Alaska News Nightly: February 8, 2008

Governor Palin wants to eliminate the Certificate of Need law. Plus, Yakutat finally gets a new municipal manager. And the Iron Dog snowmachine race and the Yukon Quest sled dog  race get set to kick off this weekend. Those stories and more on tonight’s Alaska News Nightly, broadcast statewide on APRN stations.

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New bill designed to help support foster children
Dave Donaldson, APRN – Anchorage
A bill introduced today would smooth out some of the problems facing children living in the state’s foster care system.

Governor proposes repeal of CON law

Rosemarie Alexander, KTOO – Juneau
Governor Palin’s proposal to eliminate a law that balances community needs with the brick and mortar of health care has local hospital administrators worried.  One provision would repeal the state’s Certificate of Need (CON) law.  Palin says Alaska needs more competition and the CON process has led to too many lawsuits. Opponents to repeal argue that the state should continue to regulate competition with hospitals in small markets.

North Slope mayor reacts to Walrus listing
Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
North Slope Borough Mayor Edward Itta today said he wasn’t surprised by the call yesterday from the Center for Biological Diversity to list  Pacific Walrus under the Endangered Species Act. Itta said he figured it was a matter of time before conservationists would use the same climate change argument that led to the call to list the polar bear. He says it adds to the unknowns– for coastal people who rely so heavily on the walrus as a source of food.

Yakutat gets a new manager
Ed Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska – Juneau
Yakutat finally has a municipal manager. The northern Southeast Alaska community went more than a year before hiring a longtime resident for the job. The process included the selection – and later rejection – of a controversial former Southcentral lawmaker.

Anchorage school board approves budget
Len Anderson, KSKA – Anchorage
In a special session yesterday, the Anchorage School Board unanimously approved its proposed budget for 2008-2009.  The board and administration’s next step involves making sure the Alaska legislature passes the budget’s predicted state funding.

Senate committee mulls new director for Indian Health Service

Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
The Senate Indian Affairs Committee held a confirmation hearing yesterday for Robert McSwain to become the director of the Indian Health Service.

“Miss Earline” to the rescue

John Ryan, KTOO – Juneau
If a teenager gets caught using drugs or committing a crime in Southeast Alaska, there’s a good chance they’ll get sent to the Johnson Youth Center in Juneau. But some people go to the detention and treatment center voluntarily. In fact,  one volunteer is about 70 years older than the kids she spends time with. To them she is known simply as “Miss Earline.”

Iron Dog: Gentlemen, start your engines
Tim Bodony, KIYU – Galena
The 2008 Iron Dog snowmachine race begins this Sunday at Big Lake. “First Dude” Todd Palin and teammate Scott Davis are the defending champions of the 2000 mile snowmachine race across Alaska. They will defend their title amid a race field that has plenty of fresh faces this year.

Yukon Quest mushers ready to hit the trail
Dan Bross and Libby Casey, KUAC – Fairbanks
Mushers and their dog teams are gathered in Fairbanks for the start of tomorrow’s 25th running of the Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race.  It kicks off in downtown Fairbanks on the Chena River tomorrow morning at 11:00.