Naomi Klouda

After large rate cut, Premera pushes open enrollment period

A 45-day open enrollment on the federal health care exchange begins Nov. 1, and despite confusion surrounding the Affordable Care Act, several factors that brought down the cost of health insurance in Alaska for those shopping on the individual market this year promise to strengthen the state’s health care market.

But it’s a short window this time that ends on Dec. 15.

That’s the message of licensed insurance producers such as Joshua Weinstein of Northrim Benefits Group/RISQ. He has helped people enroll on the open market exchange since the ACA launched in 2014.

Elders & Youth speakers provide from one century to next

The theme of the 34th First Alaskans Institute Elders and Youth Conference — “Part Land, Part Water, Always Native” — speaks to identity as a deep connection with the surroundings.

Clare Swan, 86, and Chris Apassingok, 17, each live immersed in cultural activities at opposite ends of a century. Yet their lives are living examples of culture in motion, say the event’s organizers. As the conference allows elders and youth to engage in critical dialogues on issues through presentations and discussions, they will be inspiring future generations to take active roles.

AFN keynote speakers perfect physical, spiritual fitness

The Alaska Federation of Native’s theme this year, “Strength in Unity: Leadership — Partnerships — Social Justice,” takes shape as the largest gathering of indigenous people in the United States meet in Anchorage Oct 19-21.

Sgt. Jody Potts, the director of Public Safety for the Tanana Chiefs Conference, and Lt. Col. Wayne Don of the Alaska Army National Guard came to leadership roles and social justice issues on broad stages. AFN opens on their addresses at 9:30 a.m. Oct. 19.

Energy Dept. grant aims to harden microgrids

Imagine that Puerto Rico’s electrical grid had the ability for one power plant to “talk” with another plant in a long daisy chain.

Then, when Hurricane Maria sweeps in, the plants’ automation kicks in and amps up power production in one facility while another remains offline. Their systems’ communications capacity evaluates which “assets” could be used and whatever backup activation fixes were necessary to generate electricity until full power could be restored.

Voters reject return to pot prohibition

Voters on Oct. 3 rejected propositions to ban commercial marijuana operations on the Kenai Peninsula and in Fairbanks where most of the state’s cultivation farms are located.

With 23 of 24 precincts reporting results, the Kenai Peninsula Borough’s unofficial election results show an overall majority voting against the prohibition 5,232 to 2,941 or 64 percent against and 36 percent in favor of the ban.

In Fairbanks, voters faced two ballot props that also went down in defeat.

Sullivan: Health care at a crossroads

America’s health care crossroads ahead can follow two different philosophical paths, U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan told a group of health care professionals Oct. 3 in Anchorage.

One would let states take federal funds and design their own systems. The other would get rid of private insurance and put all American health care into the hands of a government program, Sullivan said, making his statements via video at State of Reform, a one-day conference at the Dena’ina Civic and Convention Center.

Judge approves Chapter 7 liquidation of remaining ADN assets

Any chance to reorganize Alice Rogoff’s remaining Alaska Dispatch News holdings after her Aug. 12 Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing was deemed at “0.00 percent” by her attorney at a Sept. 22 hearing, which is bad news for those left holding the bag on more than $2 million of debts.

Oceans 17 panel shares vision of growing blue economy

The blue economy isn’t a new concept when thought in terms of the traditional jobs and industry: fishermen need boat wrights and processors, navigation tools and data to help bring in the catch.

Rippling out, the blue economy demands a slew of new maritime trainings, greater security presence extending to the Arctic and literally thousands of new innovators to solve a multitude of science questions, according to a panel of six in “Building Alaska’s Blue Economy” Sept. 21.

Alaska Dispatch now in chapter 7 to liquidate remaining assets

Any chance to reorganize Alice Rogoff’s remaining Alaska Dispatch newspaper holdings after the chapter 11 bankruptcy filing was deemed at “0.00 percent” by her attorney at a Sept. 21 hearing, bad news for those left holding the bag on more than $2 million of debts.

Lake Hood keeps providing bang for the buck

A floatplane slip at Lake Hood Seaplane Base goes for $115 pe month.

A gravel or paved tie-down spot for typical bush planes like a Cessna, Piper or De Havilland rents for $55 a month.

Land leases are likewise kept low: 12 cents per square foot, an increase in 2017 from 9 cents per square foot.

The fees sound like a bargain at the oft-touted “busiest seaplane base in the world.”

