent Hoidal said she, another NTSB investigator, an FAA investigator and a representative of the aircraft engine manufacturer had been assessing the site where the de Havilland DHC-3T Turbine Otter crashed since Wednesday morning. The Otter, owned and operated by the Rainbow King Lodge, crashed shortly after takeoff from East Wind Lake, not far from the Iliamna Airport. The plane was being flown by 54-year-old John Furnia of New York, Alaska State Troopers said in an online dispatch...Suzanna Caldwell,Chris Klint
A float plane with 10 people aboard crashed on takeoff from a small lake in the Southwest Alaska town of Iliamna before sunrise Tuesday morning, killing three passengers, according to the National Transportation Safety Board and Alaska State Troopers. NTSB spokesman Clint Johnson said the de Havilland DHC-3T Turbine Otter owned and operated by Rainbow King Lodge was departing East Wind Lake. “They were headed to a fishing site from there," Johnson said. "There were guests, there were guides and there were obviously the crew on board.” Troopers identified those killed as Tony W. DeGroot, 80, of Hanford, Calif., James P. Fletcher, 70, of Clovis, Calif., and James Specter, 69, of Shavertown, Penn. Their next of kin have been notified. Troopers are still working to confirm the names of...Chris Klint,Lisa Demer,Suzanna Caldwell
From $9 “Bear Plate” T-shirts at Apone’s T-Shirt Cache to a $152 designer “Last Frontier” hoodie at Blush, there’s an Alaska-love apparel item for anyone who wants one at the Alaska State Fair. And as the styles emerge, and in some cases converge, vendors are trying to keep pace and stand out among the expanding crowd. “It’s absolutely growing,” said Nick McDonald, owner of Big Dipper Clothing Co. and a six-year vendor at the fair. Walk down any trail at the fair and you’ll find multiple booths selling T-shirts and sweaters emblazoned with Alaska designs. There are whimsical jellyfish from Anchorage’s Octopus Ink and hand-drawn nautical compasses from Homer’s Salmon Sisters. At a booth called “Locals Only,” be ready to find Sledneck shirts and pink T-shirts emblazoned “AK Dirty Girls” in...Suzanna Caldwell
Almost a year after an accident took Iditarod veteran Karin Hendrickson off the trail, the Willow musher is ready to get back on the runners. Hendrickson signed up Thursday to race in the 2016 Iditarod . She withdrew from the 2015 race after being hit by a car while training along the Parks Highway in late November last year. Hendrickson said in a phone interview Thursday she doesn’t want to consider what it would be like to sit out for another year. “I’m not sure if I can do it, but I’m going to give it everything I’ve got,” she said. The four-time finisher of the 1,000-mile race said she’s getting better every day, training with her team on short runs of up to five miles at a time. Every month she notices improvement, but she admits it’s slow going. “I can be up and on my feet for a...Suzanna Caldwell
President Barack Obama touched down in Seward on Tuesday to promote increased awareness of climate change and renewable energy. But one thing he might not have known is that Seward’s already a step ahead of him. On Monday night -- just hours before President Obama touched down in the Kenai Peninsula city of 3,000 -- the seven-member Seward City Council voted unanimously to move forward on a project to create the first part of a renewable energy “heating district” in the city’s downtown core using heat from Resurrection Bay tides. The proposed project would heat four city buildings: the library, city hall, a city annex and the fire department. Assistant city manager Ron Long said getting those buildings off heating oil -- the main source of heat in town -- is expected to save the city up...Suzanna Caldwell
Two groups politely rallied in downtown Anchorage Monday with one goal in mind: getting the president’s attention. About 75 people gathered at a protest on the Delaney Park Strip organized by environmental groups to oppose Royal Dutch Shell’s Arctic drilling program . Another 30 attended an Alaska Democratic Party rally to welcome the president. Led by party executive director Kay Brown beating an Alaska Native drum, the group marched to the Park Strip, eventually bound for the Dena’ina Civic and Convention Center to continue celebrating the president’s arrival. But along the way, there was polite pushback as they crossed paths with the Greenpeace-organized “Rally to Confront the Glacial Pace of Political Action.” Shirley Schneider, who has lived in Alaska since 1962, held a sign at the...Suzanna Caldwell
The embattled Alaska Moose Federation has a new executive director, and with that, a mission to get back to basics. Don Dyer officially took over the organization in mid-August, according to filings with the Alaska Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development. Dyer is the current president and owner of the MatSu Economic Development Corporation and former economic development director for the Matanuska-Susitna Borough. He said his goal in the coming months is to tighten up the organization, both financially and in terms of its mission, by limiting its scope. “It’s absolutely about rebuilding trust, rebuilding credibility,” he said in a phone interview Tuesday. Dyer said AMF “spread itself way too thin” in programs, leadership and financial matters. For him, rebuilding starts...Suzanna Caldwell
A forecast for an unusually strong late-summer windstorm starting today has the National Weather Service issuing wind warnings for Seward, Moose Pass, Whittier , Girdwood and Valdez. The weather service writes in the warning that “a strong upper level disturbance” originating in the Arctic will dive southward across Southcentral Alaska. It’s likely to cause strong winds, particularly in coastal communities. Meteorologist Jason Ahsenmacher said it’s going to be “breezy” all across Southcentral, but that the warnings apply only to the specific communities. He said that while strong windstorms are not uncommon in the winter, they are less common in the summer. With leaves still on the trees and the ground unfrozen, branches and power lines can easily topple. An Anchorage storm in September...Suzanna Caldwell
​The state’s highest court heard oral arguments Wednesday on whether a proposed ban on commercial setnet fishing in Alaska's urban areas will be put to voters next year and had pointed questions about what the exact effects of such a ban might be. At issue is whether the ban amounts to an allocation of state resources by popular vote, which is prohibited under the state constitution. Then-Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell, with a supporting opinion from the state Department of Law, determined that was the case when he initially declined to certify the ballot initiative in 2014. Backers of the initiative took the issue to court , where an Anchorage Superior Court judge overruled Treadwell's decision . Opponents of the measure appealed. In early August, the state Division of Elections certified the...Suzanna Caldwell