Alaska News Nightly: September 26, 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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Police Release Identity of Body Found in Anchorage

The Associated Press

The body found this week on the coastal trail in Anchorage has been confirmed as that of a woman missing for seven weeks.

Police say in a statement that dental records were used to confirm the identity of 63-year-old Letitia Baxter.

She had been reported missing Aug. 3.

The manner and cause of death haven’t been determined. Anchorage homicide detectives continue their investigation.

Baxter was an avid user of Anchorage’s trail system, where targeted searches have been made since her disappearance.

Baxter’s boyfriend, Gerhard Hesse, tells KTUU that he found the human remains on Monday. He says the remains were so badly decomposed that he couldn’t confirm the identity.

Study Says Anchorage May Run Low On Gas In 2014

Daysha Eaton, KSKA – Anchorage

Anchorage utilities say the city is on course to run low on natural gas much sooner than expected. That was the message they told the municipality during a Mayor’s task force meeting on energy today. The utilities called for a ‘Plan B’ to address the situation.

900 EVOS Plaintiffs Still Owed $1 Million

Jay Barrett, KMXT – Kodiak

There is about $1-million dollars sitting in a trust account waiting for its owners to claim it. You might be one of them. The Exxon Qualified Settlement Fund is looking for about 900 people who still have money owed to them from the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill settlement. Dave Oesting is the court appointed lead council for the plaintiffs in the case. He says there is just one more push to find the claimants.

Salvation Army Hosting Events Raising Awareness About Sex Trafficking

Joaqlin Estus, KNBA – Anchorage

Statistics from national organizations that gather and share information on sex trafficking show it isn’t a problem in Alaska. But local experts don’t believe that’s accurate.

The Salvation Army is hosting events in Anchorage this weekend to raise awareness of the problem.

Major Quake Strikes Near Adak

Stephanie Joyce, KUCB – Unalaska

A magnitude 6.9 earthquake struck near Adak on Wednesday afternoon. The quake was centered about 70 miles southwest of town and City manager Layton Lockett says it felt like the earth was moving in circles underneath him.

Alaska Military Future Remains Uncertain

Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks

The U.S. military is in a time of transition and future mission status is uncertain.  That was the message of U.S. Army Alaska commander Major General Michael Garret in Fairbanks yesterday. Garret says the end of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan means there are no combat deployments on the horizon, and the focus is on training.

Scientists Look For Ways To Kill Sitka Tunicate

Ellen Chenoweth, KCAW – Sitka

Scientists have been monitoring an invasive species of sea squirt growing on the bottom of Whiting Harbor, in Sitka. It’s called D-vex. Reporter Ellen Chenoweth reports on the bizarre biology of this invasive species and how new research might help scientists get rid of it.

Alaska Health Care Leaders To Exchange Ideas on Industry Reform

Annie Feidt, APRN – Anchorage

Alaska’s Health care leaders will exchange ideas on industry reform at a one day conference Thursday in Anchorage. With full implementation of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act coming in just over a year, there is no shortage of topics to discuss. The conference is called State of Reform and it’s hosted by consultant DJ Wilson. He says Alaska needs a forum to talk about the major health care changes that are coming with the new law.

“We work in six or seven different states and the thing I see everywhere is general anxiety about the change that’s coming what’s unique in Alaska is the dearth of information about that change,” Wilson said.

The first Anchorage State of Reform conference was held last September.  This year, Wilson is focusing the agenda on finding solutions to health care issues like the high cost of care. Doctors, insurance executives, state politicians and others in the industry will all offer their ideas.

Conference sessions will tackle a range of topics from innovative health care models to what Alaska’s federally run health insurance exchange might look like.  The conference starts at 8:30 a.m. Thursday in downtown Anchorage.

Affordable Housing For Elderly Becoming Scarce

Ellen Lockyer, KSKA – Anchorage

The senior citizen population in the Matanuska Susitna Borough is escalating, while affordable housing for older people is getting scarce.  In the second of a series on senior issues in the Mat-Su, KSKA reporter Ellen Lockyer takes a look at what’s being done to meet the needs of Alaska’s aging baby boomers, and what challenges lie ahead.

Song Written To Celebrate New Arctic Research Vessel

Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks

An original piece of music has been written to celebrate the University of Alaska Fairbanks new Arctic research vessel, the Sikuliaq.