Alaska Digest

Posted: Sunday, November 18, 2007

Transportation deputy commissioner resigns

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JUNEAU - John MacKinnon has resigned as deputy commissioner of the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities.

MacKinnon joined the transportation department a few months into the administration of former Gov. Frank Murkowski in March 2003. MacKinnon was the deputy commissioner of Highways and Public Facilities.

MacKinnon submitted his resignation at the beginning of the month and is expected to stay through the end of the year. He did not respond to a request for comment.

Mary Siroky at the department said she did not know MacKinnon's future plans, but more information is expected soon.

Coast Guard, vessel rescue boat master

JUNEAU - The Coast Guard and the fishing vessel Heritage rescued the master of the fishing vessel Pacific Lady shortly after 1 a.m. Saturday, 70 miles southwest of Kodiak Island in Shelikof Strait.

The Coast Guard received an Electronic Position Indicating Radio Beacon signal registered to the 42-foot Pacific Lady out of Kodiak at about 9:30 p.m. Friday. Personnel from the Coast Guard Command Center in Juneau contacted the wife of the master, Alan Ryden, and discovered he was piloting the vessel from Sand Point to Kodiak and was the only person on board.

The Coast Guard launched a rescue with an airplane, a helicopter and a cutter. The airplane crew arrived first and spotted the flashing strobe on Ryden's survival suit, then dropped a life raft to him. The weather was 45-knot winds gusting to 60, 16-foot seas and freezing spray, according to the Coast Guard aircraft commander.

The Heritage then arrived on scene and located Ryden in the life raft dropped by the plane. He was taken on board and determined to be in good medical condition, the Coast Guard said.

The Heritage was en route to Kodiak with an estimated arrival time of 1 a.m. today. In the dark conditions the Pacific Lady was not sighted, the Coast Guard said. The Coast Guard Marine Safety Detachment in Kodiak will investigate the incident.

Coast Guard helps return seal to wild

KODIAK - The Coast Guard is assisting the Alaska SeaLife Center in returning a rehabilitated ribbon seal to the wild.

The Coast Guard will help transport the 250-pound seal named Diamond by providing transportation from Seward to Cold Bay next Wednesday.

The seal was found last month outside of its natural environment at the Palmer Hayflats State Game Refuge. It was rehabilitated at the SeaLife Center in Seward.

AT&T to acquire Alaska's Cellular One

ANCHORAGE - AT&T Inc. finalized a deal to acquire Alaska telecommunications company Cellular One on Friday, the companies announced.

The deal allows AT&T to take over the smaller company's wireless service in early December and makes way for AT&T products and service like the iPhone in the nearly two dozen Cellular One stores in Alaska.

Cellular One is owned by Oklahoma-based Dobson Communications Corp.

AT&T executives said Cellular One's statewide calling plan will remain in place.

New midtown hotels planned in Anchorage

ANCHORAGE - Two new hotel projects currently under construction will add hundreds more rooms to the hotel count in Anchorage.

"Anchorage has had 19 years of uninterrupted growth, and has become Alaska's economic engine," said Julie Saupe, president of the Anchorage Convention and Visitors Bureau.

The new construction marks the first time in four years that new hotel rooms have been constructed in Anchorage.

Embassy Suites in Midtown is scheduled to open in February 2008 and will feature 169 rooms. In September 2008, Holiday Inn will open a new facility, which will include 166 rooms.

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