Alaska News Nightly: July 23, 2007

Denali Kid Care funding faces a potential Presidential veto while anti-missile radar systems are slated for installation near Juneau. Plus, Alaska’s cleared to spend federal dollars on controversial bridge projects and the Copper River keeps running strong with sockeye, boosting catch limits. Those stories and more on tonight’s Alaska News Nightly, broadcast statewide on APRN stations.

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Denali Kid Care funds attracting Presidential veto
Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau (read by Lori Townsend, APRN)
President Bush has threatened to veto a bill that re-authorizes the Denali Kid Care program and similar programs in other states, saying
they are a step toward government-provided health care. The State Children’s Health Insurance Program (S-CHIP) is before Congress now, with action anticipated before the program closes it doors September 30, 2007.

Anti-missile radar installation headed to Juneau
John Ryan, KTOO – Juneau
The U.S. Missile Defense Agency will install a radar facility in Juneau this fall as it continues to test its Fort Greely-based anti-missile system.

Gravina and Knik federal bridge funds attacked but retained
Joel Southern, APRN – Washington, D.C. (read by Lori Townsend, APRN)
A fierce critic of the Gravina Island and Knik Arm bridges has been stymied in his efforts to keep Alaska from spending its federal highway funding on the projects. Illinois Republican Mark Kirk wanted to use a 2008 transportation funding bill to strip Alaska of its authority to use the money for what he and other critics call the “Bridges to Nowhere.” But the House Appropriations rejected his amendment last week. And now the House parliamentarian says he can’t offer it on the floor because it violates rules against using an appropriations bill to try to rescind federal money guaranteed to go to the state under a previous law. That left Kirk sputtering when debate on the transportation funding bill began today.

French fish fans find Alaskan catch irresistible
Brian Pollack, KCAW – Sitka
As healthy water and fish populations diminish around the world, Alaska’s wild fish are a highly sought-after commodity. Four French journalists recently visited Southeast Alaska to visit what they consider one of the world’s most mythic fishing regions.

Copper River sockeye run up, and so are the catch limits
Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
A continued strong sockeye run on the Copper River is providing dip netters another shot at taking 10 extra salmon over the normal seasonal limit of 15 per person or 30 per family. Department of Fish and Game area management biologist Mark Somerville says this summer is pretty unique for supplemental harvest opportunities.

Land appraisal notwithstanding, Sheldon Jackson remains closed for 2007-2008
Charles Woolsey, KCAW – Sitka
There’s no turning back the academic closure of Sheldon Jackson College in Sitka. Despite a recent land appraisal showing that the school offered collateral well in excess of the $1 million loan it sought from the city of Sitka, president David Dobler says it’s too late to reverse the shutdown authorized by the Board of Trustees three weeks ago.

Hoonah entrepreneurs beat business odds
Weld Royal, KTOO – Juneau
Who would have thought that a couple of women with no business experience living in a tiny community (Hoonah) with high power costs, distribution costs and unemployment could find entrepreneurial success?

Marine Highway’s Taku back on the water
Ed Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska – Juneau
The state ferry Taku is back at work. The 44-year-old mainline ferry has been out of service for about seven months. It underwent a $6.6-million federally-funded renovation project at Todd Shipyard in Seattle. The 350-foot-long vessel got an engine overhaul and a new propulsion shaft system. It also underwent a variety of safety improvements. The Taku resumed full service Friday, sailing from Ketchikan to Prince Rupert.

Talkeetna resident drawn — magnetically — to Antarctica
Sue Doyoe, KTNA – Talkeetna
This past winter a Talkeetna resident headed to the Antarctic summer to assist on an expedition. The 4-man expedition spent 35 days a few hundred miles from the south pole — by themselves — searching for the mysteries of the Earth’s magnetic poles.