Alaska News Nightly: November 24, 2009

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Interior Department Releases Drilling Plans
Libby Casey, APRN – Washington DC
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced today plans for oil and gas leasing on public lands next year – including in the National Petroleum Reserve Alaska.

Judge OKs Compensation Plan for Sexual Abuse Victims
Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
A judge has approved a compensation package for victims of sexual abuse by clergy overseen by the Fairbanks Diocese. Anchorage attorney Ken Roosa represents many of the 300 victims, mostly from western Alaska native villages, who sued the diocese, forcing it into bankruptcy last year.

Fire Destroys Aniak Community Hall
Shane Iverson, KYUK – Bethel
A Fire destroyed a part of The Aniak Community Hall in the Middle Kuskokwim Area. A volunteer group of teenagers was able to slow the fire down, but smoke has damaged the entire interior.

Fairbanks Leads State in Swine Flu Deaths
Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
Fairbanks residents account for most of Alaska’s swine flu related deaths.  Seven of the 10 fatalities in which swine flu has been identified as a factor have been people from Fairbanks.  State Health Department spokesman Greg Wilkinson says the latest death attributed to the H1N1 flu strain was a Fairbanks man in his fifties.

Anchorage Postpones Swine Flu Clinics
Ellen Lockyer, APRN – Anchorage
The city of Anchorage is postponing additional H1N1 flu vaccination clinics due to limited vaccine supplies.  Vaccine is being allocated to schools and private health care
providers, but some public clinics are being cancelled.

Wilson Fills Vacant Fairbanks House Seat
Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
Tammie Wilson on Tuesday was named  to replace John Coghill in the state House District Eleven seat. Coghill resigned earlier this month to fill a vacancy in the Senate.

Lawmakers Start Assessing Scholarship Proposal
Dave Donalson, APRN – Juneau
Legislators on Tuesday began looking at the merit-based scholarship program proposed by Governor Parnell last month. Education Commissioner Larry LeDoux told the House and Senate Education Committees that the Governor’s Performance Scholarship begins the necessary needs of the state by inviting students to pursue excellence.

Archaeologists Get New Look at 1901 Sinking
Tara Bicknell, KHNS – Haines
A discovery north of Skagway is giving archaeologists a flashback to a stormy Klondike winter day in 1901, when the steamship A.J. Goddard sank in Lake Laberge outside of Whitehorse, Yukon.