Alaska News Nightly: August 16, 2010

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Obama Signs Bill Giving Money to Medicaid, Teachers
Libby Casey, APRN – Washington DC
President Obama signed into law last week a bill that sends states more than $26 billion for teacher salaries and Medicaid.  Alaska’s governor requested the Medicaid money, but now says he doesn’t like the bill.

Investigators Able to Move Most Wreckage from Meklung Hills
Adam Kane, KDLG – Dillingham
The National Transportation Safety Board is continuing its investigation into the crash that killed Senator Stevens and four others last week.  Investigators were able to remove most of the airplane from the Meklung Hills, near Dillingham. NTSB spokesperson Peter Knudsen:

Knudsen confirmed that the preliminary report will be released by next week. He says the full investigation and final report could take up to 12 months to complete. The probable cause is expected to be included in that report.

Knudsen says with the investigation winding down, most of the investigators will soon be leaving Bristol Bay.

Senator Stevens will lie in repose from 10:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m. Tuesday at All Saints Episcopal Church in downtown Anchorage. A memorial for Stevens will be held Wednesday at 2:00 p.m. at the Anchorage Baptist Temple. But the Stevens family is recommending Alaskans who want to pay their respects to the late Senator attend the visitation Tuesday, since space will be limited on Wednesday. The Anchorage Baptist Temple says Vice President Joe Biden is planning to speak at the memorial service.

Man in 1978 Crash Revisits the Event
Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
Many reports on Ted Stevens’ life in the last week have mentioned the crash at Anchorage International Airport in 1978 that took the life of his first wife, Ann.  For insight into how that event impacted Stevens, APRN’s Dave Donaldson spoke to another man who was on that plane.

Nearly All of Alaska Water Meets Quality Standards
Joaqlin Estus, KNBA – Anchorage
Nearly half the nation’s surface water is located in Alaska – that’s more than 3-million lakes and ponds, 700,000 plus miles of rivers and streams, and 44,000 miles of coastline. And 99.9 percent of that meets national water quality standards. That’s according to this year’s Integrated Water Quality Monitoring and Assessment Report, which the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation provides to the EPA every two years.

Wild Salmon Prices Boom
Shane Iverson, KYUK, Bethel
Commercial fishermen on the Kuskokwim River are getting prices not seen since farmed salmon took over the market. For the last decade there’s been just one fish buyer on the river, but this year a new outfit has set up operation. The competition has been a boon to fishermen.

Coast Guards Western-Most Station to be Decomissioned
Alexandra Gutierrez, KUCB – Unalaska
Last week, the Coast Guard demolished the tallest structure on Attu Island. A 625-foot LORAN tower – which stands for Long Range Aids to Navigation – was brought down on Wednesday. Its Russian-American signal was turned off on August 1, and the station will be decommissioned on August 26.

When the Coast Guard decommissions the station on August 26, Alaska’s westernmost island will be left uninhabited.

The military first manned a LORAN station on the island during World War II, and that tower had been in use for 50 years. But last year, the federal government described the system as “outdated” and calculated it could save $36 million a year by disbanding it.

Chief Petty Officer Dana Warr says that the Coast Guard agreed with that assessment.

In February, the Coast Guard turned off the domestic signal at six of Alaska’s stations, including Attu. The Port Clarence LORAN tower, which was then Alaska’s tallest structure, was demolished in April

PSP May Not Have Been Cause of One Death
Tara Bicknell, KHNS – Haines
Alaska health officials still classify two recent deaths in Southeast Alaska as paralytic shellfish poisoning, or PSP cases. But recent autopsy results point to another cause of death in at least one of the victims.

Fairbanks Feels Record Heat
Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
Fairbanks set a new high temperature record yesterday.  National Weather Service meteorologist Mathew Kidwell says the 91 degree reading was more than just a new high for the date.

The heat wave, which is affecting the west coast all the way to Alaska, is the result of a high pressure ridge that’s funneling in warm air. Kidwell says conditions are forecast to moderate over the next day.