Alaska News Nightly: March 24, 2008

The search is still on for one last — and likely lost — crew member of the sunken Alaska Ranger, west of Unalaska. Meanwhile the state Senate votes against the federal Real ID program, the Kuskokwim 300 faces up to back taxes and a rare synchronized swimming team prepares for national competition — in the one-pool town of Juneau. Those stories and more on tonight’s Alaska News Nightly, broadcast statewide on APRN stations.

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Coast Guard still searching for lost Alaska Ranger crewman
Charles Homans, KIAL – Unalaska
A Coast Guard cutter and two helicopters are still searching for the final missing crew member from the fishing vessel Alaska Ranger, which sunk Sunday morning in the Bering Sea west of Unalaska. The missing man has been identified as Satoshi Konno, a Japanese national who was the fish master onboard the Alaska Ranger. Four members of the ship’s crew are confirmed dead, including the captain. About half of the survivors arrived in Unalaska before dawn today, and the rest are safe on board the Coast Guard cutter.

Senate votes to block state spending on federal ID program
Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
The Alaska Senate today passed a bill forbidding state agencies from spending any money to implement the federal Real ID program. Under the program, a new form of approved identification will be required for anyone taking a commercial airplane flight anywhere in the country. It will also be necessary for anyone entering a federal building or crossing a national border. Anchorage Democrat Bill Wielechowski sponsored the bill. He sees the biggest problem with the federal program is the establishment of a method of sharing personal identification.

Kuskokwim 300 may not survive financial investigation
David Shurtleff, APRN – Anchorage
The future of the Kuskokwim 300 Sled Dog Race is in jeopardy, after a series of questionable bookkeeping errors which are now under investigation by race officials and by the State Department of Revenue. The Race Manager has since been fired and replaced by Acting Race Manager Myron Angstman. He says the Kuskokwim 300 relies heavily on income from the local sale of rippies, and the former manager neglected to pay, and under-reported, the taxes owed to the city of Bethel.

Posted on the web site this afternoon:
The K-300 is facing serious financial issues at this time. If you are willing to help with reorganization of the financial structure of the race, give Myron a call. The race needs financial support, as well as off season volunteer support, in order to assure that the 30th running of the 300 will happen.

Alaska’s economy pushed, not shoved, by national trends
Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
The stock market has made a small comeback in the last few days, but many economists are still worried the U.S. is entering a recession. For the most part, Alaska’s economy is fairing better than much of the country. We talked with state economist Neil Fried, who says Alaska’s housing market didn’t experience the same degree of boom as many other states, but it’s also not seeing as much of a bust.

Board of Game rewrites predator control rules
Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
The Alaska Board of Game has resurrected predator control programs halted by the state’s superior court earlier this month. During an emergency meeting Friday, the Board repealed the existing programs for the Upper Yukon, Tanana and western Cook Inlet areas and adopted new ones incorporating population and other findings required by the March 13 ruling.

UAF facing two executive departures this year
Libby Casey, KUAC – Fairbanks
The chancellor of the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) announced today he’s leaving his post. Steve Jones doesn’t have a firm departure date set, but hopes to be in a new position by the fall. The University of Alaska Museum of the North director is also planning to step down. Aldona Jonaitis is leaving the museum’s top post in November after 15 years.

Homer wraps up fourth-largest Winter Kings tournament
Mike Mason, KBBI – Homer
A couple of old friends went out fishing on Sunday in Kachemak Bay and one of them won over $16,000 for catching a large king salmon in the Homer Winter Kings tournament.

Alaska’s sync swimming pair headed to nationals
Scott Burton, APRN – Juneau
Two swimmers in Juneau are headed to the U.S. Synchronized Swimming Nationals in Tucson, Arizona this May. Koko Urata and Sarah Felix have spent a decade competing in the sport, but this will be their biggest test yet.