Alaska News Nightly: November 9, 2009

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Juneau Police To Use “Black Box” for Crashes
Rosemarie Alexander, KTOO – Juneau
The Juneau Police Department will be the first in the state to get a crash data retrieval system to read the so-called “black box” found in most current vehicles.  Prosecutors say they look forward to better evidence in serious and fatal accidents, where the system is likely to be used.

Unemployed Must Wait for January for Additional Benefits
Casey Kelly, KTOO – Juneau
Alaskans who have exhausted their unemployment benefits are eligible for 14 additional weeks thanks to legislation signed by President Obama on Friday morning. But the state’s unemployed will have to wait until January to find out if they qualify for six weeks beyond that.

Begich Defends Expansion of Health Benefits for Vets
Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
Senator Mark Begich (D) of Alaska on Monday followed up on his criticism of opponents to a bill expanding health care benefits for veterans who served during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The bill would provide support for caregivers of wounded veterans who are treated at home instead of in VA facilities.

Former State Petroleum Economist Criticizes Plan for Gas Line
Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
A former state petroleum economist is speaking out against the state’s current plan for building a gas line from the North Slope to the Lower 48. Roger Marks worked for several former state Governors, most recently Frank Murkowski, trying to get a gas pipeline project moving. He is now retired.

Anchorage Libraries Facing Financial Troubles
Ellen Lockyer, APRN – Anchorage
Anchorage libraries are in financial trouble and now a couple of library-friendly non-profits are stepping up to the challenge of helping them secure enough funding to meet 21st century needs.

Sealaska Heritage Institute Sponsoring Special Lectures
Casey Kelly, KTOO – Juneau
The Sealaska Heritage Institute is sponsoring a series of lectures honoring Native American Awareness Month. The series got underway this week with two talks featuring Southeast Natives reflecting on the land claims movement and statehood.

Petersburg Signing Up “Junior” Firefighers
Matt Lichtenstein, KFSK – Petersburg
Fire protection in Alaska’s remote communities depends on a relatively small group of local residents, who devote a lot of their free time to staying prepared for the worst. That particular public service is typically limited to people over 18-years old.  But last winter, Petersburg’s fire department began signing-up “high school students” for its new “Junior” Firefighter Program.