Dermot Cole

If you guessed the tripod on the Tanana River would stop the clock at 2:25 p.m. AST on April 24, you'll get the $330,330 jackpot -- or at least part of it.

The Nenana Ice Classic website was updated Friday with an announcement saying the contest ended at 2:25 p.m. Alaska Standard Time. Contest officials said they were still logging all the guesses, so they had not yet notified a winner or winners of the $330,330 jackpot.

The contest had appeared to be over at about 7 p.m. Thursday when the ice rumbled and the bulky log structure painted black and white began to make its way downstream in the Tanana River...

Dermot Cole

The University of Alaska Fairbanks plans to cut its philosophy degree program and reduce offerings in music and a variety of other areas, while suspending a dental hygiene program and merging journalism and theater, the university said Wednesday.

“We wish it was not necessary to reduce the number of programs we offer, but our state budget scenario leaves us few choices. We will be facing cutbacks across campus, in addition to these, and are working hard to ensure we preserve as many academic programs as possible, as they are core to our mission as a university,” UAF Chancellor Brian Rogers and UAF Provost Susan Henrichs said in a memo to UAF staff and students...

Dermot Cole

Breakup appears to be imminent on the Tanana River at Nenana, perhaps the third-earliest in the history of the Nenana Ice Classic, an annual guessing game where contestants attempt to predict when the river ice will go out in hopes of snagging a big payday.

"The Tanana River ice has thinned out dramatically,” said Cherrie Forness, the longtime manager of the competition. The tripod listed downstream at about 5:20 p.m. Monday, but had not moved much as of Tuesday evening.

She said there are multiple signs that the tripod will topple before long -- dark spots that show rotting ice, open water about a half-mile above the tripod and open water about a half-mile below the tripod where the Nenana River is flowing...

Dermot Cole

While the Legislature confirmed Randy Hoffbeck Sunday as commissioner of the Alaska Department of Revenue by a vote of 47-12, the leaders of the Senate Finance Committee voted to reject him, with one claiming that an investment decision he made last month cost the state tens of millions of dollars.

Eagle River Sen. Anna MacKinnon, a Republican, said Sunday that Hoffbeck is a “wonderful man,” but not a wonderful choice for the revenue job. MacKinnon joined Sen. Pete Kelly, R-Fairbanks, the other co-chair of the finance committee, in opposing Hoffbeck’s confirmation...

Dermot Cole

FAIRBANKS — Gov. Bill Walker faces a Saturday deadline to act on his pledge to veto a gas line bill hurriedly approved by the Alaska Legislature to allow for an override vote before the session ends, a divide that stems from a deep disagreement about how best to deal with the three largest oil companies in Alaska.

At its center, the fight is about conflicting philosophies as the state and the oil companies embark on the latest in a long line of proposed pipelines. The ruling Republican majorities envision the state and the oil companies marching forward — more or less in unison — on a shared pipeline vision, capable of working out any disagreements that might derail the gas pipeline partnership...

Dermot Cole

FAIRBANKS—After seven years as University of Alaska Fairbanks chancellor, Brian Rogers on Thursday said he will retire in August, leaving a vacancy at the Fairbanks campus as the institution copes with repeated budget cuts.

A former state legislator and private business leader, Rogers served eight years on the University of Alaska Board of Regents and also helped lead the institution as finance vice president for seven years, becoming one of the prominent public policy leaders in the state. He said health reasons are one factor that led to this decision...

Dermot Cole

FAIRBANKS -- While more than 90 percent of its programs will remain intact, the University of Alaska Fairbanks will eliminate or suspend numerous low-enrollment academic programs to cut expenses, according to a memo sent to university staff Wednesday by UAF Provost Susan Henrichs.

In the memo, Henrichs said only about 2 percent of UAF students are enrolled in the targeted programs, which are to be named over the next week. The goal of the academic review was to find about $3 million in cuts from its 190 degree and certificate programs...

Dermot Cole

The state House advanced a plan Wednesday to get natural gas to Fairbanks, though it remains to be seen how the measure will be handled in the Alaska Senate and whether a $45 million past appropriation will be retained by the project.

House Bill 105 won approval on a 37-2 vote, a tally that doesn't reflect the degree of controversy triggered by the measure, which started as a plan to broaden the natural gas source for Fairbanks so it would not be limited to the North Slope.

The bill allows the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority to pursue an energy project using financial tools first approved by lawmakers in 2013...

Dermot Cole

With no votes to spare, the state House overturned a law that had called for a 2.5 percent raise for a couple of thousand nonunion state employees.

The 21-19 vote Wednesday afternoon rejecting a raise for nonunion workers followed a debate in which those favoring the measure said it was a choice of losing a cost-of-living adjustment for the many or having 90 people lose their jobs. Opponents of the plan said there were many options, not just those two.

At first, the measure failed on a 20-20 vote, but Palmer Republican Rep. Jim Colver changed his vote, tipping the balance...

Dermot Cole

As it studied plans to restart its Kenai fertilizer plant in 2013, Agrium asked the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority, which invests and provides financial incentives to Alaska businesses, for help with financing.

“AIDEA is one mechanism that may help support the project via repayable loans,” a spokesman for the Calgary-based company, one of the largest fertilizer distributors in the world, said in early 2014...

Dermot Cole

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