Alaska Digest

Posted: Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Lost hunter rescued on Shelter Island

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JUNEAU - A hunter was found in good shape on Shelter Island Monday night.

Michael Brna, 34, failed to reconnect with his hunting party at a prearranged time following the day's hunt.

Spokesman Richard Brahm said the U.S. Coast Guard deployed a Jay Hawk helicopter with a rescue swimmer to search Shelter Island after a call from the state police Monday evening.

A rescue diver located Brna in a cabin on the west side of Shelter Island after noticing smoke from a fire. The hunter was lost and somewhat confused so he decided to wait until morning to figure things out, Brahm said.

Juneau man pleads guilty to meth charge

ANCHORAGE - A 43-year-old Juneau man has pleaded guilty to a federal charge of possessing methamphetamine with intent to distribute.

As part of the plea agreement, the U.S. Attorney's office says John D. Jefferson will be sentenced to 10 years next February.

Authorities say in April 2006, Jefferson attempted to possess and intended to distribute about 250 grams of meth. The drugs were concealed inside a parcel mailed from Salem, Ore., sent through the mail, and delivered to Jefferson's home in Juneau.

Officials say officers found several firearms, a digital scale, meth pipes, and other drug paraphernalia at his home during a search.

According to law enforcement, the meth had an estimated street value of $60,000.

Mine reports rising third quarter profits

JUNEAU - The minority owner of the Greens Creek mine on Admiralty Island reported a 46 percent increase in profits in the third quarter.

Hecla Mining Co., which owns about a 30 percent stake in Green Creek, saw increased income, gross profits and cash flow for the third quarter of 2007, compared to the same quarter a year ago.

Hecla's profits increased 46 percent to $21 million in the third quarter, compared to the same period of 2006.

The company's income was $12.4 million for the third quarter of 2007, compared to $0.9 million in the same quarter a year ago. Net cash provided by operating activities before exploration and pre-development expenses rose to $28 million in the third quarter, a 45-percent increase over the same period a year ago.

Hecla's income fell 7.5 percent year to date, however. For the first nine months of 2007, the company recorded income of $44.6 million, compared to $48.2 million, in the first three quarters of 2006.

The Greens Creek mine produced 2.1 million ounces for Hecla's account during the first nine months of the year. Higher metal prices are offsetting increasing operating costs from rising prices of oil, a company statement said.

Prices "more than offset increased costs from higher diesel prices and the use of contract labor to compensate for a shortage of qualified miners," a company statement said.

In the first nine months of the year, Greens Creek provided $30.6 million in gross profit for Hecla's account.

"In September, Greens Creek set a record for the largest monthly ore concentrate shipment in its history, the result of unusual timing between mining and shipping schedules, which is unlikely to be repeated in the fourth quarter," a company statement said.

Remainder of PFDs going out in the mail

JUNEAU - The remainder of this year's Permanent Fund Dividend - in the form of actual paper checks - started going out in the mail Tuesday.

People should received them within five to 10 days, says Karen Lechner of the Permanent Fund Dividend Division in the Department of Revenue.

More than 89,500 Alaskans are receiving checks. Most others opted to have their $1,654 checks deposited directly into their accounts.

There were more than 604,000 dividend checks distributed this year.

Report: Animal abuse laws weak in Alaska

ANCHORAGE - Alaska is among the five worst states to live in - for animals, according to a new report ranking all 50 states.

The Animal Legal Defense Fund said in the report that Alaska has some of the weakest animal abuse laws in the nation, along with Arkansas, Kentucky, North Dakota and Utah. The five are dubbed as the five "best states to be an animal abuser."

California, Illinois, Maine, Michigan and Oregon topped the list as the five states with the strongest commitment to protecting animals.

The Cotati, Calif.-based organization said it sifted through more than 2,800 pages of statutes and tracked 14 areas of law.

Alaska got low marks, the group said, because it has no felony animal cruelty laws, inadequate animal fighting provisions, insufficient systems for helping to offset the expense of caring for abused animals.

The state has no mandates in place for counseling or mental health evaluations for people convicted of violations involving animals, the group said.

Newly-constructed hangar has design flaw

ANCHORAGE - A brand new hangar at Elmendorf Air Force Base has a design flaw.

No one is being allowed around the building known as Hanger 20 until the problem can be fixed.

Elmendorf officials say they don't know how long the hanger, which is used for maintenance on C-17 aircraft, will be out of service. It was put off-limits last week.

Officials say the contractor on the project discovered an issue with the hangar's structure. The contractor recommended not using the building until the problem can be fixed.

The base says it has taken all necessary measures to make sure that people, equipment and aircraft won't be placed at risk.

The contractors for the project are CH2M Hill and Kiewit.

Judge reaffirms 95-year sentence

ANCHORAGE - A judge has reaffirmed what three years ago was called the longest sentence of its kind ever handed down in Alaska for someone convicted of sexual assault.

Superior Court Judge Philip Volland on Tuesday again imposed a composite sentence of 95 years on John Hunter of Anchorage.

Hunter was convicted in February 2004 of five counts of first-degree sexual assault, two counts of first-degree robbery and second- and third- degree assault.

Volland at the time gave Hunter the maximum sentence for each count.

Hunter appealed. The Alaska Court of Appeals affirmed the conviction, but ordered a resentencing.

As he did three years ago, Volland found Hunter to be a "worst offender" and gave him 95 years.

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