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KNBA News - State buyout of TransCanada seems inevitable

Oct. 30, 2015

Lawmakers: TransCanada buyout likely, but is state ready?

Lawmakers say it’s all but inevitable the legislature will approve the governor’s request to buy out TransCanada and take a larger stake in the Alaska LNG project. For one thing, the company has testified in favor of the buyout. And, TransCanada director Vincent Lee told Legislators the company would consider exiting the deal even if the state doesn’t buy it out, in which case the state would still be obligated to pay the company’s costs. Lee said the state and TransCanada’s approaches to the project are not in alignment.

Lawmakers expressed concern about whether the state is ready to take over the company’s role — and with it, a full 25 percent stake in a $45 to $65 billion gas line megaproject. Legislators have also asked who is in charge of the state’s effort – the Alaska Gas-line Development Corporation, Department of Revenue, or Department of Natural Resources.

A vote is expected early next week.

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State prosecutors skeptical of information countering Fairbanks Four convictions

By Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks

Testimony Wednesday made it clear the Fairbanks District Attorney’s office didn’t put much credence in information undermining the convictions of the Fairbanks Four for a 1997 murder.  Former assistant district attorney Scott Mattern was questioned about his handling of 2011 statements from former Fairbanks resident, California prisoner William Holmes, pinning the Hartman killing on drug ring partner Jason Wallace, a man who testified against him in an unrelated murder case. Mattern says the men’s criminal history undermines the claim.

“You’ve got Holmes pointing the finger at the guy who got him locked up for life,” said Mattern.

Mattern says he asked Fairbanks police to follow up on the Holmes, Wallace story. That never happened, and Mattern concedes he didn’t check back.

“This isn’t something that’s going to cause me to drop everything else I’m doing and ride this,” said Mattern.

Fairbanks Four attorneys pointed out that research would have shown Holmes and Wallace were in Fairbanks at the time of the Hartman attack, and other information lending credibility to their possible involvement. Holmes is serving double life sentences for unrelated killings and has already testified about the Hartman attack at this month's evidentiary hearing. Wallace, who’s also serving a long sentence for a drug-related killing, has been granted immunity from prosecution for the Hartman murder, in exchange for his testimony. He’s scheduled to take the stand Friday.

Meanwhile Wednesday, a Fairbanks man testified that he was attacked on a downtown street by the Fairbanks Four shortly before the Hartman beating.  In a video deposition, Paul Solomon says he did not recognize the young men until seeing their pictures in the paper about a month later.

Solomon says he reported the attack to police before he identified the men. He says he didn’t talk to law enforcement again about it until telling an Alaska State Trooper in 2013.

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More fish come through Dutch Harbor than any other U.S. port   

Dutch Harbor, Alaska, is the top fishing port in the nation by volume, according to a report released Wednesday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Dutch Harbor reported a catch of 762 million pounds for 2014, and came in second for value, at $191 million. The most valuable catch came through the port of New Bedford, Massachusetts.

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Bedbugs on the rise

Officials and exterminators say they have seen an upward trend of bed bugs in Alaska, particularly in rural areas. KTUU-TV reportsstate epidemiology officials attribute the increase in Alaska to travel, immigration and bed bugs becoming resistant to insecticides.

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