Alaska News Nightly: June 2, 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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Bergdahl Release Ignites Political Controversy

Liz Ruskin, APRN – Washington DC

Former Fort Richardson soldier Bowe Bergdahl was released over the weekend from nearly five years in captivity in Afghanistan. Both of Alaska’s U.S. senators issued warm statements welcoming the news, but in Washington, the price paid for Bergdahl’s release and questions about how he became separated from his unit are igniting a political firestorm.

New EPA Carbon-Pollution Rules Will Spark Rate Hikes In Fairbanks

Tim Ellis, KUAC – Fairbanks

Golden Valley Electric Association customers can expect a rate hike to pay for new federally required pollution controls. The EPA’s emissions control requirements announced today, will be phased in over coming years in an effort to cut greenhouse gas emissions from power plants.

Crews Discover Years-Old Human Remains On Kenai Peninsula

The Associated Press

Firefighters on the Kenai Peninsula made a disturbing discovery over the weekend.

Alaska State Troopers say human remains have been found near Sterling.

Troopers say they were notified Sunday that a fire crew found the remains.

According to troopers, the remains appear to have been there for several years. There were no identifying items found and the identity of the remains is unknown.

The state medical examiner’s office has been notified.

Prescribed Interior Fire Extends To Over 6,000 Acres

Tim Ellis & Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks

On the Kenai Peninsula, rain over the weekend helped further knock down the Funny River fire, but in interior Alaska, a wild fire in the Delta Junction area gained major acreage over the weekend. The 100 Mile Creek Fire, sparked by an earlier prescribed burn on military land, went from about 700 acres to more than 6,000, as high winds fanned flames.

New Alaska Chief Medical Examiner Named

The Associated Press

A pathologist who has been working as an assistant Alaska medical examiner has been named the state’s chief medical examiner.

Gary Zientek has worked for the Alaska Division of Public Health since 2009. Gov. Sean Parnell approved Zientek’s promotion in January.

The Anchorage Daily News reports Zientek’s medical license was suspended for four years in Virginia because of alcohol and drug abuse. His Virginia license was restored in late 2007.

Zientek says he has been sober for 10 years. He says his is a story about redemption.

The Department of Administration says Zientek was the only person interviewed for the job, which pays about $225,000 a year.

Katie John Honored In 375-Mile Walk For Subsistence Rights

Joaqlin Estus, KNBA – Anchorage

On Saturday, two Athabascan men completed a 375-mile trek honoring their mother Katie John, and her cause – subsistence rights. Dozens of people joined them for the last few miles, and about 200 celebrated the walk’s end at the Alaska Native Medical Center in Anchorage.

12-Year, Human-Powered Expedition Summits Denali

Phillip Manning, KTNA – Talkeetna

This year, more than a thousand people will try to climb Denali.  Some of those will be making the attempt as part of a “seven summits” expedition, which involves reaching the highest point on all seven continents.  One family expedition, named Top to Top, is attempting the seven summits in a way that has never been done before.

Layoffs Begin At Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation

Daysha Eaton, KYUK – Bethel

The Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation started handing out pink slips on Monday.

YKHC officials announced the layoffs in May.

Bethel Native Reimagines Qaspeq

Daysha Eaton, KYUK – Bethel

One Alaska Native woman is putting a new spin on the traditional qaspeq. Michelle Konig uses stretchy fabric and a unique pattern to make the modern qaspeqs. With a label under her own name, the designer can barely keep up with orders and is now traveling around the state teaching others to make her designs.

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