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After a wrenching spring budget process that promised big cuts, the Anchorage School District started the school year Wednesday having rehired all but three of the dozens of teachers who received layoff notices in May.

Most of the laid-off teachers were reshuffled into positions vacated by resignations or retirements, said Todd Hess, the district's human resources director.

The few teachers who remain on the “layoff list” have specialized certifications that made it impossible for them to transfer into open positions, he said.

But as of Wednesday, the district was down 75 positions overall from the first day of school last year, said ASD spokeswoman Heidi Embley...

Michelle Theriault Boots

The driver of a bus carrying 20 people lost consciousness, veered off the Sterling Highway near Soldotna and died Sunday morning, Alaska State Troopers reported.

Nineteen people on the bus were injured in the incident, said AST spokeswoman Megan Peters.

Troopers said none of the injuries were life-threatening. Some of the hurt passengers were taken to a Kenai Peninsula hospital for treatment.

The coach-style bus was owned by Snug Harbor Seafoods, which is based in Kenai. It was full of Snug Harbor employees, Peters said.

The bus was traveling northbound on the Sterling Highway near Mile 90 when the driver became unconscious and the bus went off the road, troopers said.

"The bus left the roadway and came to rest in a field," troopers said...

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Police have arrested a 27-year-old man who they say beat three men with a cane in a park in the Anchorage neighborhood of Mountain View early Sunday, sending one to the hospital in critical condition.

Police arrived at a park near the corner of North Lane Street and Mountain View Drive just after midnight on Sunday to find an unconscious man on the ground with life-threatening injuries to his face and head, according to a statement from Anchorage Police Department spokeswoman Jennifer Castro.

The man, who has not been identified, was taken to a local hospital, where he remains in critical condition.

Two other men at the scene suffered face lacerations and were treated by medics, police said...

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Update 6:37 p.m.:

Police have determined that the death of a woman whose body was found in a room at a downtown Anchorage motel early Sunday was a suicide.

"The scene in general was initially suspicious until APD's Crime Scene Team and detectives were able to further investigate and confirm the death was a suicide," Anchorage Police Department spokesperson Jennifer Castro wrote in an e-mail Sunday night. "The female was from out of state and police are working to notify next of kin."

Original story:

Anchorage police are investigating what is being described as a "suspicious" death after a woman's body was found in a downtown motel room Sunday...

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The U.S. Coast Guard and other agencies are searching Knik Arm for a hunter who left Anchorage bound for Point Mackenzie in a 10-foot skiff Saturday and never returned.

George Green, 41, left Anchorage at noon Saturday in a beige fiberglass skiff he launched from the Port of Anchorage boat ramp, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.

Green was reported overdue after he didn’t return from his hunting trip by Saturday night.

The Coast Guard, Alaska State Troopers and Anchorage Fire Department searched by air, land and water for Green Sunday.

The search includes a Coast Guard MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew, Anchorage Fire Department boat crews and troopers searching the shoreline near Point Mackenzie...

Michelle Theriault Boots

In the wilderness hamlet of McCarthy, Rick Kenyon was the preacher, newspaper editor, propane salesman, official weather observer and often the loudest agitator against what he viewed as incursions of the federal government on frontier Alaska life.

Kenyon died Aug. 5 after a heart attack. He was 67.

Not everyone in McCarthy agreed with Kenyon, a tall man who wore a bushy beard and started each day with coffee and Bible study.

But many have a hard time imagining the town without him.

“When someone like Rick departs a community, you just stand there scratching your head in shock, wondering how you can go on,” said Kenyon’s friend Ray Kreig, an Anchorage property rights activist who owns land in McCarthy...

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University of Alaska Anchorage faculty members on Monday got a first look at the results of “prioritization,” a controversial year-long effort to analyze and rank every offering at the sprawling university with an eye toward growing some programs and cutting others.

The results surprised many: Faculty and staff-led committees concluded that UAA should invest resources in areas that include traditional liberal arts disciplines such as history, philosophy, English, theater, dance and foreign languages while cutting floundering certificate programs and moribund offerings that graduate few students.

Critics of the prioritization process had worried it would take aim at humanities and arts degrees in favor of more industry-friendly science or technology offerings...

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One pepper-spray incident started with a hard-boiled egg tossed at the back of a prison guard’s head from an upper walkway.

It swiftly escalated to the inmate yelling he would kill the guards who came to ask him about the egg.

A pencil was clenched in his fist like a weapon.

Next came a stream of searing, traffic-cone-orange oleoresin capsicum spray aimed at the prisoner’s forehead.

Pepper spray is something like the WD-40 of Alaska prisons: It is the grease that makes the system, based on maintaining prisoner “compliance,” run.

It’s used hundreds of times a year to do everything from stopping an inmate from flooding a cell with toilet water to breaking up a fistfight...

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The Alaska Department of Corrections made public for the first time Tuesday a new policy governing prisoner deaths .

Until now, the public has had no way to know what the DOC does after an inmate dies under its care because the official policy was classified and hidden from public view.

The new policy says the DOC will notify next of kin, release information to the public and conduct an internal investigation into the cause and circumstances of the death, and also "deficiencies in policies, procedures and practices" that may have contributed. It spells out in detail the steps that must be taken in such an investigation...

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Amid budget cuts and campus layoffs , the top executive of Alaska’s public university system has been offered a $320,000 retention bonus.

The University of Alaska Board of Regents in June voted to offer a contract extension to president Pat Gamble that includes the bonus.

Gamble will receive the money, equal to one year of his salary, if he stays at the helm of Alaska’s public universities until 2016.

News of the bonus has stirred ire among some faculty members who say promising the top executive a six-figure bonus at a time of fiscal belt-tightening is tone-deaf and inappropriate...

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