Alaska News Nightly: November 11, 2011

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Young Pushing ‘Alaska Energy for American Jobs Act’

Associated Press

House Natural Resources Committee Chair Doc Hastings of Washington and Rep. Don Young of Alaska announced plans Friday to push the “Alaska Energy for American Jobs Act.”

The measure would allow for oil and gas development in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge on the coastal plain. Hastings said in a news release that the measure will open less than 3 percent of the ANWR’s 19 million acres and produce billions of barrels of oil and generate billions of dollars in revenues.

Environmentalists say the figures used to tout the potential benefit of opening the refuge are exaggerated.

Senators Honor Vets, Help Pass Job Legislation

Libby Casey, APRN – Washington DC

Alaska’s senators honored veterans in Washington on Friday and were part of a successful effort to pass legislation aimed at getting more veterans jobs on Thursday. There are an estimated 240,000 unemployed vets from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Alaska VA Spreading Word of Tribal Veteran Representative Program

Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage

The Alaska VA Healthcare System is working to get the word out about their Tribal Veteran Representative program. TVRs volunteer to get training to assist Native veterans in their communities with filing VA paperwork to access benefits through the VA system.

Marcia Hoffman Devoe is the Alaska VA healthcare spokeswoman. She says it’s a simple, one page form for someone to nominate a community person to be their TVR.

Hoffman Devoe says the TVRs get three days of training. She says currently there are 35 TVRs in Alaska but the goal is to have 65 more trained in 2012. She says they hope to get people in positions all across the state.

The positions are not VA jobs, but are instead community volunteers who want to help their fellow veterans. Williard Jackson Sr is a TVR in Ketchikan. Jackson is a Vietnam vet who served with the Army’s 82nd Airborne infantry division. He’s been a Tribal Veteran Representative for five years. He says all veterans are entitled to something in the system, whether it’s health care, home loans or education. He says this is important for young men and women just coming home.

Jackson stresses the importance of getting registered as soon as veterans get home.

He says he has found that in helping other veterans he also benefits from the experience.

The VA pays for travel and lodging for the person being nominated for the training. 65 more TVRs are needed in Alaska and the next training will be scheduled in Anchorage in the spring of 2012. Hoffman Devoe says information will be posted on the Alaska VA website in December.

Southwest Alaska Readies for Strong Storm

Associated Press

A storm with blizzard conditions and winds peaking at 55 mph is roiling the waters of the eastern Bering Sea, a day after the worst storm on the state’s western coast in almost four decades sputtered out.

National Weather Service meteorologist Andy Brown says the system is expected to head toward the town of Bethel, several hundred miles south of Nome. It will be nowhere as powerful or widespread as the massive storm from earlier in the week.

Brown says it’s still a “strong storm,” but one that’s more “typical of winter weather southwest Alaska experiences.”

Community Leaders Gather for Local Government Conference

Tim Ellis, KUAC – Fairbanks

Community leaders from around the state are gathered in Fairbanks this week for the Alaska Municipal League’s Local Government Conference.  The annual gathering is a chance to talk about shared issues, and two are at the top of everyone’s agenda.

Effort May Help Get Homeless Fairbanks Youth Off the Street

Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks

November is national homeless youth awareness month.  In Alaska’s long cold winter, the issue of kids who don’t have place to stay is especially serious. An effort in Fairbanks would establish an emergency shelter to help get youth off the street.

AK: Renovating Hilltop’s Ski Jump

Annie Feidt, APRN – Anchorage

Anchorage has always been known for its cross country skiing. Now a group of volunteers are hoping to revive interest in another snow sport in the city- ski jumping. The 40 meter jump at Hilltop Ski Area had fallen into disrepair over the years. But after a flurry of activity this fall- it’s ready for a new generation of jumpers to begin taking flight.

300 Villages: Two Rivers

For 300 villages this week, we continue the snow sports theme with a visit to Two Rivers, a community near Fairbanks known as a sled dog paradise with help from Iditarod musher Aliy Zirkle.