Alaska News Nightly: November 6, 2009

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Pioneer Homes and VA Near Agreement on Free Meds
Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
The Pioneer Homes, the state’s assisted living facilities, and the Veterans’ Administration are close to a permanent agreement that will provide free prescribed medicine to veterans who live in the facilities.

Ft. Richardson Trooper Dies in Afghanistan
Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
Army officials are reporting a paratrooper from Fort Richardson died in the Bermal District of Paktika, Afghanistan on Wednesday afternoon. Twenty five-year old Specialist Julian L. Berisford, of Benwood, W.VA., was killed by a rocket propelled grenade and small arms fire while on patrol. Berisford was an infantryman assigned to C Company, 3rd Battalion, 509th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division that is home-based at Fort Richardson.

Friends, Family Remember Fallen Marine Corporal
Annie Feidt, APRN – Anchorage
Marine Corporal Gregory Fleury was remembered on Friday at a funeral service in Anchorage. The 23 year old died in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan last month. He was born in Sitka, but grew up in Anchorage and joined the marines after graduating from Service High School. His grandfather, Albert, says Gregory was focused and dedicated to serving his country but also a fun-loving grandson who enjoyed the outdoors.

Anchor Point Gas Could Be Coming to Railbelt
Steve Heimel, APRN – Anchorage
The Anchor Point natural gas field on the lower part of the Kenai Peninsula may soon start feeding gas into the railbelt system. Anchor Point Energy has gained regulatory approval of a deal to sell the gas to Enstar. The company intends to drill two more wells at the site. Enstar spokesman John Sims says there is still one piece missing – a pipeline awaiting approval by the Regulatory Commission of Alaska to run between the field north of Homer, to Ninilchik.

Obama Wants Ideas for Improving Relations with Tribes
Libby Casey, APRN – Washington DC
After the President spoke at the opening of yesterday’s Tribal Nations Conference, he put his cabinet members to work. They have 90 days to report on how to improve consultation with tribes. Obama delivered closing remarks on Thursday evening, but word came during the day of the mass shooting at Fort Hood Army Post in Texas, so the President devoted most of his comments to that. He did, however, repeat his earlier promise not to give Native people lip service.

President Heading to Alaska
Libby Casey, APRN – Washington DC
President Obama plans to visit Alaska for the first time next week. He’ll spend time at Elmendorf Air Force Base in Anchorage on a refuel stop before heading to Asia. The president joked at the Tribal Nations Summit on Thursday that he wants to visit Alaska in the summer… but the White House said Friday morning that his first visit will be next Wednesday, when he’ll spend Veteran’s Day with Elmendorf troops. Past presidents have made brief stop-overs at Elmendorf or Eielson Air Force Base near Fairbanks on their way to Asia at least once during their time in office.

AFN Ready to Push for Subsistence Changes
Ed Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska – Juneau
The Alaska Federation of Natives has collected $100,000 to push for changes in subsistence management and enforcement.

New Affordable Housing Ready in Fairbanks
Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
The first units in a new affordable housing development in Fairbanks are ready. Weeks Field Estates is taking the place of the old Fairview Manor Complex on Airport Way. Weeks Field Estates Manger Kelly Coons says one of 4 planned buildings has been completed.

Fairbanks Readies Free Swine Flu Vaccine for Kids
The Associated Press
The Fairbanks North Star Borough School District is planning to provide free swine flu vaccines for any school-age children in the borough at a series of clinics scheduled to begin Nov. 19. State officials say one dose of the vaccine is enough for children ages 10 and older. But children ages 6 months to 9 years should receive a second dose about four weeks later. The school district is not requiring the vaccine but is recommending it. The district is no longer tracking swine flu cases but is keeping a daily count of the number of students with flu-like symptoms.

Kodiak Sees High Absentee Rate in Schools
Diana Gish, KMXT – Kodiak
The Kodiak Island Borough School district is reporting a large increase in its absentee rate, the school district has asked parents of children with flu symptoms to keep the kids home.

Parnell Declares a State Disaster for Kodiak Island
The Associated Press
Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell (R) has declared a state disaster for storm damage last month on Kodiak Island. The declaration means the state will fund eligible emergency-response costs. It also will pay for infrastructure repair projects, restoring them to pre-disaster conditions. The island received substantial rainfall beginning in early October. The rain caused floods, landslides and erosion that clogged culverts and washed out roads. The rains and flooding continued throughout much of October. Parnell also has directed state officials to take the first steps in a request for federal disaster assistance.