Alaska Digest

Posted: Monday, December 04, 2006

Murkowski appoints Game Board member

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FAIRBANKS - A former Anchorage assemblyman has been appointed to the Alaska Board of Game in one of Frank Murkowski's final acts as governor.

Bob Bell, a civil engineer, was named to the seven-member panel on Tuesday, less than a week before the inauguration of Gov.-elect Sarah Palin. The seat was vacated by former board chairman Mike Fleagle, who resigned in August to become chairman of the Federal Subsistence Board.

The seat's term expires in March just before the board's next meeting. The appointment can be revoked by Palin after she assumes office today.

Murkowski was attending a meeting in Texas and couldn't be reached for comment, said his spokesman, John Manly.

Alaska Outdoor Council executive director Rod Arno said he was "shocked" by Murkowski's appointment of Bell. Bell has never participated in the Game Board process during the 15 years Arno has been involved, Arno said.

Palin hasn't had time to consider possible Game Board candidates because she's been busy with higher-level decisions, spokesman Curtis Smith said. Palin was not consulted about Bell's appointment.

New Alyeska Resort owner plans changes

ANCHORAGE - The new owner of Alyeska Resort in Girdwood will make changes aimed at its main customers, day skiers from Anchorage.

"Not many of the buildings in the base area will still be there five or six years from now," said John Byrne, who became the resort's owner Friday.

The buildings include a day lodge, which could be replaced with a mix of lodge and retail sites.

Byrne, a ski enthusiast and real-estate financier from Utah, bought the resort from Seibu Holdings Inc., a financially struggling Japanese company that had owned it for 25 years and put it up for sale last summer.

Alyeska opened 50 years ago with a handful of runs and amenities. It now features more than 1,400 acres of skiable terrain and an eight-story hotel connected by a tram to a mountaintop lodge and restaurant.

The sale price was not revealed. Byrne's real-estate investment company told Anchorage's financial adviser that it planned to pay cash for Alyeska and immediately spend as much as $10 million more on upgrades, according to a Nov. 16 memo to Anchorage officials. The new owners plan to expand snowmaking on the mountain to the area around the summit lodge.

Other immediate changes include getting high-speed Internet connections to all hotel rooms and working with cell-phone companies to improve reception on the slopes, Byrne said.

Byrne also would like to add lifts to higher ridge lines. He wants to expand existing terrain to include more beginner and intermediate runs, as well as some backcountry terrain.

Military construction expected to continue

ANCHORAGE - There's mostly good news for Alaska contractors: public-sector funding for building will remain strong overall through at least the next few years.

Representatives from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers told contractors that they expect to award contracts for projects totaling $1 billion or more by 2010, a figure that continues near-record-high programs the Corps has overseen in recent years.

Corps officials outlined the program at the Associated General Contractors of Alaska's annual meeting in Anchorage.

High-dollar projects are slated on military bases across the state, mostly in barracks facilities and housing projects to accommodate newly stationed brigades to Fort Wainwright and squadrons at Elmendorf Air Force Base.

Also in the military work horizon is the anticipation of approvals for contracts relating to the Base Realignment and Closure legislation. The majority of the Alaska BRAC work will require joining Elmendorf and Fort Richardson, and adding facilities on that base to accommodate troops from the soon-to-close Kulis Air National Guard Base.

Corps officials were tight-lipped about schedules, but said federal officials are currently reviewing a work plan. BRAC work is set to be completed by 2011.

Police charge teens in Dec. 31 assault

ANCHORAGE - Six Anchorage teens have been arrested on robbery and assault charges tied to a brawl last News Year's Eve.

Police say the incident was "gang motivated" but relatives of the youths call the charges excessive.

Court papers describe a confrontation at a party at a home in South Anchorage in which a group of teenagers attacked and beat members of a smaller group. The documents say the attack was preceded by one youth claiming another had disrespected the FamBam gang.

As many as 45 teens and young adults were at the apartment and at least one person was hit with a baseball bat. None of the injured required hospitalization. An $800 TV was stolen and the apartment had more than $1,000 in damage, according to the documents.

Police spokesman Lt. Paul Honeman said the incident meets the definition of "gang-motivated" because some of the youths involved were in a gang and their actions were in defense of the gang.

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