Alaska News Nightly: July 20, 2011

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Foreign Workers Fuel Bristol Bay’s Fish Processing Industry

Daysha Eaton, KDLG – Dillingham

Work is wrapping up at the fish processing plants in Bristol Bay. Many of the workers are not going back to Anchorage or Portland, though. Instead they’re heading back to Eastern Europe and China. For our occasional series on the ‘Changing Faces of Alaska’, KDLG’s Daysha Eaton takes us into the world of some of Alaska’s newest workers, at the Sno-Pac Products processing plant in Dillingham.

Study Shows ‘Frankenfish’ Can Breed With Wild Salmon

Ed Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska – Juneau

A new study of genetically modified salmon shows they can breed with their wild counterparts.

That raises concerns that escaped farmed fish could weaken wild stocks. It’s not an immediate threat to Alaska species, though it could be to commercial sales.

Alaska Businessman Won’t be Charged in Florida

Associated Press

Charges have been dropped against a former Alaska businessman who had been accused of sexually assaulting a 6-year-old southwest Florida girl.

The State Attorney’s Office in Sarasota filed documents this week saying it would not pursue charges against William C. Weimar. Before retiring to Florida, Weimar became rich owning a chain of halfway houses in Alaska.

The sheriff’s office had initially filed charges against Weimar after the girl made statements about him to her mother. Weimar was arrested in February after authorities found him on his yacht in Cancun, Mexico. He had been contacted by authorities about the allegations before leaving Florida.

Pallada Arrives in Kodiak

Brianna Gibbs, KMXT – Kodiak

The OK from customs took a bit longer than expected, but around 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, the captain of the Russian ship, Pallada, and his fellow shipmates stepped onto Pier 2 in Kodiak.

Sitka Ordnance Turns Out to be Boat Part

Ed Ronco, KCAW – Sitka

The missile-like object found on John Brown’s Beach in Sitka earlier this month is a dud. In fact, it’s not a missile at all, but rather a piece of aluminum pipe, most likely off the back of a commercial fishing boat.

That was the assessment Wednesday by an explosives disposal team from Elmendorf Air Force Base in Anchorage, who flew to Sitka to take a look at the object. Sitka police Lieutenant Barry Allen says the fins visible on the object were braces that appeared to have once been welded to a deck.

The object was cut into pieces, and disposed of by the U.S. Coast Guard. Part of it remains buried under a large rock on the beach.

Allen wrote in an e-mail to Raven News, quote, “I’d hazard a guess to say that any commercial fisherman could have looked at it once it was uncovered and told us exactly what it was.”

The explosives team also detonated six cannonballs at a quarry north of town. Allen says it’s not the first time police have had to deal with the historic ordnance.

Allen says it’s hard to tell how old the cannonballs are – they’re pretty rusty, a lot of them – but Bob Medinger, executive director of the Sitka Historical Society, says it’s possible some of them could trace back to when the Russians were in Sitka, in the early-and-mid 1800s.

Medinger says it’s important for people to know that cannonballs can still contain live explosives. He says anyone who discovers one, whether in the forest or hidden away in the back of an attic, should contact authorities and have them take a look.

Bear Wakes Campers in Van by Jumping on Hood

Emily Bender, KCAW – Sitka

Some campers at Starrigavan Recreation Area in Sitka received an early morning wakeup call on Monday morning: from a brown bear.

‘Dangerous Waters’ Expedition Docks in Homer Due to Mechanical Problem

Aaron Selbig, KBBI – Homer

Residents of Kachemak Bay haven’t seen a jet-ski in their neck of the woods in ten years, since the state outlawed personal watercraft in the bay. That’s why heads were turning at the Homer Harbor Monday when a group of five men on jet-skis pulled up to the dock.

World Eskimo-Indian Olympics Kick-Off in Fairbanks

Tim Ellis, KUAC – Fairbanks

The World Eskimo-Indian Olympics got under way today at the Carlson Center in Fairbanks. It’s the 50th year, and organizers are bringing back some popular past events and former participants.