Alaska News Nightly: December 18, 2008

The state is taking over management of a nursing home in Anchorage where inspectors found dangerous and unsanitary conditions. Plus, the federal government is making millions of acres in the west available for geothermal development.

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State takes over Anchorage nursing home, removes administrator
Annie Feidt, APRN – Anchorage
The state is taking over management of the Mary Conrad nursing home in Anchorage. A routine inspection last week uncovered physical injuries to the residents, problems with medication distribution and unsanitary conditions in the kitchen. 88 residents live at the long term care facility.

Shell appealing Beaufort oil exploration shutdown
Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
Shell Oil intends to file for a re-hearing to the full 9th Circuit after their exploration plan for the Beaufort Sea was halted in November. In the November decision, 2 of 3 judges said the Minerals Management Service (MMS) had not taken a “hard look” at the cumulative impacts to habitat and migration routes for marine mammals, waterfowl and wildlife as well as impacts to subsistence for the Inupiaq people of the North Slope.

Southeast Alaska capital projects cut in Palin budget, expected to reappear
Ed Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska – Juneau
Some Southeast officials say their communities are short-changed in the Governor’s capital budget proposal. But they say it’s just the first step in a long process that will get dollars to public-works projects in the region.

Alaska prisons seek more funding for treatment
Angela Denning-Barnes, KYUK – Bethel
Even with State earnings expected to be much less than last year, the Corrections Department is looking for more in its budget. Corrections wants an increase in funding for treatment programs in the state’s jails.

Federal lands opening to major geothermal power program
Libby Casey, APRN – Anchorage
The Interior Department has finalized a plan to make 190 million acres of federal land available for geothermal energy projects, including lands in Alaska. The leasing program is going into effect in 12 western states. Officials say the leases could lead to development of 5,500 megawatts of new electric generation capacity by 2015.

Juneau Empire eliminates ‘Hooligan’ arts publication
John Ryan, KTOO – Juneau
Juneau-ites who enjoy reading about the capital city arts scene are running out of time. The last issue of the Hooligan comes out today.

Calista Corporation issues $250 checks to elders
Angela Denning-Barnes, KYUK – Bethel
Calista, the Native for-profit corporation for the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta announced that all elders are getting holiday checks worth $250. The checks started going out in the mail last Friday.

Sitka police and assembly discuss buying hybrid patrol cars
Robert Woolsey, KCAW – Sitka
The Sitka assembly’s triennial debate over purchasing new police cars took a new turn this year. The assembly steered clear of its usual discussion of whether the community was over-patrolled or under-served and instead discussed whether the time was right to try out hybrid patrol cars.

Don’t let Christmas tree ‘needle-drop’ happen to you!
Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
Real trees remain a popular Christmas tradition despite a tendency to dry out and drop their needles. The University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service is offering advice on how to keep Christmas trees looking good through the holidays.

Japanese tourist flights to Fairbanks cleared for arrival. Barely.
Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
Budget constraints at the U.S. Customs office in Anchorage almost forced the cancellation of Japan Airlines’ winter flights to Fairbanks. Fairbanks Convention and Visitor’s Bureau Tourism Director Colin Lawrence says the flights, which begin December 27, had been denied permission to land until this week.

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