Mark Sabbatini

Gov. Mike Dunleavy explains his plan for Alaska to cash in on carbon credits during the unveiling of his proposed state budget for next year Dec. 15 at the Alaska State Capitol. He outlined legislation to enter carbon markets during a press conference Thursday in Anchorage. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire).

Governor previews carbon market bills

Dunleavy outlines legislation for plan he hopes will earn $900 million a year.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy explains his plan for Alaska to cash in on carbon credits during the unveiling of his proposed state budget for next year Dec. 15 at the Alaska State Capitol. He outlined legislation to enter carbon markets during a press conference Thursday in Anchorage. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire).
Geraldine Young / Alaska DOTPF 
The Columbia docks at the terminal in Haines while in service previously. The Alaska Marine Highway vessel, which was taken out of service as a cost-cutting measure in 2019, is scheduled to resume voyages between Bellingham and Southeast Alaska in February while the Matanuska undergoes renovations.

Columbia to resume mainline ferry service next month

Vessel grounded in 2019 to save costs now needed due to extra repairs planned for Matanuska

Geraldine Young / Alaska DOTPF 
The Columbia docks at the terminal in Haines while in service previously. The Alaska Marine Highway vessel, which was taken out of service as a cost-cutting measure in 2019, is scheduled to resume voyages between Bellingham and Southeast Alaska in February while the Matanuska undergoes renovations.
Lisa Phu holds her daughter, Acacia, near a waterfall on a trail just south of Thane in October of 2016.(Courtesy of Lisa Phu)

The story of a lifetime

Longtime reporter Lisa Phu finally unveils family’s escape from genocide in Cambodia in podcast.

Lisa Phu holds her daughter, Acacia, near a waterfall on a trail just south of Thane in October of 2016.(Courtesy of Lisa Phu)
Shawnda O’Brien, the just-departed state Director of the Division of Public Assistance, talks Dec. 27 about the problems that are resulting in months-long backlogs in processing applications for benefits commonly referred to as food stamps. Her departure as director was announced Monday following weeks of widespread media coverage about the backlog that is expected to take additional months to resolve. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Head of state’s troubled food stamps program replaced

Director of the Division of Public Assistance departs in wake of months-long backlog.

Shawnda O’Brien, the just-departed state Director of the Division of Public Assistance, talks Dec. 27 about the problems that are resulting in months-long backlogs in processing applications for benefits commonly referred to as food stamps. Her departure as director was announced Monday following weeks of widespread media coverage about the backlog that is expected to take additional months to resolve. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Lawmakers, staff and other workers inside the The Alaska State Capitol are preparing this week for the upcoming session of the Alaska State Legislature that starts Jan. 17, including the release of the first round of prefile bills published Monday by the Legislative Affairs Agency. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)

Election changes dominate first round of legislative bills

Ranked choice voting, security are hot topics; state pensions, ‘capital move’ among repeat proposals.

Lawmakers, staff and other workers inside the The Alaska State Capitol are preparing this week for the upcoming session of the Alaska State Legislature that starts Jan. 17, including the release of the first round of prefile bills published Monday by the Legislative Affairs Agency. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)
Juneau residents register for COVID-19 vaccinations at Centennial Hall in April of 2021. Bartlett Regional Hospital and other city-owned institutions provided virus tests and vaccinations in a multitude of locations during the pandemic, as well as providing at-home tests and coordinating with other entities such as the Alaska Native-owned SEARHC. (Bartlett Regional Hospital)

Study: Juneau’s COVID-19 response a role model for success

Control of hospital and airport, public communication, coordination with tribes cited as key assets

Juneau residents register for COVID-19 vaccinations at Centennial Hall in April of 2021. Bartlett Regional Hospital and other city-owned institutions provided virus tests and vaccinations in a multitude of locations during the pandemic, as well as providing at-home tests and coordinating with other entities such as the Alaska Native-owned SEARHC. (Bartlett Regional Hospital)
Skiers cross the frozen lake in front of the Mendenhall Glacier in December. A proposed expansion of the Mendenhall Glacier Recreational Area by the U.S. Forest Service envisions motorized tour boat access in most alternatives, but the three newest ones based on previous public feedback limit vessels to low-impact electronic access or none. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)

New study released for Mendenhall Glacier area development, old concerns raised

Report features 3 alternatives based on earlier public input; 2 public meetings set for this month.

