Alaska News Nightly: January 17, 2012

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Legislature Gets Underway In Juneau

Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau

The legislature got underway in Juneau Tuesday afternoon with the usual pomp and circumstance, joined by some serious hopes for major accomplishments members can point to 90 days from now.

Coastal Management Petition Submits Nearly 34,000 Signatures

Casey Kelly, KTOO – Juneau

Backers of a citizens’ initiative to re-establish an Alaska Coastal Management Program have submitted nearly 34,000 signatures to the state Division of Elections. The Alaska Sea Party held a news conference in Anchorage Tuesday morning to announce the total, which is about 8,000 more than the group needs to place the measure on this year’s statewide ballot. But, the Sea Party hopes the legislature is able to resolve the issue before it goes to a vote.

Board of Game Delays Bear Control Expansion Decision

Ellen Lockyer, KSKA – Anchorage

Alaska’s game board has decided to delay a decision on a controversial plan to expand the use of snares to kill grizzly and black bears as a means of predator control.   Bear snaring is limited to an area on the West side of Cook Inlet. A proposal before the board at the current session had allowed for expansion of the practice to Game Unit 19 A, on the Kuskokwim river.

Supporters of the proposal say it will boost moose populations by removing predators.   But opponents,  told the board during public testimony, that it is not an effective management tool

The panel could reconsider expansion of bear snaring in Game Unit 19A at its March meeting in Fairbanks.

The board of game Tuesday did pass, with amendments, a predator control program for Game Unit 26 B in the Barrow area, which allows for land and shoot killing of brown bears by agents of the state only.

Alaska Exports Top $5 Billion In 2011

Len Anderson, KSKA – Anchorage

Last year, Alaskan exports topped $5 billion for the first time.  Governor Sean Parnell made the announcement Monday based on a final tally of exported goods from last January through November. And according to an international trade expert in Anchorage for Wednesday’s World Trade Center Alaska Forecast luncheon, Alaskan exports can expect to grow.

Employers Enacting ‘Workplace Wellness Programs’

Annie Feidt, APRN – Anchorage

We’ve all heard it before- lose weight and you’ll be healthier. Now more and more companies are trying convince their employees to drop pounds and meet other health goals. They hope workplace wellness programs will help get spiraling health insurance costs under control. And the evidence in Alaska is that it’s working.

Most Bethel Schools Remain Closed

Mark Arehart, KYUK – Bethel

Many Bethel schools have been closed for the sixth straight school day, counting Monday’s teacher in-service, due to frozen sewer pipes, but the problems started over two weeks ago when school was not in session.

New Owners Come With New Vision For Former Pulp Mill

Deanna Garrison, KDRB – Ketchikan

A waterfront commercial property in Ketchikan has new owners with a new vision for the site. A local company purchased the borough owned property that was an old pulp mill at Ward Cove for 2.1 million dollars.  Ward Cove Industries is hoping the site will become a new hub for Southern Southeast Alaska’s maritime, mining and fishing industries.

Fairbanks Artist Goes Big At Anchorage Airport

Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks

A Fairbanks artist has gone big at the Anchorage Airport.  David Mollet’s 9 foot by 32 foot oil painting of “Rainbow Creek” was recently installed in the lobby at the Ted Steven’s International Airport.  Rainbow Creek, south of Anchorage off the Seward Highway, is one of Mollet’s favorite subjects.  He says he’s painted it several times, but having such a large version go on display prominently in a high traffic public space is new.

Mollet, who usually paints in the field, says that wasn’t possible with such a large scale work.  He says he did several field studies but worked inside his Fairbanks studio for a year to complete the big painting.