Alaska News Nightly: October 25, 2011

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Fairbanks Seeks to Dismiss Redistricting Lawsuit

Joe Viechnicki, KFSK – Petersburg

The Fairbanks North Star Borough is seeking to dismiss its lawsuit over Alaska’s redistricting plan. The decision comes after the city of Petersburg decided to drop the bulk of its claims it made in suing the Alaska Redistricting Board. But Petersburg is still arguing that a proposed house and senate district in northern Southeast does not meet a Constitutional requirement.

State Denies Petition to Make Coal Mining in Chuitna River Watershed Off Limits

Ellen Lockyer, KSKA – Anchorage

The state has denied a petition to put all coal mining off limits  on land within the Chuitna River watershed.   Department of Natural Resources commissioner Dan Sullivan says the decision is not a “green light ” for mining, but it does indicate that reclamation of areas affected by strip coal mining is feasible.

NTSB Concludes Investigation of F/V Katmai Sinking

Stephanie Joyce, KUCB – Unalaska

The investigation into the sinking of the Fishing Vessel Katmai is officially over.

The National Transportation Safety Board released their report on the disaster, and it concluded that the boat had a number of stability problems that made it unable to withstand extreme storm conditions in the Bering Sea. As a result, seven lives were lost when the head-and-gut vessel flooded in 2008.

The marine accident brief stitches together testimony from the four survivors who were aboard the 73-foot boat. At the time of the sinking, the Katmai was traveling through Amchitka Pass, about 120 miles west of Adak. It was heading toward Unalaska with 120,000 pounds of frozen cod when a severe storm hit. The Katmai lost its ability to steer, and the boat started taking in water just before midnight on October 21, 2008. The skipper called for an evacuation of the boat shortly after that. One of the eleven crew members is believed to have gone down with the ship. Six others were lost when the two life rafts aboard rolled in rough seas. The four survivors were

ultimately rescued by the Coast Guard over 15 hours after the sinking.

The National Transportation Safety Board came to many of the same conclusions that the Coast Guard reached during their investigation. They found that the probable cause of the sinking was that watertight doors were left open and that the vessel was carrying twice the recommended amount of cod.

Officials Push for Higher Penalties for Mislabeling Fish

Tom Banse, NNN – Oregon

Some seafood sold in the Pacific Northwest isn’t what it seems.  Mislabeled fish is more common than you might think, according to the few cops trying to make sure you get the species you paid for. Now those who are on patrol are looking for higher penalties to deter fish cheaters.

Japan Airlines Increasing Alaska Flights

Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks

Japan Airlines is increasing its flights to Alaska this winter.  JAL is going from 12 last year to 18.  That’s still short of the airline’s 2009 peak of 19 Alaska flights.  Fairbanks Convention and Visitor’s Bureau Director Deb Hickock says economic reasons figure into JAL’s rebound in the Alaska market.

The JAL charters come into Fairbanks and Anchorage, with passengers on the Anchorage flights riding the Alaska Railroad to Fairbanks.  Hickcok says interior activities are the focus.

This winter’s JAL Alaska flights run Dec. 27 through March.  The 18 charters have total capacity of about 1,500 passengers.  Japan Airlines has been bringing visitors to Fairbanks since 2004.

Federal Cuts Threaten Ferry Repairs

Ed Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska – Juneau

The Alaska Marine Highway System could be another casualty of federal budget battles. Money used to repair and maintain the aging ferry fleet could become much tighter in the near future.

Postcard: Discovering Music Through Sacred Harp

Robert Woolsey, KCAW – Sitka

A revival of a form of traditional sacred music has found a toehold in Alaska.

The 4th annual Alaska Sacred Harp Convention was held in Sitka over the weekend (Oct 20 – 22, 2011). About a dozen singers from around the state and the US joined locals for social gatherings, a song school, and an all-day sing.

Registe Wins Bronze at Pan-Am Games

Josh Edge, APRN – Anchorage

Former UAA All-American David Registe won the bronze medal in the long jump at the Pan American Games on Tuesday, in Guadalajara, Mexico.

The Palmer native posted a jump of nearly 25 feet, 10 and three-quarters inches.

Registe was competing for Dominica, where he holds dual citizenship.