Around the state

Posted: Friday, November 16, 2001

Alaska's October unemployment rate at 5.6 percent; near record low

ANCHORAGE -- Alaska's unemployment rate rose to 5.6 percent last month from 5.2 percent in September. But the October jobless rate is among the lowest for the month in the past two decades, according to a report from the state Department of Labor.

Nationwide, unemployment rose 0.3 percent last month to 5 percent. Both the national and state numbers are the first labor market data available since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. State labor economist Dan Robinson said the numbers indicate Alaska's labor market is holding steady.

However, a larger-than-normal increase in claims for unemployment benefits may indicate higher unemployment rates in coming months. Claims for jobless benefits rose 50 percent from September to October, to 9,619. That represents a 30 percent increase from the same period last year.

The Aleutians East Borough had the lowest unemployment rate in October at 3 percent while the Wade Hampton Census Area in Western Alaska had the highest at 16.1 percent. Anchorage unemployment was at 3.9 percent; Fairbanks was at 5 percent; Juneau was at 4.9 percent and the Kenai Peninsula jobless rate was at 8.9 percent.

Nine Anchorage men indicted on federal drug, gun charges

ANCHORAGE -- Nine Anchorage men were indicted Thursday on federal charges of conspiracy, drug trafficking and use of firearms.

The suspects were identified as Estarlin Nolasco, Alex Tejada, Alex Contreras, Lenny Urena, Angel Tejada, Moises Caro Ramos, Frank Moniz, Oliver Ubiera-Maleno and Michael Joe D. Davis. Each was charged in the 80-count indictment.

The alleged cocaine conspiracy began in January and operated from four houses in Anchorage, Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin Feldis said.

The defendants face maximum penalties of 10 years to life in prison, a $4 million fine and five years of supervised release.

Judge throws out recall request in Matanuska-Susitna Borough

ANCHORAGE -- An Anchorage judge has thrown out a request to start a recall petition against Matanuska-Susitna Borough Assembly member Jim Colver.

In Thursday's action, Superior Court Judge Peter Michalski said claims against Colver were too vague for the recall petition to be certified by the borough clerk.

It's unclear what the ruling means for recalls filed against Assembly member Kelly Ladere and Mayor Tim Anderson.

The claims in all three recalls are nearly identical. They accuse the officials of illegally making decisions in a closed-door meeting in March and withholding from the public an appraisal of a Hatcher Pass land lease.

Colver has said he was never asked for the appraisal and no decisions were made in the closed-door meeting.

Man charged with manslaughter in drunken-driving traffic death

ANCHORAGE -- An Anchorage man was set to appear in court today on a manslaughter charge for the August death of a motorcyclist in what authorities said was an alcohol-related traffic collision.

Walter Pease, 44, was arrested Thursday and was being held on $25,000 bail. Pease also is charged with felony assault.

According to the charges, Pease's blood alcohol level on Aug. 24 exceeded 0.28 about three times the legal presumption of drunken driving. He crashed his Dodge Ramcharger into motorcyclist Robert Thomas and passenger Jennifer Jackson while making a turn in East Anchorage.

Thomas died and Jackson was injured in the collision.

Pease told police he had the green turn light, but witnesses said he did not. According to the charges, Pease did not brake to avoid the collision and ran over the motorcycle and rider.

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