Alaska News Nightly: August 19, 2010

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Challenging Don Young for House
Libby Casey, APRN – Washington DC
Only one Democrat is running for Alaska’s US House Seat.  Harry Crawford is currently a state house member representing Anchorage, and will be uncontested at the polls for Congress on Tuesday.  But the Republican race has three candidates:  two have never run for office before, and are trying to take on incumbent Don Young.

Comparing Gubernatorial Candidates’ Oil Tax Strategies
Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
Oil taxes may be the defining issue in the Democratic primary race for Alaska governor.  Former State Representative Ethan Berkowitz would throw out the state’s current severance tax system and replace it with a negotiated royalty tax.

His opponent, State Senator Hollis French, says don’t change what’s working.

KTOO’s Rosemarie Alexander takes a look at the candidate’s different oil tax strategies.

Salmonella Cases Tied to Recalled Eggs
Associated Press
The state of Alaska has confirmed at least two cases of salmonella matching the strain tied to recalled eggs. Greg Wilkinson, a spokesman for the state health department, says that in at least one of the cases, in Anchorage, the person ate eggs. He says it’s not yet clear whether the second person, in Homer, also did. The state reports a suspected case of salmonella in Girdwood but tests are pending. He says that person reported eating raw egg in cookie dough.  Kimberly Stryker, an environmental program manager with the state Department of Environmental Conservation, says at least one statewide retailer in Alaska reports receiving eggs affected by the massive recall. She didn’t identify the retailer but says the eggs were repackaged under the Olympia Valley label.

Funds to be Used for Subsidizing Satellite Broadband Service in Rural Alaska
Annie Feidt, APRN – Anchorage
Alaska will benefit from another round of broadband Internet access grants the White House announced Wednesday. The state’s share of the stimulus money is $7 million. The funds will be used to subsidize satellite broadband service for 5,000 households in rural Alaska. Jon Douglas is communications director for Spacenet, the company that will implement the grant. He says rural Alaska presents unique challenges for broadband access.

The grant money will subsidize the installation of the necessary equipment at each house and the monthly service cost for one year. The subsidies are only available in rural Alaska.  Commerce Secretary Gary Locke says getting high speed Internet to rural areas is just as important as electrification was in the 1930’s. He calls it a necessity.

Spacenet will offer the subsidized service through its Satellite Internet provider Starband. The company doesn’t know yet when the subsidies will be available.

Hydro Electric System Running in Eagle
Tim Ellis, KUAC – Fairbanks
After a string of weather related delays, a small hydroelectric system at Eagle is finally up and running.

Yukon Chum Run is Lagging
Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
The Yukon River fall chum salmon run is lagging way behind expectations. State fall chum manager Jeff Estensen says past the normal mid-point of the run, less than half the median number of fish have been counted by the state’s sonar at Pilot Station.

Estensen says the entire fall chum run is projected at this point to come in below 400,000 fish. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Yukon Fisheries biologist Fred Bue says things look bleak, but it’s still possible that the latter portion of the run could pick up.

There’s been no commercial fishing for fall chums, and managers closed subsistence fishing until tomorrow, after that it will re-open for two 48-hour periods per week.  Sport fishing for fall chums will close tomorrow.  The restrictions come after weeks of high water that have already limited fishing success, a Yukon Chinook run that was very weak, and an average summer chum return.  Bue says both the Chinook and fall chum runs are the product of strong parent years, but there’s speculation that heavy eggs production can lead to increased mortality.

Bue stresses that there are a lot of factors that affect salmon survival including water temperature and spring break up conditions. The weak Yukon Chinook and fall chum runs have hit Canadian fisherman especially hard, as the two species are the ones that migrate to upstream spawning grounds past the border.  The last Yukon salmon of the season, silvers are just beginning to come into the river, but are also off to a slow start.

Exploring Ballot Measure Two
Len Anderson, KSKA – Anchorage
Primary voters will decide whether parents should be automatically notified if their minor aged daughter seeks an abortion. KSKA’s Len Anderson takes a look at ballot number two.

Few Opposed Races are in Next Week’s Primary Election
Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
Only a few voters in next week’s primary elections will need to make choices for next year’s legislature.  That’s because most of the legislative seats will have opposition only in November’s general election.  Only one Democratic incumbent faces a primary challenger – Neal Foster, of Nome, who was appointed to finish the term to which his father was elected before he died.  Foster is challenged by Vincent Beans, of Mountain Village, a member of the Lower Yukon Regional School Board.

Few, if any, serious issues have developed for the five current House Republican races with intra-party challengers.  Peggy Wilson of Wrangell faces Steve Samuelson, Matsu’s Carl Gatto is challenged by Don Benson, Big Lake’s Mark Neuman faces newcomer Stephen Jacobson, Charissse Millett goes up against 10-year Alaska resident Jeanette Reddington; and Anchorage’s Bob Lynn, who is running for his fifth term.

His challenger is Steve Pratt, an economist and businessman.

None of the 10 Senate primary races involve incumbents.  But one race has three Republicans vying to replace long-time lawmaker Con Bunde.   Kathy Geisel is a registered nurse, Jennifer Johnston, a member of the Anchorage Assembly, and Mark Moronell, an Anchorage Cardiologist.

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