Alaska Digest

Staff and Wire reports

Posted: Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Juneau teen arrested on cocaine charge

JUNEAU - Alaska State Troopers reported a recent Southeast Alaska Narcotics Enforcement Team arrest of a 19-year-old Juneau man on a felony drug charge involving cocaine.

Petersburg police, in cooperation with other drug officers, arrested Kyle D. Brown on Dec. 31, as he arrived in Petersburg on a commercial air carrier. Brown was charged with one count of third-degree misconduct involving a controlled substance.

Officers seized about an ounce of cocaine. The investigation continues.

In addition to Petersburg police, the case was investigated by SEANET - a multiagency drug-enforcement task force comprised of troopers and local officers, and SEACAD - Southeast Alaska Cities Against Drugs - officers from Southeast communities.

Hand torch causes fire

JUNEAU - A hand torch started a New Year's Day fire that burned a Mendenhall Valley residence, Juneau fire marshal Rich Etheridge said.

Etheridge determined the Saturday blaze at 9866 Mendenhall Loop Road was started when the occupant of the trailer was thawing frozen pipes with the torch. Heating oil that had leaked under the trailer ignited, causing a flash fire.

Initial reports listed the apparent cause as a furnace malfunction.

Rescue crews transported a 44-year-old man to Bartlett Regional Hospital for smoke inhalation. The man was released the next day, Etheridge said. One firefighter suffered a minor hand injury while breaking through the floor.

The trailer was a total loss.

Man charged with breaking into vehicles

JUNEAU - A 29-year-old man, charged with breaking into seven vehicles early Tuesday, was ordered held in the Lemon Creek Correctional Center in lieu of $2,500 cash bail.

Jessiah Baker appeared on Tuesday afternoon before Juneau District Magistrate John W. Sivertsen on seven misdemeanor counts of criminal trespass. For each charge, he could face up to 90 days in jail and a $2,000 fine.

City prosecutor James Douglas said Baker also could face larceny charges from the burglaries.

Police received a call at 2:30 a.m. Tuesday about a man rifling cars in the 3400 block of Nowell Avenue in West Juneau.

Witnesses said a man had entered several unlocked vehicles in an apartment complex parking lot and removed items. They said the man hid the items in bags behind a trash bin.

Officers arrived to find a man fleeing into the woods, leaving the bags behind. Police found Baker and lodged him at the state prison.

Borough to take bids on property

KETCHIKAN - The Ketchikan Gateway Borough Assembly has approved an agreement to lease the former Gateway Forest Products veneer plant at Ward Cove to a Washington state timber products consultant.

The borough also will accept sealed bids from people interested in buying or leasing land at Ward Cove.

The assembly unanimously approved the lease deal Monday with Ted Falconer, a consultant based in Gig Harbor, Wash. He said he plans to open for business in May, beginning with 40 employees.

Borough Mayor Mike Salazar said the veneer mill could put another 50 people to work if a plywood plant is eventually added to the operation. The mill also could mean the Pacific Log and Lumber sawmill on Gravina Island would hire more people, he said.

The five-year lease comes with two automatic five-year extensions, and an option to buy the plant for $1.5 million in the fifth year. The purchase price would be $1 million in the tenth and fifteenth years.

Gateway Forest Products opened in the veneer mill in January 2001, but filed for bankruptcy protection a month later.

The borough purchased the veneer mill for $2.6 million in summer 2002, moments before it was to be auctioned off. The borough previously had spent about $17 million in federal money on the veneer project.

Gov. Frank Murkowski on Tuesday applauded the deal, saying it will generate jobs.

First oil removed from grounded freighter

ANCHORAGE - Salvagers have removed the first oil from tanks on a freighter broken in two off the Alaska coast.

A salvage team Monday used a heavy-lift helicopter to remove three steel "retrieving cubes" loaded with diesel from the stern section of the Selendang Ayu, a 738-foot freighter that grounded and broke Dec. 8 off Unalaska Island, one of the Aleutian Islands.

"It was the official beginning of the lightering process," said a Coast Guard spokesman, Petty Officer Thomas McKenzie.

The freighter, loaded with soybeans on a voyage from Tacoma, Wash., to China, was carrying an estimated 424,000 gallons of heavy intermediate fuel oil and 18,000 gallons of diesel.

Southcentral temps unusually warm

ANCHORAGE - Southcentral Alaska is so warm, an annual winter dog weight-pulling contest has been canceled in Anchorage because there's not enough snow.

In the Matanuska-Susitna area, warm temperatures were turning roads into ribbons of ice, prompting officials to close schools Tuesday. Kenai Peninsula roads have taken a beating with constant freezing and thawing.

Welcome to Alaska in January, where you barely need a coat in some parts.

Other parts of Alaska have been heaped with more snow than usual, causing major shutdowns in Interior roads.

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