Ship security zones to exempt trollers
JUNEAU - The U.S. Coast Guard is revising its rule for security zones around cruise ships and state ferries in Alaska to exempt fishing trollers.
A previous version of the security zone rule, published last fall, exempted commercial fishing boats entering within 100 yards of cruise ships and ferries while they are in transit.
The fishing boats qualify for the exemption only when they are actively engaged in fishing.
But the Coast Guard said at the time that the exemption did not apply to troll fishermen. The Coast Guard claimed their boats could maneuver away from the high-occupancy vessels even when they had their troll gear in the water.
After reviewing public comments contesting that finding, the Coast Guard will include all commercial fishing vessels, such as trollers, in the exemption to the security zone rule.
The new version of the rule, published in the U.S. Federal Register last week, is out for public comment until March 30.
House votes against commission change
JUNEAU - The Alaska House on Monday failed to pass a bill requiring that the public member on the state's three-member oil and gas commission possess a "fundamental understanding" of the oil industry. The measure will likely come up for another vote.
Sponsor Rep. Vic Kohring, R-Wasilla, said given the complexities of the industry and the sheer volume of work before the commission, he didn't want new members to have to receive "on-the-job training" for the position.
Kohring said the language in the bill was left purposefully vague to allow for the greatest pool of candidates.
But opponents of the measure said it was neither necessary nor good policy to limit public participation on the commission.
Rep. Mark Neuman, R-Wasilla, said there should be a spot for the "average citizen." He said what they have to say does matter.
The Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission regulates the state's giant petroleum industry. The other two members on the panel must be a petroleum engineer and a geologist.
The measure needed at least a 21 vote majority of the House to pass. It failed by a vote of 20-15.
Rep. Bruce Weyhrauch, R-Juneau, gave notice of reconsideration.
Man faces charges of raising birds for fights
KODIAK - A 49-year-old man was arrested for harboring and breeding roosters for fighting purposes.
Police said they found 27 roosters, which had been bred and trained for fighting, and six breeding hens Friday during a search of Angel M. Calibo's home.
The department investigated after a citizen had complained about noise, Police Chief T.C. Kamai said.
Police also said they seized equipment associated with breeding roosters and for training them to fight.
"There is lots of speculation that there are more birds in other areas being raised for fighting purposes," he said of ongoing investigative efforts.
Calibo was officially charged with one count of promotion or exhibition of fighting animals, a felony that carries a maximum fine of $50,000 and a jail term of up to five years, if convicted.
Troopers: Shooting victim killed himself
ANCHORAGE - The Minnesota fugitive involved in a shootout at the Homer Airport last week committed suicide, Alaska State Troopers said Monday.
An autopsy was performed Friday on the body of 31-year-old Jason Karlo Jacob Anderson. The state medical examiner said death was from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, trooper spokesman Greg Wilkinson said.
The autopsy indicated Anderson was struck by multiple rounds fired by law enforcement before committing suicide, Wilkinson said. The actual number of rounds is not being released at this time.
The dead man's son, Jason Anderson II, remained in critical condition Monday, said officials at Providence Alaska Medical Center in Anchorage.
The boy was wounded during the exchange of gunfire. The bullet penetrated the boy's head, destroying an eye, said his mother, Cherry Dietzmann.
Anderson's 6-month-old daughter also was in the car, but was not hurt.
The elder Anderson, of Duluth, Minn., was wanted on federal drug trafficking charges. Anderson, who served time in federal prison for kidnapping two men as a teenager, had been living in Alaska under an alias, Brandon Dietzmann.
State rep aims to create vet cemetery
FAIRBANKS - State Rep. David Guttenberg is hoping that his bill will provide something long missing for Alaska veterans - a cemetery in the Interior.
The bill, which is currently in the Senate Finance Committee awaiting a hearing, authorizes the Alaska Department of Military and Veterans' Affairs to establish a state cemetery with funds from the federal Department of Veterans' Affairs.
The state House of Representatives unanimously passed the bill in February.
Alaska has 70,000 veterans and nearly half of them live in the Interior. The city of Fairbanks has nearly 10,000 residents who have served in the military.
While the bill does not mandate the cemetery's location, the concentration of veterans around the Fairbanks area makes it a likely location.
"A cemetery in the Interior will help families avoid the pain of burying a loved one far from home," Guttenberg said.
Richard Roethler, a Marine Corps veteran, made it his mission to establish an official veterans' cemetery in Fairbanks to honor those who served in the military. He began work on the project in 2001, but died a year later, and the task of garnering support for a memorial park passed to his wife.