Alaska News Nightly: January 19, 2010

Photo by Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage

Alaskans James Southam and Kikkan Randall were named to the US Olympic Cross Country Ski Team on Tuesday.

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Two Alaskans Make Olympic Cross Country Ski Team
Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
Two Alaskans have been named to the 8 member U.S. Olympic cross Country Ski Team today. Kikkan Randall and James Southam will beheading to Vancouver next month. This will be the 3rd time Randall takes part in Olympic games. She is the first American woman to win a World Championship silver medal in the freestyle sprint last year. Southam is competing in his second Olympics. He recently won his fifth national title at the 2010 U.S. National Ski Championships in Anchorage. The two competitors train with the Alaska Pacific University cross country team.

Legislative Session Starts with Ceremonial Formality
Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
The first of the 90 days allowed for this year’s legislative session on Tuesday passed quietly, mostly with ceremony and formalities that have to be dealt with. Presiding officers read new legislation into the record and made committee reassignments as members prepared for a reception this evening at the governor’s house. Lawmakers had their first look at their own staff’s analysis of the budget that Governor Parnell proposed last month.  The 168-page report points to ten Billion dollars in readily available cash held in reserve right now.  And it highlights expected revenue surpluses for this current year and next year.  However, the report also points to concerns about the long-term future — particularly declines in oil production, volatile prices and uncertainty of the development of a gas line. The bottom line is the often-stated fear that current budget expenditures may not be sustainable.

AK Railroad Has Busy Building Schedule for 2010
Len Anderson, KSKA – Anchorage
From Seward through Anchorage, to Fairbanks and beyond, the Alaska Railroad has about 30 capital improvement projects scheduled for 2010.

Former KCHU Reporter Reporting From Haiti
Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
Former KCHU Valdez reporter Amy Bracken is in Haiti and reporting for U.S. news outlets. Bracken is in a community in the hills above Port Au Prince. She says since arriving on Saturday, she’s seen improvements in the relief effort, but also some worsening conditions. She says as more aid arrives, doctors and others are getting a bit more organized…and she cites other good signs.

Alaskan Working in Haiti Relief Efforts
Libby Casey, APRN – Washington
One of the Alaskans in Haiti right now is U.S. Air Force Captain Steve Wackowski. He grew up in Anchorage and now lives in Washington, DC where he works at the Pentagon.

Juneau’s Heritage Coffee To Donate Some Proceeds to Haiti Relief
Casey Kelly, KTOO – Juneau
Juneau’s Heritage Coffee Company will donate part of the proceeds from every bag of a new premium Haitian coffee to relief efforts in that earthquake stricken country. Heritage Vice President Travis Smith says for years one of the company’s most popular coffees was “Haitian Blue.” That particular brand is no longer available, but Smith says the new Haitian coffee should arrive in Juneau in about a week and be available for sale or shipment soon. It will sell as “Haitian Blue Pine Forest” and Smith says Heritage will give $7 for every bag sold to earthquake relief funds in Haiti.

Guard Releases Rescue Report
Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
The Alaska National Guard is out with an accounting of rescues. The Guard reports saving 48 people last year and assisting another 12 to safety.

Fairbanks Assembly to Fight Fine Particulate Pollution
Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
The Fairbanks Borough Assembly unanimously approved an agreement with the state, that gives the borough responsibility for developing measures to combat fine particulate pollution.