Alaska Digest

Posted: Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Fisheries marketing board elects officers

JUNEAU - The new Alaska Fisheries Marketing Board has elected its officers and begun sketching out details on how to spend $8 million in federal funds.

State Sen. Ben Stevens, an Anchorage Republican, is the board's new chairman. Trevor McCabe of the At-Sea Processors Association was elected vice chairman, Kodiak fisherman Bruce Schactler was elected treasurer, and Kodiak fisherman and processor Duncan Fields was elected secretary.

Bill Hines, an international coordinator for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration who has been nominated to be the board's executive director, said the board adopted bylaws at a meeting in mid-November.

"We developed and agreed to an approach on how to spend our remaining funds," Hines said.

The board received $10 million in Saltonstall-Kennedy funds, which are financed through taxes on U.S. seafood imports. The board turned over $2 million to the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute. Hines said the board decided at the November meeting to use $6.5 million to target major retail and food service outlets.

Hines said the board would like to work with fishermen and retailers to raise customer awareness of and interest in Alaska seafood, particularly salmon.

"This is a very positive step to help to stimulate interest in Alaska seafood," he said.

He said the board hopes to have an action plan in January.

Angoon murder trial postponed to April

JUNEAU - The Angoon woman charged with second-degree murder in the July stabbing death of Richard "Buddy" George Jr. won't stand trial this year.

Denni Starr is now scheduled to go to trial on April 5, 2004, her 23rd birthday.

On Monday, Juneau Superior Court Judge Patricia Collins approved a request to postpone the trial from Dec. 1 at the request of Starr's court-appointed attorney, Darrel Gardner. The case is assigned to Superior Court Judge Larry Weeks, who was not on the bench Monday.

In a request filed with the court, Gardner wrote that he will need more time to prepare. He wrote that he is handling numerous cases for the state Office of Public Advocacy, including cases alleging first-degree murder in Kenai and first-degree sexual abuse of a minor in St. Paul. He also is representing defendants charged with sexual assault in two other Juneau cases.

Gardner wrote that he has retained a private investigator to assist with Starr's defense. Based on preliminary work, he wrote, "considerable additional investigation will be required."

Before rescheduling the trial, Starr assured Collins she was willing to waive her right to a speedy trial. Starr posted $10,000 bail in September for her pretrial release from jail to the supervision of family members.

A grand jury indictment alleges Starr fatally stabbed George in the back at their Angoon home July 26. Starr also faces a misdemeanor reckless endangerment charge alleging George, 27, was holding their 17-month-old child at the time.

Commercial fishermen to receive $550 checks

JUNEAU - About 3,000 commercial fishermen hurt by a downturn in the salmon industry will be receiving assistance this month from the state of Alaska.

State labor officials expect the checks of $550 to be sent by Thursday.

The assistance is part of a $50 million dollar program announced by Gov. Frank Murkowski aimed at revitalizing an industry that's suffered from low prices due to a glut in the market.

The multiyear program also includes a marketing campaign for Alaska salmon, as well as grants to local governments that have lost fish tax revenues.

This is the second round of checks sent directly to fishermen hurt by the downturn in the fishing industry. The assistance is paid for with federal funds.

Back in July, the state sent about 2,000 fishermen checks of $1,100 each.

Murkowski's multiyear salmon revitalization plan also includes an international marketing campaign for Alaska salmon and matching grants to communities, businesses and nonprofits.

Girl injured in snowmachine accident

ANCHORAGE - A girl was seriously injured when the snowmachine she was on sped across a gas station parking lot and a highway, before ramming into a snow berm.

The impact catapulted Shaila Dysert, 11, of Anchorage, into the air. She landed dozens of feet away when her body hit a utility pole, said Greg Wilkinson, a spokesman for Alaska State Troopers.

James Steele, deputy chief with the Central Mat-Su Fire Department, said when emergency crews were called to the scene Sunday afternoon in Wasilla, they believed it was for a vehicle that had hit a power pole.

"When we arrived, we discovered it was a child," Steele said.

The girl, who was wearing a helmet but not speaking when crews arrived, was taken to Valley Hospital and later transferred to Providence Alaska Medical Center in Anchorage. Information on her condition was not being released Monday afternoon.

Anchorage man arraigned in child porn case

ANCHORAGE - An Anchorage man was arraigned Monday on federal charges of transportation and possession of child pornography.

Andrew Thomas Weed, 35, was indicted by a federal grand jury here on Thursday.

He was arrested Friday, and a search warrant executed the same day found thousands of images of child pornography, Assistant U.S. Attorney Audrey Renschen said.

The investigation began when Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft shut down Internet sites containing child pornography and then notified the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, Renschen said.

Man found dead in Big Lake house fire

BIG LAKE - A 49-year-old man was found dead in a house that burned early Monday morning in Big Lake, Alaska State Troopers said.

Troopers responded to the fire on Sunrise Loop about 2:30 a.m., and the body of David Glenn McKinney was found about 5 a.m. No foul play is suspected, troopers said.

Body found in Wasilla fire set by arsonist

WASILLA - A man's body was found in a house fire in Wasilla that officials believe was arson, Alaska State Troopers said.

Troopers in Palmer received a report early Sunday of a house fire on West Sands Drive. It took firefighters nearly four hours to put out the blaze, which destroyed the house. The state fire marshal's office has determined that the fire was intentionally set.

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