Naomi Klouda

First blood test for breast cancer detection reaches Alaska

Blood tests let patients know if they have a vitamin B deficiency. Blood testing provides windows into whether a person has diabetes. But until recently, no blood test could tell if a person has breast cancer.

New technology available for the first time in Alaska should help ease anxiety for women tested for breast cancer by providing clearer answers during cancer screening. Dr. Karen Barbosa at Alaska Breast Care Specialists on the Alaska Regional Hospital campus is the first in the state to offer the protein-based blood test for detecting breast cancer.

Minerals prices rebounding, but jobs still off from 2012 highs

Alaska saw a dip in mining jobs during 2016, numbers attributed to losses in the oil patch as well as hard rock mines when commodities prices took a dive.

Employment numbers are tallied in different ways by various agencies. Alaska Department of Labor statistics show Alaska went from 17,400 mining jobs in 2015 to 14,200 jobs in 2016.

That number lumped in petroleum jobs, said Alaska Economist Neal Fried, with “mom and pop” placer mines and large entities such as Usibelli coal.

Education funding in focus amid growing budget impasse

It’s either an education funding raffle, drawing Permanent Fund earnings or an income tax: lack of agreement on any one of these three solutions is stymying action in the Alaska Legislature this week while as yet no conference committee is named to roll up sleeves and get to work filling a $2.6 billion hole.

Education forms 44 percent of the Alaska budget between K-12’s $1.3 billion need and the University of Alaska system’s $325 million allocation. That’s the elephant stuck in a keyhole, according to legislators working through three possible solutions under consideration.

Education officials alarmed by proposed Senate budget cuts

Legislators at work reconciling budget differences between the House and Senate are hashing out a 5 percent cut across all 53 school districts in the state as a way to slash $69 million from the budget deficit.

Several districts’ officials traveled to Juneau this week to make appeals: A 5 percent cut would turn education upside down, they told legislators.

Hughes aims for more bang for education buck

Alaska’s achievement gap in education places it among the lowest test scores in the nation. Graduation rates also lag dismally behind.

Severe budget woes mean the State of Alaska can’t mend its way to academic successes through hiring more teachers and creating more education programs anytime in the near future. But “transforming” education might have a chance, according to the ideas behind a Senate bill created by Sen. Shelley Hughes, R-Palmer.

Denali Commission directed to work on shutdown plan

Here’s the task handed to Denali Commission federal co-chair Joel Neimeyer: What would it take to shut down 17 years of the Denali Commission’s work in Alaska if funding is eliminated in 2018?

On March 31 by close of business day, Neimeyer was required by the Office of Management and Budget to summarize how he would close down the federal agency created in 1999.

President Donald Trump’s initial budget submitted to Congress, the so-called “skinny budget,” calls for eliminating the $15 million budget that funds a myriad of projects in rural Alaska.

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