Alaska News Nightly: December 6, 2010

Individual news stories are posted in the Alaska News category and you can subscribe to APRN’s news feeds via email, podcast and RSS.

Download Audio (MP3)

Parnell Sworn into Office
Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
On Monday, Governor Sean Parnell began the term of office to which he was elected last month.  He took the oath of office in Juneau calling on Alaskans to work with him to make the state a better place.

Disabled Vessel Under Tow, Due in Dutch Harbor Tomorrow
Alexandra Gutierrez, KUCB – Unalaska
The disabled tank vessel “Golden Seas” is being pulled by an oil industry ice-breaker.  It’s due in Dutch Harbor Tuesday, behind the Shell Oil vessel, the “Tor Viking,” which happened to be in port in preparation for offshore drilling.  The “Tor Viking” is more powerful than anything the Coast Guard has in the Aleutians.

The vessels moved south of the Aleutians to find a little better weather.  A Coast Guard cutter is escorting.

Saturday afternoon at Unalaska City Hall, local officials and representatives from the shipping industry had a briefing about how they will handle the 738-foot “Golden Seas” when it gets there.

They plan to take the tanker to Captain’s Bay.

The “Golden Seas” lost its turbo power and was unable to counter the swells Friday and issued a distress call.  It’s carrying a cargo of canola seeds to the United Arab Emirates from Canada.

Normally, the nearest available ocean-going tugs to the region are in Seattle, and it can take over a week for them to travel out to the Aleutian Islands. Gary Folley of the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation says the lack of ocean-going tugs on a shipping route through the Aleutians, traveled by thousands of ships a year, is an issue of concern for the state.

Right now, the City of Unalaska is coordinating with the Coast Guard and Shell Oil to bring the disabled vessel into Captains Bay and to limit disruption to other vessel operations. On Saturday afternoon, local officials and representatives from the shipping industry met at city hall for a briefing on the Golden Seas’ status. Lt. Mark Labert, from the Coast Guard’s Unalaska marine safety detachment, led the meeting.

Repairs to the Golden Seas are expected to take a week or more.

Congress, White House Hammering Out Tax Cut, Unemployment Deal
Libby Casey, APRN – Washington DC
The U.S. Congress and the White House are trying to hammer out a deal that would extend the Bush Era tax cuts for all income brackets, temporarily in exchange for extending unemployment benefits.

Republicans want the tax cuts kept across the board, but Democrats are fighting them – saying the country can’t afford to keep the cuts for the wealthiest Americans.  But the Democrats do want long term unemployment benefits extended, so they are at the bargaining table.

Spenard-Area Abduction Motive Still Unclear
Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
Anchorage detectives are still working to uncover why a young woman was grabbed from a parking lot late last Tuesday night, bound and held overnight. She escaped when her abductors moved her the next day. Because there was a hood over her head for most of her time in captivity, she could give investigators little to go on for describing her abductors. Lt. Dave Parker with the APD says, special victims unit detectives are not releasing much information but they don’t believe it was a random act.

Parker says the woman told detectives she thought the minivan she escaped from was gray or light gold in color and one of her abductors was a white male in his 30s. Anchorage police are asking the public to contact them if they saw the woman struggle with the men in a Spenard area apartment parking lot on Tuesday night or saw her jump from the van on Wednesday afternoon and escape to a local business.

Municipal Budget Not Alone on the Agenda for the Anchorage Assembly
Len Anderson, KSKA – Anchorage
While much of the attention at Tuesday night’s Anchorage Assembly meeting will be on the municipal budget, two other items are on the agenda that could produce some future fireworks, one literally and the other politically.

DoT Proposes Making Bethel Airport a 24-7 Operation
Shane Iverson, KYUK – Bethel
The Department Of Transportation is proposing to make the Bethel Airport a 24-7 operation.

KYUK’S Shane Iverson talked with Bethel airport staff last week and has the story.

Alaska Airlines Passengers Receive Wireless Over Southeast
Ed Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska – Juneau
Alaska Airlines passengers flying above Southeast Alaska now have access to wireless internet. But travelers on most flights stopping in the region will not have the service until next year.

Report Studies Effect of Climate Change on Resources
Jacob Resneck, KMXT – Kodiak
The Department of Fish and Game released its climate change strategy last week. The document comes from the subcabinet created in 2007 by Governor Sarah Palin to study effects of climate change on state resources.

Skagway May Join List of Non-Smoking Towns
Tara Bicknell, KHNS – Haines
Skagway could be the next non-smoking town – joining the likes of Whitehorse, Juneau, Haines and Petersburg – if the assembly votes yes on the idea.

The borough is in the process of drafting an ordinance that would outlaw smoking in public places within the municipality’s borders.