Skiers cross the frozen lake in front of the Mendenhall Glacier in December. A proposed expansion of the Mendenhall Glacier Recreational Area by the U.S. Forest Service envisions motorized tour boat access in most alternatives, but the three newest ones based on previous public feedback limit vessels to low-impact electronic access or none. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)
A cycle rickshaw passes the North State Office Building parking garage located on Willoughby Avenue in downtown Juneau in September. A $30 million request to pay for upgrades to the parking garage tied for first on a list of requests for state legislative funding as ranked by Juneau Assembly members. Assembly Member Alicia Hughes-Skandijs said expanding parking there can free up other downtown space for housing and other development, which is a top overall goal of city leaders. The parking upgrade is officially ranked second on the list since a request to further development of the Pederson Hill Subdivision had a higher ranking on last year’s priority list. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)

City, school district draft legislative priorties

Assembly members rank housing projects high, while school board opts for new tactic of broader goals

A cycle rickshaw passes the North State Office Building parking garage located on Willoughby Avenue in downtown Juneau in September. A $30 million request to pay for upgrades to the parking garage tied for first on a list of requests for state legislative funding as ranked by Juneau Assembly members. Assembly Member Alicia Hughes-Skandijs said expanding parking there can free up other downtown space for housing and other development, which is a top overall goal of city leaders. The parking upgrade is officially ranked second on the list since a request to further development of the Pederson Hill Subdivision had a higher ranking on last year’s priority list. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)
Cruise passengers walk near the docks in Juneau during the 2022 cruise ship season. Tourism-related industries and transportation had the highest rates of growth in Southeast Alaska last year as the region added 2,400 jobs instead of the 1,400 forecast in 2022, according to this month’s Alaska Economic Trends report. Seafood processing jobs saw the largest decline at 20%. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)

Southeast employment up 6.5% in ’22, 2.5% more expected in ’23

Record cruise season, construction growth will help post-pandemic recovery continue, state reports.

Cruise passengers walk near the docks in Juneau during the 2022 cruise ship season. Tourism-related industries and transportation had the highest rates of growth in Southeast Alaska last year as the region added 2,400 jobs instead of the 1,400 forecast in 2022, according to this month’s Alaska Economic Trends report. Seafood processing jobs saw the largest decline at 20%. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)
The Southeast Alaska Conservation Council’s office in Juneau is where the executive director is facing a challenge from several non-management employees who voted in December to unionize and are petitioning the National Labor Relations Board for recognition of that vote by the non-profit conservation organization . (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

SEACC entangled in union dispute

Non-management employees petition NLRB after vote to unionize not recognized by management

The Southeast Alaska Conservation Council’s office in Juneau is where the executive director is facing a challenge from several non-management employees who voted in December to unionize and are petitioning the National Labor Relations Board for recognition of that vote by the non-profit conservation organization . (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
While a lot about the year-to-come is sure to be a surprise some things, including housing, an impending legislative session and budget-making at all levels of government, among many others are certain to impact Juneau and its residents.  (Moritz Knöringer / Unsplash)

Stories likely to break big in 2023

New housing, federally-funded projects, school leadership changes among items affecting Juneau

While a lot about the year-to-come is sure to be a surprise some things, including housing, an impending legislative session and budget-making at all levels of government, among many others are certain to impact Juneau and its residents.  (Moritz Knöringer / Unsplash)
Juneau’s biggest news stories of 2022 ranged from historic victories (and Celebrations) to severe struggles due to shortages of workers and housing. Virtually all were connected by overlapping factors to other top stories. (Juneau Empire staff)

The stories that shaped our 2022

Unprecedented elections, record rain and much more.

Juneau’s biggest news stories of 2022 ranged from historic victories (and Celebrations) to severe struggles due to shortages of workers and housing. Virtually all were connected by overlapping factors to other top stories. (Juneau Empire staff)
Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire 
Fireworks from the finale of Juneau’s Fourth of July celebration light up the sky earlier this year. No such official celebration is planned New Year’s Eve, and both restrictions on personal fireworks use and stormy winter weather will mean a darker hue to the celebrations welcoming in the year 2023.

