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Rescued harbor seal pup released on Kodiak Island

Sep 18, 2014 -- 1:15pm
- KODIAK, Alaska (AP) - An abandoned harbor seal pup that narrowly avoided death by seagull was returned to the wild off a Kodiak Island beach. The Kodiak Daily Mirror reports the seal was released Wednesday by representatives of the Alaska SeaLife Center. A kayaker in June spotted the seal on an island in Kalsin Bay. Gulls were pecking at the 4-day-old pup, which still had its umbilical cord attached. The SeaLife Center's Halley Werner says the pup would not have survived. It was skinny, dehydrated and wounded when it reached the center in Seward. The seal was treated with antibiotics and fed formula until it could eat fish. In mid-summer, it was placed in pools with other seals to learn how to compete for food. The seal grew from 25 to 57 pounds.

State proposes plan for road from Juneau

Sep 18, 2014 -- 1:00pm
- JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) - The state Transportation Department is proposing a $570-million road project that would help connect Juneau to Alaska's main highway system. It is the department's latest stab at the long-simmering project; a prior plan was knocked down by the courts for not looking at a fuller range of alternatives. The road would not be a direct link to highways out of Skagway or Haines. Motorists would still have to hop ferries for part of the trip. State Transportation Commissioner Pat Kemp says the goal is to provide more opportunity to travel to the capital city at a lower cost. Juneau is accessible only by air or water. Critics say the money would be better spent on critical infrastructure upgrades and maintenance throughout the state.

Interior Alaska hay harvest dampened by wet summer

Sep 18, 2014 -- 12:45pm
- FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) - Hay farmers in Alaska's interior are frustrated that their plentiful crops have been dampened by record-breaking rainfall, providing few opportunities for harvesting. The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports that it's the second consecutive year that poor weather conditions have put a crimp in the interior hay crop. Wet hay is susceptible to mold or fire, but farmers have to wait for the right moment to harvest it for storage. A dry, hot summer last year hurt production, resulting with hay prices climbing for Alaska horse and livestock owners. Alan Tonne, who manages the University of Alaska Fairbanks experiment farm, says that during normal years, the price of hay ranges from $200- to $300- per ton. Tonne figures this year's prices per ton could be in the $400 range.

EPA extends decision-making on mining proposal

Sep 18, 2014 -- 12:30pm
- JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will take more time to review comments on a proposal that would restrict large-scale mining near the headwaters of a world-premier salmon fishery. The decision could have implications for the proposed Pebble Mine. A lawsuit seeking to stop EPA from vetoing the project before permits are obtained is pending. EPA received more than 155,000 written comments and expects to receive thousands more before the public comment period ends Friday. EPA also heard from hundreds of people in hearings. Under regulations, EPA's regional administrator is to withdraw the proposal or advance a recommendation to headquarters within 30 days of public hearings ending, but not before the comment period closes. Hearings ended Aug. 15. EPA is extending the timeline for determining its next step to Feb. 4.

UA to undergo sexual violence complaint review

Sep 18, 2014 -- 12:15pm
- JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) - Federal officials will visit four University of Alaska campuses next month to review how the university handles sexual violence complaints. KTOO-radio reports representatives of the U.S. Department of Education's Civil Rights Office will make the visits. The university is one of 79 post-secondary institutions being investigated. Rules on sexual violence complaints fall under Title IX (nine), the federal law that prohibits discrimination based on gender in education programs that receive federal funding. An attorney for the University of Alaska, Michael O'Brien, says the university is not being investigated because it did anything wrong. He says there's no active violation and federal officials are reviewing the university for compliance. O'Brien says the university since 2011 has had 257 complaints of sexual harassment or sexual assault, mostly in Anchorage or Fairbanks.

Most Alaskans to get $1,884 in oil dividends

Sep 17, 2014 -- 11:00am
- ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) - Most Alaskans will receive $1,884 for this year's share of the state's oil wealth that's distributed annually to residents just for living here. Gov. Sean Parnell announced the amount of the Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend Wednesday. The payout set for Oct. 2 is more than double the amount of last year's $900 checks, but short of the record payout of $2,069 in 2008. The amount of each person's check is based on a five-year rolling average of worldwide markets, which included the recession years that were more widely felt outside Alaska. Last year's average included 2009, a recession year that dropped off from the 2014 equation. As always, most dividends will go toward fun stuff like new toys or to more pragmatic expenditures like paying debts. Dividends have been distributed since 1982.
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