Top Stories From 2016

Dec 30, 2016

Toksook Bay Dancers at the Cama-i Dance Festival on April 1, 2016.
Credit Dean Swope / KYUK

As we approach the end of the year, we're looking back on the stories that defined the past 12 months in the Yukon Kuskokwim Delta. Here are the top stories from 2016.


Pete Kaiser claims his second consecutive K300 victory in 2016.
Credit Chris Pike / KYUK

Pete Kaiser took first place in the Kuskokwim 300 Sled Dog Race for the second year in a row.

A KYUK investigation revealed the Association of Village Council Presidents misappropriated federal grant funds intended for TANF, or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, for years.

The Alaska Army National Guard established a new unit in Bethel.


Bethel City Council passed an ordinance requiring cabs to carry surveillance cameras and GPS.

AVCP hosted a Violence Against Women Act training in Bethel. It was the first training in the state since Alaska’s Attorney General issued a 2015 opinion that law enforcement must uphold tribal protection orders the same as state orders.


The USACE presents the Donlin Gold environmental impact statement to Nunapitchuk in March 2016.
Credit Anna Rose MacArthur / KYUK

The presidential election entered the primaries, and the majority of Republican voters in District 38 voted for Ben Carson. Donald Trump received the least support in the district.

A few weeks later, at the district’s Democratic caucus, Bernie Sanders received 14 delegates while Hillary Clinton received three.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers traveled to YK Delta communities, gathering public comment on the proposed Donlin Gold mine. Residents said they wanted the jobs but did not want the environmental impacts mining could have on subsistence.

A fire destroyed the Emmonak Kwik-Pak Fisheries buildings, causing three million dollars worth of damage.


The Yukon Kuskokwim Health Corporation signed a major federal agreement with the Indian Health Service to help fund its hospital expansion.

Fili’s Pizza restaurant sold Bethel’s first legal alcohol in nearly 40 years.

The middle Kuskokwim saw its earliest break up on record.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers extended its public comment period by one month for the Donlin Gold mine draft environmental impact statement. Many YK Delta residents had requested a six-month extension.


Opening day of the AC Quickstop liquor store on May 3, 2016.
Credit Geraldine Brink / KYUK

AC Quickstop opened Bethel’s first liquor store since the city lifted its nearly four-decade ban on alcohol sales.

Myron Naneng resigned as AVCP President and CEO after holding the position for 24 years.

YKHC issued a resolution opposing the proposed Donlin Gold mine, fearing harmful environmental impacts and jobs leaving the region if the mine were developed.

The Kuskokwim River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission signed a historic agreement with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, formalizing co-management between the Alaska tribes along the Kuskokwim river and the federal government.


The FBI, State Troopers, and Bethel Police searched at least three Bethel subdivisions after investigating possible illegal alcohol sales.

Bethel City Manager Ann Capela announced she was ending her contract with the city more than a year early, citing physical challenges with the Arctic climate. At the end of the year, the Bethel City Council hired Port Director Pete Williams for the job.


Bethel City Manager Ann Capela banned the longtime scavenging tradition at at the landfill in July 2016.
Credit Dean Swope / KYUK

City Manager Ann Capela banned the long-time tradition of scavenging at the Bethel landfill. City Council soon voted to lift the ban with a resolution.

Akiachak prepared to inventory their land for the federal government to take into trust after a federal appeals court dismissed Alaska’s challenge blocking trust applications.

A broken ice machine owned by the Marshall Maserculiq native corporation halted commercial fishing in Marshall and Russian Mission.

The Coastal Villages Region Fund closed its commercial fisheries program, spurring the coastal region to request disaster relief funding from the Governor’s Office, which it never received.


The U.S. Surgeon General visited Napaskiak and Bethel to witness the front lines of rural health care in Alaska’s opioid epidemic.

The next week, four heroin overdoses in Quinhagak left one teenager dead, 19-year-old Jamie Roberts. An investigation revealed the heroin contained large amounts of the synthetic, highly potent opioid fentanyl.

Democrat Zach Fansler won the House District 38 Democratic Primary, beating incumbent Bob Herron.

Former Bethel Police Officer Andrew Reid was sentenced by a Bethel judge to a maximum of 120 days in detention for one count of first degree assault and one count of fourth degree official misconduct in 2014 against his victim Wassillie Gregory.

mid-air collision northwest of Russian Mission between a Ravn Caravan and a Renfro’s Alaska Adventure aircraft killed five people and left no survivors.


U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy in the Napaskiak clinic with Community Health Practitioner Augusta Williams and YKHC CEO Dan Winkelman in August 2016.
Credit Anna Rose MacArthur / KYUK

Bethel Native Corporation opened Bethel Spirits, the town’s second liquor store since the city legalized alcohol sales this year. BNC closed up shop 30 days later.

YKHC offered blood tests to patients who were possibly treated with partially sterilized dental instruments. Health officials outside the corporation called the health risks “close to negligible.”


AVCP selected Vivian Korthuis as its first woman CEO at its annual convention. Korthuis was the first CEO hired, not elected, by the association after delegates voted to hand that responsibility to the executive board. Also at the convention, AVCP explained how it was working to come into compliance with its grants.

State Troopers, investigators, and local police raided a house in Bethel where they arrested seven people and recovered over 47 grams of heroin and over a half pound of crack cocaine.

The National Guard relaxed its requirements for Alaska Natives trying to join the force with the hope of attracting more Western Alaska recruits with valuable subsistence skills.


The majority of Bethel voters supported Hillary Clinton for the Presidency on Election Day along with Lisa Murkowski for U.S. Senate, Steve Lindbeck for U.S. House, and the unchallenged Zach Fansler for the Alaska House. Fansler then became a member of the State House Majority Coalition. 

A fire disabled Emmonak’s sewage treatment plant, leaving residents without sewer service for four days until YKHC restored the equipment.


The Bethel Warrior Wrestlers pose for photographs after placing first in the 2016 1-2-3A State Wrestling Championships, earning Bethel's seventh state championship title and setting a new record for Alaska’s small schools in December 2016.
Credit Gina Lieb

The Bethel Warrior Wrestlers set a new Alaska record with its seventh state championship win in the small school division. Go, Warriors!

Two YK Delta businesses, one in Aniak and one in Bethel, released public notices of their intent to apply for the region’s first marijuana store licenses.

That’s all for 2016. Thank you for joining us at KYUK this year.

Thank you for your generous support. Thank you for your news tips, phone calls, and emails. Thank you for calling into TalkLine and all our shows. And thank you for letting us share another year of stories from the YK Delta.

Tuaingunrituq, piurci.

Happy New Year.