Alaska News Nightly: May 18, 2010

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Salazar Testifies Before Congress on Gulf Spill
Libby Casey, APRN – Washington DC
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar says problems at the federal Minerals Management Service may have contributed to last month’s offshore oil rig disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. Salazar testified before Congres today (Tuesday) for the first time since the Deepwater Horizon sank on April 22.

Wally Hickel’s Legacy Honored at Funeral
Steve Heimel, APRN – Anchorage
Former Alaska Governor Wally Hickel was buried today in a downtown Anchorage cemetery after a funeral that brought together Alaskans of all sorts.

Waterman Trial Delayed
Deanna Garrison, KRBD – Ketchikan
The first-degree murder trial of Rachelle Waterman has been delayed a week and could be put off for months. A request to reschedule the trial was the subject of a status hearing yesterday (Monday) in Ketchikan superior court. Also Monday, the court briefly heard from Waterman’s two alleged co-conspirators, one of whom agreed to testify at Waterman’s trial.

Alaskans Offer Spill Advice
Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
Frustration deepens daily for Gulf Coast residents waiting for a remedy to the blow out that continues to spew crude oil into the ocean. By now millions of gallons, coupled with huge amounts of toxic dispersants are mixed into the water column and people there are helpless to stop the assault on their marine livelihood. But they are doing what they can and part of that is reaching out to others who have experience with spill disasters. Members of the University of Alaska’s Marine Advisory Program just returned from a trip there to advise marina owners, fishermen and charter captains about spill aftermath.

Alaska‘s Only Coal Mine is Expanding
Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
Usibelli Coal is taking steps toward expansion.  The locally owned mining company, which operates Alaska’s only coal mine, has begun work to access a new deposit near its Healy site.  Usibelli Vice President of Business Development Steve Denton says the company is targeting a reserve called “Jumbo Dome” about five miles from its current operation at Two Bull Ridge.

Agriculture Officials Hope to Keep Potato Blight out of Alaska
Ellen Lockyer, KSKA – Anchorage
Spring planting season is here, and Matanuska Valley potato farmers are getting ready to plant for this year’s crop of spuds.

Bethel Celebrates Breakup
Shane Iverson, KYUK – Bethel
Flocks of Bethel residents came out yesterday (Monday) for the annual breakup bash. The annual party commemorates the start of the summer season.

Adults Tackle Tough Words at Sitka Spelling Bee
Ed Ronco, KCAW – Sitka
Kettleson Memorial Library held its annual Adult Spelling Bee on Sunday afternoon. The words ranged in difficulty from “carnage” and “vulgar” to “ennui” and “macaque.”