Take a look at some of Alaska’s top stories this year unrelated to COVID-19

2020: A year in review
Non-COVID top stories in Alaska
Non-COVID top stories in Alaska(KTUU)
Published: Dec. 31, 2020 at 5:32 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - COVID-19 dominated the headlines this year, but between the hunker downs, mask mandates, and vaccine arrivals — historic and life-changing news unrelated to the pandemic was also happening.

Major news not related to the coronavirus started ramping up in May when the death of George Floyd triggered worldwide protests against police brutality, including right here in Alaska. From Anchorage to Palmer, they were peaceful yet still sparking government conversations about change, including body cams and more transparency from the Anchorage Police Department.

Not long after the protests, a threat from mother nature emerged. A large earthquake striking 75 miles off the coast of Chignik causing an urgent tsunami warning and fear of impending devastation that thankfully didn’t come to fruition.

Ten days later, a crash involving two aircraft over Soldotna kills seven, including Kenai lawmaker Rep. Gary Knopp. A house seat left vacant by tragedy a month before Alaska’s primary election resulted in a major political shift.

Alaska’s primary election results unseated seven incumbent Republicans. Anchorage Republican Rep. Lance Pruitt is ending 2020 still fighting for his seat, appealing to the supreme court after a narrow loss against Democratic Representative-elect Liz Snyder.

Another major change came to Alaska elections themselves, as voters passed the highly debated Ballot Measure 2 implementing ranked-choice voting in the state.

Earlier in the year, Attorney General Kevin Clarkson resigned after reportedly sending hundreds of inappropriate text messages to a young female colleague.

Less than two months later, a similar bombshell rocked the Municipality of Anchorage. Mayor Ethan Berkowitz announced his resignation in the same week he admitted to having an inappropriate, but consensual relationship with a local news anchor.

In November, a federal decision made history for Alaska. The Trump administration opened the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for oil and gas lease opportunities. This project moving forward as another hits a roadblock. In the same month, the Army Corps of Engineers denied a permit to the Pebble Partnership for the mega-mine near Bristol Bay — ending a decades-long saga surrounding Pebble Mine.

In December, a tragedy shook Southeast Alaska. The tight-knit community of Haines ripped apart by a major landslide. The devastation displaced dozens and left two still missing nearly four weeks later. The community is still recovering heading into 2021.

Needless to say, it’s been a tough twelve months, as we all hope for brighter days in the year to come.

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