It’s the end of the year and that means we’re looking back at KTOO’s most popular stories. For 2016, we’re keeping the list to stories KTOO produced with specific ties to Juneau. Some serial stories are lumped into one entry.
In no particular order, here we go:
From car crashes to crime, public safety has been on Juneau’s mind.
A Wrangell-based charter Cessna 206 crashed on Admiralty Island on Friday, April 8, killing three of its four passengers. Sitka Mountain Rescue Capt. Lance Ewers confirmed that pilot David Galla, 60, and passengers Greg Scheff, 61, and Thomas Siekawitch, 57, did not survive.
A preliminary National Transportation Safety Board report said weather was a factor in the crash.
Officer-involved shooting: Juneau Police Sgt. Chris Gifford shot Jeremie Shaun Tinney, 38, after a single-vehicle accident Dec. 3 in the 16500 block of Ocean View Drive. Tinney was unarmed and JPD hasn’t released what provoked the shooting.
‘Spent money like a drunken sailor’: A former Juneau Bone and Joint Center employee was sentenced for stealing more than $514,000 in December. Charges billed to Christena Leamer’s employer included $112,000 for food, liquor, clothing and four dozen flights to the Lower 48, that included a trip to Disneyland.
- Update: JPD identifies woman in fatal courthouse shooting
- Masked man attempts kidnapping at gunpoint in Mendenhall Valley
- Update: After seemingly random downtown violence, residents plead for action
- 2 hunters rescued, 1 mauled near Hoonah
- Juneau woman shot in head, medevaced to Anchorage
- Police recover stolen property from Observatory, other burglaries
What’s in a name?
Jennifer Canfield’s “Meaning of Names” series plugged into a conversation about a cultural shift among Alaska Natives choosing to use their indigenous names.
- The meaning of names: Indigenizing government, part 1
- The meaning of names: A family history, part 2
- The meaning of names: A time for change, part 3
- The meaning of names: The aftermath of generational trauma, part 4
- The meaning of names: The world of social media, part 5
The Alaska Broadcasters Association recognized the series with a Goldie award, one of three KTOO won this year.
An actor, musician and portraitist
Martin Sensmeier, a 32-year-old actor from Yakutat, co-starred in a remake of “The Magnificent Seven.” The film also stars Denzel Washington and Ethan Hawke.
Scott Burton interviewed the young actor in September. He talked about growing up in Yakutat and getting work as an actor and model.
#FirstSevenJobs: Juneau musician Marian Call started a Twitter hashtag in the summer that trended around the world as users jumped on a bandwagon. Today, there are still fresh tweets with the hashtag.
(Marian Call occasionally hosts “Tideline” on KRNN, a KTOO sister station.)
Portraits with ‘Grit’: In January, a Juneau artist unveiled her yearlong project that portrayed 52 of her fellow community members.
MK MacNaughton picked her portrait-of-the-week subjects based on what they do and how hard they work at it.
Here’s a selection from MacNaughton’s series. See the complete set here.
- Respected Chilkat and Ravenstail weaver Clarissa Rizal dies at 60
- Everyone is family at Gerry’s Barbershop
- Alaska’s largest Native organization endorses Clinton for president
- Walker announces he has treatable prostate cancer, will have surgery
Staying abreast of Twitter
Juneau municipal politics gained global attention when an local man with a public Twitter fixation for large-breasted women ran for the Juneau Assembly.
William Quayle Jr. ran for the Juneau Assembly District 1 seat. In September, news broke that Quayle had tweeted over 400 times about women with very large breasts. The women are professional adult models who post revealing photos of their surgically enhanced breasts — sometimes as big as a P cup. I don’t even know how big a P cup is.
Quayle declined an interview, but said in an email, “I do not wish to discuss about my fetishes, I am a heterosexual male and that is that.”
Quayle lost the municipal election on Oct. 4, garnering only 224 votes. Mary Becker won with 3,095 votes, and Arnold Liebelt also lost with 2,753 votes.
- In neck-to-neck race, Gregory ousts incumbent Troll
- Mayoral brochure causes upset with some Juneau Assembly members
- Juneau campaign flier flap blows over
- Former Juneau assembly member files to run for mayor
- Ken Koelsch sworn in as Juneau mayor
Buying pot on Black Friday
The Juneau marijuana retailer Rainforest Farms opened on Black Friday and had to close early because they sold out. It was the first legal marijuana retail sale in Juneau. Facebook photos showed lines to the store running down Second Street and around the block. The business opened at “high noon” and closed at 6 p.m.
