Alaska News Nightly: January 6, 2008

Mark Begich was sworn in as Alaska’s new junior Senator in Washington, DC, while the deep freeze once again postpones the US Cross-Country Ski Championships back home in Anchorage.  Plus Native leader Willy Hensley talks about his new memoir “50 Miles from Tomorrow.”

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Begich sworn in as US Senator
Libby Casey, APRN – Washington, DC
Former Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich was sworn in today in the Senate chambers.  He’s the first Democrat to represent Alaska in nearly 30 years. Begich has been given his committee assignments.  He’ll serve on the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, and the Armed Services Committee.

Legislature faces tough budget challenges
Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
It would be an understatement to say the new legislature faces some challenges in writing a budget this year.   With recent oil prices hovering around forty five dollars a barrel, there is no evidence that state revenue will be able to cover the needs for this year or next.

Crab fisherman overboard and missing northwest of Cold Bay

Ann Hillman, KUCB – Unalaska
A crab fisherman aboard the Kodiak-based Seabrooke fell overboard this morning when his foot got tangled in a line while he was setting pots for Tanner crab about 20 miles northwest of Cold Bay. Coast Guard Petty Officer Walter Shinn said they do not think he was wearing any sort of flotation device and the crew could not see him after he fell into the 34 degree water with four foot seas. Three Coast Guard helicopters began searching for the 40 year old man at about 11:00 am and will continue until sunset. He is presumed dead.

State launches new program for kids in foster care

Annie Feidt, APRN – Anchorage
The state launched a new program today- called “fosterwear” to help make sure kids in foster care have adequate clothing. The idea is to offer deep discounts to foster care families at retail outlets around the state.  One store has signed on to the program and the state hopes many more will follow.

Alaska implements new vaccination-tracking system
Ed Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska – Juneau
Alaska officials have set up a vaccination-tracking system. The online database will help patients and health-care providers make sure they’re up to date on measles, tetanus and other immunizations.

Continued deep freeze postpones U.S. Cross Country Ski Championships

Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
Subzero temperatures have canceled a third day of competition of the U.S. Cross Country Ski Championships in Anchorage. Races took place on Monday, but today organizers waited more than an hour past the original noon start time before calling off a pair of distance races.

Fairbanks school district takes extreme cold in stride
Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
Despite even more extreme cold in the interior, Fairbanks School district officials say classes will go on as usual. North Star Borough school District spokesman Bill Bailey says with today’s resumption of classes following the holiday break, the district heard from a lot of parents concerned about the cold.

Bristol Bay Area Health Corporation lays off 13
Adam Kane, KDLG – Dillingham
The Bristol Bay Area Health Corporation is laying off 13 people and eliminating other positions due to hard economic times.

“Fifty Miles from Tomorrow” Willy Hensley remembers

Steve Heimel, APRN – Anchorage
Native leader Willie Hensley’s book “Fifty Miles from Tomorrow” has only been out for a couple of weeks but so far sales are brisk.  The book is a memoir that spans the early years of Hensley’s career – from growing up in a house made of arctic sod through the successful passage of the Native Claims Settlement Act.  Hensley says it’s important for Natives to tell their own stories.