Alaska News Nightly: September 16, 2010

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Murkowski Still Weighing Options
Libby Casey, APRN – Washington DC
Senator Lisa Murkowski says she’s weighing “Alaska” and its future as she considers whether or not to launch a write-in bid to keep her Senate seat.  She won’t say until tomorrow what she plans to do – and says in fact she’s still thinking about her options.  But as APRN’s Libby Casey reports, the Senator does not sound like she’s given up yet.

Miller, McAdams Debate State’s Economy and the Federal Factor
Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
The major issue to be argued in this year’s U.S. Senate race is how the winner of the General Election will deal with the federal government’s influence on the state’s economy.

Democrat Scott McAdams and Republican, Tea Party candidate Joe Miller held their first formal debate Thursday before the Juneau Chamber of Commerce.   And McAdams came out on the attack.  During his opening remarks, he read from a national pledge by the Citizen’s Council Against Government Waste that he said Miller signed promising he would not seek earmarks that would serve only local needs.  But McAdams argued that the pledge wasn’t good for Alaska.

Miller, in his defense, says Alaska is going to experience a downturn in federal money – whether it’s the result of national policies or the national economy.  He says the state must be prepared by getting control over its own land and resources before the nation gets to what he calls “the fiscal brink.”

Miller continued his arguments for getting control of the state’s resources, pointing out the costs and effects of having to meet federal controls in building roads, or mines, or even exporting natural gas.  And he repeated later that the federal money will stop –either through what he referred to as bankruptcy or through congressional decisions to restrain spending.  At that point, he went back to his basic argument – Alaska must have control of its resources.

McAdams continued with his point that federal investment is still important in Alaska. And the congressional delegation is critical in helping the state have a solid economic future.

The debate covered a variety of issues.  But the next one – scheduled in Fairbanks in mid-October – might be different,   depending on whether incumbent Senator Lisa Murkowski rejoins the race. McAdams said he would welcome her.

Walrus Crowding Alaska’s Northwest Beaches
Annie Feidt, APRN – Anchorage
Tens of thousands of walrus are crowding onto a sandy stretch of beach on Alaska’s northwest coast. The animals were forced to swim to shore after the sea ice they live on disappeared from the Chukchi Sea. It’s a phenomenon that was unheard of five years ago. And scientists are trying to get a handle on what the dramatic change in behavior could mean for the species long term.

Two Pilots Unhurt After Midair Collision
Adam Kane, KDLG – Dillingham
Two pilots are in relatively good condition following a midair collision yesterday in Dillingham.

Berkowitz Proposes Lifetime Fishing, Hunting and Trapping Licenses
Ellen Lockyer, KSKA – Anchorage
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ethan Berkowitz  announced the second part of his Alaskan Ownership Stake platform in Anchorage today. As KSKA’s Ellen Lockyer reports, Berkowitz says he wants to give residents the opportunity to buy lifetime fishing, hunting and trapping licenses.

New Ferry Plans Hit Roadblock
Matt Lichtenstein, KFSK – Petersburg
Plans for a new state ferry in Alaska have hit a potentially serious roadblock. State transportation officials this week said they were told they cannot use federal money for the vessel.

Prominent, Long-time Barrow Resident Passes Away at 91
Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
A man instrumental in the development and formation of the North Slope Borough has died. Barrow resident Lloyd Tuquttaq Ahvakana passed away on September 10 at the age of 91. Mr. Ahvakana worked diligently with Eben Hopson and others in Barrow in the 1970s to put together a plan for a regional governmental structure. His son, Lawrence Ahvakana says the men wanted to have local control rather than relying on Juneau for help in developing roads, sewer and water systems and housing. Assisting other villages in their own local government formation was also part of what they worked to accomplish. Lawrence Ahvakana says his dad and the others realized that with a big oil find in Prudhoe Bay, they needed to work to be heard.

Lloyd Ahvakana was born in 1919 in Barrow and grew up in a large, traditional family. He was the second child of 11. He came from a long line of whalers and was a whaling captain himself. His son Lawrence recalls that after living in Anchorage for a number of years when he was young, the family moved back to Barrow when the elder Ahvakana retired from the National Guard. Lawrence was off at college then but he says he made it back to Barrow and was introduced to the Inupiaq life of subsistence hunting and whaling.

Ahvakana was a long time member of the Utkeagvik Presbyterian Church. In 1972 He convinced the national headquarters of the Presbyterian Church in Washington to help fund the start up costs for the North Slope Borough’s formation. Ahvakana was the borough’s first director of Administration and Finance. His son Lawrence says he was a deacon in the church and was a kind, gentle man who was always positive in his teaching young people about their heritage and culture.

Ahvakana served in the U.S. Army and in the Alaska National Guard. At one time he was the highest ranking Inupiaq serviceman. His funeral and military honoring was today.