Alaska News Nightly: June 8, 2007

This is the complete story list and audio recording from today’s Alaska News Nightly, as broadcast on APRN stations statewide.

Yakutat Burough Manager selected despite Mayor’s objections
Ed Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska – Juneau
A controversial former Mat-Su lawmaker is expected to become Yakutat’s borough manager. The northern Southeast Alaska community’s assembly voted on May 31st to offer Scott Ogan the job. The vote came despite strong objections from Yakutat’s mayor.

Coal-fired vote in MatSu draws more than 4,000 ballots
Ellen Lockyer, APRN – MatSu
Matanuska Electric Association (MEA) officials counted ballots Thursday in an advisory vote aimed at guiding MEA’s board in selecting a site for the company’s proposed new power generation facility. A little more than 4,000 ballots were cast but many rate payers are concerned the coal-fired power plant will bring pollution to the Matanuska valley.

Alaska education commissioner resigns
Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
Education commissioner Roger Sampson turned in his resignation to the state Board of Education Thursday night. Sampson is taking a new education job at the national level.

Four-halibut guided sport fishing limit nearing implementation
Scott Woolsey, KCAW – Sitka
Pending approval by the Secretary of Commerce, guided sport fishermen in Southeast Alaska will have a four-halibut annual limit beginning next season. The measure was passed unanimously by the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council during its Sitka meeting today. Also passing — but on a split vote — was a parallel measure to limit charter fishermen to one halibut per day, should fish stocks continue to drop next year.

Pirates steal pollock cargo and possibly eco-friendly label
Charles Homans, KIAL – Unalaska
The case of the “Polestar” — a tramper that loaded pollock in Dutch Harbor last month and has been detained in Morocco as a pirate vessel — remains in limbo, with a processing company hoping federal bureaucrats can negotiate a separation of its cargo from the vessel. The “Polestar” incident could have implications for Alaskan pollock’s certification as environmentally-friendly seafood. It also throws into high relief the growing importance of eco-labeling for seafood marketing, and the maze of jurisdictions that still prevail.

Judge allows Rock Creek gold mine construction to proceed
David Shurtleff, APRN – Anchorage
A federal judge has ruled against an attempt to halt construction of the Rock Creek gold mine just north of Nome. A group of Nome residents filed suit in April, claiming environmental laws were violated when construction permits were issued to fill and build on hundreds of acres of wetlands at the location of the mine. U.S. District Judge Ralph Beistine disagreed and dismissed the case today in Anchorage.

Bethel may ban cyanide in face of proposed upriver gold mine
Angela Denning-Barnes, KYUK – Bethel
A proposed ordinance banning cyanide is in front of the Bethel City Council. It’s a response to the possible development of Donlin Creek Gold Mine, 200 miles up the Kuskokwim River from Bethel.

National Congress of American Indians conference comes to Anchorage
Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) is holding its mid-year session in Anchorage beginning this weekend. NCAI represents tribal interests to policy makers in Washington, D.C. The gathering at the Egan convention center will draw up to 1,500 attendees. One focus of their work will be looking at Alaska Native corporations 8(a) contracting with the federal government. The involvement of Native corporations in the highly lucrative 8(a) program has come under attack by some members of Congress and NCAI will be examining ways of ensuring support and the continuation of the program. NCAI planning committee co-chair Shauna Hegna says having the backing of the organization is crucial for keeping the issue on the forefront of lawmakers’ agendas.

Hegna says energy costs in rural communities will be another big item on the agenda as well as dealing with the influx of dangerous drugs such as methamphetemine into villages.

Another issue for the conference agenda is climate change and the impacts to Native communities. More than 150 resolutions have been passed by Village corporations, tribes, the Association of Village Council Presidents and the Alaska Intertribal Council. The resolutions ask Congress to quickly address the issue of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The NCAI meetings kick off Sunday and run through Wednesday the 13th.

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