Alaska Digest

Posted: Thursday, December 13, 2007

City offers landowners better deal on sewer

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JUNEAU - A subcommittee of the Juneau Assembly offered a new fee assessment plan during a Wednesday work session that could reduce landowner contributions to the West Valley sewer extension by 60 percent.

The Assembly previously refused to override land and business owners in the West Mendenhall Valley industrial zone who said no to a city recommendation that a Local Improvement District be designated to help fund the city's plan to connect the West Valley to the sewer as the city extends it to Auke Bay.

The compromised rate will reduce the 100 landowners' contribution by $1 million. The new rate is expected to apply to future sewer projects in North Douglas and the valley.

The new rate would be 8 cents to 18 cents per square foot of lot size plus a $1,500 pipe fee. The former rate was 20 cents to 45 cents per square foot plus the pipe fee.

When the city originally put sewer lines in the Mendenhall Valley during the 1990s the assessed fee was blanketed at $5,000 per property.

In addition, the new assessment would forego taxing land that falls to rights-of-way on properties one-acre or larger and further would reduce the assessment by 50 percent for some kinds of wetlands.

A neighborhood vote on the revised tax rate is expected to happen the next two weeks.

Helicopter Christmas lights tours offered

JUNEAU - Coastal Helicopters and the Mendenhall Flying Lions Club will provide helicopter tours of the lights of the Mendenhall Valley from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. Dec. 21 at Gate 1 in the north wing of the Juneau International Airport.

Weather permitting, tours are on a first come, first served basis. If weather forces a cancellation, tours will be rescheduled for the following evening. The recommended donation is $25.

Funds raised will go to the Neurofibromatosis Foundation and Mendenhall Flying Lions Club sight projects. Coastal Helicopters will provide the helicopters, pilots and time. Coastal Fuel and Petro Marine will provide the fuel.

For more information, call Coastal Helicopters at 789-5600.

Mother, son believed dead in Kotzebue fire

KOTZEBUE - Authorities are trying to confirm that two bodies found in the aftermath of a Kotzebue home fire are those of a 45-year-old woman and her 5-year-old son.

Kotzebue police say Lavone Harris and her son, Frank Stein, are unaccounted for after the fire that was reported early Sunday morning.

Police Chief John Ward says authorities are waiting for results from an autopsy before they'll release the identifies of the victims.

The cause of the fire that engulfed the old house has not been determined.

Orie Williams resigns as head of Doyon

FAIRBANKS - Doyon Ltd.'s top official is stepping down.

Orie Williams, the president and chief executive of Doyon, plans to leave the Native corporation in January, company officials said.

Williams announced his resignation in a staff meeting Monday in Fairbanks, according to Aaron Schutt, Doyon's senior vice president.

Williams will remain in charge until he leaves Jan. 11, Schutt said.

Williams took over the helm in early 2002, following the death of then-president Rosemarie Maher in late 2001. Maher had assumed leadership following the death of Morris Thompson in 1999.

Doyon represents about 14,000 shareholders.

Panel proposes lower pollock catch limit

ANCHORAGE - The North Pacific Fishery Management Council is calling for a significant cut of the commercial catch limit on Bering Sea pollock next year.

The panel recommends a limit of 1 million tons. That's a 28 percent reduction from last year.

According to government scientists, the cut reflects a declining trend in the fish population after several years of high catches of almost 1.5 million tons.

Pollock is the largest U.S. commercial fishery by weight.

The fish is used to make fish sticks and surimi, a paste used for an array of Asian specialty foods.

The fishery council's recommendations are subject to final approval by the U.S. commerce secretary.

Donation allows new computers at library

SOLDOTNA - An anonymous gift will allow the Soldotna library to upgrade its computers.

The $10,000 gift will be partially spent to replace six Internet stations used by the public. Officials also plan to use some of the money for an additional check-out station, a new word processor and a printer.

City Manager Tom Boedeker says the computer upgrades were planned over a period of a few years, but the donation will allow that to happen now.

He says the donors, who wish to remain anonymous, are library patrons.

The city council will consider accepting and appropriating the donation during its Wednesday evening meeting.

Romney campaign names Alaska director

ANCHORAGE - Chris Nelson has been named as the state director of Mitt Romney's presidential campaign.

Officials with the Republican candidate's campaign say Nelson will organize volunteer efforts in Alaska.

Nelson is the owner of a political consulting firm in Anchorage that bears his name.

He was one of Alaska's 28 delegates to the Republican National Convention in 2004, and has served in a variety of volunteer roles with the state Republican party.

Army chief misses Anchorage visitP>

FORT RICHARDSON - Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey canceled a visit to Fort Richardson after weather prevented his plane from landing in foggy Anchorage.

Army spokesman Chuck Canterbury said Casey's visit won't be rescheduled.

Casey's plane returned to Fort Wainwright, and he was expected to spend the night at the Fairbanks facility before flying out Thursday.

Earlier Wednesday at Fort Wainright, Casey presented a Distinguished Service Cross, an award second only to the Medal of Honor, to Sgt. Gregory Williams, who is assigned to the 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division.

He visited with Williams and other brigade members, and informed them the unit could expect to be redeployed to Iraq around September.

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