Alaska News Nightly: Thursday, Aug. 22, 2019

Stories are posted on the statewide news page. You can subscribe to Alaska Public Media’s newsfeeds via email, podcast and RSS. Follow us on Facebook at alaskapublic.org and on Twitter @AKPublicNews

The latest on Southcentral wildfires: Aug. 22, 2019

Wesley Early, Alaska Public Media – Anchorage

Calm winds are aiding firefighters as they continue to battle blazes throughout Southcentral.

Volunteers remain hopeful, as Levelock Fire reaches 5% containment

Isabelle Ross, KDLG – Dillingham

Emergency firefighters and local volunteers are still working to suppress a 5,000-acre fire near Levelock. The fire has been burning since Sunday night, and residents are finally beginning to see improvements.

Experts: It’s heat and drought, not spruce beetles or leaf miners, that turned Alaska forests into kindling

Nathaniel Herz, Alaska Public Media – Anchorage

There are more insects in the forest than other years, but experts say climate is the biggest factor for fires.

Budget cuts rely on Medicaid savings that will be difficult to achieve

Andrew Kitchenman, KTOO – Juneau

Gov. Dunleavy has made cutting government a centerpiece of his administration. But much of the biggest cut he made to this year’s budget may not be a cut at all. That’s because it’s to Medicaid. And federal law limits how deeply the state can cut Medicaid, which provides health care to lower-income Alaskans.

State agricultural workers react to restorations, and vetoes, from Dunleavy

Casey Grove, Alaska Public Media – Anchorage

Things are ramping back up at the state Division of Agriculture after the Legislature restored funding that amounted to more than half of the division’s annual budget, which Governor Mike Dunleavy vetoed in June. Most of the restored funding survived Dunleavy’s veto pen this week.

Diocese of Juneau finds ‘credible evidence’ of sexual misconduct by Southeast Alaska priests

Adelyn Baxter, KTOO – Juneau

A report commissioned by the Diocese of Juneau found “credible evidence” that seven people who served the Catholic Church in Southeast Alaska since 1951 engaged in sexual misconduct involving minors or vulnerable adults.

Alaska rolls back air ambulance ‘membership plan’ regulations

Jacob Resneck, CoastAlaska – Juneau

Alaska is taking a step back from regulating the membership plans marketed by air ambulance providers. State regulators say it’ll cut unnecessary red tape. But consumer advocates aren’t thrilled.

Bethel Iditarod champion Pete Kaiser to deliver 2019 AFN keynote address

Anna Rose MacArthur, KYUK – Bethel

Pete Kaiser, last year’s Iditarod Champion and Bethel’s own hometown hero, will deliver the Keynote Address at this year’s Alaska Federation of Natives Convention.

Wrangell aims to put itself on the virtual map

June Leffler, KSTK – Wrangell

Wrangell’s local government recently Googled itself. And didn’t like what it saw. Now, the city is working with a contractor to brush up its online image.