Alaska News Nightly: April 25, 2011

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Gasoline Leak Causes Some Aniak Residents to Evacuate Homes
Shane Iverson, KYUK – Bethel
Offices and homes in portions of Aniak were evacuated Monday morning because of a gasoline leak.

BOEMRE Expects to Name Permanent Director in Next 30 Days
Annie Feidt, APRN – Anchorage
More than a year after the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, there is at least one visible difference at the Alaska office of the federal agency that regulates offshore drilling. The Bureau of Ocean, Energy, Management, Regulation and Enforcement has a new acting director in its Anchorage office and expects to announce a permanent director in the next 30 days. Bigger changes are in the works for the agency. And those changes will be influenced by an Alaskan who is hoping to bring increased attention to Arctic Ocean drilling issues.

Villages Working to Reduce Youth Violence
Joaqlin Estus, KNBA – Anchorage
Research shows youth violence and bullying are linked to suicide. 12 Alaska villages are taking part in a project to reduce youth violence, bullying and suicide through activities based on traditional culture. Native Aspirations is designed to help reservations and Alaska Native villages create safety nets.  About 170 project participants met in Anchorage last week to share what’s working for them.

Ilisagvik College Sends Off Its Largest Graduated Class
Jake Neher, KBRW – Barrow
Alaska’s only tribal college is sending off the largest graduating class in its history. Ilisagvik College held its Spring 2011 commencement ceremony in Barrow Friday. Officials say it’s students’ fortitude, not higher enrollment, that’s leading to more graduates.

Fairbanks Closer to Seeing Downtown Food Co-op
Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
Fairbanks is getting closer to seeing a downtown food co-op.  The member owned community market may benefit from a low interest loan from a new economic development loan fund being established by Golden Valley Electric.  The utility has applied for a $300,000 United States Department of Agriculture grant, and is kicking in $60,000 of its own money to establish the fund.  GVEA President and CEO Brian Newton says helping the Food Co-op fits in with the utility’s mission.

Newton says if Golden Valley gets the grant, it will be the first utility to set up an economic development loan program in Alaska, but he says such funds are common among utilities in the Lower 48.  The dollars GVEA is contributing will come from unclaimed capital credits of former members. The Fairbanks Community Cooperative Market has been in the works for several years.  The plan is for a member owned store that sells organic and whole foods, including local produce.  Co-op Market Project Manager Mary Christensen says the $360,000 loan from GVEA will represents a 3rd of what’s needed to open the store.  She says combined with a bank loan and member support, finances are looking good.

The Fairbanks Community Market has secured an option to lease a portion of the old Foodland Supermarket building downtown. Christensen says the total $1.2 million start up budget will cover renovation of the 6,000 square-foot store space, equipment, inventory and hiring a general manger.  She says things will be on hold until Golden Valley hears back on the USDA grant this fall, but renovation work will begin as soon as the money is secured.  She says that would set the Coop Market up for opening sometime between January and April 2012.

Solution to Delta Bison Problem Involves A Lot of Fencing
Tim Ellis, KUAC – Fairbanks
Farmers and hunters argued last week over what to do about damage to crops caused by the Delta Bison Herd.  The two sides were able to come to consensus on a solution to the 30 year old problem, and it involves a lot of fencing.

Statewide Film Festival Honors Ray Mala
Angela Denning-Barnes, KYUK – Bethel
Ray Mala, the first Alaska movie star—who happened to be Inupiat—is being honored in towns around the State in a film festival.