Alaska News Nightly: March 6, 2013

Individual news stories are posted on the APRN news page. You can subscribe to APRN’s newsfeeds via emailpodcast and RSS. Follow us on Facebook at and on Twitter @aprn.

Download Audio

Begich Bill Would Define Mental Incompetence For Guns

Peter Granitz, APRN – Washington DC

U.S. Senator Mark Begich is introducing a bill aiming to clarify who would be unable to own a gun because of mental illness.

Opposition Testify Against Behavior Health Funding Cuts

Alexandra Gutierrez, APRN – Juneau

For the past two days, the House Finance Committee has heard testimony on what it should cut from the operating budget and what it should not. Opposition has been especially vocal when it comes to an $8.4 million reduction in behavioral health funding. Kathi Collum serves on the board of Juneau Youth Services, an organization that receives state grants. Her son also received treatment there.

Mushers Debate Where To Take 24-Hour Layover

Emily Schwing, KUAC – Fairbanks

On day four of the Iditarod, the race is still anyone’s game. And the mushers are keeping it interesting this year. Martin Buser completed his 24-hour layover early in the race. Lance Mackey and Sonny Linder appear to be embracing the opposite strategy, making their way down the trail to the Iditarod Checkpoint, which is also the official half way marker in the race.  But many of the veteran mushers decided to stick to a plan they know, resting in the popular 24 hour layover village of Takotna.

Iditarod Airplane Flips; 2 On Board Unhurt

The Associated Press

A small airplane servicing the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race flipped while taking off but both people on board walked away unharmed.

Alaska State Troopers say the Iditarod Air Force plane was piloted by 57-year-old Diana Moroney of Chugiak (CHOO-gee-ak), a community on the north side of Anchorage.

Troopers from Aniak late yesterday afternoon spotted an overturned Cessna 185 at the town site of Iditarod. The former mining town is a race checkpoint 280 miles northwest of Anchorage.

Troopers say the plane had dropped off supplies, and when taking off again, lost altitude, struck the Iditarod River and flipped.

Troopers say the plane was seriously damaged.

International Delegates To Decide On Polar Bear Protections

Annie Feidt & Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage

Delegates in Thailand are scheduled to decide Thursday whether to increase protections for polar bears under an international treaty that regulates trade of endangered species. The United States is proposing to upgrade the polar bear listing to the highest level of protections under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Speices, or CITES. If it passes, it will ban international commercial trade of polar bear fur and other parts. Bruce Woods is a spokesperson for the U-S Fish and Wildlife Service in Alaska.

Public Urges Officials To Maintain White Mountain Recreation Area Mining Ban

Tim Ellis, KUAC – Fairbanks

More than 60 people showed up for a second public hearing in Fairbanks last night on a proposal that could permit mining in the White Mountain National Recreation Area. And like last month’s meeting, most strongly encouraged the Bureau of Land Management to maintain a current ban on mining.

Service Allows Fairbanks Residents To Share More Info With Emergency Responders

Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks

A new service allows Fairbanks North Star Borough residents to share information that emergency responders can access. Fairbanks is the first community in Alaska to subscribe to Smart 911, a national service that enables dispatchers to access caller submitted profiles.

Alaska’s Capital City Changes With The Times

Casey Kelly, KTOO – Juneau

As the State of Alaska has grown, the Capital City of Juneau has adapted and grown along with it. Two former legislators yesterday discussed those changes and the challenges Juneau has faced over the years. The talk was part of the Alaska Legislature Centennial Commission program, which took place in the Capital City this week to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Alaska Legislature.