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KNBA News - Anchorage police protection for presidential visit carries high price tag

By The Associated Press

Pres. Barack Obama's visit to Anchorage came at a price, at least for the Anchorage Police Department. Chief Mark Mew tells KTUU the presidential visit has cost more than 482-thousand dollars with final tallies yet to come in. Mew said the final tally should be known next week.


Anchorage group preparing for economic impacts of Army downsizing

Zacharia Hughes, KSKA – Anchorage

An Anchorage group is examining economic options to cope with Army downsizing in the years ahead. As KSKA'sZachariah Hughes reports, the Base Economic Analysis Review--or BEAR group--held its second meeting yesterday [Sept. 9, 2015].

City officials are working with a small division from the Department of Defense that routinely helps plan for what to do when changes in the military hit the communities where troops are based. Myer Hutchinson is a spokesman for the Mayor, and said the BEAR group met with the Office of Economic Adjustment over a grant he's "fairly confident" Anchorage is going to receive. That money will go toward “A study, or studies, to figure out the potential economic impacts of a force reduction at Joint-Base Elmendorf-Richardson."

Hutchinson said that while the Administration is still working with its partners to reverse the drawn-down that will remove more than 26 hundred troops and thousands more dependents from the Anchorage area by 2017, the city is making sure to cover its bases examining ways to mitigate negative effects.

Currently there's no timeline for when the OEA report will be available.


Naknek, Anchorage school districts grappling with retroactive budget cuts

Based on stories by Hannah Colton, KDLG – Dillingham, and Zacharia Hughes, KSKA - Anchorage

State budget cuts have put a halt to plans for serious work needed to bring the Naknek school up to code and make it more energy efficient. In April, Bristol Bay Borough residents approved a 14-million dollar bond to make the upgrades. The Borough expected the state to reimburse more than half the cost, as it has in the past. But Legislators put a hold on such reimbursements retroactive to January first of this year. Bristol Bay School District superintendent Bill Hill said a lot of time and resources had gone into planning the school improvements.

"You know, it’s not an easy process to go through,” said Hill. “We hired a firm to do design and development, the borough spent hundreds of thousands of dollars getting us to a 35% design on the project. We expended a lot of personnel time, not just mine, but the manager’s too. We involved our community … There was a lot of effort in this."

Hill said with fewer than a thousand taxpayers, the Borough alone can't bear the cost of the projects, so, he said, the district will have to keep looking to the state for funding.

The Anchorage school district is in the same bind - Anchorage voters approved a nearly 60 million dollar bond for upgrades at eight schools. Mayor spokesman Myer Hutchinson said the full cost will be spread across residents’ property taxes.


Arctic nations to look at regulating potential commercial fishing in the Arctic Ocean

Based on a story by Monica Gokey, KSKA – Anchorage

As ice retreats from northern waters, several countries are looking at the prospects for commercial fisheries in the central Arctic Ocean. Five countries border the ocean -- Norway, Russia, Canada, the U.S. and Greenland, which is represented by Denmark in negotiations. The five signed a non-binding agreement in Oslo this summer to abstain from unregulated fishing in that part of the ocean for now.

At the State Department’s GLACIER conference in Anchorage last week the Department’s deputy secretary for oceans and fisheries David Balton shared a cautionary tale. In the mid-1980s, he said, a large Pollock fishery opened in international waters in the Bering Sea.

"It was conducted by large trawl vessels from China, Japan, South Korea and Poland. The unregulated nature of that fishery caused alarm in first the Soviet Union -- Russia -- and, of course, the United States. And despite the efforts of those two countries to bring this fishery under control, the pollock fishery collapsed in 1992,” said Balton. “No commercial fishery for pollock has existed in this high seas area since. The pollock stock has never recovered.”

Jim Stotts of the Inuit Circumpolar Council said Arctic Alaska Natives have a vested stake in precautionary management.

“We Inuit have a strong interest in maintaining healthy fish stocks in Arctic waters. We are a coastal people,” said Stotts. “And we depend on the Arctic Ocean for fish, sea birds and marine mammals for continued nutritional and cultural survival.”

Balton announced the United States will work to develop an international agreement and to make funding available for scientific research in the high Arctic.