Alaska Digest

Posted: Friday, October 06, 2006

Kupreanof road paves way for logging

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PETERSBURG - More than 8 million board feet of high-quality timber is slated to become available to regional wood products businesses following a U.S. Forest Service decision to allow a section of road built on Kupreanof Island.

A total of three miles of road will be built or reconstructed to allow for the logging of the Scott Peak Project Area on the northeastern edge of the island, according to an announcement made Wednesday by Petersburg District Ranger Patty Grantham.

The area is within the Tongass National Forest and is expected to produce about 8.3 million board feet of timber. The Forest Service also added 565 acres to an old-growth reserve within the project area.

A 2005 decision to build the road was reversed during the appeal process after opponents argued the environmental review should have taken into consideration the cumulative effects of logging in nearby unharvested areas.

The latest decision is still subject to appeal. Those interested in contesting the plan must file their complaints within 45 days. For more information about the project or appeal process, contact Kris Rutledge, Scott Peak Project Leader at krutledge@fs.fed.us or 772-3871.

Troopers seek tips in North Pole homicide

NORTH POLE - Authorities in Fairbanks are hoping for tips in the unsolved homicide of a North Pole woman.

The body of 34-year-old Shannon Kisgen was found the evening of Aug. 24 on a four-wheeler trail off Badger Road near North Pole. Alaska State Troopers called her death a homicide but have released few other details.

Relatives last saw Kisgen the morning of Aug. 23, the day before some teenagers found her body on the trail.

Authorities say Kisgen moved to Alaska from Minnesota in 2005 with her husband and three children. She had two children from a previous marriage, and they live in Kansas.

"We're just begging for information - anybody, if they know anything," Cathy Higgs, Kisgen's stepmother in Texas, told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. "We want justice for this because we love her, and we just don't understand why anybody would want to kill her."

Fairbanks Crime Stoppers is offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and indictment of the person who killed Kisgen.

Fairbanks mayor hopes to fill budget gap

FAIRBANKS - Voters on Tuesday slashed property taxes and the Fairbanks City Council's ability to assess sales tax but Mayor Steve Thompson said a new tax structure could help avoid major budget cuts.

A short list of alternatives includes a possible tax on businesses' gross receipts, a "head tax" on employed adults and higher taxes on hotel stays. Thompson plans to appoint a committee to review possibilities.

Thompson said he is confident that a gap between spending and revenue, now estimated at $10 million, can be plugged. He will draft a 2007 budget similar to the current $26 million budget, he said.

"I'm planning on us recovering and am planning to move forward," Thompson said Wednesday.

The city received calls Wednesday from residents concerned about city finances. The 6.7 mill rate translated to more than $1,340 in taxes on each $200,000 in assessed property.

The city will assess the .5 mill rate and another .9 mills levied to pay off bonds used to build the downtown police station and to cover legal judgments and liability and workers' compensation insurance. Without those continued assessments, the budget gap would have been about $12.5 million, according to budget officials.



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