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KNBA News - Legislators may drop costly office; Anchorage fundraiser for Fbks 4 draws hundreds

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Legislative Council votes to drop lease on costly downtown office

By the Associated Press

Lawmakers are a step closer to moving out of office space in Anchorage that costs $4 million a year to lease.

The Alaska Dispatch News reports the Legislative Council voted Saturday to recommend the lawmakers pull funding for the lease, while also carving out 45 days to negotiate a competitive purchase price.

The $4 million renovated space had previously cost $680,000 to lease.

Developer Mark Pfeffer said he was willing to drop his asking price by $1 million from $36 million. His spokeswoman said in a statement that they believe it's possible to save state dollars without breaking the lease, which she called a drastic step.

A legislative attorney estimated a possible lawsuit over breaking the lease could cost $2 million.

This year, lawmakers expect a $3.5 billion budget deficit.

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Numbers are down for Alaska’s largest caribou herd  

A rough estimate shows the Western Arctic Caribou Herd is not rebounding from its last several years of declining population. The Alaska Dispatch News reports state wildlife experts estimate the herd's population at 200,000, down from the 235,000 counted in the 2013 census.

Fairbanks-based Fish and Game biologist Lincoln Parrett briefed the Western Alaska Caribou Herd Working Group last week. He said the new estimated population size is not exact. An aerial population survey was nixed this summer due to technical problems. Scientists are planning another attempt in mid-2016.

Anchorage fundraiser for the Fairbanks Four draws hundreds of people

By Joaqlin Estus, KNBA - Anchorage, with technical assistance from Brendan Babb

Gary Farmer and Marc Brown and the Troublemakers, along with six other groups, including the Unity Drummers and the Tlingit and Haida Dancers of Anchorage performed at a fundraiser in Anchorage Sunday for the Fairbanks Four, whose convictions in the 1997 murder of John Hartman were tossed out on Friday.  Hundreds of people gathered at Cook Inlet Tribal Council, and contributed more than 7-thousand dollars for George Frese, Kevin Pease, Marvin Roberts and Eugene Vent.

Isaac Bartley was one of about 20 volunteers who prepared and served about 300 Indian   tacos – those are tacos made with fried bread – which sold for $10 each.

“People were lining up like crazy, out the door,” said Bartley.

Agatha Ericson said the donated items sold in a silent auction brought in more than 2-thousand dollars.

“We had jars of fish and jam that went for $300. We had blackberries, we also had some beautiful birch bark baskets, and some seal skin slippers,” said Erickson. “We also had some wood carvings, a beautiful cribbage board that went for quite a bit of money too, as well, carved cribbage board.”

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Credit Joaqlin Estus / KNBA
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KNBA
People gathered around the Unity Drum group.

  Demaris Hudson heads a dance group.

“My group Ida'ina K'eljeshna performed earlier today,” said Hudson.

She said pulling together to support each other is an important part of her Dena’ina Athabascan heritage, and she wants to set an example for young people on how to face and overcome issues.

“Cause when it comes to our Native people, not only here in Alaska but across Indian Country issues arise,” said Hudson. “And we are stronger as a people with more than one voice when we stand united and support each other.”

The event started at noon and wrapped up at about 6 p.m., after two of the Fairbanks Four spoke to the crowd by telephone from Fairbanks. Here’s a few words from George Freese.

“I just want you to know, I love you all. I’m so grateful for everything you’ve done,” said Freese.

Eugene Vent also expressed gratitude.

“I just want you guys to know from the bottom of my heart, man,  it means the world to me because when we were down, we watched you guys, talked to you,” said Vent. “You gave us strength.”

Organizer Rodney McCord said with Christmas in mind, he and Samuel Johns took just a little over a week to set up the event, and he’s pleased with the turnout.

“Tons and tons of people gathering for a good cause, for the Fairbanks Four to raise them some money so they could have a merry Christmas; it was such a blessing,” said McCord. “I can’t even explain how happy this made me feel.”

The 7-thousand dollars will be deposited in a bank account for the Fairbanks Four.

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Credit Joaqlin Estus / KNBA
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KNBA
Organizers Rodnew McCord (l) and Samuel Johns (r).

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