Alaska News Nightly: May 28, 2010

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Trans Alaska Pipeline Approved to Restart Line
Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
The operator of the Trans Alaska pipeline system says it has received federal approval to restart the 800-mile line after a spill this week. The line has been shut down since Tuesday, when Alyeska Pipeline Service Company said a power failure during a planned shutdown allowed several thousand barrels of oil to spill into a partially filled storage tank. Alyeska spokeswoman Michelle Egan says the shutdown was the pipeline’s longest in at least a decade.

Egan says the company received authorization from the Federal Department of Transportation to resume. Egan says that will be sometime later today. The pipeline will be returning to full capacity within the next 24 hours.

Fire Crews Work to Fend Off Fire Near Tanacross
Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
Fire crews and village residents fended off the advance of a wildfire approaching Tanacross yesterday.  State Fire Information officer Pete Buist says local firefighters, who stayed behind in the evacuated village, used a fuel break constructed in recent years, to hold off wind-driven flames.

The 4,000 acre Eagle Trail fire continues to burn west of Tanacross, along and across the Tanana River and Alaska Highway, which has been closed at times.  Fire Information Officer Sarah Sarloos says the blaze has been burning in more favorable direction today, but there are still concerns. Sarloos says the plan was to send in smokejumpers to protect the historic but uninhabited site this afternoon. She says crews are also trying to keep fire away from the Alcan Highway, and cautions travelers to drive slowly and keep their headlights on in the fire zone.

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Law Repealed
Libby Casey, APRN – Washington DC
The US House voted late Thursday to repeal the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Law” that forbids gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military.  As APRN’s Libby Casey reports, it’s seen a big step towards rolling back the Clinton-era law.

Senate Hopefuls to Challenge Murkowski
Ed Ronco, KCAW – Sitka
A Sitka Democratic Party official is saying Sitka Mayor Scott McAdams will challenge Lisa Murkowski for her seat in the United States Senate. McAdams, meanwhile, has made no announcement, has not filed paperwork, and says he has no comment.

McAdams is expected to make an announcement on Tuesday. The news comes three weeks after Alaska Democrats held their state convention in Sitka. The convention dismissed without a challenger to Murkowski.

According to a state website, the race for Murkowski’s seat also includes Democrat Frank Vondersaar of Homer, Republican Joe Miller of Fairbanks and Libertarian Frederick “David” Haase, of Anchorage.

Gottlieb Took Unlikely Road to Success
Annie Feidt, APRN – Anchorage
Southcentral Foundation President Katherine Gottlieb took an unlikely path to success. She’s now in charge of providing health care services to nearly 60,000 Alaska Natives in the Anchorage area. But at 16, she was a high school drop out.

Medred Takes an Unusual Look at the Iditarod
Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
Most Iditarod reporters like to focus on the race leaders – the slick teams up front that make the rugged, 1,000 mile race to Nome look easy. Not Craig Medred. The longtime Anchorage reporter has always been fascinated by the mushers that struggle along the way and are eventually forced to abandon their dream. During this year’s race, he collected the most heartbreaking stories of defeat in a book called “Graveyard of Dreams- Dashed Hopes and Shattered Aspirations Along Alaska’s Iditarod Trail.”

Medred followed the race by snowmachine, which he says was its own adventure.

Craig Medred is a reporter for His new book is called, “Graveyard of Dreams.” It’s available through

Parnell Signs Off on Firearms Legislation
Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
Governor Sean Parnell has signed firearms-related legislation, including a bill that pledges protection for in-state gun makers.  At a stop in Fairbanks Thursday, Parnell signed House Bill 186 which defines Alaskans’ right to manufacture firearms, ammunition and gun accessories for in-state use, free of federal regulation.  There’s minimal in state firearms manufacture, but Parnell says the bill is an important stand against potential federal control efforts.

Juneau Holds First State High School Sports Championship in Nearly 25 Years
Casey Kelly, KTOO – Juneau
Juneau is hosting its first state high school sports championships in nearly a quarter century this week. The boys’ and girls’ soccer tournaments are being held at Thunder Mountain High School and Adair-Kennedy Park. The last state championships played in the Capital City were the boys and girls’ basketball tournaments in 1986.

Hair-Filled Booms Destined for Gulf Coast
Aaron Selbig, KBBI – Homer
A Homer woman has found a unique way to help residents of the Gulf Coast as they fight the growing Gulf oil spill. She’s collecting human hair and animal fur for a new type of oil containment boom.