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UAS chancellor to retire in May

Oct 28, 2014 -- 11:15am
- JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) - University of Alaska Southeast Chancellor John Pugh will bring a close to 45 years of public service, including 16 at the helm of the Juneau university, when he retires next May. The Juneau Empire reports among the hallmarks of Pugh's tenure at UAS includes the building a new freshman residence hall, the first new dorms built at the campus in more than 20 years. Pugh has led the university since 1999. A replacement will be named in May. Pugh plans to travel with his wife Margaret, including visiting grandchildren.

USDA makes high tunnels a standard Alaska program

Oct 28, 2014 -- 11:00am
- KENAI, Alaska (AP) - Alaska's success with federally funded high tunnels for extending growing seasons is being recognized by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The USDA says it's changing its High Tunnel Cost Share grant program from an interim practice to a standard practice. That means less uncertainty about future funding. High tunnels are tall hoop houses used to cover crops. The USDA's Meg Mueller tells the Peninsula Clarion that the program has been tested and proven in Alaska for five years. Alaska has more high tunnels per capita than any state, including 161 in Homer. Natural Resources Conservation Service soil conservationist Pam Voeller says growers who previously felt pressure to sign up for a subsidized high tunnel while they were part of an interim practice now have time to thoroughly develop plans.

Man charged with firing gun at Fairbanks house

Oct 28, 2014 -- 10:45am
- FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) - A man suspected of firing shots at a Fairbanks home last week has been charged with felony weapons misconduct. The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports 35-year-old Ray Tyron Clemons was arrested Saturday. A man in east Fairbanks at 10:30 p.m. Thursday reported shots outside his home. One struck a baseboard heater and another broke a window. Police recovered two bullets from a large-caliber handgun. Police say a man in the home's lower unit was the apparent victim. Police with a search warrant recorded calls between the man and Clemons. Prosecutors say Clemons was recorded telling the man he wanted money and the return of property. Clemons remained jailed Tuesday with bail set at $20,000. He is represented by the public defender's office, which routinely does not comment on open cases.

Fire at partially built Bethel treatment center

Oct 28, 2014 -- 10:30am
- BETHEL, Alaska (AP) - Officials say a partially built alcohol treatment center in the southwest Alaska city of Bethel caught fire Monday night. Channel-2 News reports that a spokeswoman for the Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corp. says the $12.5 million center was expected to be completed next year. Spokeswoman Donna Bach said the building appeared to be engulfed in flames by 8:15 p.m. Volunteer firefighters were on scene. No injuries were reported. The cause of the blaze wasn't known late Monday night. The regional health corporation runs a Bethel-based hospital and provides medical services for more than 50 surrounding villages. Bach says the treatment center was being built as a 16-bed facility and was insured. 

Troopers release name of man killed on Steese

Oct 27, 2014 -- 11:45am
- FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) - Alaska State Troopers say a man killed in a weekend crash north of Fairbanks was driving the wrong way in lanes of a divided four-lane highway. Troopers say 51-year-old James Wilder on Friday night was driving south in the northbound lanes of the Steese Highway when he crashed head-on into another vehicle. The crash occurred near Hagelbarger Road, which crosses the Steese Highway 6.4 miles northeast of Fairbanks. Troopers say Wilder struck a vehicle driven by 38-year-old Michael Walker of Fairbanks at about 7 p.m. Walker and two passengers were transported to Fairbanks Memorial Hospital with injuries that troopers describe as non-life-threatening. Northbound lanes were closed after the crash. Wilder's body was transported to Anchorage for an autopsy.

Doctor charged with sexually abusing 3 girls

Oct 27, 2014 -- 11:30am
- ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) - A 67-year-old Anchorage doctor has been charged with sexually abusing three young girls.The Alaska Dispatch News reports Clifford R. Merchant was taken into custody Saturday at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport. Merchant is a longtime contract physician in the emergency room of Providence Alaska Medical Center. The hospital has suspended his physician privileges. State Troopers say a 12-year-old girl in July told an investigator that she had been inappropriately touched by Merchant. Troopers say two more victims were identified and that the incidents occurred between 2001 and 2013 with three girls under the age of 13. Merchant is charged with 14 counts of felony sexual abuse of a minor and one of attempted sexual abuse of a minor.  He was arraigned Sunday with bail set at $500,000.
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