Alaska Digest

Posted: Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Alaska Fur Gallery fined for bear hides

JUNEAU - Alaska Fur Gallery was fined $1,500 after pleading no contest to two counts of illegal purchase and sale of game, filed against the company after police confiscated bear skins from the corporation's Juneau and Ketchikan stores.

Juneau District Judge Keith Levy imposed a $750 fine for each count and ordered each of the bear rugs forfeited to the state, after the company agreed to the plea last week.

The investigation began in June when Juneau police received an anonymous call stating the Juneau store had a black bear rug for sale, Assistant District Attorney Jack Schmidt wrote in justifying the charges.

A saleswoman showed the officer a black bear rug on display in the window, folded with the bear's head on top. It was priced at $3,500, marked down from $6,900, Schmidt wrote. Police later seized the rug.

The store owner told police there was a second rug in the Ketchikan store. It was priced at $3,500 and seized by an officer there.

In August, police learned from Alaska Fish and Game that no permits to sell bear or big-game trophies had been issued to Alaska Fur Gallery or any of its agents from 2000 to date.

Two drunk arrests for man on same night

JUNEAU - Police arrested a 30-year-old Juneau man twice on drunken driving charges in less than five hours Monday.

Roger Murrell was lodged at the Lemon Creek Correctional Center after the police arrested him for a second time and impounded a second vehicle he was charged with driving Monday. At 11:30 p.m. they received a report stating a 1985 Chevrolet Blazer that he owns had hit a 2001 Honda Civic in a Mendenhall Valley neighborhood, officers reported.

Earlier, Murrell was arrested on a charge of driving while intoxicated and driving without a license. Police impounded the 1984 Chevrolet Blazer he was driving and took him to the Lemon Creek Correctional Center.

Murrell was released from the state prison on his own recognizance at about 9:10 p.m., police reported.

Murrell was charged with two misdemeanor counts of drunken driving and a felony charge of third-degree criminal mischief, stemming from the accident with the Honda.

Man charged with trying to break in

JUNEAU - Police arrested a 25-year-old man Monday on charges of attempted second-degree burglary and possession of burglary tools, both misdemeanors, after they allegedly found him on the roof of the a downtown drug store with two saws while light from the business leaked through a hole.

Scott Blomquist of Juneau was taken to the Lemon Creek Correctional Center and later released, officers said.

Police reported getting an alarm from Juneau Drug at about 9:45 p.m. They added that Blomquist had not entered the business and was arrested without incident.

The check's in the bay

JUNEAU - If the Internal Revenue Service hasn't cashed some Alaskans' 2004 tax payments, it could be because the checks fell into San Francisco Bay.

Alaska's congressional delegation Tuesday alerted Alaskans that there is a small possibility their federal tax payments may not have been received by the IRS.

The IRS issued a press release Sept. 23 alerting taxpayers in 13 states, including Alaska, that about 30,000 tax payments sent to a San Francisco post office box in early September were lost in a traffic accident.

"There's no way (at this time) to know how many payments came from each state," said Elliot Bundy, a spokesman for Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska.

The accident occurred near San Francisco as a contract courier was delivering mail from the post office to a check-processing facility in Hayward, Calif.

Murkowski issued a press release Tuesday stating that the IRS is encouraging taxpayers who believe a payment may have been lost to wait until Sept. 30 before contacting the agency. This will allow checks that were received to be processed and clear the banking system.

After Sept. 30, a taxpayer whose check has not cleared his or her bank should contact the IRS on its toll-free taxpayer assistance line at 1-800-829-1040.

Ketchikan votes to sell Ward Cove land

KETCHIKAN - The borough assembly has voted to sell nearly half of the real estate at Ward Cove for $9 million to an Arizona-based development company.

The agreement struck this week with Renaissance Ketchikan Group would also allow the borough to retain the Alaska Marine Highway System headquarters building and a sewer treatment facility.

Renaissance has looked at a number of options for the rest of the property, including an ethanol or biodiesel plant, hydroelectric power, water bottling, storage facility, or a moorage for small cruise ships, according to president Jerry Jenkins.

The company hopes to reopen the former Gateway Forest Products veneer mill on site early next year.

Borough Mayor Mike Salazar said the sale will bring additional jobs to Ketchikan through the veneer mill and the Alaska Marine Highway System.

Millions OK'd for military construction

FAIRBANKS - The U.S. Senate approved a military construction bill for the next fiscal year that would send almost $300 million to Alaska.

The money is slated for building three new housing units at the Fort Wainwright Army Post. Two housing projects would be replaced at a cost of $91 million, according to a news release from Sen. Ted Stevens' office. Fort Wainwright would also receive a new $33.6 million barracks complex.

The projects in the Senate bill are a combination of those sought by the Bush administration and earmarks from Stevens. The bill still must be merged with the House version and get final approval from each house before going to the president for his signature.

Under the Senate bill, Elmendorf Air Force Base near Anchorage would receive $54 million for a C-17 maintenance complex. Fort Richardson in Anchorage would receive $49 million to replace family housing.

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