Alaska News Nightly: September 3, 2008

Governor Sarah Palin appears at the Republican National Convention tonight to give a highly-anticipated speech as John McCain’s VP choice. Plus, a science expedition to the Beaufort Sea documents fish species never seen before in the area. Those stories and more tonight on Alaska News Nightly, broadcast statewide on APRN stations.

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Palin preparing for speech as national Republicans defending McCain’s choice
Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
Governor Sarah Palin is preparing to accept the GOP vice presidential nomination at the party’s convention and will speak to convention goers — and the nation — tonight in St. Paul, Minnesota. Palin spent about 10 minutes this morning getting a run-through at the arena to discuss the setup for her speech.

Palin / Monegan / Wooten investigation hits a snag
Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
The legislative investigation into the events leading up to the firing of Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan is facing a setback. Senate Judiciary chairman Hollis French had established a goal of issuing a report on the investigation by the end of October. When the committee’s investigator began gathering facts, Governor Palin promised full cooperation from her administration. But French says some obstacles have come up since then.

Alaska’s teacher union now led by its first rural educator
Angela Denning Barnes, KYUK – Bethel
The state’s largest teacher’s union has chosen a rural Alaska educator to lead their group for the first time. A veteran Bethel teacher has been chosen as the new President of the National Education Association of Alaska.

Aleutian excavations revealing ancient homes housing up to 300 people
Anne Hillman, KIAL – Unalaska
People began populating the eastern Aleutians 9,000 years ago and continued heading west over the next 6,000 years. Remnants of their ancient — and not so ancient — village sites can still be seen in the Aleutians today, if you know what to look for.

University of Alaska accepting $1 million from Chevron
Mike Mason, KBBI – Homer
The University of Alaska (UA) announced yesterday that the oil company Chevron is giving the university $1 million in two $500,000 gifts.

UAF enrollment falling on fears of winter fuel costs
Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
High energy costs and concern about the upcoming winter are affecting enrollment at the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF). Tim Barnett, Vice Chancellor for student enrollment services at UAF, says overall student numbers are down slightly and most of that seems to be in non-degree-seeking students who typically take a class or two to upgrade their employment status.

Alaska weatherization program facing backlog of applicants
Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
An office set up in Fairbanks to provide information on state energy efficiency and assistance programs is getting heavy interest. The Portal on Retrofits, Training and Loans was established to help people take advantage of the state-funded assistance. Portal Program liaison Michael Berrie says there’s a backlog of people trying to take advantage of weatherization and rebate programs.

Beaufort Sea survey finding fish moving north to Arctic waters
Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
Fisheries biologists are back from a month-long trip to study fish species in the Beaufort Sea. They were looking at what types of fish inhabit the Beaufort and how plentiful they are. Global warming is already forcing more and more animals, including fish, north to the Arctic Ocean. The only previous survey of fish species in the area took place in the 1970’s.

North Slope Alaskans on the lookout for growing walrus haul-out numbers
Annie Feidt, APRN – Anchorage
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is asking North Slope residents to be on the lookout for walrus hauling out on shore. At this time last year, as many as 6,000 walrus crowded along Alaska’s Chukchi Sea coast when they ran out of ice to forage from. Joel Garlic Miller is a walrus biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Anchorage. He says the sea ice this year has lingered around longer, but there isn’t much left.