Suzanna Caldwell

The Food Bank of Alaska's Ship Creek warehouse is filled with more than 11,000 frozen turkeys, along with thousands of pounds of apples, potatoes and canned vegetables this week, all in preparation for the annual Thanksgiving Blessing grocery distribution. It's the culmination of a year of planning for the Food Bank, which will provide meals for about 10,000 families in Anchorage and the Mat-Su. While food pantries across the state are in charge of fundraising and collecting food for their Thanksgiving Blessing -- an annual meal distribution for families in need -- the Food Bank coordinates some of the most in-demand items: specifically the turkeys, potatoes and apples. The Food Bank doesn't serve the food directly. Instead, the group collects donations for local organizations, like...Suzanna Caldwell
An Anchorage restaurant has found itself overwhelmed with support after its owner shared a Facebook post standing up to mistreatment of an employee with developmental disabilities. It all started with a customer calling to complain to Little Italy Restaurante on Saturday night. On the phone was an irate customer complaining about one of the restaurant’s delivery drivers. According to restaurant owner P.J. Gialopsos, the customer was ranting, using foul language and accusing the driver of using drugs when he brought him the wrong container of food. Gialopsos said her daughter, Emily, took the call and tried to explain to the man that he was mistaken. She told him that the delivery driver, who has worked at the restaurant for the past two years, has autism and a speech impediment. She...Suzanna Caldwell
Private pilot Michael Mackowiak, 56, was so sure his Cessna's fuel tanks were nearly full when he left Juneau for the short hop to Haines Nov. 4 that when his gauges suddenly pointed to zero in midair, he thought they were broken. Mackowiak checked the circuit breakers to make sure there was still power to the gauges, but the breakers were fine, according to a U.S. National Transportation Safety Board report released Tuesday. His engine was still running normally, he told the NTSB, and instead of looking for an emergency place to land, Mackowiak took his plane, with its three passengers, up to 2,500 feet. He tapped the gauges and one jumped to a quarter-tank. Then the engine died. The NTSB report, a preliminary look into the eventual crash, said Mackowiak used the primer control to try to...Suzanna Caldwell
Restaurant owner Christopher Quist does things a little differently at his Fairbanks restaurant, LUNCH Café and Eatery . The cafe uses mostly organic and locally sourced items and has an extensive gluten-free menu. It doesn’t serve any mammal products, including dairy. And, in what is likely an Alaska restaurant first, it doesn’t accept tips. “I think it's the future,” Quist said in a phone interview in Fairbanks on Wednesday. Quist has been going “service compris” (using the French pronunciation) at the restaurant since July. Quist, also a Fairbanks North Star Borough assemblyman, said he introduced the idea of eliminating tips in an effort to create a more “egalitarian” work environment. Any tips left behind are donated to Stone Soup Café , a local soup kitchen. “The dishwasher is...Suzanna Caldwell
After years of back and forth, the clock is ticking for the Mt. McKinley Meat and Sausage Plant. Southcentral Alaska’s only USDA-certified meat processing facility will close at the end of June, when the state’s fiscal year ends. One-time operational funding from the state Legislature earlier in the year has kept the plant going. But with no state funding in place after that, farmers are trying to figure out ways to keep the plant open, starting with Facebook. Heated discussions within the Alaska Farm and Food page rose to such a level that Division of Agriculture Director Franci Havemeister hosted a one-hour teleconference Wednesday updating members of the group on the status of the plant and answering questions about what they could do. Without USDA certification, farmers raising red-...Suzanna Caldwell
Behind any steaming bowl of pho soup or fried rice at Pho Vietnam 8, a new Fireweed Lane restaurant, is Linda La, the mastermind behind the chain of Anchorage’s Pho Vietnam restaurants . Pho Vietnam 8 is actually the fifth venture, despite the name. In Vietnamese culture, the number eight is associated with wealth and prosperity. What about five, six and seven? “Not so good,” La said in her latest restaurant in early October. La, 47, has founded about a half-dozen pho restaurants in Anchorage. While she no longer operates them all -- passing ownership of all but one off to members of her family -- the recipes, style and design are all hers. The chefs are all closely trained under her supervision and the sauces she developed, used for everything from pad Thai to spring roll dipping sauce,...Suzanna Caldwell
A man target shooting with a pellet gun in Fairbanks briefly drew police response Friday morning. Police responded to a report of shots fired in the area of College Road and Antoinette Street at about 10 a.m. Friday. Fairbanks police spokesperson Amber Courtney said police arrived to find a man shooting a pellet gun. “He was just practicing,” she said. “He was not trying to shoot at anybody.” She said the situation was over in less than hour. She did not know if the man had been taken into custody. Courtney said it's illegal to discharge a firearm within city limits, including pellet guns. She said the case was referred to the district attorney for possible charges. Something going on at College Road. #Fairbanks — Elisabeth Dabney (@edabney) October 30, 2015Suzanna Caldwell
This year’s Jam Jam had plenty of folksy jams playing, but not a ton of jelly. The fourth annual event, hosted Tuesday night as part of a social hour for participants at the Alaska Tribal Conference on Environmental Management , was a chance for people to share their harvests from around the state while a "jam band" played in the background. It was a fitting event for a conference that centered on conversations about environmental challenges in Alaska communities and how to deal with them. The event has been growing since it was first introduced four years ago, said Mike Brubaker, director of the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium’s Center for Climate and Health . Last year dozens of jams lined the tables, with participants taste-testing all the different versions of jam along the way...Suzanna Caldwell
A federal investigation looking at how sexual violence is handled within the University of Alaska system is still pending, but universities across the state have already started implementing changes in their Title IX reporting requirements. The University of Alaska Anchorage and University of Alaska Southeast completed self-audits in preparation for a compliance review by the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights , in some cases finding small issues to be resolved. The University of Alaska Fairbanks' own audit found instances in which the university did not follow its own discipline policies regarding sexual assault on campus. The internal review of the university's Title IX procedures found five cases where students were not suspended or expelled for sexual assault even...Suzanna Caldwell
The interim chancellor for the University of Alaska Fairbanks said Tuesday that from 2011 to 2014, his institution failed to follow its own student discipline policies when dealing with sexual assaults on campus, based on an internal university review. UAF Interim Chancellor Mike Powers said during a press conference Tuesday that a “breakdown” in the reporting system allowed at least five cases where students were not suspended or expelled for sexual assault even after university investigators had found misconduct. The university’s review, which covered three academic years from 2011 to 2014, found 42 cases involving sexual misconduct, with five that rose to the level of major sanctions. UAF spokeswoman Marmian Grimes said in some cases informal actions were taken, like removing the...Suzanna Caldwell