Alaska News Nightly: October 15, 2008

Defense witnesses contradicted Bill Allen’s testimony today during Senator Stevens’ trial. Plus, the state has a new grant to help reduce Alaska’s teen suicide rate, which is three times the national average. Those stories and more tonight on Alaska News Nightly, broadcast statewide on APRN stations.

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Bill Allen’s testimony disputed by Stevens’ defense witnesses
Libby Casey, APRN – Washington, DC
Witnesses for Senator Ted Stevens contradicted the testimony of Bill Allen today. Stevens is on trial in Washington, DC for charges of lying on his financial disclosure forms about more than $250,000 in gifts, mostly from oil field services company VECO and its former CEO Allen. Earlier in the trial, Allen served as the government’s key witness. But the latest defense witnesses are telling a different story.

Murkowski’s mercury bill signed into law
Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
President Bush today signed a bill banning the export of mercury — a dangerous neurotoxin that is especially hazardous to children and women. The bill was sponsored by Alaska Senator Lisa
Murkowski, Democratic Presidential nominee Barack Obama and several others.

Alaska suicide prevention efforts getting federal boost
Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
The Federal government has awarded the State of Alaska a 3-year grant to help prevent suicide among young Alaskans. According to the most recent data available, the state’s young people in the 15 to 24 age range commit suicide at a rate three times the national average.

Parnell visits Unalaska amidst Palin’s absence
Anne Hillman, KUCB – Unalaska
Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell is in Unalaska this week to speak with residents about local and statewide issues and to learn more about the community. He answered questions and listened to concerns during a community meeting and a high school assembly.

Palin’s rural advisor calls it quits, calls for more Native representation
Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
Governor Sarah Palin’s rural advisor announced this week she’s stepping down. Rhonda McBride says more Alaska Native voices are needed in the Governor’s office. McBride has been in the position for about 10 months. She announced her intention to leave in an e-mail to several Native leaders.

Klukwan village opens new gymnasium
John Hunt, KHNS – Haines
Tlingit tribal members at the Native village of Klukwan celebrated a long-term goal over the weekend with the dedication of its new gymnasium and basketball court.

Controlled wildfire burns proceeding, snow or no
Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
Snow cover in interior Alaska isn’t keeping wildfire mangers from trying to carry out prescribed burns. State and Federal agencies have been burning brush and grasses to eliminate fuels available for future wild fires.

Fast freeze on Kuskokwim catches boaters by surprise
Shane Iverson, KYUK – Bethel
Residents on the Kuskokwim River were surprised by a quick freeze this week. The River was ice-free on Saturday, but overnight big chunks of ice appeared, making boating conditions dangerous. Now the river is nearly bank-to-bank ice.

Forest Association meeting in Anchorage, seeking southeast timber
Ed Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska – Juneau
The Alaska Forest Association opened its annual convention today in Anchorage. The industry is a shadow of what it was in the 1990s, when large Southeast mills provided more than 1,000 jobs and
significant payrolls. But Executive Director Owen Graham says it’s not all bad these days.