Alaska News Nightly: February 15, 2010

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Yukon Quest: Gatt Wins 4th Title
Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
Canadian musher Hans Gatt won the Yukon Quest this afternoon in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory.

The Steers Make Their Run for Yukon Victory
Ellen Lockyer, KSKA – Anchorage
Each musher has a team of handlers behind them, making sure the 1000 mile race goes as smoothly as possible. This year, former Olympian Rachel Steer signed up as a handler for her brother, Zack Steer. As of Monday afternoon, he was in 5th place.

Alaskans Race in Olympics, Finish Far off the Pace
Annie Feidt, APRN – Anchorage
Alaska Pacific University coach Holly Brooks skied in her first Olympic race today- the women’s 10 km skate. She placed 42nd. The U-S men’s cross country ski team had a disappointing day at the 15km skate race. Alaskan James Southam placed 48th – the best showing among the Americans. Back at the USA house in the afternoon, Brooks called it a good start to her Olympic experience. She says the course was in excellent shape, despite iffy training conditions in the last few days. Brooks says it was a good warm up for the rest of the week. She’ll ski in the classic sprint this Wednesday and the 15km pursuit race on Friday. Kikkan Randall was going to ski today’s race, but opted to sit it out to focus on her best event, the sprint.

Parnell’s Scholarship Plan Challenged
Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
Both House and Senate Education Committees on Monday introduced amendments to the governor’s proposed Performance-based Scholarship that would recognize the financial needs of high school graduates and their families. But legislators — particularly those from rural areas of the state — say the governor’s plan discriminates against less-fortunate students.

Poll Shows Backing for Lands-Selection Bill
Ed Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska – Juneau
Sealaska says a survey it conducted shows more than half of Southeast Alaskans support a lands-selection bill it’s trying to push through Congress. The poll shows support increasing when residents learn more about the legislation. But opponents say they’ve found out enough to know it’s a bad idea.

Begich to Meet on Vets’ Issues
Ellen Lockyer, KSKA – Anchorage
Senator Mark Begich (D-AK) heads to Fairbanks and Kotzebue this week to meet with veterans and veterans services providers. Begich is a member of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee. He says jobs and health care for vets will top the agenda.

Pebble Reaches Settlement on Water Violations
Mike Mason, KDLG – Dillingham
The Pebble Partnership has reached a settlement with the State of Alaska for some self-reported water permit violations that happened over the last three years.

A Day in the Life of a Mammalogist
Annie Feidt, APRN – Anchorage
There are a lot of great jobs in Alaska. But Amber Stevens has one of the best. Just don’t try to shake her hand – it’s probably covered in fish slime. As a mammalogist at the Sea Life Center in Seward, Stevens spends her days with sea lions and seals, feeding and training them.