Alaska News Nightly: March 14, 2008

Lt Governor Sean Parnell challenges Don Young for the state’s lone congressional seat. Also, state Republican Party Chairman Randy Ruedrich faces a no-confidence vote at the party’s convention in Anchorage. And rising oil prices mean the state’s oil revenue has taken another big jump. Plus, Alaska’s
Public Employees ratify a new contract with the state. Those stories and more on tonight’s Alaska News Nightly, broadcast statewide on APRN stations.

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Lt. Governor Parnell announces run against Don Young
David Shurtleff/Steve Heimel/Lori Townsend/Annie Feidt, APRN – Anchorage
Lt. Governor Sean Parnell is running against Don Young for Alaska’s lone seat in the US House. Parnell made the surprise announcement this morning at the state’s Republican convention in downtown Anchorage.

Chairman of the state Republican party Randy Ruedrich may face ouster vote
David Shurtleff, APRN – Anchorage
The other big issue at the Republican State Convention is the ongoing debate on whether to oust Randy Ruedrich from his post as Chairman of the Republican State Party. For days, Ruedrich has maintained that he will refuse to resign over the corruption that has occurred under his rule. But now an effort is underway to vote him out of office.

Alaska’s oil revenue continues to rise

Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
The State of Alaska keeps bringing in money. The Revenue Department today released a preliminary revenue forecast that predicts a total income this fiscal year – ending June 30 — of
$8,500,000,000. State Economist Dr. Michael Williams says that reflects the unexpectedly high price of oil on world markets since last fall’s forecast of $6,600,000,000 was released.

Senate completes work on major funding bills

Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
The Senate today finished work on the three major funding bills that had been set as a major goal of this year’s session. The House will take what’s expected to be a positive vote on the final bill on Monday. Members of both parties had said all along they planned to find a balance of rural and urban needs in education funding, pension payments – called Pers-Ters – and revenue sharing. House Finance Co-chair Kevin Meyer said the key was finding a balance in spending that satisfied enough members.

Public Employees ratify new contract with the state
Rosemarie Alexander, KTOO – Juneau
Alaska Public Employees Association members have ratified a new contract with the Palin administration. It gives supervisors an 11.5% raise over 3 years, with 5.5% retroactive to last July, then 3% in each of the next two years. Ballots were counted Wednesday. More than 80% of nearly 2,000 bargaining unit members voted in the election – an unprecedented turnout.

Sitkans meet to discuss climate change
Robert Woolsey, KCAW – Sitka
The sheer magnitude of the problems presented by global climate change can have a chilling effect on action for small communities. But that hasn’t stopped places like Homer from developing a Climate Change action plan – and now Sitka may not be far behind. A group of about three dozen Sitkans met this week to identify meaningful solutions to climate change

Teaching in small rural school present unique challenges
Anne Hillman, KDLG – Dillingham
The Lake & Penninsula Borough has 14 schools but only 370 students. The smallest school has 10 students K-12. The largest has 75 students. Small schools in secluded parts of the state resent unique challenges to teachers who have to teach multiple subjects to multiple grade levels.

Alaskan students take the stage at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC
Kristin Garot, KTOO – Juneau
34r Glacier Valley Elementary School 4th and 5th graders are getting ready to perform The Tides and the Tempest this weekend at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. The school is one of 5 national winners of the Kennedy Center’s award for excellence in arts education