State's deputy commissioner for highways to step down

Longtime Juneau resident will leave post by year's end

Posted: Friday, December 14, 2007

Alaska's Deputy Commissioner for Highways John MacKinnon, a longtime Juneau resident, is leaving his position, Commissioner Leo von Scheben of the Department of Transportation and Public Facilities announced Thursday.

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Replacing him will be Frank Richards, currently serving as statewide maintenance and operations engineer.

MacKinnon will depart at year's end, said Roger Wetherell, the department's spokesman.

MacKinnon is a former Juneau city manager and has served multiple terms on the Juneau Assembly and Planning Commission. He served as acting commissioner of the Department of Transportation for several months prior to von Scheben's appointment.

MacKinnon's family owns the Jualin Mine north of Juneau. The neighboring Kensington Mine, owned by Coeur Alaska, holds rights to explore for gold on the Jualin site.

The Department of Transportation wants to build a road north of Juneau along Lynn Canal that could benefit Kensington and Jualin.

MacKinnon said that because of the conflict of interest he turned over all decisions about the road to Southeast Highway Director Mal Menzies, but some critics said he should have further distanced himself from the controversial project.

Richards will assume his new duties Jan. 2.

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