Alaska News Nightly: March 31, 2008

An Alaska Ranger crew member says alcohol may have played a role in the sinking of the fishing vessel. Plus, the state House resurrects the Susitna dam study And Lance Mackey’s dog Zorro who was injured in a collision with a snowmachine is expected to recover fully. Those stories and more on tonight’s Alaska News Nightly, broadcast statewide on APRN stations.

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Alcohol may have been a factor in sinking of the Alaska Ranger

Charles Homans, KIAL – Unalaska
A surviving crew member from the Alaska Ranger told Coast Guard investigators on Sunday that he believed alcohol use may have been a problem on the ship, before and possibly while the ship sank in the Bering Sea a week ago. Another crew member disputed that account.

HACA meets with Anchorage School Superintendent about supporting Latino students

Len Anderson, KSKA – Anchorage
This weekend Anchorage School Superintendent Carol Comeau met with a local Hispanic council to discuss improving overall Latino student performance in district schools.

House resurrects Susitna dam study

Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
The State House has approved spending $1,000,000 to resurrect and update a study done in 1984 to help determine the viability of a hydroelectric dam on the Susitna River. Sponsor Craig Johnson says the work the Alaska Energy Authority would be a first step toward creating renewable energy for the entire railbelt.

Blessing of the Herring Rock helps bring healing to Sitka

Melissa Marconi Wentzel, KCAW – Sitka
Sitkans celebrated the annual Blessing of the Herring Rock yesterday afternoon. Tlingit clan leaders gathered outside the Sheet’ka Kwaan Naa Kahidi to welcome in the herring and celebrate the Tribe’s long cultural history. According to Tlingit tradition, each year herring return to the Rock to spawn. The event marks the beginning of spring and the community’s annual harvest of traditional foods. Blessing the Rock ensures that this cycle will continue. This year, the ceremony represented more than just seasonal renewal. 5 days earlier, a young man brutally murdered four people in Sitka, three of whom were family members. The homicides shocked the community. The Herring Rock Blessing served as an opportunity for Sitkans, both Native and non-Native, to come together and start to heal from that trauma.

Native leaders discuss climate change
Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
Indigenous leaders from the US, Canada and Mexico gathered earlier this month in Chiapas to discuss how Native communities can help address climate change. The delegates represented more than 200 tribes. Larry Merculieff, an Aleut originally from St. Paul Island, attended the meetings. He says one of the main messages of the conference was to find solutions to global warming from traditional knowledge and values.
See photos of the conference here

Zorro expected to make full recovery
Paul Korchin, KNOM – Nome
The veterinarian treating Lance Mackey’s sled dog Zorro says he will make a full recovery from injuries suffered when he was hit by a snowmobile. 9-year old Zorro was in Mackey’s sled bag when a rogue snowmachiner barreled into his dog team shortly after departing the Safety checkpoint Friday night in the All Alaska Sweepstakes. Mackey’s sled was wrecked, and several dogs dinged-up, but it was Zorro who was injured most seriously.

Cross-country race season ends in Fairbanks

Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
The cross country ski racing season wrapped up in Fairbanks yesterday with National Championship Distance series events.