Alaska Digest

Posted: Thursday, October 23, 2003

Two men arrested on felony drug charges

JUNEAU - Two Juneau men appeared in District Court Wednesday on felony drug charges after being arrested Tuesday on charges alleging involvement in the distribution of prescription pain pills.

Jordan John Sharclane, 25, and Ian Matthew Grant, 28, each face a charge of second-degree misconduct involving a controlled substance. District Magistrate John W. Sivertsen Jr. told them they could be sentenced to 20 years in prison if convicted.

Sharclane and Grant were lodged at the Lemon Creek Correctional Center. Sivertsen set bail for each at $5,000 and is requiring a third-party be responsible for them if they are released.

Alaska State Troopers reported the Southeast Alaska Narcotics Team was investigating distribution from California to Juneau of Oxycontin, a prescription pain medication. Juneau Police and Southeast Alaska Cities Against Drugs assisted SEANET, with the help of U.S. Postal Service inspectors. The drug was suspected to be arriving in Juneau via the mail.

Troopers reported a package containing 538 tablets of Oxycontin was recovered during the investigation The tablets ranged in size from 20 milligrams to 80 milligrams. A total amount of 27,840 milligrams was intercepted and a controlled delivery was conducted.

Troopers also reported additional suspects in the case have been identified and the investigation is ongoing.

Commission: Village size may determine aid

ANCHORAGE - Rural Alaska communities may face increased scrutiny from the federally funded Denali Commission before receiving any money for projects, according to a commission official.

Projects must provide the "greatest possible benefit to the greatest number of Alaskans" and grant-seekers must demonstrate that the projects have a viable future, said Jeff Staser, federal co-chairman of the commission.

"Everybody has to meet standards of sustainability," Staser said. "Would we do something we know is not sustainable with public money? No. Or if a small utility can't make it on their own, can we urge them to join a cooperative where the villages help each other? That works."

Staser was speaking before the Alaska Support Industry Alliance, a statewide trade organization. At an Oct. 9 meeting in Anchorage, he outlined the contents of a new draft investment policy proposed by the commission, which was created in 1998 to improve conditions in rural Alaska.

Enstar: Gas supply is up, but so is price

ANCHORAGE - Abundant supplies of natural gas will be available in Southcentral Alaska well into the next decade, but the cost of heating homes with gas may go up more than 10 percent this winter.

Representatives of Enstar Natural Gas Co. discussed projected supplies recently with the Regulatory Commission of Alaska.

Company representatives said Enstar has been working under two contracts signed in January 2000 with Cook Inlet regional gas producers Marathon Oil Co. and ConocoPhillips Alaska Inc.

The company recently signed a contract with Unocal to provide all the company's needs through 2007 that cannot be supplied by its other contracts, said Dan Dieckgraeff, an Enstar executive.

Dieckgraeff said Enstar will start taking gas under that contract next year and it will represent 26 percent of the utility's supply. By 2007, Unocal is expected to be providing about half of the company's supply.

Nationwide Insurance pulling out of Alaska

ANCHORAGE - Nationwide Insurance is leaving Alaska, saying it has lost money for years.

Linda Hall, director of the state Division of Insurance, said the company said in a letter that it wanted to wrap up its departure by late next year.

"Alaska's a small market and companies sometimes look at it and decide it's not cost effective," Hall said.

The company is not a big player in the state. It offered home, auto and a few other lines of insurance in Alaska. It had less than 3 percent of the auto market and less than 2 percent of the homeowners market in 2001, according to the state Insurance Division. More than 60 companies write private auto insurance, and about 30 offer homeowners policies in Alaska.

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