Alaska News Nightly: September 30, 2010

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Shockingly High Rate of Violence Against Women Found in Alaska
Ellen Lockyer, KSKA – Anchorage
Alaska has led the nation in the incidence of sexual assault and domestic violence against women, but until now, there were no clear numbers on the rate of victimization.  Those numbers have been found to be shockingly high.  As KSKA’s Ellen Lockyer reports, a new survey indicates that close to half of all Alaska women have experienced physical violence at some point in their lives.

Obama To Name New White House Chief-of-Staff
Libby Casey, APRN – Washington DC
A member of President Obama’s inner circle with connections to Alaska is expected to take one of the White House’s top jobs on Friday.  Pete Rouse is likely to be tapped by the president to serve as his interim chief-of-staff, when Rahm Emmanuel officially steps down tomorrow.

The White House hasn’t confirmed the switch, but Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters today that the President will make a personnel announcement tomorrow, and then Gibbs praised Pete Rouse specifically.

Rouse has Alaska roots: his mother grew up in Anchorage, and in the late 1970s Rouse left his home on the East Coast to journey to Alaska and work for Lieutenant Governor Terry Miller, a Republican who served with Governor Jay Hammond.  Rouse held that job for four years until 1983, when he moved to Washington, DC.  He became chief of staff for South Dakota Senator Tom Daschle who rose to be leader of Senate Democrats.  When Daschle left office Rouse went to work for then Senator-Obama as chief-of-staff, and moved with Obama over to the White House to serve as a senior advisor.

Senator Mark Begich praised the expected promotion of Rouse to White House chief of staff in a press release today. He called Rouse “soft spoken and down to earth” while at the same time an effective political operator.

McAdams Speaks About Economic, Energy Plan
Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
On Thursday, Democratic Senate Candidate Scott McAdams said Alaska’s Congressional delegation should take a new role in helping shape the state’s economy. Speaking to a labor group,  McAdams said his goal is to work with a strategy to fit into an economy that fully develops oil, gas and timbers – but also includes renewable sources of energy – what he calls stranded wind, stranded geo-thermal and stranded water.

McAdams says he supports oil development on the Outer Continental Shelf – and opening ANWR for oil development. Randy DeSoto, spokesman for Republican Joe Miller’s campaign said Miller fully supports opening ANWR and will work with Republicans in Congress to get that done.  He says Miller also supports using alternative sources to make energy affordable and accessible for Alaskans.  He says, though, that having two Democrats in the Senate won’t make that much of a difference.

Senator Lisa Murkowski’s campaign staff didn’t respond to a request for her response.

Alaskans Gaining Advantage in Tight Job Market
Joaqlin Estus, KNBA – Anchorage
Alaskans with certain skills are going to find it easier to find jobs even in a tight job market. And money coming to the state under the 2009 Stimulus Bill is going to help train low-income workers for jobs in high demand.

Social Workers Converge on Fairbanks
Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
Social workers from across the state and the Lower 48 will converge in Fairbanks next week for the annual Alaska chapter of the National Association of Social Workers conference. It’s the first time the event is being held in Fairbanks. Chapter president and University of Alaska Fairbanks Assistant Professor of Clinical Social Work Laverne Demientieff says the move is aimed at broadening participation.

Demientieff says participants are coming from interior villages as well as Western Alaska and the North Slope.  She says the three-day conference is packed with sessions dealing with a wide range of issues.

Presenters include Dr. Patch Adams, who will talk about humor and health, and Dr. Anne Bullock, who studies intergenerational trauma and stress related illness.  Bullock says new genetic research illustrates how stress affects the onset of diabetes and chronic disease.

Dr. Bullock’s presentation on the medical side of social problems is part of the conference’s aim of providing a more interdisciplinary perspective for participants.

Walrus Deaths Prompt Unique Project
Mike Mason, KDLG – Dillingham
The deaths of hundreds of walruses at a haul-out in Bristol Bay over the last several years has resulted in a unique project undertaken by the Togiak National Wildlife Refuge.

Homeowners Suffering Loss From Erosion to Receive Assistance
Ellen Lockyer, KSKA – Anchorage
The Matanuska Susitna Borough Assembly has approved a plan to deal with the unpredictable Matanuska River. On Monday, the Assembly voted in favor of a collaborative plan to help those living alongside the river, which has caused property loss for residents due to riverbank erosion.

The plan involves input of riverside property owners.  It creates a team including the City of Palmer, the US Army Corps of Engineers, state Fish and Game and the Alaska Department of

Transportation, among others.  The new plan creates a framework for the agencies and the stakeholders in riverside property to work together on land management issues. Previously, studies on river erosion were done by different agencies.

Assembly member Lynn Woods is the Borough’s deputy mayor.

The plan provides one hundred thousand dollars for options to improve erosion management.  One method is to educate the public on the problem, others include structural protections for the riverbank. In some cases, homeowners were moved away from danger:

Woods says due to the nature of the Matanuska River, which is glacier fed and wanders from one channel to another over the course of years, many property owners were unaware of the risks of erosion to riverfront properties.

Children’s Author Brings ‘Alaska Spirit of Reading Program’ to Sitka
Ed Ronco, KCAW – Sitka
Children’s Author Will Hobbs visited Sitka last week as part of the Alaska Spirit of Reading Program. Grant money puts books by a certain author in the hands of students across the state. The author then visits Alaska to meet with those students and talk about the book. But as KCAW’s Ed Ronco reports, the future of the three-year-old program is uncertain.