Alaska News Nightly: July 22, 2008

State Senator John Cowdery steps down as chairman of the Legislative Council. Meanwhile, the fish processing plant burns down in the Alaska peninsula village of Chignik. Plus the state Senate Finance Committee takes up the $500,000 the Governor wants to give TransAlaska. . And Alaska Airlines plans to try Wi-Fi on some flights. Those stories and more on tonight’s Alaska News Nightly, broadcast statewide on APRN stations.

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Cowdery steps down as chairman of the Legislative Council
Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
Anchorage Republican Senator John Cowdery – under federal indictment on conspiracy and corruption charges – today resigned his powerful position as chairman of the Legislative Council.  He retains his elected position as a member of the Senate majority.  Juneau Democrat Kim Elton takes over the chair — and Cowdery retains his membership on the council.

Rural electric aid bill introduced in House
Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
Late this afternoon state house members introduced legislation that would help people in remote communities meet their ever-increasing electric costs.

Chignik processing plant burns down
Tony Gorman, KSDP – Sand Point
A processing plant in the Alaska Peninsula village of Chignik has been destroyed by fire.

Senate Finance Committee takes up $500,000,000 for TransCanada
Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
In its first hearing on the bill that would provide $500 million to TransCanada to help with the development of a natural gas pipeline,  the Senate finance committee today indicated the administration should not expect the money all at once.

US Senate Judiciary committee will hold hearing on EVOS ruling
Lory Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
Tomorrow the U.S. Senate Judiciary committee will hold a hearing on the recent Supreme court decision that reduced the award amount in the Exxon Valdez punitive damage case. The hearing is entitled Courting Big Business: The Supreme Court’s Recent Decisions on Corporate Misconduct and Laws Regulating Corporations.

Cottowood Creek gets intensive water quality assessment
Ellen Lockyer, KSKA – Wasilla
Ongoing efforts to monitor Matanuska Valley water systems are being manned by volunteers, who brave foul weather and mosquitoes  to collect accurate data to help fight water pollution.  A few years ago,  many  Wasilla residents noticed white foam on Cottonwood Creek, a stream that meanders through urban congestion.  Their observations spurred an intensive quality assessment program aimed at finding the source of the foam.

Aleutian volcanoes remain active
Lory Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
Aleutian islands volcanos Okmok and Cleveland continue to be active. The community of Unalaska is about 65 miles northeast of Okmok and Cleveland is 90 miles west of Okmok. Alaska Volcano Observatory geochemist Melissa Pfeffer says seismic activity at Okmok remains high.

Governor expands Anchorage office
John Ryan, KTOO – Anchorage
Governor Palin is expanding her offices in the Atwood Building in Anchorage. State leasing and facilities manager Tanci  Mintz says the governor’s staff are taking over enough space for 6 offices and 2 or 3
work stations.

Whooping Cough cases watched carefully in southeast
Ed Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska – Juneau
Health officials are keeping an eye on several cases of pertussis in Southeast Alaska. The respiratory illness is also known as whooping cough. Symptoms range from a light cold to a severe, spasmodic cough accompanied by fever and vomiting.

Alaska Airlines will try on-board Wi-Fi
Ed Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska – Juneau
Alaska Airlines plans to experiment with onboard broadband internet service starting next month. The carrier will charge for the wireless service, although rates have not been set. Passenger advocates say Wi-Fi will be welcomed … with limits.

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