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June 25, 2019 / This week from The Signal

Where's the best place in Alaska to fight over PFDs?
Why is it so hard to find polar bears?
And why is Satan in the news?
A boy bicycles through town on Wednesday, April 2, in Bethel, Alaska. The Lower Kuskokwim School District, headquartered in Bethel, has shipping containers full of contaminated materials that have been there for years, waiting to be barged out. (Photo and story by Rashah McChesney/Alaska’s Energy Desk)

But first… hot takes on YA detective fiction

This is unrelated to anything newsy or Alaska-y, but the KTOO newsroom got into a pretty spirited discussion recently over the best fictional junior mystery-solvers. I decided to conduct a non-scientific and easily-discredited Twitter poll, which gave Nancy Drew a slight edge over Encyclopedia Brown. What do you think, Signalites? Who's your favorite wunderkind sleuther? Send your opinions to KTOO's Senior Teen Lit Correspondent at

Governments of all shapes and sizes

State, federal, municipal, galactic — you name it, we cover it. (Except galactic.)
  • Gavel in, travel out: Gov. Mike Dunleavy wants to do the upcoming special session in Wasilla. But legislative leaders threw a wrench in those plans by announcing on Monday that they'd rather hold the session in Juneau, with public meetings to be held in Anchorage. Can they do that? Maybe Andrew Kitchenman of KTOO and Alaska Public Media can help us figure out what happens next.
  • OIG report: A review by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services found that Alaska's health care providers have been failing to properly report "critical incidents" involving developmentally disabled patients. Alaska Public Media's Kirsten Swann got reactions from state and federal officials.
  • Hail who now?: The Kenai Peninsula Borough kicked off last week's meeting with a satanic invocation. Alaska Public Media's Casey Grove was kinda wondering how attendees felt about that, so he asked a local newspaper reporter to describe the scene.
  • "This is who we are": Fishing regulations on the Kuskokwim River are meant to protect fish populations for years to come. But some Alaska Native fishers are frustrated with all the restrictions, saying they curtail an essential cultural activity. KYUK-Bethel's Greg Kim examines the complicated intersection of preservation and regulation.

How's the climate doing lately?

Well, it's changing.
  • Bearly any ice: Arctic sea ice is melting faster than it used to. That's not only tough on polar bears — it's also making it harder for polar bear researchers to research them. Ravenna Koenig of Alaska's Energy Desk asked a scientist about creative new methods.
  • It's taking a village: In Western Alaska, the ground under Alaskans' feet is literally disappearing. In some riverside communities, shore erosion has gotten so bad that entire villages might have to move. Krysti Shallenberger of Alaska's Energy Desk went to one such village to examine the problem up close.

Just one more thing…

The photo at the beginning of this newsletter comes from an important story from Alaska's Energy Desk reporter Rashah McChesney.

Schools in rural Alaska have a problem: Tons of contaminated materials are sitting on school property, and it's a dilemma no one knows how to solve. The hazardous junk has been piling up for years in long rows of shipping containers while authorities search for a solution. Last week, Rashah filed her first in a series of reports on this logistical nightmare that's decades in the making.

Video of the week

Celebration in Juneau is one of the state's biggest Alaska Native gatherings. The summer event is biennial, meaning we'll have to wait till next year for another Celebration. But if you're missing the festivities, this video from the 2018 Celebration's canoe landing is sure to spark good memories. (Video by KTOO's David Purdy and former KTOO digital media editor Tripp J Crouse)

More news around Alaska

The Signal is written by KTOO Digital Media Editor Ryan Cunningham
and edited by KTOO Managing Editor Jennifer Pemberton.

KTOO News is member supported.

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What are you waiting for? For an entertaining inside take on the biggest news in Alaska, try The Signal – just enter your email to get the latest edition delivered every week - it's free, we keep your email safe, and you can easily unsubscribe any time.