Alaska News Nightly: May 26, 2008

The Veterans Administration (VA) chief visits Alaska and shares his thoughts on mental health services for former soldiers. Meanwhile, teachers sign a new labor deal with the Yukon-Koyukuk School District and Alaska’s Democrats meet in Palmer to support their candidates — and assign delegates for the hotly-contested Presidential primary. Those stories and more on tonight’s Alaska News Nightly, broadcast statewide on APRN stations.

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VA chief discusses veteran mental health services
Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
Veterans Administration head Dr. James Peake joined Senator Ted Stevens and a crowd of veterans and family members on the Park Strip in Anchorage today to honor those who serve in the armed forces.

Homer’s seafaring folk blessed, remembered
Emily Schwing, KBBI – Homer
The 12th Annual “Blessing of the Fleet” took place at the Seafarer’s Memorial in Homer yesterday.

Yukon-Koyukuk schools and teachers sign on to new labor deal
Tim Bidony, KIYU – Galena
A labor dispute in the Yukon-Koyukuk School District has come to an end. The school board ratified a 3-year agreement with the teachers union on May 15, after voting to reject the same agreement in January. The dispute centered around the question of whether departing teachers should get the same pay raise as returning teachers.

‘Papa’ Pilgrim dies in Anchorage prison
David Shurtleff, APRN – Anchorage
One of Alaska’s most high profile prison inmates has died. Robert Hale, better known as Papa Pilgrim, passed away at the Anchorage Correction Complex Saturday evening.

Search continues for missing McKinley climbers
David Shurtleff, APRN – Anchorage
The search continues this evening for two missing Japanese climbers who were attempting to summit Denali. They were expected back this past Thursday.

Tlingit-Haida hire director to explore energy cost controls and conservation
Ed Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska – Juneau
Southeast Alaska’s largest tribal organization is focusing more of its attention on power and fuel-cost issues. The Tlingit-Haida Central Council has hired its first energy director.

500 Alaska Democrats and supporters wrap up state convention
David Shurtleff, APRN – Anchorage
The Democratic State Convention wrapped up yesterday in Palmer. In the upcoming Presidential election, Alaska delegates will be split: Hillary Clinton will get 3, while Obama will take 11 delegates. Meanwhile Alaskan Democrats running for state and national offices spoke to supporters.

Anchorage-to-Fire Island power line will go ahead with State support
Mike Mason, KBBI – Homer
Governor Palin chose not to veto an appropriation for an undersea power line between Anchorage and Fire Island. Cook Inlet Regional, Inc. (CIRI) and partners will proceed with designing and planning a wind power installation on the island.

EPA signs off on new Juneau access roads, with reservations
John Ryan, KTOO – Juneau
The Environmental Protection Agency has signed off on the Juneau Access road project. But the EPA says the Army Corps of Engineers’ analysis of the project is skewed and incomplete.