Alaska Digest

Posted: Monday, December 01, 2003

Snow knocks out power to Valley, Auke Bay

JUNEAU - Approximately 8,000 Alaska Electric Light & Power customers in the Valley and Auke Bay lost power Sunday evening after a snow-laden branch fell off a tree and landed on a transmission line near Kimberly Street.

Power went out at 5:50 p.m. and was mostly restored in 40 minutes, said David Stone, AEL&P vice president of consumer affairs.

The transmission line near Kimberly Street, east of Mendenhall Loop Road and a few blocks south of Back Loop Road, is part of the network that carries power throughout the AEL&P system. Crews were able to reconfigure the power distribution and isolate the area where the branch fell.

As of 6:38 p.m., AEL&P had restored power to all customers except those on Back Loop Road.

Fire marshal orders freeze on ice hotel

FAIRBANKS - The Alaska Fire Marshal's office has ordered a halt to construction of the planned Aurora Ice Hotel near Fairbanks, citing public safety concerns.

Bernie Karl, the hotel's creator, said he is going ahead with his plans, building not a hotel now, but one of Alaska's largest works of art. He is creating the structure at Chena Hot Springs Resort with champion ice carver Steve Brice.

The fire marshal's office issued an order Nov. 21 for construction to stop.

"Under my First Amendment rights, I have the right to create an ice sculpture and that's what we're doing," Karl told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. "I suppose that this could be a long, lengthy battle, but under my First Amendment rights, they can't stop me from making a work of art, I believe."

Port Heiden residents appeal for state help

ANCHORAGE - Villagers in Port Heiden stayed busy gathering remains and building plywood coffins after high tides swept through a beach-side cemetery and unearthed several graves.

Residents of the Alaska Peninsula village have also asked former Gov. Jay Hammond to appeal for state help when he meets with the Murkowski administration this week.

High tides last week eroded the low hill that holds the main cemetery for the Alaska Peninsula village, a traditional Alutiiq community with about 100 residents.

Developer interested in building resort

PALMER - A well-known developer is the only one to express interest in carving a ski resort out of south side of Government Peak near Hatcher Pass.

JL Properties Inc., which has developed a string of high-profile commercial and government properties all over Anchorage, was the only developer to submit a letter of interest by a deadline last week.

This despite an advertising blitz by the Matanuska-Susitna Borough aimed at drumming up interest in the project, including national ads in The Wall Street Journal.

"We have a group of folks who are very experienced in Alaska," Borough Manager John Duffy said. "They have a very realistic view of this."

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