Alaska News Nightly: September 13, 2007

An Alaska broadcasting pioneer — Augie Hebert — died today in Anchorage and we remember his remarkable radio and TV career that started long before statehood. Meanwhile Bill Allen takes the stand in the Pete Kott corruption trial, revealing details of the alleged bribery dealings amongst the former VECO chairman and several Alaska legislators — including Ben Stevens. Those stories and more on tonight’s Alaska News Nightly, broadcast statewide on APRN stations.

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Alaska broadcasting pioneer Augie Hebert passes away at 90
Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
Alaska broadcasting pioneer Augie Hebert died this morning in Anchorage. He was 90 years old. Hebert started his Alaska broadcasting career in Fairbanks long before statehood. KTUU (Channel 2) general manager Al Bramstedt has known Hebert all his life. He says Hebert first came to Fairbanks in 1939 to build radio station KFAR and Bramstad’s father soon joined him there.

Bill Allen takes the stand, admits to bribing legislators
Steve Heimel, APRN – Anchorage
Former VECO Chairman Bill Allen faced cross examination today on his testimony that he bribed former state legislator Pete Kott.

Defense cross turns combative; Allen admits evidence overwhelming
David Shurtleff, APRN – Anchorage
Bill Allen will face more cross examination from Pete Kott’s defense team tomorrow morning. While he started the afternoon with a relatively innocuous line of questioning, defense attorney Jim Wendt went on the attack later in the day, questioning Allen’s motives for pleading guilty and suggesting that he pled out to protect his family and employees. Allen denied that and said the reason was because he saw the evidence against him.

Kivalina evacuates as Arctic storm threatens
Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
The Northwest Arctic coast community of Kivalina is being buffeted by a fall storm. Enoch Adams, Jr. is the Kivalina project coordinator for the Northwest Arctic Borough. He says the storm is gaining in intensity. Adams says more than 200 of the community’s 380 residents have been evacuated to either Kotzebue or the Red Dog Mine facility.

30 of 54 Alaska school districts making ‘Adequate Yearly Progress’
Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
Alaska’s local school districts continue to make progress in meeting the federal No Child Left Behind standards. Thirty of the state’s 54 school districts this year showed Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) in the most recent round of student testing. Les Morse, Director of Assessment, Accountability and Information Management for the Department of Education says the districts were evaluated on 31 different categories that distinguish ethnicity, family income, student disability and limited English ability. He says a high percentage of students in each category must pass the reading and math examinations and must graduate.

Ninth Circuit definitively shuts down fall drilling plans for Shell
Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals today denied Shell Offshore’s request to reconsider a ban on oil exploration in Alaska’s Beaufort sea. The suit against the exploration plan had been brought by the North Slope Borough and several conservation groups.

New record high oil price based on shortage speculation
Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
Crude oil closed above $80/barrel for the first time today – with West Texas Crude ending up at $80.09 on New York markets. Oil from Alaska’s North Slope didn’t quite reach the same benchmark prices. The Department of Revenue reports it closed at $79.59. Department of Revenue Economist Michael Williams says the current high prices are based on an anticipation of a shortage of supply for U.S. markets. Hurricane Humberto made landfall early this morning along the Texas-Louisiana coastline, shutting down three refineries.

Mauricio Escobar: An Immigrant’s Journey, Part 2
John Hunt, KHNS – Haines
This week, we’re looking at the life of Mauricio Escobar, who grew up in war torn El Salvador and is now working for the National Park Service in Skagway.