Alaska News Nightly: March 25, 2009

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State Senate Approves More Fuel Assistance for Low Income Alaskans
Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
Low-income Alaskans can look for a little more help paying for their fuel under a bill that passed the State Senate today (Wednesday).

Lawmakers Ask Public to Weigh-in on Federal Stimulus
Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
A lot has been said and written on the governor’s decision not to accept nearly a third of the federal economic stimulus funds for which the state qualifies. Now, the legislature wants to hear from the public.

Alaskans Feel the Pinch of National Recession
Rebecca Sheir, KTOO – Juneau
Despite the gloom of the global recession, springtime means a natural growth in seasonal employment – especially in Alaska. The number of jobs increase in industries like seafood processing, tourism and construction.

Skagway Braces for Far Fewer Cruise Ship Visitors
John Hunt, KHNS – Haines
Princess Cruises confirmed last week their plans to pull one of its cruise ships from Alaska during the 2010 summer season. The absence of the Star Princess means Skagway will lose an estimated 48 thousand visitors next year.

Volcano Alert Level Lowered
Annie Feidt, APRN – Anchorage
The Alaska Volcano Observatory has lowered the alert level for Mount Redoubt from red to orange. The volcano exploded twice this morning (Wednesday), but both produced much smaller plumes of ash then previous activity.

Congress Gives Final Approval to Izembek Land Swap
Libby Casey, APRN – Washington D.C.
After months of waiting and years of work, the U.S. House has passed a huge public lands package that includes a land swap in the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge.

Group Pushes for Citizen Oversight of Trans Alaska Pipeline
Joshua Smith, KCHU – Valdez
A group of concerned citizens and environmentalists have recently finished outlining a plan they say will help protect Alaska from future oil spills. The group just finished a conference in Valdez, where they met with the Regional Citizens Advisory Council.

Letter Asks Governor to Take Action on the High Birth Defect Rate in Alaska
Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
Citing the highest rate in the nation for birth defects, tribal leaders, rural Alaska community health advocates and the Alaska Community Action on Toxics or ACAT recently delivered a letter to Governor Sarah Palin urging her to address the problem by backing public policy changes that go beyond early detection.

Alaskan Skiers Shine at U.S. Nationals
Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
Alaska Pacific University program skiers had strong results in the first race of the U.S. Cross Country Ski National Championships last night in Fairbanks.

New Film Takes Up Old Debate on State’s Resources
Ellen Lockyer, APRN – Anchorage
Former Alaska Governor Wally Hickel is taking on a new role: film promoter. Hickel’s Institute of the North today released a short film aimed at attracting Alaska’s young people to an old philosophy, that of common ownership of the state’s resources.

Slyvia Plath’s Son Commits Suicide in Fairbanks
Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
Friends and colleagues are remembering fisheries biologist and former University of Alaska Professor Nick Hughes of Fairbanks, who died last week. Hughes, who had been struggling with depression, committed suicide.

Chikaloon Loses Influential Elder
Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
Chickaloon tribal elder and clan grandmother Katherine Wade passed away on Sunday March 22nd. She was 86. Katherine was born at Old Man lake near Chickaloon and she and her late husband raised their family on 40 acres of land near Moose Creek in the Mat Su Valley.