Alaska News Nightly: January 4, 2013

Individual news stories are posted on the APRN news page. You can subscribe to APRN’s newsfeeds via email, podcast and RSS.

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Shell VP Denies State Property Tax Prompted December Departure

Jay Barrett, KMXT – Kodiak

Last night (Thursday) Royal Dutch Shell’s vice president for Alaska and two Coast Guard commanders updated the Kodiak Island Borough Assembly on the response to the grounding of the floating drill rig Kulluk. It was the first public briefing made in Kodiak since the rig went hard aground on Sitkalidak Island in a New Year’s Eve storm.

Congress Passes Superstorm Sandy Relief Bill

Peter Granitz, APRN – Washington DC

Congress has passed the first of two relief bills for Superstorm Sandy.

Money for Alaska was not in it.

Anchorage Apartment Fire Still Being Investigated

Daysha Eaton, KSKA – Anchorage

Investigators are still trying to figure out the cause of a fire that destroyed a 24-unit apartment building in Midtown Anchorage on Thursday morning.

Begich Gets Seat On Indian Affairs, Appropriations Committees

Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage & Peter Granitz, APRN – Washington DC

When the 113th congress gets to work, Democratic Senator Mark Begich will have some new committee assignments. Begich has secured a seat on the Indian Affairs committee. He will no longer have a spot on the budget committee. Begich also now has a seat on the powerful appropriations committee, he gave up his seat on the Armed Services Committee for the appropriations position.

Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski will keep all her main committee assignments during the new Congress, including a slot on the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Murkowski also will be on Indian Affairs, meaning both Alaska’s senators will serve on that committee.

Murkowski’s other committees are energy and natural resources and health, education, labor and pensions.

Big Fake Apple Bust In Anchorage

Daysha Eaton, KSKA – Anchorage

Thousands of counterfeit Apple products were recently intercepted at the Anchorage airport.

Marine Highway Head Steps Down

Robert Woolsey, KCAW – Sitka

The head of the state’s ferry system is stepping down.

Capt. Mike Neussl’s last day of work as the Deputy Commissioner for Marine Operations will be next Friday, January 11.

Veterans Group Appeals Juneau Planning Commission Decision On Indoor Shooting Range

Casey Kelly, KTOO – Juneau

The Juneau chapter of Veterans for Peace hopes to block a proposed gun store with an indoor firing range from being built near the airport.

The owners of the facility, which is under construction, plan to allow customers to fire automatic weapons in the range under the supervision of store employees.

The veterans group wants the Juneau Assembly and Planning Commission to take a closer look at the proposal.

Beluga Numbers Rise Slightly In Last Year

Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage

The annual survey count for the endangered Cook Inlet Belugas has been released and as in years past, it has not changed much. NOAA scientists counted 312 whales last summer and fall, up 28 animals from the 2011 count, but the uptick is not considered significant and scientists say the belugas are still in a slow decline. Kim Sheldon is a biologist with the National Marine Mammal Lab in Seattle. She says although the count continues to show a downward trend over the last decade, they were excited to see belugas in the lower part of Cook Inlet last summer.

AK: Going to Extremes

Annie Feidt, APRN – Anchorage

Lonnie Dupre, an arctic explorer from Minnesota is gearing up for his third attempt at a January solo summit of North America’s highest mountain. Although we haven’t yet had a chance to talk to him about the preparations for this month’s effort, Annie Feidt caught up with him on his last try. And so today we offer this archived edition of AK that originally aired in January of 2012.