Alaska Digest

Staff and Wire reports

Posted: Thursday, July 28, 2005

Cash and weapons seized in drug bust

JUNEAU - Drug enforcement officers report that they have identified suspects in the distribution of oxycontin in Juneau after seizing weapons and cash allegedly involved in drug deals, Alaska State Troopers reported Wednesday.

The Southeast Alaska Narcotics Enforcement Team - SEANET - served a search warrant Tuesday in the Lemon Creek area, seizing one shotgun with a pistol grip, two handguns and nine rifles, several of which were classified as assault rifles. Officers also seized $7,400 in suspected drug proceeds.

Oxycontin is an addictive prescription pain reliever that often is abused by people to whom it has never been prescribed.

SEANET, made up of state troopers and Southeast Alaska police officers, is a multiagency drug enforcement task force.

Chenega arrives in Prince William Sound

CORDOVA - The state's second fast ferry arrived in Prince William Sound on Wednesday after being docked at Auke Bay for two months awaiting a labor contract.

The ferry Chenega is expected to serve Cordova, Valdez and Whittier and be based in Cordova. The ferry will not be able to accept passengers until the crew of 14 completes a month of vessel and route training.

According to the Department of Transportation and Public Facilities, revenue service will begin around Aug. 26. The department said earlier that the Chenega will return to Juneau in mid-September for preparations to serve as a shuttle between Ketchikan and Petersburg this fall and winter.

The $38 million vessel built by Derecktor Shipyards, based in Connecticut, has a service speed of 32 knots and a top speed of 42 knots. It can carry 250 passengers and 35 average-sized vehicles.

Its sister vessel, the Fairweather, was purchased under the same deal by former Gov. Tony Knowles and has been serving Lynn Canal and Sitka.

In the meantime, Prince William Sound is being served by the mainline ferry Aurora, which travels at a slower speed.

Alaska Air mechanics reject contract

JUNEAU - A union representing 650 mechanics working for Alaska Airlines rejected a proposed four-year contract Wednesday.

The Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association voted against the agreement with 325 votes to 180, or 64 percent.

Terms of the tentative agreement included yearly pay increases of 1.5 percent, retiree benefits, job protection measures and approval on future adjustments of health care premiums.

"While we were hoping for a different outcome, we will be heading back to the negotiating table and remain confident that we can reach an agreement which will receive the support of our aircraft technicians," said Bill Ayer, chairman and CEO of Alaska Airlines.

Alaska's flight attendants and pilots also rejected labor proposals offered earlier this month.

Blatchford takes seafood marketing job

JUNEAU - One working day after resigning as commissioner of the Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development, Edgar Blatchford started a new job with the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute.

Blatchford began work Monday as ASMI's new Asian marketing specialist, overseeing the institute's marketing programs in Japan and China, said K.C. Dochtermann, ASMI international program director.

ASMI is a state governmental agency funded by taxes on the seafood industry and by federal grants. As DCED commissioner, Blatchford had been a nonvoting member of ASMI's board of directors.

The Asian marketing specialist position had been open since May. Dochtermann declined to comment on Blatchford's qualifications for the job.

Friday was Blatchford's last day as commissioner. He resigned amid allegations of conflicts of interest between that job and his position as director with Chugach Alaska Corp., a Native corporation.

In his resignation letter, Blatchford said he was resigning to avoid embarrassing the Murkowski administration.

Blatchford was the mayor of Seward and a journalism professor at the University of Alaska Anchorage before joining the Murkowski administration.

Humane Society labels e-mails 'hoax'

JUNEAU - The Gastineau Humane Society knows nothing about e-mail correspondence purporting to be from the organization and alleging dogs are being shot at Eagle Beach, according to its executive director.

Chava Lee said the organization did not send the message and she does not know who may have sent it. She also said he doesn't know anything about any dogs being killed in the past week.

Juneau Police Capt. Tom Porter said he has not heard anything about dogs being shot in the community, particularly at Eagle Beach.

"At this point, there is nothing to show there is any validity to it," he said of the claims that dogs are being shot in Juneau. He said police are certain the e-mail making the claims didn't come from the Gastineau Humane Society, and are treating the correspondence as a hoax.

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