Tegan Hanlon

Sam Snyder pulled the ham out of the oven. The turkey still needed 30 minutes. As it cooked, children chased each other through the kitchen, some sported costumes or wielded toy swords. A football game played in the nearby living room, people hugged hello and foil-covered dishes lined the countertops. The scenes that played out on Thanksgiving Day in the East Anchorage home involved friends who had become family in a city that attracts thousands of new residents from out-of-state each year. Many have dubbed the tradition of bringing together friends for Thanksgiving as “Friendsgiving.” The term has become a trend . Sam Snyder, 37, and his wife Liz, 35, have hosted Thanksgivings for friends at their Anchorage home for several years, though they never called it Friendsgiving. Instead, it...Tegan Hanlon
A 90-year-old man died Thursday morning after he woke up his wife to warn her that their Soldotna home had caught fire, said Alaska State Troopers. Troopers identified the man as John Kelsch and his wife as 87-year-old Frances Kelsch. The fire likely started in a small heater inside their home, troopers said in an online dispatch. Troopers said Frances Kelsch was able to escape the home and get to a neighbor's house to call for help. "John Kelsch was not able to make it out and died in the residence," troopers aid. A 911 caller reported the fire in the Mackey Lake Road area at about 7:15 a.m. Troopers and Central Emergency Services responded to the home, which troopers said was considered a total loss in the fire. John Kelsch's body was sent to the State Medical Examiner's office for...Tegan Hanlon
Dangerous avalanche conditions barred searchers for another day Thursday from landing in Hatcher Pass to look for 33-year-old Liam Walsh, who was last heard from Sunday when he took a solo skiing trip in the area, according to Alaska State Troopers. Beth Ipsen, troopers spokeswoman, said in an email that a helicopter carrying volunteers, a search dog and an avalanche forecaster flew over the area Thursday. The group looked for Walsh from the sky but found no signs of him, Ipsen said. An avalanche warning remained in effect Thursday for Hatcher Pass, a popular recreational area in the Talkeetna Mountains northwest of Palmer, said the Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information Center . The information center said that a skier remained missing in the area and asked people to remain...Tegan Hanlon
Members of the Anchorage Education Association voted this week to accept a one-year contract extension , which includes 1 percent raises next school year and one-time bonuses for the union's 3,400 educators. The Anchorage School Board still must vote on the extension to the union's current three-year contract . Andy Holleman, Anchorage Education Association president, wrote in an email to the union early Wednesday that the board had already reviewed the extension and would likely approve it. By extending the current contract, the union and Anchorage School District administrators have pushed off formal bargaining until next year. The union would have started bargaining in January. But Holleman said last month that union members worried their contract would get caught up in budget debates...Tegan Hanlon
Scattered rain showers paired with cold ground temperatures on an unseasonably warm Thanksgiving Day have made for slick roadways and sidewalks in parts of Anchorage, warned police and weather forecasters. Meanwhile up north, forecasts for a stretch of the Interior called for snow and freezing rain. Fairbanks and McGrath remained under winter weather advisories until 6 p.m. Thursday, with surrounding areas including Denali and the Tanana Flats under winter storm warnings, said the National Weather Service. The Alaska Department of Transportation reported a number of trouble spots on its Alaska 511 site, and warned that driving remained difficult close to Fairbanks, with additional snow and freezing rain expected, reported the weather service. The Parks Highway between Wasilla and...Tegan Hanlon
Anchorage Attorney Dani Crosby has been appointed to fill an Anchorage Superior Court seat being vacated by a retiring judge, Gov. Bill Walker's office announced Tuesday. Crosby competed with 13 other applicants to replace Superior Court Judge Michael Spaan, who will retire at the end of November. Raised in Sitka, Crosby has practiced law for nearly two decades, most recently at her own law firm, Dani Crosby Law Office Inc. She is the president of the Alaska Bar Foundation and a member of the Civil Rules Committee, according to a prepared statement from Walker's office. Crosby got her law degree at Gonzaga University School of Law in Spokane, Washington. Crosby will become one of Alaska's 42 Superior Court judges, the courts where most serious crimes and lawsuits are adjudicated.Tegan Hanlon
Anchorage School District administrators said at a meeting Monday night that the district could face a budget gap next school year of $12 million to $20 million. And they asked the community what to do. Using electronic, handheld clickers, the 30 people in Hanshew Middle School’s auditorium voted that the school district should put more money toward classroom teachers, support teachers and teaching assistants. When asked how the school district should cut its budget, the most clicked answer was: “Don’t decrease the budget for any of these items.” The items included teachers, nutrition and transportation. (The second most popular answer took aim at cutting funds for principals, assistant principals and administrative assistants). Overall, the most selected answer by participants said the...Tegan Hanlon
A Superior Court judge sentenced 24-year-old Shane Mike to seven years in prison after he broke into three Anchorage apartments earlier this year and stabbed one of the residents in the back, the Attorney General's Office said Friday in a statement. Mike pleaded guilty in June to one count of first-degree burglary and one count of second-degree assault. Prosecutors dismissed other burglary, theft and assault charges, according to online court records. Anchorage police arrested Mike on April 2 after receiving 911 calls about him breaking into homes, stealing money and stabbing someone. When arrested, Mike was "extremely intoxicated," the statement said. He was also on felony probation for an earlier burglary and had more than 20 prior convictions in Alaska, it said.Tegan Hanlon
Update, 8 a.m. Saturday: Snow advisories remained in effect for Anchorage and the Matanuska Valley on Saturday morning, with more accumulation expected through midday. Heavy snowfall began Friday evening in Anchorage. By Saturday morning, several inches of snow had fallen across the area, with blowing snow making visibility difficult on some highways. In a bulletin issued at 5 a.m. , the National Weather Service said 1 to 3 inches of additional accumulation was expected in Anchorage, for a total storm total of 6 to 10 inches. Original story: Get ready for more snow. The National Weather Service said a fast-moving storm system will drop 4 to 10 inches of snow on Anchorage between Friday night and Saturday afternoon. As usual, the Hillside and East Anchorage will get the most snow, with...Tegan Hanlon
A Juneau judge rejected a plea deal Thursday that would have allowed stars from Discovery Channel’s wildly popular reality television series “Alaskan Bush People” to avoid jail time for lying on applications to get the Permanent Fund dividend checks given to Alaska residents. “There needs to be a higher punishment to act as a deterrent,” said Juneau Superior Court Judge Philip Pallenberg. “If you knew you could catch everybody, maybe you wouldn’t need to punish each of them as much.” Pallenberg said 30 days in jail would be appropriate for the crime, though he couldn’t impose that punishment Thursday. The case against members of the Brown family will resume in early December. With the rejection of the deal, Billy Brown, the 62-year-old patriarch of the family, and his 31-year-old son...Tegan Hanlon