Alaska Digest

Staff and Wire reports

Posted: Thursday, August 18, 2005

State to use credit line to buy jet

JUNEAU - The Alaska Department of Public Safety plans to pay for its new jet by using a $25 million line of credit the state has with Key Bank that does not require legislative approval to tap.

The department earlier this month gave notice that it plans to spend $2.7 million on a 1984 Westwind II and training for four pilots. The jet will be used by Gov. Frank Murkowski for state trips and the department for its missions.

Murkowski has long tried for a state jet, but was rejected first by the federal government and then by the state Legislature when attempting to purchase or lease one.

So now, the money will come from a little-used line of credit called the Master Lease Agreement that is available to state agencies to lease or purchase equipment, Commissioner of Public Safety Bill Tandeske told the Alaska Public Radio Network.

"It is a program by which other aircraft, like for example, firefighting operations, have been purchased in the past, as well as other equipment," Tandeske told APRN.

State Debt Manager Deven Mitchell said the state's tax-exempt status means interest rates between 3 percent to 3.8 percent, which will likely be paid back over 15 years.

Fisheries director joins federal agency

JUNEAU - Alaska's commercial fisheries director, Doug Mecum, said Wednesday he will leave his state job for the second-ranking job at the regional headquarters of the National Marine Fisheries Service in Juneau.

Mecum, a Juneau resident, has worked for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game for the past 22 years. He will fill the vacant position of deputy regional director at the National Marine Fisheries Service office downtown on Sept. 6. The position was vacated when Ron Berg retired on Aug. 1.

"It has been a great privilege to work for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game and I will greatly miss the wonderful people I have worked with over the past 22 years," Mecum said in a prepared statement Wednesday.

"At the same time I am very excited about the opportunity to focus my energies and abilities in helping maintain and improve the critically important management and research programs of the Alaska Region of NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) Fisheries," he said.

Mecum started his career as a fisheries biologist for the state of Wyoming but moved to Alaska in 1981 and earned his master's degree in fisheries science from the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

Fort Wainwright soldiers held in shooting

FAIRBANKS - Three Fort Wainwright Army Post soldiers, who police would not identify, are being held in connection with a fatal shooting in south Fairbanks, police said.

The three soldiers were taken into custody shortly after the shooting death of Alvin Richard Wilkins Jr., when they tried to re-enter Fort Wainwright, according to the Fairbanks Police Department on Tuesday.

Wilkins, 25, died at Fairbanks Memorial Hospital of shotgun wounds to the chest after the shooting early Sunday morning on 25th Avenue.

A search of the soldiers' vehicle turned up firearms and other evidence, police said.

Charges are expected to be filed soon by the district attorney's office, said Detective Dave Elzey with Fairbanks police.

The shooting apparently followed an altercation at the Sunset Strip nightclub on the Old Richardson Highway involving two groups that claimed rival gang affiliation, police said.

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