- Juneau Assembly approves new pot licensing rules
- Commercial pot grows on North Douglas still a go
- Juneau Assembly bans use of butane, propane for refining pot for personal use
- Murkowski to feds: Let marijuana users buy guns
- Skagway marijuana shop is first to get state license to open
- North Douglas retirees seek backyard grow house, spur dueling pot petitions
Housing and the economy
On Nov. 28, Juneau Assembly members voted 5-4 to ignore step one of an affordable housing plan. False assertions and verbal attacks on city staff peppered the debate. The assembly adopted the 68-page housing plan Dec. 19, but excluded it from the city’s comprehensive plan.
$18 gallon of milk!?: A lack of ferry service in February left some Southeast villages depending more on subsistence and the only grocery store in town, where a gallon of milk would go for $18.
Angoon Trading Co. store owners Shayne and Sue Thompson said perishable items were the hardest to keep in stock while the LeConte was offline for about five weeks.
During the hiatus, they flew to Juneau to get fresh food. It costs $1.10 a pound to bring things over on Alaska Seaplanes.
“A gallon of milk weighing 8 pounds coming from Seattle? Normally, we’ve got it cut down as much as we can, but if we have to fly that over a dollar a pound? It’d be close to $15 to $18 depending, and that’s ridiculous for milk!” Sue Thompson said.
Big box store closes: Wal-Mart announced in January it would shutter its Juneau store, along with 154 other stores across the country. The chain owned 13 stores in Alaska but the Juneau location was the only one that was slated to close. The Juneau store employed about 180 full- and part-time workers.
PFD checks cut in half: Gov. Bill Walker cut Alaska’s Permanent Fund Dividend checks significantly to fight the state’s budget deficit. Months later at the Alaska Federation Natives Convention, Walker called the decision “painful.” The governor’s veto was the subject of a lawsuit by Sen. Bill Wielechowski, who sought to reverse the decision. Anchorage Superior Court Judge William Morse upheld Walker’s veto, saying there was no record that lawmakers wanted to eliminate gubernatorial power to veto parts of the budget. Now the matter is up to the Alaska Supreme Court.
- Juneau’s Housing First project takes shape
- Labor officials plan job fair for Juneau Wal-Mart employees
- Wal-Mart wouldn’t allow job fair information in store
- Walker seeks Permanent Fund earnings for budget, but leaves gap
- Alaskans weigh in on this year’s smaller dividend check
- Pew report sees Alaska ahead of other states in its ‘sovereign wealth fund’
- State seeks to stop people from wrongfully claiming PFDs
- Municipal sales tax could dive due to Walker’s PFD veto
Animals in the news
Oh deer: A group of tourists on an 18-passenger tour vessel saw two deer swimming in August across the water on the west side of Shelter Island. By the time they reached the site, only one was there, struggling. Audrey Benson, a naturalist with Gastineau Guiding Co., and the passengers and crew lassoed the animal and pulled it into the boat. They delivered the deer to Shelter Island.
The other deer was presumed drowned.
PETA recognized the whale-watching company’s efforts with a Compassionate Business Award.
‘Spirit of Alaska’: Sculptor R.T. “Skip” Wallen’s baby was delivered to Juneau in the form of a 6-ton, 25-foot-tall whale statue. The life-size bronze sculpture arrived in August at the Auke Bay ferry terminal. Wallen and about 20 people welcomed it home.
‘A bad location choice’: A Juneau man tried to euthanize his cat in the parking lot of Gastineau Humane Society, and prosecutors said they weren’t likely to charge him.
The cat, a 10-year-old female domestic short hair calico, was terminally ill. The owner brought the cat to the animal shelter to be euthanized, but the facility didn’t have a veterinarian on staff to perform the service.
Lt. David Campbell of the Juneau Police Department said the owner had just come from a veterinary clinic and couldn’t afford the $600 euthanasia.
Campbell said the man put the cat on the tailgate of his truck and used a metal snow broom handle and his weight to break its neck.
