Alaska News Nightly: December 31, 2012

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Coast Guard Still Assisting Crew Of Shell Drill Rig

Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage

The Coast Guard is still assisting the crew of Shell’s drill rig Kulluk. Shell spokesman Curtis Smith is at the Unified Command Center where the Coast Guard, Shell and state officials are monitoring the situation. Smith says currently the rig is stable.

The vessels have had trouble since last week when the Aiviq, the vessel towing the Kulluk had engine failure. The situation was complicated by severe weather and a tow line that snapped, setting the massive drill rig adrift.

The Coast Guard Cutter Alex Haley is on scene along with Shell’s vessel the Nanuq. Smith says the Guardsman has gone north to check on approaching weather conditions as well as looking for a sheltered place to take the Kulluk. Smith says the weather had quieted but is now picking up again.

The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Alex Haley returned to the Kulluk’s location Sunday evening, after repairing their fouled port propeller in Kodiak, and relieved the crew of the Coast Guard Cutter SPAR as on scene commander.

Coast Guard MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crews from Air Station Kodiak are preparing to deploy several technicians aboard the Kulluk. The technicians will inspect the current condition of the towlines on the drilling unit.

Autism Bill, Other Measure Take Effect Tuesday

The Associated Press

Starting Tuesday, health insurance policies in Alaska will be required to cover treatment of autism spectrum disorders.

A portion of that bill, setting up a task force to study such things as the state providing insurance coverage for autism, took effect earlier.

During the legislative debate, supporters cast the bill as a way to help children while also easing the financial and emotional strain that families face in getting treatments for autistic children.

Some insurance companies opposed the measure, saying it was unfair to put the burden on private companies alone.

Congress Remains In Deadlock On Fiscal Cliff Deal

Peter Granitz, APRN – Washington DC

As New Year’s Eve approaches, Congress is at an impasse on the so called fiscal cliff, signs point to an agreement on taxes but it’s unclear what will be done about spending cuts.

Suspect In Mail Thefts Arrested

The Associated Press

Anchorage police have arrested a 50-year-old man suspected of local collection-mailbox thefts.

Clifford Earl Dancer was arrested Saturday night after police spotted him sitting in the passenger seat of a truck in a parking lot outside a liquor store.

Authorities say Dancer is charged with forgery, theft of an access device and theft, stemming from an attempt to “wash” a stolen check and cash it.

Dave Schroader, a spokesman for the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, says prosecutors also are considering filing charges in federal court.

Four large collection mailboxes were stolen from the doorsteps of Anchorage post offices between Dec. 19 and Christmas Day.

The driver of the truck, 43-year-old Jerry Miller, also was arrested on unrelated warrants.

Lance Mackey Wins Top of the World 350

Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage

Lance Mackey took first place on Sunday in the inaugural running of the Top of the World 350 race from Eagle to Tok. Following Lance in for second place was Gerry Willomitzer. Jake Berkowitz took third.

Long-Time APD Officer Retires

Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage

After nearly 18 years on the force, Lt. Dave Parker is retiring from the Anchorage Police Department. Today is his last day.

Lt Parker has been the public information officer for APD for the past four years and was a detective before that. He is also a member of the clergy. He says being a cop is like being a pastor. It’s a helping profession.

Rasmuson Foundation Pledges Millions To Arts In Alaska

Mike Mason, KDLG – Dillingham

An Alaska based foundation is pledging millions of dollars over the next few

years to support the arts in Alaska.

Alcohol Abuse Not Always Talked About  In Rural Alaska

Angela Gonzales, Kids These Days

Rates of alcohol abuse in Alaska are some of the highest in the nation and communities across the state regularly suffer from domestic violence, suicide and other related issues because of it. Tonight, we reach the conclusion of our reporting series “Being Young In Rural Alaska”, from the producers of Kids These Days. Traveling and reporting in rural Alaska, it’s impossible to miss the signs of alcohol abuse, and yet people often don’t talk about it: it’s such a part of life that it’s almost taken for granted. So what’s it like to be a kid growing up around heavy alcohol use in small-town Alaska? Sarah Gonzales heads to Kotzebue to find out.

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