Alaska News Nightly: November 13, 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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Alaska Has Few Enrollees

Annie Feidt, APRN – Anchorage

Just 53 Alaskans have selected health insurance plans on The federal government released marketplace numbers today for every state. Nationwide, 106 thousand people have signed up for plans. That figure includes people who have fully enrolled and people who have a plan in their shopping cart but haven’t paid yet. North Dakota is the only state with fewer people in that category than Alaska.

Murkowski Says Sequestration Jeopardizing National Defense

Liz Ruskin, APRN – Washington DC

The country could face a second round of automatic budget cuts if Congress can’t agree on a spending plan by year’s end. U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski said at hearing Wednesday that the sequestration cuts already imposed on the Pentagon  are throwing the military off its geostrategic goals.

Bethel Filipinos Reach Their Families After Storm

Angela Denning-Barnes, KYUK – Bethel

It’s unclear how many thousands of people lost their lives in the typhoon that hit the Philippines. But Bethel’s small Filipino population has been desperately trying to reach family back home to make sure they’re okay.

Fire Damages Classroom At Bethel School

Ben Matheson, KYUK – Bethel

Fire crews responded to a fire on Wednesday at the Bethel ME  school, which houses pre-school through second grade.

Estimated 6,000 Gallons Of Diesel Spilled From Arctic Hunter

Annie Ropeik, KUCB – Unalaska

Two weeks after the Arctic Hunter ran aground outside Unalaska, state officials are estimating that the boat has released up to 6,000 gallons of diesel fuel into the water.

Sitka Urges Governor To Accept Obama’s Medicaid Plan

Robert Woolsey, KCAW – Sitka

Several organizations around the state have recently asked Governor Parnell to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, including the Anchorage NAACP, the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce and the Alaska Chamber.

The Sitka assembly didn’t go so far as endorsing Medicaid expansion. But at its meeting this week, the assembly passed a resolution asking Parnell and the state legislature to “fully consider” the benefits to Alaskan communities of expanding Medicaid to cover a larger share of the state’s poorest residents.

Joe Balash Named DNR Commission

Alexandra Gutierrez, APRN – Juneau

Governor Sean Parnell has named Joe Balash as his Natural Resources commissioner.

Balash has served as acting commissioner since September, and he was previously a deputy in the department. He was one of the governor’s point people on the recent overhaul of the state’s oil tax system.

Balash replaces Dan Sullivan, who left his commissioner position to run for U.S. Senate.

Tribal Entities Ask Feds For Overdue Contract Payments

Joaqlin Estus, KNBA – Anchorage

Some 60 tribal entities from across the country, including more than a dozen from Alaska, have written to ask President Obama to pay them long overdue contract shortfalls.

Olympic Flame Travels By Dogsled

Emily Schwing, KUAC – Fairbanks

The Olympic flame travelled by dogsled through the capital of Chukotka in Russia earlier this week. The torch was carried by Russian musher Mikhail Telpin.

Fairview Residents Work To Re-Image Neighborhood

Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage

When I accepted a job in Anchorage more than a dozen years ago, my new boss told me the neighborhood I’d be working in was sketchy. She said signs of illicit sex and drug use, along with alcohol debris would be common in the parking lot. And that homeless people would sleep on the porch. It was all true. That was my introduction to Fairview. But last Saturday I glimpsed a very different version of the neighborhood through the stories of smiling residents who love Fairview, faults and all.