Kyle Hopkins

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Somewhere in West Anchorage lives a pit bull named Palin. The Force is strong in Muldoon, home to Vader the Labrador and two pug-nosed Yodas. Other Anchorage pet owners named their dogs for Alaska rivers – 12 Deshkas are napping across the city – or Alaska pastimes like Dime Bag the Rottweiler. All...
Kyle Hopkins
Somewhere in West Anchorage lives a pit bull named Palin. The Force is strong in Muldoon, home to Vader the Labrador and two pug-nosed Yodas. Other Anchorage pet owners named their dogs for Alaska rivers -- 12 Deshkas are napping across the city -- or Alaska pastimes (like Dime Bag the Rottweiler). All told, Anchorage pet owners have registered about 11,250 canines with Anchorage Animal Care and Control in the city, with most dogs per capita found in South Anchorage and on the Hillside. Labrador retrievers are by far Anchorage's favorite primary breed with 1,985 dogs, followed by pit bulls (611), German shepherds (467) and, appropriately, Alaskan huskies (403), registration records show. The statistics are based on dogs currently licensed in the city, meaning “bandit” dogs without...Kyle Hopkins
Want to see a report card for how your child’s school is performing? New ratings released Friday by the state Education Department show how each of the more than 500 schools in Alaska fared under a 2-year-old system that awards each learning center one to five stars. The effort ranks schools based on how well students in grades 3-10 perform on reading, writing and math assessments. Graduation rates, attendance and SAT and ACT scores all factor into a school’s score, which also includes a 1-100 numerical rating. Find the 2014 results by searching for your school district and then finding your child’s school. Erik McCormick, director of assessment, accountability and information management for the Education Department, likened the system to the star ratings used to compare hotels. “A three-...Kyle Hopkins
One person was killed and at least one other seriously injured when a Princess Tours bus crashed Friday morning, 37 miles south of Cantwell on the Parks Highway. Three people were on board the commercial passenger bus at the time of the 8 a.m. rollover at Mile 173 of the Parks, according to Alaska State Troopers. The driver of the bus initially told authorities that two passengers were hurt, troopers said. Rescuers and troopers drove to the scene from Cantwell and pronounced one of the passengers dead. All three people on the bus were Princess employees traveling between two Denali-area hotels, said Julie Benson, a spokeswoman for the Santa Clarita (California) company. The bus was northbound, making a roughly 105-mile trip along the edge of Denali National Park and Preserve from Mt...Kyle Hopkins
Alaska has more residents on welfare, per capita, than any other state in the nation, according to figures released Tuesday by the U.S. Census Bureau . An updated tally of state-by-state public assistance rates shows 6 percent to 7 percent of Alaska families receive government help to pay their bills. That's more than twice the national average. The large seasonal tourism and fishing workforce, combined with more than 140 villages that are exempt from public assistance time limits because of few job opportunities, both contribute to the outsize rate. “We also have a lot of transient types, people who come up in tourism jobs or oil jobs,” said Health Department spokesman Clay Butcher, who suspects the state welfare figures have improved since the 2012 American Community Survey that the new...Kyle Hopkins
An accused bank robber’s run from the FBI ended recently when, charges say, his stolen minivan ran out of gas outside of Wasilla. Prosecutors on Wednesday charged Anchorage resident James D. Surrells, 43, with holding up a First National Bank Alaska branch Aug. 13 in East Anchorage . The FBI says Surrells was wearing a wig beneath his cap and carrying a gun when he stole $1,210 from a teller. An Alaska state trooper, unaware that relatives of Surrells had already identified him as a potential suspect in the bank robbery, happened upon him three days later carrying a gas can on a quiet Valley road, according to troopers. Surrells faces charges of bank robbery, vehicle theft, improper use of a license plate and giving false information to a police officer. He was expected to make a court...Kyle Hopkins
State prosecutors have decided not to press charges against a driver whose vehicle struck and killed a bicyclist Jan. 2 in Midtown Anchorage. Tj Justice, 59, was driving westbound on Northern Lights Boulevard at 2:45 p.m. when his Subaru collided with a southbound cyclist just west of Minnesota Drive, according to the Anchorage Police Department. Doctors pronounced the bicycle rider, 65-year-old Eldridge Griffith, dead at a local hospital shortly after the crash. Griffith had ridden into the street without waiting for traffic, prosecutors concluded. One car slowed to avoid the retired state youth counselor. The other, driven by Justice, hit Griffith in the middle lane. "Griffith failed to yield to traffic entering Northern Lights to his left from the post office lot," Assistant District...Kyle Hopkins
It's been a sad and busy year in the Interior village of Tanana. A controversial new road is in the works , unlocking access to the community of 250 people to the Alaska highway and beyond. A 19-year-old man sits in jail accused of shooting and killing two visiting Alaska State Troopers in May. The Tanana Tribal Council banished two others f ollowing the deaths, sparking a civil rights lawsuit . How much of that heartache will make its way to TV screens when new episodes of "Yukon Men," a 3-year-old Discovery series about life along the riverbanks, premiers Tuesday night? We asked series regular and longtime Tanana trapper Stan Zuray to talk about the life as an Alaska reality TV star, welcoming an unlikely road to the Bush and whether neighbors roll their eyes when they watch the show...Kyle Hopkins
As the owner of the only Saint Bernard in the village, Darren Cleveland didn’t want to be known as the guy who doubled the size of dogs in Quinhagak. At 120 pounds, his 2-year-old dog, Czar, already towered above the husky mixes and knee-high mutts that roam the Yup'ik town at the edge of the Bering Sea. The dog had to be neutered before any big new puppies appeared on the village streets, Nelson knew. “I didn’t want to set up a new breed in Quinhagak, where people cannot take care of them,” he said. Unwanted strays are an enduring, common problem in rural Alaska, where the nearest veterinarian is always a plane ride away. The Bethel-based Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corp. investigated 73 bites last year alone in Western Alaska. Countless other ownerless dogs are killed each year by village...Kyle Hopkins
Troopers are investigating the death of a 19-year-old woman whose body was discovered outside a Western Alaska village health clinic Wednesday as an apparent homicide. A village public safety officer told Alaska State Troopers that Chevak resident Roxanne Smart was found dead shortly after 11 a.m. in the community of 900 people. Troopers arrived from Bethel to investigate and are being assisted today by the Alaska Bureau of Investigation, according to a troopers report posted online. Employees at the health clinic referred questions to the Yukon Kuskokwim Health Corp., where a spokeswoman was not immediately available. A troopers spokeswoman would not provide any additional information about the case, citing the ongoing investigation. Chevak is roughly 17 miles east of Hooper Bay in the...Kyle Hopkins