State Briefs

Posted: Monday, November 26, 2001

Conference studies state's needs

ANCHORAGE - The Alaska Humanities Forum has spent about $250,000 on two studies to learn what issues Alaskans care about and what they want out of the next two decades.

The two studies will be discussed at a two-day conference the nonprofit group is kicking off Tuesday in Anchorage.

The Anchorage-based forum is embarking on a three-year, $1 million process of establishing the state's needs over the next 20 years in terms of economy, education, communities/families, the natural environment and sustainable funding for public services.

One of the two studies was done by the Institute of Social and Economic Research at the University of Alaska Anchorage. The report analyzes trends in the state's population and economy since statehood in 1959.

The other was a poll by Craciun Research Group, which asked 1,000 people about issues facing Alaskans.

This week's conference - Alaska 20/20: Alaskans Charting Our Future - is expected to attract more than 300 participants from around the state.

"If we prepare people with data regarding the evolution of Alaska, we set the stage for a conversation of who we want to be," Jane Angvik, the forum's program manager, told the Anchorage Daily News.

The ISER data reveal that since statehood Alaska's population has nearly tripled and jobs have increased nearly five-fold. Economists, however, forecast slow job growth and stagnating incomes in the next decade.

State services are more in demand than ever, ISER found, but the state continues to rely on dwindling oil revenues to pay for them.

In the mid-1970s, as money poured in from the construction of the trans-Alaska oil pipeline, the average Alaskan's income was 178 percent higher than the U.S. average. Today, Alaskans' earnings are roughly on par with the national average, a drop "somewhat - but not entirely - offset by a decline in Alaska's historically high living costs," the ISER report states.

Pollsters asked why people came to Alaska and why they left. They found that two-thirds of respondents came here for a job and nearly half left the state for economic reasons.

Man killed, woman injured in Ft. Yukon snowmachine accident

ANCHORAGE - A 40-year-old snowmachiner died and his passenger was injured in a snowmachine crash in Fort Yukon, Alaska State Troopers said.

Roland Alexander of Fort Yukon was killed in Friday's accident. Troopers identified the passenger as Gina Rustad, 27, of Venetie.

Rustad was taken to a hospital in Fairbanks after Fort Yukon police found her dazed and wandering along a road Friday night, according to troopers. Rustad appeared to have been drinking and reported she might have been assaulted, said trooper spokesman Greg Wilkinson.

Fort Yukon police discovered a wrecked snowmachine on the same road. Wilkinson said a search of the area turned up no one else. But Saturday morning two people found Alexander's body about 20 yards away from the snowmachine.

Investigating troopers determined Alexander was the snowmachine driver and Rustad was a passenger, according to Wilkinson. He said no foul play was suspected.

Man triggers four-car crash

ANCHORAGE - A 64-year-old homeless man was injured in a four-car crash that was triggered when he tried to cross an Anchorage street, police said.

The accident Sunday afternoon also closed busy Gambell Street for about 15 minutes.

Police said the man was trying to cross against the light, causing cars to brake for him on the street, which was slippery from freezing fog. One car slid into another and eventually four vehicles were involved. One of the vehicles spun around and apparently hit the pedestrian, police said.

The man, whose name was not immediately released, suffered a cut above his eye and possibly other injuries. No charges were filed pending further investigation.

Anchorage hospital launches $3.2 million remodel of neonatal unit

ANCHORAGE - An Anchorage hospital is beginning a $3.2 million remodel of its neonatal unit. Providence Alaska Medical Center will begin the work next month.

The remodel of the 38-bed neonatal unit is to be carried out in three phases, said Jo Danner, clinical manager of the maternity unit. The project is expected to be completed within a year.

The overhaul will greatly benefit the sickest or most premature babies, according to neonatal nurse practitioner Jane Noonan. For example, six separate rooms will replace the current open nursery, allowing medical staff to individually control lighting, acoustics and room temperature.

INS had ordered massage parlor owner deported in early 1990s

FAIRBANKS - The owner of a massage parlor who is facing 124 federal charges should have been deported in the early 1990s, according to court documents.

Federal prosecutors have charged Bruno Bordonici, owner of the Oriental Massage Parlor and the former owner of International Check Cashing, with running a prostitution ring, loan-sharking, dealing crack and cocaine, and committing other felonies.

Bordonici is the same man that an Immigration and Naturalization judge ordered deported to his native Yugoslavia in June 1992. Bordonici entered the United States in 1966.

Yugoslavia wouldn't take him back, citing problems in that country at the time. "Given the civil unrest in the former Yugoslavia, it was not possible to obtain documents to return him to that country," a local Fairbanks INS representative said at a Sept. 28 court hearing.

According to Alaska INS head Robert Eddy, the failure to deport Bordonici may have had more to do with the passport-less Bordonici's refusal to provide a birth certificate or other papers to the INS proving his country of origin.

"I don't think it was due to the conflict in Yugoslavia, it was due to the lack of identity documents," Eddy said.

Instead of being forced to leave the U.S., Bordonici in 1993 was granted supervised INS release. It was not until 1999 that a warrant of deportation - an INS document that prioritizes his case and allows any immigration officer to take him into custody - was issued.

Carl Zabat, INS supervising deportation officer for Alaska, could not explain the six-year delay. "In actuality, the deportation warrant should have been issued back in 1993," he testified. "I cannot say for sure, but I believe it was just an oversight."

Eddy denied Zabat's statement, noting that Bordonici's refusal to hand over the needed documents meant he could not have been deported anyway.

Bordonici was arrested on state drug and weapons charges in November 2000, but those were dropped in April when federal prosecutors indicated they would be filing more substantial charges.

Bordonici is to go on trial in December. The INS will regain custody of Bordonici when the case is closed.

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