Alaska News Nightly: April 1, 2008

The state Senate puts its seal on a capital project budget.  Plus, high-flying gold prices spark a new Alaska gold rush. And  municipal elections get under way in Anchorage. Those stories and more on tonight’s Alaska News Nightly, broadcast statewide on APRN stations.

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Senate putting final touches on capital projects budget bill

Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
The bill moved out of the Finance Committee this morning and was on the floor within an hour. The bill spends nearly $2.5 billion – 1.7 billion of it on capital needs. Of that, Finance Co-chair Bert Stedman says it only spends $560 million from the state’s general fund.

Alaska doctor tesifies on Medicare before Congress
Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
An Anchorage doctor is in Washington DC to testify against planned changes to the federal medicare program. Dr. Tom Vasileff is joining physicians from across the country to lobby against a decrease in the reimbursement rate medicare pays doctors. That rate is scheduled to drop by more than 10 percent in July and another 5% in January.

Soaring gold prices behind new Alaska gold rush
Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
High mineral prices are spurring another gold rush in Alaska. Peter Frantz, a geologist with the Department of Natural Resources in Fairbanks, says the agency has already received 197 applications for a range of exploration and mining activities in the Northern Region this spring.

Sitka sac roe fishery sets new record
Matt Lichtenstein, KFSK – Petersburg
The Sitka sac roe herring fishery wrapped up yesterday evening in a 4-1/2 hour opener that saw seiners land the rest of their record 15-thousand ton quota.Last Wednesday’s fishing set a record. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game estimates the harvest that day was 9700 tons.

Prince Rupert ferry dock under repair
Ed Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska – Juneau
Prince Rupert officials say they’re firmly committed to repairing the British Columbia city’s ferry terminal. Alaska officials had to cancel one sailing after the terminal was declared unsafe. But they’ve resumed, using an alternate dock until their regular facility is fixed.

Municipal elections underway in Anchorage
Len Anderson, KSKA – Anchorage
Today Anchorage voters are deciding the fate of a half dozen municipal assembly seats and bond propositions totaling around $103,000,000.

Anniversary of historic tsunami arouses vivid memories
Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
62 years ago today, one of the 20th century’s worse tsunamis hit the pacific ocean. It followed an 8.2 magnitude earthquake that was ecorded south of the Aleutian Islands. Eldon Gallear was in the Merchant Marine at the time, on a tug that was pulling three barges from Adak to Anchorage. The boat was near Unimak pass when the earthquake hit. Gallear remembers it was unusually nice weather for the Aleutians