Alaska News Nightly: May 8, 2014

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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Gov. Parnell Signs Gasline Legislation

Alexandra Gutierrez, APRN – Juneau

Surrounded by state legislators, cameras, and heavy machinery, Gov. Sean Parnell signed a measure that could serve as a starting point for a major natural gas project. He put his name on the bill Thursday, at a pipeline training center in Fairbanks.

Former-Gov. Palin Defends ACES

The Associated Press

Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin defended the oil tax structure she championed while in office, known as ACES. The system has been dismantled by state lawmakers and her successor Governor Sean Parnell.

Palin also took a swipe at Parnell on Anchorage radio station KWHL when asked about Parnell’s change in direction, pointing out that Parnell came from the oil industry.

Parnell was Palin’s lieutenant governor from 2006 to 2009.

Palin also had supportive words for a rival to Parnell in this year’s gubernatorial race, Bill Walker, who is running as an independent. She didn’t endorse Walker, but said he has “his thumb on the pulse of…  most Alaskans who care about the future of this state.”

Walker said today that he had not spoken with Palin and was surprised by her remarks.

Memo Underscores Confession In Fairbanks 4 Case

Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks

There’s new evidence challenging the long contested murder convictions of 4 Native men in Fairbanks. The information was provided to the court by the Alaska Innocence Project, in its effort to free the men known as “The Fairbanks 4”.

UAA, Willamette University Partner To Offer New Law School Opportunity

Josh Edge, APRN – Anchorage

There isn’t a law school in Alaska. But the University of Alaska Anchorage is launching a new program to make it easier for Alaskans to attend law school. It’s a partnership with Willamette University College of Law in Oregon.

Education Bill Boosts Juneau Community Charter School

Lisa Phu, KTOO – Juneau

The Juneau Community Charter School is getting a 56 percent increase to its budget through an upcoming change in state law.

New mandates in House Bill 278 give charter schools more parity with other public schools.

Skagway Ferry Service Will Resume Sunday

Margaret Friedenauer, KHNS – Haines

State ferry service to Skagway resumes on Sunday.

Alaska Marine Highway ferries have not been running to Skagway since the ferry dock there sank on April 24th. The state was able to contract with a marine salvage and repair company out of Juneau for an emergency sole source contract, and the dock was re-floated a few days later.

Since then, the company has been inspecting and repairing damaged parts of the dock. The likely cause of the sinking is a water pipe under the dock that burst, flooding the hollow compartments that keep the dock afloat. Repairs have also been made to the passenger ramp that was partially submerged, the electrical systems and the vehicle ramp hydraulic system.

To date, the salvage and repair costs have run about a half million dollars, according to the state. Permanent repair work will be ongoing but not affect ferry service, according to a press release for the Marine Highway System.

National Weather Service Issues El Niño Watch

Steve Heimel, APRN – Anchorage

There could be more warm and cloudy weather on Alaska’s coast and more wildfire danger in the Interior this summer if a temperature trend in the waters of the Pacific Ocean along the equator continues. The National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center today issued an El Niño Watch, saying the weather pattern is more likely than not to develop this summer.

Unusual Quakes Send Seismologists Into Rapid Response

Anna Rose MacArthur, KNOM – Nome

Aftershocks are continuing to rattle the western edge of the Brooks Range near communities like Noatak, and now seismologists are conducting a “rapid response” to capture these tremors. That’s after two earthquakes that came two weeks apart at magnitudes not recorded in the region in more than 30 years.

UAA Student Breaks Ground With Yup’ik Spell Checker

Charles Enoch, KYUK – Bethel

A student at the University of Alaska in Anchorage has created software that can spell-check the Yup’ik language.  Yup’ik language experts are excited about the possibilities even though the designer is not a fluent speaker.