Alaska Digest

Posted: Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Man indicted in hotel meth lab case

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JUNEAU - The grand jury has handed down an indictment against a 28-year-old man accused of manufacturing methamphetamine in an airport area hotel in February.

Toby A. Wark faces three felony counts of second-degree misconduct involving a controlled substance, one felony count of first-degree burglary and a misdemeanor charge of fourth-degree criminal mischief.

Juneau Police Capt. Jerry Nankervis said Wark had not been arrested as of late Tuesday. Drug officers disrupted what was described as a small methamphetamine laboratory on Feb. 27 on the fourth floor of Frontier Suites Airport Hotel. After finding the lab, police said they were looking for a former van driver who fled on foot from the scene, but did not identify the suspect prior to the indictment.

A maintenance man originally discovered the tell-tale signs of a meth lab in a room that was supposed to be unoccupied and alerted authorities, hotel owner Don Madsen said in February. The maintenance man previously had attended a seminar in identifying possible meth labs.

The indictment accuses Wark of possessing anhydrous ammonia, acetone and lithium metal with intent to manufacture methamphetamine. Each of the drug charges carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. The burglary charge, alleging Wark remained unlawfully in the building to operate a meth lab, could carry a sentence of up to 10 years in prison.

Glacier Bay staff tries to untangle whale

GLACIER BAY - Glacier Bay National Park crews on Tuesday were trying to untangle a young humpback whale that was caught in the lines and a buoy of a single crab pot.

Crews attached additional buoys to the tangled lines to tire out the whale and to keep it from going deeper, said Chief Ranger Chuck Young.

The tangled whale had swam about eight miles, to the entrance of Glacier Bay, in five hours since it was first spotted Tuesday about a mile off Lister Point in Bartlett Cove.

Once the whale tires and starts swimming more slowly, nine park service personnel stationed in four nearby boats will move in and cut away the crab pot lines with a long-handled tool with an attached knife, Young said.

"We'll just stay with it until we can hopefully get the line off," Young said. "The whale's got to be getting tired, and then we'll move in."

The buoys also would serve as a marker if the whale swims away.

A transfer boat taking interpretive rangers to a cruise ship found the young humpback with the crab pot lines wrapped around its tail, Young said. The crab pot appeared to be still attached.

Park Superintendent Tomie Lee said the rangers stayed on site and monitored the whale until the park service's trained staff arrived.

The National Marine Fisheries Services gave the approval for park's staff to untangle the whale, she said.

June cold snap hurts produce in Fairbanks

FAIRBANKS - A rare June frost damaged vegetables planted by commercial growers in Fairbanks and could have an effect on barley in Delta Junction.

A defective oil furnace did not warm a greenhouse early Sunday morning at Rosie Creek Farm and Mike and Joan Emers lost more than 100 tomato plants.

The fate of 500 winter squash and pumpkin plants and 150 cucumber plants in the same greenhouse remains a question mark, Mike Emers said.

"We lost about 20 percent of our tomato plants and we had about 600 planted," he said. "I guess even a double-walled greenhouse couldn't retain that much heat when it gets that cold."

The temperature at Rosie Creek Farm dropped to 19 degrees, Emers said.

Residents reported snow flurries in the air that day. The temperature at Fairbanks International Airport dropped to 29 degrees early Sunday morning, breaking the old record of 33 degrees in 1982.

Several areas around Fairbanks reported below-freezing temperatures Monday, said meteorologist Bob Fischer with the National Weather Service.

Village at odds with oil giant over bridge

ANCHORAGE - A North Slope village continues to object to a proposal by Conoco Phillips to build a quarter-mile bridge over a river channel used for subsistence fishing and ocean access.

Conoco operates the neighboring Alpine field and says it needs the concrete bridge, about nine miles north of the village, to develop an untapped oil deposit along the edge of the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, according to the company's Web site.

The 1,250-foot span would cross the Nigliq Channel, also called the Nechelik Channel, of the Colville River, which links Nuiqsut whalers to the Beaufort Sea and hunters to camps along the Colville.

Conoco is redesigning the bridge to alleviate village concerns, according to the Coast Guard. Residents have not seen a new plan and are skeptical, said Dora Nukapigak, cultural coordinator for the city.

Nuiqsut is an Inupiat Eskimo village of 411 eight miles south of the oil field. Villagers hunt caribou, birds and whales.

Alpine, estimated to have more than 500 million barrels of oil, has grown quickly since development began in 1997, giving rise to more satellite fields than villagers expected, Nukapigak said.

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