Alaska News Nightly: April 27, 2012

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House Pondering Next Step After Senate Adjourns

Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau & The Associated Press

Members of the State House Republican led caucus are deciding their next step after the Senate abruptly adjourned from the special session Thursday.

After a closed-door meeting of the caucus this morning, House Speaker Mike Chenault told reporters that he planned to talk with Senate President Gary Stevens, and see if anything comes of that before a decision is made final.  He said the House will have a floor session as scheduled Monday morning.

Under the state Constitution, the House could remain in special session, forcing the Senate to return every three days. Stevens indicated Thursday that this would be a fruitless endeavor, noting the House has no bills before it and he didn’t see a way forward in the Senate for the only bill left on the call – an in-state gas line bill that Chenault says is necessary.

In a further step, the House Resources committee this afternoon scheduled a hearing on Monday for an undesignated bill dealing with an instate gas pipeline. Chenault indicated earlier this week that he was working on further changes to the gasline bill the House passed last month.

That legislation, HB9, is a priority for Chenault. He and other supporters say inaction on it will delay progress on an in-state line.

Redistricting Map Heads Back To The Supreme Court

Ellen Lockyer, KSKA – Anchorage & The Associated Press

For the second time, Alaska’s voting district map is headed to the state Supreme Court. A week ago, a Superior Court judge rejected the state Redistricting Board’s amended version of the map, but earlier this week, the Board decided to appeal the lower court decision.

Supreme Court oral arguments have been set for the week of May 21 – only two weeks before the June first candidate filing deadline.

Although the Board will ask the court to approve its amended plan, Board attorneys have drafted a petition asking the high court to authorize use of an earlier redistricting plan for this year’s elections.

The justices allowed for that option in March, when they sent the first plan back to the board for additional work.

Eklutna River Bridge To Close

Ellen Lockyer, KSKA – Anchorage

Due to safety issues, the Eklutna Bridge on the old Glenn Highway will be closed to all traffic in mid-May.

The Municipality of Anchorage plans to make corrections on the bridge so that bicycle and foot  traffic can begin in early June.

John Smith is a public works project manager for the municipality. Smith says the bridge has been a source of concern for some time.

The bridge closure will not affect nearby communities, which can use the new Glenn Highway. Smith says the span across the Eklutna River has been in service some 77 years.

A 2010 bridge inspection by the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities has shown progressive weakening of the bridge’s structural members and welded connections.

Smith says a new bridge will be built at an estimated cost of $14 million.

Forest Service Approved Timber Harvest Plan For Kupreanof Island

Matt Lichtenstein, KFSK – Petersburg

The Forest Service has tentatively approved a major timber harvest plan for Kupreanof Island near Petersburg. The Tonka project would allow a substantial amount of logging in an area of the Tongass forest that’s seen a lot of it in the past. The agency emphasizes economic benefits from the sale but opponents say the cost is too high.

Unsolved Murder Anniversary Brings Fairbanks Residents Together

Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks

The anniversary of a 1993 murder brought people together in Fairbanks yesterday to remember those lost in unsolved homicide cases.

Rescued Sea Otter Pup Finds Home In Pittsburgh Zoo

Dave Bendinger, KDLG – Dillingham

Residents of Port Heiden rescued a stranded sea otter pup last month and turned him over to the Alaska Sea Life Center in Seward. He was rehabilitated there for several weeks, and now has found a permanent home at the Pittsburgh Zoo in Pennsylvania.

Disaster Drill Held Near Sitka

Ed Ronco, KCAW – Sitka

If you were trying to get to Japonski Island near Sitka on Monday night, you probably found the bridge closed by police.

It was part of a community-wide disaster drill. The exercise involved emergency responders, the Coast Guard, and even students from Mt. Edgecumbe High School.

AK: Secrets Of The Forest

Emily Schwing, KUAC – Fairbanks

Birch is one of the most common trees in Alaska.  And they can easily blend into Alaska’s forest landscape. But underneath the smooth, tough layer of a birch tree’s bark, something is flowing.  It’s a natural  treasure with many curative properties.  KUAC’s Emily met up with one very enthusiastic scientist to harvest the distinctive liquid.

300 Villages: Wales

This week, we’re on our way to Wales, a Bering Sea community about 100 miles north of Nome. Frank Crisci is the mayor of Wales.

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