Alaska News Nightly: July 7, 2010

Individual news stories are posted in the Alaska News category and you can subscribe to APRN’s news feeds via email, podcast and RSS.

Download Audio (MP3)

Coast Guard Helicopter Crashes
Ed Ronco, KCAW – Sitka
Three people from Coast Guard Air Station Sitka died today after their helicopter crashed in waters off Washington. A fourth was injured.

Alyeska Pipeline Company CEO Announces Retirement
Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
Alyeska Pipeline Company is looking for a new Chief Executive Officer following Wednesday’s announcement that Kevin Hostler will retire from the job at the end of September.   He has worked at the company that operates the TransAlaska Pipeline since 2005.

In a prepared statement sent out by the company Hostler is quoted as saying his retirement after a 33-year career with BP leaves plenty of time for a proper transition to a new leader.  BP is the largest owner of the pipeline company.

The statement also says that Alyeska will appoint an acting CEO if a permanent replacement is not found by the time Hostler leaves.

Hostler has been the focus of criticism in recent months, particularly over a decision in February to transfer employees from assignments in Fairbanks and Valdez to company headquarters in Anchorage despite concerns that safety issues could not be adequately addressed from a central point.   That complaint was repeated when a 200,000 gallon oil spill near Fairbanks in May closed the pipeline for three days.

Democratic Representative David Guttenberg of Fairbanks says Hostler has been a part of Alyeska’s lack of response to employee concerns.

Church Leader Indicted on Sexual Abuse Charges
Angela Denning-Barnes, KYUK – Bethel
A leader in Alaska’s Moravian Church has been indicted on multiple counts of sexual abuse.

FCC Explores How Alaskans Benefit From Expanded Internet Capability
Joaqlin Estus, KNBA – Anchorage
Federal Communications Commissioner Mignon Clayburn is visiting Alaska to get a better sense of how Alaskans will benefit from expanded Internet capability, or broadband. Increased bandwidth allows users to transmit several types of data – video, voice, and graphics – on the Internet.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act dedicates $7.2 billion to expansion of the nation’s broadband capability. Clayburn says U.S. Senator Mark Begich has pushed hard to get Alaska some of those dollars.

Begich recently announced that McCarthy will receive $5.2 million to extend wireless broadband connectivity, joining more than 100 villages in the Yukon-Kuskokwim region.

Energy Hot Topic in Gubernatorial Debates
Tim Ellis, KUAC – Fairbanks
Energy and budget issues dominated a political forum Tuesday in Fairbanks featuring seven candidates for governor.

Unalaskans Fend Off Eagle Attacks
Anne Hillman, KUCB – Unalaska
Unalaskans are dealing with an unusual issue – bald eagle attacks. The birds are just trying to protect their young, but likewise, community members are just trying to go about their daily lives – walking into town, picking up packages at the post office.

Sitka Hatchery Accident Kills Salmon Fry
Ed Ronco, KCAW – Sitka
More than 1-million salmon fry died over the weekend in two separate accidents at Sitka hatcheries.

In a separate incident at the Sheldon Jackson Hatchery, some 120,000 Chinook and 120,000 Coho were killed.  That’s according to Jim Seeland, vice chairman of the board for the Sitka Sound Science Center, which runs the hatchery. Seeland says the loss occurred when the hatchery’s water intake valve became blocked.

Seeland says for whatever reason, the alarm sent out its warning too late on Monday morning. He says about 5,000 fish were saved, and the hatchery had already released millions of chum and pink salmon earlier this year.

Sand Point Residents Deal With Mail Issues
Katherine Ford, KSDP – Sand Point
Sand Point residents are having to adjust to less frequent mail service.

Hoka Hey Participants Party in Homer
Aaron Selbig, KBBI – Homer
On a rainy Fourth of July evening – in a subdivision east of Homer – the Hoka Hey Motorcycle Challenge came to a close with a big blow-out party to honor the hundred or so riders who completed the journey from Key West, Florida.