Zaz Hollander

WASILLA -- Citing concerns about the legality of strict new marijuana regulations -- including a ban on homemade pot brownies -- passed just before recreational use of the drug became legal in Alaska last week, two Wasilla City Council members want an overhaul on the manufacturing and transport sections of the regulations.

The proposal from council members Brandon Wall and Colleen Sullivan-Leonard would make it legal to cook brownies and other edibles, extracts or concentrates, but not for sale. It would also be legal for caregivers and others to provide such products to qualified medical marijuana card carriers...

Zaz Hollander

High over Southeast Alaska last August, 82-year-old Bill Bunten was flying blind.

The retired bank president from Topeka, Kansas, realized after leaving Ketchikan that the weather en route to Juneau was worse than he expected. Bunten dropped from 8,000 feet to 7,000 to lose the ice forming on the wings of his Piper Comanche. The autopilot wasn't working and the engine sounded choppy. Suddenly, the small plane’s heading indicator and compass started spinning. Bunten remembered a note on his map about possible navigational problems in the area.

Now he was in the clouds and struggling to get his bearings without the two instruments he needed to do just that...

Zaz Hollander
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WILLOW -- Willow firefighters are accusing their own board of years of budgetary neglect that's left the community underserved and potentially at risk...

Zaz Hollander

WILLOW -- Willow firefighters are accusing their own board of years of budgetary neglect that's left the community underserved and potentially at risk.

Responders say they’ve agitated to raise local taxes to make essential upgrades. But, they say, they’ve been stymied by opposition from the very people supposed to be on their side: the three-person board of supervisors that runs the local fire service area.

Firefighters and residents say the board drags out decisions for months, doesn't support raising local taxes and fights the borough’s stated priorities for firefighting. Several local and borough-level officials said they'd never seen anything like it...

Zaz Hollander

The three-member commission that oversees Alaska’s lucrative limited-entry commercial fisheries is urging lawmakers not to pursue proposals for elimination for at least another year.

The state Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission is under fire as a more than $3.5 billion budget shortfall looms. A critical report by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game makes a case for overhaul, citing permit processing delays and relatively high payroll costs. Proposed legislation, House Bill 112, would repeal the commission and move its duties to Fish and Game...

Zaz Hollander

WASILLA -- The state is taking comments on a precedent-setting and long-sought water-rights petition filed by a citizen group fighting a coal mine west of Cook Inlet.

At stake, supporters say, is whether the water in Middle Creek goes to protect salmon runs or to Delaware-based PacRim Coal LLC for its proposed Chuitna coal mine near Tyonek...

Zaz Hollander

WASILLA -- Monday, on the eve of marijuana legalization in Alaska, the Wasilla City Council banned making pot brownies at home.

Fewer than three hours before recreational marijuana use became legal across the state, the city known for a freewheeling attitude about everything from big box stores to ATVs passed what may at least for now be the strictest local laws governing recreational pot use in Alaska.

The council with a 4-2 vote essentially limited marijuana use within city limits to smoking -- or consuming edibles made outside the city -- on private property. Even smoking at home is illegal -- if it bothers the neighbors...

Zaz Hollander

WASILLA -- A team from the Mat-Su Career & Technical High School is headed for the finals of the National Science Bowl in Washington, D.C., in April.

A student team won a qualifying regional competition over the weekend, according to a news release from the U.S. Department of Energy. It was actually two teams from the school that battled it out in the final round.

Other teams included Palmer and Wasilla high schools. The competition was at Career and Tech, near Wasilla. The school offers career-specific pathways for students in areas from health care to aviation...

Zaz Hollander

Tax credits documented in a new state report show that Alaska’s film industry has continued to grow even as state lawmakers prepare to gut the film incentive program.

A bill sponsored by Sen. Bill Stoltze, R-Chugiak, would repeal the state’s film production tax credit program. Gov. Bill Walker has also proposed eliminating the film office’s only three staffers in the budget he submitted to the Legislature.

Both actions reflect an anticipated state budget shortfall of $3.5 billion or more linked to plummeting oil prices.

At this point, Alaska’s film credit program is effectively suspended because applications are unlikely to be approved, deputy revenue commissioner Jerry Burnett told a Senate committee during the first hearing on Stoltze’s bill Thursday...

Zaz Hollander

WASILLA -- A new state review suggests the three-member state commission overseeing some of Alaska’s most lucrative commercial fisheries is prone to inefficiency and ripe for overhaul, with a few employees who are paid but rarely show up at the office.

The review of Alaska’s Commercial Fisheries Limited Entry Commission, conducted by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, comes as officials struggling with a forecast $3.5 billion shortfall look to trim state spending.

The report was released in early February, about two weeks after the commission’s newest member -- former Wasilla Mayor Verne Rupright -- was appointed by Gov. Bill Walker...

Zaz Hollander

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