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12/31/14 - Gov. Walker names commissioners of Administration, Education

Governor names Commissioners of departments of Administration, Education

Governor Bill Walker has named two more members of his cabinet. Sheldon Fisher, who most recently was chief operating officer at McKinley Capital Management, will become Commissioner of the Department of Administration. Long-time Alaskan Mike Hanley, a former Anchorage school district principal and teacher, will continue on as Commissioner of Education, a post he’s held since 2011.

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Boys sentenced to fines, loss of hunting equipment and licenses, for wanton waste of muskox

By Matthew Smith, KNOM

Both boys charged with chasing down a herd of muskox before killing several of the animals just outside of Brevig Mission have now reached a deal with state prosecutors—bringing to a close a case that started back in 2012.

More than two years ago the two boys—at the time aged 10 and 13—were charged with shooting at a small herd of the iconic animals with rifles and shotguns over the course of several days … before ultimately chasing the herd down on four wheelers and killing seven of the animals—five cows and two bulls.

The names of both of the boys involved with the incident are not being released due to their age.

In all, the pair faced dozens of charges—including a combined 11 counts of wanton waste of big game—when they first appeared before a Nome judge in January.

The younger of the two boys faced seven charges of wanton waste of musk ox, as well as 8 misdemeanor hunting violations and tampering with evidence.

Alaska statute calls for a $3,000 penalty for illegally killing a muskox.

In a plea bargain this month [Dec. 2], the younger boy reached a deal with prosecutors. In exchange for a guilty plea to “one consolidated charge” of wanton waste, he was fined $500 dollars—with 500 dollars suspended—and ordered to pay $3,000 in restitution to the state—just a fraction of the $21,000 fine he could have faced. The boy also has to forfeit his Yamaha four wheeler and the four guns used in the muskox killing. In addition, the terms of the deal rescind the boy’s hunting privileges for one year.

In July the older of the two boys reached a similar deal, pleading guilty to one count of wanton waste in exchange for a single $3,000 fine and the forfeiture of all equipment—including guns and four wheelers—used in the killing.

In the deal reached with the older boy earlier this year, state prosecutors said many of the financial penalties and other punishment the boys faced were reduced due to their young age.

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Anchorage goes a year with no temperatures below zero

Anchorage set a new weather record in the past year, with a full calendar year with no temperatures below zero. The last time it went below zero here was Dec. 26, 2013.

Meterologist Rebecca Duell, of the National Weather Service, says this is the second longest stretch like this since record keeping began in 1916. She says the last time Anchorage temperatures stayed at zero or above for so long was in 2000 to 2001, when it didn't go below zero for 683 days. But she says there have been plenty of years when only a day or two barely dipped below zero, so she sees this year as not that unusual.

“In the grand scheme of things, no,” says Duell. “This is pretty normal in terms of long-term pattern. This is a warmer year. If we were to start seeing it for multiple consecutive years, then it might mean something, but this is fairly normal."

Duell says storms are the reason for the warmer temperatures. “The storm track has really been taking the storms a specific direction that's giving us a lot of southerly flow, so the air is bringing up a lot of warmer air which is why we're getting these warmer temperatures,” says Duell. “Another reason is that we kind of have this persistent low pressure system in the Gulf of Alaska that's, it's been causing a lot of cloudy weather, especially in southern Alaska.”

She says it’s when we have clear conditions that we lose the most heat, and the forecast is calling for clear skies later this week: “We'll have high pressure and we'll have clear days, and we'll really going to go down and get pretty cold later in the week.”

The forecast calls for Anchorage area temperatures to drop to 5 to fifteen degrees on Friday and Saturday.

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Inaugural Ball in Anchorage set for Jan. 31

The nonprofit Alaska Inaugural Committee has announced one of eight inaugural balls will be held in Anchorage on January 31st for newly elected Governor Bill Walker and Lieutenant Governor Byron Mallott. The Alaska Inaugural Committee funds the balls through ticket sales and fundraising.

Other communities that have stepped up to host inaugural balls include: Valdez, Juneau, Nome, Fairbanks, Wasilla, Ketchikan, and Kenai.

For more information visit the Facebook page for Alaska Inaugural Ball, or go to www.akinauguralball.com. online.

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