Alaska News Nightly: December 15, 2008

Governor Sarah Palin is proposing a 7% cut in spending for next year’s state budget. Plus a Fairbanks retailer packs up after more than a century at its current location.

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Governor Palin unveils 2009 budget proposal with 7% cut
John Ryan, KTOO – Juneau
Governor Sarah Palin wants to shrink state government spending by 7% next year. She released her proposed budget for fiscal year 2010 this morning.

Legislators react to Palin budget cuts and priorities
Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
It will take lawmakers and community leaders time to comb through the Governor’s budget plan, but some had skimmed through summaries today. Alaska Municipal League director Kathie Wasserman says at $60 million, the proposed municipal revenue sharing money is the same as the last budget, although originally the Governor had proposed $75 million last year and the legislature cut it to the $60 million this year. She says in 1986 revenue sharing was $141 million.

Palin’s home church arson fire remains under investigation
The Associated Press
Federal investigators in Alaska are awaiting results of laboratory tests to determine what kind of accelerant was used in a fire that heavily damaged Governor Palin’s home church. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives says the accelerant was poured at several locations around the exterior of the church, including entrances. Possible accelerants include gasoline, kerosene, diesel fuel and even lamp oil. The blaze was set at the main entrance of the Wasilla Bible Church on Friday evening while a small group, including two children, were inside. No one was injured. Palin was not at the church at the time of the fire.

Alaska PFD recipients can donate via click for 2009
Ed Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska – Juneau
Backers hope a new charitable-giving program will help Alaska service groups hit hard by the nation’s economic downturn. But its proceeds will not make it into nonprofit groups’ coffers until later next year. The “Pick. Click. Give.” program stems from legislation introduced by a Southeast lawmaker.

Disclosure: The Alaska Public Radio Network is currently airing paid nonprofit announcements for the Pick. Click. Give. program and is a nonprofit organization listed in the program.

Sitka museum asks assembly to double its municipal income
Robert Woolsey, KCAW – Sitka
The Sitka Historical Society has asked the assembly to more than double its financial support for the organization. The Society’s municipal funding this year is $53,000. The Society would like to see that boosted to $120,000 annually. Historical Society board members and the assembly met in a work session last week to discuss the issue.

Century-old Fairbanks hardware retailer closes
Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
Fairbanks has said a temporary goodbye to a local retail institution. Samson’s Hardware closed the doors at a location it had occupied for 104 years Friday. The store on the Chena River in downtown Fairbanks, which is currently owned by the Jackovich family, has survived in the modern era of big box retailers as the place to get hard-to-find items and personalized service.

U.S. archeologists work to return Alaska Native remains and artifacts
Anne Hillman, KUCB – Unalaska
The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) is a federal law that requires museums and federal agencies to return human remains and other cultural items to their descendants. That means it’s up to people like U.S. Fish & Wildlife archeologist Debbie Corbett to locate all of the remains that were taken from federal lands in Alaska, identify who they belong to and try to get them home.

Forest Service cleared for Kupreanof timber sale
Matt Lichtenstein, KFSK – Petersburg
The U.S. Forest Service has won a court decision in a lawsuit over a proposed timber sale on northern Kupreanof Island near Petersburg. A federal judge ruled last month that the agency’s planning for the Scott Peak project complied with the law. The suit had originally been filed by a Forest Service biologist who passed away early this year.

Yukon Quest asking Fairbanks for special funding
Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
The Yukon Quest pleads its case for a portion of local bed tax money before the Fairbanks City Council tonight. Race organizers missed the application deadline for the money this fall. Fairbanks Mayor Terry Sterl says the Quest is an important event, but that giving one organization special treatment could throw the whole funding process into question.