Weather drops the ball on New Year’s Eve

Personal fireworks again available for limited locations, but wet and windy night may dampen spirits

Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire 
Fireworks from the finale of Juneau’s Fourth of July celebration light up the sky earlier this year. No such official celebration is planned New Year’s Eve, and both restrictions on personal fireworks use and stormy winter weather will mean a darker hue to the celebrations welcoming in the year 2023.
Traffic passes by Fred Meyer in Juneau in November 2019. Many Juneau residents may need — or at least want — to get their prescriptions somewhere other than Fred Meyer as of Jan. 1, since its parent company Kroger has announced the termination of an agreement with a pharmacy benefit manager that works with insurers such as Cigna and Premera Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alaska. (Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)

Insured prescriptions from Fred Meyer may end for many Jan. 1

Corporate parent severing contract with company that reimburses city, military, other local workers

Traffic passes by Fred Meyer in Juneau in November 2019. Many Juneau residents may need — or at least want — to get their prescriptions somewhere other than Fred Meyer as of Jan. 1, since its parent company Kroger has announced the termination of an agreement with a pharmacy benefit manager that works with insurers such as Cigna and Premera Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alaska. (Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Applications and notifications about changes to benefits line a table at the entrance of the Alaska Division of Public Assistance office in Juneau. The division’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is months behind processing applications to due to workforce shortages and lingering problems of a cyberattack. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Food stamps backlog expected to continue for months

8,000 Alaska households go months without SNAP benefits; cyberattack, lack of workers blamed

Applications and notifications about changes to benefits line a table at the entrance of the Alaska Division of Public Assistance office in Juneau. The division’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is months behind processing applications to due to workforce shortages and lingering problems of a cyberattack. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Bill Legere, president and general manager of KTOO since 1991, is retiring on Jan. 3 after a career in public broadcasting spanning more than 50 years. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Legere leaves a legacy

KTOO’s president and general manager retiring after 40 years of transforming Alaska’s public media

Bill Legere, president and general manager of KTOO since 1991, is retiring on Jan. 3 after a career in public broadcasting spanning more than 50 years. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire 
State Rep. Andi Story chats with Tawnya Kreft at her office in the Alaska State Capitol during the Juneau legislative delegation’s holiday open house Thursday afternoon.

Holiday cheer as the legislative session nears

Residents chat and snack with Juneau’s delegation during open house at Capitol.

Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire 
State Rep. Andi Story chats with Tawnya Kreft at her office in the Alaska State Capitol during the Juneau legislative delegation’s holiday open house Thursday afternoon.
Gifts donated to St. Vincent de Paul for its annual Adopt-A-Family holiday program await pickup by Juneau residents on Thursday at the facility’s Teal Street complex. The organization, which got more than 300 requests for gifts from families, initially had to stop accepting them earlier this week due to demand exceeding donations. But during the past two days an infusion of gifts and donations have been made to the campaign, according to St. Vincent’s Executive Director Dave Ringle. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)

Outpouring of support makes fulfilling family wish lists possible for local charity

More than 150 donations for needy families arrive in two days after Adopt-A-Family comes up short

Gifts donated to St. Vincent de Paul for its annual Adopt-A-Family holiday program await pickup by Juneau residents on Thursday at the facility’s Teal Street complex. The organization, which got more than 300 requests for gifts from families, initially had to stop accepting them earlier this week due to demand exceeding donations. But during the past two days an infusion of gifts and donations have been made to the campaign, according to St. Vincent’s Executive Director Dave Ringle. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)
An architect’s depiction shows the first crisis stabilization center for youth and adults in Southeast Alaska, now under construction at Bartlett Region Hospital and scheduled for completion in March of 2023. Among the goals for the center is reducing the number of youths experiencing a behavioral health crisis who must leave the community and receive treatment away from their families. (City and Borough of Juneau)

DOJ: Alaska illegally institutionalizing troubled kids

State locks up youths far from home instead of offering adequate treatment, investigation finds.

An architect’s depiction shows the first crisis stabilization center for youth and adults in Southeast Alaska, now under construction at Bartlett Region Hospital and scheduled for completion in March of 2023. Among the goals for the center is reducing the number of youths experiencing a behavioral health crisis who must leave the community and receive treatment away from their families. (City and Borough of Juneau)
Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire 
A volunteer selects donated toys for a recipient during The Salvation Army’s food and gift giveaway Saturday at its church and administrative office downtown. St. Vincent de Paul in Juneau is hosting its Adopt-A-Family gift giveaway this week, but had to stop accepting wish lists from families early due to higher-than-usual demand, according to Director Dave Ringle. People interested in helping a family can contact the organization by Thursday,

Santa’s helpers for the needy can use some holiday help

Annual gifts and meals for Juneau’s struggling continue their traditions, but limited by high demand

Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire 
A volunteer selects donated toys for a recipient during The Salvation Army’s food and gift giveaway Saturday at its church and administrative office downtown. St. Vincent de Paul in Juneau is hosting its Adopt-A-Family gift giveaway this week, but had to stop accepting wish lists from families early due to higher-than-usual demand, according to Director Dave Ringle. People interested in helping a family can contact the organization by Thursday,