Alaska News Nightly: May 4, 2012

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Agreement Allows All Alaska Veterans Care At Tribal Clinics

Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage

A new agreement signed today between 14 Alaska Native tribal health programs and the department of Veterans Affairs will allow both Alaska Native and non-Native vets to receive health care services in tribal clinics in various parts of Alaska, so they won’t have to travel to Anchorage or Seattle to receive services.

Under the agreement, the VA will reimburse the participating health care entities for the services.  Additionally, the Alaska VA is coordinating training sessions for Alaska Tribal Health Programs’ staff on VA benefits and eligibility and enrollment processes to help eligible veterans get into the VA system.  Democratic Senator Mark Begich, a member of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, has been working on the agreement for three years.

Judicial Council Holding Hearing On Judge Retention

Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau

The public will get a special opportunity to talk about judges next week as the Alaska Judicial Council will hold a statewide hearing to get opinions on the 26 judges up for retention votes this fall.

Under the Constitution, judges from time-to-time must stand for a vote for the public to decide if they should be kept in the job.  The term varies by court level and — except for appellate benches – the elections come from the judicial district in which the judge works.

Larry Cohn, the council’s executive director, says the hearing is in preparation for the Council to focus attention on judges who must undergo scrutiny this year.

“The judicial council will be meeting in June. And at that point, the council will be deciding on its recommendations to voters about whether judges should be retained in office for another term.  We will publicize those recommendations most likely in July. And of course, they’re included in the statewide election pamphlet that goes to every household in the state,” Cohn said.

Cohn says public comments about specific judges are accepted at any time, but the current hearing will be a reminder for this election cycle.  He says it is uncommon for the council to recommend against retention, however there has been one judge in each of the last three election years – and two of them were turned down by voters.

The hearings will take place at Legislative Information Offices around the state on Wednesday at noon.

Observers Soon Start Work On Southeast Gillnet Grounds

Matt Lichtenstein, KFSK – Petersburg

Federal observers are preparing to work the gillnet grounds around Petersburg and Wrangell this summer. Starting in June, National Marine Fisheries Service contractors in small boats will shadow individual gillnetters and monitor any interactions marine mammals or birds. They’ll also be interviewing fishermen about their gear and fishing practices. Federal officials say the information will be kept confidential and the contractors will be as unobtrusive as possible. But fishermen still have concerns as the season approaches.

Muni Certifies Anchorage Election

Daysha Eaton, KSKA – Anchorage

Exactly one month after the chaos of election night, the Anchorage Assembly voted to certify the Municipal Election Thursday evening. But the certification will be subject to the results of a hand recount of ballots.

Special Meeting To Address Possible Recall Of Wrangell Hospital Board Of Directors

Charlotte Duren, KFSK – Petersburg

In a special meeting Tuesday evening Wrangell’s Borough Assembly voted to approve a resolution for a special election to be held in June, on the question of whether to recall 8 of 9 members who comprise the city-owned hospital’s board of directors.

Lawmakers Approve $2.9 Billion For Statewide Construction, Maintenance Projects

Rosemarie Alexander, KTOO – Juneau

Juneau and the Southeast region fared well by the 27th Alaska State Legislature.

Before the regular session ended, lawmakers appropriated $2.9 billion for construction and maintenance projects statewide, and $450 million in general obligation bonds to be approved by voters next November.

AK: Hibernation

Kelsey Gobroski, APRN Contributor

Many mammals across Alaska are waking up from their long winter’s nap. But exactly how they get in and out of hibernation is still a mystery. A scientist at University of Alaska Fairbanks thinks unlocking the secrets of hibernation could help benefit human health in the future.

300 Villages: St. Paul

The community is located on a small island in the Bering Sea where there are many more fur seals than people. Aqualina Lestinkof lives on St. Paul island.

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