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Posts from the 'Local News' category

Troopers: Man still alive after Saturday double-shooting appears to have turned gun on himself

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Troopers say that the man who called 911 after a shooting in the Montana Creek area in the early hours of Saturday is the unidentified man currently in an Anchorage hospital, and that his gunshot would appears to be self-inflicted.

Beth Ipsen, spokeswoman for the Alaska State Troopers, says the initial investigation of the incident shows that the surviving man made the 911 call at 12:51 am.  Earlier statements from Ipsen say that the call consisted of a man telling the dispatcher that he had just killed someone.  Troopers used data from the caller’s cellular carrier to locate the scene of the shooting hours later.  At the scene, they discovered two men with gunshot wounds.   One of the two men, now identified as 33-year-old Andre Lafrance of Wasilla, was declared dead at the scene.  The other was flown to an Anchorage hospital in critical condition.

According to state court records, Lafrance last appeared in criminal court in early 2013, where he plead guilty to two theft charges.  Prior to that, a charge of attempted murder was dismissed by the prosecution in 2011.  In that case, Lafrance plead guilty to harassment and fourth-degree assault.

Beth Ipsen says the circumstances that lead to the shooting in Montana Creek are unknown and still being investigated.  No charges have been filed against the unidentified survivor as of Tuesday afternoon.

One Man Identified in Talkeetna Area Shooting

Sunday, April 19, 2015

The Alaska State Troopers have released the identity of one of the men involved in a shooting in the early hours of Saturday in the Montana Creek area.

On Saturday, the Alaska State Troopers reported that a shooting in Talkeetna has left one man dead and another in critical condition.

According to the Alaska State Trooper spokeswoman Beth Ipsen, an unidentified man called 911 and told the operator that he had killed someone just before 1:00 am on Saturday.

Troopers used information from the caller’s cellular provider to locate the scene of the incident several hours later.  According to the report, two men were at the scene and had suffered apparent gunshot wounds.  One of the men, who Troopers have now identified as 33-year-old Andre Lafrance of Wasilla, was pronounced dead at the scene, and the other was flown to Anchorage, where is listed in critical condition. Beth Ipsen says there is not currently any indication that anyone other than the two men found at the scene was involved in the incident.

Troopers are attempting to contact next of kin of the hospitalized man.  The Alaska Bureau of Investigation is handling the case.

This is an ongoing story, and KTNA will provide updates as they become available.

Updated: Talkeetna Shooting Leaves One Man Dead, One Critically Injured

Saturday, April 18, 2015

The Alaska State Troopers report that a shooting in Talkeetna has left one man dead and another in critical condition.

According to the Alaska State Trooper spokeswoman Beth Ipsen, an unidentified man called 911 and told the operator that he had killed someone just before 1:00 am on Saturday.

Troopers used information from the caller’s cellular provider to locate the scene of the incident several hours later.  According to the report, two men were at the scene and had suffered apparent gunshot wounds.  One of the men was pronounced dead at the scene, and the other was flown to Anchorage, where is listed in critical condition. Beth Ipsen says there is not currently any indication that anyone other than the two men found at the scene was involved in the incident.

Troopers are attempting to contact next of kin forth both subjects, and no information on the identity of either man has been released.  The Alaska Bureau of Investigation is handling the case.

This is an ongoing story, and KTNA will provide updates as they become available.

House Finance Puts $45 Million in Federal Funds Back into Knik Arm Bridge

Friday, April 17, 2015

In its version of the state capital budget, the Alaska House Finance Committee has added $45 million of federal funds for the Knik Arm Bridge.

If built, the bridge would span from Big Lake to Government Hill in Anchorage.  The project is supported by the Mat-Su Borough Assembly, but critics question its economic viability.  The bridge was initially under the Knik Arm Bridge and Toll Authority, but that agency was shuttered last legislative session, and the state Department of Transportation now controls it.

The funds moved to the Knik Arm Bridge’s line item by House Finance come from federal highway money that the state receives each year and not from the state’s general fund.

Before the session, Governor Bill Walker issued an administrative order halting spending on six mega projects, including the Knik Arm Bridge.

