Mark Sabbatini

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.
Wildflower Court, which has been forced to scale back its long-term nursing care to about 75% of capacity due to staffing and other difficulties related to the COVID-19 pandemic, is being acquired by Bartlett Regional Hospital, officials at both facilities said Thursday. (Dana Zigmund / Juneau Empire file photo)

Bartlett to acquire Wildflower Court

Long-term facility recently forced to reduce capacity; officials hope merger also helps hospice gap

Wildflower Court, which has been forced to scale back its long-term nursing care to about 75% of capacity due to staffing and other difficulties related to the COVID-19 pandemic, is being acquired by Bartlett Regional Hospital, officials at both facilities said Thursday. (Dana Zigmund / Juneau Empire file photo)
In this screenshot from official Senate video, U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan, an Alaska Republican, discusses oil and gas policy during an Armed Services Committee meeting at the U.S. Capitol in May. (Screenshot)

Georgia’s Senate loss unlikely to be Alaska’s

Despite, 51-49 Dem majority, Murkowski and Sullivan likely to keep seats.

In this screenshot from official Senate video, U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan, an Alaska Republican, discusses oil and gas policy during an Armed Services Committee meeting at the U.S. Capitol in May. (Screenshot)
Alaska State Rep. David Eastman, a Wasilla Republican, is shown seated on the House floor on April 29 in Juneau. His district seat is among those whose fate is unknown, due to a pending lawsuit challenging his eligibility because of his membership in Proud Boys. (AP Photo/Becky Bohrer, File)

New playfield, but familiar waiting game for new state House majority

Three pending races among unknowns that may again drag fight out for months.

Alaska State Rep. David Eastman, a Wasilla Republican, is shown seated on the House floor on April 29 in Juneau. His district seat is among those whose fate is unknown, due to a pending lawsuit challenging his eligibility because of his membership in Proud Boys. (AP Photo/Becky Bohrer, File)
Bill Walker, left, Bill Sheffield, center and Frank Murkowski are among the majority of Alaska governors who failed to win a second term for reasons ranging from unpopularity to scandals. (Credits: Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photos and Al Grillo / AP)

Alaska usually not big on second chances for governors

State has reelected executives at lowest rate in the nation.

Bill Walker, left, Bill Sheffield, center and Frank Murkowski are among the majority of Alaska governors who failed to win a second term for reasons ranging from unpopularity to scandals. (Credits: Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photos and Al Grillo / AP)
An array of stickers awaits voters on Election Day 2022. With votes tallied and certified, the Empire reviewed how Juneau and nearby communities voted precinct by precinct. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire File)

With the ballots counted, here’s how our districts voted

A post-certification precinct-by-precinct breakdown of statewide race results.

An array of stickers awaits voters on Election Day 2022. With votes tallied and certified, the Empire reviewed how Juneau and nearby communities voted precinct by precinct. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire File)
A chart shows non-genital syphilis cases in Alaska have risen about 1,340% between 2017 and 2021, reflecting an enormous increase in cases nationwide. But Alaska is among the states with the highest rates of increase, with the third-highest rates of syphilis and chlamydia in 2020, the most recent year state-by-state comparisons are available. (Alaska Department of Health)

Syphilis cases still skyrocketing statewide

1,340% increase between 2017 and 2021 largely due to state’s relative youth and health care access

A chart shows non-genital syphilis cases in Alaska have risen about 1,340% between 2017 and 2021, reflecting an enormous increase in cases nationwide. But Alaska is among the states with the highest rates of increase, with the third-highest rates of syphilis and chlamydia in 2020, the most recent year state-by-state comparisons are available. (Alaska Department of Health)
Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire
Juneau state Sen. Jesse Kiehl, left, gives a legislative proclamation to former longtime Juneau Assembly member Loren Jones, following Kiehl’s speech at the Juneau Chamber of Commerce’s weekly luncheon Thursday at the Juneau Moose Family Center.

Cloudy economy, but sunnier political outlook lie ahead for lawmakers, Kiehl says

Juneau’s state senator tells Chamber of Commerce bipartisan majority a key to meaningful action

Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire
Juneau state Sen. Jesse Kiehl, left, gives a legislative proclamation to former longtime Juneau Assembly member Loren Jones, following Kiehl’s speech at the Juneau Chamber of Commerce’s weekly luncheon Thursday at the Juneau Moose Family Center.
The snowy steps of the Alaska State Capitol are scheduled to see a Nativity scene during an hour-long gathering starting at 4 p.m. Friday which, in the words of a local organizer, is “for families to start their Gallery Walk in a prayerful manner.” But two Outside groups dedicated to placing Nativity scenes at as many state capitol buildings as possible are proclaiming it a victory against the so-called “war on Christmas.” The head of Alaska’s Legislative Affairs Agency, which has administrative oversight of the building, said the gathering is legal since a wide variety of events occur all the time, often with religious overtones, but the placement of a fixed or unattended display is illegal. (Jonson Kuhn / Juneau Empire)

Scene and heard: Religious freedom groups say Nativity event makes statement

State officials say happening planned for Capitol relatively common and legal.

