Life of salmon task force extended
JUNEAU - The Joint Legislative Salmon Industry Task Force will last another year, thanks to a resolution legislators passed Wednesday.
The task force originally was due to disband March 1. The resolution, which was passed unanimously by all legislators in attendance during House and Senate votes, extends the panel's life until the adjournment of next year's legislative session in May 2004.
Created by the Legislature last summer, the task force was charged with recommending laws to help salmon fishermen, processors and communities cope with market changes caused by competition with foreign farmed salmon. It came up with 14 pieces of legislation, including the resolution extending its life Wednesday.
"The reason that it is important to extend the task force is that we have not only numerous pieces of draft legislation before us now, but continuing issues that the task force identified for further work," said task force staff aide Cheryl Sutton.
Among those future issues are the possibility of exploring the disposal and use of salmon carcasses and attempts to enhance marketing efforts.
"I am sure we will have additional pieces of legislation," Sutton said.
The resolution passed the House last week and the Senate on Wednesday. Because it is what's known as a concurrent resolution, it doesn't need approval of the governor.
Ogg recommended to replace Gary Stevens
KODIAK - Former Kodiak Island Borough Mayor Dan Ogg was recommended this week to fill the House District 36 seat vacated by former Rep. Gary Stevens.
The Republican Party of Alaska forwarded the recommendation of a GOP district nominating committee to Gov. Frank Murkowski on Wednesday. Murkowski could appoint a replacement as early as Tuesday, said press spokesman John Manly.
Stevens resigned from the House on Feb. 19 to fill a Senate seat vacated by Alan Austerman. Murkowski earlier appointed Austerman to become his top fisheries policy advisor.
Ogg is an attorney and former University of Alaska regent who lost to Stevens in the 2000 Republican Primary by 80 votes. In a letter to the local GOP committee, Ogg said he would run for the seat in 2004 if not chosen by the governor.
Alaska Air Guard troops activated
ANCHORAGE - More than 150 members of the Alaska Air National Guard's 176th Wing have received federal activation and deployment orders. Officials said none of the members are from Juneau.
The Air Guardsmen will participate in ongoing operations in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, America's war on terrorism.
The Air Guardsmen were activated for up to 12 months. Their deployment date has not been determined.
Aircrew, aircraft maintainers, and support personnel are among those called up.
"They are reporting to their units and will be ready to go," said Brig. Gen. Gene Ramsay, 176th Wing commander. "Guardsmen train for this type of operation year after year."
Ramsay said airmen were busy Tuesday and Wednesday updating personnel records, getting medical checks, packing equipment and attending briefings.
Troopers discover marijuana operation
ANCHORAGE - A burglar alarm led state law enforcement to a marijuana operation of more than 2,000 plants, Alaska State Troopers said Tuesday.
Troopers discovered the plants while responding to the alarm at a Wasilla home at Feb. 17. A trooper smelled marijuana and got a search warrant for the residence, said Greg Wilkinson, trooper spokesman.
While searching the home, investigators found 2,034 marijuana plants, worth around $4 million on the street, Wilkinson said. They also found 441 starter plants.
Troopers seized growing equipment, paperwork and paraphernalia. They also took a boat, snowmachine and an all-terrain vehicle troopers believe were bought with profits from the marijuana, Wilkinson said.
The residents were not there when troopers searched the house. The case was forwarded to the District Attorney's office.
Stony River man missing after accident
ANCHORAGE - A Stony River man is missing and feared drowned after the snowmachine he was riding went through the ice on the Stony River.
Alaska State Troopers said Wassillie Macar, 53, and Sherman Willis, 53, were traveling on a single snowmachine to Lime Village when the accident occurred at about 8 p.m. Tuesday.
Troopers said Macar was able to get out of the water, but he saw no sign of Willis and ran a mile to Lime Village, where he got help.
Several people traveled back to the river and searched for about an hour, but saw no sign of Willis or the snowmachine.