Alaska News Nightly: July 9, 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

Medicaid Fraud Charges Levied Against 28 Personal Care Attendants

Annie Feidt, APRN – Anchorage

The state is prosecuting the largest Medicaid fraud case in its history. The Medicaid fraud division filed charges Tuesday against 28 personal care attendants, who take care of elderly and disabled people in their homes.

State Presents New Plan For ANWR Development

Alexandra Gutierrez, APRN – Juneau

After getting a “no” from the Department of the Interior, Gov. Sean Parnell has doubled down on a plan to conduct seismic testing in a section of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Tuesday, the administration offered a new plan, pledged more money to the effort, and argued that the federal government was legally obligated to consider their proposal. But already, there are questions over whether this is just another round in a decades-long game of chicken between the state and federal government.

NMFS Denies Ribbon Seal Endangered Species Listing

The Associated Press

A federal agency has again rejected an endangered species listing for a species of ice seal found off Alaska.

Tuesday, the National Marine Fisheries Service announced it is rejecting a listing for ribbon seals as it did in December 2008.

The agency says in an announcement that anticipated threats from reductions in sea ice and disruption to prey will result in a gradual decline in ribbon seal population numbers. However, the decline is not expected to put them in danger of extinction in the foreseeable future.

Ribbon seals are found in the Bering and Chukchi Seas and the Sea of Okhotsk off Russia.

Ribbon seals during summer live entirely in water. From March through June, they use loose pack ice for reproduction and molting.

NTSB Team Begins Investigation Of Deadly Soldotna Plane Crash

Ariel Van Cleave, KBBI – Homer

Federal investigators arrived on the Kenai Peninsula on Monday to examine the scene of a Sunday plane crash in Soldotna. They plan is to pore over evidence at the crash site for the next week before moving their operation back to Washington, DC. At a press briefing late this afternoon, NTSB board member Earl Weener released a few more details. He says the propeller was in rotation when the plane crashed. Investigators also recovered three more cell phones from the crash site. Two were recovered earlier. There were no eye witnesses to the accident. Weener says most of the bodies were still buckled in their seats.

One local pilot and nine passengers who were visiting from Greenville, South Carolina all were killed after the plane crashed and caught fire late Sunday morning.

Peter Tony’s Stepdaughter Speaks Out About Abuse

Angela Denning-Barnes, KYUK – Bethel

69-year-old Peter Tony, is in jail in Bethel awaiting court proceedings for multiple charges of child sexual abuse. Meanwhile, his case keeps growing. It’s evolving from two sides-the past and the present; a four-year-old alleged victim and a 48-year-old alleged victim.

Stuart Creek 2 Firefighters Race To Beat Warm, Dry Weather Coming Later This Week

Emily Schwing, KUAC – Fairbanks

Crews battling the Stuart Creek 2 Wildfire northeast of Fairbanks have made significant progress.  But, an evacuation watch for residents of nearby Two Rivers and Pleasant Valley remains in effect.  For firefighters, it could be a race against the clock.  A warm dry forecast could bring Red Flag conditions back to the region by the end of the week.

Incident Meteorologists Help Crews Predict Fire Paths

Josh Edge, APRN – Anchorage

More than a million acres have burned in the 446 wildfires in Alaska this season. That’s an area larger than Rhode Island. Many of these fires are left to burn if they aren’t a danger to people or infrastructure, but the most dangerous of them are battled by hundreds of firefighters and other support personnel. Some fires even warrant their own “incident meteorologist” – or IMET.

Seward Ceviche Whiz Dines At White House

Peter Granitz, APRN – Washington DC

Fifty four kids from every state and some U.S. territories dined at the White House on Tuesday. They were chosen as winners to attend the second annual Kids State Dinner.