Naomi Klouda

First Western Alaska marijuana licenses to be taken up in Nome

Though illegal marijuana sales continue to show up as arrests in the police blotters of rural Alaska, not many applicants have stepped up with requests to open legal dispensaries in those towns.

Two Nome businessmen want to change that on Norton Sound. Robin Thomas’ application to the Marijuana Control Board to open Gudlief and James Fejes’ application for Tundra Fire LLC are up for review before the board at its meeting in Nome Sept. 14-15.

Alaska latest state to access FirstNet for first responders

A deal worked out by AT&T and the State of Alaska will supply a new private network for the state’s emergency responders that work in times of natural disaster when many first responders are jammed into the same networks as everyone else.

Gov. Bill Walker gave the go-ahead Aug. 30 for the State of Alaska to opt in to FirstNet by AT&T, a system that prioritizes public safety in emergency cases over regular commercial cell phone users.

Rogoff attorney files proposal for auction sale of Alaska Dispatch News

Alaska Dispatch News owner Alice Rogoff’s attorney is proposing to hold an auction for the sale of the newspaper at an upcoming bankruptcy hearing Sept. 11, and spelled out a path forward for employees at the deal’s conclusion.

Latest assessments show poor results for state students

Results from spring 2017 testing throughout Alaska school districts showed more than half of all students from grades three to 10 aren’t up to proficient levels in math, English and science.

School districts’ scores throughout the state indicate even the largest schools lag behind while some smaller ones excel.

About 70,600 students took part in the English language arts and math tests. Of those, 25,300 took the science assessment, which covered three grade levels.

Trustee recommends Chapter 7 liquidation after Dispatch sale

A new filing in the Alaska Dispatch News bankruptcy case is an Aug. 30 request to liquidate Alice Rogoff’s corporate holdings after the purchase agreement moves forward to save the ailing newspaper from the financial brink.

Murkowski: Health care debate to return, tax reform on tap

The “right fight” starts next week in Congress when the Senate will take up health care again in hopes of reworking the system to bring down its enormous costs, Sen. Lisa Murkowski told an Anchorage Rotary group Aug. 29.

Murkowski spent much of the August break back in Alaska tour-guiding cabinet members and senators. The most recent visitor was Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price, who followed a visit by Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao.

UAA professor gets $75,000 investment for startup

An incontrovertible fact of Alaska life means black ice can spin cars out of control and winter snow dumps take up precious asphalt space meant for cars.

At least, that’s the accepted normal.

A new invention market-tested by University of Alaska Anchorage professor Joey Yang shows promise for help. Called Tundra Tape, it’s a technology buried in concrete that melts ice before it has a chance to form on sidewalks, parking lot pads and highway corners known as the most egregious culprits of black ice.

State release draft plan for Every Student Succeeds Act

The chance to comment on enacting provisions of the new Every Student Succeeds Act ends at a Sept. 15 deadline, a month after the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development put its draft plan out for review.

The state Education Department will also make a major announcement Sept. 1 on statewide assessment results from the spring 2017 exam.

Young hosts Western Caucus on Alaska trip

Rep. Don Young brought four U.S. representatives and their staffs on an Alaska tour Aug. 15-20 to show them firsthand Alaska’s economy at work on the North Slope, the Fort Knox Mine near Fairbanks and elsewhere.

When the visitors sat down to hear from industry leaders on Aug. 17, Reps. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., Daniel Newhouse, R-Wash., Aumua Amata, R-American Samoa, and Bruce Westerman, R-Ark., heard consistently of regulatory changes wanted most:

Bankruptcy court approves $1 million loan to keep ADN going

Alaska Dispatch News will be able to pay its most immediate bills — health insurance and employee paychecks — after a federal bankruptcy judge gave approval for a $1 million debtor’s loan to owner Alice Rogoff at an Aug. 21 hearing.

Other bills among the $2.5 million owed to unsecured creditors will have to wait until later in the process, said Judge Gary Spraker as he ruled in favor of three motions filed by Rogoff’s attorney. His rulings allow Rogoff to take the $1 million and spread it out over the next several weeks paying debts that include past-due rent payments.

