Alaska News Nightly: December 30, 2011

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Russian Tanker Gets Jones Act Waiver

Ben Matheson, KNOM – Nome

The Department of Homeland Security has granted a Jones Act waiver for the Russian tanker Renda to load gasoline in Dutch Harbor before heading through the ice to Nome.

Teen Found Dead In Bethel Park Identified

Angela Denning-Barnes, KYUK – Bethel

The 15-year-old boy who was found dead in a Bethel park has been identified.

Bethel police say he is Kelton Atchak of Bethel.

Atchak had been reported missing and local search and rescue volunteers,

Alaska State Troopers, and police had been looking for him.

He was found Thursday afternoon beside his snow machine which was undamaged.

Police do not suspect foul play and sent his remains to State Medical Examiner’s Office in Anchorage for an autopsy.

Scientists Downgrade Cleveland Volcano Aviation Alert Level

Stephanie Joyce, KUCB – Unalaska

Scientists have downgraded the aviation alert level for Cleveland Volcano from orange to yellow.  The volcano lies on a major international flight path and it put up a 15,000 foot ash cloud on Thursday.  That prompted the Alaska Volcano Observatory to increase the warning level, even though the plume wasn’t expected to interfere with aviation.

Scientist-in-charge John Power says they’ve lowered the alert because the ash cloud has dissipated.  He says they still don’t know exactly what happened to the lava dome that’s been forming in the crater since early July.

Cleveland has historically been a very active volcano.  Its last major eruption in 2001 sent up a series of three plumes, some of them reaching 39,000 feet.

Power says he suspects Cleveland isn’t done with this eruptive phase just yet.

There’s no real-time monitoring network on Cleveland, but the Observatory does have an alert system that can detect the lightning that accompanies major ash clouds within minutes.  Yesterday’s eruption wasn’t large enough to produce lightning, it showed up later on satellite imagery.

Boeing Wins Missile Defense Contract

Tim Ellis, KUAC – Fairbanks

Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage

Boeing Corporation beat out Lockheed Martin to retain its position as the prime contractor for the U.S. long-range missile shield, the Pentagon said Friday.

The U.S. Defense Department said it was awarding Boeing a $3.48 billion, seven-year contract to develop, test, engineer and manufacture missile defense systems.

A team led by Lockheed Martin Corp and Raytheon Co had vied with Boeing to expand and maintain the Ground-based Midcourse Defense, or GMD, hub of antimissile protection.

GMD uses radar and other sensors plus a 20,000-mile fiber optic communications network to cue interceptors in silos at Fort Greely, outside of Fairbanks and Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

Boeing partnered with Northrop Grumman Corporation.

The GMD contract’s value to Boeing will have been about $18 billion from January 2001 through the end of this year.

ADF&G Shows Interest In Bethel Subsistence Patterns

Mark Arehart, KYUK – Bethel

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game is interested in researching Bethel resident’s big game subsistence practices.

‘Alaskan Wet Dog Race’ Set For 2013

Daysha Eaton, KDLG – Dillingham

It’s mushing season again, but one Alaskan is asking coastal communities to consider embracing a new kind of dog race. It involves teams riding personal watercraft more than 2,000 miles along the state’s Coastline.  The ‘Alaskan Wet Dog Race’ is set for 2013.

Year In Review: Sitka, Anchorage and Juneau

Annie Feidt, APRN – Anchorage

Robert Woolsey, KCAW – Sitka

Ed Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska – Juneau

In this last week of 2011, APRN and member station reporters from across the state have been reflecting on the stories of this past year that stood out for them. Some because they were important or difficult to report on, or as in this first story from Sitka because they were fun.

AK: Crab Bait Radio

Annie Feidt, APRN – Anchorage

This week on AK… A seine skipper soothes his sensitive skiffman…(don’t try to say that fast!)

Alaska is famous for its rough and tumble fishing industry. Some say you’ve gotta be tough to make it as a commercial salmon seiner. But that’s not always the case. Crab Bait Radio witnessed another side of seining last summer.

That was a little comedy from Crab Bait Radio – which is produced by Matt Lichtenstein and Joe Viechnicki at KFSK in Petersburg.

300 Villages: Houston

This week we’re visiting the town of Houston, a small community about 50 miles north of Anchorage on the Parks Highway and talking with Houston mayor Virgie Thompson. It’s a hot spot for buying fireworks for New Year’s Eve celebrations!