Alaska News Nightly: July 30, 2008

All eyes are on Ted Stevens in the wake of his indictment yesterday, but he’s going about business as usual — at least until his arraignment in District Court tomorrow. Meanwhile the Alaska Legislature’s getting closer to investigating — with subpoenas in tow — governor Palin’s firing of Walt Monegan. Plus, high waters threaten the eastern interior of Alaska, a caribou massacre has law enforcement and Point Hope up in arms and Galena searches for a path to a nuclear future. Those stories and more tonight on Alaska News Nightly, broadcast statewide on APRN stations.

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Senator Ted Stevens under the microscope; arraignment Thursday
Libby Casey, KUAC – Fairbanks
One day after being indicted for lying, Senator Ted Stevens was back at work, serving as Alaska’s senior Senator. He cast votes on the floor and attended a committee meeting today, followed through the halls of the U.S. Capitol building by throngs of reporters. Tomorrow afternoon Stevens will be arraigned in U.S. District Court in Washington, DC. He’ll have to enter a plea in response to the charges: seven counts of making false statements about gifts he allegedly received from oil services company VECO. The Department of Justice says the gifts totaled more than $250,000 and included major renovations to Stevens’ Girdwood home. While the Senator hasn’t been indicted for bribery, the charges do allege that he did favors for VECO while he was taking the gifts.

Legislature to put subpoena power in hands of Monegan investigators
Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
Preparation is nearly complete for the legislative investigation into the events surrounding the firing of Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan and whether there was any abuse of power leading up to his dismissal. Senate Judiciary Chairman Hollis French says he anticipates choosing and hiring a field investigator later this week. French says the investigation will be thorough – with the committee having the power to subpoena testimony if needed.

Eastern interior Alaska under flood warnings
Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
Flood warnings are in effect across the eastern interior until tomorrow afternoon. Heavy rains have swollen rivers over their banks. High water is threatening homes and roads in areas of Fairbanks and Salcha. North Star Borough Emergency Operations spokeswoman Sallie Stuvek says water from the Salcha and Tanana Rivers is overflowing into Salcha subdivisions.

Caribou kill east of Point Hope has town, police on edge
Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
Residents of the Chukchi sea coastal community of Point Hope in Northwest Alaska are expressing shock over the massive killing of caribou on the arctic tundra about 25 miles inland, east of the Inupiaq village. State troopers say the killing left a lot of wasted meat. Division of Wildlife Enforcement Trooper Eric Lorring says they first visited the site 10 days ago to inspect the kill sites after a resident of Point Hope called in a complaint. Tension is high following apparent miscommunication between village residents and state Troopers.

Kuskokwim Kings barely reaching spawning grounds
Shane Iverson, KYUK – Bethel
King Salmon on the Kuskokwim River are not meeting escapement goals. Despite a great season of fishing, Alaska Fish and Game says only a fraction of Kings are making it to their spawning grounds. Local residents and area biologists are wondering if high energy prices are to blame.

Clean water vs. cruise ships may land back in Legislature’s lap
Ed Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska – Juneau
Regulation of Alaska’s cruise industry could be headed to court. Clean-water activists have taken steps that could lead to legal action against ships they claim are not providing enough information about ocean discharges. The industry says it’s working hard to make its discharges safe. But it’s also threatening to challenge state requirements it says may be unreasonable. The conflict could end up before the legislature.

Galena seeking critical mass for nuclear project
Tim Bodony, KIYU – Galena
The Galena City Council has reaffirmed its support for the continued study of nuclear power for the community. But Galena officials are still looking for money to pay for the next phase of that investigation. The Alaska Energy Authority will likely invest in a variety of alternative energy technologies over the next few years — but as of now, nuclear power isn’t one of them.