Alaska News Nightly: February 4, 2013

Individual news stories are posted on the APRN news page. You can subscribe to APRN’s newsfeeds via emailpodcast and RSS. Follow us on Facebook at and on Twitter @aprn.

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Begich Introduces Bill Granting State A Share Of Offshore Drilling Revenue

Peter Granitz, APRN – Washington DC

Senator Mark Begich is introducing a bill that would grant the state a share of revenues from off-shore drilling.

Air Force Seeking Feedback On F-16 Relocation Proposal

Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks

The Air Force is beginning a series of public meetings on its proposal to move an F-16 squadron from Eielson Air Force base in North Pole to Joint Base Elmendorf Richardson in Anchorage.  Meetings are scheduled for Monday and Tuesday in Anchorage and Palmer, and in Fairbanks and North Pole Wednesday and Thursday. Fairbanks is rallying to protect the local Air Force installation from downsizing.

Explosion Rocks Fairbanks Neighborhood

Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks

An explosion rocked a Fairbanks neighborhood over the weekend.  Alaska State Troopers say the blast occurred on a makeshift shooting range on private property in the Chena Ridge area Saturday afternoon. Trooper spokeswoman Megan Peters says no injuries were reported, but there was damage to area homes.

Troopers say at least a dozen residences were affected by the explosion, with at least half reporting structural damage, including blown out windows and soffit vents. Troopers are being assisted in the investigation by the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

Hugh Neff Leads Yukon Quest

Emily Schwing, KUAC – Fairbanks

Hugh Neff is leading the Yukon Quest. He left the Stepping Stone hospitality checkpoint at 9:47 this morning. Two Rivers musher Allen Moore followed at 11:25. Brent Sass, Jake Berkowitz and Scott Smith round out the top five.

Over the weekend, the trail was shortened by 50 miles to eliminate the climb over American Summit, which is too icy, according to Race Marshall Dough Grilliot.

Teams still have more than 600 miles to travel before they get there though. And as KUAC’s Emily Schwing reports, the competition will be stiff along the way.

Arguments To Be Heard For Port MacKenzie Rail Spur Wetlands Permits

Ellen Lockyer, KSKA – Anchorage

Arguments will be heard this week in federal District Court in Anchorage regarding wetlands permits for the Port MacKenzie rail spur. The environmental group Cook Inletkeeper has filed suit in an attempt to block the link between the port and Houston. The Matanuska Susitna Borough is behind the rail spur project, although the Federal Surface Transportation Board must approve it.

New Study Challenges Scientists’ Assumptions Of What Marine Animals Need From Environment

Lauren Rosenthal, KUCB – Unalaska

The Northern fur seals that breed on the Pribilof Islands have been on the decline for decades, a smaller colony just 200 miles away is thriving. A new study of these colonies is challenging scientists’ assumptions about what marine animals need from their environment — and how they get it.

Program Researching Chukchi Sea’s Biological Productivity

Joaqlin Estus, KNBA – Anchorage

An environmental research program with a long history of working in Alaska is breaking new ground by partnering with state universities to find out why an area in the Chukchi Sea is so biologically productive.

Counselors Address Suicide Prevention In Schools

Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage

There have been at least two suicides in Anchorage schools over the past three weeks and an attempted suicide by a student who had dropped out. Death from suicide is a loss that school counselors work hard to prevent. Heather Coulehan is a social and emotional learning specialist and Eric Viste is a coordinator within the special education department of ASD.

I sat down with them to ask how suicide prevention is being addressed within Anchorage schools. Viste says, when a suicide happens, everyone who will be affected needs to be identified.