Alaska Digest

Posted: Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Governor appoints Elkins to Senate

JUNEAU - Gov. Frank Murkowski on Tuesday appointed long-time Ketchikan resident James "Jim" Elkins to Senate Seat A, from which Sen. Robin Taylor resigned last month.

Elkins is the second generation of a three-generation family of Ketchikan businessmen who have owned and operated a number of Ketchikan businesses over the past 40 years, including a historic bar, restaurant, small hotel, rental properties and an electronics retail outlet.

Elkins' previous government experience includes service on the Ketchikan Gateway Borough Assembly for six years, the boards of the Alaska Municipal League and the Chamber of Commerce, the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board, and as director of the Ketchikan Visitors Bureau.

Elkins was one of the four names recommended to the governor by the Republican Party to complete Sen. Taylor's term. The others are Rep. Peggy Wilson of Wrangell, Bert Stedman of Sitka and Rollo Pool, also of Sitka.

Alaska Airlines jet hits bird near Sitka

KETCHIKAN - A departing Alaska Airlines passenger jet returned to Sitka after it hit a bird.

Airline spokesman Jack Evans said the left engine of the Boeing 737-400 ingested the unidentified bird Monday. No passengers or crew were hurt.

"What happens when you ingest is there's a power failure, so they knew they had ingested it and turned around," Evans told the Ketchikan Daily News. "There was no emergency landing. The engine was operating fine. As a precaution they brought it down to look at."

Flight 62 starts in Anchorage and stops in Juneau, Sitka, Ketchikan and Seattle.

Alaska Airlines had a crew investigate the damage and planned to swap out the engine if necessary, Evans said.

Lybrand wins by six votes following recount

KETCHIKAN - George Lybrand won the race for a Ketchikan Gateway Borough Assembly seat by six votes after a recount held this week.

Local election officials conducted a hand recount of 3,339 ballots after Lybrand and challenger Barbara Bigelow were tied at 939 votes each after the Oct. 7 election.

During the recount, several absentee ballots were tallied that may not have been counted by the computerized Accu-Vote machines used in the municipal elections, officials said.

"Basically, the count is as good as the people marking the ballots," said City Clerk Katy Suiter. "Sometimes (the machine) will read it, sometimes it won't."

Bigelow told the Ketchikan Daily News she doesn't plan to dispute the results but she will seek an Assembly seat in the next election.

Woman cited in assault on son's teacher

ANCHORAGE - The mother of a Fairview Elementary School sixth-grader has been cited for assault in an attack on her son's teacher, police said.

Cassaundra L. West's son had been involved in a fight on Monday, and a 40-year-old male teacher used a bear hug to restrain the boy, police said.

West, 39, went to the school and confronted the teacher Monday afternoon. She is accused of punching him in the neck, right shoulder and left ear in the school's hallway, police said. West left the school in her car. Police contacted her at her home and issued the citation.

Interior's 97-mile intertie goes online

FAIRBANKS - A long-awaited 97-mile power line between Healy and Fairbanks has begun operating.

The Golden Valley Electric Association project and the utility's new battery energy-storage system cost more than $120 million, exceeding 1999 estimates by more than $20 million.

Golden Valley expects to save $1.9 million each year in power transportation efficiency with its second line to Healy.

Securing approval to build the state-funded intertie was a long, contentious process for Golden Valley. The utility spent about $5 million over six years before getting federal approval in 1998 for the project, then another roughly $1 million to get state approval.

Construction began in 2000 and took three years. The line went into use Friday.

State plans gas rules for Mat-Su borough

ANCHORAGE - The state plans to develop guidelines to govern coal bed methane drilling in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough, officials with the Department of Natural Resources announced this week.

Officials also declared a moratorium on any new or pending leases until the process is completed.

The Department of Natural Resources will lead a team of state agencies and the Mat-Su Borough in developing draft guidelines to be honed through public workshops in November and December. The team also will analyze the adequacy of existing state and local laws and regulations governing drilling.

Until that process is finished early next year, the state's Oil and Gas Division will stop issuing coal bed methane leases and delay action on 13 pending leases.

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