Alaska Digest

staff and Wire reports

Posted: Friday, June 04, 2004

AMHS to increase passenger fees

JUNEAU - The Alaska Marine Highway System announced Thursday it will increase all passenger fares by 10 percent to cover the cost of high oil prices.

The fuel surcharge will apply to all new tickets and ticket changes made after June 10.

"We are now grossly under budgeted for fuel in both fiscal year 2004 and fiscal year 2005," said John Falvey, general manager of the ferry system, in a prepared statement. "Like other transportation systems we have been impacted by what could amount to millions; and like other modes of transportation, we need to recoup some of these costs."

Wigglers to perform Tuesday on KTOO

JUNEAU - KTOO-FM will present a special version of the weekly radio show, "We Like Kids!" on June 8 with a live concert by The Wigglers, a musical group.

The concert will start at 6:30 p.m. on KTOO and will last 30 minutes. Live in the studio, the show is free and open to the public.

The band, former Juneau and current Colorado resident Bill Hudson and KTOO music director Jeff Brown, performed for years in their familiar checkerboard outfits at schools, concerts and homes, offering singalongs, music and magic.

The pair sing original and traditional tunes, and Alaska versions of familiar songs.

Voters to decide borough police power for Nikiski

KENAI - Nikiski area voters will decide in October whether the community needs more law enforcement than is provided by Alaska State Troopers.

A proposition approved by the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly will ask residents in the municipal election Oct. 5 if they want to authorize the borough to exercise police powers in the community.

It would be the first time the borough assumed such powers.

Nikiski, with a population of more than 4,300 people, is nine miles north of Kenai off the Sterling Highway.

The police service area would have the same boundaries as the Nikiski Fire Service Area, including territory on the west side of Cook Inlet. Like the fire service area, those boundaries put oil industry properties within the service area's taxing zone.

The proposition calls creating a five-member elected board that would have the power to provide and determine the scope of law enforcement services.

Group of killer whales listed as depleted

ANCHORAGE - The National Marine Fisheries Service has designated a small group of killer whales in Prince William Sound as depleted under the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

With the designation, the fisheries service, part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, will likely begin work on a conservation plan for the group, called the AT-1 killer whales.

The conservation plan would seek the reason for the population decline - which NOAA says is still unknown - and find out if and how it can be stopped.

"Whether or not we are going to save this population - and I have my doubts - we need to look at why," said NOAA biologist Craig Matkin.

The group numbered 22 whales in 1984 and now stands at eight or fewer. Nine died during the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill, and five since then have died for unknown reasons, Matkin said.

Matkin said one factor could be an 80 percent population reduction in harbor seals, a food source, in Prince William Sound. Another clue could be the high levels of contaminants found in the whales' blubber, such as polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, and DDT.

Soldotna man convicted of illegal fish sales

KENAI - An advertisement on a Soldotna neighborhood community bulletin board led to the conviction of local man for running an illegal fish processing and sales facility.

Richard D. Black, 49, entered a plea of no contest in Kenai District Court to illegally selling salmon and halibut and operating a fish processing facility without a permit.

The charges stem from an undercover investigation by the Alaska State Troopers wildlife investigations unit last summer after a tipster said Black was offering fish for sale.

"He sold a couple of fish to an undercover guy, and it was obvious he was selling sport-caught fish," said Lt. Steve Bear.

Investigators made several purchases from Black between in July and August, according to investigator Mitch Doerr. In October, troopers served a search warrant at Black's residence.

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