Board approves 27 marijuana licenses where prohibition on Oct. 3 ballot

The Marijuana Control Board renewed 21 cannabis business licenses and approved 25 new businesses at its Nome meeting Sept. 14-15, but concerns were expressed that more than half of these license holders face a shutdown from Oct. 3 municipal elections.

The Kenai Peninsula Borough, the Fairbanks North Star Borough and the City of Fairbanks all have upcoming votes to ban retail shops and marijuana grows. Of the 45 licenses approved, 27 are in those jurisdictions.

Bill secures missile defense, icebreakers, F-35s

The latest National Defense Authorization Act requires 20 new ground-based missile interceptors at Fort Greely near Fairbanks, additional F-35s at Eielson Air Force Base and the construction of six new icebreakers to serve an Arctic increasingly seen as threatened by Russia’s buildup of nuclear-capable icebreakers.

Alaska Sens. Dan Sullivan and Lisa Murkowski voted in favor of the National Defense Authorization Act, a measure that easily passed the Senate in a vote of 89-3 Sept. 18. It recommends $700 billion in defense spending for fiscal year 2018 beginning Oct. 1.

$15M Lake Hood hangar project embraces new design tech

Airport hangars are typically low-tech pieces of Alaska architecture designed to keep an airplane warm and safe from notorious winter weather.

A $15 million project at Lake Hood in Anchorage is introducing a new kind of flexible hangar design featuring moving walls and floating lofts in a three-phase hanger construction project off Aircraft Drive.

Steve Zelener, owner and developer of Lake Hood Hangars LLC, is employing new technology design materials to construct a more energy-efficient, space-saving expandable “box” hangar off Aircraft Drive on Lake Hood.

ADN sold after no other bidder surfaced

The Alaska Dispatch News will be able to stay in business under the new ownership of the Binkley Co. after a federal bankruptcy judge on Sept. 11 gave the go ahead despite concerns that the sale price of $1 million seemed a giveaway to those owed money from former owner Alice Rogoff.

After hearing arguments lasting most of the day, Judge Gary Spraker of U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Division of Alaska, acknowledged the accelerated pace from filing to sale.

Rogoff faces creditors at bankruptcy hearing, claims $12.7M debt

The largest unsecured creditor was able to question Alaska Dispatch News owner Alice Rogoff under oath in federal bankruptcy court Sept. 7 only to discover for the first time that she disputes the $508,000 unpaid invoice for $1 million worth of work done wiring a press at her leased Arctic Boulevard warehouse.

Rogoff also explained why she now lists herself as the largest unsecured creditor of the newspaper she owns with a claim of $12.7 million.

First Western Alaska marijuana licenses to be taken up in Nome

Though illegal marijuana sales continue to show up as arrests in the police blotters of rural Alaska, not many applicants have stepped up with requests to open legal dispensaries in those towns.

Two Nome businessmen want to change that on Norton Sound. Robin Thomas’ application to the Marijuana Control Board to open Gudlief and James Fejes’ application for Tundra Fire LLC are up for review before the board at its meeting in Nome Sept. 14-15.

Alaska latest state to access FirstNet for first responders

A deal worked out by AT&T and the State of Alaska will supply a new private network for the state’s emergency responders that work in times of natural disaster when many first responders are jammed into the same networks as everyone else.

Gov. Bill Walker gave the go-ahead Aug. 30 for the State of Alaska to opt in to FirstNet by AT&T, a system that prioritizes public safety in emergency cases over regular commercial cell phone users.

Rogoff attorney files proposal for auction sale of Alaska Dispatch News

Alaska Dispatch News owner Alice Rogoff’s attorney is proposing to hold an auction for the sale of the newspaper at an upcoming bankruptcy hearing Sept. 11, and spelled out a path forward for employees at the deal’s conclusion.

Latest assessments show poor results for state students

Results from spring 2017 testing throughout Alaska school districts showed more than half of all students from grades three to 10 aren’t up to proficient levels in math, English and science.

School districts’ scores throughout the state indicate even the largest schools lag behind while some smaller ones excel.

About 70,600 students took part in the English language arts and math tests. Of those, 25,300 took the science assessment, which covered three grade levels.

Trustee recommends Chapter 7 liquidation after Dispatch sale

A new filing in the Alaska Dispatch News bankruptcy case is an Aug. 30 request to liquidate Alice Rogoff’s corporate holdings after the purchase agreement moves forward to save the ailing newspaper from the financial brink.


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