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Wednesday, May 24, 2006  10TH EDITION

Governor releases 'real' gas contract
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) - Governor Murkowski today released an additional 106 pages of a gas contract with the state's three largest oil producers.

He says the additions represent the complete contract, now a 457-page document, made public for the first time.

The contract, which the Legislature must approve, sets the financial terms the governor says will lead to construction of a North Slope natural-gas pipeline.

The added provisions mainly deal with a proposed 30-year tax freeze for oil production, and include terms of a disputed petroleum production tax bill that has not yet passed the Legislature.

The petroleum production tax provisions had been kept out of the draft contract while lawmakers deliberated the tax rewrite.
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Because the Legislature hasn't approved a tax bill, that means the terms of the contract will change again if the final version differs from the deal Murkowski struck with Exxon Mobil, B-P and ConocoPhillips.

Lawmakers this year have considered several versions of the tax, and none have stuck with the governor's bill.

The House takes up the bill again next week after the Memorial Day break.

Crowd arrests assault suspects in Thorne Bay
KETCHIKAN, Alaska (AP) - Alaska State Troopers say a crowd of about 30 Thorne Bay citizens arrested three teens suspected of assaulting a 55-year-old man.

The youths say the crowd used excessive force in restraining them Monday night and troopers are trying to sort it out.

The 55-year-old man was attacked near the Thorne Bay Market.

He suffered a cut eye and several bruises on his head and face.

The suspects are 18-year-old Richard Pitcher and two boys age 16 and 13.

Trooper Robert Claus says the suspects fled and armed themselves with a pipe, a wrench and a large rock.

The crowd confronted the teens.

Claus says Pitcher threatened one of the citizens with a rock but the man pulled out a handgun and pointed it at Pitcher. People in the crowd used rope and duct tape to restrain the teens until Claus arrived.

Pitcher was charged with felony assault and jailed in Craig. The two boys were charged with assault and released to their parents.

All three were charged with consuming alcohol as minors.

Claus says troopers will investigate the teens' allegations of excessive force.

One said he had been hog-tied with a piece of rope passed through his mouth to quiet him. Claus says he did not see that.

Thorne Bay is 47 miles northwest of Ketchikan on the east coast of Prince of Wales Island.

About 500 people live there.
(Ketchikan Daily News) 


Pelican seafood plant set to reopen
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) - The seafood processing plant at Pelican in Southeast Alaska is getting ready to open again.

The plant has been shut down for two years, cutting off income for the community from raw fish tax and visiting commercial fishermen.

Kake Tribal Corporation owns the seafood plant.

It signed papers a couple of weeks ago to lease the plant to Ed Bahrt & Associates.

The Sitka resident's father and uncle helped build Pelican Seafoods.

Bahrt says he plans to buy salmon, black cod and halibut primarily from longline and troll fishermen based in Pelican and nearby communities.

Bahrt says he'll also be equipped to provide ice, boat supplies and groceries to other fishermen passing through Cross Sound.
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Pelican's population is listed at 115.

The community on the northwest coast of Chichagof Island is 80 miles north of Sitka and 70 miles west of Juneau.

Jury acquits man in wife's death
HOMER, Alaska (AP) - A jury this (Wednesday) afternoon has found a man not guilty of killing his wife to collect on her life insurance policy.

Court clerk Cathy Franklin says the jury deliberated nearly two days before returning the verdict for 42-year-old Jay Darling.

Darling reported his wife of four months, Wanda Wood Darling, had died after falling 800 feet from an isolated bluff west of Homer while taking photos in 1997.

Darling testified during the three-week trial that he did not push his wife, who was afraid of heights.

His lawyers said the case against Darling lacked hard evidence.

Prosecutors, however, said the case boiled down to the insurance money. And they doubted she accidentally fell from the cliff, saying her fear of heights would have prevented her from getting close to the cliff's edge.
(Thanks KGTL, Homer)

Crane involved in planned power outage to remove tree rolls over
A planned power outage near Randall Road on the  Glacier Highway ran into big problems Tuesday

David Stone of Alaska Electric, Light and Power called during our Noon time broadcast to say that a crane that was lifting a downed tree rolled over onto the road. 

It went through power lines and hit three power poles.

There were no serious injuries. 

The contractor's crane operator was able to jump off.

A man who was limbing at tree was stuck in the tree, so the fire department sent a ladder truck to the scene to bring him down.

The planned four hour outage to allow the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities to remove what was considered a dangerous tree lasted 12 hours.

Power was  restored last night at 9:19.  Gail Wood of the electric utility said the crews worked to make the area safe for the repairs prior to repairing the power lines.

Power was out to customers from about mile 19 of the Glacier Highway on out the road. 

The original plan called for power to be out from 9 a.m. to one p.m. 

The mishap occurred at about  Noon. 

Special Assembly meeting planned on high school construction costs
The Assembly will hold a special meeting today [Wednesday] to introduce several ordinances related to financing the budget short fall for the new Valley High School.

The ordinances may be scheduled for public hearing on June 5.

