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Dermot Cole

The Alaska Court of Appeals ruled Friday that a Fairbanks judge misinterpreted the word “may” as used in a phrase in the grand jury clause in the Alaska Constitution.

In doing so, the three-member court reinstated a sexual abuse indictment against Tara Leighton, 32, a former youth hockey coach. She was indicted on five counts for sexual abuse of a minor.

In 2012, the jurors heard a judge advise them that if a majority of them agreed to indict Leighton, they “should” do so. They did...

Dermot Cole

U.S. Rep. Don Young told the Alaska Federation of Natives on Friday that he is sorry for the pain his remarks about suicide may have caused people.

“Again, I am profoundly sorry for those that took offense at what I tried to say because they did not and will not take time to understand we have to stop this tragic from occurring again. And I can't do it by myself, but I have given it the best shot and I'll continue to do that. I'll continue to do that so I won't have to have that suffering...

Dermot Cole,Alex DeMarban

Rep. Don Young claims that an uninformed Wasilla High School student had the “gall” to claim that suicide is a disease.

“Suicide is a mental illness, it’s not a disease. That’s No. 1,” Young told an audience at the Palmer Senior Center the next day, defending his behavior during the school session.

“And then he had the gall to say that suicide is a disease. It is not a disease. It is an illness. A lot of times that illness should be recognized by a support group,” he said.

Young continued his diagnosis by linking suicide to government “largesse” in Alaska and made other comments that are far more dubious than the silly argument over illness and disease. This was not medical school. It was high school...

Dermot Cole

FAIRBANKS - For the second time this week and the third time since late August, a magnitude 5 earthquake rattled the Fairbanks area Thursday morning, originating near Minto about 10 miles below ground on an unmapped fault, state seismologist Michael West said.

“One of the surprises to us was that the Aug. 30 earthquake and now Monday’s earthquake and today’s earthquake did not occur on the common strand, the fault strand out in Minto,” West told reporters Thursday afternoon in Fairbanks.

In the last couple of weeks, he said, there has been a growing consensus that the quakes took place along a fault that seismologists were not aware of. There were no reports of damage...

Dermot Cole

Where Sen. Mark Begich sees clear evidence of national economic progress, with a 70 percent reduction in the federal deficit, more jobs and growth in the housing industry, challenger Dan Sullivan says the country is still headed in the wrong direction.

Sullivan said the economy has seen one of the “slowest recoveries in American history from a major recession.”

“We have to do better as a country and we can do with less government, more freedom and regulations that are not from the federal government. If we have to make regulations, let the states decide,” said Sullivan.

In a forum Tuesday before the Kenai and Soldotna chambers of commerce, the two exchanged sharply different views on the U.S. economy...

Dermot Cole

When President Dwight D. Eisenhower inked the declaration under which the 49th state joined the union, no one thought that 55 years later, the state and federal governments would still be arguing about the map of Alaska.

A key part of the Alaska Statehood Act allowed the new state to select a land entitlement of about 104 million acres, with a goal of using that land as the basis for its future economy.

One of the earliest statehood selections for land on the North Slope later turned out to contain the largest oil field ever found in North America, a bonanza that has fueled the economy for nearly 40 years.

But completing the land selections, a real estate transaction that exceeds the size of California, has proven to be more difficult than anyone predicted...

Dermot Cole

The Parnell administration and Flint Hills Resources have reached agreement on a settlement for pollution cleanup at the former refinery site in North Pole, while negotiations and a court fight continue on what is to be done off the property.

A groundwater plume of sulfolane pollution , up to 3 miles long and 2 miles wide, remains a major concern in North Pole. The agreement reached last week sets a cleanup goal for the refinery property and includes a Flint Hills pledge to continue providing alternative drinking water supplies to hundreds of nearby homes...

Dermot Cole

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has rejected two high-profile Alaska cases dealing with federal authority in Alaska, largely because of a six-letter word Congress inserted into a sentence in the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act 34 years ago.

In both cases, the court has concluded that the state and private parties challenging the National Park Service have misinterpreted the law because they are not giving the word its due...

Dermot Cole

At the request of Gov. Sean Parnell, the Legislature approved a $25 million appropriation in 2012 to start work on a $125 million launchpad at the Kodiak rocket range.

“Lockheed Martin will work to secure the additional funding needed to build the launch complex,” the backup document submitted to lawmakers by the Department of Military & Veterans Affairs said.

“Construction of this additional launch pad will not only bring business to Alaska, but it will also create high-paying jobs in the future,” Parnell said in 2012. ...

Dermot Cole

Oil prices have been relatively stable in the past few years, a Department of Revenue analyst said Wednesday, addressing the new state board charged with assessing Alaska’s competitive position in the oil and gas world.

Stable, he said, until about a month ago, “when all hell broke loose.”

Just a day earlier, Gov. Sean Parnell, while debating independent challenger Bill Walker in Fairbanks, mentioned “today’s oil prices,” which he said were in the $88 to $90 range. But he was quoting numbers from last week.

The price for Alaska oil dipped to $82.80 on Tuesday and $82.16 on Wednesday...

Dermot Cole