Alaska News Nightly: October 6, 2009

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Parnell Wants to Expand College Opportunities
Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
Governor Parnell (R) wants to make a college education available to more Alaskans.   In a speech to Anchorage High School Students on Tuesday, he proposed a scholarship program that would pay as much as one hundred percent of tuition costs for students at any university or job-training center in the state.

Scientists Predict Ice-Free Summers for Arctic
Libby Casey, APRN – Washington DC
The latest data on Arctic Sea ice shows thicker, second-year ice has grown – but scientists say the Arctic is still likely on its way to ice-free summers.  A new study out on Tuesday confirms that summer, 2009 had the third-lowest ice cover in the 30 years since satellite record-keeping.  But it also shows longer-lasting “second year ice” is substantially greater than it has been in recent years.  Second year ice has survived two summers of melting, and is stronger and thicker than new ice.

Beluga Population Declining
Annie Feidt, APRN – Anchorage
The latest population data for the Cook Inlet Beluga Whale shows the species is still declining. Biologists estimate there are 321 whales this year, down from 375 in 2007 and 2008. It’s the third lowest estimate since 1994.

FEMA Closing Spring Flood Operations
Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
After several months of coordination and assistance, the Federal Emergency Management Administration–FEMA is closing down their operation that began on June 14th in response to the devastating spring floods on the Yukon and Kuskokwim Rivers. Their main base of operation was set up in a three-story building near the Anchorage airport.

Subsistence Fishing Topic at Brotherhood-Sisterhood Convention
Ed Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska – Juneau
A state senator’s fishing citation is spilling over into deliberations of Southeast’s oldest Native organization. The Alaska Native Brotherhood and Sisterhood hold their annual convention this week in Juneau. A key topic is the state’s role in subsistence.

Native Students Flocking to UAA Engineering Program
Ellen Lockyer, APRN – Anchorage
The University of Alaska, Anchorage is going through a growth spurt, with new buildings popping up on campus.  One building in particular catches the eye, because of its unusual appearance.  The Alaska Native Science and Engineering Program’s home base is shaped like a Haida canoe. Young Alaska Native students are flocking to the program.

Juneau School Board Votes for Drug Testing Athletes
Rosemarie Alexander, KTOO – Juneau
Juneau high school athletes will be subject to random drug tests beginning October 19th. The Juneau School Board on Monday voted unanimously to implement a mandatory drug testing program for all high school sports, cheer leading squads and the dance and drill team.  Regulations are being developed for voluntary testing of other students.

High School Football Championships Kick Off
Rosemarie Alexander, KTOO – Juneau
Forget the Vikings against the Packers. The real football drama this week is taking place at high school fields across the state. The championships are underway to determine the top team for small and large schools. In Juneau over the weekend, the Crimson Bears lost to the Chugiak Mustangs in a heart-breaker.