Alaska News Nightly: January 18, 2012

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Nome Remains Concerned About Fuel Oil Status

Ben Matheson, KNOM – Nome

The Renda’s payload of diesel and unleaded gasoline is almost all pumped into tanks onshore in Nome, and the final price to customers will soon be known. But now the community is worried about running out of heating fuel at the end of the winter, and may have to fly that in.

State Takes Wait And See Approach On Wilde’s Appeal

Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks

The state is taking a wait and see approach on Jim Wilde’s appeal. The Central resident is appealing his conviction on misdemeanor charges stemming from a confrontation with rangers on the Yukon River inside the Yukon Charley Rivers National Preserve in 2010.  Wilde’s appeal transcends his own case, challenging the agency’s authority to conduct law enforcement on navigable rivers owned by the state.

Kip Knudson Takes Over As Director Of Alaska’s DC Offices

Libby Casey, APRN – Washington DC

When the director of the State of Alaska’s office in Washington DC retired a few weeks ago, Senator Lisa Murkowski took to the Senate floor to publically praise John Katz.  She went as far as calling Katz “Alaska’s Fourth Congressman” for his 40 years of service in different positions advocating for Alaska’s interests.  Katz handed over the Washington office at the start of the New Year to Kip Knudson, the new director of state and federal relations.

Senate Opens Hearing On Governor’s Scholarship Program

Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau

The Senate didn’t waste any time getting to work this year as the Finance Committee Wednesday opened its first hearing on the Governor’s bill dealing with the Scholarship program he has pushed since he first took office.  The House approved it in the closing week of last year’s session.

Dianne Barrans, Executive Director of the Commission on Post-Secondary Education, said about 2,400 students who graduated from high school last year were eligible for the merit-based scholarships.  And 900 of them took advantage of it.

The bill has opposition, particularly from rural legislators.   Nome Democrat Donny Olson said he will not support it as is because the current program puts rural students at a disadvantage.   And Anchorage Democrat Johnny Ellis said there have been doubts that rural students have access to the courses that are required for the scholarships.

Chairman Bert Stedman said talks are already going on between lawmakers and the administration over changes to the bill.

Barrans said some of the students who qualified for the scholarships last year are from rural schools,  showing that the standard  is not impossible.  However, she agreed, it is more difficult for rural students to earn the scholarships.

Sea Party Spent At Least $100K On Petition Drive

Casey Kelly, KTOO – Juneau

The group behind a citizens’ initiative to re-establish an Alaska Coastal Management Program spent more than 100-thousand dollars on its nearly month-long signature gathering effort.

Many Alaska Salmon Packers Pull Out of MSC Certification Program

Jay Barrett, KMXT – Kodiak

75 percent of Alaska’s salmon packers have decided to pull out of the Marine Stewardship Council’s fisheries certification program when the current agreement expires at the end of October. Those processors are Trident, Icicle, Ocean Beauty, Peter Pan, Alaska General, E-and-E, Kwikpak and North Pacific. The board of the Alaska Fisheries Development Foundation concurred with the move on Monday.

In 2011 the London based MSC certified 287,000 metric tons of Alaska salmon.

MSC certification had once been a rare and valued indicator of a fishery’s sustainability, but as more and more fisheries became certified, the cachet has diminished, according to industry watcher John Sackton of

Unusually Large Crack Develops In Haines Road

Tara Bicknell, KHNS – Haines

Engineers from Seattle and the Alaska Department of Transportation are on their way to Haines, to look at an unusually large crack that developed this week in a section of road. The crack is becoming an issue for road crews and residents who live near the shaky ground.

Mt. Edgecumbe Students Present Bowhead Whale Findings

Steve Heimel, APRN – Anchorage & Johanna Eurich, APRN Contributor

A Mount Edgecumbe High School science student from Kotzebue presented new findings on bowhead whales Tuesday at the Marine Science Symposium.  Teressa Baldwin is analyzing whale calls collected with new recording equipment put in place by the school’s Sea Tech program, run in co-operation with the Scripps Institute of Oceanography.  Baldwin is Inupiaq, but says she never had much contact with bowheads until she got involved with this project.  The new equipment can hear whales far out to sea under the ice.  Baldwin took that data and compared it to where the whales were actually being seen, or not seen.

This evening, Baldwin will be one of the young achievers Governor Sean Parnell is expected to introduce to the state Legislature during his State of the State Address.   Baldwin says she is starting to get used to standing up before the public – or at least her fellow scientists.

This is the second year that the high school Sea Tech program has presented findings to the Symposium.

Bear Collar Cameras Yield Interesting Findings

Daysha Eaton, KDLG – Dillingham

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game, Division of Wildlife Conservation has posted some interesting video clips online from research cameras mounted on the collars of bears.  As Daysha Eaton explains, the videos are from the perspective of the bears … and allow you to see the world through their eyes.