Alaska News Nightly: June 23, 2010

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Coastal Erosion Law Goes into Effect This Month
Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
A new law affecting funding for coastal erosion and storm damage protection efforts went into effect this month. In 2009, Congress repealed a previous version of the law, known as section 117. That law provided federal funding at 100 percent of the cost for planning, design and construction of erosion mitigation and storm protection efforts. The new law, section 116 will dramatically change the funding formula, requiring local and state matching funds at 50 percent for project planning and 35 percent for design and construction.

He says a baseline assessment of coastal communities found 178 villages had some level of erosion and 26 have urgent and compelling needs. The Corp has $5.5 million to work on projects in nine communities but no money beyond that yet.

Newtok Continues Moving Process
Shane Iverson, KYUK – Bethel
The village of Newtok is facing one of the biggest erosion problems in the state. And the community is getting help moving to a new site from the Alaska National Guard and other military units. It’s the second season for the work, which allows the military to help the community while gaining some valuable training.

Corporations Concerned About New Government Contracting Rule
Annie Feidt, APRN – Anchorage
“Chilling affect” was a phrase heard over and over again at a conference on 8A contracting that wrapped up Thursday in downtown Anchorage. Under the small business administration’s 8a law, Alaska Native Corporations have been able to go after no bid government contracts worth millions of dollars. But the corporations are worried about a new rule that will require government contracting officers to provide justification for no bid contracts over $20 million. 

Angoon Searches for Economic Solutions
Ed Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska – Juneau
The Southeast Alaska community of Angoon is trying to turn its economy around. The largely Tlingit village of about 450 residents has lost business, as well as some of its population. The Angoon Community Association, the town’s tribal government, convened an economic summit earlier this month to search for solutions.

Woman Found Dead in Tent
Associated Press
Anchorage police are investigating the death of a woman whose body was found in a tent. Police said the body of 39-year-old Betsy Chuitt of Anchorage was found early Wednesday after her boyfriend, Christopher Lokanin, reported they had been sleeping after consuming alcohol.

Assembly Passes Homeless Camp Removal Ordinance
Len Anderson, KSKA – Anchorage
By a nearly unanimous vote last night, the Anchorage Assembly approved a new ordinance for removing illegal homeless campsites and confiscating campers’ property.  But the American Civil Liberties Union of Alaska says the law, as passed, is unconstitutional and they’ll fight it.

In April, ACLU-Alaska filed suit against the municipality in Superior Court.  The organization charged the city’s 12-hour ordinance and lack of true legal protest against seizure and property destruction was unconstitutional.   The city attorney’s office proposed five days.  ACLU wanted 10 business days.

Willow Creek Fire Spews Smoke
Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
A wildfire about 10 miles south of Fairbanks is getting the attention of fire mangers and local residents.  The Willow Creek Fire is on the other side of the Tanana River from town on military land, but it’s putting up a lot of smoke.

Visitors Experience Alaska Totem Carving
Len Anderson, KSKA – Anchorage             
A longstanding hallmark of the Alaska Native Heritage Center in Anchorage is that visitors are treated to culture “in action.”  That’s just as true this summer, as a special project involving southeast Alaska totem carvers gets underway.