Around the State

Posted: Thursday, November 08, 2001

Pignalberi takes job in Haines

HAINES -- Marco Pignalberi of Anchorage, who served one term in the Legislature in the 1980s before being thrown off the ballot for not revealing a loan from a lobbyist, has been named the new city manager in Haines.

The Haines City Council made the unanimous choice last week after a two-month search.

Pignalberi was one of two final candidates invited to Haines for interviews after the city voted to change its structure to the city manager form. The other finalist took a job elsewhere.

Pignalberi served in the Legislature from 1984-86. But during his reelection campaign his name was removed from the ballot after he failed to make a timely disclosure of $43,000 he borrowed from lobbyist Ed Dischner, who was embroiled in a federal investigation of corruption in the North Slope Borough.

Pignalberi tried to get back in politics last year, losing to former Rep. Terry Martin in the Republican primary for a Senate seat later won by Democrat Bettye Davis.

Pignalberi has served as assistant commissioner for the state Department of Transportation and Public Facilities, and worked for former Anchorage mayors George Sullivan and Tom Fink.

Ketchikan calls loan to veneer mill

KETCHIKAN -- The Ketchikan Gateway Borough Assembly has voted to foreclose on its 1999 loan of $7 million to Gateway Forest Products, the struggling veneer maker at the former site of the Ketchikan pulp mill.

Gateway is continuing to produce veneer at the Ward Cove site with more than 50 employees as it attempts to rebuild the business under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

The $7 million loan from the borough came from a federal disaster fund. It was used to build the veneer mill.

As collateral, the borough got mostly undeveloped lands, valued at about $7.7 million, around all three sides of Ward Cove. The loan was part of about $16.5 million the company owes the borough.

The Assembly voted unanimously for the foreclosure this week after talking with Ketchikan Pulp Co., another big Gateway creditor, about the financial reorganization. The foreclosure would have to be approved by the bankruptcy court.

Gateway purchased Ketchikan Pulp's property at Ward Cove in 1999 and built the veneer mill in 2000.

The company filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for protection from creditors in February, and later obtained another loan from the borough. That $2.5 million interim financing loan was secured by the part of the mill property.

Woman to give up neglected dogs

STERLING -- A Kenai Peninsula woman agreed Wednesday to give up nearly all her neglected dogs after a search of her property turned up four dead animals.

Carolyn Boughton, 56, signed over ownership of all but five of the dogs to a volunteer with the Anchorage Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Boughton will keep two dogs, Alaska State Troopers said.

Two of the five dogs belong to someone else and one will be put up for adoption through other channels.

Volunteers with the SPCA were to begin removing the animals today.

Troopers had given Boughton until Friday to provide adequate food and shelter for between 45 and 60 dogs that Boughton kept.

A search of the property revealed that as many as 30 dogs were being housed in an old bus that reeked of urine and feces and was poorly ventilated. Two dogs in the bus were dead after being attacked by other dogs. Two dogs were found dead outside.

Troopers were forwarding the case to the Kenai Peninsula District Attorney's office for review. A charge of animal cruelty is punishable by a maximum $5,000 fine and one year in jail.

State suspends appraiser's license

ANCHORAGE -- The state has suspended the real estate appraisal license of Ronald W. Wendte of Ketchikan, a former legislator.

Wendte in 1999 was convicted of stealing more than $250,000 from Ketchikan Little League, Little League District 2 and Kayhi Girls Basketball Club between 1993 and 1997. Prosecutors said Wendte used the money mostly for personal expenses, including luxury items.

He served seven months, mostly in a halfway house, of his one-year sentence and was ordered to pay $257,595 in restitution, little of which he has repaid, according to the state.

His appraisal license is being suspended for two years and he will be on probation for another five years, the state said. The state hearing officer said the crime calls into question Wendte's integrity in providing an objective appraisal during a significant financial transaction for home buyers and sellers.

Wendte served one term in the Legislature in 1983-84. He is a former banker and former president of the Ketchikan Chamber of Commerce.

Man pleads in fatal crash case

ANCHORAGE -- One of two men charged with supplying alcohol to teen-agers involved in a fatal crash with a police officer has pleaded no contest to two misdemeanors.

Ronald Frank, 31, was originally charged with nine counts of providing alcohol to a minor and contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

At hearing Wednesday, District Judge Natalie Finn accepted Frank's plea bargain with the state, but delayed sentencing until Dec. 17.

Early in the morning of July 9, Ronald Esper, 19, ran his Blazer into a patrol car on the Glenn Highway while trying to elude police. The crash killed Esper, officer Justin Wollam and two teen-age girls.

Police say Frank and another man provided beer and Southern Comfort at a party the teens attended before the crash.

Council OKs Bill of Rights recital

FAIRBANKS -- The Fairbanks City Council unanimously has approved a public display and annual recital of the Bill of Rights.

The council passed a resolution this week requiring that the Bill of Rights be posted in city buildings and recited once a year by the mayor of Fairbanks.

The resolution originally called for the Bill of Rights to be incorporated into the local school curriculum, read aloud each year by government officials, including the governor, and conspicuously posted in all public buildings.

The original version raised questions about passing a resolution that was largely unenforceable by the city.

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