The snowy steps of the Alaska State Capitol are scheduled to see a Nativity scene during an hour-long gathering starting at 4 p.m. Friday which, in the words of a local organizer, is “for families to start their Gallery Walk in a prayerful manner.” But two Outside groups dedicated to placing Nativity scenes at as many state capitol buildings as possible are proclaiming it a victory against the so-called “war on Christmas.” The head of Alaska’s Legislative Affairs Agency, which has administrative oversight of the building, said the gathering is legal since a wide variety of events occur all the time, often with religious overtones, but the placement of a fixed or unattended display is illegal. (Jonson Kuhn / Juneau Empire)
Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire 
The U.S. Coast Guard Sector Juneau in Auke Bay is the preferred home port for a private icebreaker that may be purchased by the federal government to help patrol Alaska’s Arctic waters, according to U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan. Among the reasons Juneau is preferred over other state ports is the harbor is currently capable of accommodating the vessel and is adjacent to land where necessary supporting infrastructure could be built.

Juneau may be home to only Coast Guard icebreaker stationed in Alaska

Effort to buy private ship for Arctic use may bring 190 enlistees, Sen. Sullivan says.

Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire 
The U.S. Coast Guard Sector Juneau in Auke Bay is the preferred home port for a private icebreaker that may be purchased by the federal government to help patrol Alaska’s Arctic waters, according to U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan. Among the reasons Juneau is preferred over other state ports is the harbor is currently capable of accommodating the vessel and is adjacent to land where necessary supporting infrastructure could be built.
Steve Lewis, foreground, and Stephen Sorensen from the Alaska State Review Board scan ballots from precincts where they were hand counted at the Division of Elections office Nov. 15. Board officials spent the period between the Nov. 8 election and its certification Wednesday performing about 20 different to verify the results. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Election certified, but challenges pending

Outcome of at least two state House races unknown, which may determine chamber’s leadership

Steve Lewis, foreground, and Stephen Sorensen from the Alaska State Review Board scan ballots from precincts where they were hand counted at the Division of Elections office Nov. 15. Board officials spent the period between the Nov. 8 election and its certification Wednesday performing about 20 different to verify the results. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Gavel (Courtesy photo)

Maassen named new chief justice of Alaska Supreme Court

Longtime private attorney appointed to court in 2012 expects to continue predecessor’s approach.

Gavel (Courtesy photo)
The ranked choice outcome for Alaska’s U.S. Senate race is shown during an Alaska Public Media broadcast on Thursday. Incumbent Lisa Murkowski defeated fellow Republican Kelly Tshibaka by getting more than 50% of votes when two lower-finishing candidates were eliminated, with votes from people opting for Democrat Pat Chesbro as their first choice providing the necessary margin. Murkowski supporters note she won more first-choice votes than Tshibaka and thus would have prevailed without ranked choice voting, while Tshibaka supporters claim the challenger would have prevailed back in August under a closed-primary system and thus almost certainly would have won the general election. (Alaska Division of Elections)

Voting far from over for ranked choice

Alaska certain to revive the debate during coming months as many nationwide hail it as a success.

The ranked choice outcome for Alaska’s U.S. Senate race is shown during an Alaska Public Media broadcast on Thursday. Incumbent Lisa Murkowski defeated fellow Republican Kelly Tshibaka by getting more than 50% of votes when two lower-finishing candidates were eliminated, with votes from people opting for Democrat Pat Chesbro as their first choice providing the necessary margin. Murkowski supporters note she won more first-choice votes than Tshibaka and thus would have prevailed without ranked choice voting, while Tshibaka supporters claim the challenger would have prevailed back in August under a closed-primary system and thus almost certainly would have won the general election. (Alaska Division of Elections)
Rebecca Hsieh, left, knits small gifts as a first-time vendor at the Juneau Public Market as her friend, MK MacNaughton, a longtime vendor sells hand-painted items near the entrance of Centennial Hall on Saturday. The market, celebrating its 40th year, is scheduled to continue from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Something sold, something sinew…

Shopping spirits soar for new and longtime vendors from near and far at 40th Juneau Public Market

Rebecca Hsieh, left, knits small gifts as a first-time vendor at the Juneau Public Market as her friend, MK MacNaughton, a longtime vendor sells hand-painted items near the entrance of Centennial Hall on Saturday. The market, celebrating its 40th year, is scheduled to continue from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Defeated candidates Kelly Tshibaka in the U.S. Senate race, left, Les Gara in the governor’s race, center, and Nick Begich in the U.S. House race are among the losers who could again be viable contenders and/or political figures leading up to the 2024 election, according to analysts. (Sources: Mark Thiessen / AP, Peter Segall / Juneau Empire, Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

What’s next for the election’s winners and losers?

Murkowski and Peltola may be key swing votes, Tshibaka the biggest “winner” of losers, analysts say.

Defeated candidates Kelly Tshibaka in the U.S. Senate race, left, Les Gara in the governor’s race, center, and Nick Begich in the U.S. House race are among the losers who could again be viable contenders and/or political figures leading up to the 2024 election, according to analysts. (Sources: Mark Thiessen / AP, Peter Segall / Juneau Empire, Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)