Alaska News Nightly: September 15, 2011

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Alaska Has Fastest Growing Senior Population in US

Daysha Eaton, KDLG – Dillingham

Alaska has the fastest growing senior population in the country. That demographic trend is playing out across the state, and in rural places like Dillingham, the growth of the older population is amplified by the fact that the young, working-age group is simultaneously shrinking.

Senate Receives Update on State Employee Retirement System

Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau

Thursday, the State Senate got an update on the state employee retirement system’s unfunded liability – it’s now $11 billion.

The State Affairs committee also began a series of hearings on a new plan that would allow workers to choose which type of retirement plan they want.

Arctic Ice Melts to Second Lowest Recorded Level

Associated Press

The National Snow and Ice Data Center says Arctic sea ice melted this summer to the second lowest level since scientists started keeping records more than 50 years ago.

The amount of ice covering the Arctic hit its lowest point late last week. Scientists calculated 1.67 million square miles of ice. Only in 2007 was there less summer sea ice, which has been dramatically declining since scientists began using satellites to monitor melt in 1979. Other records go back to 1953.

Klukwan, Inc. Closes Haines Office

Tara Bicknell, KHNS – Haines

Klukwan, Inc. closed its Haines office late last week.  The board of directors for the native corporation met over the weekend, and there is a possibility they could re-open the office at a later date.  No other details were available at this time but shareholders have expressed discomfort in how the corporation has recently handled the funds in its three trusts and corporate operations.  Shareholders also voted to partially-liquidate the largest of those three funds earlier this year.  Some beneficiaries say they have not yet received the full distribution from that decision.

Murkowski, Parnell Among Those to Discuss Plan for State’s Minerals

Tim Ellis, KUAC – Fairbanks

Governor Sean Parnell and Senator Lisa Murkowski are among the top state and federal leaders who’ve been invited to Fairbanks for a meeting on how Alaska could provide minerals that are essential to industry and national security.

Proposed Halibut Catch Sharing Plan Causing Rift Between Commercial, Charter Industries

Aaron Selbig, KBBI – Homer

The controversial proposed halibut catch sharing plan from the National Marine Fisheries Service has caused a rift in Homer between the town’s commercial and charter halibut industries. Nowhere was that rift more visible than at Monday night’s meeting of the Homer City Council.

Text Giving Program Comes to Anchorage

Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage

A non-profit in Anchorage is the first organization in Alaska that can receive donations by text message.

Bean’s Cafe and the Children’s Lunchbox are now able to receive cash through mobile giving. Ken Miller is the development director for Beans and the Children’s lunchbox. He says millions were raised in a short time by text giving to the Haiti relief fund. He says at that time mobile giving was under the purview of large organizations.

It’s a simple process. You text a key word to a number.

Once you’ve done that, a message asks you to confirm your $10 donation. If you do, the donation gets added to your mobile carrier bill. Miller says they’ll get all but about 30 cents of each donation and a person can donate up to three times. He says no other non-profits in the state have used this fundraising method yet, but he thinks it would help out others beyond Beans. The transactions are handled by an Outside company.

Miller stresses a ten dollar donation goes a long way when it only costs Beans about a dollar twenty to provide a full meal.

Bean’s Cafe serves between four and five hundred meals each day. You can also help out the Children’s Lunchbox program this weekend by donating food at the Spenard Farmer’s Market on Saturday.

Over $118 Million Will Be Given to American Indian, Alaska Native Tribes, Organizations

Mike Mason, KDLG – Dillingham

The U.S. Justice Department has announced that it is handing out over $118-million to American Indian and Alaska Native tribes and organizations. Several in Alaska are receiving some of that money.