AK Beat: Killer whale sends sea lion flying

Alaska Dispatch News

Sea lion goes flying in video: Guests aboard an Anglers Adventures charter out of Ketchikan got to see more than just scenery Friday morning when their vessel, the F/V Sierra Dawn, attracted a sea lion being stalked by a killer whale. As the boat left the area, the killer whale seized its opportunity, and the anglers captured video footage as the orca "attacked the sea lion and tossed him 20 feet into the air," according to the Anglers Adventures YouTube channel. (Note: Be advised there are a few interjections of strong language near the end of the video, although some profanity is perhaps unsurprising from a group of people who just watched a large marine mammal go airborne.)

Nozzle caps stolen: Alaska State Troopers in the Mat-Su are trying to figure out who made off with 18 nozzle caps from fire hydrants along Old Mat Road near Fairview Loop Road this past week. On Thursday, Wasilla’s city maintenance department reported the theft of the nozzle caps, troopers wrote in a dispatch posted Saturday. The caps cost $300 each to replace, troopers said, for a total loss of $5,400. Anyone with information is being asked to contact the Alaska State Troopers at 352-5401 or Mat Su Crime Stoppers at 745-3333.

Alaska State Fair Farm Family are peony pioneers: Michael and Paula Williams want to share the story of Mat-Su peonies with the world, and that calling has earned the couple the title of 2014 Alaska State Fair Farm Family. A committee chaired by the Alaska Division of Agriculture selects the winning family “based on production of quality Alaska-grown products, community and agricultural organization involvement and overall image,” according to the division. The Williamses, owners of EagleSong Family Peony Farm, moved to the base of Mount Susitna 40 miles from the nearest road system in 1994 and opened a lodge. When fishing declines led to a drop in customers, the couple switched to peonies after seeing a PBS special on the new trend in Alaska. They flew and hauled in equipment, built a barn, cleared land and planted 5,000 peonies in 2010. Today they run a marketing and distribution company -- Alaska Peony Distributors LLC -- and maintain 11,000 peony roots with a goal of 50,000 plants in production. Their four children play roles in the family business, as does Paula Williams’ brother. The family will be honored at the fair Thursday.

MEA predicts hefty rate increase by end of 2015: Palmer-based Matanuska Electric Association is telling members to expect an overall increase in retail rates of 15 to 20 percent over the next 18 months. The cooperative issued the prediction in a news release Friday. MEA says the increase is driven by the cost of fuels, primarily increased natural gas, used to produce power at Eklutna Generation Station. The increase is also driven by construction costs associated with EGS, the new power plant the co-op built to end its reliance on power-buying contracts with Chugach Electric Association. The plant is expected to come online in early 2015. MEA on Friday also announced a 2.19 percent rate increase authorized by its board Monday, effective in October. The average member can expect a monthly increase of about $1.70 as a result. 

Anchorage ranked not-so-pet-friendly: Anchorage might like to promote itself as the dog-loving host for the ceremonial start of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race every March. But for those who live in the city with a dog, it's not so friendly, according to Wallethub.com. The website ranks Anchorage 2014's Fifth Worst City for Pet Lovers. Yes, that's fifth worst, not fifth best. Wallethub, which scores communities using social and economic metrics, gave Alaska's largest city bad marks due to a shortage of veterinarians, the high costs of vets, a lack of pet caretakers and pet-friendly hotels, and the lack of pet businesses. The city even scored poorly on dog walks and pet-friendly trails. The only cities that did worse were New York City, Memphis, Detroit and Corpus Christi, Texas. The pet friendliest city was Cincinnati, followed by Las Vegas and Scottsdale, Ariz., despite the fact the latter two are hot enough at times to darn near kill an Alaska husky.