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Zaz Hollander

PALMER -- A Palmer Superior Court Judge on Tuesday delayed the murder trial for Jacob Allen Dvorak, the 17-year-old accused of shooting 45-year-old Frank Pushruk and then pushing his body off a bluff above the Matanuska River in March.

Dvorak at the time allegedly told Alaska State Troopers he killed Pushruk and dumped his body as punishment for sexually assaulting a teenage girl a few days earlier...

Zaz Hollander

WASILLA -- Ten passengers on a Princess tour bus suffered minor injuries when it was rear-ended by a tractor-trailer on the Parks Highway Monday afternoon, authorities said Tuesday.

One Princess guest had to be flown by a LifeMed Alaska helicopter to the hospital, a company spokesman said. Both drivers were also hurt; the semitrailer's driver was also medevacked.

An investigation continues into the crash, Alaska State Troopers say. No charges or citations had been filed as of midday Tuesday.

The bus was headed from Mount McKinley Lodge north of Trapper Creek to Denali National Park and Preserve with about 44 passengers...

Zaz Hollander

WASILLA -- State officials say the company that operated an illegal gravel pit and construction demolition debris dump in Meadow Lakes now has to move the waste to a permitted landfill.

The permit B&E Construction needed to continue on-site storage of a debris pile more than two-stories tall fell through after Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation officials say the company twice failed to submit complete paperwork.

The company can request an informal review or more formal hearing within 15 or 30 days, respectively. A company official said he hopes to work with DEC on a solution...

Zaz Hollander

WASILLA -- Community Health Systems, the company that owns Mat-Su Regional Medical Center, says hackers originating in China may have stolen personal information from 4.5 million customers across the country.

Mat-Su Regional, a 74-bed facility just off the Parks Highway between Palmer and Wasilla, is the only hospital in Alaska run by CHS, one of the country’s largest publicly traded hospital operators.

The Mat-Su hospital itself was not part of the data theft, but it's possible a small physicians clinic the hospital operates on Bogard Road was involved, according to Cathy Babuscio, the hospital's human resources director and facility compliance officer. Babuscio said Monday she expected to know more within the next few days...

Zaz Hollander

PALMER -- Michael and Paula Williams want to share the story of Mat-Su peonies with the world, and that calling has earned the couple the title of 2014 Alaska State Fair Farm Family.

A committee chaired by the Alaska Division of Agriculture selects the winning family “based on production of quality Alaska grown products, community and agricultural organization involvement, and overall image,” according to the division.

The Williamses, owners of EagleSong Family Peony Farm, moved to the base of Mount Susitna, 40 miles from the nearest road system, in 1994 and opened a lodge. When fishing declines led to a drop in customers, the couple switched to peonies after seeing a PBS special on the new trend in Alaska...

Zaz Hollander

The pilot in a fatal plane crash at Big Lake’s airport last week was seen leaving an Anchorage bar with his female passenger early Sunday about an hour before the accident occurred, according to a preliminary report released Friday by the National Transportation Safety Board .

The crash killed 50-year-old Anchorage attorney Christopher Cyphers, the pilot of the single-engine Piper Comanche, and left his passenger with serious injuries from which she is still recovering.

Cyphers was managing partner of the Frontier Law Group, a law and mediation firm with offices in Anchorage...

Zaz Hollander

WASILLA -- The U.S. Secretary of Transportation on Thursday brushed off the idea of giving the Matanuska-Susitna Borough a pass on more than $12.3 million in grant money spent on the ferry Susitna.

Secretary Anthony Foxx came to Wasilla with U.S. Sen. Mark Begich to meet Mat-Su community members interested in transportation. Foxx and Begich heard requests from borough planners hoping for federal funding to expand dangerous highways like Knik-Goose Bay Road. They also heard from a volunteer transit group that hopes to consolidate four bus service areas by next year...

Zaz Hollander

PALMER -- Despite a looming deadline, the Matanuska-Susitna Borough Assembly has delayed action on a federal demand that the borough return more than $12 million spent on the never-used ferry Susitna.

The Federal Transit Administration last week gave borough officials 30 days to repay the federal grants or face potentially hefty financial penalties.

Assembly members on Tuesday emerged from a 44-minute executive session and told a small audience they made a decision to take up the FTA demand at a meeting on Aug. 21...

Zaz Hollander

BUTTE -- Residents along the Matanuska River fought the bank-eating glacial waterway for decades, but now some property owners are ready to let the water take their land for good.

At least 15 of 20 landowners living from Mile 13 to Mile 15 of the Old Glenn Highway told the Matanuska-Susitna Borough last month they’re open to a voluntary federal buyout.

But they're not happy life on the river got to this point.

Rather, many say they're giving up out of frustration with the borough’s failure to do anything to protect their property from future flooding and erosion.

“I don’t understand why would people allow land to be devoured,” said Pat Huddleson, the unofficial leader of local property owners. “You don’t get land back.”...

Zaz Hollander

WASILLA -- A broken natural gas main on the west side of Wasilla on Tuesday morning prompted talk of shutting down the Parks Highway and evacuating businesses before the high-pressure leak was stopped.

Enstar received a report of a "third-party break on a 4-inch natural gas distribution main" that runs along the highway, according to spokesman John Sims.

The break occurred at Lucas Road near Spenard Builders Supply, where road construction crews are working on a state project.

The 4-inch pipe is a main distribution line that's significantly larger than the lines leading to homes and businesses, Sims said...

Zaz Hollander