Alaska Digest

Posted: Friday, May 18, 2007

Fred Meyer's grand opening this weekend

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JUNEAU - Fred Meyer store will celebrate its $25 million remodel and 50,000 square-foot expansion with community donations and other events this weekend.

Five organizations selected by employees of the Fred Meyer will receive donations at 2 p.m. Saturday at the store. Director John Mayer will present Meals on Wheels, Juneau Youth Services, Big Brothers & Sisters of Southeast Alaska, SEARCH and Boys and Girls Club with $1,000 each.

Also at 2 p.m., Mayor Bruce Botelho will help residents celebrate the completion of the remodel and expansion by helping to cut and serve cake.

A 50,000 square-foot expansion brings a larger deli area, a new Starbucks and expansions and improvements in all departments.

Events will take place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday and May 26 and 27, including free ice cream sundaes, 25 cent hot dogs, clowns, performance art and more.

Sea lion takes bite out of fisherman

PETERSBURG - Fisherman Troy Curtiss didn't find this sea lion so cute.

It leapt out of the water and took a bite out of his backside as the Cora J was unloading halibut.

Curtiss said he was just starting to get up from the edge of the boat, which may have thrown off the sea lion's aim.

"I had both hands on the rail and one foot on the deck when it hit. It must have threw him off because he didn't get me quite where he was aiming," he said.

It wasn't the first interaction Curtiss has had with a sea lion. Last year on his boat, the Coral Sea, Curtiss was baiting halibut gear and a sea lion jumped up.

"Luckily I was facing him and I got out of the way or he would have been able to bite me," Curtiss said.

He said he hopes that something is done because he worries some child jigging for herring could be next.

"Some of them have to be thinned out. None of them are afraid of anyone anymore. You have to get rid of a few of them, especially around town or the next incident could be a tragedy," he said.

Tom Pope, a National Marine Fisheries Enforcement officer, said the agency isn't sure yet what course of action to take. The agency is working with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game and a NOAA biologist in Juneau to come up with a solution.

Native corporation shows record profits

BARROW - For the second year in a row, the Arctic Slope Regional Corp. brought in more than $1 billion in revenues, thanks in part to the Alpine oil field and high oil prices.

The Native corporation posted a record $206.3 million profit last year by bringing in more than $1.7 billion in revenues.

In 2005, the corporation reported a $128 million profit on $1.6 billion in revenue.

The gains also allowed for record-high dividends for its almost 10,000 shareholders. The company paid out a combined amount of $47.41 per share for the 2006 fall and spring payout, or a 66 percent increase from the previous year.

The boom comes only two years after the company posted a loss of $17 million.

Roberta Quintavell, the corporation's president and chief executive officer, said the 2006 gain was due in part to diversifying the company's portfolio. That portfolio includes petroleum refining and marketing, government contracting, construction and oil field support.

Trial begins in Gakona cold case

GLENNALLEN - A Gakona man accused of killing his wife nearly 10 years ago is on trial in Glennallen.

In his opening statement Wednesday, prosecutor Pat Gullufsen told jurors that the defense will claim the death of Gretchen Sawyer was a suicide. But the only credible, believable conclusion jurors will be able to make, Gullufsen said, is that she was shot to death by her husband, Derek Sawyer, on July 13, 1997.

Sawyer's attorney, Cynthia Strout, denied her client killed his wife and said the investigation was mishandled.

"Derek Sawyer did not shoot his wife," she said.

The case was one of the first to be brought after Alaska State Troopers in 2003 formed a cold case unit using veteran investigators to review unsolved homicides.

Sawyer, 34, was indicted by a Palmer grand jury in February 2006 on one count of first-degree murder.

Derek Sawyer claimed at the time of the shooting that his 29-month old son had awakened, picked up a .357-caliber revolver off the kitchen table, walked into his mother's bedroom and fired the fatal shot that killed Gretchen, who was 20 when she died.

Derek Sawyer claimed he was sitting in his bathtub with the shower running when his son fired the gun.

Gakona is a community of 234 about 15 miles northeast of Glennallen at the confluence of the Gakona and Copper rivers.



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