Alaska News Nightly: September 20, 2010

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Miller, Murkowski Resume Throwing Punches
Libby Casey, APRN – Washington DC
Two of Alaska’s candidates for U.S. Senate took to the national airwaves this weekend – throwing punches and setting a tone likely to continue until Election Day.

Senator Lisa Murkowski defended her plan to run as a write-in candidate, and Republican nominee Joe Miller defended his views, including his belief that unemployment benefits are unconstitutional.

McAdams Doesn’t Plan on Changing Campaign
Ed Ronco, KCAW – Sitka
Democratic Senate Nominee Scott McAdams watched Friday’s live coverage of Murkowski’s announcement with a group of his supporters in Sitka. Immediately after she made the campaign official, McAdams said Murkowski’s re-entry into the race will not change his campaign.

“I think it splits Alaska in thirds,” McAdams said. “We’ll see who gets the biggest third of the electorate. I think this will be tight. I don’t think that Joe Miller’s support is going to peel. I think Lisa Murkowski supporters will work to write in Lisa Murkowski. But I think our base is motivated, they’re out, they’re ready to go. We made 3,000 phone calls this weekend. People are energized. They recognize that this is our time, our opportunity and I believe we will win.”

Polls showed McAdams within single digits in a head-to-head race against Republican nominee Joe Miller, and falling to third in a three-way race with Miller and Murkowski.

McAdams was in Anchorage today to release details of his five-point proposal for education reform. A former teacher and school board president, McAdams says he would work to revise the No Child Left Behind Act and restore local control to schools.

Three Governor Candidates React to Murkowski’s Write-In Effort
Len Anderson, KSKA – Anchorage
Senator Lisa Murkowski’s announced write-in campaign even became a topic at today’s Gubernatorial candidate panel at the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce.

Earthquake Hits Anchorage Area
Ellen Lockyer, KSKA – Anchorage
A sharp earthquake shook the Anchorage area at 1:24 this afternoon.  Seismologists at the University of Alaska in Fairbanks say the 4.9 magnitude quake was centered about a dozen  miles west of the city  at  a depth of  27 miles.  No injuries were reported.  State seismologist Roger Hanson says the epicenter was directly below Fire Island.  He says slight aftershocks are expected to be felt for the next couple of days.

Endangered Albatross Bycatch Raises Questions
Alexandra Gutierrez, KUCB – Unalaska
For 12 years, fishing vessels have avoided killing the short-tailed albatross. In the past month, two of the endangered birds have been taken as bycatch. Now, biologists and fishermen alike are trying to figure out why this happened and what this means both for the birds and for the longline fleet.

Retreating Arctic Ocean Ice Attracts Attention for Shipping
Mike Mason, KDLG – Dillingham
The Arctic Shipping Assessment is out.  It was released by an international panel that met at the University of Alaska Fairbanks to talk about future regulatory steps that soon need to be considered in light of the seasonal withdrawal of sea ice from the Arctic Ocean and its growing attraction for shipping.

Juneau Won’t Attempt to Host 2014 Arctic Winter Games
Casey Kelly, KTOO – Juneau
The City and Borough of Juneau Assembly voted 5-4 on Friday against putting Juneau’s name forward to host the 2014 Arctic Winter Games. Assembly members who voted with the majority mentioned uncertainty over financing the event.

The Arctic Winter Games bid committee – a group of citizens who worked on preparing the city’s bid – estimated that hosting the games would cost up to $14.75 million. Between $7 and $10 million of that would have been for a new ice arena. The committee estimated Juneau’s contribution at $2.7- to $5.3-million, with the rest coming from state and federal grants, merchandise and ticket sales, donations and sponsorships.

Bid committee co-chair Pam Leary says she’s disappointed, but understands where the assembly is coming from.

The Arctic Winter Games are a biennial event for 13 to 19 year old athletes hailing from Alaska, Northern Canada, Russia and Scandinavia.

Sitka Will Receive Larger Dock for Cruise Ships
Ed Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska – Sitka
Sitka is finally getting a dock that can accommodate large cruise ships. It’s being built by a private developer near the Southeast community’s ferry terminal.

Small cruise ships can already tie up at a downtown facility. But larger vessels have to anchor up and carry passengers to shore on small boats, a process called lightering.

Previous efforts to build a large dock have stopped or stalled. The developer of the new project says it will be big enough to accommodate full-size ships. But there’s no guarantee they’ll use it.

“One Tree” Project Taking Root in Talkeetna
Deanna Haecker, KTNA – Talkeetna
An international project called “One Tree” is beginning to take root in Talkeetna. Talkeetna Elementary School students as well as local artists are embarking on a one-year journey to study and make products out of one birch tree from root to its leaves.