Alaska Digest

Posted: Monday, November 13, 2006

Man stabbed to death at birthday party

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ANCHORAGE - Police said they have suspects in the stabbing death of a man at a 21st birthday party on Saturday.

No arrests were immediately made in the killing of 18-year-old Sakhone Sekasin and the non-fatal shooting of 29-year-old Jin Lee, said Lt. Dave Koch.

"There were three people who did the stabbing, and that investigation is still ongoing," Koch told the Anchorage Daily News Saturday.

Lee, who is expected to live, was shot by Sekasin, Koch said. Detectives do not believe Lee participated in the stabbing, Koch said.

The party for a woman who had just turned 21 took place inside an apartment complex in midtown Anchorage.

Koch said an initial investigation shows that Sekasin caused several disturbances at the residence. Lee joined in the fighting and was shot by Sekasin, Koch said.

"As I understand it, the shot came from beneath a pile of people," he said.

Koch did not know all the circumstances of the stabbing. "As I understand it, he was fleeing and being pursued and stabbed."

Sekasin's death is the 18th homicide in Anchorage this year. That's four more than the city had at this time last year.

Republicans re-elect Harris as speaker

ANCHORAGE - State Rep. John Harris will hold onto the gavel in the state House of Representatives next year.

Harris, R-Valdez, was re-elected speaker Friday by his Republican peers. Ralph Samuels of Anchorage was chosen Majority leader, replacing John Coghill of North Pole. Coghill will take over as chairman of the Rules Committee.

Kevin Meyer of Anchorage and Mike Chenault of Nikiski will again be chairmen of the Finance Committee. Bill Thomas of Haines was picked for a vacancy on the committee.

Jay Ramras of Fairbanks was chosen to chair the Judiciary Committee. Kurt Olson of Soldotna will chair the Labor and Commerce Committee and Bob Lynn of Anchorage will chair State Affairs.

Carl Gatto of Palmer and Craig Johnson of Anchorage will be co-chairmen of the Resources Committee and Gabriel LeDoux of Kodiak and Anna Fairclough of Eagle River will co-chair Community and Regional Affairs.

Kyle Johansen of Ketchikan was picked as chairman of the Transportation Committee.

Owners say cyanide will prolong gold mine

ANCHORAGE - The owners of the Fort Knox gold mine say cyanide heap leaching would extend the life of the mine as long as five years and cut costs.

Since opening a decade ago, the open-pit mine northeast of Fairbanks has been the dominant gold mine in Alaska. It processed a record 173,000 tons of ore per day last year. But the gold mined from the ore fell to 329,320 ounces, a 20 percent decrease from the peak five years ago, according to the state.

Without any changes, the mine would likely close in 2010, the state said.

Fort Knox is running out of high-grade ore and company officials also are worried about the spiraling cost of electrical power.

"We can't control everything," Delbert Parr, the Fort Knox mine's environmental manager, said Friday at the Alaska Miners Association conference in Anchorage.

The mine - owned by Toronto-based Kinross Gold Corp. - sits on state and Alaska Mental Health Trust land.

The mine already uses cyanide in its milling process. But it doesn't have the required permits for heap leaching, a process that involves putting a cyanide solution over piled lower-grade ore. The technique causes the gold to leach out of the rock.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is completing an environmental assessment of the heap-leach proposal for the mine.

Fred Meyer mothballs plans for Homer store

HOMER - Representatives for Fred Meyer stores have told the city of Homer that they have put their plans on hold for building a store in the south Kenai Peninsula community.

The company will mothball its plans because of the rise in cost of building materials, a spokeswoman said.

Melinda Merrill said the decision was based entirely on the cost of materials and construction, which soared some $8 million over the course of several years to an estimated cost of $24 million.

"We've put our plans on hold," Merrill said. "By the time we got to this point, the cost had really changed."

Merrill said the decision had nothing to do with the city's permitting process.

"The bids we were getting were just really big bids," she said. "It's not just us. Wal-Mart put a couple of its stores on hold, too. We just want to make sure the community knows it's not anything they did. We weren't frustrated with the process, we just can't make it pencil out right now."

The proposed store was planned for land owned by the Cook Inlet Region, Inc., near Petro Express on the Sterling Highway, part of the in the Town Center development area. Merrill said Fred Meyer is no longer in any sort of agreement with CIRI.

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