Mark Sabbatini

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,
This November 2021 photo shows a poster promoting Narcan, a drug that can reverse opioid overdoses, inside the Juneau Public Health Center. According to statistics shared recently by the state, overdose deaths have been on the rise recently. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)

Alaska by the somber and strange numbers

Annual stats report shows life expectancy dropping, COVID, drug deaths up.

This November 2021 photo shows a poster promoting Narcan, a drug that can reverse opioid overdoses, inside the Juneau Public Health Center. According to statistics shared recently by the state, overdose deaths have been on the rise recently. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
Aaron Prussian, a natural resource specialist for the Sitka Ranger District, goes skiing in Tongass National Forest. Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy is proposing to leave large portions of the state’s forests intact from timber harvesting and other industrial activity in exchange for carbon credits to help balance the state’s budget. Such restrictions would not make forests off-limits to recreational use. (Will Sirokman / U.S. Forest Service)

What is ‘monetizing carbon credits’? And how would it work?

How the governor is making a “$900 million a year or bust” bet on Alaska’s financial future

Aaron Prussian, a natural resource specialist for the Sitka Ranger District, goes skiing in Tongass National Forest. Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy is proposing to leave large portions of the state’s forests intact from timber harvesting and other industrial activity in exchange for carbon credits to help balance the state’s budget. Such restrictions would not make forests off-limits to recreational use. (Will Sirokman / U.S. Forest Service)
While nearly $8 million for state disability access projects are proposed on paper for Juneau in Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s budget for next year, in reality those funds are for statewide items administered through a local office. It is among a number of regional budget items where, to the naked eye, money isn’t necessarily going where it first appears. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Mixed feelings on local items in state budget

Flat funding of ferries, education not a big hit, but governor’s appaent willingness to negotiate is.

While nearly $8 million for state disability access projects are proposed on paper for Juneau in Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s budget for next year, in reality those funds are for statewide items administered through a local office. It is among a number of regional budget items where, to the naked eye, money isn’t necessarily going where it first appears. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire 
Gov. Mike Dunleavy discusses his proposed budget for the 2024 fiscal year during a press conference Thursday at the Alaska State Capitol. He said it features no major increases or reductions compared to the current year’s budget, incurs about a $265 million deficit covered with reserve funds, and includes a “full PFD” projected to be about $3,800

Governor’s budget calls for no major cuts, no major adds and a big new revenue plan

Governor says no major increases or cuts, “full PFD”; bets long-term stability on carbon credits

Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire 
Gov. Mike Dunleavy discusses his proposed budget for the 2024 fiscal year during a press conference Thursday at the Alaska State Capitol. He said it features no major increases or reductions compared to the current year’s budget, incurs about a $265 million deficit covered with reserve funds, and includes a “full PFD” projected to be about $3,800
The Aiviq icebreaker, seen here towing a mobile drilling rig about 100 miles southwest of Kodiak, is the privately owned vessel likely to be purchased with a $150 million allocation in the 2023 National Defense Authorization Act. Juneau is the preferred home port for the icebreaker, which would be the only such ship stationed in Alaska and would result in about an additional 190 personnel in the city. (U.S. Coast Guard)

Juneau-based icebreaker in final NDAA bill, Sullivan says

Purchase of private ship, which may bring 600 people to Juneau, gets warm support from local leaders

The Aiviq icebreaker, seen here towing a mobile drilling rig about 100 miles southwest of Kodiak, is the privately owned vessel likely to be purchased with a $150 million allocation in the 2023 National Defense Authorization Act. Juneau is the preferred home port for the icebreaker, which would be the only such ship stationed in Alaska and would result in about an additional 190 personnel in the city. (U.S. Coast Guard)
A map shows the planned phases for the Ridgeview subdivision, which as proposed will have up to 444 housing units upon completion. The Juneau Planning Commission approved 96 units as Phase 1 of the project, highlighted in the lower right, at its meeting Tuesday. (Rooftop Properties, LLC)

First 96 homes of 444-unit Ridgeview Subdivision OK’d

Planning Commission unanimously approves initial phase of complex, despite traffic volume concerns

A map shows the planned phases for the Ridgeview subdivision, which as proposed will have up to 444 housing units upon completion. The Juneau Planning Commission approved 96 units as Phase 1 of the project, highlighted in the lower right, at its meeting Tuesday. (Rooftop Properties, LLC)
Gov. Mike Dunleavy greets visitors to the annual holiday open house at the governor’s mansion on Tuesday. Hundreds of people indulged in cookies and music by local students during the three-hour event. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Cookies, carols and quizzes for Christmas

