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Kyle Hopkins
MP, age 7 1/2, is getting too old for this. The Belgian Malinois police dog was just months from retirement Saturday when he and his handler, Anchorage police officer Nathan Keays, arrived in Mountain View to investigate reports of a man wielding a machete.One of seven patrol dogs working for the Anchorage Police Department, MP’s job is to chase down suspects, search buildings and sniff out evidence criminals might toss while on the run.MP was stabbed at least three times in the head and neck and spent an hour in surgery, Keays said. The weekend encounter in East Anchorage turned a citywide spotlight on the department’s nearly 40-year-old canine unit as well-wishers wondered about the condition of the wounded dog.On Monday, the officer spoke to reporters about the arrest for the first time, describing what happened in his own words. MP, he said, held his own. READ MORE: APD dog panting to return to work after stabbing
Alaska Public Media

We Are A Puppetry Troupe | INDIE ALASKA

Indie Alaska is an original video series produced by Alaska Public Media in partnership with PBS Digital Studios. The weekly series captures the diverse and colorful lifestyles of everyday Alaskans at work and at play. Together, these videos present a fresh and authentic look at living in Alaska.In this episode we meet Geppetto's Junkyard, a group of 20 amateur puppeteers living in Haines, Alaska. Their performances cater to locals, and mostly to adults.
Tara Young,Suzanna Caldwell

Believe it or not, musk ox milk is a real hit in coffee.It’s rich and fatty and not the least bit offensive in flavor, at least according to taste tests by managers at the Musk Ox Farm in Palmer.Last week, cows started to wean their babies, and for the first time in two decades managers decided to try milking the musk oxen. Turns out they can, with somewhat surprising results.Musk Ox Farm executive director Mark Austin said historical records show mixed results when it comes to how much milk a musk ox can produce. The first known milking of musk oxen at the farm was done in the late 1980s, when the Palmer location first opened. Musk oxen don’t produce much milk, but because of that it’s rich with fat and protein. Austin said they thought musk oxen could generally produce about a cup of milk a day.But as he stood in one of the farm’s barns Thursday, holding a pint-sized jar filled to the brim with warm milk from one cow, it seemed that assessment might be up for debate.“Looks like we’re getting more efficient,” he said.Of seven lactating females in the herd, three have taken -- more or less -- to being milked. It’s not the most natural situation for the musk oxen, whose teats are somewhat smaller and tucked farther toward the back legs than those of a cow or goat, according to herd manager Janelle Curtis.Curtis and a team of interns started testing whether musk oxen could stand milking earlier this week. Some thrashed, others just lay down in the pen, while three seemed to like it, including Lola, a 4-year-old first-time mom to baby Topaz.She’s funny about milking, Curtis said. As they begin the milking process, Lola relaxes and her eyes roll back a bit, seemingly content. On Thursday she stayed still in the stanchion used to keep her steady while interns plunged their hands into her thick guard hair, carefully collecting small amounts of milk at time.Alexis Daggett, an intern from Wisconsin, grew up with milking goats and quickly squirted powerful streams of milk from Lola’s teats before having to pause because of hand cramps. She said it’s not that different from milking goats or any other kind of herd animal. The biggest difference is the long guard hairs that cover the musk ox. You have to be cautious not to pull them, Daggett said.“It’d be like reaching up and pulling the hair on someone’s head,” Daggett said.Some of the milk will go toward feeding baby Pearl, who was born about a month after the rest of the calves in the herd. She's being weaned with the rest of her cohorts but she's a bit smaller, and staff hope the milk will help her more quickly catch up to the rest of the calves. They’ll also freeze some of it for calves that might need it in the future.The farm staff has already started experimenting with the milk, though it won't be available for public consumption. Ice cream seems the most exciting possibility, Curtis said, due to the high fat content of the milk.Earlier this week, they used it to make chocolate fudge.The verdict?“It was delicious,” Curtis said. “Really creamy.”And for workers at the farm, full of possibility.
Tara Young

