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Michelle Theriault Boots

A Fairbanks judge on Tuesday sentenced Peter Tony, a former foster parent in the Southwest Alaska community of Bethel, to 66 years in prison for sexually abusing children.

“You will be in jail for the rest of your life,” Superior Court Judge Douglas Blankenship told the 70-year-old defendant.

Blankenship said Tony preyed on vulnerable children entrusted to his care for nearly 40 years...

Michelle Theriault Boots

Jeff Dusenbury spent much of his time biking far-flung trails of Anchorage, treating the wild edges of the city as if they were his backyard.

It was nothing for the 51-year-old bicyclist to pedal from his driveway to Girdwood or Eklutna Lake and back in a day while training for an endurance race, his friends said.

But when he was killed on Saturday morning in an apparent hit-and-run, he was close to home.

Dusenbury, a married father of one, was riding a bicycle on a quiet, residential street just a few blocks from his house in South Anchorage when he was hit by a pickup around 10:15 a.m., according to Anchorage police...

Michelle Theriault Boots

A National Guard soldier was mauled by a brown bear on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson while participating in a training exercise Sunday morning, officials said. A JBER release said the soldier was mauled by a sow defending her cubs -- the second such attack in just more than two months on the Anchorage base.

The soldier was in stable condition as of Sunday afternoon. His name had not yet been released.

The Alaska Army National Guard soldier was a participant in a daylong “land navigation exercise,” said Alaska National Guard spokeswoman Maj. Candis Olmstead. During the exercise, soldiers are given a compass and map and are timed as they navigate alone to hidden locations on the course...

Michelle Theriault Boots

Lawmakers left a packed public hearing addressing a string of recent inmate deaths in Alaska jails and prisons Tuesday calling for legislation to establish a third-party independent review of such deaths.

“I think (such legislation) is very realistic,” said Sen. Hollis French, D-Anchorage. “Other states do it, first of all. I heard the (correctional officers union) asking for it. And I didn’t really hear the commissioner say that’s a bad idea.”

Tuesday’s hearing brought top Department of Corrections officials together to answer for the recent deaths of five young inmates at Alaska correctional institutions between April and June...

Michelle Theriault Boots

A correctional officer fired for “negligent inattention” by the Department of Corrections because he allegedly read a novel while Israel Keyes committed a “ritualistic” suicide in a cell 25 feet away was a scapegoat for widespread lax practices and shouldn’t have lost his job, a review by an arbitrator found.

Records of the arbitration between the correctional officers union and the state, obtained by the Alaska Dispatch News, reveal never-before-public details about Keyes' suicide, the missteps that led up to his death and the blame-placing that came after.

Loren Jacobsen was fired shortly after the confessed serial killer was found dead in a bloody maximum-security cell at the Anchorage Correctional Complex on the morning of Dec. 2, 2012...

Michelle Theriault Boots

From April to June, five young people died on the Alaska Department of Corrections’ watch: One suicide. One homicide. Three were found suddenly dead in their cells.

The Department of Corrections has said the cluster of deaths is not unusual because of a prisoner population that often comes to jail with significant health problems.

After each death, the department assured the public that it was conducting an internal investigation.

Family members of the deceased wanted to know more, especially after other inmates tracked them down and told stories of mistreatment and neglect in the days and hours before their loved ones died...

Michelle Theriault Boots

Frank Koloski is a little embarrassed: It’s just not like him to get gored at his own rodeo.

Koloski, 43, is the affable founder and co-owner of Rodeo Alaska, an outfit that puts on summer displays of bull riding and steer wrestling prowess around the state.

On Saturday, he was entered in a “double mugging” event at his own Alaska Sales & Service Bear Paw Rodeo Round-Up in Eagle River, he said in a phone call from his hospital bed Sunday.

“Double mugging” is Koloski's specialty -- the event involves one cowboy on a horse roping a steer while another cowboy on foot tries to wrestle the animal to the ground.

On Saturday night, Koloski was the cowboy on the ground. The steer was as rowdy as a barroom brawler...

Michelle Theriault Boots

A man attempting to sail his 36-foot sailboat through the Northwest Passage was rescued by a U.S. Coast Guard icebreaker Saturday after his boat became trapped in Arctic sea ice northeast of Barrow.

The Coast Guard cutter Healy broke a 12-mile path through ice to reach the sailboat Altan Girl about 40 miles from Barrow, the Coast Guard said in a news release Sunday. The Healy was diverted from a research mission to respond to the sailboat.

The Coast Guard did not release the rescued man’s name, but the Nome Nugget’s June 26 “Dock Walk” column described the Altan Girl as a “Canadian-Turkish sailing vessel."

The Altan Girl started its voyage in Vancouver, Canada, and is attempting to reach eastern Canada via the Arctic Ocean, the Coast Guard said...

Michelle Theriault Boots

The mounting tide of unaccompanied minors crossing the Southwest U.S. border to flee poverty and violence in Central America might be felt in Alaska through deep cuts to services designed to help newly arrived refugees start their lives here.

The federal Office of Refugee Resettlement plans to shift $94 million away from refugee services to deal with the unaccompanied minors, the advocacy group Refugee Council USA said in a “call to action” for its members.

In Anchorage, that could mean a loss of about $350,000 in federal money unless new funding comes through, said Susan Bomalaski, the head of Catholic Social Services, which oversees the state’s Refugee Assistance & Immigration Services program...

Michelle Theriault Boots

On the Homer Spit on Saturday, a butter-soft but bone-skinny harbor seal pup appeared on a crowded stretch of beach between an ice cream parlor and fishing charter office.

Bystanders called the Alaska SeaLife Center's stranded marine animal hotline -- 1-888-774-SEAL -- and by the afternoon, the malnourished week-old female was packed into a dog crate cooled with ice, on her way to Seward.

There, she joined a dozen other ailing harbor seals recuperating from rough starts in life behind-the-scenes at the SeaLife Center: A seal found trying to haul itself into boats near Cordova. One plucked from the mud flats near Anchorage, where it had been stranded for 24 hours. A pup found caught in a net. A hollow-eyed female who'd been approaching kayakers in Resurrection Bay...

Michelle Theriault Boots