How the governor’s holiday favorites compare to his constituents visiting his annual open house.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy greets visitors to the annual holiday open house at the governor’s mansion on Tuesday. Hundreds of people indulged in cookies and music by local students during the three-hour event. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Gov. Mike Dunleavy answers media questions about his proposed budget for next year and the upcoming legislative session shortly before the annual holiday open house at the governor’s mansion on Tuesday. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Dunleavy offers holiday sneak peek of budget, agenda

Governor to seek new revenue in budget, abortion amendment, favors motorized Mendenhall access.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy answers media questions about his proposed budget for next year and the upcoming legislative session shortly before the annual holiday open house at the governor’s mansion on Tuesday. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Steve Noble, senior project manager for Dowl, discusses new options for a second Douglas crossing during an open house as part of the evaluation process Monday at the Juneau Arts Humanities Council building. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

New airport, Fritz Cove sites add dimensions to second Douglas crossing

Proposed subsurface route by runway, long bridge across path of incoming planes may be short-lived

Steve Noble, senior project manager for Dowl, discusses new options for a second Douglas crossing during an open house as part of the evaluation process Monday at the Juneau Arts Humanities Council building. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
“I Voted” stickers await Alaskan voters during in-person voting at Mendenhall Mall. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)

Congressional winners raise, spend and save big bucks

Murkowski and Peltola have plenty of funds left over after heavy spending sprees to end elections

“I Voted” stickers await Alaskan voters during in-person voting at Mendenhall Mall. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
A candle lighting by Juneau and other Alaska residents on the night of the winter solstice in 2020 was initiated by state officials as a show of solidarity during the COVID-19 pandemic, when people were both separated from other community members and experiencing the loss of loved ones. The winter solstice, by tradition a Wiccan/Pagan holiday, also is observed by other people and cultures both spiritual and secular worldwide. (Juneau Empire file photo)

The 12 days of not Christmas

December has lots religious and winter solstice holidays; here’s how some are celebrated locally.

A candle lighting by Juneau and other Alaska residents on the night of the winter solstice in 2020 was initiated by state officials as a show of solidarity during the COVID-19 pandemic, when people were both separated from other community members and experiencing the loss of loved ones. The winter solstice, by tradition a Wiccan/Pagan holiday, also is observed by other people and cultures both spiritual and secular worldwide. (Juneau Empire file photo)
Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire 
A gas pump at Petro One gas station off Egan Drive shows prices on Friday that, at about $4.90 a gallon for regular unleaded, are lower than peaks earlier this year but still far above the national average. The price of Alaska North Slope crude oil dropped to $74.22 a barrel on Wednesday, far below the $87 the state needs to average to break even for the fiscal year, however, consumers have cause for good cheer as nationwide gas prices are now cheaper than a year ago, dropping about one-third from their $5 a gallon average.

Oil hits lowest price of ’22 a week before state budget is due

$74.22 a barrel far below $87 break-even price for FY23; governor mum on how drop may affect FY24

Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire 
A gas pump at Petro One gas station off Egan Drive shows prices on Friday that, at about $4.90 a gallon for regular unleaded, are lower than peaks earlier this year but still far above the national average. The price of Alaska North Slope crude oil dropped to $74.22 a barrel on Wednesday, far below the $87 the state needs to average to break even for the fiscal year, however, consumers have cause for good cheer as nationwide gas prices are now cheaper than a year ago, dropping about one-third from their $5 a gallon average.
Gail Fenumiai talks about some of Alaska’s most unusual elections on Friday, her last day as director of the state Division of Elections in Juneau after a 20-year career with the division. Behind her are congratulatory and farewell plates covering the walls, while her floor was strewn with a “balloon drop” from well-wishers before she arrived. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Elections director makes a final call

Gail Fenumiai retires and gets her own balloon drop after 20-year career at division

Gail Fenumiai talks about some of Alaska’s most unusual elections on Friday, her last day as director of the state Division of Elections in Juneau after a 20-year career with the division. Behind her are congratulatory and farewell plates covering the walls, while her floor was strewn with a “balloon drop” from well-wishers before she arrived. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire 
McKinley Research Group President Susan Bell, left, and CBJ Tourism Manager Alexandra Pierce discuss the results of an annual survey of residents about tourism during the Juneau Chamber of Commerce’s weekly luncheon Thursday at the Juneau Moose Family Center.

Leaders: Record cruise tourism, limits both possible

City may see record number of tourists next year, but residents want cap on ships, businesses told.

Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire 
McKinley Research Group President Susan Bell, left, and CBJ Tourism Manager Alexandra Pierce discuss the results of an annual survey of residents about tourism during the Juneau Chamber of Commerce’s weekly luncheon Thursday at the Juneau Moose Family Center.