The major funding ordinance, appropriates $ 4,570,000 from the CBJ Budget Reserve Account for the new high school.

Coogan Construction's winning low bid was $46,970,000. That's nine million dollars over the engineer's estimate of $38.1 million dollars.

The special meeting begins at 5 in the Assembly Chambers.

Assembly Finance continues budget work
The Assembly Finance Committee today [Wednesday] is scheduled to hear several requests for funding.

The Alaska Small Business Development Center is requesting $50,000 to provide for additional administrative staff for more local business seminars and distance education for outlying Southeast communities and homebound Juneau residents.

The Juneau Family Birth Center is requesting $50,000 to provide funds for the Strength in Families Program, a child abuse and neglect prevention and support program.

The program would fill the gap created by the June 30 termination of the Healthy Families Juneau program currently managed by Catholic Community Services.

The Southeast Alaska Avalanche Center is requesting $182,600.

The request is to fund a full operation which would provide information and training about avalanches.

The Taikuu Educational Services  is requesting $18,500 from Marine Passenger Fees to fund the Ambassador Pilot Program  that would provide people to help cruise passengers find their way safely around Juneau.

The League of Women Voters is scheduled to present the results of their 2006 community budget survey.

The budget survey is available for download in the News Center at www.kinyradio.com 

The Assembly Finance Committee meets at 5 today at City Hall.

Split report expected from Fluoride Commission
The Juneau Assembly will likely get a split recommendation regarding the continued use of fluoride in city water, said

Juneau Fluoride Study Commission Chairman Bart Rozell says they have completed the process of taking public testimony and reviewing documents.

He says the plan for tonight's meeting is to work on drafts of a written report which they hope to get to the Assembly this month.

Rozell says, at this point, it appears commissioners are divided on the continued use of fluoride in the CBJ water supply. "I think that's where we're going to come out."

Rozell says, at this point, it appears commissioners are divided on the continued use of fluoride in the CBJ water supply.

He says the panel will probably issue majority and minority reports.

Mayor Bruce Botelho appointed the commission and tasked it with coming up with a recommendation on whether fluoride should be added to the local water supply.

The current EPA recommended maximum is four milligrams per liter.

Juneau's system is below that level.

The local water utility says normal levels here are between point 7 and 1 point 2 milligrams per liter.

A national report concluded that too much fluoride may actually damage teeth and bones.

The study of high levels of fluoride focused only on communities where high levels of fluoride occur naturally in water.

In those cases, the scientists say the fluoride levels should be reduced.

A CBJ utility official says the presence of naturally occurring fluoride in Juneau's water supply is negligible.

The Fluoride Study Commission meets tonight at 6-30 in room 224 at City Hall.

80 National Guard members will deploy to Afghanistan
FORT RICHARDSON, Alaska (AP) - About 80 Alaska Army National Guard members are preparing to leave for a year's tour in Afghanistan.

A deployment ceremony is planned Friday for the soldiers at Fort Richardson. Some will leave that day to set up operations, with the bulk of the remaining soldiers shipping out Monday.

The soldiers are from the 207th Infantry Brigade Headquarters and 297th Support Battalion Headquarters.

The Alaskans will be commanding and controlling approximately three-thousand American forces in southern Afghanistan.

Their mission includes helping with rebuilding efforts in Afghanistan and supporting reconstruction teams.

Most of the soldiers hail from the Anchorage and Mat-Su region. But they will be deploying with another 40 soldiers from four other states and Puerto Rico.

The other soldiers have been training with the Alaskans since mid-April.

The deployment ceremony is set for 2 p.m. at the National Guard Armory on Ft. Richardson.

Members of Seahawks visiting Juneau
A group of Seattle Seahawks arrived in Juneau this morning aboard a cruise ship.

Matt Johnson of the Seahawks front office in Seattle says they are defensive backs Etric Pruitt and Ken Hamlin and quarterback Seneca Wallace.

They're part of a fan appreciation cruise on board the Westerdam which arrived at 7 a.m.

The entourage planned a whale watching trip and a visit to the glacier.

Gas contract overview ends 
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) - State Revenue Commissioner Bill Corbus Tuesday day ended an 11-day overview of the gas contract proposal between the state and three major oil companies.

Governor Murkowski proposes through the contract to make a gas pipeline project more attractive to B-P , Exxon Mobil and ConocoPhillips.

Those three companies own nearly all of the North Slope's gas leases and are the would-be owners of the pipeline that would stretch 21-hundred miles to Alberta, Canada, or 36-hundred miles to Chicago.

The contract proposal is out for a 45-day public review and comment period that will last until June 23.

Then Murkowski plans to call the Legislature into another special session for an up-or-down vote on the final contract.

But even with a contract, the final decision to go ahead with construction is still about four years away, according to the estimation of administration officials.

Gas negotiator compares gas reserves tax with Bolivia's gas takeover
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) - Governor Murkowski's petroleum consultant today compared a proposed 1-billion dollar tax on the North Slope's natural gas reserves to the state takeover of Bolivia's gas industry.

The reserves tax proposal was added to November's election ballot after three Democratic legislators gathered enough signatures for it to qualify as a citizen's initiative.

