State Briefs

Posted: Wednesday, August 06, 2003

Ketchikan advances cruise ship head tax

KETCHIKAN - Cruise ship customers would pay a $5 head tax under a proposed ordinance advanced Monday by the Ketchikan Gateway Borough Assembly.

The measure now faces a public hearing and final consideration by the Assembly.

The ordinance originally called for a $10-per-person tax. Assembly member Jack Shay, the former borough mayor, successfully argued to halve that. A $10 tax would bring in an estimated $7.5 million annually.

"I don't think we have any justification for $7.5 million a year," Shay said.

Shay then opposed advancing the $5 head tax. He said the visitor industry already contributes money through property and sales taxes.

The measure advanced 4-3, with Mayor Mike Salazar breaking a 3-3 tie.

The assembly is to hold a public hearing and take final action on the head tax ordinance Aug. 18.

Murkowski again says no to Russian vessels

ANCHORAGE - Gov. Frank Murkowski has rejected another request to allow Russian processing vessels into U.S. waters off Alaska.

This time the request came from Smokie Foods, which wanted a floating processor to go to Prince William Sound to provide another market for pink salmon.

Murkowski said Monday that domestic processors assured him they were able to use the entire harvest.

The governor said the Russians have plenty of pink salmon of their own this year, and he's concerned the Russian product could compete with U.S.-produced salmon.

The denial is the second time this year Murkowski has turned down a request to allow Russian processors in. His decision has been criticized by some fishermen who say Alaska processors can't handle the summer's larger-than-usual pink salmon runs.

Bear incidents cause camping closure

GLACIER BAY - Brown bear incidents have forced an emergency closure to overnight camping in a section of Glacier Bay National Park.

Park Deputy Superintendent Jed Davis announced Tuesday that the drainage area between Wolf Point and Westdahl Point in the East Arm of Glacier Bay will be closed until further notice.

A brown bear damaged camping and kayaking gear in three incidents at Wolf Point during May, July and August, Davis reported. In each case, the bear was clearly aware of campers nearby and did not run away when hazed with loud noises and yelling. In one incident, the bear returned and charged the campers as they were leaving the area.

Davis advises all campers and kayakers to be aware that the bear may be attracted to people and their gear. Wolf Point also is a known salmon-spawning area during August and September.

Further information on the closure and tips on how to camp safely in bear country are available through the park's Visitor Information Center in Bartlett Cove or by calling (907) 697-2627.

Airmen unharmed in crash near Alaska Range

FAIRBANKS - Two Eielson Air Force Base captains escaped injury in a crash landing near the foothills of the Alaska Range southwest of Delta Junction.

Search and rescue crews spent seven hours looking for Timothy J. Smith, 26, and David Cobb, 29, on Sunday. The men crashed in a Cessna 150 plane shortly after taking off from a gravel bar near the Trident Glacier.

The plane, owned by Smith, sustained minimal damage.

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