Alaska News Nightly: May 5, 2011

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New Plan Aims to Help More Prisoners Successfully Reenter Society
Annie Feidt, APRN – Anchorage
Two of every three criminals in Alaska ends back behind bars after they’re been released from prison. That high recidivism rate creates more crime victims and it costs Alaska a lot of money- $136 per prisoner, per day. Now, the state has a new plan to help more prisoners successfully reenter society when their terms are complete.

Sand Point Experiences Pair of Quakes
Alexandra Gutierrez, KUCB – Unalaska
Sand Point residents experienced a rude awakening this morning when a pair of moderate earthquakes hit about 30 miles from the community.

Lack of Funding Could Mean Gaps in Weather Forecasting, Wilderness Rescue
Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
The continuing resolution that’s keeping the federal government operating does not include hundreds of millions of dollars to replace polar orbiting satellites, and that could mean a gap in  service depended on for weather forecasting and wilderness rescue in Alaska.  Fairbanks meteorologist and Alaska Region Chair of the National Weather Service Employees Organization Jim Brader says there are long lead times on new satellites and the  current ones are expected to fail by 2016.

That concerns Brader because the polar orbiters are best at tracking clouds across interior and northern Alaska.  The satellites orbit about 500 to 600 miles above the earth’s surface, a low orbit that provides a much sharper resolution. He says their loss would hurt weather observations and forecasting.

Brader says satellite data is also loaded into computer programs to characterize weather conditions, including temperature, for areas over oceans where the weather service does not send up weather balloons.  He says the polar satellites also transmit signals from emergency locator beacons.

Brader says delayed funding for polar orbiting satellites is expected to increase their replacement cost 3 to 5 times, as the project will have to be rushed.

Subsistence Board Decides How to Handle Proposed Changes
Joaqlin Estus, KNBA – Anchorage
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar told the Alaska Federation of Natives convention in 2009 he planned to review the effectiveness of the subsistence program in Alaska. The departments of Interior and Agriculture issued a report in August 2010 recommending several changes. This week, the federal subsistence board met to decide how to carry out those recommendations.

Redistricting Draft Splits Petersburg
Ed Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska – Juneau
Draft redistricting plans would split Petersburg, marginalize its residents and reduce funding for local projects. That’s according to comments made during this week’s state redistricting board hearing in Petersburg.

Socks Clogging UAF Sewage System
Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
Vandalism at the University of Alaska Fairbanks Fine Arts building is causing serious plumbing problems. UAF Superintendent of Maintenance Bill Cox says the complex’s sewage handling system has been targeted since late last year.

Cox says incidents have increased in recent weeks, with several socks being removed from system on a daily basis. He says the children’s size socks have resulted in a lot of trouble.

Cox says repairs have cost about $15,000 so far.  He says the University does not know what’s going on and why.  Officials have not been able to correlate the attacks to any type of grievance someone may have with the university.

Youth Gather for Eco Forum
Ellen Lockyer, KSKA – Anchorage
A special ecological forum for young people from countries all over the North is happening this week in and around Anchorage, thanks to the Northern Forum.  The Youth Eco – Forum is part of the “Classrooms for Climate” symposium taking place at the University of Alaska Anchorage.

Southeast Alaska Artfest Showcases Wide Range of Artistry
Matt Lichtenstein, KFSK – Petersburg
More than a 120 high school students and adults from around the region took part in this year’s Southeast Alaska Artfest. The event takes place in a different town each year and Petersburg High School was the host this time around. Students spent several days taking intensive classes taught by craftspeople and artists from around southeast, then they displayed their creations in a show at the end of the week.

The many subjects ranged from the ancient skill of basket weaving, to the contemporary field of digital photo editing.

Correction: Whaling Season Off to Strong Start
Wednesday night, in a story on spring whaling, we said there had been 18 strikes this spring out of 75 allowed. That quota is for the entire year, not just the spring season. It also includes unused strikes carried over from previous years. The annual allotment for the Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission is 67.