Zaz Hollander

A legislative audit released this week recommends a sweeping overhaul of the troubled body that handles lucrative limited-permit entries for Alaska’s commercial fishing industry, including a backlog of applications that goes back decades. But the audit of the state’s three-member Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission recommends against a move to bring the commission under the umbrella of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. Created in 1974 to conserve the state’s salmon, the commission now administers 68 fisheries including salmon, herring, crab, sablefish, shrimp and dive fisheries. Commissioners help decide who gets permits and rule on the appeals of hearing officer decisions and permit transfers. Two commissioners currently serve on the board; a third position remains vacant. Gov...Zaz Hollander
(function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); = id; js.src = "//"; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk')); A regular morning in alaska Posted by Ema Kate on Thursday, October 22, 2015 A young moose wandered into a Wasilla Carrs early Thursday, but it didn't make it further than the entryway thanks to a crowd of onlookers and a store employee blocking entry. Ema Kate shot the above video when the out-of-place moose showed up at the store, located along the Parks Highway in Wasilla. Kate said the moose was clearly making its way toward the store, but she and other bystanders didn't expect it to actually enter the...Ben Anderson,Zaz Hollander
WASILLA -- A fast-moving fire forced a Meadow Lakes resident to jump out a second-floor window after he returned inside his burning home to grab belongings, emergency officials say. The fire, dispatched at about 9:30 a.m., started in the attic of a two-story wood home on West Peninsula Drive off Pittman road, according to West Lakes Fire Department Battalion Chief James Keel. A wood stove with inadequate clearance through the ceiling appeared to be the cause, Keel said. He recommended homeowners get professional help installing stoves and maintaining them. . The resident, who rents the home, told responders he was tossing clothes and other possessions out a second-floor window when the fire intensified and the ceiling started collapsing on him, Keel said. “He was able to jump out of the...Zaz Hollander
PALMER -- The latest bid by the Alaska Scholastic Clay Target Program to acquire below-market-value land for a new shooting range failed Tuesday night when the Matanuska-Susitna Borough Assembly defeated the deal with a 4-3 vote. The nonprofit program serves a growing corps of Mat-Su students who drive to Chugiak to practice due to the lack of low-cost clay target ranges in the Valley, backers say. If successful, the group’s bid would have led to the creation of a range on 240 acres off Knik-Goose Bay Road near the new Joe Redington Sr. junior and senior high schools. The Knik parcel was the third location sought by the clay target group. Other spots in Meadow Lakes and Big Lake were rejected following public opposition. Assembly members on Tuesday objected to the below-cost sale of the...Zaz Hollander
PALMER -- An Alaska Department of Corrections proposal to release minimum-security inmates early drew criticism at a Palmer legislative field hearing Tuesday. Concerns voiced by state legislators, invited guests and a handful of citizens centered on risks to public safety, especially with budget-related cuts to Alaska State Troopers, the potential for released inmates to become homeless and failures in victim notification. Meanwhile, Alaska’s top corrections official put at least some of the responsibility for future inmate reductions on the Legislature. The state corrections department is starting to review as many as 1,200 non-violent prisoners eligible for supervised early release to a halfway house or on electronic ankle monitoring. The move is driven by Alaska’s grim budget situation...Zaz Hollander
PALMER -- Polls closed Oct. 6 in Matanuska-Susitna Borough elections. But one race still isn’t over. Defeated assembly candidate Doyle Holmes, the 78-year-old owner of the True Value hardware store in Willow, on Tuesday filed an election challenge that triggered an investigation and blocked opponent Randall Kowalke's scheduled swearing-in. A lengthy count of absentee and questioned ballots in the District 7 assembly race finished Monday. Just 33 votes gave retired business executive Kowalke, 68 and also from Willow, claim to the seat that represents communities from Meadow Lakes to Trapper Creek. Holmes had been ahead by 52 votes when polls closed. Holmes, who filed an unsuccessful challenge of the ballot-handling process last week, on Tuesday filed a notice he was contesting the election...Zaz Hollander
BIG LAKE -- Witnesses saw Joe Mielke’s Cessna 150F make a climbing turn, roll to the left and then drop nose first behind a stand of tall birch trees before it plummeted into a two-lane road near Houston High School on Oct. 8. The fiery crash killed the 23-year-old commercial pilot from a well-known Big Lake family who started working for Yute Air in Bethel in April. The witness accounts come from a National Transportation Safety Board preliminary report released Tuesday morning. The report includes the first findings of investigators, based on weather, witness accounts and an examination of the wreckage. But investigators have yet to conduct a detailed examination of the plane’s Continental Motors O-200 engine. A probable-cause report could take up to a year. An NTSB investigator and...Zaz Hollander
PALMER -- Nearly two weeks after local polls closed, a tally of outstanding ballots shows that assemblyman and Willow dog musher Vern Halter has defeated incumbent Larry DeVilbiss to become the next mayor of the Matanuska-Susitna Borough. Meanwhile, retired business executive Randall Kowalke surged ahead to win Halter’s soon-to-be-vacated borough Assembly seat against hardware store owner Doyle Holmes, according to an unofficial count of absentee and questioned ballots that finished early Monday afternoon. Wins by both Halter and Kowalke amount to a setback for Valley conservatives and a potential boon for Susitna Valley interests. Holmes isn’t going down without a fight: He failed in one challenge of borough election procedures over the weekend and said Monday he’s considering another...Zaz Hollander
WASILLA -- Matanuska Electric Association has picked a preferred route for a contentious high-voltage transmission line through Wasilla that would put the city's Wal-Mart and movie theater on either side of 80-foot electric towers. Matanuska Electric had hoped to put the 115-kilovolt line through town along the Parks Highway corridor but balked after the city's planning commission in August 2013 required that it be buried to protect the city's "viewshed" and property values. Now the Palmer-based electric cooperative with 50,000 members is looking for public feedback on the new preferred route as well as two other possible ones. The decision comes nearly a year after the co-op began the public process of finding an alternative to the Parks Highway route. MEA held a number of community...Zaz Hollander
WASILLA -- Matanuska-Susitna Borough residents will have to wait until Monday to get the results from two neck-and-neck local election contests. Tallies from the Oct. 6 election day left the mayor’s race and one Assembly seat representing the northern part of the borough too close to call with some 2,300 outstanding ballots still to count. Incumbent Mayor Larry DeVilbiss is trailing challenger Vern Halter by about 180 votes. The District 7 Assembly race has Willow hardware store owner Doyle Holmes ahead of retired business executive Randall Kowalke by 52 votes. A five-member canvass board is still verifying voter eligibility on questioned and absentee ballots -- a process that began Oct. 7. The board will work through Saturday, according to a release from borough public information...Zaz Hollander