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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 ...

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 police...

Kyle Hopkins

James Terranova noticed a few things almost immediately when he arrived in Atqasuk a couple weeks ago to take a teaching position at Meade River School.

He saw how beautiful the landscape was around the North Slope community, and how kind and welcoming the locals were. He also noticed the rusty, graffiti-riddled dumpsters and mountains of pop cans at every turn. It struck him as curious that such a beautiful place had such eyesores around town. And so he got to work. First, painting the dumpsters and then organizing an aluminum-can recycling strategy.

Soon after he began giving the unsightly dumpsters a facelift, he said, a group of local kids, from elementary-school aged to high schoolers, were following him around, wanting to pitch in and help.

“I was absolutely blown away by the desire of these kids to participate and help,” Terranova said last week. “That just fueled my desire to do more. I was mobbed by 4- and 5-year-olds all the way up to 14-year-olds who wanted to help. They were fighting over the roller because they wanted to paint. They were so happy to help.”...

Jillian Rogers

The Parks Highway was closed at milepost 152 Monday night after two people were killed and one seriously injured in a head-on collision, the Alaska State Troopers said.

At 5:45 p.m. troopers were called to the scene of the crash, a few miles north of the Byers Lake Campground, AST spokeswoman Megan Peters wrote in an email.

As of 7 p.m. the highway was closed in both directions, Peters said. She had no timeframe for when it would reopen.

Troopers are investigating the cause of the collision.

LifeMed Alaska was also called to the scene, Peters wrote.

Peters did not immediately provide descriptions of the vehicles thought to be involved with the crash or identify the people killed.

A woman answering the phone at the trooper detachment in Cantwell said no troopers were available to speak because they were out of cell phone range.

Michelle Theriault Boots

Selling and importing alcohol in Ambler will remain illegal. Voters in the Northwest Arctic community took to the polls last Tuesday to decide whether or not to legalize the sale and importation of alcohol. And with an unofficial tally of 60-47, the village decided against changing the current law. There are still absentee and question ballots to be counted.

“I’m really disappointed,” said Tristen Pattee last Tuesday evening from Ambler. Pattee was one of the sponsors of the petition to legalize alcohol. “I am surprised, I thought I educated the public enough to help them recognize that this is a problem in the village. I was hoping to take a step forward to solving those problems.”

For Pattee and others who supported the petition in the community of nearly 300 people, legalizing alcohol would potentially bring more support, in the form of law enforcement and revenue, to the village.

But those opposed argued that lifting the law would wreak havoc on an already alcohol-fueled society, bringing with it more violence, suicide and crime...

Jillian Rogers

Reduced ice cover is stimulating a new phenomenon in the Arctic -- extra blooms of phytoplankton occurring in the fall, just before freeze-up, in addition to the usual springtime blooms, new research finds.

A study , led by scientists at Canada’s Laval University and published online in the journal Geophysical Research letters, describes the autumn blooms that have become more frequent in the past 15 years.

Most regions of the Arctic Ocean are now developing two blooms a year, with microscopic plants proliferating in waters that are staying open longer than in the past, according to the study. “The occurrence of these fall blooms is now possible due to both delayed sea-ice freeze-up and increased exposure of the sea surface to wind stress,” lead author Mathieu Ardyna , a Ph.D student in oceanography, said in an email...

Yereth Rosen

Around 7:15 a.m. every weekday, buses pull up to East Anchorage High School and teenagers stream out. More than 2,000 students will spill into Anchorage's largest high school before the first bell rings.

This school year, waiting for every student just inside the door is a free breakfast. And later, in the cafeteria, a free lunch. Under the expansion of a federal program designed to help nourish low-income schoolchildren, the Anchorage School District is feeding many more students than ever before .

East and Bartlett are the first Anchorage high schools to offer free breakfast and lunch to all students.

A total of 30 middle, alternative and elementary campuses in Anchorage are offering free meals to every student this year under the U.S. Department of Agriculture's "Community Eligibility Provision" expansion.

Elementary schools with high poverty rates have offered free meals to all students for years, but this is the first time many secondary schools have been included...

Michelle Theriault Boots

WHITTIER -- Whittier was established as a military base during WWII, while the Japanese military invaded the Aleutian Islands. The location could provide a deepwater port and was relatively difficult to get to due to its location and unpredictable weather. It remained active as a military installation through the early years of the Cold War.

Initially, the Buckner Building was the location of the base's only bakery, theater, bowling alley and jail.

Today, if it had been properly maintained, the building would have a value of around $52 million. But after the military vacated its Whittier station in 1960, maintenance ceased. All that remains today is a seven-story skeleton of toxic, dangerous and rusting debris that sparks imagination and conversation among visitors.

But now the city of Whittier is in the early stages of figuring out how decrepit the Buckner Building might be, with the hopes of maybe -- and that's a big maybe -- bringing the once-great structure back from the dead.

More: 49th Estate: Whittier, Alaska's Buckner Building
Erik Hill

The city of Whittier is in the early stages of figuring out how decrepit the crumbling Buckner Building might be, with the hopes of maybe -- and that's a big maybe -- bringing the once-great structure back from the dead.

Tara Young,Megan Edge

Two hikers rescued from O'Malley Peak trail in separate weekend incidents: Two hikers were rescued from the same Chugach State Park trail in separate incidents over the Labor Day weekend, Alaska State Troopers said in an online dispatch. On Saturday, a woman hiking the O'Malley Peak trail called troopers at about 5:30 p.m. after falling and injuring her ankle. Chugach State Park rangers and a trooper from Girdwood hiked in on foot and met the woman, identified as Brittany Crutchfield, 25, of Anchorage, about a mile from the Glen Alps trailhead. Back at the parking lot, she "stated she'd make her own arrangements for medical attention." On Sunday at about 12:30 p.m. a woman hiking near O'Malley Peak called troopers to say she was stuck on a ledge. Troopers flew members of the Alaska Mountain Rescue Group by helicopter to the ledge, where they "conducted a technical rescue of the female," identified as Stacy Skan , 41, of Anchorage. Skan was uninjured, according to troopers. She was dropped off at the Glen Alps trailhead...

Alaska Dispatch News