Alaska News Nightly: October 18, 2010

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Alaska Dispatch Editor Detained, Accused of Trespassing
Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
Yesterday an Anchorage gathering at Central Middle school that was characterized as a public town hall meeting with Republican Senate candidate Joe Miller became the center of a media storm after the editor of the online news site Alaska Dispatch was handcuffed by security guards hired by Miller for the event. The guards from Drop Zone Security maintain the event was private and Alaska Dispatch editor Tony Hopfinger was trespassing and refused to leave. Hopfinger says he arrived about 20 minutes before the 2 p.m. start of the two-hour event and initially spoke to Mr. Miller in the men’s restroom. Hopfinger says he asked Miller why he would not be at the Senate debate scheduled for this evening in Anchorage.

Tony Hopfinger is the founder and editor of Alaska Dispatch. Before the Dispatch he was a reporter for Bloomberg News and Newsweek, the Anchorage Daily News and the Anchorage Press.

Joe Miller released a statement saying Hopfinger was a liberal blogger who was out of control at the event. Miller has refused numerous requests from APRN for comment.

Versions of Events at Miller Event Differ
Ellen Lockyer, KSKA – Anchorage
What started at the event may have greater implications.   As KSKA’s Ellen Lockyer reports, DropZone owner Bill Fulton has a different version of the incident at Central Middle School.

Police Say Report of Hopfinger’s Arrest Now With City Prosecutors
Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
Lt. Dave Parker is with the Anchorage Police Department. He says private security agencies such as DropZone Security hired by Miller can make a citizen’s arrest if they believe a crime is being committed in their presence. Parker says they handcuffed Hopfinger and held him until the police arrive.

Parker says the application for the Miller event listed a window of 2-4 p.m. The police were called at 4:10 p.m. Parker says the security guard’s originally alleged trespass for the arrest but also mentioned a possible assault.

Parker says the police report about the incident is now in the hands of city prosecutors who will determine if a charge of trespass will be made against Tony Hopfinger or if a charge of assault will be leveled against members of the Drop Zone Security organization.

Bill Honoring Ted Stevens Signed into Law
Libby Casey, APRN – Washington DC
Monday, President Obama signed into law a bill honoring the late Ted Stevens by gracing a mountain and ice field with his name.

The Mount Stevens and Ted Stevens Ice-field Designation Act was sponsored by Alaska’s Congressional delegation and passed both houses of Congress last month.

The U.S. Geological Place Names Board now has 30 days to christen them.

The soon-to-be Mount Stevens is a 13,895 foot peak in Denali National Park south of Mount McKinley.  It’s been known locally as South Hunter Peak.  The Ted Stevens Ice-Field will cover the northern and eastern half of the Chugach Mountains, an area that’s the foundation for the Harvard, Matanuska, Columbia and many other Southcentral glaciers.

Stevens died Aug. 9 when his plane crashed in Southwest Alaska. He was 86-years-old, and had served Alaska in the Senate for 40 years before losing reelection in 2008.  Three weeks ago he was buried in Arlington National Cemetery and given full military honors for his service in Worth War Two.

Proposed Constitutional Amendment Could Increase Legislature Size
Steve Heimel, APRN – Anchorage
On November’s election ballot there will be a Constitutional amendment to make the state Legislature larger.  Unlike some other election issues, there appears to be very little controversy about this one, despite the fact that it would make a fundamental change in the very foundation of our state’s government.

Democrats Have High Hopes for State Senate District P
Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
For the last 18 years, Eagle River has been represented in the legislature by Republicans – in both the House and the Senate.  But this year, Democrats think they have a Senate candidate with the background running under conditions that give them reason to look forward to election day.

Princess Cruises Plans to Send Ship to Alaska in Summer 2012
Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
Princess Cruises has announced plans to bring back one of the ships the company pulled from the Alaska market in recent years.  The cruise liner will return to Alaska waters in the summer of 2012, with the potential of bringing 45,000 visitors to Alaska through the season.  Fairbanks Convention and Visitor’s Bureau President and CEO Deb Hickock says the ship that’s coming back will boost tourism from Anchorage to Fairbanks and beyond.

Hickock says she’s optimistic that the Princess announcement is just the first from cruise companies about the return of ships to Alaska in 2012.  The recession saw companies re-deploy ships from Alaska to other markets in recent years.  Princess, Holland American and Royal Caribbean all pulled ships from the Gulf of Alaska route, a move that’s severely hurt railbelt tourism.

AFN Meeting in Fairbanks This Week
Ellen Lockyer, KSKA – Anchorage
Alaska Natives are gathering in Fairbanks this week for the annual Alaska Federation of Natives convention.   Subsistence and economic issues are taking center stage at this year’s gathering, with the theme of Village Survival resounding throughout the sessions.

Legislators of the present and the past will be on hand to speak.   AFN Chair Albert Kookesh calls this year’s session to order on Thursday morning.  Keynote addresses are expected from Senator Lisa Murkowski,  former state Senator Georgiana Lincoln, Congressman Don Young Governor Sean Parnell and of course, AFN President Julie Kitka, to name a few.

The annual convention sets policy goals for Alaska Natives, who are facing extreme economic struggles due to high fuel prices, low employment in villages and a fast changing environment.

How to best use federal policy and federal programs to support village economies are among the topics to be explored at this year’s meeting.

The gathering also provides an opportunity for Alaska Native Youth and Elders to meet on social and cultural issues prior to the AFN formal sessions which start Oct. 21.  The convention runs through Saturday.

Wood-Fired Boilers Heating Su Valley High School
Diana Haecker, KTNA – Talkeetna
The proposed installation of wood-fired boilers to heat the new Su Valley High School is making progress. The Mat-Su Borough threw its weight behind the project and submitted a grant application to receive state funds to get the project built.