Alaska News Nightly: October 9, 2007

Former state lawmaker Vic Kohring was in federal court today, facing new corruption allegations. Plus, a hog farmer from Minnesota records several “firsts” on a recent sailing through the Northwest Passage. Those stories and more on tonight’s Alaska News Nightly, broadcast statewide on APRN stations.

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Kohring re-arraigned on conspiracy, bribery and extortion charges
David Shurtleff, APRN – Anchorage
Former state legislator Vic Kohring was back in court this afternoon, this time to face new allegations that he had been conspiring with VECO executives four years earlier than previously thought.

Two more missile interceptors headed to Alaska launch site
Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
The Missile Defense Agency expects to install two additional interceptors at Ft. Greely by the end of the year. The facility currently houses 20 missiles. Fort Greely is the primary interceptor base for the system which also has components in California and Europe. Missile Defense Agency spokesman Rick Lehner says the long term plan calls for a total of 54 interceptors for the defense system.

Does Alaska Air buyout of Hawaiian Vacations create illegal monopoly?
Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
The Alaska Public Interest Research Group (AKPIRG) is asking Alaska’s Attorney General to investigate the recent acquisition of Hawaiian Vacations by Alaska Airlines. AKPIRG executive Director Steve Cleary says under Alaska law any merger or acquisition that may substantially lessen competition or create a monopoly is illegal.

Sailing the Northwest Passage into history
Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
A former hog farmer from Minnesota just became the first person to complete the Northwest Passage from east to west by sailboat. Roger Swanson was aided by this summer’s unprecedented arctic sea ice retreat. He and five crew members completed the 6,600 mile journey from Halifax to Kodiak in a 57-foot fiberglass boat. It was his third attempt at the crossing.

Barrow whalers enjoying successful fall hunt
Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
Whalers in Barrow are reporting good success in catching whales this fall. Barrow Whaling Captain Association President Eugene Brower said 2 were just caught this afternoon. That brings Barrow’s total to 7 so far this year. Hunters there can bring in a total of 10 whales.

Ketchikan raises cruise ship passenger tax
Deanna Garrison, KRBD – Ketchikan
The Ketchikan city council last week tentatively agreed to hike the city’s cruise ship passenger tax by another 25 cents. The city estimates the 25-cent increase would bring in an additional $200,000.

Unalaska investigating whether temp workers illegally voted last week
Charles Homans, KIAL – Unalaska
Tonight the Unalaska City Council is expected to open an investigation into allegations about voting misconduct raised over last week’s city elections. A city council candidate facing a runoff election later this month is arguing that seasonal workers employed by Unalaska’s processing plants illegally registered to vote. It is a rare formal complaint over what has been a long-simmering controversy in Unalaska politics.

Kake successfully halts Forest Service clearcutting in subsistence areas
Melissa Marconi-Wentzel, KCAW – Sitka
Residents of the Southeast community of Kake are declaring a victory over Forest Service logging on the Tongass. A federal court judge has struck down a large timber sale on tap for a traditional subsistence area near the predominantly Alaska Native village. The ruling says the Threemile Arm harvest exceeds actual demand for Tongass timber and put the sale on hold until the agency can come up with more realistic numbers.

Gold rush-era dredge at Chicken taken down
Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
Another piece of gold rush history is gone. The Bureau of Land Management has demolished an historic gold dredge at Chicken. The turn-of-the-century Wade Creek dredge was a popular stop for tour busses on the Taylor Highway, but B.L.M. spokesman Dog Stockdale says it had become a hazard.