Around the state

Posted: Sunday, November 18, 2001

Groups seek Thanksgiving help; Lobbyist indicted on fraud charges; Get those trout now; Poll shows support for smoking ban; Cattle roundup planned near Kodiak

Groups seek Thanksgiving help

JUNEAU -- Local groups that put on Thanksgiving meals are asking for donations and assistance.

The Salvation Army needs pies and other desserts for its community Thanksgiving dinner, which will be about 11:45 a.m.-2 p.m. Thursday at Hangar on the Wharf restaurant. They can be dropped off before 5 p.m. Wednesday at the Salvation Army, 439 W. Willoughby Ave.

Store-bought pies are best because of health regulations, said Maj. Larry Fankhauser.

The Glory Hole is looking for a group to prepare dinner at the South Franklin Street shelter on Thanksgiving. Anyone willing to volunteer should call 586-4159, staff said.

Lobbyist indicted on fraud charges

KETCHIKAN -- Lobbyist Geoffrey Bullock, whose clients include the city of Ketchikan, has been indicted by a federal grand jury on five counts of wire fraud.

The indictments, handed up Tuesday but announced Thursday, stem from a 1997 joint venture with two Russians interested in building a fish processing and storage plant in Ketchikan to export fish to Russia, according to the U.S. Attorney's office in Anchorage.

The Russians agreed to invest $1 million, and made an initial payment of $200,000.

Bullock at the time had a small business, Inside Passage Fish Co., which sold fish to cruise liners and which brokered fish on the international market, prosecutors said.

But Bullock, who lives in Ketchikan, spent most of the Russians' money on personal expenses and to pay past debts, according to the indictment.

The indictment also says Bullock used false and misleading statements and documents to lull the victims into thinking their money was being used properly, and also tried to obtain the additional $800,000.

The indictment claims that Bullock inflated the size of his company to get the Russians interested in investing in it, and that he represented himself as someone with important connections in the borough, which would greatly assist in getting a large, low-interest loan to finance construction of a Ketchikan facility.

Get those trout now

FAIRBANKS -- It's that time of year when the state Department of Fish and Game urges anglers in the Fairbanks area to go out and kill fish before they -- the fish -- die.

Sport fish biologist Cal Skaugstad said several hundred rainbow trout are lurking in Ballaine Lake in Fairbanks and Little Lost Lake about 80 miles south of the Interior city. The fish will go to waste if they're not caught and eaten.

Both lakes go through winterkill because they're not deep enough to support fish through the colder months. The fish basically suffocate from a lack of oxygen when the ice gets too thick.

Skaugstad said the trout will be dead by January.

The state spent about $8,000 stocking the two lakes this summer.

Poll shows support for smoking ban

ANCHORAGE -- Nearly 80 percent of 482 people polled in a recent survey said they support Anchorage's nearly year-old restaurant smoking ban.

Smoke-free restaurants have encouraged almost 22 percent of the respondents to eat out more, the poll found.

The survey was conducted by Ivan Moore this month for the Alaska Native Health board.

Of those polled, only 6.8 percent said they stopped going to some restaurants as often because they went smoke-free.

"The numbers are extremely strong; they show overwhelmingly that this is a good thing," Annette Marley, manager of the Alaska Native Health Board's Trampling Tobacco Project, told the Anchorage Daily News.

The city, however, should consider letting people smoke in restaurants with ventilation systems, said Tom Anderson, acting director of the Anchorage Cabaret, Hotel, Restaurant & Retailers Association.

"It's still a business rights issue," he said.

The ban, implemented at the start of this year, applies to restaurants, sports arenas and bowling alleys but not bars, some offices and some hotel rooms.

The Juneau Assembly passed an ordinance Oct. 1, to take effect Jan. 1, that bans smoking in most restaurants, offices and stores.

Cattle roundup planned near Kodiak

KODIAK -- Despite protests from area ranchers, federal wildlife managers are forging ahead with plans to remove all cattle from a tiny island 175 miles southwest of Kodiak where the livestock have roamed for decades.

Introduced foxes also may be eliminated in order to return Chirikof Island, part of the Alaska Maritime Wildlife Refuge, to its native species.

The remote, windswept island has been home to cattle since at least the early 1900s, though some believe Russians introduced them a century earlier.

But the cattle are not compatible with the federal government's mandate to manage the island for native species, said refuge Manager Greg Siekaniec.

"One of our goals is to restore the extent of the native wildlife that should be there," Siekaniec said. "That certainly means removing the cattle and it might mean removing the foxes as well."

Blue foxes were stocked by fur traders in the late 19th century and have propagated widely.

The foxes feast on bird eggs, while the cattle ruin nesting grounds, Siekaniec said.

"What livestock tend to do on these islands is change the composition of the habitat," Siekaniec said. "They discourage any ground-nesting type birds by removing vegetation."

The federal Bureau of Land Management had issued a grazing lease for the island, but that lease expired last year.

Rancher Wayne McCrary, who owns the island's cattle, has been granted a two-year permit to be on the island so he can come up with a plan to remove the livestock, now wild. McCrary left the remote island several years ago after his son developed cancer and needed medical treatment in the Lower 48.

Ranchers on Kodiak Island don't want to see the cattle go. Many believe the cattle have developed an invaluable resistance to the harsh climate and diseases such as hoof rot. And Alaska grazing lands are disappearing too quickly, they say.

"These cattle are protected and pure from all the diseases in the world," said ranch advocate Deedie Pearson. "They're a strong, hearty, self-sustaining strain."

Longtime rancher Wanda Fields said Kodiak already has lost too much grazing land.

"One by one, the ranches are being taken away," Fields said. "We had eight or 10 ranches here for some time; now we're down to three or four."

Originally, the island was selected for state acquisition under the Alaska Statehood Act. But the state relinquished its selection two years ago.

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