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February 11, 2020 / This week from The Signal

Why is the governor upset with Goldman Sachs?
Is yellow cedar better dead or alive?
And who's your fast food valentine?
East High School students, from left to right, Tom Cabanilla, Dragon Lee and Lorry Lee play the video game “League of Legends” online against Petersburg High School. In Alaska’s first sanctioned esports state championship on Jan. 31, Anchorage’s Dimond High School prevailed over Sitka’s Mt. Edgecumbe High School and crosstown rivals East High School in "Rocket League" and "League of Legends" respectively. (Photo and story by Mayowa Aina/Alaska Public Media)

But first… the Taco Bell tolls for thee

Valentine's Day is just a few days away, so now is a good time to start planning your romantic gestures, either for yourself or for others. Personally, I prefer dalliances of the spendthrift variety — which is why I'm so heartbroken for the penny-pinching paramours of Kodiak right now. KMXT-Kodiak's Kavitha George reports that the combo KFC/Taco Bell restaurant has suddenly shut down, leaving Kodiakiaks empty in both heart and stomach. It's a big loss for the community, but it drives home a deeper theme of unrequited fast food loves in Alaska. Is there a chain-restaurant-shaped hole in your Alaska hamlet's heart? Reply with the name of your town and a desired fast food joint, and I'll write a (short) love poem in an attempt to bring them together at last. I'll tweet the poems on my Twitter account: @RyCunn. Happy Valentine's Day!

Four big news stories*

* - Size and quantity of news stories may vary. Void where news is prohibited.
  1. The Signal Traffic Report: Last week, CoastAlaska's Jacob Resneck reported that the main highway that runs through coastal Alaska is now shut down for repairs until March. KHNS-Haines traffic reporter Claire Stremple says the highway closure has caused headaches for commuters trying to get to work, and KTOO's Adelyn Baxter reports that some travelers who were on the highway when it closed had been living on it — until last Friday, when they were asked to leave. This has been your Traffic Report from The Signal.
  2. Funders' remorse: Andrew Kitchenman of KTOO and Alaska Public Media tells us about a nearly-annual tradition of the Alaska Legislature: the supplemental budget bill, which adds an amount of money to the budget for the current year that lawmakers last year didn't yet know they'd need this year. The bill asks for $262.5 million, mostly to pay for wildfire-fighting and Medicaid expenses.
  3. Climate cha-ching: Yellow cedar is really good wood. It grows all along the northern West Coast, and it's resistant to rotting — even after the tree dies. Good thing, because a lot of yellow cedar trees have been dying the past few years. Elizabeth Jenkins of Alaska's Energy Desk says the timber industry is exploring the potential of harvesting those dead trees.
  4. Sachs attack: Wall Street firm Goldman Sachs recently announced it was divesting from Arctic oil drilling. Gov. Mike Dunleavy was taken aback by that, suggesting on a cable news show that the state of Alaska "is going to have to reevaluate" doing business with the firm. Now, Nat Herz of Alaska's Energy Desk found out that Goldman has hired a Juneau-based lobbyist to go to bat for them in Alaska.

Video of the week

First detected in December in Wuhan, China, the novel coronavirus has infected thousands of people in China and has spread to other countries in just a month’s time. But how concerned should you be? Alaska Public Media’s Zakiya McCummings has more information on the virus in this explainer video.

Just one more thing…

KFSK-Petersburg's Angela Denning has a story about how the value of Dungeness crab in Southeast Alaska was through the roof last year. The $3.07-per-pound price in 2019 smashed the previous record, a pathetic $1.25 per pound mustered back in 2002.

That's reason enough to share Angela's story, but in truth I just want everyone to click on this link and find themselves staring straight into the eyes(?) of a Dungeness crab. I assure you, the photo at the top of this story is… conspicuous.

More news around Alaska

State government news Other news

The Signal is written by KTOO digital media editor Ryan Cunningham
and edited by KTOO managing editor Jennifer Pemberton.

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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.