Northrim sells insurance subsidiary for $4.6M

Northrim BanCorp Inc. has sold its Northrim Benefits Group to Michigan-based Acrisure and the new company will be rebranded as RISQ Consulting.

In a deal announced Aug. 14, Northrim BanCorp sold most all of the assets associated with Northrim Benefits for $4.6 million and the new company will combine services and workforces with Acrisure subsidiary Insurance Brokers of Alaska to form RISQ Consulting.

No resolution in ADN bankruptcy as Northrim seeks more time

A Friday bankruptcy hearing for the Alaska Dispatch News was continued until Aug. 21 after attorneys for Northrim Bank sought more time to strike a new loan agreement with owner Alice Rogoff.

At issue is the $10 million balance on a $13 million loan Rogoff took out in 2015 with Northrim Bank to buy the Anchorage Daily News.

Before the U.S. Bankruptcy Court Alaska Division can proceed forward to authorize Rogoff’s proposal to save the Dispatch from the brink of closure, the largest creditor needs assurances through new collateral.

ADN bankruptcy hearing to continue Friday

The newspaper carriers who deliver the Alaska Dispatch News will be paid $80,000 due Friday morning, Aug. 18, after a bankruptcy judge allowed Northrim Bank to “carve out” that amount from owner Alice Rogoff’s account.

The allowance meant survival of the newspaper at least for a day after its financial director Erin Austin was able to convince the judge the daily newspaper wouldn’t be delivered without this payment.

Payment for ads and subscriptions — the ability for the newspaper to remain in business — hinge on getting out the paper each day, Austin said.

US Trustee objects to proposed loan to Alaska Dispatch News

A new monkey wrench was tossed into plans for the Alaska Dispatch News to keep operating through a loan and purchase agreement with the potential buyers.

U.S. Trustee Gail Geiger responding to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Alaska, outlined objections to the proposed $1 million deal in a trustee’s Aug. 16 response to ADN owner Alice Rogoff’s debtor motion.

ADN owner seeks quick court approval to pay carriers, insurance

Alaska Dispatch News owner Alice Rogoff filed motions in U.S. Alaska Bankruptcy Court Aug. 15 seeking an expedited hearing to keep the operation functioning and to restore her employees’ health insurance benefits.

The motion for a quick hearing was granted and set for Aug. 17.

Teacher shortages loom even after layoffs rescinded

While the Alaska Legislature tarried on budget talks for fiscal year 2018, nearly 700 teachers statewide were handed pink slips as required by state law in the weeks before the school year ended.

The Legislature eventually settled budget questions six weeks after school was let out by reversing a proposed 5 percent cut, or $69 million. The statewide education budget was restored to the same amount as the prior year, or $1.3 billion to be shared among all 53 school districts. That allowed the layoff notices to be rescinded.

GCI moves to evict Alaska Dispatch News

GCI filed an eviction notice against Alaska Dispatch News owner Alice Rogoff on Aug. 11 alleging non-payment of rent for July and August and running up unpaid utility bills since February that together total nearly $1.4 million

Bradley hydro expansion moves forward with AEA approval

The Alaska Energy Authority board of directors unanimously approved a $46.4 million expansion of the Bradley Lake hydroelectric plant at its Aug. 10 meeting in Anchorage.

Bradley hydro expansion moves forward with AEA approval

The Alaska Energy Authority board of directors unanimously approved a $46.4 million expansion of the Bradley Lake hydroelectric plant at its Aug. 10 meeting in Anchorage.

Competitors, rural customers raise price complaints over GCI sale

Old grievances between Alaska’s telecoms have resurfaced with allegations that GCI holds a monopoly over the state’s broadband internet services, and after benefiting from the public pot with $50 million to help build the system, it is now charging rural Alaska schools, hospitals and other companies uncompetitive prices to access the network.

Fellow Anchorage-based telecoms Alaska Communications and Quintillion filed formal objections with the Federal Communications Commission to recommend the agency deny the sale of GCI to Colorado-based Liberty Interactive for $1.12 billion.

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