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Heavy rainfall in the Valdez and Cordova areas led the Alaska Department of Transportation to close two roads Sunday. Monday evening, DOT officials said they were still unsure how long the roads would remain closed.
The Copper River Highway out of Cordova was closed at Mile 14, and the Eyak Lake Road was shut down at Mile 2. Water appears to be topping the Copper River Highway at both mile 14 and 23, causing erosion on the surface layer.
Similar issues were occurring on the Richardson Highway east of Valdez. At Mile 32, a plugged culvert caused water to flood the road. Less than a mile from there, the Tsina River seems to be eroding the shoulder of the Richardson.
DOT Northern Region spokesperson Meadow Bailey said the effects of erosion aren't fixable until water has subsided. Until then, DOT is trying to manually move the water but in certain areas is struggling because, Bailey said, there is nowhere for the water to go...
Republican U.S. Senate candidate Dan Sullivan says he will vote for a state initiative to increase Alaska’s minimum wage to $9.75 an hour by 2016, after saying before the Aug. 19 primary election that he was opposed to the change.
Sullivan told the Wall Street Journal in a story published Monday that he still opposed a proposal backed by President Barack Obama, a Democrat, to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour -- a measure that’s also backed by Sullivan’s opponent, incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Mark Begich.
A spokesman for Sullivan told the Journal that the candidate's position had changed because he "had a chance to read the minimum wage initiative."
Spokesman Mike Anderson said in a phone interview that he had not discussed Sullivan's original position with the candidate and referred Alaska Dispatch News to a prepared statement for further explanation of the switch...
The trial of a former Glennallen dentist accused of repeatedly sexually assaulting a female colleague too drunk to consent began Wednesday with opening arguments that laid out two scenarios of the night in question.
In one, prosecutors said Kevin Brent Shedlock, now 44, took sexual advantage of a woman he worked with when she was “vulnerable, vomiting and unable to stop him” after hours of drinking wine and tequila while staying at an Anchorage hotel for a 2013 work conference.
Defense attorneys contend the sex was "brought about by alcohol" but mutually consensual, and that the woman’s regret and fear of Glennallen’s rumor mill led her to report the encounter as a sexual assault.
Shedlock is charged with four counts of second-degree sexual assault, which is defined as “penetration of an incapacitated victim.”
He faces a sentence of five to 15 years on each count, if convicted...
A 21-year-old woman was killed in an ATV crash Sunday in Saint Marys, according to Alaska State Troopers.
Troopers said Pulcheria Yupanik was the only person on the ATV when it crashed on Airport Road, less than a mile from the turnoff to Pitkas Point, a tiny community in Western Alaska where Yukpanik was from. A trooper responded to the wreck around 1:20 p.m., according to a dispatch posted online Monday.
Yupanik suffered fatal injuries. Her body was sent to the State Medical Examiner’s Office in Anchorage for an autopsy, the dispatch said.
Megan Peters, a troopers spokeswoman, could not immediately provide additional details on the circumstances of the crash. CPR was performed for about 45 minutes, she said.
Troopers suspect alcohol was a factor in the crash, according to the dispatch.
Abandoned by his mother and seemingly left for dead, a yearling grizzly bear cub at Katmai National Park and Preserve has been adopted by another female bear in a turn of events that seems more like it belongs in a Disney movie than in the wild.
A young bear once feared lost is alive and flourishing thanks to the efforts of a sow named Holly.
Rangers describe Holly as a supermom, even if she doesn't drive a minivan or attend to soccer practice. She is simply a Katmai brown bear between 18 and 20 years old adept at raising young bears. She gave birth to a single cub this spring in a land where bears often give birth to two or three to guard against what is the almost inevitable loss of one or more before they are weaned.
Holly, in an act of rarely witnessed bear love, appears headed toward hibernation with the adopted cub and her own cub in tow.
"It is fascinating to watch," said Troy Hamon, chief of management and science at Katmai. Park employees know of only one other similar situation, "years ago" on Kodiak Island...
