Alaska News Nightly: May 30, 2008

The head of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency, Teresa Lasseter, is in Alaska for the first time to see for herself the challenges for farming and ranching in the state. Also, The MatSu Creamery beats long odds and opens in the valley.  Plus, a Kodiak Coast Guardsman helps find remains of a Japanese soldier on Attu. Those stories and more on tonight’s Alaska News Nightly, broadcast statewide on APRN stations.

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Head of US Farm Service Agency visits Alaska
Lori Townsend, APRN & Jennifer Canfield, KNBA – Anchorage
The head of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency is in Alaska for a first visit to see for herself the challenges for farming and ranching in the state. Teresa Lasseter joined Senator Ted Stevens and state USDA officials today to discuss new funding for Alaska through the Geographically Disadvantaged Farmer and Rancher provision of the farm bill. Lasseter says even though weather prevented a trip to Shismaref, a tour of the grocery store in Nome helped her understand what rural Alaskans are up against.

MatSu Creamery beats the odds

Ellen Lockyer, KSKA – Palmer
It was a long shot, but today, the eagerly anticipated Matanuska Creamery became a reality. Federal and state dignitaries stood with Matanuska Valley dairy farmers to cut the blue ribbon at opening ceremonies at the facility on the Palmer-Wasilla Highway.  Senator Ted Stevens, and Congressman Don Young were on hand for the celebration.  Young said the new creamery marks a step forward for local dairy production.

Kodiak Coast Guardsman helps find remains of Japanese soldier on Attu

Casey Kelly, KMXT – Kodiak
Crews from the United States and Japan returned to Kodiak yesterday, after about two weeks on Attu Island in the Aluetians. They were searching for the remains of more than two thousand Japanese soldiers killed during World War II. As KMXT’s Casey Kelly reports, a Kodiak Coast Guardsman played an instrumental role in unearthing the only remains found during the mission.

Nenana energy fair looks to lower dependence on fossil fuels

Libby Casey, KUAC – Fairbanks
As Alaskans cope with high oil and energy prices, a group in Nenana is looking for solutions. Tomorrow’s Nenana Oil Conservation and Energy Fair is a grass-roots effort to help people find ways to lower their bills – and their dependence on fossil fuels.

Despite lower electricity consumption, Juneau faces pollution challenge from diesel generation
John Ryan, KTOO – Juneau
Alaska Electric Light and Power reports electricity consumption and diesel generation in Juneau hitting new weekday lows with this week’s summer-like weather. Juneau’s demand for electricity has fallen 41 percent since avalanches cut off the city’s main source of hydropower in April. Despite the reduced electricity and diesel use, AEL&P says some of its diesel generators at Lemon Creek could exceed state pollution limits next week.

Food Bank of Alaska ready to fight summer hunger
Len Anderson, KSKA – Anchorage
Summer for most kids means three months of school-free fun.  But for too many young Alaskans, it’s also a time of fewer meals and more hunger.  Yesterday in Anchorage the Food Bank of Alaska kicked off its second year of federally funded summer meals for kids, including some youngsters in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta.

Copper River dipnet opening delayed and cut back
Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
The season’s first dip net opening for Copper River salmon at Chitina  has been shortened and pushed back.  State area management biologist Mark Sommerville says the start has been delayed a day and half and the duration has been cut from 112 to 72 hours.

Science to continue this year on the Bering Glacier
Mike Mason, KBBI – Homer
A small group of scientists and researchers are gearing up for another season of data collection on Alaska’s Bering glacier.