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Latest Alaska news, sports, business and entertainment at 11:20 a.m. AKDT

Latest Alaska news, sports, business and entertainment at 11:20 a.m. AKDT
Published: Jul. 11, 2020 at 1:23 AM AKDT
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AP-US-CORONAVIRUS-RELIEF-SPENDING-TRIBES

Tribes struggle to meet deadline to spend virus relief aid

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — Tribes across the country are wrestling with competing needs, restrictive laws and inadequate staffing as they try to meet a tight federal deadline on spending billions of dollars in virus relief funds. Congress set aside $8 billion for tribes that must be spent by the end of the year and meet strict federal guidelines. Otherwise, the tribes risk having to send it back. Officials on the vast Navajo Nation have received $714 million in aid but approved just $60 million for health care, protective equipment and front-line workers against the virus. Rifts between the tribal government's legislative and executive branches have delayed putting more of the money to use.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-ALASKA-LAWSUIT

Alaska judge declines to block virus aid to businesses

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — A state court judge has denied a request by a Juneau man to block distribution of federal coronavirus relief aid under a reinterpretation of program rules by Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s administration. Superior Court Judge Philip Pallenberg ruled Eric Forrer had not shown a “clear probability of success” on the merits in his underlying case. Even if Forrer had, Pallenberg wrote he would not have blocked disbursement of funds, citing the economic fallout of the coronavirus. Forrer took issue with plans by the state to expand the rules for a small business aid program beyond those proposed by the Dunleavy administration and ratified by lawmakers.

UNIVERSITY-INTERIM PRESIDENT

Board of Regents name 5 finalists for interim president

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Five finalists, all with current or former ties to the University of Alaska, have been named finalists for the role of interim president. The university system Board of Regents announced the finalists Friday. They are Michelle Rizk, Dana Thomas, Cathy Sandeen, Dan White and Pat Pitney. Rizk has been acting president since late month month, following the resignation of Jim Johnsen. The university system says the regents plan to interview the candidates and make a final decision Tuesday. The interim president would lead the system while the board conducts a search for a permanent president.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-SCHOOL REOPENING PLAN

Anchorage School District plan begins with limited reopening

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The Anchorage School District has announced a plan to begin holding in-person classes two days per week when schools reopen in the fall. The Anchorage Daily News reported the district announced Thursday that in-person classes are expected to resume a five-day schedule after two and a half weeks of reopening. District officials scheduled Aug. 20 as the first day of classes since schools closed at the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. Deputy superintendent Mark Stock says the shortened schedule calls for students at each school to be separated into two groups attending on opposite days of the week.

RAVNAIR-ASSETS PURCHASED

California firm to buy assets of Alaska's RavnAir for $8M

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Large airplanes and regional service certificates owned by Alaska’s RavnAir Group are expected to be purchased by a Southern California firm for $8 million. Alaska Public Media reported Float Shuttle plans to take over six of the Dash-8 aircraft and two federal operating certificates owned by RavnAir’s services, Corvus and PenAir. The carriers flew passengers from Anchorage to the Aleutian Islands, the Kenai Peninsula and various rural Alaska destinations. The $8 million price is far below the $19 million RavnAir set as a minimum bid at a failed auction for the certificates and nine Dash-8 planes.

CHINA-RESEARCH FRAUD

Justice Dept.: Ohio State researcher shared work with China

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — An Ohio-based medical researcher and professor is facing federal charges in what prosecutors say was a sophisticated scheme to transfer U.S.-backed research to China. Song Guo Zheng, 57, of suburban Hilliard, and his research groups secured more than $4.3 million in grants from the National Institutes of Health for projects while receiving overlapping funding from the National Natural Science Foundation of China, a criminal complaint unsealed Thursday in Columbus alleges. Zheng is on unpaid leave from the division of rheumatology and immunology at OSU’s Wexner Medical Center. He faces two felony counts and is being held without bond.