Alaska Digest

Posted: Monday, September 10, 2007

CH2M HILL finalizes sale of VECO Corp.

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ANCHORAGE - Denver-based CH2M HILL announced Friday it had completed acquisition of the company founded by Bill Allen, a former chief executive who recently pleaded guilty to bribery and conspiracy involving state legislators.

"Our extensive due diligence has confirmed this is an outstanding company with an exceptional work force and project resume," Lee McIntire, president and COO of CH2M HILL, said in a prepared statement.

"The Allen family is pleased that VECO's legacy of hard work, client service, and professional excellence will continue with this acquisition. The transaction results in over 4,000 VECO employees becoming CH2M HILL shareholders, and we see a very bright future for our loyal employees and VECO clients," Tammy Kerrigan, who served as chairwoman of VECO's board, is quoted in the same statement.

CH2M HILL has 19,000 employees worldwide and $4.5 billion in annual revenue. VECO has said its annual revenue in its best years was $1 billion.

Opening statements to begin in Kott trial

ANCHORAGE - Opening arguments in the federal corruption trial former House Speaker Pete Kott are scheduled for Monday morning. And the sale of an Anchorage-based oil field company embroiled in the controversy was finalized Friday.

U.S. District Judge John Sedwick swore in a jury of 10 women, two men and four alternates Friday morning.

Jurors include a custodian at the Anchorage airport, a refinery worker from the Kenai Peninsula and a recent high school graduate who works at a bookstore, the Anchorage Daily News reported on its Web site Friday. Eight of the jurors live in Anchorage, while the other four come from Eagle River, Nikiski, Kenai and someone from Kodiak who has a talk show on public radio there.

Kott is accused of taking bribes and conspiring with executives of oil field services company VECO Corporation.

Two other former lawmakers also are charged. Bruce Weyhrauch of Juneau had his trial separated earlier this week from the proceedings against Kott. His trial will be scheduled later.

Vic Kohring of Wasilla is scheduled to go on trial next month.

The government claims Kott was in a pay-for-votes scheme with former VECO Corp. executives Bill Allen and Rick Smith, selling their positions on oil tax and gas pipeline legislation in 2006 for cash and jobs.

Bread overdose kills Alaska prison cows

WASILLA - A bread overdose is being blamed for the deaths of seven cows at a prison farm north of Anchorage.

The cows died Aug. 22 at the Point MacKenzie Correctional Farm as a result of bloat from eating too much bread, state Department of Corrections officials said Thursday.

The bread was mixed in with the feed, a combination of hay and green, leafy vegetables and vegetable trimmings, for the 100-head herd.

Corrections spokesman Richard Schmitz said the farm had previously added bread to the mix without incident. But the seven cows apparently ate from inadequately mixed feed and consumed too much bread.

"We've changed policies and procedures so that they do not feed bread, or feed it only to the swine herd, not to the cattle," Schmitz said.

Point MacKenzie Correctional Farm is a minimum-security correctional center that houses 112 male offenders. The farm grows vegetables and raises chickens and cattle for feedstock.

Schmitz said the seven cows that died were not salvaged for meat.

State veterinarian Dr. Robert Gerlach said cattle are sometimes fed bread or grain products. Cattle like the high-carbohydrate, high-energy food and it can provide good weight gain, he said. However, he said if a cow overeats on grain products there can be disastrous and rapid effects.

Cattle have four stomachs. The largest is the rumen, where bacteria ferment what they eat. If a lot of bacteria are present in the rumen and a large amount of grain is added, the fermentation process speeds up. The finely ground grain in bread provides a lot of surface area for the bacteria to attack, speeding the process further, he said.

"It creates a lot of gas and a slime," Gerlach said. "Normally a cow, when they start to produce gas, they just burp it up. With that slime in there, they can't burp it up."

In short, the stomach enlarges rapidly, placing pressure on the esophagus, lungs, heart and circulatory system, and without a way to release the buildup, the animal can die. The process can happen when cows get into a field of grain, clover or alfalfa, he said. It can be fatal within a couple of hours.

Alaska man charged in child porn case

ANCHORAGE - A 30-year-old Anchorage man faces several charges in a child porn investigation that police also said yielded a collection of children's underwear in his home.

Police found two plastic garbage bags containing the underwear in Robert Lloyd Huntsman's home, said Detective Mark Thomas.

"It could be trophies that he has gotten from victims, or it could be used for self-gratification. I just don't know," Thomas said. "Some of it had been used, as in, it had been through the washing machine. It's very disturbing."

Police also said they found five pornographic videos and numerous still images featuring girls between 6 and 10 being molested and sexually assaulted by men.

Thomas said none of the images or videos discovered featured Huntsman.

Huntsman was arrested Thursday. He is charged with six counts of possessing child pornography and one count of distributing it, a charge that stems from his Internet postings, Thomas said.

Thomas said police are seeking the public's help to determine if there are any local victims, and they urge anyone who has information to contact them.

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