- Necropsy planned for dead whale found in Glacier Bay
- Unusually big pink salmon may be related to smaller coho and kings
- Warm water Blob could impact Alaska’s $1 billion pollock fishery
- Squirmy sustainability: One man’s mission to fix a common problem
- Juneau man cited after killing and dragging black bear
- How the suburbs killed a salmon creek and science informs its restoration
- NOAA works to free entangled whale
Our Facebook Live coverage of Celebration in June tops the charts in regards to reach and engagement. Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian dance groups converged on Juneau to kick off Celebration 2016.
Blood lines: A study released in October by the Sealaska Heritage Institute tackled how the regulatory definition of blood quantum applies to marine mammal hunters.
Blood quantum is calculated by the federal government, using ancestors with Indian blood who were enrolled in federally recognized Indian tribes or whose names appeared on the rolls of federally recognized tribes.
Certain blood quanta extend certain rights to some Alaskan Natives. For some with less, their ability to continue cultural practices, such as hunting marine mammals, is in jeopardy.
Honoring our teachers: In January, Lily Hope was weaving her first Chilkat blanket. She’s part of a four generation lineage of weaving students and teachers.
Her work is part of the Portland Art Museum’s traveling exhibit called The Art of Resilience: The Continuum of Tlingit Art.
“How lucky am I to sit here in front of this piece, in front of this ancient art form and have my hands in this warp and be like, wow!” Hope said. “It’s a little overwhelming and kind of leaks into the rest of life to have gratitude to be able to do this, but gratitude to go home and see my kids.”
- Terrifying visages: Native armor inspired fear in foes
- Modern ‘warriors’ protect language, water, subsistence, families
- Central Council seeks revenue to expand programs
- Tribal council takes over foster care for region’s Native children
- Juneau Arts and Humanities Council passes diversity resolution
How’s the weather?
Juneau saw measurable snowfall before Fairbanks this year, according to the National Weather Service — a first since about 1940.
In fact, NWS said Juneau was one of the first communities in the state to see measurable snowfall this year.
A chilly winter: Some Alaskans were counting on a state heating assistance program to help pay their heating bills this winter. But that program went away.
So like many Alaskans, Diane Buck of Juneau was facing an estimated $600 a month to heat her home.
“It scares me. I really don’t like messing with it. That’s how afraid I am right now,” Buck said of her thermostat. “Because if it gets any higher than $600 a month, I’m screwed. I’m going to get a disconnect notice because I can’t pay it.”
- Juneau family leaves Orlando on last flight out ahead of Hurricane Matthew
- Another jökulhlaup is underway
- As wildfires blaze, Southeast glaciers could be feeling the melt
- Report: 2016 was Arctic’s warmest year on record, effects are cascading down into ecosystem
- UAS Scientists ask: Where does the soot come from that peppers Juneau Icefield?
- As tiny homes take root, where do you park them in Alaska?
- Plugging in could be cheaper for Juneau’s electric vehicle owners in 2017
An unattended car in Gold Creek drew Juneau police on Dec. 14. Someone discovered the white 1994 Chevy SUV resting on its passenger side in a channelized portion of the creek near Cope Park. Ownership was pending transfer. Footsteps were seen in the snow leading away from the car.
The road: Gov. Bill Walker faced a major decision on one of Alaska’s oldest and controversial megaproject ideas: Whether to extend Juneau’s main road north.
Walker had already shut down two megaprojects this year, the Knik Arm bridge and the Susitna-Watana dam.
Citing the state’s multibillion dollar financial crisis, Walker announced in December that the state no longer would back construction of Juneau Access Improvements Project.
- Overturned truck blocks Egan with load of fish
- Eight tons of chum salmon destroyed after truck spill
- 4-vehicle accident backs up Egan Drive, five people injured
Tripp Crouse is the digital media editor for KTOO. Tripp covers crime, courts and general assignment topics for KTOO. Follow @trippcrouse
- Trump nominated Bryan Schroder for the post, the acting head of the Alaska district since Karen Loeffler and 45 other U.S. attorneys appointed by former President Barack Obama were asked to resign after Trump's election.
- A Senate spokesman says the third special session is likely to start Thursday, July 27, in Juneau, and it's expected to last one or two days. The House and Senate indicated an agreement had been reached.
- The BBC and PBS are teaming up on a special series of live, prime-time nature programs showcasing Alaska’s wildlife to tens of millions people around the world. Cutting edge technology and a lot of luck goes into the high stakes production.
- The three-member Juneau Assembly mining task force is seeking to add two planning commissioners and two members of the public. The group is studying a proposal to streamline the city's mining review process.