State Briefs

Posted: Monday, January 14, 2002

Anchorage seafood in Sam's Club stores

ANCHORAGE - Alaska Seafood International premiered a jalapeno-spiced salmon dish in Sam's Club stores all over the country last week, an event the company's chief executive declared as "a great day for Anchorage."

The locally based fish factory is making a restart after financial problems dogged its start-up. Idled through much of 2000 and 2001, the factory got a new owner last May in New York-based Sunrise Capital Partners and now employs 140 people, company officials said.

ASI, occupying a building erected with $50 million in state money near the Anchorage airport, is regarded by many state leaders as an important attempt at manufacturing in Alaska, where such industry is relative scarce.

Sam's Club, the nation's largest membership warehouse chain with more than 490 stores and 43 million cardholders, now stocks 2 1/2-pound resealable bags of Fiesta Salmon Tenders bearing ASI's brand name, Great Alaskan Seafood Co.

ASI chief executive Russell Schreck said the factory has shipped 14 trailers full of the salmon tenders, each containing 23,000 pounds of product. It's the biggest contract yet for ASI, which earlier sent other types of fish products to food distributors and the huge British variety retailer Marks & Spencer.

Linda Kohler, ASI's vice president of sales and marketing, said the fish factory will produce a wide variety of salmon, halibut, cod and other fish products, with seasoned breading or toppings like lemon dill, Thai curry and mandarin orange.

Pipeline group turns in initiative signatures

ANCHORAGE - Backers of an all-Alaska pipeline to carry North Slope natural gas to market have turned in more than 42,000 signatures for a November ballot initiative.

Supporters from Citizens Initiative for the All-Alaska Gasline hauled the signatures in a Loomis armored van Friday to the state Division of Elections office in Anchorage. The initiative would create a new state agency, called the Alaska Natural Gas Development Authority. The agency's purpose would be to acquire natural gas and build a pipeline to Valdez.

Supporters favor an in-state line, with spurs to serve Alaska towns, rather than one through Canada, according to group chairman Scott Heyworth.

To put the initiative on the ballot, election officials must first verify that at least 28,783 signatures came from registered voters.

Court won't revisit Exxon ruling

SAN FRANCISCO - A federal appeals court is declining to reconsider its November ruling that threw out as excessive the $5 billion punitive-damages verdict against Exxon Mobil Corp. for the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska.

In November, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered a federal judge in Anchorage to determine a lesser amount.

Without comment Friday, the court announced that it would not reconsider its decision. The court has recently revisited several of its high-profile rulings, sometimes reversing itself.

An Anchorage jury had ordered the oil giant in 1994 to pay $5 billion to thousands of commercial fishermen, Alaska Natives, property owners and others harmed by the nation's worst oil spill.

Exxon, which has since merged with Mobil to form Dallas-based Exxon Mobil Corp., had argued the verdict was unwarranted, unfair and excessive.

The appeals court ruled last year that some damages were justified to punish the company but agreed that $5 billion the biggest punitive damage award in history at the time - was too much. The amount was equal to a year's worth of Exxon's profits at the time.

Fairbanks man killed in trailer park

FAIRBANKS - A Fairbanks man was shot and killed early Sunday at the Lake View Terrace Trailer Court, Alaska State Troopers said.

Terry Lee Hatchel Jr., 20, of North Pole, was killed. No other details were released.

State Troopers from Fairbanks, as well as troopers from the Criminal Investigations Bureau from Anchorage and the State of Alaska Crime Detection Laboratory from Anchorage were investigating the shooting.

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