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Dermot Cole

FAIRBANKS -- The average price for regular gasoline has dropped below $3 per gallon in Anchorage, while it remains nearly 25 cents higher in Fairbanks and more than 60 cents higher in Juneau, according to AAA .

The average Anchorage price, $2.96 per gallon of regular, is down about 40 cents in the past month, while Fairbanks has seen a similar decline. In mid-September, the Anchorage gasoline price was about $3.75 per gallon...

Dermot Cole

FAIRBANKS -- In assembling his cabinet and key support staff, Gov. Bill Walker has chosen a wide variety of independents, Democrats and Republicans, as well as one Olympic champion.

Pat Spurgin Pitney, selected by Walker to be the state budget director, won a gold medal at the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984. She was an 18-year-old college sophomore when she became the first woman to win an Olympic gold medal in air rifle. A year before the Olympics, she won four gold medals at the Pan American Games, and she also was an NCAA champion at Murray State University in Kentucky and an eight-time All-American in both air rifle and the smallbore rifle competition...

Dermot Cole

FAIRBANKS -- A much-anticipated study on sulfolane pollution levels tends to back up the position taken by Flint Hills, concluding that a much higher level in the ground below North Pole should be considered safe than that proposed by the state.

The study says that a "reference dose" level 10 times higher than proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency in 2012 should be considered acceptable but the authors also said their confidence in the finding is on the "low end of medium." They said their recommendation would protect public health but they did not have enough information to say if further research will lead to a higher or lower reference dose...

Dermot Cole

FAIRBANKS -- A man who escaped an avalanche in the Alaska Range in early December returned to the site with another man over the course of two days to retrieve the body of Erik Peterson, who died in the same avalanche.

Mike Hopper, 63, who managed to dig himself out of the snow and Daniel Perpich, an Army veteran and friend of Peterson, brought Peterson's body to the Alaska State Troopers at Delta on Tuesday. They returned to the site of the slide on both Monday and Tuesday to attempt the recovery. They also found Hopper's dog Rowdy in the recovery effort, who died in the avalanche, which had carried them down a hillside about 150 yards...

Dermot Cole

FAIRBANKS -- Alaska has fallen behind booming North Dakota in the list of most populous states, taking the 48th spot, while North Dakota moved up to 47th, according to estimates released Tuesday by the U.S. Census Bureau.

During the past year, Alaska's population dropped by about 527, while North Dakota grew by about 16,000, making it the fastest growing state in the country on a percentage basis, the U.S. Census Bureau said. The bureau estimate put the North Dakota population at 739,482 in July, compared to 736,732 in Alaska, a difference of 2,750.

Alaska was one of six states to lose residents. The bureau estimates that there are 527 fewer people in Alaska this year than last...

Dermot Cole

FAIRBANKS -- One way to appreciate Frank Soos' work as an English professor and writer is to know what his former students have to say about him.

“Above all, I want to thank Frank Soos for the courage to fly in the dark.” said Jennifer Brice , an English professor and author of “The Last Settlers” and “Unlearning to Fly.”

“Whatever talent you see in me as a writer today has Frank Soos’ fingerprints all over it,” said U.S. Army veteran David Abrams , author of “Fobbit,” a New York Times “notable book” of 2012...

Dermot Cole

FAIRBANKS -- Alaska legislators are again reviewing the idea of turning their allowances for office expenses into annual income that can be spent in any way they choose.

“There is some interest in changing” how the allowance is paid, according to a survey distributed to lawmakers by the office of Kodiak Sen. Gary Stevens. He is a member of the Legislative Council, the group that sets policy on such matters...

Dermot Cole

FAIRBANKS -- A court decision settling the estate of the late Bill Stroecker will help a $25 million foundation become fully operational in Alaska, eventually providing more than $1.2 million a year to 50 or more groups, 36 of them in Fairbanks.

The Bill Stroecker Foundation, under IRS rules that require distributions of 5 percent of the value of the endowment each year, aims to distribute funds to dozens of groups Stroecker named in his will, ranging from the Fairbanks Curling Club and the NRA to the Salvation Army and the Fairbanks Community Food Bank.

In advance of the final settlement, the foundation gave out $500,000 in 2012 and $500,000 in 2013, money provided by the estate, to benefit groups named in Stroecker's will...

Dermot Cole

FAIRBANKS — The company that wants the state to build a 200-mile one-lane road to mining prospects in Northwest Alaska says “substantial doubt exists as to our ability to continue as a going concern,” a statement it made in July and repeated to investors as recently as October.

NovaCopper says the doubt is because it is dependent “on our ability to obtain additional financing,” according to documents filed with regulators by the Canadian mining company...

Dermot Cole

FAIRBANKS -- A second credit ratings agency raised a warning flag Thursday about Alaska’s state budget.

Standard & Poor’s said that “to avert credit quality deterioration, we believe the state must make material progress in reducing the deficit in its fiscal 2016 budget.”...

Dermot Cole

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