Alaska News Nightly: July 18, 2007

Tonight we look at an effort to tighten Alaska’s gun laws to prevent potentially dangerous mentally ill people from buying firearms. Plus, Congressman Young defeats an effort to slash federal funding for programs designed to boost Alaska Native student achievement. Those stories and more on tonight’s Alaska News Nightly, broadcast statewide on APRN stations.

Individual news stories are available in the Alaska News category and you can subscribe to APRN’s news feeds via e-mail, podcast and RSS.

Proposal emerges to change gun laws in Alaska
Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
Federal law provides a way to prevent potentially dangerous people from getting firearms — such as the student who killed 32 people at Virginia Tech on April 16. 2007. But Alaska today is in the same status as Virginia was at that time — it does not participate in the optional part of the program that forbids handgun sales to people determined to be a threat to themselves or others. Now some Alaska legislators are proposing to draft a law preventing gun sales to mentally ill individuals.

NOTE: Our audio report cites 37 killed in the Virginia Tech shootings this past April. The actual number is 32. We apologize for the error.

Don Young teams with House Democrats to preserve Alaska Native education funding
Joel Southern, APRN – Washington, D.C.
U.S. House Democrats came to the aid of Congressman Don Young today when they defeated an attempt to slash funding for the Alaska Native Education Equity program. During debate on a 2008 Labor, Health and Education funding bill, fiscal conservatives led by New Jersey Republican Scott Garrett took aim at around $34 million designated for programs designed to boost Alaska Native student achievement.

UA and Sheldon Jackson considering academic partnership
Ed Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska – Juneau
The University of Alaska (UA) is offering to help students from Sheldon Jackson College, the century-old Sitka institution that’s shutting down for a year. One proposed option would allow the displaced students to attend UA classes while earning Sheldon Jackson credit.

Port Graham considers fish and wood biomass options for power and heat
Mike Mason, KBBI – Homer
The village of Port Graham, on the Kenai Peninsula, is considering using biomass energy to generate electricity and heat. The University of North Dakota‘s Energy & Environmental Research Center recently completed a study looking at the options.

Normally soggy Bering Land Bridge area burning through warm, dry summer
Libby Casey, KUAC – Fairbanks
Heavy bouts of lightning and warm weather have combined to cause fires in the Bering Land Bridge National Preserve on the Seward Peninsula. National Park Service fire communication specialist Morgan Miller says it’s unusual for fires to start there, since it’s usually wet and cool.

Boat sale forces Kodiak schools to seek new fuel transport services
Casey Kelly, KMXT – Kodiak
The sale of the small coastal freighter “Lady Nina” has complicated the Kodiak Island Borough School District‘s delivery of heating fuel to its village schools. It also has some village and tribal governments on Kodiak searching for new fuel delivery services.

World Eskimo-Indian Olympics: Day 1
Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
Competition at the World Eskimo-Indian Olympics kicked off today — with the toe kick and the kneel jump. The one-arm reach finalists will compete this evening. Earnest young Native athletes showed amazing strength, balance and coordination as they worked hard to make it to the finals. We caught up with a few of the hopefuls.