Alaska News Nightly: July 16, 2010

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Guttenberg Fights Alyeska’s Decision to Move Employees
Libby Casey, APRN – Washington DC
Fairbanks state representative David Guttenberg took his concerns about Alyeska Pipeline Service Company to the US Congress Thursday.  As APRN’s Libby Casey reports, Guttenberg is fighting a recent decision by Alyeska’s outgoing CEO to move more than two-dozen employees from Fairbanks to Anchorage.

Miller Campaign to Receive Help From Tea Party Group
Associated Press
Joe Miller has ended the quarter with nearly $125,000, a fraction of the nearly $2.4 million that Senator Lisa Murkowski had heading toward the August 24 GOP primary.

Miller reported raising about $111,000 between April 1 and June 30. He also loaned his campaign nearly $104,000.

During that same period, Murkowski raised more than $500,000.

But Miller is also getting help. A national Tea Party group has pledged to put up to $1 million behind the Fairbanks attorney,  in an effort to create a more level playing field.

Nelchina Caribou Hunt in Question
Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
A Superior court ruling earlier this week has put the popular Nelchina Basin caribou hunt into question. The basin is in the Glenallen area, northeast of Anchorage.

The hunt was scheduled to start on August 10. The court ruled that a community harvest program for Athna tribal villages was unconstitutional; putting the community harvest program along with 850 Tier 1 permits on hold.

Rod Arno is the executive director of the Alaska Outdoor Council, the council’s political arm the Alaska Fish and Wildlife Conservation Fund joined as an intervener plaintiff in the challenge originally filed by Kenneth Manning. Arno says the permits will have to be recalled and that is exactly what the Council wanted to have happen. Arno says the community harvest program violated the Alaska Constitution’s Article 8 Section 3 clause that states all fish and game resources are owned equally by the public.

Ken Johns is the president and CEO of Athna incorporated. He represents the villages who were taking part in the community harvest program. He says it took years to come up with a program that seemed to share the resource adequately. He says there were allocations for the community harvest program along with permits for a Tier 1 hunt and some tickets for guides. He says the court’s decision is disappointing.

Communities Struggle After Suicides
Shane Iverson, KYUK – Bethel
Yupik communities in the Lower Yukon and Kuskokwim are reeling after a string of suicides.  The region is experiencing the single biggest spike of suicides in decades.  11 men have taken their own lives in just the last two months and many are concerned the killings are not over yet.

Search Continues for Missing Customs Agent
Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
The man who’s wrecked SUV was found submerged in a creek off the Taylor Highway Tuesday, works in Eagle. Alaska State Trooper spokeswoman Beth Ipsen says Charles W. Collins home of record is Eagle River, outside Anchorage, but he works seasonally in Eagle, on the Yukon, at the end of the Taylor Highway.  Longtime Eagle resident John Borg says Collins is a U.S. customs agent.

Searchers continue to look for Collins where his vehicle lies submerged in O’Brien Creek near mile 114 of the Taylor Highway.  The Troopers Beth Ipsen says the creek is running high and turbid, hampering search efforts.  Collins was on official business when he left Eagle Sunday night.  Borg says Collins was driving a government SUV toward another border station likely to deal with a paper work issue when heavy rains hit.

Borg says the Division of Homeland Security has not sent anyone to Eagle to take Collins place as the local customs agent.  The agent’s primary responsibility is checking in tourists who come to Eagle on the Yukon Queen Cruise boat from Dawson City.  Borg says the boat has stopped running because Holland American can’t get buses in to pick up passengers at Eagle. The Taylor Highway, Eagle’s only road link, remains closed from Eagle to Chicken due to flood damage.

Authorities Test Program Aimed at Problem Probationers
Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
If the goal of probation is to help former criminals to start new lives and not re-offend, then too often the system doesn’t work.   That’s why authorities want to test a program in Anchorage targeting problem probationers.

Better Fishing Expected in Fairbanks
Tim Ellis, KUAC – Fairbanks
Work on the state’s newest sport-fish hatchery in Fairbanks should be done in September, which means fishing should get a lot better by next summer.