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Lisa Demer

BETHEL -- On the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, where children on a warm summer day play-swim in chilly tundra lakes and at river edges, where drowning rates are high and water is everywhere, the first swimming pool is expected to provide substance as well as a place to splash...

Lisa Demer

BETHEL -- On the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, where children on a warm summer day play-swim in chilly tundra lakes and at river edges, where drowning rates are high and water is everywhere, the first swimming pool is expected to provide substance as well as a place to splash.

The city of Bethel’s new pool and fitness center is set to open in early November after decades of bake sales -- and a $23 million state appropriation in 2012. The last barge of the year is heading to Bethel with furnishings and workout equipment. The massive above-ground concrete structure is specially designed for tundra and supported with nearly 200 thermal piles to expel hot air and keep the permafrost frozen...

Lisa Demer

Two leading Alaska Native tribal organizations on Wednesday petitioned the federal government to dramatically lower the cap on the number of king salmon that Bering Sea commercial fishermen can harvest as bycatch in order to protect the fish.

The Association of Village Council Presidents and the Tanana Chiefs Conference filed their petition with the U.S. Department of Commerce secretary and the North Pacific Fishery Management Council for an emergency cap they say is needed to avoid substantial harm to the kings, or chinook salmon, and to communities up and down the Kuskokwim and Yukon rivers, the two biggest in Alaska...

Lisa Demer

A plane that crashed in July 2013 and killed the pilot and two families heading from Soldotna to a remote Alaska lodge for bear viewing may have been overloaded and unbalanced, according to investigative documents released Wednesday by the National Transportation Safety Board.

The NTSB hasn’t issued an official finding on what may have caused the crash, but as part of its investigation posted about 400 pages of key documents early Wednesday on its website. The records include descriptions of photos and an iPhone video shot by the passengers and used by the NTSB to recreate the failed takeoff...

Lisa Demer

BETHEL -- Bethel police are investigating a Monday morning fire in an abandoned church in the center of town.

Firefighters were called around 6 a.m. to the fire at the former Pentecostal Holiness Church at Fourth Avenue and Main Street. They relied on a water truck with a high-pressure hose to put out the fire. Most of Bethel doesn't have piped water.

The weathered two-story church had been abandoned for years and the fire is considered suspicious, said acting investigation Sgt. Amy Davis.

Acting fire chief Bill Howell said there was a living area in the back of the church but no one appeared to be staying there...

Lisa Demer

BETHEL -- A summerlong search for a new city manager here will stretch into fall after the top candidate rejected the position Saturday.

The City Council met for about an hour in a closed-door session to respond to candidate Walt Bratton’s counter-offer only to have him say thanks but no thanks.

The council on Wednesday offered him $110,000 a year plus a $5,500 relocation allowance . After he asked for more money and other benefits, the council on Saturday boosted the pay to a record $120,000 but didn’t agree to most of his other requests, including city-paid membership to the new city aquatic center...

Lisa Demer

BETHEL -- The beating death this week of a moppy-haired white terrier named Irvina is prompting outrage among animal activists, veterinarians and rescue groups who are urging police and prosecutors to pursue a criminal case with a vengeance.

James Whitman, 29, of Bethel is jailed on charges of beating his sister’s dog to death with a flashlight and then tussling with police, according to a criminal complaint filed Thursday in Bethel. He originally was booked on misdemeanor animal cruelty, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct charges but the cruelty charge was upgraded to a felony because of the dog’s death, Bethel Police Chief Andre Achee said Friday...

Lisa Demer

BETHEL – The City Council’s pick to run city government had an “abrupt departure” from his last job, in New Mexico, and a decade ago was forced out of his job in California, according to news accounts.

Walt Bratton, 44, on Wednesday was offered $110,000 a year to serve as Bethel city manager. He still is negotiating with the council, which has scheduled a meeting for Saturday morning to make a final decision.

Bratton spent the early part of this week in Bethel interviewing with the council, talking to city employees and checking out the hub community...

Lisa Demer

A man was injured after a shotgun went off at a cabin near Bethel, Alaska State Troopers reported Thursday.

Bethel police told troopers they encountered Sarah Walker, 38, of Bethel, and Bruce Williams, 33, of Akiak, at Brown Slough in Bethel around 7 a.m. Wednesday. Williams was suffering from a gunshot wound, but it wasn't life-threatening, troopers reported.

Walker and Williams had been at a cabin on the Gweek River for fishing and hunting.

"Walker was handling a shotgun and ultimately shot Williams," troopers said. Both showed signs of being intoxicated, according to the trooper report...

Lisa Demer

BETHEL -- The city council here, still regrouping after firing its city manager in May , on Wednesday was ready to move forward and offer the job to a former parks and recreation official from New Mexico.

But council members were disappointed when their top candidate – the only one flown to Bethel for an up-close look -- asked to have until Friday to decide. The City Council offered Walt Bratton an annual salary of $110,000 and agreed to pay $5,500 in moving expenses...

Lisa Demer