The sponsors propose to tax the 35 trillion cubic feet of North Slope gas reserves until a natural gas pipeline is built.

Consultant Pedro van Meurs compares the tax to Bolivian President Evo Morales' May 1 takeover of the country's natural gas industry. He says it will be viewed by the oil companies as de facto nationalization of their properties.

Representative Harry Crawford (an Anchorage Democrat) is one of the initiative's sponsors. He says there is no factual basis for van Meurs' comparison.

Crawford says companies would eventually recoup the cost of the tax once a pipeline begins operating. He says he believes it will end up being a windfall for the companies.

Costs add up as lawmakers meet in special session
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) - It may be dwarfed by the potential for billions of dollars in new state revenues, but the effort to pass a new oil tax and contract terms for a natural gas pipeline does come with a price tag.

The Legislative Affairs Agency says each day of special session costs the state about 25-thousand dollars.

The bulk of that goes to pay lawmakers' per diem of one-hundred-and-eighty-nine dollars.

It also pays for a skeleton staff including House and Senate sergeants-at-arms and legal and information services staff.

Lawmakers begin a six-day break tomorrow (Wednesday).

It is unclear how long the special session will last - or whether others will follow - but some estimate lawmakers will be meeting through the middle of July.
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In 19-73, it took lawmakers 27 days just to hammer out the oil tax regime they are now in the process of overhauling.

They were preparing for the first flow of Prudhoe Bay oil down the trans-Alaska pipeline.

Kaktovik resolution blasts Shell Oil
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) - The North Slope village of Kaktovik has passed a resolution calling oil company Royal Dutch Shell ``a hostile and dangerous force.''

The resolution authorizes the mayor to take legal or other actions necessary to ``defend the community.''

Mayor Lon Sonsalla says Shell failed to address village concerns about how it would keep seismic testing from disturbing migratory bowhead whales and how the company would operate safely in unpredictable sea ice.

The testing is scheduled for this summer.

Kaktovik is an Inupiat Eskimo village of nearly 300 people along the Beaufort Sea coast.

Royal Dutch Shell, based in the Netherlands, is one of the world's largest oil companies.

Robin Cacy is with the Minerals Management Service in Anchorage. She says she wasn't aware of misconduct by Shell toward the village.
(Anchorage Daily News)

Begich makes another bet that Aces will win
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) - The Anchorage Aces hockey team is heading to the finals of the ECHL and Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich is again betting Alaska salmon that they'll be victorious.

The Aces defeated the Fresno Falcons 3-2 Monday night on the ice at Sullivan Arena in the National Conference finals.

The Aces face the Gwinnett (gwih-NEHT'), Georgia, Gladiators for the Kelly Cup, signifying the championship of the ECHL.

Begich yesterday (Monday) wagered 50 pounds of salmon on the Aces against 50 pounds of peanuts put up by Duluth, Georgia, Mayor Shirley Lasseter.

Begich is awaiting delivery of 50 pounds of chocolate-covered raisins from the mayor of Fresno, Alan Autry, who bet on the Fresno Falcons in the series that just ended.

Begich wants them delivered in time for the Inaugural Community Picnic on June 30th in Town Square Park.

Begich says he anticipates adding peanuts to the picnic menu as well.

The series with the Gladiators begins tonight in Anchorage.

Game Two will be tomorrow (Thursday) night in Anchorage, while games three and four of the series will move to the Gwinnett Arena in Georgia Monday and next Wednesday.

If game five is necessary, it also will be at Gwinnett before the series shifts back to Anchorage.

Rosey Fletcher accepts job in economic development office
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) - Olympic bronze medalist Rosey Fletcher has accepted an offer from Mayor Mark Begich to work for the municipality.

The Girdwood resident will work with a number of community organizations to generate interest in winter tourism, develop and promote winter activities to locals, and improve overall economic development in the area of winter sports and activities.

Fletcher will start initially with the city part-time over the summer, going full-time in the fall.

Fletcher will also act as a liaison between the city and the community of Girdwood.

Fletcher last February won a bronze medal in the women's parallel giant slalom at the Winter Olympics in Italy. 

Learn to Sail classes starting up
Juneau Youth Sailing is now doing sign ups for their Learn to Sail classes for youth ages 10 to 18 and adults.

Steve Turner, the President of Juneau Youth Sailing, was a guest on KINY's Capital Chat this morning (Wednesday).

He says every year that run probably 80 to 100 kids through the program.

The beginner's course is for ages 10 and 11. Turner says that's a 20 hour program.

Ages 12 and above can take the level one, 40 hour program.

From there, Turner says they can progress to levels two and three and then they're qualified to participate in the Race Team.

If there's interest, he says they try to run two or three weekend adult programs each summer.

An adult class is scheduled June 3rd and 4th.

Sign up for classes can be done on-line at www.juneauyouthsailing.org 

He says the web site is set up to accept credit cards. After filling in the forms, they can be mailed in and brought to class, Turner says.

  

(Copyright 2006 Alaska Juneau Communications - KINY Radio)