Alaska News Nightly: February 23, 2009

Individual news stories are posted in the Alaska News category and you can subscribe to APRN’s news feeds via e-mail, podcast and RSS.

Download Audio (MP3, 30 min)

State prepares for influx of stimulus funds
Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
Besides some eight hundred billion dollars tucked into the Economic Stimulus package President Obama signed last week,  state and federal officials see deadlines they have to meet to share in the distribution.   The federal plan is designed to put money into the national economy quickly,  and in many cases,  states face a use-it-or-lose-it decision.    Alaska faces the same time constraints – and the most-asked question at the capitol in Juneau is:   Are we ready?

Yukon Quest enters exciting endgame

Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
The standings in the Yukon Quest sled dog race have shifted dramatically in the last 12 hours. Longtime race veteran, William Kleedhen, looked like he had a good shot at winning the race. But he ran into trouble near Eagle Summit, one of the toughest sections of the race and dropped back to fifth place. Hugh Neff is currently in the lead, but is facing a two hour penalty at the final checkpoint, 45 miles from Fairbanks. Jon Little is in second place, followed closely by Sebastian Schnuelle with Brent Sass a few hours behind.

Obesity rates level off in Anchorage schools
Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
More than one third of Anchorage school district students are above a healthy weight. But a new analysis of ten years of height and weight data from the district shows obesity rates have leveled off recently.

Begich and Murkowski differ on Employees Free Choice Act
Rosemarie Alexander, KTOO – Juneau
Alaska Senator Mark Begich is a co-sponsor of the Employees Free Choice Act, introduced in the U.S. Senate by Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy. But Senator Lisa Murkowski says the legislation won’t get her support, unless she sees substantial changes from the current proposal. The legislation is a top priority of labor unions nationwide, including those with members in Alaska.

Palin admistration defends Wasilla expenses
Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
Governor Palin’s spokesman Bill McCallister told reporters today that media coverage scrutinizing the Governor’s per diem expenses for staying in her Wasilla area home has been so relentless that it had to be responded to. Sounding frustrated, McCallister said the extensive coverage seems to suggest her actions were wrong but he says they were perfectly legal and when the first family does not stay in the Governor’s Juneau home, there are cost savings.

Herring stirs heated debate at Alaska Board of Fisheries meeting
Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock, KCAW – Sitka
Herring may be one of the most heated issues before the Alaska Board of Fisheries, as meetings continue this week in Sitka.  The Sitka
Tribe of Alaska has three proposals before the board, one seeks to limit the guideline harvest level in the Sitka Sound Sac Roe herring
fishery.  Another STA proposal seeks to increase the amount necessary for subsistence herring spawn, and another would include herring taken in the test fishery be included in the overall guideline harvest level quota. One proposal from the Ketchikan Herring Association would close commercial herring completely in Areas 1A through 16.