Alaska Digest

Posted: Monday, September 19, 2005

Stevens had secret option in fish dealP>

ANCHORAGE - State Sen. Ben Stevens held a secret option to buy into an Alaska seafood company at the same time his powerful father, U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens, was negotiating for a special fishery that would supply the company with millions of dollars worth of pollock a year, according to the Anchorage Daily News.

The newspaper reported Sunday that the pollock allocation was projected to provide the company with $1.5 million in profits this year and $3.7 million in 2006. However, that was before problems involving the company and the availability of fish cast doubt on the numbers.

Under his deal, Ben Stevens would have been entitled to one-fourth of the profits of the company, Adak Fisheries.

Corporations often grant stock options to executives as an incentive for performance that raises the value of the stock. An option typically gives the holder the right to purchase shares at a specified price during a given period of time. The price may not be discounted at the time the option is given, but the option generally anticipates a rise in value.

Though Adak Fisheries was a limited liability company, more like a partnership than a corporation with stock, Ben Stevens' option was similar to a stock option. It gave him the right to buy a 25 percent stake in the fish processing company for an immediate payment of $50,000 and another $450,000 paid over time. The option did not specify an interest rate or term for the note. Stevens had 29 months, until Dec. 31, 2004, to exercise the option.

During the time he held the option, the company grew in value from about $2 million to at least $8.5 million, according to an owner and court documents.

A copy of Ben Stevens' option agreement surfaced as one of hundreds of documents submitted in the last few months as evidence in several lawsuits involving the company, its owners, its landlord and government regulators.

The secret option was a surprise to officials of the Aleut Corp., the intended beneficiary of the pollock fishery, they said, when they learned of it late last year. The company, the regional Native corporation for the Aleutian Islands and the Pribilofs, had invited Ben Stevens to serve as a director of Aleut Enterprise Corp., its subsidiary charged with the economic development of the former Navy base at Adak.

More Alaska Guard called to active duty

ANCHORAGE - More members of the Alaska National Guard will ship out for Iraq this week, joining thousands of fellow "weekend warriors" placed on active duty to go fight in the Middle East.

The 70 Guard members are the third Guard deployment to the Middle East in four weeks. As of next week, approximately 580 members, or 15 percent, of the Alaska National Guard will be on active duty around the globe, officials said. Most of those troops - nearly 400 Alaskans - currently are serving in Iraq or Afghanistan.

The Alaskans join thousands of Guard and Reserve members nationwide who have been federally activated to go fight in the Middle East since the September 2001 terrorist attacks. Many of the troops are leaving behind civilian jobs and families.

The hundreds of federally activated Alaska troops serving overseas are from all over the state, said Guard spokeswoman Kalei Brooks. Some are on four-month assignments, but most are slated to stay in the desert more than a year.

The infantry group leaving Wednesday is largely from Anchorage and the Mat-Su Valley, with about a dozen coming from the Nome area. News of their departure caught many in the town of 3,500 by surprise.

Giant pumpkin on display at store

KENAI - Shoppers at a grocery store in Kenai are making a little detour to the produce section to get a look at a hard-to-miss item - a 942-pound giant pumpkin.

J. D. Megchelsen's pumpkin went on display at the end of last week. The orange-fleshed gourd is fresh from the Alaska State Fair in Palmer where, on Aug. 30, it crushed the state record by nearly 200 pounds.

"We got it back again," Megchelsen said.

Megchelsen, of Nikiski, held for nearly a year the title for growing the greatest gourd in the state for a 707-pound pumpkin he grew last year.

However, in August, Dave Iles of Fairbanks took a 752-pound pumpkin to the Tanana Valley State Fair and claimed the title for himself. When the two went head to head in Palmer, Megchelsen's pumpkin trumped all others.

Police warn against violent teenagers

FAIRBANKS - Fairbanks police are again warning street people to be extra wary after receiving reports Saturday of two more attacks by groups of violent teenagers, just one day after three suspects in another attack were arrested.

The youths are reportedly on bicycles, sometimes armed with baseball bats. They prey on people who are alone, vulnerable and sometimes intoxicated, according to police.

The string of beatings does not appear racially motivated, said police Chief Dan Hoffman. He issued a warning to street people last week to watch for potential attackers after Ulak Hope, 50, was severely beaten and the rash of assaults was brought to the police department's attention.

Police arrested Emanual L. Itta, 19, of Fairbanks, and two suspected accomplices, 13 and 14-year-old boys, on charges of first-degree assault.

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