Alaska News Nightly: February 6, 2014
Postal Service Agrees to Rate Rollback for Rural Alaska
Liz Ruskin, APRN – Washington, DC
The U.S. Postal Service has agreed to rollback its parcel post rate hike for shipments to rural Alaska, according to Senator Mark Begich. In a Senate committee hearing today he added an amendment to a postal reform bill to undo the increase imposed last week for in-state mail to communities not linked by road. But he said he secured a separate commitment from the postmaster general to lower rates immediately, or as soon as the post office can change its machines.
Parnell: Don’t Blame State for Refinery Shutdown
Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
Governor Sean Parnell said the state is not to blame for Flint hills decision to close its North Pole refinery. Costs related to the cleanup of sulfolane groundwater contamination, from historic spills of the industrial solvent at the refinery, are indentified by Flint Hills as a factor that went into the decision to stop production. The state recently set a strict sulfolane contamination threshold for ground water cleanup. Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Parnell downplayed the significance of state regulation in the refinery’s shutdown.
Democrats Want PFD Guarantee Put In Constitution
Alexandra Gutierrez, APRN – Juneau
A group of Democratic lawmakers is pushing an amendment that enshrine the Alaska Permanent Fund dividend in the state Constitution. Rep. Les Gara of Anchorage is carrying the legislation for his caucus, and he presented it to the House State Affairs Committee on Thursday. He said that because the state is looking at budget deficits for the foreseeable future, it’s important to lock in the dividend as a right.
Goodwill Job Center Opens, Thrift Store Planned
Daysha Eaton, KSKA – Anchorage
Goodwill industries is opening a job center in downtown Anchorage today (Thursday). The non-profit center aims to help those with barriers to employment overcome them. At the corner of C and 6th in downtown Anchorage Lauren Stuart points to a big white board on the wall near a row of computers.
NBC Affiliate to Air Olympics in Rural Alaska
The Associated Press
An NBC affiliate says it has reached an agreement with Alaska’s largest telecommunications company that will return its programming to rural communities just in time for the Winter Olympics. Anchorage station KTUU says its rural programming was resuming on Thursday after it reached a multiyear contract with General Communication Inc.
Alaskans Among Medal Hopefuls in Sochi
Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
The winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia began today with qualifying rounds in some sports. Seven athletes competing in the games call Alaska home or have roots in the state. The most talked about are the cross country skiers from Alaska Pacific University, Kikkan Randall, Holly Brooks, Sadie Bjornsen and her brother Erik. The winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia began Thursday with qualifying rounds in some sports. Randall is expected to compete for a gold medal.
Managers Give Updates on Cleanup Projects
Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
The annual Alaska Forum on the Environment is underway at the Dena’ina Convention center in Anchorage. On Thursday, federal project managers gave updates on cleanup projects across the state within national parks, on Federal Aviation property and at defense sites. The Defense Department has 537 formerly used defense sites or FUDS. Of those 70, remain active for cleanup.
VPSOs Face Recruiting Challenges, Turnover
Zachariah Hughes, KNOM – Nome
The senate subcommittee on public safety got on update earlier this week on the overall status of the Village Public Safety Officer program. Captain Steve Arlow oversees the program. He presented senators with information on recruitment problems, annual turnover rates above 30%, and initiatives to foster healthy relationships between VPSOs and the communities they serve. Arlow said turnover is highest in communities with the most crime.
Hooper Bay to Pay Nearly $1 Million for Death in Jail
Ben Matheson, KYUK – Bethel
A Bethel jury has ordered that the city of Hooper Bay pay close to $1 million to the family of a man that died at the Hooper Bay jail.
Sudanese Violence Hits Home for Unalaska Resident
Lauren Rosenthal, KUCB – Unalaska
A civil war being fought on the other side of the world has hit home for one Unalaska resident. Mayak Bilkuei is from South Sudan, where ethnic and political violence have claimed up to 10,000 lives — including some of his own family.