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Alaska Digest

Posted: Sunday, July 03, 2005

Militia founder plans to live in Nikiski

ALANSON, Mich. - Norman Olson, a founder of the Michigan Militia, said he will move to Alaska.

Olson said he plans to relocate to Nikiski, where he says the political atmosphere is more conducive to liberty and freedom, as soon as he liquidates weaponry and memorabilia at his northern Michigan gun store.

"We're leaving. We're done," Olson told the Detroit Free Press for a Saturday story. "I think Michigan is just hopeless."

Olson in 2002 announced plans to leave the state for the Kenai Peninsula. He has been seeking to leave since he sold his 120-acre property - formerly a Michigan Militia training ground - that year.

In the mid-1990s, Olson lorded over the Michigan Militia. He was a brash, camouflage-clad preacher and gun dealer who railed at the government. By decade's end, the militia's main body had cast him aside.

The Oklahoma City bombing drew the nation's attention to the Michigan Militia. Following the bombing, Olson was ousted as statewide commander after publicly claiming the Japanese government was behind the attack.

Taku nearly floods

JUNEAU - The Taku River narrowly averted reaching flood stage late last week during its annual glacial dam break.

The river crested at 42.2 feet at 10:45 p.m. Thursday, and then dropped down to about 39 feet by Friday morning. Flood stage on the river is 43 feet.

"It appears this annual event is now over," said Tracey Ress, a Juneau-based National Weather Service meteorologist on Friday.

The river flood watch was issued at 8 a.m. Thursday and canceled at 12:30 a.m. Friday.

The river rose about six feet during the glacial dam break, Ress said.

She said the actual dam break likely occurred on Monday. The sharpest rise in river level occurred Thursday, when it rose 3 feet in a 24-hour period.

The annual event is called a jkulhlaup, an Icelandic word pronounced YO-kul-hloip. It refers to a flood that results from the breaching of a glacier-dammed lake, in this case a lake encompassed by the Tulsequah Glacier.

The glacial outburst first hits the Tulsequah River, a tributary of the Taku near the U.S.-Canadian border.

High court upholds zoning violation

JUNEAU - The Alaska Supreme Court has ruled against a Juneau construction company that argued against a 2002 zoning violation.

In a memorandum opinion released Friday, the court upheld rulings by the Juneau Planning Commission, the Juneau Assembly and Superior Court Judge Patricia Collins. All of those upheld a compliance order issued by a city zoning inspector against Duran Construction.

The Juneau business, owned by Marciano and Josette Duran, first received a compliance order in 1999, when it was using its commercially owned property on Alaway Avenue as a storage yard and topsoil-processing business. Officials dropped the charges before an appeal was heard.

Duran Construction appealed a 2002 compliance order making similar allegations. The company argued that the city was bound by its 1999 decision to drop the order.

During the appeal to planning commissioners, residents testified about noise beginning early in the morning and lasting late into the night. Several testified that the noise had grown to be a problem in the last couple of years.

Kitchen smoke stops Alaska Railroad train

FAIRBANKS - An Alaska Railroad train headed south was halted for two hours Friday and 70 passengers were evacuated from a tour car when smoke was seen coming from the car's kitchen, railroad officials said.

No passengers were injured and no fire was found, said Doug Thompson, the director of rail operations for Princess Tours. The train continued its passage from Fairbanks, pulling into Anchorage at 9:45 p.m., about two hours late.

Firefighters sprayed retardant into the car then gave the all-clear to proceed.

Alaska Railroad spokesman Tim Thompson said the car was operated by Princess Tours, which attaches its own rail cars behind the train for its passengers, mainly cruise tourists.

Thompson said the correct emergency procedure was followed by Princess.

It was not immediately clear how many passengers were aboard the train, although normal summer season passenger loads are in the hundreds, he said.

About 450,000 passengers a year ride the Alaska Railroad, which runs from Seward to Fairbanks.

Kodiak fish plants fined

ANCHORAGE - Five Kodiak seafood processors have been fined by the federal Environmental Protection Agency for violating the Clean Air Act.

An inspection last fall found the plants fell short in their hazardous-chemical risk-management programs, said Kelly Huynh, head of the EPA's risk-management program for Alaska, Washington, Oregon and Idaho.

The plants had adequate risk-management plans, but they did not have paperwork to show they were following through, Huynh said.

The civil fines were issued to International Seafood, $7,380; Ocean Beauty Seafoods Inc., $3,870; Alaska Pacific Seafoods, $2,610; Trident Seafoods Corp., $2,160; Western Alaska Fisheries Inc., $2,070.

The EPA inspects 20 to 40 facilities a year in the four states, prioritized according to past problems, the type of chemicals used, the potential harm to the public nearby and other factors.

Alaska has 29 facilities that use enough of one or more of 144 kinds of hazardous chemicals on the inspection list. Examples are wastewater treatment plants, cold-storage facilities and refineries.



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