Alaska News Nightly: May 10, 2012

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Body Found Was Missing Airman

The Associated Press

Anchorage police have confirmed that a body found north of downtown Anchorage earlier this week was that of an airman missing for three weeks.

Lt. Dave Parker says the body found was that of Senior Airman Clinton Reeves of Raytown, Mo.

Parker spoke during a Thursday morning news conference at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.

Reeves failed to report for work at JBER on April 23. His rental car was found later, with uniforms and groceries inside.

Another airman, James Devinn Thomas, was arrested Tuesday on charges of evidence tampering.

Police call Thomas a “person of interest” in the case.

Redistricting Plan Foes Face Off In Supreme Court

Ellen Lockyer, KSKA – Anchorage

Attorneys for the state Redistricting Board and for those opposed to the Board’s latest plan faced off in oral arguments Thursday before the Alaska Supreme Court.

Board attorney Michael White argued for the Board’s petition to the court to allow the use of its earliest plan for this year’s election. The March plan has been amended in regard to two Fairbanks area House districts.

An interim plan means the plan selected for the 2012 election.

Justice Dana Fabe asked White why the the Board, in its May petition, has not asked the court to approve its April 5 plan.

White said the need for an interim plan for this year’s election is time sensitive, because of a Monday deadline. The Division of Elections needs to know what new precincts to put in place. But any plan that is used must be approved by the federal Department of Justice and pass a one person one vote rule. The only plan that has DOJ clearance at this time is the Board’s initial plan.

But opposing counsel argued that a plan from 2002 should be used as the “interim” plan.  Fairbanks attorney Michael Waleri and Justice Winfrey.

The Justices said that a number of plans could be considered, if all passed state Constitutional muster, and in two hours of debate a number of alternative plans were mentioned.  The high court has other options, including moving the June first filing deadline for candidates in this year’s election.  A Supreme Court decision could come tomorrow.

The Board has also asked the high court to review a lower court decision in regard to its April 5 redistricting plan, which was rejected by a lower court judge.

Alaskans Receiving Large Share Of Health Care Rebates

Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage

Alaskans in some health insurance plans will be getting the biggest rebates in the country, according to a new report from the Kaiser Family Foundation. The rebates are part of the Affordable Care Act, which requires insurers to refund money to consumers if they spend more than 20 percent of their premium income on administrative costs. In Alaska, the largest rebates will be more than $500.

Cynthia Cox is a Fellow at the Kaiser Family Foundation and one of the authors of the report. She told APRN’s Lori Townsend two health plans in Alaska plan to issue rebates.

Texting While Driving Now Illegal In Alaska

Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau

Governor Sean Parnell Thursday put the final touches on a law that legislators thought they had handled four years ago. With his signature, it is now illegal to send or read a text message while driving.

AVEC Hoping To Add Bethel To Service List

Mark Arehart, KYUK – Bethel

The Alaska Village Electric Cooperative services 54 villages throughout Interior and Western Alaska. Given the right opportunity, the company wants to add a 55th community – Bethel.  But, right now that is a big ‘if’, as in if the community’s current utility provider would be willing to sell.

Group Forms To Oppose Proposed Auke Bay Roundabout

Casey Kelly, KTOO – Juneau

A group called “Friends of Auke Bay” is fighting a state road project to build a roundabout in the small commercial district north of Juneau. Group members say the project would make the area less livable, and destroy DeHart’s – a popular roadside convenience store and gas station in the heart of Auke Bay.

3-Pawed Grizzly Appears At Denali Park Again

The Associated Press

A three-pawed grizzly bear missing its right front paw is making appearances at Denali National Park and Preserve.

The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports the grizzly was first spotted last summer. He’s been seen regularly near the park entrance for the last three weeks.

Park wildlife biologist Pat Owen says the bear keeps the stump off the ground as he runs and the wound appears to have healed.

No one knows how the bear lost its paw.

Owen says people speculate that the bear got its paw caught in a snare meant for a wolf.

Owen says it’s a really clean cut across the lower half of its leg and that leads her to believe the wound may not be from a trap accident.

Copper River Salmon Season Starts Next Week

Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks

The Copper River salmon fishing season is set to get underway next week. The first commercial opening at the river’s mouth is scheduled for May 17. Glennallen area management biologist Mark Sommerville says the run is forecast to be relatively strong.

Bristol Bay Fishermen, Processors Waiting For Herring

Mike Mason, KDLG – Dillingham

The largest herring fishery in Alaska is on hold in Bristol Bay as fishermen and processors wait for the herring to show up.

Season’s First Cruise Ships Sailing In Southeast

Ed Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska – Juneau

The first cruise ships of the 2012 season have begun sailing through Southeast Alaska. More ships will make port calls this year than last, and some of their passengers will reflect new industry trends. CoastAlaska’s Ed Schoenfeld takes a look at the season from Juneau’s waterfront.