Alaska News Nightly: February 25, 2008

The state House passed a bill today that provides a funding boost for local school districts. Plus, the against-the-odds rescue of a victim of a massive avalanche at Turnagain Pass. One responder called it “mind blowing.” Those stories and more on tonight’s Alaska News Nightly, broadcast statewide on APRN stations.

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House passes education funding boost
Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
A bill increasing funding for local school districts by $120 million this year — and some $250 million in phases over the next three years — passed the Alaska House today. The education funding bill came out of a bipartisan House-Senate task force that met over the summer.

Governor’s AGIA / TransCanada plan exposed to public hearings
Rosemarie Alexander, KTOO – Juneau
Alaskans have until March 6 to submit public comments on the TransCanada proposal to build a natural gas pipeline from the North Slope to Alberta, Canada. Palin administration gasline team members are holding meetings around the state this month to talk about the AGIA (Alaska Gasline Inducement Act) process and encourage citizens to comment on TransCanada’s application.

Public employees prep to vote on labor deal
Rosemarie Alexander, KTOO – Juneau
After months of deadlock, State of Alaska supervisors have a tentative labor agreement with the Palin administration. And union officials say a rejection could lead to a strike. Members of the Alaska Public Employees Association (APEA) are being asked to vote on a proposal that gives them an 11.5% pay raise over three years.

Nikolski fuel emergency relieved for a few weeks
Charles Homans, KIAL – Unalaska
A pair of emergency fuel deliveries that arrived in Nikolski Friday afternoon may be enough to keep lights on in the small Aleutian island village until a barge can deliver a full shipment next month. The village has been hovering on the edge of a fuel crisis since late fall and declared a disaster emergency earlier this month.

Sitka asked to cut back even further on electric usage
Melissa Marconi-Wentzel, KCAW – Sitka
The Sitka electric department is urging residents to turn off their electric heaters and fire up the diesel or wood stoves. The city has been pushing electric conservation since December, by which time an extended period of low rainfall had dramatically lowered the reservoirs, creating a hydroelectric shortage.

Rescuer tells avalanche victim’s harrowing tale
Annie Feidt, APRN – Anchorage
The skier who survived a massive avalanche this weekend at Turnagain Pass (south of Anchorage) is lucky to be alive. Ian Wilson, a tourist from Oregon, was miraculously uninjured even though the avalanche dragged him down 1,500 feet of mountainside and buried him four feet deep. His dramatic rescue was a team effort led by a Forest Service employee who happened to be skiing in the same area on his day off.

Clare House celebrates 25 years of shelter services
Len Anderson, KSKA – Anchorage
Last week Anchorage’s Clare House celebrated 25 years of offering shelter to homeless women with children. The observance honored those who have contributed over the years to Clare House’s operations as well as those who have sought its service.

“Running of the Bulls” comes to Anchorage. In February. With Reindeer.
Ellen Lockyer, APRN – Anchorage
Anchorages’s Fur Rondy got off to a flying start over the weekend. One event certain to go down in the annals of the weird and wacky: Sunday’s first annual “Running of the Reindeer.”