Alaska News Nightly: January 11, 2012

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Embedded Journalists Talk About Experience With Stryker Brigade

Steve Heimel, APRN – Anchorage

Thursday, two Alaska journalists will finish a month-long imbedding experience with the Fort Wainwright Stryker Brigade in their combat deployment in Afghanistan.  The Brigade has sustained heavy casualties – 21 dead at last count, and many more than that wounded.  The two reporters spoke with APRN’s Steve Heimel today about what they had seen.

Missile Defense Will Have Long Presence In Alaska

Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks

Missile defense will have a long presence in Alaska. That was the message of Missile Defense Agency Director, Lieutenant General Pat O’Reilly to the Fairbanks Chamber of Commerce in an address Tuesday.  The Ft. Greely Missile Base with 26 interceptors is the center piece of the nation’s Ground Based Midcourse Missile Defense System.  The $18 billion Ft. Greely facility is nearing completion, and O’Reilly said his agency is committed to operate and maintain it for the long term.

General O’Reaily said a dangerous political climate in the world is driving the long term commitment.  O’Reilly cited smaller nations, like North Korea and Iran, which possess thousands of missiles that Alaska is in a key place to intercept.

O’Reilly said the ideal location of Ft. Greely means continued commitment to maintain the site as part of the multi element missile defense system, that includes another missile launch site in California.

Clive Thomas Explains Art Of Lobbying

Ellen Lockyer, KSKA – Anchorage

The start of the legislative session in Juneau means more than lawmakers returning to the capitol. Lobbyists will be returning as well.

The picture of a cigar -chomping, glad- handing lobbyist is no longer an accurate one, according to consultant Clive Thomas.  Thomas has made a career out of studying  political advocacy. A self-styled political junkie, Thomas has spent about three decades researching and writing about interest groups.  He also teaches the basics of lobbying in workshops like the one he just completed in Anchorage.

With this year’s state legislature about to convene, a good many municipal advocates and community service non-profits are thinking about how to convince lawmakers to support their projects.  But success on that score could be like gazing into a crystal ball, Thomas says.

He says, contrary to popular perception, the most important tool in a lobbyists’ arsenal is trust.

Thomas says that lobbying is the art of getting what you want – and that takes tremendous know-how and lots of people skills.

Thomas’ workshop was attended almost exclusively by those representing city administrations, and small  organizations.  Attendee  Steve Hicks, said federal funding sources are drying up.   Hicks heads the non – profit  Alaska Association of Conservation Districts. AACD  works with the state on natural resource and agricultural issues, but is not a state-funded agency.  Hicks says he’s seeing lobbyists in a new light.

With weighty issues, like the coastal management plan and oil tax legislation bound to be on the front burner this legislative session, smaller concerns will have to speak up to be heard.

Thomas says lobbying is part of the political process.

Thomas says his workshops  help people form a plan.. and that is essential. The key, he says,  is making lawmakers want to help you.  Although the political atmosphere can be intimidating, Thomas stresses that lawmakers are very busy people who don’t get paid very well.  His advice: learn how to communicate your message briefly.

Price On Fuel To Be Delivered To Nome Still Unknown

Ben Matheson, KNOM – Nome

Wednesday has been a day of logistics for the Healy and Renda.  The ships have not moved toward Nome since Tuesday. The Healy had to get into position to launch its helicopter this morning.  Vitus Marine hired their own ice expert, who flew out to the vessels this afternoon to help with the remainder of the delivery.  Smith says they’re hopeful the vessels will reunite this evening and continue their voyage to Nome.

The ultimate price to consumers of the fuel aboard the Renda is still unknown. The tanker’s long journey across the Pacific and the slow progress through the ice, however, should not have a dramatic effect on the final price.

Coldest Villages Paying Highest Prices For Fuel

Laureli Kinneen, KNOM – Nome

And while the price of fuel will most likely not reach $9 dollars a gallon in Nome this winter, some residents in the coldest parts of the state pay the highest prices.

Up To 16 Inches Of Snow Expected In Anchorage

Annie Feidt, APRN – Anchorage

It may be hard for residents of Southcentral Alaska to believe, but there is more snow in the forecast. A lot more snow. The National Weather Service expects the storm to start around 9pm in the Anchorage area tonight. By the time it’s all over 24 hours later, 8 to 16 inches of new snow could be on the ground. For the Mat-Su Valley, the predicted snow totals are a bit tamer- only 5-11 inches.

And in case Valdez and Cordova were concerned about missing out on this latest round, National Weather Service meteorologist Dave Snider says, not to worry.

In Cordova, forecasters are expecting 5-11 inches of snow by Thursday evening. Snider says the constant storms have been impressive, especially for a newcomer to the state.

And after this coming storm will we dry out for a while? Possibly. In Anchorage at least, the forecast calls for clear skies, and cold temperatures, this weekend through at least early next week.

Plows Brace For Another Big Snowstorm

Annie Feidt, APRN – Anchorage

Anchorage is on pace to break the city’s snowfall record this winter. The 80 or so inches that has fallen so far is about double the average. And the city is now bracing for another gigantic wallop of the white stuff. APRN’s Annie Feidt got a tour of  the city’s snow plow operations as crews were finishing clearing the streets after the last snow and preparing for the next storm.

Yukon’s Year Round Swan Population Growing

Vic Istchenko, CBC – Yukon

In the Yukon, an annual harbinger of spring may be turning into a sign of global warming. Yukon’s year round swan population is growing.

It started at least 5 years ago when a pair of hardy swans refused to fly south for the winter.