State Briefs

Posted: Tuesday, July 22, 2003

Man indicted on sex abuse charges

JUNEAU - A 34-year-old man has been indicted on 20 felony counts alleging sex crimes against children younger than 13, according to Juneau court records.

Nelson B. Deschene was charged with 10 counts of first-degree sexual abuse of a minor. The child, now 9, was 7 and 8 years old at the time the offenses were alleged to have been committed, between May 2002 and February 2003, according to court records.

The indictment also alleges 10 counts of second-degree sexual abuse of a minor. The child allegedly victimized in that set of charges is now 13 and was 12 years old when the offenses were alleged to have been committed, between June 2002 and February 2003, according to court records.

The grand jury returned the indictment Friday, and an arrest warrant with bond set at $10,000 was issued. Lemon Creek Correctional Center officials said Deschene was not in custody Monday evening.

Murkowski signs minimum wage bill

JUNEAU - Gov. Frank Murkowski has signed a bill to end a law that annually increases the state's minimum wage to adjust for inflation.

Murkowski said in a prepared statement that increases to the minimum wage should be open to debate by the Legislature and not dictated by statute.

"By placing the adjustments back into the legislative arena where they belong, we will have better involvement by the public and by small businesses, which are immediately impacted by increases to the wages they must pay their workers," Murkowski said.

House Bill 199 by Anchorage Republican Norm Rokeberg, amends a bill passed in 2002 that increased the minimum wage from $5.65 to $7.15 per hour and increased the minimum wage every year after that based on the national Consumer Price Index. Rokeberg's bill only removes the inflation-proofing component of the law passed in 2002 but leaves intact the one-time wage increase.

The 2002 law was passed by the Legislature in response to a statewide ballot initiative.

Buffer zone likely won't affect Alaska

JUNEAU - A federal ruling requiring buffer zones for pesticide spraying along salmon-bearing streams probably won't affect Alaska, according to state and federal environmental officials.

A U.S. District Court judge in Seattle on Thursday ordered the government to establish buffer zones to protect salmon streams in Washington, Oregon and northern California, where there are more than two dozen endangered and threatened salmon species.

Greg Kellogg of the Environmental Protection Agency's Alaska office said the ruling has to do specifically with salmon species that aren't endangered in Alaska.

The state's Department of Environmental Conservation recently implemented new regulations regarding buffers for aerial pesticide spraying.

Aurah Landau with the Southeast Alaska Conservation Council said some of the pesticides approved for use in Alaska are on the list of pesticides subject to Thursday's ruling. Landau said that should raise a red flag that the pesticides are harmful for fish.

Federal government seeks airport screeners

ANCHORAGE - The federal government is looking for part-time screeners to fill positions at airports in Juneau, Anchorage and Fairbanks.

Applications will be taken online at through Wednesday. Candidates can also call 1-800-887-1895.

Wages for the job range from $11.30 to $16.96 an hour.

Part-time security screeners also are eligible for federal benefits including health insurance, life insurance, retirement, paid vacation and sick leave.

Successful candidates will be required to take 44 hours of classroom instruction and complete 60 hours of on-the-job training.

Park service looking for seed collectors

ANCHORAGE - The National Park Service is seeking volunteers to hand-pick seeds from Denali National Park's native plants.

The seeds will be used to keep a seed bank for restoration and revegetation projects.

Park officials said there is more of a need for the seed bank this year because of construction projects in the park, including the building of a new entrance area.

Volunteers will collect along the first 15 miles of the park road for four days, from Aug. 19 to Aug. 22.

The National Park Service will provide tools and training. Volunteers must have their own camping equipment and food.

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