Zaz Hollander

The House Fisheries Committee on Thursday passed a bill that would eliminate the Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission and move its duties to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

The unanimous vote came despite fishermen's objections that the bill upends the separation of power between the commission that oversees Alaska’s limited-entry fisheries like salmon and the agency that regulates commercial fishing.

The legislation, House Bill 112, goes next to the House Resources Committee. A referral to House Finance is expected, according to Reid Harris, aide to the fisheries committee that’s chaired by bill author Rep. Louise Stutes, a Kodiak Republican...

Zaz Hollander

Development on Eklutna Inc. land next to Chugiak’s popular Loretta French park will proceed without a contentious construction and demolition debris landfill.

The Alaska Native corporation last week announced it had eliminated the so-called “monofill” from its planned community district master plan proposal for the 68-acre property. The decision reflects ongoing discussions between Eklutna and Anchorage municipal officials after tests last year revealed contamination from the old Peters Creek dump may be leaking onto the proposed monofill site.

Until the “potential trespass contamination matter” is resolved, Eklutna said in a statement, it isn’t pursuing the monofill...

Zaz Hollander

WASILLA --The Matanuska-Susitna Borough has placed the borough’s top three emergency medical officers on administrative leave as officials investigate an undisclosed union complaint.

The three managers are: Clint Vardeman, deputy director for emergency medical services; Brian Wallace, emergency medical chief for the borough’s suburban core area; and Gene Wiseman, chief of rural EMS in the borough.

The action was triggered by a formal complaint from the borough’s employee union, officials say.

Dennis Brodigan, outgoing emergency services director, notified the borough’s 58 full-time emergency responders and 475 on-call responders about the “recent changes in the leadership of the EMS Division” in a Wednesday morning email...

Zaz Hollander

WASILLA -- The “Smoothie Lady” can celebrate: Some of Alaska’s strictest municipal regulations on marijuana got rolled back Monday night in light of concerns that they could violate state law.

The Wasilla City Council voted 4-2 to remove a local prohibition on cooking marijuana edibles -- which includes everything from cannabis butter to brownies to smoothies -- in a home kitchen within city limits.

The council also removed a 2-ounce limit on the amount of pot that can legally be carried in one vehicle, a prohibition more rigorous than the 1-ounce per person, six-plant limit in state law...

Zaz Hollander

Alaska State Troopers say they arrested a Wasilla couple after seizing heroin and methamphetamine packaged for sale at a home Saturday.

They also arrested another woman after discovering her with drugs in the driveway, according to an online trooper dispatch posted Monday.

Patrol troopers and members of a Mat-Su Statewide Drug Enforcement Unit arrested Steven and Tina Humpreys and Nicole Cizek after they served a search warrant at the Humphreys' home, the release said...

Zaz Hollander

WASILLA -- William Robinson Jr. was 16 when he shot and killed his father, 57-year-old William “Spencer” Robinson Sr., in the Meadow Lakes home they shared in February 2013.

On Monday, the day his murder trial was slated to begin in Palmer Superior Court, the teen who contended he was trying to protect his mother and himself from his father’s abusive tyranny entered a guilty plea to a lesser charge of criminally negligent homicide.

His attorney is hopeful Robinson will serve no time.

Along with accepting the plea, a judge removed the bail conditions applied in 2012, when Robinson was freed from jail two months after the shooting. No more house arrest, ankle monitor, or constant supervision from a friend in Anchorage serving as third-party custodian...

Zaz Hollander

WASILLA -- Dennis Brodigan, the Matanuska-Susitna Borough’s emergency services director, is resigning from the position he’s held for the last 12 years.

Brodigan said he is resigning for personal reasons. He offered his resignation to be effective May 18 so the emergency services department can get through the borough budget process before he leaves.

Borough Manager John Moosey said Friday afternoon he expects to take Brodigan up on that offer...

Zaz Hollander

Hunters in Alaska’s Arctic regions face new restrictions to protect dwindling Western Arctic and Teshekpuk caribou herds for the first time in more than 30 years.

The Alaska Board of Game unanimously adopted the restrictions this week during a meeting in Anchorage. The board took testimony from Alaska Department of Fish and Game biologists, but also from deeply concerned residents from Nuiqsuit and Barrow to Point Hope and Unalakleet.

Caribou provide a crucial source of red meat in a region where snowmachine gas goes for $10 or $11 a gallon and commercially sold beef can be prohibitively expensive...

Zaz Hollander

WASILLA -- A coalition of environmental groups this week sued the federal Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement, saying the agency erroneously supported invalid state permits for the Wishbone Hill coal mine near Sutton.

The lawsuit was filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Anchorage by Castle Mountain Coalition, Cook Inletkeeper, Alaska Center for the Environment, Alaska Community Action on Toxics and the Sierra Club...

Zaz Hollander

Proposals to ban Kenai Peninsula wildlife trapping near public trails, campgrounds and roads got no traction this week with the Alaska Board of Game.

The board, meeting in Anchorage, unanimously voted Wednesday against twin proposals -- one for the Cooper Landing area, the other from Tern Lake to Seward -- to prohibit traps and snares within 250 feet of most trails, trail heads and campgrounds, including heavily used recreational areas of the Chugach National Forest.

The proposals also would have banned trapping on private land, which is not illegal under state law though trapping ethics and game managers recommend getting the owner's permission first...

Zaz Hollander