Latest Alaska news, sports, business and entertainment at 5:20 p.m. AKDT


Board of Regents name Pitney interim president for UA

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — The University of Alaska Board of Regents has named Pat Pitney interim president. It’s a position the university system says she is expected to hold at least a year while a search for a permanent president is underway. Pitney is expected to take over Aug. 1. The search was prompted by the recent resignation of system President Jim Johnsen. Pitney is director of the Legislative Finance Division, which provides budget and revenue analyses for the Legislature. She also has a long history with the university system, including work as a vice chancellor at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.


City votes to raze site where first Alaska flag was sewn

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A neglected site where the Alaska territorial flag was designed, sewn and first flown will be demolished despite last-minute efforts by Alaskans and a preservation group to save it. The territorial flag went on to represent Alaska with statehood in 1959. The Seward City Council voted Monday to raze the Jesse Lee Home, once a Methodist-run facility where orphans and other displaced children from Alaska Native villages were sent. One was Benny Benson, who won a territory-wide contest in 1927 to design the flag. The plan is to build a memorial at the site with community input.


Colorado company agrees to $7M cleanup of former Alaska mine

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — A Colorado company has agreed to a $7 million cleanup plan for Alaska’s only uranium mine, which has left radioactive waste in the Tongass National Forest. CoastAlaska reported Newmont Corporation is expected to fill the former Ross-Adams Mine in the Prince of Wales Island area. A plan has been in the works for decades to close and clean the open pit mine on Bokan Mountain. The remote area is used by residents for fishing halibut and other activities. Most of the radioactive debris will be buried and covered with a heavy plastic covering to seal the site.


Protesters: Caribou heart meant to send message to senator

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — The man who owned a caribou heart that protesters said they wanted to give U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan said Sullivan reminded him of the Tin Man from “The Wizard of Oz,” and he wanted to give him a heart. Samuel Johns says his intended message was tied to Sullivan’s support for opening part of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for drilling. The refuge provides grounds for a caribou herd significant to the Indigenous Gwich’in. Sullivan’s campaign manager says the campaign is proud of Sullivan’s record and says the actions taken by protesters at Saturday’s event were dangerous and unsafe. Police were reviewing the incident.


Future of Alaska SeaLife Center in jeopardy due to virus

SEWARD, Alaska (AP) — The Alaska SeaLife Center is in jeopardy of closing after concerns surrounding the coronavirus pandemic have drastically reduced visitation rates. KTUU-TV reported Monday that a decision will be made on Oct. 1 regarding the future of the aquarium. As revenue from visits has whittled, the center has seen the costs of caring for its more than 4,000 animals stay stagnant. The CEO of the Alaska Sealife Center in Seward, Tara Reimer, said over half of the aquarium’s revenue derives from visitors. The SeaLife Center is the second-largest employer in the 39th largest city in the state.


Coronavirus hurting Alaska attempt to reduce tuberculosis

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Alaska health officials say the state is on track to repeat last year’s mark of the nation’s highest rate of tuberculosis infections. The Anchorage Daily News reported there have been 38 reported cases of tuberculosis in the state so far this year. A federal report released in March says Alaska had 58 documented cases of the disease in 2019. State and local health officials say COVID-19 has complicated the mission of eradicating tuberculosis in Alaska by reducing the public health resources that can be dedicated to fighting the illness caused by bacteria that attack the lungs.

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