Suzanna Caldwell

NULATO -- A snowmachiner says he was driving drunk when he hit two dog teams racing in the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race Saturday, killing one dog and injuring several others. Two Rivers musher Aliy Zirkle and Denali Park’s Jeff King reported that a snowmachiner repeatedly tried to hit their dog teams as they traveled to the Yukon River checkpoint of Nulato early Saturday morning. The snowmachine hit King’s team, according to a press release from the Iditarod Trail Committee, resulting in the death of 3-year-old Nash and non-life-threatening injuries to two others: 2-year-old Banjo and 3-year-old Crosby. A dog in Zirkle’s team also received a non-life-threatening injury. Arnold Demoski, 26, was arrested Saturday afternoon in connection with the incident. He was in custody Saturday at the...Suzanna Caldwell,Tegan Hanlon,Alex DeMarban
DESHKA LANDING -- Ask any musher preparing to head down the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race trail, and they’ll tell you the 1,000-mile race is the Super Bowl of dog mushing. And with this Super Bowl comes a tailgate party that stretches for miles. “There are lots of shenanigans going on,” said Willow resident Ed McCain as he settled in to a beach chair next to a section of trail beside Deshka Landing . “You can pick any kind of party you want.” It’s a party that can come in many forms from the Willow Lake start well past the second checkpoint of Skwentna , 72 miles away. Expect everything from “K9 Fairies” dressed in glittery lace tutus to “Club Flamingo,” a group that lines a section of trail with hundreds of pink flamingos. There are partygoers drinking Pabst Blue Ribbon and others...Suzanna Caldwell
It was a simple idea that led Kellie Mitchell to teach 20 Anchorage elementary school students how to cook. Mitchell, a first-grade teacher at Kasuun Elementary School and a mother of three, said she had the idea when she noticed more of her students -- across all income levels -- were fending for themselves after school. Some were even being asked to make dinner. “We wanted to give kids ideas for nutritious meals,” she said. So Mitchell collaborated with health teacher Karen Bronga to set up an after-school cooking club for students grades three through six at Kasuun, in an economically mixed neighborhood south of the University Medical District. Over the course of four afternoons this school year, Mitchell, Bronga and several parent helpers have led the students through simple recipes:...Suzanna Caldwell
Last year, former University of Alaska Fairbanks professor John Bailey rode on the back of a dog sled with one mission: to capture the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race for Google Street View . He did, both in the upright and upside-down position. A year later, those images are available online, just in time for the 2016 start. Bailey captured portions of the trail including the ceremonial start, the Fairbanks restart, and the checkpoints of Nenana, Galena, Unalakleet and Nome. Viewers can scroll through much of the trail, including last year’s sloppy ceremonial start as Bailey, with his Google Street View cam, makes his way down the trail behind a team driven by 1984 Iditarod champion Dean Osmar of Kasilof. Bailey was the last team to travel the trail after 78 other mushers, with portions of...Suzanna Caldwell
Iditarod mushers have a new rule to contend with during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race this year: Keeping their opinions to themselves. Rule 53, the “personal conduct policy,” states from the date a musher signs up for the 1,000-mile sled dog race until 45 days after the last entrant completes the event, mushers shall “not make public statements or engage in any public conduct injurious to and in reckless disregard of the best interests of the race” or its sponsors. Penalties include forfeiture of entry fees, involuntary withdrawal, disqualification or prospective disqualification for a period of years. Those who violate it will be sanctioned at the discretion of the executive committee of the race's board of directors. The rule itself isn’t new. The Iditarod Trail Committee Board of...Suzanna Caldwell
The U.S. Department of Agriculture wants more veterans to get into farming, and they sent one of their top officials to help lead the charge in Alaska. USDA Deputy Undersecretary Lanon Baccam was in Alaska last week to meet with farming groups from across the state to promote the idea. The 2014 farm bill designated veterans as a distinct class of farmers, opening up loan and grant opportunities . Baccam’s position was created as a result of the farm bill, with the idea that he can work across agency lines -- particularly between the USDA and the Department of Defense -- to collaborate on veteran farming opportunities. Baccam believes Alaska holds huge potential for farmers. He said Alaska’s biggest advantage is that it still has lots of land that could be developed for agriculture, unlike...Suzanna Caldwell
The Senate Judiciary Committee held its first hearing Monday on a bill that would allow people to carry concealed weapons on University of Alaska campuses. Sen. Pete Kelly, R-Fairbanks, introduced Senate Bill 174 in early February. Similar measures have been considered by the Legislature in recent years, including by Sen. John Coghill, R-Fairbanks, in 2014 . Kelly testified Monday that the December mass shooting in San Bernardino, California , spurred him to introduce the bill this session. He said that not allowing guns on campus is a violation of both the Alaska and U.S. constitutional right to bear arms. “Citizens of the state of Alaska don't give up constitutional rights at the border of the university,” he told the committee. UA General Counsel Michael Hostina testified that some...Suzanna Caldwell
The University of Alaska president is pushing back against proposed budget cuts he says would have major impacts on the university system. In a press conference Tuesday, UA President Jim Johnsen criticized budget cuts proposed by Rep. Tammie Wilson, R-North Pole, last week. Wilson proposed dropping the university budget to $288 million at a budget subcommittee of the House Finance Committee. The proposed budget has enough money for student instruction and athletics but eliminates funding for research and outreach, like cooperative extension programs and the marine advisory program. Wilson’s proposal is far less than the governor’s proposed budget of $335 million for the university system, which is already a 4.5 percent decrease from last year. Johnsen, who’s set to travel to Juneau...Suzanna Caldwell
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The three men behind Double Shovel want you to know that when it comes to cider, they aren’t doing it the way you’d think. Forget the syrupy sweet cider you might find at the liquor store. Double Shovel specializes in "dry" cider, and they're hoping to add more than just apple flavors. In the two...
Bob Hallinen,Suzanna Caldwell
The three men who started Double Shovel Cider Company see a lot of comparisons between, of all things, Alaska caribou and Alaska apples. Caribou are strong and hearty, despite surviving in cold winter environments. Jerry Lau, one of three owners of the cider company and the mastermind behind most of the recipes, said that same can be said of the Alaska apples they'll use to make their cider. In hunting, a “double shovel” is a type of caribou antler rack that's considered a trophy. Lau and fellow owners Galen Jones and Jack Lau hope that what they produce at Anchorage’s latest -- and possibly first -- cider company will be also highly prized. “It has kind of a ring to it, right?” Jones, 31, said in an interview at their warehouse, where they were working earlier this month. The men behind...Suzanna Caldwell