Talkeetna Recycling Cmte. Looks to “Raise the Bar” on Fundraising

Friday, April 17, 2015

Efforts to establish a recycling program in Talkeetna continue to make significant financial progress, which is prompting organizers to consider expanding expectations for the program.

The plan for the recycling program is to have one or more three-compartment containers in Talkeetna, which the Mat-Su Borough would be responsible for hauling to Valley Community Recycling Solutions.  The Mat-Su Solid Waste Division is backing the program as a cost-saving tool, since recycling could slow the rate at which new landfill cells must be opened.  The Borough Assembly will vote on spending more than $2 million to close a landfill cell at next week’s meeting.

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Transmission Line Problem Causes Outage

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Shortly after 6:00 pm on Thursday, about 7,000 Matanuska Electric Association customers from Houston north lost power.  At the same time, areas of Fairbanks and North Pole also lost power.

MEA’s Director of Public Relations, Julie Estey says the outage is due to an issue with the Alaska intertie, the transmission line that runs from Anchorage to Fairbanks. She says that MEA and Municipal Light and Power are both checking the line.

There are unconfirmed reports of a lightning strike near the line in the Houston area. Estey says that it might be possible to re-energize the line if there is no damage. If there is damage, then it may be possible to back-feed from generators that are currently spinning up in Fairbanks.

Mat-Su School Budget Foresees Structural Deficit

Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Mat-Su Borough School District has adopted a preliminary budget for the fiscal year beginning in July, but it could see significant changes.

In total, the school district’s budget is more than $235 million.  The current proposal asks the Mat-Su Borough Assembly for about $53 million of those dollars, which is an increase of about $1.4 million from last year.  The rest of the funding for Mat-Su schools comes from the State of Alaska.  In the budget proposal, district officials note the fact that the school budget is required to be submitted by the beginning of April, weeks before the legislative session ends.  This year, the district used numbers from Governor Bill Walker’s state budget proposal to craft its own budget.  Since then, additional cuts have been made to the education budget by the state senate in Juneau.

In this year’s budget documents, Mat-Su School District officials claim that, using current funding assumptions and extending them forward, the district will enter a period of structural deficit.  Current projections show an annual shortfall of between eight and ten million dollars each year from 2017 through 2019.  Those figures assume an annual three percent funding increase from the borough and no further increases or decreases by the state.

The Borough Assembly and School Board met jointly earlier this week to discuss the school budget.

Borough Names New Emergency Services Director

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

On Wednesday,  Bill Gamble was chosen as the new Emergency Services Director for the Mat-Su Borough.  Gamble has served as the interim director since since the resignation of his predecessor, Dennis Brodigan, on April 1st.  Gamble served as the Chief of the West Lakes Fire Department since 2003, and first worked as a responder in the borough in 1990.  He oversaw the merging of West Lakes and Big Lake Fire Departments, and was Big Lake Fire Chief during the Miller’s Reach fire in 1996.

In a statement, Borough Manager John Moosey says he believes Gamble will “bring a new level of leadership.”

As Bill Gamble takes over Emergency Services, he inherits an environment where three of his chief deputies have either been terminated or resigned amidst an internal investigation.  Gamble’s title will change from Acting Director to Emergency Services Director on April 20th.

NPS Staff Prepare for 2015 Climbing Season

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Last year, climbers attempting Denali had one of the lowest success rates in recent history.  Soon, hundreds more climbers will come to Talkeetna on their way to try to conquer North America’s highest mountain.  More than 700 mountaineers are already signed up for the 2015 climbing season, and that number will continue to grow.  Denali National Park spokeswoman Maureen Gualtieri says that guided groups are not subject to the sixty day advance registration that most climbers are, so hundreds more are likely to register and attempt the climb.  Guiltier says she would not be surprised if the numbers are around last year’s mark of 1,200, but she does not think they will be significantly higher at this time.

Spring also means training for the mountaineering ranger staff.  Maureen Gualtieri says that rangers have completed rope, avalanche, and medical training, and that aviation training is currently underway.  As climbing season approaches, the National Park Service will receive logistical support from the military to set up the various camps on Denali.

In May, the KTNA news department will begin producing Denali Reports for the 2015 climbing season.