Alaska News Nightly: August 12, 2010

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NTSB Concludes Crash Scene Investigation
Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
NTSB investigators today had a few more details about Monday night’s crash that killed Senator Ted Stevens and four others near Dillingham. Deborah Hersman, NTSB chairwoman says they concluded their investigation at the crash scene today. She said nine investigators are now interviewing people involved in the crash response.

Hersman says they have not yet been able to interview the crash victims who are at Providence hospital in Anchorage. She says they’re working to pinpoint the time of departure and the time of the crash.

She says they are also still working to determine the weather conditions at the time of the crash.

Hersman says the investigative team includes the manufacturers of the plane.

Stevens Funeral Details Released
Annie Feidt, APRN – Anchorage
The funeral service honoring former Senator Ted Stevens is scheduled for Wednesday, August 18 at 2:00 p.m. His family released the details today, calling them preliminary. His funeral will take place at the Anchorage Baptist Temple, where Stevens attended Sunday Service on August 1, just eight days before he was killed in a plane crash near Dillingham. At that service, Stevens stood on stage with Pastor Jerry Prevo.  Stevens talked to the congregation about what he had been doing since leaving the Senate in 2008.

Senator Stevens will also be lying in repose at All Saints Episcopal Church in downtown Anchorage. The family is inviting the public to pay their respects between 10:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m.  In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting donations be made to the North to The Future Foundation, which was established to honor Stevens’ career.

Emotional Sentencing for Juneau Teen
Casey Kelly, KTOO – Casey
An emotional two-hour sentencing hearing was held Wednesday for Tyler Emerson, the Juneau teenager who pleaded guilty to criminally negligent homicide in the June 2009 drunk driving death of his friend Taylor White.

Emerson will serve one year in jail after receiving a six-year sentence with five suspended. He’ll also have at least two and half years of probation waiting for him when he gets out. More important to those in the courtroom, though, was the hope that another kid won’t be lost in the system.

US Senate Honors Stevens
Libby Casey, APRN – Washington DC
The US Senate convened this morning to honor former Alaska Senator Ted Stevens, who died in Monday’s plane crash near Dillingham.  Only two senators were on hand because their August recess started last week.  Senate leadership called the special session Wednesday to introduce a resolution honoring Stevens and a border security bill.

Senate chaplain Barry Black opened the brief morning session with a prayer.

The two senators present this morning were Democratic Senators Ben Cardin of Maryland and New York’s Chuck Schumer.

The five-page resolution lists Stevens’ accomplishments, from his World War Two service to the legislation he crafted in the Senate.

Schumer was the senator on-hand speaking this morning because he’s a proponent of the border security bill also on the docket.  But he said he was remembering Ted Stevens this week – as was the leader of the Senate, Harry Reid of Nevada.

Senator Cardin gaveled out this morning’s session with a final tribute to Stevens.

Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski crafted the resolution honoring her former colleague and friend.  She’s in Alaska this week.  Members of the senate can submit written statements for the official record, and senate leadership says they’ll be able to make speeches on the floor honoring Ted Stevens when they return to Washington in September.

Some Speak Up, Criticize Stevens
Jay Barrett, KMXT – Kodiak
In the wake of Senator Ted Stevens’ death Monday in a plane crash near Dillingham, people from throughout the state and nation have honored and shared their memories of him and the work he did over the course of 40-years in the U.S. Senate. But not all of it has been positive.

Alvin Felzenberg, writing in the U.S. News and World Report online called Stevens “… the personification of arrogance, a bully, a walking argument for term and even age limits….”

In his article posted Wednesday, Felzenberg, a teacher and author, who was the spokesman for the 9/11 Commission, decried the politics of Stevens and the late Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia as those of greed, as they steered money from the powerful appropriation committee to their states.

Stevens was also a controversial figure in fisheries policy. In the 1970s, Stevens, working with Senator Warren Magnuson of Washington State, moved American territorial waters out to 200 miles. Before that, foreign fishing boats could harvest seafood within sight of U.S. shores. But in later years, when he pushed through rationalization, and with it catch shares for fishermen and processor shares for seafood companies, his popularity wavered in many fishing communities. Especially among fishermen who lost their jobs through consolidation of fishing effort, and the merchants in the towns that lost the money the fishermen brought in.

Kodiak’s Rhonda Maker, an outspoken opponent of catch shares and rationalization policy, called into APRN’s Talk of Alaska with Steven Heimel on Thursday morning during a show remembering the late senator:

Marine Highway to Expand Lower 48 Runs
Ed Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska – Juneau
The Marine Highway System plans to sail one of its ferries all the way from Southcentral Alaska to the Lower 48 and back. The plan would increase Bellingham runs 50 percent, increasing capacity on a route where vehicle space and staterooms are hard to book.

Native Corporation Seeks Federal Protection for Bristol Bay
Adam Kane, KDLG – Dillingham
The Native Corporation for the Bristol Bay region has submitted a request to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency asking for federal protection of Bristol Bay’s natural resources.

The Bristol Bay Native Corporation submitted the letter to the federal agency asking the EPA to use its authority under Section 404-c of the Clean Water Act to prevent the discharge of dredged or fill material from the proposed Pebble Mine.

404-c allows the EPA to use a public process to prohibit or restrict the discharge of mine waste into waters and wetlands that would have an unacceptable adverse effect on municipal water supplies, fisheries, wildlife or recreation.

Jason Metrokin, president and CEO of BBNC, stated that the request for federal protections was not a reaction to the recent proposal by Representative Don Young to eliminate the Section 404-c of the federal Clean Water Act.

Metrokin maintains that BBNC is not opposed to all development, only the Pebble Mine Project. The Environmental Protection Agency has only used its 404-c authority 12 times.

Southeast Tribal Culture Comes to Southcentral
Joaqlin Estus, KNBA – Anchorage
Residents of Southcentral Alaska are enjoying a week of the music, art, and regalia of Southeast Alaska tribes.