Alaska News Nightly: May 31, 2012

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Judge Refuses To Dismiss Charges In Militia Trial

The Associated Press

A federal court judge has rejected motions to dismiss charges against three Fairbanks militia members.

U.S. District Court Judge Robert Bryan says prosecutors have presented sufficient evidence allowing the case to move forward.

Francis Schaeffer Cox, Coleman Barney and Lonnie Vernon are on trial in Anchorage on charges of conspiracy to possess restricted weapons and conspiracy to murder law enforcement officers.

Defense attorney Nelson Traverso argued unsuccessfully Thursday that words uttered by Cox might have been distasteful and provocative but were not against the law.

After Bryan’s ruling, Traverso called his first witnesses.

Militia member Les Zerbe testified that the group formed to protect families if the country experienced economic failure and civil government broke down as had happened in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Chefornak VPSO Accused Of Sexual Abuse Of A Minor

Mark Arehart, KYUK – Bethel

A Village Public Safety Officer in Chefornak is accused of sexually abusing a minor multiple times in a four-month period.  Police records indicate that at least two of the alleged assaults took place in the Chefornak Public Safety Building.

Gas Storage Facility Opens In Kenai

Shaylon Cochran, KDLL – Kenai

Utility companies in Southcentral Alaska will enjoy a little more stability in their supply of natural gas this winter with the opening of a new $160 million storage facility in Kenai.  Operated by Cook Inlet Natural Gas Storage Alaska, or CINGSA, the new facility is the first of its kind in Alaska and will provide a buffer between the seasons of peak production and peak demand.

Dana Fabe Selected To Be Chief Justice

Ellen Lockyer, KSKA – Anchorage

Alaska’s Supreme Court justices have voted unanimously to select Justice Dana Fabe to serve as Chief Justice, starting July 1.

Fabe will follow current Chief Justice Walter Carpeneti, whose three year term expires on June 30.  Fabe has served as Chief Justice twice before.  She is the first woman to have been named to the state Supreme Court.  Her duties include serving as administrative head of the state Supreme Court  and providing policy direction for all courts statewide.

Many Legislative Seats Uncontested As Deadline Looms

Ed Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska – Juneau

With the filing period nearly over, more than a third of the legislative seats on this year’s ballot remain unchallenged. Candidates have until 5 p.m. Friday to submit their paperwork to the state Division of Elections.

Comeau Reflects On Education Career

Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage

After 37 years in the Anchorage School District, Carol Comeau is retiring. She started her career in the district as a teacher’s aide, became a teacher in Anchorage and eventually superintendent. That’s a position she’s held for more than a decade. Comeau is moving to Bellingham to spend more time with her kids and grandkids.

She says she started teaching in Oregon in 1963 but got pregnant right away, which meant she had to quit.

United Way of Alaska is holding a retirement celebration for Comeau and a fundraiser for the effort to increase graduation rates in the city to 90% by 2020 tonight at the Denaina Convention and Civic Center from 6-9 p.m.

Fairbanks-Area Residents Ponder Pros, Cons Of Healy Coal Plant

Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks

Fairbanks area residents are weighing cost and environmental impacts, as Golden Valley Electric Association pursues start up of the Healy Clean Coal Plant.  GVEA members from Delta Junction to Fairbanks and Healy have seen power rates escalate with the price of oil – the fuel more Healy coal could replace. Area residents staged dueling rallies on the issue in Fairbanks yesterday.

‘True North’ Showcases Alaskan Contemporary Art At Anchorage Museum

Daysha Eaton, KSKA – Anchorage

It’s been three years in the making and contains works by more than 40 artists from Northern Countries. The Exhibit ‘True North’ opened at the Anchorage Museum in May. KSKA’s Daysha Eaton takes us inside the show which attempts to de-romanticize the North.