Alaska News Nightly: July 2, 2012

Individual news stories are posted on the APRN news page. You can subscribe to APRN’s newsfeeds via email, podcast and RSS.

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Report on Muni Election Debacle Blames Complacency, Inexperience

Daysha Eaton, KSKA – Anchorage

The long-awaited report by an independent investigator on the troubled April 3 Municipal Election in Anchorage is out.  It blames the election debacle, including widespread ballot shortages that kept an estimated hundreds of voters from casting ballots, on bad management at the Clerk’s Office.

Alaska Sending Fire Crews To Help Fight Lower 48 Blazes

Dave Bendinger, KDLG – Dillingham

A slightly slower start to the fire season in Alaska has allowed the state to loan some of its fire crews to the Lower 48 for the time being. The Alaska Fire Service says five crews of Fire Fighters have gone to Wyoming.

Japanese Skiff Lost In Tsunami Washes Up Near Metlakatla

Ellen Lockyer, KSKA – Anchorage

A Japanese fishing skiff, thought to be debris from the March 2011 tsunami there, has washed up on an Annette Island beach, near Metlakatla in Southeast. Michele Gunyah and her husband Mark were beachcombing Saturday when they saw the boat, beached on the south end of the island.

IRS Threatens Alaska’s Air Taxi Operators

Ariel Van Cleave, KDLG – Dillingham

One of Alaska’s U.S. Senators is questioning recent threats from the IRS to the state’s air taxi operators.

Yukon River Communities Cope With Low King Runs

Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks

Yukon River communities are getting creative in coping with another poor king salmon return. A fish sharing arrangement between Yukon River fishermen is aimed at protecting the king stock, while still providing some of the prized fish for subsistence.

Searches Called Off For Hyder, Wrangell Residents

Ed Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska – Juneau

Alaska State Troopers say they ended separate searches for two missing Southeast residents because they ran out of options.

Spokeswoman Megan Peters says there’s no more information on the whereabouts of Wrangell’s Colin Buness and Hyder’s Cathleen Currie.

“It gets to a point where you’re searching for an individual where there’s no evidence to show you that you’re searching in the right place or that you’re searching in the wrong place. It just gets to a standstill. And at some point, searches do have to end,” Peters says.

Wrangell’s Buness was reported overdue last Monday, June 25th. The 25-year-old had planned a hiking and kayaking trip on the Stikine River and one of its tributaries.

Searchers found his kayak in a logjam, as well as some of his gear. But Peters says no other evidence turned up.

“They were doing aerial searches, they were searching on the ground and they were also doing water searches. We were searching for every possibility. We were searching for the possibility that he made it out of the water and was attempting self-rescue to hike out. We were searching for the possibility that he never made it out of the river as well,” Peters says.

Buness, an Army National Guard sergeant, was an experienced hiker and kayaker. He last reported his whereabouts Friday using a location device.

The search for Currie, 60, began Monday, June 25th, after Hyder residents reported her missing.

“It’s a very large area and with not finding any signs of an individual to tell you to keep looking in one area versus another area, it’s not conducive to a search environment,” Peters says. “We need to find something to tell us we’re on the right trail.”

Both searches were called off Friday afternoon.

In addition to troopers, the Stikine-area effort included Wrangell Search and Rescue, the Coast Guard, the National Guard, Sitka Mountain Rescue and the SEADOGs search team. The Hyder effort included the Ketchikan Volunteer Rescue Squad, search-and-rescue dogs, troopers and residents.

State Revamping Animal Health Care Regulations

Emily Schwing, KUAC – Fairbanks

The state has been working for nearly a year to revamp its animal health care regulations. The Office of the State Veterinarian hosted the last in a series of public workshops Monday to discuss the draft.

54 Mushers Sign Up On First Day Of Iditarod Registration

Josh Edge, APRN – Anchorage

54 mushers are already signed up for the 2013 Iditarod. Registration began Saturday. So far, the field includes nine rookies and plenty of familiar faces.

Taco Bell Delivers 10,000 Tacos To Bethel

Mark Arehart, KYUK – Bethel

The isolated city of Bethel has no roads in or out, but that didn’t stop a major fast food chain from delivering enough food to feed the entire town. Much of the town witnessed one of the grandest spectacles in the community’s recent memory: a Taco Bell truck flying in by helicopter.