Alaska News Nightly: September 5, 2007

A federal judge today granted the government’s request to separate the federal corruption trial for two former Alaska lawmakers. Plus, a new report sets out education funding priorities for next year’s legislative session. Those stories and more on tonight’s Alaska News Nightly, broadcast statewide on APRN stations.

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Kott corruption trial moves ahead; Weyrauch trial split off and delayed
David Shurtleff, APRN – Anchorage
A federal judge has ruled to separate the corruption trials of former state legislators Bruce Weyrauch and Pete Kott on what was supposed to be the first morning of their joint trial. Judge John Sedwick says the case against Kott will still go ahead this week as planned, however Weyrauch must now await an appeals ruling which could delay his case until 2009.

Unidentified body found at Anchorage elementary school
David Shurtleff, APRN – Anchorage
Anchorage Police are at Russian Jack Elementary School this evening after the body of an unidentified man was found decomposing in a boiler chimney pipe by school maintenance workers today just before noon.

Legislature’s education task force presents school funding formula
Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
The task force set up by this year’s legislature to come up with a permanent formula to pay for local schools has made its final report to lawmakers. The plan covers a wide range of financial concerns — and it will be near the front of priorities for next year’s session.

Sea otter research exploring causes of die-off in Kachemak Bay
Annie Feidt, APRN – Anchorage
A new study could help biologists zero in on why so many sea otters are dying of the same disease in Kachemak Bay. Biologists have spent several years tracking the disease in dead otters. And now they’re getting their first chance to look at the illness in the live population.

Photos courtesy the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.
Full-size photos posted on Flickr

Independent ferry system extending ‘Stikine’ sailings into late November
Ed Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska – Juneau
The ferry Stikine will sail for an extra two months this fall. The Inter-Island Ferry Authority plans to keep the ship running through Thanksgiving weekend. It usually stops sailing mid-September.

Wainwright families and friends gather to remember Iraq helicopter victims
Libby Casey, KUAC – Fairbanks
The Fort Wainwright community gathered this afternoon to remember five soldiers killed in Iraq last month. The memorial honored the men who died when their helicopter crashed west of Baghdad on August 14. Army spokeswoman Linda Douglass says the soldiers were the first members of the aviation unit Task Force Dragon, to die in the war zone. The honored dead included:

  • Pilot, Christopher Johnson (31), Michigan
  • Pilot, Jackie McFarlane, Jr. (30), Virginia
  • Flight Engineer, Sean Fisher (29), California
  • Repairman, Stanley Reynolds (37), West Virginia
  • Repairman, Steven Jewell (26), North Carolina

100-year old cabin up for restoration in Fairbanks
Libby Casey, KUAC – Fairbanks
Funding and support from the Rotary Club of Fairbanks will help restore an historic cabin that sits at the Morris Thompson Cultural and Visitors Center Property. The cabin is nearly 100 years old — the earliest records found about it date back to 1910. It’s located on Dunkel Street and was in private hands before the land was bought to build the new Cultural Center.

Mat-Su Valley gets together for a barn moving
Ellen Lockyer, APRN – Matanuska-Susitna Valley
The Matanuska Valley is growing fast and many an agricultural property — like the old Breeden Family Farm — is destined to fall to the developer’s axe. But the farm’s venerable barn has found a new purpose and a new home, up the road a ways in Wasilla.