Alaska News Nightly: July 24, 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.

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GCI And ACS Form Alaska Wireless Network

Peter Granitz, APRN – Washington DC

The two largest mobile service providers in Alaska have created a joint venture.

The Federal Communications Commission approved the merger this week.

The companies say the move is designed to compete with national providers.

FEMA Admin Keeping Close Eye On Yukon River Disaster Response

Ellen Lockyer, KSKA – Anchorage & Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks

FEMA Region 10 Administrator Ken Murphy is in Alaska this week to keep an eye on disaster response for Yukon River flood victims.  Murphy spoke with APRN on Wednesday on the agency’s ultimate goal of providing services to disaster survivors to get them back on their feet as soon as possible. As of July 21, FEMA has paid out over $1 million in awards to individuals and households in the damaged areas.

Galena, CCHRC Work Together To Rebuild Homes

Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks

The Fairbanks based Cold Climate Housing Research Center is working with Galena residents whose homes were damaged and destroyed by the flood. CCHRC President Jack Hebert is visiting Galena on Wednesday to share home designs based on past village housing projects, and get feedback from Galena.

Water-Starved Alaska Village Gets Last-Minute Help

The Associated Press

Last-minute help has arrived for a remote village that is down to its last drops of treated water.

Officials in cash-poor Kivalina had feared they would not be able to fill the water storage tanks anytime soon, saying they can afford to replace a corroded water-transport line only if they forgo ordering their next shipment of fuel.

But a representative of a regional health care nonprofit, Maniilaq Association, traveled Wednesday to the Inupiat Eskimo community of 400 to figure out how to help replace the line.

Kivalina imposed strict conservation measures after its pipeline was damaged by storms last year before the Inupiat community’s water tanks could be filled completely.

Residents are forced to take sponge baths and some are collecting rainwater and river water to make do.

Bill Would Allow Road To Prince of Wales Mines

Ed Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska – Juneau

A bill making it easier to build a road to Prince of Wales Island mines has gotten some attention in the nation’s Capitol.

Grad Student Discovers New Insect Species On POW

Leila Kheiry, KRBD – Ketchikan

An entomology student working on a project on northern Prince of Wales Island found a strange insect. Turns out, it’s an ancient, and previously unidentified species, which she and her advisor have given a Tlingit name.

Whittier Mayor Poised To Retain Seat Following Recall Election

Tony Gorman, KCHU – Valdez

Lester Lunceford is still the mayor of Whittier – at least for now.  According to the unofficial results, the long-time mayor is poised to keep his position following Tuesday’s recall election. The recall stems from this year’s hiring of a permanent city manager.

Warm Weather Kills Hatchery Chinook Near Petersburg

Joe Viechnicki, KFSK – Petersburg

Over a thousand hatchery king salmon died at Blind River rapids sometime last week. The Chinook were returning to the Crystal Lake Hatchery on southern Mitkof Island, south of Petersburg. Warm water temperatures appear to be the culprit.

AVO Looks To Improve Ash Forecasting With Online Tool

Ben Matheson, KDLG – Dillingham

All of Alaska’s currently active volcanoes are hundreds of miles from the scientists responsible for warning us of potentially hazardous activity or the likelihood of ash clouds that disrupt air traffic.  Satellite imagery and seismic sensors give researchers a look into what’s going on, but they depend heavily on citizen scientists for eyes and ears on the ground.  The Alaska Volcano Observatory aims to improve the quality of ash forecasts through a new online tool.