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Gamble reflects after announcing retirement

Dec 18, 2014 -- 11:30am
- JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) - University of Alaska president Pat Gamble says he loves coming to work every day. But at age 69, and with the university system in a position he feels comfortable with, Gamble says it's time to retire. UA announced Monday that Gamble will retire June 1, after five years. In an interview, Gamble said his proudest point in the job has been bringing the leaders of the three main universities together to work on issues across the system rather than having the universities compete for resources. Gamble plans to guide the university system through what is expected to be a tough budget year, with the state facing deficits. Gamble says the goal is for UA to get through the rough stretch without losing the gains it has made in recent years.

Juneau officials cut state funding request list

Dec 18, 2014 -- 11:15am
- JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) - Juneau officials are whittling down a list of state funding requests amid potential state budget deficits of more than $3 billion for both this year and next due to low oil prices. The finance committee for the local assembly agreed Wednesday to prioritize five projects out of an original list of 29. The new list includes a water treatment plant, well improvements, a communications tower update, a rebuild of the Douglas Harbor and additional snow-clearing machines that could handle narrow sidewalks. The Juneau Empire reports that assembly members agreed that airport and school officials would be consulted for their top priorities, which would be added to a list for future years. The city itself faces a $7.2-million deficit for 2016.

Hose failure blamed for gas that sickened soldiers

Dec 18, 2014 -- 11:00am
- FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) - Army investigators in Alaska have concluded that a corroded vent hose on a field stove led to a buildup of carbon monoxide that sickened 23 soldiers during a September exercise. Lt. Col. Alan Brown tells the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner that the toxic gas came from a gas-fueled oven used to heat trays of food in a kitchen tent. Investigators concluded the corroded hose wasn't properly connected and kept gas inside the tent. None of the soldiers in the incident Sept. 25 near Eielson Air Force Base suffered life-threatening injuries. Nineteen were treated and released. Four showed elevated carbon monoxide levels in their blood but recovered after hospital stays. The soldiers were part of the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division stationed at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.
 

Ambler road hearing draws opposition, supporters

Dec 18, 2014 -- 10:45am
- FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) - A two-day hearing in Fairbanks on a proposed 200-mile road to the Ambler Mining District brought out sharp opposition from Alaskans who say traditional hunting grounds would be threatened and wilderness values would be lost. The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports Alaska Natives and non-Natives expressed concerns about increased access and industrial contamination at the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority hearing. Brooks Range lodge owner John Gaedecke questioned whether the state should be supporting foreign mining interests and neglecting its own people. PJ Simon of the Allakaket  Tribal Council questioned whether jobs would be forthcoming for villagers who now rely heavily on subsistence living. NovaCopper, Inc. CEO Rick Van Nieuwenhuyse says proposed mines in the Ambler Mining District have the potential to create hundreds of jobs.
 

Government sues to recover costs of sunken vessel

Dec 18, 2014 -- 10:30am
- ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) - The federal government is suing the owner of a 117-foot boat that sank in Cordova and was cleaned up at public expense. Channel-2 News reports the government seeks $1.6 million from John Mehelich, who later appeared as a gold dredge captain on the Discovery channel show "Bering Sea Gold." The 147-ton vessel Sound Developer sank in August 2009 at its mooring in Cordova Harbor. The lawsuit says the vessel leaked more than 450 gallons of fuel and oils. The lawsuit says Mehelich hired a company to raise and clean up the vessel but then cut off contact with the company. The federal government assumed the cleanup and the vessel was raised and decontaminated by Dec. 20, 2011. Federal attorneys say Mehelich has refused to reimburse the government.
 

Names released in NW Montana plane crash

Dec 17, 2014 -- 12:15pm
- POLSON, Mont. (AP) - Authorities have identified the pilot killed in a plane crash in northwest Montana as 33-year-old Brett Thoft, of Wasilla, Alaska. In addition, a passenger injured in the crash was identified as Tim Schauss, of Lake County. He is listed in critical condition at Kalispell Regional Medical Center. The small plane crashed in Lake County near Flathead Lake at about 4:30 p.m. Tuesday on a hillside northwest of Ronan. Lake County authorities believe the two-seat Piper had taken off from the Ronan airport on a sight-seeing flight. The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating.
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