Northwest Digest

Posted: Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Public hearing on Medicaid planned

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JUNEAU - A public hearing on possible changes to Alaska's Medicaid regulations has been scheduled for Juneau residents from 2 to 4 p.m. Oct. 17 in the Terry Miller Building, Suite 104.

The hearing is open to individuals and organizations who wish to testify or offer written comments about a proposal to reorganize and rewrite coverage and payment regulations for the state Medicaid program.

Hosted by the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, the hearing is part of one of the largest efforts ever undertaken to revamp the state system. Juneau residents who are unable to attend in person can participate via teleconference by calling 463-5073. Alaskans from other parts of the state should call (888) 295-4546.

Written testimony will continue to be accepted until Oct. 31. For more information, visit

Assembly accepts grants to improve Juneau airport

JUNEAU - The Juneau Assembly accepted more than $2.1 million in state and federal grants for airport improvements at its regular meeting Monday night.

The ordinance unanimously adopted by the Assembly accepts a $1 million Federal Aviation Administration airport improvement grant and a $1 million designated legislative grant from the Alaska Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development, for renovation designs for the Juneau International Airport.

The funds will be used for a project dubbed "Terminal Planning - Schematic and Construction Design." The grant from the FAA requires a local match of 5 percent of the total project cost.

Also accepted through the ordinance was a federal grant of $186,625 for the "Construct Taxiway Extensions" project. The appropriation increased the budget for that project from nearly $1.5 million to just less than $1.7 million.

The Airport Board previously approved the actions taken by the Assembly on Monday.

Actor 'Wild Ben' Stein hired to promote Alaska seafood

ANCHORAGE - If you ever wanted to see the wild side of a former speechwriter for President Richard Nixon, just check out an Alaska seafood commercial.

Actor Ben Stein, noted for his deadpan delivery, has been hired to promote Alaska seafood.

The Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute ads feature "Wild Ben," sitting on a raft festooned with a palm tree, touting the state's wild and abundant seafood.

In 15-second and 30-second versions of the spots, he invites viewers to "Grab a fork; there's a lot more out there."

There are three different ads: one focused on Alaska salmon, another for Alaska crab and one for general Alaska seafood.

The ads are scheduled to air through November on The Food Network to coincide with the fall and winter holiday season. Another campaign is planned for the spring.

The actor and comedian starred in "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" and hosted a game show titled "Win Ben Stein's Money" after working for Nixon and then President Gerald Ford.

Energy Department drops appeal of fine for Hanford waste

RICHLAND, Wash. - The federal government has dropped its appeal of a $270,000 fine over the handling of radioactive waste at the Hanford nuclear reservation, two years after the state first imposed the penalty.

The issue arose in 2004 when the Department of Energy shipped 83 drums of laboratory equipment, protective clothing and other debris, which was contaminated with Hanford waste, to Hanford from South Carolina's Savannah River National Laboratory.

The laboratory had tested treatment methods on waste samples from Hanford's underground tanks, which hold 53 million gallons of hazardous chemical and radioactive waste left from decades of plutonium production for the nation's nuclear weapons arsenal.

Federal law allows the waste to be shipped to South Carolina for study and returned to Hanford, exempting it from provisions of state and federal hazardous-waste regulations. But the state contends those exemptions do not apply to waste generated at Savannah River - debris such as equipment, clothing and supplies that may have been contaminated in the testing process.

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