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New construction plans in Girdwood include an ice rink

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New construction plans in Girdwood include an ice rink


GIRDWOOD, Alaska (KTUU) – New developments could be coming to Girdwood, following a letter of intent that was signed by the YMCA of Alaska and the Alyeska Resort in late May. The two are moving forward with plans to create a recreational center for the ski town along with an ice rink.

“This key development is a part of the Resort’s greater plans for expansion around Alyeska Resort and marks a significant step in addressing the community’s recreational needs,” a press release from the YMCA of Alaska said.

Having a place to do yoga and swim was one of the things that caught Girdwood Alex Cronquist’s attention regarding the plan. She said the town is missing a community center.

“The only actual community centers we have are like the brewery, Cronquist said. “Not everyone drinks. “Not everyone wants to hang out there so it would be cool to have some activities that can be involved with everyone.”

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According to the press release, the YMCA layout is expected to include a fitness center, pool and ice rink. The press release also shared additional plans for creating neighboring workforce housing buildings and a new daycare facility.

The partners did not identify a set date when the project would begin. They’ve been asked about construction plans and cost.



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Alaska

Fishing boat malfunction causes former Alaska state lawmaker to drop out of election • Alaska Beacon

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Fishing boat malfunction causes former Alaska state lawmaker to drop out of election • Alaska Beacon


A broken boat engine is causing former Republican Rep. Bill Thomas to cancel his plans to challenge Democratic Rep. Andi Story for a state House seat representing northern Southeast Alaska, Thomas said.

Thomas, 77, is Story’s lone opponent in this year’s legislative elections but said recent mechanical troubles with his fishing boat have left him no time to campaign while earning a living as a fisherman.

The planned withdrawal was first reported by the Juneau Empire.

“I’m a commercial fisherman first, and my engine’s not running,” Thomas said when reached by phone on Monday. “I can’t afford to go campaign while I’m trying to make a living fishing.”

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Thomas’ financial disclosure form states that he and his spouse, Joyce, are commercial fishers, each earning between $50,000 and $100,000 per year.

Thomas’ withdrawal has not yet been processed by the Alaska Division of Elections, which still lists him as a candidate.

June 29 is the deadline for a candidate to pull their name from the Aug. 20 primary election ballot. After that, a candidate may suspend their campaign, but their name will still appear on the primary ballot.

Nine of the 50 legislative seats up for election this year feature candidates running unopposed. Most are in districts with strong partisan leans, including Democratic-leaning Juneau, where Reps. Sara Hannan and Story are unopposed, as is Sen. Jesse Kiehl.

In Eagle River, Republican Rep. Dan Saddler is unopposed, as are Republican Reps. Delena Johnson of Palmer and Cathy Tilton of Wasilla.

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Fire danger rises in Anchorage, open fires prohibited

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Fire danger rises in Anchorage, open fires prohibited


There has been activity at the old Northway Mall site in Northeast Anchorage, though it’s not confirmed who is moving in.
Less than a year ago, the site at 3103 Penland Parkway was full of trash. Now, a majority of that trash has been cleaned up. Work trucks are parked outside and permits seem to indicate that a new tenant will be moving in imminently.



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OPINION: Fighting for justice for a woman who died in an Alaska prison

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OPINION: Fighting for justice for a woman who died in an Alaska prison


Almost exactly two years ago, a longtime reentry and homeless advocate called to share the story of the life and death of Kitty Douglas. The 20-year-old from the traditionally Iñupiaq village of White Mountain — captured in photographs with a sweet, girlish grin — died at Hiland Mountain Correctional Center in June 2022, days after being booked on charges that never appear to have been filed.

At the end of this past May, when I read the complaint filed in court by the lawyers seeking justice for Kitty’s family, I was overwhelmed. The Department of Corrections, or DOC, would finally be held accountable for its failure to protect a woman forced into their custody. Finally, there would be some semblance of justice for a life lost too young. But in my heart, I know that ultimate justice for Kitty would have been the ability to access the resources she needed to be healthy, well and alive.

Kitty moved to Anchorage as a young adult looking for new opportunities. Here, she became victim to Alaska’s failing social welfare systems, and struggled with mental health and housing security. In the early summer of 2022, she was using the services of the city’s only mass, low-barrier shelter. But the municipality had decided to close the shelter, leaving people to fend for themselves in the woods of Centennial Park. During the eviction, Kitty was arrested for criminal mischief. Case workers tried to intervene — Kitty was young enough to seek other shelter at Covenant House — but police officers ignored their pleas.

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Instead, Kitty was booked at the Anchorage Correctional Complex and transferred to Alaska’s women’s prison in Eagle River. As shared with us from case workers, advocates and her own family, Kitty’s battles with mental health issues were well documented, including her most recent mental health evaluation conducted just days before her death.

But DOC ignored her symptoms and failed to follow its own protocol.

Kitty Douglas was found dead in her cell at 7:18 p.m. on June 11, 2022, less than one week after being incarcerated. She was found by correctional officers an hour after she died by suicide.

We have a lot of questions about what happened during the final weeks and hours of her life.

But we know enough to know her death was preventable … if only.

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If only Anchorage had a stable system for helping those suffering from homelessness, instead of using the poor as political pawns.

If only the police officers who interacted with her used their discretion to allow the case workers who could help her to actually help her.

If only Alaska had adequate mental health resources.

If only DOC wouldn’t have ignored the signs and provided the support Kitty needed.

I’ve learned a lot about Kitty since her death. She was a daughter and friend. She was loved by many.

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She has also been a tragic inspiration to the Alaska Prison Project.

Hers was the first death we investigated. Now, we investigate every death in DOC custody. What we’ve learned has been devastating. Kitty’s story isn’t unique.

Thirty-nine people have died in DOC’s care since the start of 2022 — the majority were under 40, in DOC custody only a short time, and more than half hadn’t been convicted of a crime. The dead are disproportionately Alaska Native.

Last year, 52 homeless people died in Anchorage.

It’s easy to look at people like Kitty and all of the people dying in jail cells, homeless camps or shackled to hospital beds, as people living the fate of their own choices. But people are complicated. “Homeless,” “inmate,” “addict,” “mentally ill” — or whatever society has labeled our most vulnerable, aren’t identities, they are circumstances that can be overcome.

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Kitty was punished for being human, not harmful.

We can’t incarcerate our way out of our problems. We must meet the needs of the people, instead of punishing them for having needs. If we did this, maybe Kitty Douglas would still be alive.

Megan Edge is the ACLU of Alaska Prison Project Director, former journalist and DOC employee, as well as a lifelong Alaskan.

The views expressed here are the writer’s and are not necessarily endorsed by the Anchorage Daily News, which welcomes a broad range of viewpoints. To submit a piece for consideration, email commentary(at)adn.com. Send submissions shorter than 200 words to letters@adn.com or click here to submit via any web browser. Read our full guidelines for letters and commentaries here.





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