Northwest Digest

Posted: Monday, April 12, 2004

Kenai processor plans major dock expansion

KENAI - A Kenai fish processor said he plans to expand his Kenai River dock in such a way to enable his company to catch a new wave in the commercial fishing industry.

Dan Foley, president and owner of Pacific Star Fisheries, plans to rebuild his existing 600-foot steel dock to put seven new cranes along the Kenai River waterfront. The additional cranes will enable his company and others along the river to unload the Cook Inlet salmon catch much more quickly and easily than before, he said.

With local commercial fishermen trying to make the jump into the high-end fish markets, unloading salmon quickly has become more important. Salmon quality deteriorates with each minute a fish is left onboard a fishing vessel.

"The old fishery is dead and gone," Foley said. "We are quickly moving toward this new fishery."

Foley thinks that by adding additional cranes, he'll have the ability to offload fishing boats as much as four times faster than he can now.

The increased dock space and crane capacity also will enable Foley to deliver ice more efficiently to the drift fishing fleet.

In addition to adding the cranes, Foley also wants to increase his processing capabilities to include space to produce more value-added products. Without adding additional space at his facility, Foley said he won't be able to keep up with the demand for high-quality products.

"There's so many problems without having the facility to custom process fishermen's fish," he said.

Ex-Ice Dogs captain killed in avalanche

FAIRBANKS - A North Pole man and former captain of the Fairbanks Ice Dogs died in an avalanche while snowmachining near the Arctic Man Ski and Sno-go Classic.

Richard "Ricky" Staley, 24, was buried in 6 to 7 feet of snow on Saturday, Alaska State Troopers said. It took about 30 minutes to dig Staley out. He was declared dead a short time later.

Staley had been snowmachining with Jake Wegner, 22, and Jake's 55-year-old father, Ray Wegner, both of Fairbanks, when the avalanche occurred.

Wegner was high-marking when the avalanche was triggered, according to the troopers' report.

Jake Wegner, Staley and all three snowmachines were buried. Ray Wegner was able to stay above the snow, and Jake Wegner was able to dig himself out. The two men flagged down troopers who were patrolling by helicopter at about 3:40 p.m.

The trooper report stated that additional avalanches occurred during the rescue effort and conditions were hazardous.

Jack Tragis, president of the Ice Dogs, said Staley was a tenacious, tough hockey player. Staley was team captain during the 2000-2001 season.

"He was the kid that many remember was carried out of the (Big Dipper Ice Arena) on a stretcher and taken to Fairbanks Memorial all strapped up," Tragis said. "He had what they thought at the time was a neck injury." It turned out Staley wasn't severely injured.

Anchorage teacher resigns amid sex accusations

ANCHORAGE - An Anchorage high school teacher has resigned amid accusations he had a sexual relationship with an 18-year-old student.

Donald Craig Jordan, whose age was unavailable, quit his job after learning the Alaska Professional Teaching Practices Commission was looking into the allegations, Anchorage school district officials said Friday.

Police did not investigate the allegations because the girl was 18 when she allegedly became involved with Jordan, said police department spokesman Ron McGee. A state law that prohibits sexual relations between minors and teachers pertains only to teenagers age 16 and 17, McGee said.

It is against the state's code of ethics for teachers and Anchorage School District policy for a school staff member to have a sexual relationship with a student.

Attempts Saturday to reach Jordan were unsuccessful. He has previously denied the allegations in interviews with School District officials.

Jordan was hired by the district in 1996 to work at SAVE - Specialized Academic Vocational Education - a program for 10th-through-12th graders who have struggled in a regular high school environment, said Roger Fiedler, a district spokesman.

According to the formal accusation filed April 2 by Bonnie Barber, executive director of the Professional Teaching Practices Commission, Jordan had a sexual relationship with a female student who enrolled at SAVE in fall 2002.

Police: Man accused of murder smoked 'sherm'

SEATTLE - A 22-year-old man had been smoking a drug combination known as "sherm" before he shot another man five times with a revolver at a south Seattle apartment complex, police said.

Prosecutors charged John Vorachak with second-degree murder on Friday in the death of Vannarith Nuon, 23.

Vorachak remained in King County Jail with bail set at $750,000. Arraignment was scheduled for April 19.

The shooting early Tuesday was one of several violent deaths in Seattle involving sherm, a combination of marijuana joints dipped in formaldehyde or PCP, The Seattle Times reported.

PCP, known medically as phencyclidine and among drug abusers as "angel dust", is notorious for causing agitation, delusions and irrational behavior as its tranquilizing and anesthetic effects wear off.

Police and prosecutors have not been able to establish a clear motive in Nuon's death, saying Vorachak and other witnesses have been inconsistent in statements to investigators.

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