Alaska News Nightly: August 13, 2008

Governor Sarah Palin released a recording today that shows a member of her staff pressuring former Public Safety commissioner Walt Monegan to fire a state trooper. Plus, representatives from Arctic nations are in Fairbanks to discuss common issues like climate change and energy development. Those stories and more tonight on Alaska News Nightly, broadcast statewide on APRN stations.

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Palin releases evidence of pressure on Public Safety surrounding Wooten / Monegan
Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
Governor Palin today made public some of the documents the Department of Law has accumulated during its internal investigation of the firing of former Public Safety commissioner Walt Monegan. The Department is investigating the firing to determine if there was undue pressure on Monegan and others in his department to fire state Trooper Mike Wooten. Palin says some of her staff’s contacts with Monegan could have been taken as coming at her direction — although, she says, she did not authorize them.

Murkowski opens Arctic conference, focuses on climate and energy
Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
Representatives from Arctic nations are gathered in Fairbanks for a conference to discuss health, climate change and energy in the region. Alaska U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski opened the 8th Conference of Parliamentarians of the Arctic yesterday at the University of Alaska Fairbanks by stressing the United States’ changing perspective on the Arctic.

Kodiak Natives capture grant for cancer screenings
Mary Donaldson, KMXT – Kodiak
A federal grant is helping the Native association in Kodiak offer more cancer screenings for patients.

Alaska hires first Traffic Safety Resource Prosecutor
Rosemarie Alexander, KTOO – Juneau
The crimes committed when people are behind a steering wheel are the impetus for a new state position, called a Traffic Safety Resource Prosecutor. Deputy Attorney General Rick Svobodny says more than half the states already have a traffic prosecutors and the number of traffic-related prosecutions warrants the job. Nationwide, an average of 43,000 people die each year in traffic crashes of all kinds.

Seashell beds high above Southeast Alaska waters suggest new prehistory for Natives
Robert Woolsey, KCAW – Sitka
Researchers looking for evidence of early human migration along Alaska’s Southeastern coast probably have been looking in the wrong place. Recent geological studies suggest that the islands, coves, and beaches that later became home to contemporary Native cultures likely did not exist when the forebears of those cultures first moved into North America from Asia around 30,000 years ago.

Fort Knox mine begins building gold leaching facility
Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
The Ft. Knox mine has begun construction of a heap leach facility. The state’s largest gold mine received state and federal permits for the operation a year ago. It involves percolating a cyanide solution through massive piles of low grade ore, to liberate gold. The grant is one of 25 awarded to rural communities across the U.S. to provide broadband service where none had previously existed.

USDA grant will put Tatitlek onto Internet fast lane
Ellen Lockyer, APRN – Anchorage
Tiny Tatitlek in Price William Sound will benefit from high speed telecommunications and internet service thanks to a $1 million “Community Connect” grant from USDA Rural Development.

Summer 2009 ferry schedule released for review, comment
Ed Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska – Juneau
The summer ferry schedule is out for review… that’s NEXT summer’s ferry schedule. Officials say the early release should help passengers and tour groups plan for next year’s busy season.

Alaskan fiddler tirelessly touring with latest CD, book
Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
Alaska fiddle musician, poet and author Ken Waldman is back in the state after an east coast tour promoting the simultaneous release of his 7th CD and his 7th book. Although the prolific writer has mainly published collections of poetry in the past, his new book — Are You Famous? Touring America with Alaska’s Fiddling Poet — is autobiographical in nature.