News Briefs

TNL wins 7 awards in statewide competition
The Northern Light’s staff members took home seven awards from the Alaska Press Club’s annual awards banquet April 21, including a third-place award for best weekly newspaper in Alaska. It is the second consecutive year the newspaper has placed in the best weekly newspaper category.

“This student publication outclassed professional entries with its attention to elements that too many stories lack: enterprise and conflict,” wrote judge Nigel Jaquis, a Pulitzer-prize winning investigative reporter.

Individual awards included managing editor James Halpin’s first-place win for education reporting and another first-place award for short feature writing. Features editor Mary Lochner won a third-place award for her former column, “Life in the Box.” Sports editor Jessica Allman won first place in sports news reporting, while reporter Rachael Fisher won second place in the same category. Former sports editor Hannah Guillaume won first place for best sports feature.

All entries, except for the third-place best weekly newspaper award, won in the small newspaper category.

These winning titles are available online at

“Bean’s Caf? offers hope to Anchorage’s homeless,” by James Halpin

“Union: Mat-Su threatens to fire overpaid teachers,” by James Halpin

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“Life in the Box,” by Mary Lochner

“UAA women’s hockey to skate again,” by Jessica Allman

“Alumnus to coach Lady Seawolves,” by Rachael Fisher

“UAF graduate shares Iditarod experiences, expectations,” by Hannah Guillaume

Bill to give governor authority to fire regents

A bill has been introduced to the Legislature that would give the governor the authority to remove UA regent Jim Hayes. Hayes has been indicted for using funds earmarked for his wife’s organization for his church. Hayes has refused to step down from his position as regent, despite a federal indictment against him on charges of misusing government funds.

The bill, introduced by the House State Affairs Committee, gives the governor the right to suspend or remove a regent who has been charged with certain crimes or who cannot complete his duties as a regent. A state attorney general had said that Gov. Palin did not have the authority to remove Hayes herself. Hayes and his wife, Murilda, were indicted on charges with their misuse of $450,000 in grant funds given to the nonprofit LOVE Social Services, which also received nearly $3 million in grants from the Department of Housing and Urban Development from 2000 to 2005. The government has alleged that Hayes used a large portion of that money for personal use and for a new church building. The trial was scheduled to start April 9, but the date has been pushed back to Sept. 17.

WWAMI program ranks highest in country
The WWAMI medical school partnership has again been ranked first among primary care medical schools in the country, according to the U.S. News and World Report’s annual rankings of graduate and professional schools. Alaska is one of five states involved in the collaborative medical school program, which is centered at the University of Washington in Seattle. For the 16th consecutive year, the WWAMI teaching programs in family medicine and in rural health also ranked first. It is the only program in the nation ranked in the top 10 for all eight specialties included in the rankings.

WWAMI serves as a medical school for the states of Wyoming, Washington, Alaska, Montana and Idaho. Alaskans can complete three of the four years of medical school in Alaska through the program. However, the program is facing the problem of declining student interest in primary care. About 35 percent of the people in the WWAMI region reside in rural areas. WWAMI is looking at a number of new approaches to encourage more medical students to enter primary-care training. Due to the support of the Alaska Legislature and Gov. Palin, the Alaska WWAMI program will increase its incoming class to 20 medical students per year starting this fall.

Recycling efforts on campus pay off, in cash
The Union of Students recycling program is the recent winner of the “2006 Outstanding Recycling Program” award presented by Alaskans for Litter Prevention and Recycling. In December 2004, USUAA won a $28,000 Waste Reduction and Recycling Challenge Grant from the Municipality of Anchorage. Grant funds were mostly used to purchase recycling containers and centralized recycling collection areas now distributed across the Anchorage campus.

The grant from the Municipality ended in Fall 2005. Since then, USUAA has received another grant in Spring 2006, for the 2007 academic year, for $26,000 from the Strategic Opportunities Fund. This grant will pay for student employees to continue operating the small-scale recycling program across campus. The program plans to expand to recycling glass bottles and plastic cans. The recycling program will be recognized for its achievements at ALPAR’s Annual Awards Dinner on Thursday, April 26, at the Sourdough Mining Company.

Fairbanks visitors will now pay for parking
Day visitors at UAF will no longer have the option of free parking. Earlier this month, campus visitors had to buy parking passes on weekdays. Free visitor parking had been available in two lots on the outside of campus. Visitors could also buy $3 day passes and use the same lots as students and faculty. Mark Klein, UAF’s Associated Director of Parking Services, has expressed concern for those who pay for parking and visitors who don’t pay at all. Visitors are still able to park free in most of the lots during the evenings and on weekends. Parking decals cost at least $124 a year. UAF’s parking services department does not receive funding from the university’s budget but relies on money through parking fees and fines from tickets. Students who should have been paying to park mostly used the free visitor lots. Klein plans on initially issuing warnings rather than tickets.

Justice Brooks’ case moving toward trial
Both the prosecuting attorney and ex-USUAA vice president Justice Brooks’ public defender said they were prepared to go forward with Brooks’ trial. The trial is scheduled to start May 14. Although everything was “status quo” at an April 16 pretrial conference, Brooks’ defense scheduled another pretrial conference April 30, to give Brooks time to go over grand jury testimony with his public defender.

Brooks is charged with three counts of felony assault stemming from a Jan. 14 incident between Brooks and his girlfriend of the time, who now has a long-term restraining order against him. As developments occur, updates will be made to