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Man enters plea deal in 2008 Kodiak death

May 22, 2015 -- 11:00am
- KODIAK, Alaska (AP) - A 27-year-old Kodiak man has pleaded guilty to criminally negligent homicide after running over a homeless man in 2008 and leaving him to die. KMXT reports Bradford Blondin entered his plea Tuesday in exchange for a recommended 10-year sentence with six years suspended. Sentencing was set for Aug. 27. His plea came in the April 29, 2008, death of 43-year-old Justin McGriff, a dishwasher who was living in tent outside town. He was last seen being dropped by a cab at the base of Pillar Mountain Road, where he was later run over. The coroner said he likely would have survived his injuries had he received care. Blondin's truck was quickly seized by police but he wasn't charged for four years, partially because of a backlog at the state crime lab.

Air Force to test Moose Creek wells for contamination

May 22, 2015 -- 10:45am
- FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) - Eielson Air Force Base will be testing private wells in the Moose Creek area for groundwater contamination. The Daily News-Miner reports the Eielson-based 354th Fighter Wing notified 300 Moose Creek households Thursday about the Air Force's plan to sample the drinking wells. The decision comes after a move in January to change the source of drinking water on base due to contamination from perfluorinated compounds, often known as PFCs. A representative from the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation says that contamination is now believed to extend to the north of the base. He says it is likely that the contaminated groundwater extends beyond base, but it hasn't been shown yet. The health advisory level is considered provisional. Long-term studies on harm to humans from PFCs are still in preliminary stages.

Majority members outline concerns with budget option

May 22, 2015 -- 10:30am
- JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) - Six members of the Alaska House majority have sent a letter to Speaker Mike Chenault expressing serious concerns with the potential use of the Permanent Fund earnings reserve to help balance the state budget. This could create a new wrinkle in efforts to pass a funded budget. Use of the earnings reserve has been seen as a possible alternative if agreement cannot be reached with minority Democrats to tap the constitutional budget reserve fund. There has been no apparent movement toward such an agreement in recent weeks. The letter was signed by Reps. Bryce Edgmon, Louise Stutes, Neal Foster, Gabrielle LeDoux, Jim Colver and Paul Seaton. They said they would not intend to vote for use of the earnings reserve. The letter was first reported by the Alaska Dispatch News.

Alaska's popular walrus cam streams again after a decade

May 21, 2015 -- 12:15pm
- ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) - A popular webcam showing large male Pacific walruses lying on the beach is once again streaming on the Internet. The high-definition stream from Alaska's remote Round Island had been dormant for nearly a decade after private funding ran out. But thanks to the philanthropic organization explore.org, the cam is again up and running. Every summer, up to 15,000 walruses haul out on the island about 400 miles southwest of Anchorage in northern Bristol Bay. There are four cameras pointed at two beaches on the remote island. But like in 2005, the camera will be offline for a week in the fall so Alaska Natives can take part in a legal subsistence hunt of the walruses.
 

Senate adjourns special session called by Walker

May 21, 2015 -- 12:00pm
- JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) - The Alaska Senate has adjourned from the special session called by Gov. Bill Walker. The Senate immediately gaveled in to a new special session, which it convened in Anchorage. Questions were raised about the plans of legislative leaders to resume floor sessions in Anchorage under the special session called by Walker. The special session called by Walker was for Juneau. The Legislature's top attorney said he believed a court would find the Legislature could not legally convene the session called by Walker outside of Juneau without his permission or additional instruction from him. Walker said he did not agree with lawmakers going to Anchorage to continue their work, but would not fight them on it, either, saying his top priority was getting a fully funded budget passed.

Justice Department eyes voting reforms for American Indians

May 21, 2015 -- 11:45am
- FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) - The U.S. Department of Justice wants to improve access to voting for American Indians and Alaska Natives. Justice Department officials said Thursday the department would seek legislation requiring states with Native American reservations or other tribal lands to locate at least one polling place in a venue selected by tribal governments. The department sent a letter to Congress with a legislative proposal that also would require states to make voting machines, ballots, and other voting materials and equipment available at these tribally located polling places as they are at other polling places. Attorney General Loretta Lynch says the changes are needed because "significant and unnecessary barriers" for American Indians and Alaska Natives who seek to cast ballots.
 
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