Northwest Digest

Posted: Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Interim CEO to take over at VECO Corp.

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ANCHORAGE - The Board of Directors of VECO Corp. has appointed Daniel E. Armel as interim CEO, the company announced Monday. Armel takes over for Bill Allen, who resigned earlier this month.

Allen, founder and chief executive of the Anchorage-based oilfield services company, pleaded guilty in May to federal charges of extortion, bribery, and conspiracy to impede the Internal Revenue Service.

Armel has more than 30 years of corporate advisory experience in various fields, including banking, financial restructuring, and strategic market positioning.

He has advised more than 100 companies and is a frequent lecturer on financial and corporate restructuring issues, the company said in a press release.

"This is a very positive move forward for our company. Dan has the full support of the board as he helps guide VECO over the next several months," said Tammy Kerrigan, the board chairwoman.

Federal funds to boost state vaccine program

JUNEAU - The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services announced Monday that an increase in federal funding will make it possible for all Alaska girls ages 9 through 18 to receive free vaccinations of Gardasil, a drug to prevent cervical cancer.

Earlier this spring, the department had said it could provide free Gardasil only to girls who met certain eligibility requirements. Since then, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provided additional funds for Alaska to obtain more vaccine.

Distribution of the vaccine is just beginning, so state health officials suggest calling providers before visiting local clinics to find out if it's available.

"We are thrilled that this unanticipated funding will allow us to provide the vaccine for all eligible girls," said Laurel Wood, Alaska's immunization program manager.

"Although we have no guarantee that this funding will be available in future years, we hope to immunize as many Alaska girls as possible while we have this unique opportunity."

The federal government approved Gardasil last summer to prevent certain types of human papillomavirus known to cause cervical cancer. Gardasil is the most expensive vaccine recommended today, with a retail cost of at least $360 for three shots given over six months.

Diesel fuel spills in Prince William Sound

VALDEZ - A small diesel fuel spill in Prince William Sound was caused when a fishing boat struck a rock, authorities said Monday.

The 82-foot-long Windward hit the rock shortly after 8:30 p.m. Sunday, rupturing one of the vessel's fuel tanks, The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation said.

No one was hurt in the mishap near Goose Island about 30 miles south of Valdez.

The crew was able to transfer some of the fuel from the 2,000 gallon tank, but an amount estimated at less than 300 gallons spilled into the Sound, DEC spokesman Bob Petit said.

A 400-foot-by-60-foot sheen was reported at the scene. Petit said it quickly dissipated.

The Windward made it to Valdez on its own speed, arriving Monday morning. The Coast Guard was investigating.

Officials say renegade bison are cooperating

HELENA, Mont. - Officials said Monday that a renegade group of Yellowstone National Park bison appear to be cooperating with the latest hazing effort and won't have to be trucked to a different part of the park.

The 300 or so bison made a stir last week after livestock officials decided to send them to slaughter. The decision created an uproar among opponents anticipating the slaughter of nearly 100 calves - some just a week old. A slaughter of that size would be unprecedented, they said.

State and federal officials worked out a plan to haze the animals back into Yellowstone National Park one more time, despite earlier hazing that failed.

Gov. Brian Schweitzer and Suzanne Lewis, park superintendent, then announced an arrangement that would allow the animals to be loaded onto trucks in the West Yellowstone area and taken to the park's northern region if they came out again this week.

Hal Harper, Schweitzer's chief policy adviser, said the animals appear to be moving to the interior of the park all by themselves.

"Things are looking good so far," Harper said. "Things are back to normal for at least the time being."

Harper said avoiding calf slaughter was important to everyone involved.

A Buffalo Field Campaign spokeswoman said the group has been closely watching the progress and hopes that state and federal officials will take down the trap they erected to capture the bison.

Wyoming will wait to control wolves

CHEYENNE, Wyo. - The announcement of a federal-state compromise that would allow Wyoming to assume control over wolves in the state doesn't mean that the transfer will happen any time soon.

"There are a number of hurdles that have to be dealt with," said Mitch King, director for the Mountain-Prairie Region of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

A public planning process - like those used by Montana and Idaho to develop state wolf-management plans - is expected to take several months.

In the meantime, concessions made by both sides in opening the way for Wyoming to have a federally accepted wolf-management plan could open new avenues for litigation.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is requiring Montana, Idaho and Wyoming to have acceptable wolf management plans before the region's wolves are removed from Endangered Species Act protection. The federal government accepted plans submitted by Montana and Idaho but rejected Wyoming's plan, prompting the state to file suit.

One of Wyoming's requirements in its recent agreement with the Fish and Wildlife Service is a rule allowing states to kill wolves that are seen as taking a heavy toll on wildlife.

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