Alaska Digest

Posted: Friday, October 19, 2007

Former state-owned jet back on the market

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ANCHORAGE - The infamous jet the state couldn't unload for months on an Internet auction site is back on the market.

Valdez businessman Larry Reynolds, who finally bought the 1984 Westwind II from the state in August, is now advertising it for sale on an aviation Web site.

The jet, which Reynolds bought for $2.1 million, is now listed for $2.45 million, Anchorage television station KIMO reported Thursday. Former Gov. Frank Murkowski used about $2.7 million of state money to buy it two years ago.

Reynolds told KIMO that he's always been open to selling the plane, if the price were right.

Murkowski bought the jet over vehement objections from the Alaska Legislature, saying he planned to buy the jet no matter what legislators thought.

Gov. Sarah Palin put the jet up for sale after she took office in December. The state failed numerous times to sell the jet on the Internet auction site eBay, never attracting the $2.5 million asking price. Eventually, the state hired aircraft broker Turbo North Aviation, which is now listing the sale for Reynolds.

Fairbanks wants to double alcohol tax

FAIRBANKS - Fairbanks wants to double its alcohol tax to help combat a $2 million shortfall in next year's city budget.

The plan to raise the tax to 10 percent comes after residents voted to cap property taxes. City officials said the increase would cut the shortfall by at least one-third and said they prefer to raise the tax over cutting the budget.

The proposal, by Mayor Steve Thompson, stirred up opposition from the hospitality industry.

"It taxes the people that drink alcohol for no reason whatsoever. They're basically saying people are guilty because they choose to consume alcohol," said Larry Hackenmiller, a spokesman for the Interior Cabaret, Hotel, Restaurant & Retailers Association.

Thompson said the tax makes sense because the Fairbanks Police Department's workload revolves largely around alcohol-related problems, such as drunken driving arrests and domestic violence calls.

Joshua Wade faces additional charges

ANCHORAGE - Joshua Wade, described as a "strong person of interest" in the disappearance of a nurse whose body was found weeks later in a heavily wooded area north of Anchorage, has been indicted by a federal grand jury on additional charges involving drugs and firearms, officials said Thursday.

Wade, 27, was Mindy Schloss' next door neighbor. The 52-year-old nurse was reported missing on Aug. 6 and it wasn't until six weeks later that her body was found in Wasilla. Dental records were used to confirm her identity.

Wade was arrested about a month after Schloss' disappearance and turned over to the FBI. He was charged with bank fraud for allegedly using Schloss' ATM card. Police believe Wade is the man captured by a bank camera using the card at an ATM machine close to Schloss' home at the time of her disappearance. He is scheduled to go on trial Jan. 7 on those charges.

Wade has not been charged in connection with Schloss' death.

Money woes close Kenai Red Cross

KENAI - The Kenai Red Cross will be closing indefinitely because it is short of money. While donations are coming in, the money is not enough to keep pace with the cost of providing services.

"Expenses just exceed revenue, it's just simply that," said Michelle Houlihan, the chief executive officer for the Red Cross of Alaska.

Even though the Kenai office will be closed, the Red Cross will still get help to displaced families as well as continue to provide first responders with meals, water and coffee in a major disaster, Houlihan said.

Houlihan said there are other organizations and authorized providers in Homer, Seward, Kenai and Soldotna that will continue to provide other services, such as CPR, first aid training and HIV-AIDS prevention programs.

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