Alaska News Nightly: Thursday Mar. 3, 2016

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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VA says it’s improving in Alaska; Murkowski calls it ‘chaos’

Liz Ruskin, APRN – Washington D.C.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski says she’s still hearing disaster stories about the VA’s Choice program. And, she says, some Alaska vets who used Choice to get medical appointments in the private sector now find collection agencies are after them because the VA hasn’t paid their claims.

Legislators moving funds from all over to cover budget issues

Andrew Kitchenman, KTOO – Juneau

As legislators make cuts to the state’s budget, they’re looking to draw money from various state funds to cover costs. But some of these changes are raising concerns. The House Finance Committee is considering a budget bill that would cut state government spending 418 million dollars more than the 100 million in cuts Governor Bill Walker proposed.

Ban on Planned Parenthood teaching materials deemed ‘problematic’

Hannah Colton, KDLG – Dillingham

A bill that would impose penalties on affiliates of “abortion services providers” for providing teaching materials to Alaska public schools has been deemed “constitutionally problematic” by the Legislature’s Legal Services Division.

Rep. Gruenberg’s widow seeks control of husband’s records, is blocked

Andrew Kitchenman, KTOO – Juneau

It’s been more than two weeks since Representative Max Gruenberg died, and his legacy lives on in the Capital: The House Judiciary Committee room was named after him. One area where his legacy is contested is what will happen to the legislative records he left behind. Kayla Epstein, his widow, wants control of his records, but she’s been blocked. She hopes the documents help the bills Gruenberg was working on become law.

Apache to pull out of Alaska, citing low oil prices

Rachel Waldholz, APRN – Anchorage

The oil and gas company Apache Corporation says it will suspend its Alaska operations. The company owns leases in Cook Inlet, where it has been exploring for oil since 2010.

Village awarded money to improve hydropower replacement for diesel

Hannah Colton, KDLG – Dillingham

The village of Igiugig has been awarded $392,500 from the U.S. Department of Energy to make improvements on a hydropower system that could replace the use of diesel fuel for the town of 70 on Lake Iliamna.

Winter is here, it’s just lurking up high

Monica Gokey, KSKA – Anchorage

It may seem like another crummy winter in Southcentral. Too much pavement. Not enough snow and ice. But if you’re willing to head up — not north, but upward in elevation — there’s a different winter story playing out.

Nuuk, Greenland prepares for Arctic Winter Games

Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks

A contingent of Alaskans is travelling to Greenland to participate in the Arctic Winter Games. Alaska’s is one of 9 regional teams descending on the northern nation’s capital of Nuuk for next week’s games. The remote arctic city is going all out to host them. Nuuk, Greenland’s has 17 thousand residents, and a lot of them are involved in putting on the 2016 Arctic Winter Games.

Effort in place to revive Nome National Forest 

Mitchell Borden, KNOM – Nome

If you gaze out from Nome’s front street this time of year, you will see Norton Sound covered with ice that extends to the horizon. By this time next week, the community’s old Christmas trees will dot the frozen ocean. It’s an effort to revive a tradition called the Nome National Forest.