Latest Alaska news, sports, business and entertainment at 3:20 p.m. AKDT

Latest Alaska news, sports, business and entertainment at 3:20 p.m. AKDT
Published: Jul. 7, 2020 at 3:23 AM AKDT
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Judge halts virus relief funding for Alaska Native firms

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — A federal judge has put the brakes on federal coronavirus relief funding for Alaska Native corporations for now. The decision Tuesday stems from lawsuits that several tribes filed against the Treasury Department seeking to keep the corporations from getting a share of $8 billion set aside for tribes. U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta in Washington, D.C., ruled against the tribes late last month. But he says he wrestled with the decision, and it deserves a closer look before a higher court. He granted a request from the tribal plaintiffs to halt funding for the corporations while his decision is appealed. He has given the tribes until July 14 to challenge it.


Figures show Alaska state troopers remain nearly 90% white

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A vast majority of Alaska State Troopers are white, making the primary statewide law enforcement agency substantially less diverse than Alaska’s population. Alaska Public Media reported about 87% of the state’s 355 troopers are white, compared to 65% of Alaska’s population. The figures released by Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy's administration show Alaska Natives and Native Americans have the next largest representation among troopers at 5%, while those groups represent about 20% of the overall population. The agency says it plans to devote extra time to targeting applicants from diverse groups through advertising and recruiting within the nation’s military branches.


Siberia wildfire smoke reaches Southcentral Alaska, islands

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The National Weather Service says smoke from wildfires in Siberia have carried to Southcentral Alaska and the Aleutian Islands. The Anchorage Daily News reported Sunday that strong winds pushed the smoky air into the region from fires burning across more than 5,300 square miles of the northern Russian region. The wildfire smoke also has been reported in western Oregon and Canada. Patrick Doll of the National Weather Service says cloud cover began shifting into Alaska on Sunday, which may cause difficulty in determining whether the air over parts of the state has been touched by the smoke or is simply cloudy.


Anchorage names businesses visited by customers with virus

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The Anchorage Department of Health has released a list of businesses where people who later tested positive for COVID-19 spent extended periods of time. The health department named 19 locations in the Municipality of Anchorage, Palmer and Seward to which the coronavirus patients were traced on specific dates in mid- to late-June. Several of the most popular bars in downtown Anchorage were on the list the city released Friday. Matanuska Brewing’s Eagle River restaurant owner Matt Tomter says the city is unfairly singling out bars and restaurants as officials have not named other types of businesses visited by infected people.


Bald eagle trapped in Alaska tree rescued on 4th of July

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — A wildlife official says a bird symbolizing America’s freedom had to be liberated on Independence Day after becoming stuck in a tree in Alaska. The Juneau Empire reported an adult, female bald eagle was hurt but conscious after being untangled from a spruce tree in Juneau. Kathy Benner of the Juneau Raptor Center says the bird was stuck in the tree in Ernest Gruening State Historical Park after a wire tethered its wing to a tree branch. The bird was taken to the Alaska Raptor Center in Sitka, which was expected to determine whether the eagle suffered a broken bone.


Shareholder fined $1K over comments about Alaska regulator

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Financial regulators have fined a shareholder of an urban Alaska Native company $1,000 over comments made on social media about inaction by the state agency responsible for financial oversight. Goldbelt Inc. shareholder Ray Austin complained to the Alaska Division of Banking & Securities in 2018 that board members were violating regulations by not filing financial disclosures, but he said the agency did nothing. CoastAlaska reported that his post revealed information not known to other shareholders. Austin was fined for not filing disclosures before publicly seeking election campaign support and for getting a date wrong in his post, which regulators classified as “material misrepresentation.”