Alaska News Nightly: August 28, 2007

State offices face a looming employee shortage, as more and more workers reach retirement age. Plus, a new song bird makes its way to Alaska, thanks to warming temperatures. Those stories and more on tonight’s Alaska News Nightly, broadcast statewide on APRN stations.

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

State of Alaska looking to sell Matanuska Maid
David Shurtleff, APRN – Anchorage
The State Creamery Board has decided to sell the struggling state-owned Matanuska Maid dairy. The board made the decision yesterday, after learning the co-op suffered its worst month ever in July, turning a net loss of about $300,000.

State government facing employee shortages
Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
The State’s Department of Administration is heading up a new cabinet-level working group to plot a course that will provide new state employees and keep experienced personnel on the job.

Warmer Alaska enticing migratory songbirds farther and farther north
Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
A warming climate is bringing a new song bird into Alaska. The Alaska Bird Observatory (ABO) catches migratory birds in Fairbanks every summer as part of a long-running study, and ABO Senior Scientist Susan Sharbaugh says biologists have been seeing more Tennessee Warblers.

Mental Health Trust slowing, reviewing Mitkof logging plans in Petersburg
Matt Lichtenstein, KFSK – Petersburg
The Alaska Mental Health Trust land office is taking a “time-out” on plans for its property along Mitkof Highway in Petersburg. Since it first proposed logging on the steep hillsides two years ago, the agency has been at odds with a large group of adjacent homeowners.

Kenai fall bear hunting closed following 15 bear deaths this year
Mike Mason, KBBI – Homer
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game has closed the fall brown bear hunting season on the Kenai Peninsula.

UAF awarded $2.5 million for new marine research vessel
Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
The University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) is taking a step forward in a long running effort to get a new research vessel. The National Science Foundation recently announced $2.5 million in funding to cover the first of four stages of construction of a 236-foot Alaska region research ship. UAF Marine Science Institute Director Terry Whitledge says the new vessel, scheduled for completion in 2011, will replace a 125-foot boat the University uses for research.

Fairbanks and Canadian arctic competing for Japanese aurora tourists
Julie Green, CBC – Yellowknife
A battle for international tourist dollars is heating up in the far north — a battle for Japanese tourists. Fewer are making the trip to Yellowknife, in Canada’s Northwest Territories to see the northern lights. They are still coming north but are now favoring Fairbanks, Alaska as their destination of choice. In fact, Fairbanks has seen more Japanese tourists than ever before, thanks to direct charter flights from Tokyo.

Immigrants in Kodiak sending cash home in line with national trends
Mary Donaldson, KMXT – Kodiak
Millions of immigrants are sending billions of dollars back home worldwide. According to The Associated Press, the amount being sent abroad has more than doubled since 2000. Today we take a look at the practice on the island of Kodiak.

WWII Army “Cutthroat” remembers secret 1942 assault and construction on Adak
Rex Gray, Special Contributor
On a cloudy night 65 years ago — August 28, 1942 — 37 U.S. Army Commandos, known as “Castner’s Cutthroats,” silently rowed rubber rafts ashore on Adak island in the central Aleutians. Pilot Rex Gray recently traveled to the island with a World War II veteran and shares a unique story.