Statewide Briefs

Juneau hit with two power
outages
The capital city got hit with two power
outages on Jan 23.
Both struck early Friday morning.
The city is being powered by diesel fuel
thanks to a recent avalanche knocking down a
transmission line linked to a hydroelectric plant.
Alaska Electric, Light and Power says the
fi rst outage occurred at 6 a.m., and lasted
about 20 minutes. It struck neighborhoods in
downtown Juneau, North Douglas and the Valley
area.
The company says a second unrelated
outage struck about two hours after the fi rst.
It lasted about one hour and took out all of
Douglas Island.
Alaska’s unemployment
rate climbs to 7.5 percent
State offi cials say Alaska’s unemployment is
at its highest level in almost fi ve years.
The Alaska Department of Labor and
Workforce Development reports the seasonally
adjusted rate rose three-tenths of a percentage
point in December to 7.5 percent.
The department estimates the number of
Alaskans unemployed grew by more than 5,000
since December 2007.
State economist Dan Robinson says despite
the jobless spike, the state has done well so far
to weather the deep nationwide recession.
Robinson says Alaska is one of few states
whose economy grew last year.
He adds that the unemployment rate hike
is “almost certainly the result of the struggling
national economy.”
Palin congratulates Obama
and thanks Bush
Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin kicked off her State
of the State address by congratulating President
Barack Obama on his inauguration.
She told lawmakers Jan. 22 that millions of
Americans are praying for the success of the
new president and she was one of them.
She noted that Obama’s work is cut out for
him. But Palin said if he “governs with the skill,
grace and greatness of which he is capable,
Alaska’s going to be just fi ne.”
It was her fi rst public words about Obama
since he took offi ce Jan. 20.
Palin was the running mate for Sen. John
McCain on the Republican presidential ticket
that lost to Obama.
She also expressed gratitude to former
President Bush “for keeping the homeland safe
and being a friend to Alaska.”
Mackey offi cially drops out
of Yukon Quest
Reigning champion Lance Mackey has
offi cially withdrew from the 2009 Yukon Quest
International Sled Dog Race, one of two Alaska
long-distance mushing races.
The Fairbanks musher could have sought his
fi fth straight title in the 1,000-mile event.
Mackey said two weeks ago he could not run
both the Quest and the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog
Race and that he planned to focus on the latter
which he has won the last two years.
He has a commitment to assist an Iditarod
musher sponsored by the Alaska Army National
Guard and he has said he faces a shortage of
dogs due to injuries.
There are 33 mushers signed up for the
Quest, which begins Feb. 14 in Whitehorse,
Yukon Territory. The fi nish line is in Fairbanks.
The 1,100-mile Iditarod begins March 7.
State employee charged in
fuel and materials theft
A Palmer man has been indicted on charges
of stealing at least 10,500 gallons of diesel fuel
over seven years from state tanks.
Prosecutors said Michael Barickman, 55,
used a 100-gallon tank mounted on his pickup
to steal fuel from his employer, the state
Department of Transportation.
Reached at home in Palmer, Barickman told
the Anchorage Daily News he knew nothing
about the allegations and that the claims were
untrue.
“Far as I’m concerned, they are,” he said.
The indictment fi led Friday also charged
Barickman with stealing more than $18,500 in
state property.
With the fuel and property combined, the
department lost more than $36,000, troopers
said.
Barickman was spotted fi lling his tank at a
Palmer facility in June 2008. Troopers said they
later found stolen property at his home.
The thefts began in 2001, according to
troopers.