Alaska Digest

Posted: Friday, August 03, 2007

Alaska foreclosures on the rise

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WASILLA - Home foreclosures in Anchorage and the Mat-Su Valley are accelerating, following a trend that began late last year, and experts say they don't expect the numbers to taper off soon.

Real estate agent Uli Johnson said before last winter she handled one or two foreclosures a year as a broker at Wasilla's Double Eagle Real Estate.

Now she's handling 14.

"As of 10 days ago, we had 600 foreclosures in the state, another 300 are in the pipeline," Johnson said. "And we expect another 300 before the end of the year."

She said Anchorage accounts for about half the foreclosures and Mat-Su accounts for about a quarter.

High-risk lending practices, including subprime loans and low down payments, put buyers in homes they can't afford, which experts say has contributed to the spike in foreclosures nationally.

A cooling housing market also factors in, leaving some buyers with mortgages that are worth more than their homes.

Experts say they expect the elevated number of foreclosures to last throughout the year and possibly into next year.

Production slips at AK's largest gold mine

FAIRBANKS - Production and sales at the Fort Knox gold mine dipped slightly in the first two quarters of 2007.

The mine northeast of Fairbanks produced 176,644 ounces of gold over the first six months of the year for a decline of about 1.5 percent from the same period last year, according to preliminary figures released Thursday by the Toronto-based Kinross Gold Corp., the parent company of Fairbanks Gold Mining Inc., which operates Fort Knox.

The mine earned $63.7 million in revenue in the second quarter of 2007, down 8 percent from the second quarter of 2006, as sales decreased nearly 13 percent from last year.

The mine has sold 169,221 ounces of gold so far this year, a 4.8 percent decline over the same period last year.

The downturn was attributed to declines in production and sales, lower throughput at the mill and lower-grade ore.

Hunting violations captured on video

ANCHORAGE - A DVD that shows hunters using radios to coordinate their hunts and shooting bears from a boat was meant to promote a Washington fishing guide's business.

Instead, it brought him misdemeanor charges of violating numerous hunting regulations and possessing stolen property.

The DVD, "Bears of Alaska," was filmed during a May 2006 outing to Prince of Wales Island.

Alaska law enforcement first learned about the DVD in November, when a Washington taxidermist showed it to a state game officer, who in turn sent it to Alaska Wildlife Troopers.

Troopers and U.S. Forest Service agents then obtained search warrants for five Washington locations and confiscated about 2,000 copies of the DVD and some unedited footage of the trip.

They charged Eric Spokely last month with using a radio to take big game, possessing illegal game, taking big game from a boat and taking a black bear over bait within one mile of a residence.

They also recovered a stolen vehicle from Spokely's garage, troopers said.

Spokely and four hunters - Bryant O. Tillotson of Puyallup, Wash.; Ted M. Hultman of Olympia, Wash.; John L. Beardsley of Rainier, Ore.; and Jennifer Spokely of Tacoma, Wash.; - are scheduled to appear in Craig District Court on Aug. 16.

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