As an interagency coordinator for the U.S. Forest Service, a good portion of Bobbie Jo Skibo's job in the summer involves education and management of fishing on the Russian River.Two runs of sockeye salmon, one in June and another in July, bring fishermen from all corners of Alaska and beyond to partake in a cultural experience Alaskans refer to as "combat fishing." “Some of the things people can experience in high-density fishing is that they can get hooked," Skibo said -- though she wasn't referring to the addictive nature of getting a fish at the end of the line. "So if you’re not really watching you can get hooked in the face, the ears, it’s unfortunate but it does happen quite often here. Sometimes the combat portion is everybody’s trying to catch that fish and they’re not looking out for each other.”"Combat fishing is just a fight for a good fishing spot," said Russian River Ferry operator Brookes Reames of Jackson, Miss. "On the river as with any other type of fishing it really has a lot to do with the spot that you're at. And out here when it's very populated with people, you'll catch a salmon and somebody will step right where you were, where you caught that salmon, and take your spot. It's that easy to lose your spot. It really is a fight for the fish."Clarence Delaughter, originally from Miami, Fla., has been fishing on the Kenai since he retired from the military and relocated to Alaska in 1977. He said combat fishing means “you get you a spot and you fight to keep it. That’s just what it means because there be so many people sometimes.”To get to some of the good fishing holes on the Russian River, anglers have to hike through the woods along scenic banks of ferns and trees. People are slightly more spread out and serene there than their neighbors fishing downstream on the Kenai, where fishing is shoulder to shoulder and tempers can flare if anyone gets in the way of landing a salmon. Anglers say another key difference between the two fishing spots is that on the Russian River, the water is so clear you can see a fish catch a line. The bright blue, glacial-fed water on the Kenai is opaque, making it near-impossible to see the fish. So anglers have to do what Skibo refers to as the "Kenai roll," and keep casting their line in hopes of feeling that little tug of a fish.But the Kenai has it's advantages: It's accessible, the shoreline vegetation is sparser -- making it easier to spot bears -- and there's no hike to get to the river. The same ferry that takes anglers from the Sportman's Landing campground and parking lot at Mile 55 on the Sterling Highway across the Kenai River to where they can hike to the Russian River, also provides easy access the Kenai's far shore.Watch this video on Vimeo or YouTube, and be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel for more great videos. Contact Tara Young at tara(at)alaskadispatch.com.
Alaska Public Media

I Am The Town Obituary Writer | INDIE ALASKA

Indie Alaska is an original video series produced by Alaska Public Media in partnership with PBS Digital Studios. The weekly series captures the diverse and colorful lifestyles of everyday Alaskans at work and at play. Together, these videos present a fresh and authentic look at living in Alaska.In this episode we meet writer Heather Lende. She's been a columnist for publications in Alaska and nationwide, and published books about life in rural Haines, Alaska. Her third book, "Find the Good," will be published Spring 2015. However, the job Lende is most passionate about is as obituary writer for her local paper, the Chilkat Valley News. 
Kyle Hopkins,Marc Lester

Alcohol & Me: Wellness Court

Nick Zywot’s mom stopped talking to him because of his drinking. After a decade of sobriety, police arrested him a few days after Christmas for DUI No. 6.Jesse Powell notched his fourth DUI in September. Tia Smart went to court 10 times for underage drinking before her latest assault charge.That was last year. Today, these Alaskans share two things in common: All chose to battle their way through a special court program designed to help them stay sober. And all face jail time if they screw up.Welcome to Wellness Court, an alternative to regular courtrooms that the Alaska Judicial Council and economics researchers say holds promise for cracking the cycle of Alaska inmates who can’t stay out of jail. Created in 1999 with a single Anchorage court, the program has expanded to 11 courts across the state with more venues under consideration, said program coordinator Michelle Bartley.Some courts are designed to help veterans or people who struggle with mental health problems. Others, like the Anchorage Wellness Court, focus on misdemeanor alcohol offenders who often have multiple DUIs on their rap sheet and face serious prison time if busted again.Those who agree to the program -- which can include mandatory use of anti-addiction medication, 12-step groups and intensive treatment -- face up to a year in prison. Their lives are in pieces. “You’ve lost your kids. You’ve lost friends. You’ve lost your husband. You’ve lost lots of personal relationships,” said District Court Judge David Wallace, who oversees the misdemeanor wellness court in Anchorage. “This is your last opportunity.”Another wellness court focuses on people accused of felonies. Over the past year, 521 people have participated in the “problem-solving” or therapeutic programs. A 2012 state study published by the Alaska Judicial Council and the Institute of Social and Economic Research found that those who do graduate are at least 30 percent less likely to re-offend.While specialty courts are relatively new to Alaska, the idea reaches back to the 1980s when drug cases began to overwhelm many U.S. courtrooms. By the end of the decade, frustrated judges suspected that prison time alone did little to stop addicts from committing new crimes upon release.Drug treatment courts emerged in an effort to slow recidivism.In the late 1990s, the same approach was being applied to people who kept getting in trouble with the law because they won’t or can’t stop drinking.It’s been hard to break the cycle of relapse, said Powell, who is 41. But things could be much worse.“I don’t deal well with guilt of any kind. Knowing that I caused somebody harm or death, (I) probably couldn’t live with that,” he said.In an effort to report on potential solutions to Alaska’s soaring rates of alcohol-related crime, the Anchorage Daily News recently spent two months visiting the Anchorage Wellness Court and talking with people working their way through the program. Contact Kyle Hopkins at khopkins@adn.com or on Twitter.
Alaska Dispatch News
A group of good friends, lifelong Alaskans, got together to experience the magic of the longest day of the year in the heart of Alaska's Interior. Their drone helped beautifully capture the moment.
Alaska Public Media