Oil giant BP will cut close to one-fifth of its Alaska workforce of employees and direct contractors as a result of the sale of a chunk of its Alaska assets to Hilcorp, the company announced Monday.
The reduction consists of 200 individuals, primarily BP employees, who have been offered jobs by Hilcorp, as well as an additional 275 employees and direct contractors who have not been offered positions, said Dawn Patience, a spokeswoman with BP Exploration Alaska.
The reduction will take place early in 2015 and is in line with the assets associated with the sale, a $1.5 billion deal announced in April that is expected to be finalized by the end of the year. “It’s 17 percent of the total workforce” of 2,725 employees and direct contractors who work within the organization, Patience said.
Some of the contractors might still find work with Hilcorp. Lori Nelson, manager of external affairs for Hilcorp Alaska, said meetings have begun “with a number of contractors to better understand their capabilities and how they might support us. No final decisions on who or what will be needed have been made.”...
WASILLA -- Donna Turner, former owner of a much-loved Big Lake wedding business, was indicted last week by a Palmer grand jury on felony theft and fraud charges involving the Big Lake Chamber of Commerce.
Charging documents say Turner took roughly $40,000 from the relatively small chamber over a period of years, President Nancie Linley said Monday.
Turner spent about eight years affiliated with the chamber and was its treasurer, a position she left in October, Linley said. Chamber officials first noticed discrepancies between bank statements and computer accounting records that same month.
“As soon as we noticed a discrepancy in some of our records, we relinquished all of our documents and everything over to the authorities,” she said.
The indictments, handed up Friday, charge Turner with first-degree theft as well as scheming to defraud and falsifying business records. The indictment references an “on or around” March 2012 date as the time the alleged crimes occurred.
Contacted by phone Monday, the 56-year-old Turner said little except to answer “no” when asked if she stole money from the chamber...
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.
“There’s no vehicles parked around here. There’s no boats. There’s no four-wheelers, ATVs, snowmachines, none of the accouterments of normal Alaska life,” Howell said.
Investigators don’t yet know what caused the fire.
The Alaska Sports Broadcasting Network poll released Monday featured status quo -- Bartlett remained No. 1 among large-school football teams for the third straight week, and Soldotna kept its season-long stranglehold on the top spot among medium and small schools.
Bartlett (5-0) of the Cook Inlet Conference will likely keep its top spot next week -- it plays winless Eagle River (0-5) in a league game this week.
Among large schools, South (4-1) moved up one spot to No. 2 and Saturday has a CIC showdown with West (4-1), which stayed at No. 4.
Lathrop (4-1) of the Railbelt Conference moved up two spots to No. 3 on the strength of a 49-28 conference win over Colony (4-1), which dropped three spots to No. 5.
Soldotna (4-0) last week made easy work of Kodiak, 48-0 and idle Eielson (4-0) remained No. 2 among medium and small schools. Rounding out that poll are Ketchikan (4-1) at No. 3, Nikiski (4-1) at No. 4 and North Pole (3-2) at No. 5.
WASILLA -- Wasilla police shot and killed a 23-year-old man after responding to a possible domestic disturbance on the city’s western edge early Monday morning, an department spokesman said.
The incident began when two officers responded to a 911 disconnect from a home on North Jack Nicklaus Drive in the Mission Hills subdivision just after midnight, Wasilla Police Department Officer Rick Manrique said. Police suspected a domestic situation because of audible background noise that dispatchers could hear during the call before someone hung up the phone.
The officers got to the home and saw there was “an ongoing emergency” involving a weapon and a man later identified as Michael Bonty harming himself with it, Manrique said. He would not identify what kind of weapon was involved.
The officers forced open the front door, Manrique said. Bonty refused to relinquish the weapon and had turned it on a female also inside the home, he said.
One or both of the officers shot at Bonty, who died at the scene, Manrique said. He declined to say how many shots were fired, which officer's weapon was involved or how many times Bonty was shot...