Alaska Digest

Posted: Sunday, July 24, 2005

Former Rep. Scalzi dies of cancer at 53

JUNEAU - Former state lawmaker Drew Scalzi of Homer died of cancer Thursday in Seattle at the age of 53.

Scalzi, a commercial fisherman by trade, represented District 7 as a Republican in the Alaska House of Representatives in 2001 and 2002.

"Drew contributed greatly to his community, local government, state government and his profession as a fisherman," Gov. Frank Murkowski said in a written statement.

Scalzi also was a former member of the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly, the Kenai Peninsula Road Service Board, the International Pacific Halibut Commission, the IFQ Implementation Team to the North Pacific Fishery Management Council and the Alaska Coastal Policy Council.

Scalzi was awarded the title "Mariner of the Year" in 1997. He coached for the Homer Little League and was an assistant coach for the Homer High School football team.

Scalzi was born in Meriden, Conn., on Feb. 13, 1952. He moved to Alaska in 1975.

Murkowski said he will order state flags be flown at half-staff when the family announces funeral arrangements.

Murkowski signs school funding bills

ANCHORAGE - Alaska schools will receive an increase in education funding and will be able to recoup maintenance and construction debt under bills signed Friday by Gov. Frank Murkowski.

One bill increases education spending for next school year to $4,919 per student from $4,576 at a total cost of $70 million to the state.

The second bill allows municipalities to recover from the state up to 70 percent of their bond debt for school maintenance and construction projects. Fourteen school districts, including Juneau, will be eligible for about $191 million once voters in those districts approve bond packages. Juneau wants to fix up Glacier Valley Elementary for nearly $6 million in bonds.

Several school districts, however, said the $70 million increase is not enough to prevent cuts in staffing and programs. Juneau was able to add several teachers.

Gas price in Alaska reaches all-time high

ANCHORAGE - The average price of regular gasoline hit an all-time high in Alaska of $2.427 a gallon, the AAA travel association said Friday.

The new record achieved Thursday was 13.7 cents up from the same time last month and 32.6 cents higher than at the same time in 2004.

Prices averaged $2.310 in Anchorage, $2.391 in Fairbanks and $2.469 in Ketchikan.

Gasoline prices nationwide have stabilized somewhat after surging to a new record of $2.321 a gallon on July 14 because of Hurricane Dennis, which disrupted energy production and shipping along the Gulf Coast. However, the average price of gas remains almost 40 cents higher than it was a year ago.

Former Koyukuk clerk gets jail time

FAIRBANKS - The former Koyukuk city clerk received six months in jail after pleading no contest to charges of second-degree forgery and second-degree theft.

Taunya T. Bourdon, 30, reached a plea deal with prosecutors. The deal also requires her to repay the more than $14,000 she was accused of stealing from the city of Koyukuk between October 2001 and January 2004, when she was working for the Yukon River community.

Bourdon was sentenced to 18 months in jail with 12 months suspended. She also faces a minimum of two years of probation after her release. She will remain on probation until she pays the entire restitution amount.

According to court documents, Bourdon wrote 25 checks drawn on the city's account, in amounts ranging from $202 to $785, during the more than two-year period.

She was writing the checks to herself, forging the signatures of City Council members and depositing the checks into her bank account, Assistant District Attorney Jason Weiner said at Bourdon's indictment in April.

Governor makes disaster declaration

JUNEAU - Three western Alaska communities ravaged by flooding in May have been declared disaster areas by Gov. Frank Murkowski.

McGrath, Alakanuk and Emmonak suffered extensive flooding in the first half of May, incurring an estimated $4.7 million in damage to public buildings and homes, according to the state Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.

The recovery is expected to cost the state about $1.8 million.

The disaster declaration makes available up to $5,000 per individual or family for property repairs and replacement of lost items.

Large chunks of ice blocked the mouth of the Yukon River, flooding Emmonak and Alakanuk on the western coast of Alaska near Norton Sound. Similar ice jams eroded roads in McGrath, threatening the city water plant, health clinic, fire station, power and water lines, a state troopers office and a marine fuel facility.

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