Alaska News Nightly: May 18, 2009

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Oversight Panel to Explore Contracts With Alaska Native Corporations
Libby Casey, APRN – Washington
The head of a U-S Senate oversight panel is looking into the small business contracts awarded to Alaska Native Corporations. Senator Claire McCaskill, a Democrat from Missouri, sent letters to the heads of 20 corporations last week asking for information about their business practices.

Villages Still Battling Yukon High Waters
Ellen Lockyer
Flood waters are still roiling along the Yukon River. Many villages are not out of danger by any means, and river watch flyover
teams are working with villages all down the lower Yukon. John Madden is director of Alaska’s Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. He says they get their best information from a river watch team of state and federal experts.

Fish and Wildlife Service Considering Endangered Status for Walrus
The Associated Press
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has agreed to make an initial determination within four months on whether the Pacific walrus merits protections under the Endangered Species Act. A federal judge approved a settlement today between the agency and the Center for Biological Diversity, which sued in December to force a decision. The group is petitioning the agency to list walrus because of lost sea ice habitat due to global warming. The group used the same justification to successfully push for protection of polar bears.

Clean Up Work Begins Near Homer
Casey Kelly, KBBI – Homer
Mop up work has begun on the East End Road wildfire outside Homer. Over the weekend an evacuation order was lifted, and crews were able to get the fire 100 percent contained. However, it’ll be a number of days and even weeks before firefighters leave the area.

New Tug Boats on Their Way
Paul Korchin, KNOM – Nome
Crowley Marine is launching a couple of brand new tug boats specially designed to ply the Great Land’s coasts and rivers.

Sitka Man Admits to Killing Four
Ed Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska – Juneau
A Sitka man accused of killing four people last year admitted to committing the acts in court last week. Jason Abbott will likely be sentenced to at least 40 years in prison.

Alaska Democrats Tap Former Clinton Official as New Director
Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
Alaska Democrats have chosen Deborah Williams,  an official in the administration of former – President Bill Clinton,  as their new executive director.

Steamroller Art Rolls Into Anchorage
Len Anderson, KSKA – Anchorage
Anchorage art fans had a chance to view the results this weekend when artists’ skills take on four tons of construction equipment. A local gallery showed the wood block prints of “Steamroller 2009.”