Alaska News Nightly: February 8, 2010

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Obama Wants to Boost Education Funding
Libby Casey, APRN – Washington DC
The Obama Administration wants to boost education funding, even as it calls for belt-tightening throughout federal government.  It also wants to re-work the way states and school districts get money, awarding those trying to improve and showing progress rather than based on population formulas.  It’s already running one new program, but Alaska didn’t apply for the money.

Board of Fisheries Ask for Review of Permitting Process
Mike Mason, KDLG – Dillingham
Environmental threats to the world famous salmon fisheries in Bristol Bay from the proposed Pebble Mine have prompted the Alaska Board of Fisheries to ask the Alaska Legislature to review the permitting process.

Ballot Bill Gets Hearing
Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
House members on Monday opened hearings on a bill that would change the way ballot initiatives are put before the public. The Finance Committee heard a bill that would require initiative sponsors to disclose funding they receive for gathering signatures. Sponsor Kyle Johansen told the committee that he sees a loophole in the process. He says the problem develops when the initiative booklets are distributed to people who will get signatures from enough voters in three quarters of the state’s House districts to qualify for the election.

Sealaska to Get $1 Million to Thin Forests
Ed Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska – Juneau
The federal government is giving the Sealaska Corporation close to a $1 million to thin second-growth forests on Prince of Wales Island. The Forest Service also plans to thin trees using federal stimulus money. But they’ve got different aims.

Gentlemen: Start Your Campaign Speeches
Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
You could call it the start of the campaign.  Local government officials from Southwest Alaska had a forum for gubernatorial candidates last weekend, and most of the candidates were there.  Bill Walker, Bob Poe, Hollis French, Ralph Samuels and Ethan Berkowitz each had the opportunity – briefly – to answer questions from the Southwest Alaska Municipal Conference.

Black Bears Now “Fur Bearers”
Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
The Board of Game has made some changes that involve predator control.  At a recent meeting in Anchorage, the board reclassified black bears as fur bearers.  Board Chairman Cliff Judkins says the change was made to allow some pay back for people participating in state predator control.

Steer Leads Yukon Quest, Neff, Mackey and Gatt Follow
Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
Zack Steer is leading the Yukon Quest sled dog race. The Sheep Mountain musher pulled into the Slaven’s Roadhouse checkpoint a little before 1 p.m. Monday. Hugh Neff was next, followed by Lance Mackey and Hans Gatt. The top four mushers are all tightly grouped at this point.

Olympian Gets Emotional Send-Off
Annie Feidt, APRN – Anchorage
Olympic snowboarder Callan Chythlook-Sifsof got a bit emotional at her send-off event Friday at the Alaska Native Tribal Health consortium. The 20-year-old Girdwood athlete says she’s been on a euphoric high since being named to the Olympic team last month. But that high turned to tears as she contemplated the significance of her accomplishment and the support Alaskans have shown her.