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Rural Alaska

'You basically need sunscreen’: New airport beacon is keeping people awake in Aniak

Aerial view of the Aniak Airport on Thursday, Jan. 12, 2017. Aniak Slough, lower left, and the Kuskokwim River, right, border the village of Aniak. (Bill Roth / ADN)

BETHEL - Residents of a village in Western Alaska say a recently installed beacon at the airport is shining into homes and keeping them up at night.

The state installed the new beacon at the Aniak Airport during the summer as part of a runway construction project needed to meet federal aviation requirements, KYUK-AM reported Tuesday.

The previous beacon was taller and in a different place. Residents said they were never notified about the new beacon before it was installed two months ago.

Vince Winter lives on the second floor of an Aniak building. Light from the beacon shines into the windows of his living room and his bedroom at night, he said.

"You basically need sunscreen in here because that's how bright it is," Winter said.

Dave Mattson, who owns an automotive shop in the village, said the light also shine into his house and keeps him up at night.

Some residents are working on putting together a petition against the new beacon, Mattson said.

Aniak City Manager Kevin Toothacker said he has tried to form a solution with Knik Construction, which is tasked with the airport construction project. It would cost too much to move the beacon, and moving it would just cause it to shine into other homes, he said. Other options could include softening the light or changing its angle.

Toothacker said he is planning to meet with the construction company next week to discuss the beacon concerns.

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