Alaska News Nightly: November 26, 2008

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Victim and shooter dead, another injured at Soldotna hospital
Casey Kelly, KBBI – Homer
A former employee at Central Peninsula Hospital in Soldotna opened fire at the hospital shortly after 10:00 a.m. this morning, killing one of his former bosses and wounding another before being surrounded and killed by police.

Weyhrauch appeal rejected, corruption case boomerangs to Anchorage federal court
Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
Former state Representative Bruce Weyhrauch lost a decision in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals today.

The Juneau Republican had been accused of soliciting a job from VECO in exchange for following the oil services company’s lead on pending legislative action on oil industry taxes. He had originally been scheduled for trial in September 2007, but the Federal District Court in Anchorage ruled evidence relating to state ethics violations could not be used in the trial.

Responding to an appeal by the government, the Ninth Circuit ruled federal law, “governs every public official and that the government does not need to prove an independent violation of state law.” The appeals ruled the trial court would determine whether the evidence is relevant to the federal charges.

If there is no further appellate action, the case will return to the Federal District Court in Anchorage.

House District 7 candidates remain 1 vote apart in last Alaska race to be decided
Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
A new tally is in for Fairbanks State House District 7, the only remaining undecided legislative seat from November 4th’s general election. Incumbent Republican Mike Kelly had a one vote lead over Democratic challenger Karl Kassel going into a count of absentee ballots yesterday and that hasn’t changed.

Drug ring bust nabs 8, but 4 remain armed, dangerous, on the loose
Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
Four members of a drug ring are still at large after Anchorage police and federal law enforcement officers arrested 8 people yesterday for cocaine, meth, heroin and firearms trafficking. More than a dozen firearms and over $100,000 in cash were seized, along with large amounts of drugs. In all, 12 people are being sought or have been arrested in connection to the alleged criminal activity.

Fort Wainwright-based Army soldier dies in Iraq
The Associated Press
Army officials are reporting a Fort Wainwright soldier died in Iraq on Monday afternoon. 1st Lt. William K. Jernigan died of injuries sustained from a non-combat related incident at his forward operating base in Baqubah, Iraq. Jernigan was 35 years old and from Doraville, Georgia. He was a military intelligence officer who joined the Army in July 2002 and was assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, Brigade Troops Battalion, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division at Fort Wainwright in April 2007. He is the third Stryker Brigade Soldier to die in Iraq since the 4,200-Soldier unit deployed in September. The incident is under investigation.

Halibut limits reduced again; may spark legal battle
Robert Woolsey, KCAW – Sitka
The International Pacific Halibut Commission announced another significant reduction in the halibut harvest for next year. The cutback will be a heavy blow, especially for commercial longliners in Southeast who’ve seen their quotas cut steadily over the last 5 years. Lower halibut abundance in Southeast waters could also set the stage for another legal battle for charter halibut fishermen opposed to a reduction in the daily bag limit for their clients.

Want Inauguration tickets? Act fast and cross your fingers
Libby Casey, APRN – Washington, DC
Alaskans who want a chance to get a ticket to President-elect Barack Obama’s inauguration ceremony need to act fast. Requests must go to Alaska’s congressional delegation within the next few days. Overall there are 240,000 tickets to the official swearing-in ceremony, which will take place in front of the U.S. Capitol Building on Tuesday January 20. Most of those tickets are being distributed through Congressional offices. Alaska’s delegation has only 928 tickets among them, and they’ve already been inundated with more than 5 times that number of requests. The offices of both Congressman Don Young and Senator Lisa Murkowski have fielded upwards of 2,500 requests each.

Kodiak high-speed links expanding to surrounding communities
Jay Barrett, KMXT – Kodiak
The company that brought true high-speed telecommunications to the Kodiak road system is now working on providing the same to the other 6 communities in the borough.

Smoky Fairbanks air indirectly caused by high oil prices
Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
Increased wood burning in the Fairbanks area is causing localized air quality problems. The oil price spike this summer resulted in many area home and business owners switching from oil to wood heating and that’s putting a lot of smoke into the air. Joan Hardesty with Department of Environmental Conservation in Fairbanks says her agency regularly gets complaints.

Clinic given name of Angoon’s healthcare hero
Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock, KCAW – Sitka
The Southeast community of Angoon has officially changed the name of their health clinic to the Jessie Norma Jim Health Center. A dedication and renaming ceremony was held recently by the Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) and the Angoon Community Association. The newly-renamed clinic honors longtime Community Health Aide Practitioner Jessie Norma Jim, who worked in Angoon for more than 35 years.