AlaskaDigest

Posted: Monday, September 13, 2004

Valley Suicide

Seven firefighters removed the body of a 21-year-old man from the top of a two-story home at 3212 Bresee Street in the Mendenhall Valley, after he reportedly shot himself in the head early Sunday evening. Police served a warrant at the home at approximately 5 p.m. During the investigation, the 21-year-old climbed out a bedroom window, according to a press release. Officers attempted to talk the man back into the house, but he pulled a pistol from under this clothes and shot himself. Officers at the scene refused to comment. Police and workers from Capital City Fire and Rescue used a crane attached to the rear of a fire engine to remove the body from the roof. The body was covered and secured to the sled just after 7:30 p.m., carted into an Alaskan Memorial Park van and driven away.

Juneau man found dead in Bergmann Hotel

JUNEAU - Jamie Donald Olson, 28, a Juneau resident and a Juneau-Douglas High School graduate, was found dead just before 12:11 a.m. Saturday in a room at the Bergmann Hotel, police said in a press release.

Police had no further information. No foul play is suspected and the body was released by the State Medical Examiner.

Natives shy away from pipeline investment

ANCHORAGE - Twelve Alaska Native regional corporations have chosen not to put their money into a company created to give Alaskans a chance to invest in a North Slope natural gas pipeline.

The withdrawal of MidAmerican Energy Holdings Co. earlier this year as a possible developer of the pipeline was a main factor in the corporations' decision, according to Ken Thompson, who formed Pacific Star Energy LLC.

"After the MidAmerican deal fell through in late March, PSE lost a lot of momentum with the Alaska Native corporations," Thompson said. "Several of the Native leaders believe it will be some time before a pipeline gets built."

Thompson, a former ARCO executive, said the corporations chose to withhold making an investment until the pipeline's future is more clear.

"For many, a quick payout of three to four years is important and this is a long-term deal," he said.

Some Native corporation chief executives told him they will likely form a new Native consortium instead of investing in PSE when the deal looks certain, Thompson said.

Cattle import ban creates hardship

FAIRBANKS - Alaska beef and dairy farmers want an exception to the federal ban on Canadian cattle imports so they can replenish their own stocks.

Farmers in the state aren't asking for the ban to be lifted, but for a temporary solution that would allow them to import a few hundred cattle and keep up with their traditional replacement system, said Jane Hamilton, executive director of the Alaska Farm Bureau.

Hamilton said the request is reasonable because of the small number of cattle.

"We can monitor the low number of cattle," she said.

Alaska farmers usually import 300-400 head of cattle from Canada every year. But after the ban on imports, issued by the U.S. government in May 2003 because of concerns over mad cow disease, farmers' herds have dwindled, reducing the amount of beef and dairy products they can bring to market, Hamilton said.

The farmers always have relied on Canada as their source for replacement cattle, said Hamilton.

There are no shortage of beef or dairy products in the state, but the ban is causing a hardship for people who rely on the industry, she said.

Anchorage boy, 10, dies in boating accident

HOMER - A 10-year-old Anchorage boy has died after a fishing boat capsized in Kachemak Bay, forcing him and three others to cling to debris in the cold water for up to two hours.

Dustin Gates died Saturday of prolonged exposure, according Bryan Barlow, an officer with the Alaska State Troopers. It was unclear whether the boy was still alive when passing boaters pulled him out of the water, Barlow said.

The three survivors were Gates' father, 34-year-old Jerry Gates; 41-year-old Jeffrey Fisher; and 53-year-old Shirley Robison, all from Anchorage.

The four were halibut fishing in Jerry Gates' 16-foot fiberglass boat, anchored about a mile past the opening of the harbor at the end of the Homer Spit.

They were backing up to return to the harbor when water began coming over the boat, Barlow said.

"Based on the statements from the people on the boat, some fairly large swells came up over the back of the boat and filled it to a point where the stern went under the water," Barlow said. "Basically within seconds the boat was on end and everyone was in the water."

None was wearing a life preserver, although there were life preservers on board, Barlow said.

Clam farm proposal met with protests

HOMER - Recreational and subsistence clam diggers are opposing a proposal to reverse a three-year-old rule and allow private clam farms on some Kachemak Bay beaches.

In July, the Department of Fish and Game announced it may evaluate clam farm applications on a case-by-case basis, allowing the farmers exclusive access to the beach for clamming.

Clam farming would create new economic opportunities in an area that has seen a decline in fishing income, state officials say. Plus, market demand exists in Alaska for more clams, proponents of the proposal say.

Existing laws would steer clam farmers away from areas with lots of littlenecks and may require farmers to spread clam seed on nearby public beaches, state officials said.

The public comment period on the proposal has been extended to Sept. 15. The city councils in Homer and Seldovia have voted unanimously to oppose the change, and longtime clammers say the loss of free access to beaches would strike at an Alaska tradition.

"My family has dug clams and skiffed around the bay for 50 years," said retired commercial fisherman Chuck Parsons, 81. "I think the bay should be wide open for the residents."



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