Alaska News Nightly: November 1, 2010

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Challenge of Write-In List Dropped
Ellen Lockyer, KSKA – Anchorage
A new challenge to a court decision allowing the use of write-in candidate lists at polling places has failed, as federal Justice officials give the go ahead to an Alaska Supreme Court decision allowing the state division of elections to provide guidance at polling places.

Senate Candidates Try to Gain Last-Minute Vote
Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks and Libby Casey, APRN – Washington DC
Candidates are making their final rounds Monday as Alaska’s U.S. Senate race comes down to the wire.  Senator Lisa Murkowski arrived in Fairbanks this morning and was met by enthusiastic supporters.  She plans to be in Anchorage tonight, and included Juneau and Kenai on her last minute tour.

Murkowski’s running a write-in bid, and hopes to make history by being the first U.S. Senate candidate elected by write-in, in five decades.  The other two main candidates, Republican Joe Miller and Democrat Scott McAdams, have also been squeezing in as many visits as possible, trying to sway voters on the eve of Election Day.

Miller joined his supporters in Anchorage Monday, waving signs at a busy intersection.  He admits that all the candidates are hoping the final momentum goes in their direction.

Miller says it may be a tight race, but he expects a repeat of the August Primary Election, when he pulled off a surprise win.  But Democrat Scott McAdams says he’s gaining supporters.  McAdams talked to reporters today from his Anchorage election head-quarters.

U.S. House and Senate Races Not Alone on the Ballot
Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
So far this year, we’ve focused on the top of the ballot – the U.S. Senate and House and the race for the Governor’s office.  However, there has been a list of candidates for the legislature, too.   Five contested Senate races and 24 races for the House of Representatives.

APRN will offer live election night coverage tomorrow evening. We’d love to hear from you. Let us know what’s happening in your communities during Election Day. Send emails and pictures to you can also send us comments through Twitter @aprn

Young Voters Expected to Make Big Difference
Ellen Lockyer, KSKA – Anchorage
There are over 8,000 first time voters in Alaska heading into the November general election. That’s nearly 2 percent of all registered voters in the state. Young voters played a large part in the 2008 presidential election when 8,019 out of 12,416 registered voters ages 18 to 19 cast a ballot in Alaska ­– a 65 percent turnout. KTOO news intern McLean Cannon talked to seven Juneau Douglas High School seniors about their decision to take part in the upcoming election.

Talkeetna Man Shot and Killed
Sue Deyoe, KTNA – Talkeetna
Talkeetna residents are in shock at a homicide that took place late Friday evening.  Nationally recognized folk singer Cheryl Wheeler was in town for a concert and a sold out crowd was enjoying the music when shots were heard in the adjoining room.

Denali Backcountry Management Plan to be Reexamined
Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
Growing interest in guided climbs of Denali has prompted a review by the National Park Service.  The agency is looking at whether a limit in Denali’s backcountry management plan is sync with current trend on the mountain.  The plan limits guided mountaineers to 25 percent of the 1,500 climbers allowed on the peak between April 1 and August 1 each year.  Park Service Environmental Protection Specialist Paula Homan says the limit may not be realistic.

Homan says the 25 percent guided limit was designed to maintain a wilderness feel on the mountain, not meet the current demand for commercially guided expeditions.

The limit on the number of guided climbers allowed on the mountain is an issue now because 10 year climbing concession contracts are coming up for re-bid in 2012.  The limit was set during a lengthy overhaul of the Park’s backcountry management plan completed in 2006, and Homan says it’s already outdated.

The Park Service is in the scoping phase of developing an environmental assessment of possible changes to the guided climber limit.  Six companies currently have guide concession contracts to operate on Denali. The assessment will not consider increasing the total number of mountaineers allowed on mountain. 1,223 climbers attempted Denali this past season, well within the management plan’s overall limit.

‘The Winter Bear’ Takes New Look at Tragic Issues
Tim Bodony, APRN – Galena
95-year old elder Sidney Huntington had a front row seat when a play based on his life and ideals hit the stage in Galena earlier this month.   A scaled-down version of the play debuted in Fairbanks in 2008, and the current version of the production is now showing in Anchorage.

The play is called “The Winter Bear”, and among the many themes that it confronts is suicide.

As Tim Bodony reports from Galena, the play suggests that old customs might be used to solve modern problems.