Alaska News Nightly: February 2, 2009

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Governor and legislative leaders join forces over Federal stimulus package
Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
Governor Palin and the presiding officers of the House and Senate are joining forces to present their arguments against the federal economic stimulus package that is currently before the Senate.

House Energy Committee headed to the Alaskan bush
Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
The House Energy Committee is going on the road this month. Charisse Millet has scheduled meetings in Kotzebue and Nome this weekend and in Dillingham and Bethel the last weekend of the month. Millet says she wants to sit down with the residents of those communities, and she thinks it’s important to listen to them.

Second former Young staffer implicated in Abramoff corruption scandal
The Associated Press
A second former staffer to Congressman Don Young, Fraser Verrusio, has been implicated in the Jack Abramoff influence-peddling investigation. Identified in federal court papers only as “Staffer D,” Verrusio is said to have accepted an all-expenses-paid trip to Game One of the 2003 World Series from lobbyists who wanted his help.

Juneau back on hydro power
Rosemarie Alexander, KTOO – Juneau
Juneau is back on hydroelectric power, after an avalanche tore down the Snettisham powerline January 12. Alaska Electric Light and Power crews finished repairs to the line yesterday afternoon. Generally, 100% of Juneau’s power comes from hydroelectric facilities, at a cost of just more than 10 cents a kilowatt hour. More expensive diesel fuel is the emergency back-up.

State Ferry Lituya damaged in last week’s grounding
Deanna Garrison, KRBD – Ketchikan
The state ferry Lituya sustained a gash in its hull as a result of Friday’s grounding off the coast of Metlakatla.

Cim Smyth wins Tustumena 200 sled dog race
Casey Kelly, KBBI – Homer
Cim Smyth pulled out a 2-minute victory over defending champion Lance Mackey in the Tustumena 200 sled dog race over the weekend on the Kenai Peninsula. Smyth’s 12-dog team pulled into the Clam Shell Lodge in Clam Gulch at 2:50 p.m. Sunday, to finish in 19 hours 8 minutes. Mackey and his 9-dog team came in at 2:52 p.m., followed by Jon Little, who finished third at 4:26 p.m.

Yukon Quest mushers make final preparations
Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
Final preparations for the Yukon Quest are underway. Over the weekend, participants in the 1,000-mile main event, and shorter Quest 300, dropped off bags of race food and gear for distribution to checkpoints along the trail.

Wind power comes to Nome
John Francis, KNOM – Nome
The Bering Straits and Sitnasuak Native Corporations last week celebrated the arrival of commercial wind energy to Nome, as they cut the ribbon on their new Banner Wind Farm.

Wind power a disappointment across the border in Canada
Jackie Sharkey, CBC – Whitehorse
In Canada, wind energy would seem a natural fit for northern, windy coastal communities. But it’s never lived up to its promise, even at a wind energy project in Rankin Inlet.

Alaska Airlines 737 struck by lightning
Robert Woolsey, KCAW – Sitka
An Alaska Airlines 737 was struck by lightning on its approach to Sitka yesterday evening. All passengers disembarked in Sitka and the plane went on to Juneau
with only the flight crew. The plane sustained minor damage and was returned to service. The coastal areas of Southeast Alaska have experienced occasional thunderstorms for the last week. The National Weather Service in Juneau says the phenomenon, sometimes called “thundersnow,” occurs when cold air moves in over the relatively warm ocean.

Redoubt keeping Alaskans in suspense
Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
Mt. Redoubt volcano seems determined to keep Alaskans gripped in suspense. Alaska Volcano Observatory geologist Tina Neal says Redoubt remains in a heightened state of unrest. She says an episode of high seismic activity on Saturday appeared to be the start of an eruption, but now the volcano is back in the waxing and waning pattern of tremor activity.

Is Alaska’s pollock fishery ‘sustainable’?
Anne Hillman, KUCB – Unalaska
Alaska’s pollock fishery is seeking recertification as a “sustainable fishery” from the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC). The Council provides independent, third-party certification for fisheries around the world to ensure they are not damaging the fish stocks or the surrounding ecosystem.

Debate over cruise-ship passenger fee fails to fade
Ed Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska – Juneau
Two major tourism industry groups say they have no plans to ask lawmakers to reduce or eliminate Alaska’s cruise-ship passenger fee. Some municipal leaders in Juneau and Ketchikan want the fee reexamined. They say dropping or shrinking the $50-per-person charge would help a struggling industry. But Ron Peck of the Alaska Travel Industry Association says his group is not asking for a change. The same is true for John Binkley of the Alaska Cruise Association.