Northwest Digest

Posted: Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Businesses fail alcohol compliance sweep

JUNEAU - Seven alcoholic beverage retailers that failed early November compliance checks were among those that refused to sell to underage customers last week.

But according to Alaska State Trooper reports, three of the 21 business visited by underage undercover agents Friday and Saturday failed.

Last week's round of Alcoholic Beverage Control Board compliance checks sent two young women and one young man, all under 21, into businesses selling alcohol. The 14 percent failure rate was similar to the 12 percent failure rate during recorded during compliance checks from November 7 though 10, troopers reported.

Other recent checks have found failure rates of about 8 percent in Anchorage and 20 percent in Fairbanks, the reports noted.

In early November, three men under 21 made 57 visits to 45 Juneau businesses licensed to sell alcohol. The 21 more recent checks included the seven businesses that failed about two weeks earlier.

Letters of satisfactory compliance will be sent to all 18 businesses that passed last week, and copies of those letters will be included in their permanent Alcoholic Beverage Control Board files, according to troopers.

The failures led to citations at the Sand Bar, Fisherman's Bend and Valley Restaurant, on charges of furnishing alcohol to a minor.

Good Samaritan loses car to couple

ANCHORAGE - A Good Samaritan who stopped to help two people walking in the cold was robbed of his car at knifepoint.

Dorrance Collins, 61, a semiretired laborer, said he was driving at about 7 a.m. to a McDonald's restaurant when a woman flagged him down as he crossed Fifth Avenue downtown near Cordova Street.

"I asked her what was wrong, and she said she needed to get out of the cold," Collins said. She told him she needed to take her brother too, Collins said.

He took the couple, described as being in their mid-20s, to where they said they wanted to go, on 20th Avenue off Arctic Boulevard.

They asked him to sit in the car and wait, but he said he could not.

The woman pulled the car key out and the man in the back seat reached over and pressed a knife to Collins' throat, Collins said. They wanted him to stay in the car, he said.

Collins got tangled in the seat belt trying to escape and wrestled with both the man and the woman. He fell down and the man kicked his head. Collins said he punched both the man and the woman, ran away and called police.

The couple drove off, he said.

"I'm going to be very leery" of picking up people in the future, Collins said.

Collins said he will pay a $250 reward if someone helps police get his car back.

The license plate number is EFK 543, Collins said.

Police confirmed a carjacking was reported and said the car, a 1998 red Ford Explorer, had not been recovered by Monday morning.

Fairbanks plans wetlands makeover

FAIRBANKS - Junked cars and random recreational shooting on land south of Fairbanks will be replaced by a park under a plan in the works by the Fairbanks North Star Borough.

Karl Kassel, borough parks director, said a draft plan includes nature trails, multi-use trails and boardwalks, campgrounds, picnic areas, fishing spots and a boat ramp for access to the Tanana River.

The main recreation area would include about 400 acres south of the Tanana River levee between Lathrop Avenue and South Cushman Street.

The idea has been around since 1999 and construction will begin next year, Kassel said.

The area has turned into a trash and vehicle dumping ground over the years, marring the natural beauty of the wetlands, but it is one of Fairbanks' premier bird-watching spots.

Kassel said he's embarrassed to know that birders might be taking cover to watch the birds from behind a rusted, abandoned vehicle.

"We'd like to turn it into something we can all be proud of," Kassel said.

Nancy DeWitt, director of the Alaska Bird Observatory, welcomed the plan.

"I think this could be a great community resource," she said.

Lingcod numbers declared rebuilt

PORTLAND - Pacific Ocean populations of lingcod, a popular sport and commercial fish in the Pacific, have been declared rebuilt six years after federal fisheries managers declared them overfished and sharply cut back harvests.

Harvests, however, will continue to be restricted to allow rebuilding of canary rockfish and yelloweye rockfish, which are caught in the same parts of the ocean, the Pacific Fishery Management Council announced Monday.

The federal government declared the groundfish fishery, including lingcod, an economic disaster in 2000 due to years of overfishing and poor ocean conditions. Nine species were declared overfished, some fisheries were closed and the groundfish fleet was cut by a third in 2003 to allow remaining boats to earn a better living.

Harvest cutbacks were designed to allow lingcod numbers to reach target levels by 2009, but an assessment last month found the biomass - the estimated weight of the living fish - at 34,017 metric tons. That compares to an estimate of 52,850 metric tons if there were no fishing and a lowpoint of 6,004 metric tons in 1994, according to the council.

"At a time when the public often hears negative things about marine fishery management, it is refreshing to see things improving off the West Coast," said Don Hanse, chairman of the fishery management council.

Deputy Premier Jenkins resigns

WHITEHORSE, Yukon - Deputy Premier Peter Jenkins has resigned from the cabinet as deputy premier and has quit the Yukon party, Premier Dennis Fentie said Monday.

Minutes before the legislature began sitting, Fentie called a news conference to make the announcement.

He said a demand letter was sent last week to Jenkins on the issue of his $300,000 in outstanding government loans.

Jenkins's response to the government, Fentie explained, was that the Yukon government would have to accept an offer from him, or else.

The premier said the government accepted the "or else."

Fentie also indicated he planned to remove Jenkins from cabinet in any case, because the outstanding loans issue was heading to court in a legal battle between Jenkins and the government.

Jenkins is in default of loans made to him and his Dawson City business.

The Yukon party government committed itself to chase down the loans, and entered into an agreement earlier this with Dana Naye Ventures to have the company collect on all delinquent loans.

Jenkins began sitting in the afternoon as an independent MLA.

The most senior of Fentie's cabinet, Jenkins was also the party house leader, and held the portfolios for Health and Social Services and Environment.

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