I Am A Distiller | INDIE ALASKA

Indie Alaska is an original video series produced by Alaska Public Media in partnership with PBS Digital Studios. The weekly series captures the diverse and colorful lifestyles of everyday Alaskans at work and at play. Together, these videos present a fresh and authentic look at living in Alaska.In this episode, Sean Copeland and Heather Shade find a creative solution to making their way in small town Alaska. Their created Port Chilkoot Distillery in Haines, Alaska.
Kim Sunée,Tara Young
When it comes to travel, I've always paid as much attention to the journey as to the food accompanying the destination. In my early 20s, I was fresh out of university in the south of France with no real goal other than to find a place to belong (and where the markets were as lush as those in Nice). Where else, I wondered, would a Korean adoptee from New Orleans go next but to Sweden? I had never been before and it was relatively easy, back in the early '90s, to obtain a work visa, so I headed north to the land of tall, lean blonds, exotic midnight sun and salmon and dilled potatoes at every table.RELATED VIDEO RECIPE: For dessert, Kim Sunée​'s rhubarb parfaitIt took me many years and countries to come back almost full circle, this time to Alaska, another land of wild upstream swimmers and even more midnight sun. What I love most about both Sweden and Alaska is the majestic beauty of the waters and surrounding land, everything Mother Nature decided to touch and bless with astounding grace. And I also appreciate how each culture anticipates warmer days, like sunflowers turning their full heads to the sun, open-faced, like the sandwiches in Swedish delis, with both joy and gratitude.Salmon runs, solstice parties, berry picking and days that have no end -- these are the moments of celebration this time of year. And as much as both Swedes and Alaskans might sometimes tire of their local fare, I am still in awe of the richness of the waters and the bounty of the local seafood, especially here in Alaska, including spot prawns, black cod, halibut and oysters, cold, briny and delicious. And I had never had such incredible salmon, wild and flavorful.My new cookbook, "A Mouthful of Stars" (Andrews McMeel) is an ode to the foods I've loved and tasted along my journey, including this recipe for pan-seared salmon, with the added color, texture and heat of chopped jalapeno and pistachio.Quick and easy pan-seared salmon with pistachio and herbsRecipe adapted from Kim Sunée's "A Mouthful of Stars," published by Andrews McMeel, May 2014Serves four1 cup combination chopped fresh herbs, such as fresh cilantro, mint and flat-leaf parsley3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, dividedzest and juice of 1 lemon or lime¾ cup thinly sliced spring onion or sweet onion, such as Vidalia or Walla Walla (cut onion in half and then in ⅛-inch slices like half moons)1 small jalapeno, stem and seeds removed, thinly sliced1 tablespoon unsalted butter4 (6-ounce) filets fresh salmon, preferably skin-on and pin bones removedsea salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste½ cup toasted, chopped pistachios (or walnuts)DirectionsCombine herbs, 2 ½ tablespoons olive oil, lemon zest and juice, onion and jalapeno together in a medium bowl; reserve.Pat salmon filets dry with a paper towel, score skin, using a sharp knife in a criss-cross pattern; season both sides with salt and pepper. Melt butter and remaining 1/2 tablespoon olive oil together in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat until butter is frothy. Place salmon skin-side down and cook, without moving, 5 minutes. Reduce the heat if it's too hot. Check the skin (the skin should be crispy), turn gently to other side and let cook another minute for medium-rare or until cooked to desired doneness.Top with herb mixture and chopped pistachios; serve with extra lemon wedges.Kim Sunée has been the food editor for Southern Living magazine and Cottage Living magazine and her writing has appeared in Food and Wine, The Oxford American and Asian American Poetry and Writing. She is currently based in Anchorage. Her latest cookbook is "A Mouthful of Stars." Learn more at kimsunee.com.Contact videographer Tara Young at tara@alaskadispatch.com.
Alaska Dispatch News
Chris Franzen calls himself a fly fishing junkie from the foothills of North Carolina, “pretty much a fish bum”. On his days off, Franzen climbs mountains looking for the perfect “blue line." Blue lining means to take an atlas and look for the blue lines and find one with a nice gradient, hiking in no matter how difficult, fishing that blue line and striking it off the list or revisiting it for another round of fly fishing.
Alaska Public Media

We are a Pop-Up Restaurant | INDIE ALASKA

Indie Alaska is an original video series produced by Alaska Public Media in partnership with PBS Digital Studios. The weekly series captures the diverse and colorful lifestyles of everyday Alaskans at work and at play. Together, these videos present a fresh and authentic look at living in Alaska.Nathan Dolphin-Chavie left Anchorage to work in the Los Angeles fine dining scene, eventually becoming executive chef at a well regarded eatery. Looking for a new challenge, Dolphin-Chavie, along with LA-native Joshua Plesh, has returned to his hometown to bring a new culinary experience in the form of a temporary and intimate restaurant, Harvest Pop-Up.
Alaska Public Media

I am an Alaska Native Dancer | INDIE ALASKA

Indie Alaska is an original video series produced by Alaska Public Media in partnership with PBS Digital Studios. The weekly series captures the diverse and colorful lifestyles of everyday Alaskans at work and at play. Together, these videos present a fresh and authentic look at living in Alaska.In this episode, master Alaska Native dancer Haliehana Stepetin, born in Akutan, Alaska, has made it her life's goal to promote and teach the many styles of dance found throughout the diverse Alaska Native cultures. Special thanks to the Alaska Native Heritage Center.

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