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State summer tourism passes $1 billion mark
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ANCHORAGE - Alaska's summer tourism season passed the $1 billion mark with 1.7 million visitors.
The Alaska Tourism Industry Association recently published its estimates of the state's summer tourist traffic from May through September. The figures show increases in independent and cruise ship travelers with the state's cruise ship industry hosting roughly 1 million visitors.
According to the association, the number of summer visitors continues to increase at about 5 percent annually.
Numbers for both cruise tour passengers and independent travelers are up more than 30 percent from 2002. Highway travel has been flat at about 100,000 people in recent years.
Man charged in Fairbanks beating
FAIRBANKS - Fairbanks police said a 33-year-old man was charged with first-degree assault after being accused of beating a man unconscious and leaving him outside in temperatures near zero.
Aaron S. Joseph also was charged with driving under the influence, vehicle theft and driving while his license was revoked.
Police said Joseph had given the victim a ride home from a bar early Saturday morning. Authorities said that during the drive, Joseph told the man he had stolen the van he was driving, then asked him if he had any cocaine.
According to a criminal complaint, when the man said he did not have any drugs, Joseph pulled over and dragged him out of the vehicle, then punched and kicked him until he lost consciousness.
Wife of past Iditarod champ killed in crash
SOLDOTNA - The wife of 1984 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race champion Dean Osmar has died in a car crash on the Kenai Peninsula.
Alaska State Troopers said 46-year-old Sarah Armstrong was driving alone in her pickup truck just before 4 p.m. Monday when she lost control of the vehicle and slid off the road into a tree.
She died at the scene near mile 104 of the Sterling Highway.
Troopers said the roads were slick at the time of the crash.
Applicants seek seat on Fairbanks Assembly
FAIRBANKS - A growing number of people are seeking a vacant seat on the Fairbanks North Star Borough Assembly.
Applications have been submitted to the borough clerk's office by Lenny Reagin, a former borough assessor, and Joe Blanchard, a University of Alaska Fairbanks government leader.
The two join earlier applicants Billie Blanchard, Virginia Damron and Matt Want.
In January, the assembly will vote on a replacement for Charlie Rex, who resigned earlier this month.
The selected applicant will serve until October, when the remaining year on the seat's term will be up as part of the general election.
Quake rattles FoxIslands in Aleutians
ANCHORAGE - The West Coast and Alaska Tsunami Warning Center said a strong earthquake rocked an Aleutians Island location at 1:05 p.m. Wednesday.
The center said the quake did not generate a tsunami and no warning or watch was put into effect.
The center said the quake's preliminary reading was 6.5.
The epicenter was 45 miles southeast of Nikolski, a village of 31 people about 900 miles southwest of Anchorage in the Fox Islands.
Architects honored for design of school
ANCHORAGE - The Mat-Su Career and Technical High School has won recognition to its Anchorage-based architects and the Mat-Su Borough School District.
McCool Carlson Green Architects and the school district have received the Len Mackler Award from the Council of Educational Facility Planners International.
The award recognizes excellence in design and functional planning of educational buildings and programs.
The 76,000-square-foot school was completed in August.
The school consolidates programs and classes previously located throughout the school district.
Officials warn drivers about Kenai moose
KENAI - Officials with the Department of Fish and Game are warning motorists about moose on the Kenai Peninsula.
Moose are abundant year-round on the peninsula, but this time of year can be particularly hazardous because of motorists who have difficulty seeing moose in the dim winter light.
Larry Lewis, a wildlife technician with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, says as of last Friday morning, 104 moose were reported hit and salvaged.