Alaska News Nightly: June 18, 2010

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Officials Suspect PSP Cause of Woman’s Death
Casey Kelly, KTOO – Juneau
A Juneau woman admitted to the hospital earlier this week with symptoms of paralytic shellfish poisoning has died.

The woman reportedly ate cockles harvested from Auke Bay Monday and was later admitted to Bartlett with PSP symptoms. Bartlett Regional Hospital Spokesman Jim Strader was unable to provide additional information about the woman or her previous medical history.

Senate Looks to Rewrite Education Act
Libby Casey, APRN – Washington DC
US Senators say the Bush-era “No Child Left Behind” education law failed Alaska Natives and Native Americans.  The Senate Indian Affairs Committee took testimony Thursday on how the country’s education act should be rewritten to better serve Native students.

State Funds Elder Care Facility in Bethel
Angela Denning-Barnes, KYUK – Bethel
A 10-year dream to have a place for aging seniors to live in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta is becoming a reality. The State has funded a long-term care facility for the second year in a row in the Capitol budget, totaling over $16 million. Now, the Yukon Kuskokwim Health Corporation in Bethel plans to start the building process.

Houston Mayor Resigns
Ellen Lockyer, KSKA – Anchorage
An upcoming special election in Houston has been cancelled, because Houston Mayor Roger Purcell has handed in his resignation.  The election would have determined whether or not voters wanted to recall Purcell.

Thursday night, the Houston city council accepted the resignation in a four-to-two vote.  Purcell had sent a letter to the panel, but did not appear in person.

Nome Mayor Drops From Lieutenant Governor Race
Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
Nome Mayor Denise Michels has withdrawn her name from the race for Lieutenant Governor.   She was running in the Democratic Primary.

Michels says she found running for statewide office from Nome is too big a task when combined with the importance of her mayoral position and her job as transportation director for the Kawerak Corporation. 

Researchers Search For Climate History on Denali
Diana Haecker, KTNA – Talkeetna
Researchers with the University of Maine, Dartmouth College and the University of New Hampshire recently mingled with climbers at Mt. McKinley’s Kahiltna base camp. Their mission was not to reach the summit of Denali, but to find ice old enough to reveal climate history.

State Puts Limit on Copper King Fishing
Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
The state is limiting the harvest of Copper River king salmon. Chitina dip netters will no longer be able to keep kings as of Monday. State management biologist Mark Sommerville says the Department of Fish and Game is following up earlier measures taken to decrease the commercial Chinook catch downstream, with upriver harvest reductions.

The annual limit for Copper River system sport fishers is being ratcheted back from four kings to two.  Sommerville says the measures reflect a weakening run, as indicated by a declining count at downriver fish sampling wheels operated by the Native village of Eyak.

Juneau Electricity Hike Not Approved
Rosemarie Alexander, KTOO – Juneau
The Regulatory Commission of Alaska says it won’t allow Juneau’s electrical utility to raise rates 20 percent this month.  On Thursday, the commission denied Alaska Electric Light and Power’s request for the interim increase while it studies a permanent 24 percent hike, a process that could take 15 months.

The size of the interim rate increase – 20 percent – caught the agency’s attention, according to spokeswoman Grace Salazar. At an average household use of 750 kilowatts a month, it would amount to about $14 more a month in electricity charges during the winter.

Alaska Farmers Can Get Financial Help From Feds
Steve Heimel, APRN – Anchorage
Alaska farmers facing high transportation costs can get a little financial help from the federal government.  A program was set up for Alaska and Hawaii food producers two years ago, but Congress waited until this year to fund it.

Mountain Rescue Conference Drops Into Juneau
Casey Kelly, KTOO – Juneau
Mountain rescue teams from across the United States are in Juneau this week for the 51st annual Mountain Rescue Association conference. It includes classroom and field exercises designed to improve rescue skills and teach participants about the latest in gear and technology.