Alaska News Nightly: September 14, 2007

The Kott legislative corruption trial rolls on as a juror is ejected for alleged prosecution bias. Meanwhile Kivalina residents return home after a nasty storm, Maggie gets ready to move, and we explore what happens to your bagged salad between the field and your local Alaskan grocer. Those stories and more on tonight’s Alaska News Nightly, broadcast statewide on APRN stations.

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Kott trial finishes first week with VECO’s Rick Smith on the stand
Steve Heimel, APRN – Anchorage
The government’s case against former legislator Pete Kott is headed in to its second week on Monday. Today’s courtroom events began with more cross-examination of former VECO head Bill Allen, and ended with jurors hearing testimony from the company’s former Vice President Rick Smith. Both have already pled guilty to bribing state lawmakers while the legislature debated a tax on oil producers in 2006.

Year-old newspaper comment knocks Kodiak resident off Kott jury
David Shurtleff, APRN – Anchorage
A juror in the Kott trial had to be dismissed this morning after the Defense team found a “letter to the editor” she had written last year on the “Kodiak Daily Mirror” website. Kodiak resident Lisa Polito wrote the letter last October after federal agents raided the offices of VECO and six legislators. In the letter, she expresses concern that Kodiak representative Gabrielle Ledoux had not returned campaign contributions from the “scandal ridden” company.

The secret life of Alaska’s bagged salads
John Ryan, KTOO – Juneau
Wherever you live in Alaska, or in the United States, if you buy one of those bags of prewashed salad, there’s a good chance it came from California’s Salinas Valley. One company in the valley known as “America’s salad bowl” controls nearly half the U.S. market for bagged salad. John Ryan of member station KTOO was in California last week and reports on the controversies shadowing your salad.

Kivalina residents returning after Arctic storm’s passing
Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
The storm that threatened the sea wall in Kivalina has subsided. Kivalina vice mayor Enoch Adams, Jr. says residents are returning.

Alaska Zoo’s ‘Maggie’ will head to sanctuary in California
The Associated Press
It looks like Alaska’s only elephant will be moving to Northern California. Alaska Zoo officials have chosen the Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) in San Andreas, California as the first choice for a new home for Maggie. Last month, retired game show host Bob Barker promised to donate $750,000 for her care there.

Chabott amendment may cut off timber sale road construction in Tongass
Matt Lichtenstein, KFSK – Petersburg
Proposed legislation against U.S. Forest Service road-building has proved to be a major stumbling block for members of the Tongass Futures Roundtable. The Roundtable is a broad group of forest stakeholders who have been meeting regularly over the past year and a half to try and reach some sort of consensus on forest policy.

Coast Guard commander stops in Juneau on the way to Russian border
John Ryan, KTOO – Juneau
The commander of the Pacific for the U.S. Coast Guard was in Juneau this week. Vice Admiral Charles Wurster is stopping at Coast Guard stations in Juneau and Kodiak on his way to the Russian Far East to meet with the Russian Border Guard. The warming Arctic Ocean could be one topic to come up in the Russian discussions. Vice-admiral Wurster says the Coast Guard is expecting to expand its role in the Arctic.

Alaska Natives and American Indians gather over suicide prevention
Rosemarie Alexander, KTOO – Juneau
Alaska Natives and American Indians have the highest suicide rate of any racial or ethnic group in the U.S., particularly among youth. Beginning about age 20, Native males are four times more likely to commit suicide than Native females, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Delegates from 13 Alaska Native and Lower 48 American Indian communities are meeting in Juneau this week to talk about suicide prevention. The conference includes delegates from the Alaska villages of Angoon, Huslia, Noorvik, Savoonga and Alakanuk.

Mauricio Escobar: An Immigrant’s Journey, Part 3
John Hunt, KHNS – Haines
Last evening, we heard about Mauricio Escobar discovering and becoming a member of the Student Conservation Association (SCA). When he returned to Los Angeles after five weeks with the SCA in San Francisco, he decided he had to find a way out of LA.

Barrow: Home of the endless summer?
Earl Finkler, KBRW – Barrow
The folks in Barrow seem to be having an extended summer in the far north this year. A new record high temperature of 60 degrees Fahrenheit was set on Tuesday, breaking the old record of 53 — set back in 1986. There have been other days with near record high temperatures, along with light winds and lots of sunshine.